Ohio State will need more wins like they had against Penn State

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Penn State smashed Ohio State by a score of 63-14 in 1994, when the Nittany Lions were putting together an undefeated season capped with a Rose Bowl victory. Penn State did not get recognized as a national champion that season. Ohio State could be on a similar path after matching the most lopsided victory in the series history Saturday night in Columbus.

Ohio State, sitting fourth in the BCS standings behind Alabama, Florida State and Oregon, is unlikely to pick up much ground in the rankings but did everything they needed to do against Penn State. The Buckeyes were dominant in racking up the most yards ever allowed by Penn State in a single game and scoring the most points allowed by Penn State since the 19th century. That’s right, the 19th century. But no matter how impressive Ohio State was Saturday night they still figure to be the odd-team out of a crowded top in the BCS standings. With Oregon pulling away from UCLA for a big win in the Pac 12 to remain undefeated and Florida State having no problems with North Carolina State, the Buckeyes will have to hope there are some voters out there who feel more confident about the final score put together by Urban Meyer‘s squad.

Ohio State extended their winning streak to 20 games. Meyer has not lost a game in Columbus since being named the head coach. Braxton Miller completed 19 of 25 pass attempts for 261 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 68 yards and two more. Carlos Hyde led all players with 147 yards and two touchdowns. The Buckeyes forced three Penn State turnovers, including two interceptions of freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the first quarter while the Ohio State offense had zero turnovers. Ohio State finished the game with 686 total yards of offense and converted seven out of 10 third down conversions. Ohio State took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and a 42-7 lead in to halftime and then kept it rolling in the second half by outscoring Penn State 21-7. Kenny Guitton, who eventually replaced Miller as he did earlier in the season, added two rushing touchdowns in the second half as well.

Ohio State also got a little help in the BCS standings when Missouri fell to South Carolina in double overtime. Though Ohio State was ranked ahead of the Tigers, seeing one more threat knocked off will help Ohio State’s chances if they continue to string together wins.

Saturday night was the first great win for Ohio State this season, at least in terms of overall performance. After some closer than expected calls to start Big Ten play, the Buckeyes finally set the tone early and brought the hammer down on their opponent. Saturday night was an example of the kinds of performances Ohio State must have the rest of the way to convince voters they belong in the BCS Championship Game.

As long as Alabama, Florida State and Oregon are doing the same in front of them, Ohio State will continue to chase. The Buckeyes are clearly the best team in the Big Ten, it’s not even close. But given the conference’s national perception right now, the Buckeyes not only need to win their final four regular season games and the Big Ten championship game, but they may need to do so in a huge way. Ohio State has the players to score the style points, but they may need some help from around the country to get back to the BCS championship game.

Otherwise, this Ohio State team could be left to play in a Rose Bowl without a loss and no shot at a national championship just like Penn State in 1994.

Suspended Mich. St. staffer receives one-MONTH contract extension

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A disturbing situation in East Lansing has added a head-scratching twist.

According to ESPN.com, and by way of a Freedom of Information request, Michigan State football staffer Curtis Blackwell was on the receiving end of a one-month contract extension earlier this month.  Blackwell, whose title with the football program is director of college advancement and performance, was set to see his contract expire at the end of this week.

What makes this development noteworthy is that Blackwell has been indefinitely suspended by the Spartans since early February.

Around that time, it was confirmed by the university that three still-unnamed MSU football players had been suspended after allegations of sexual assault were made against them last month.  An unnamed football staffer was suspended at the time as well; that staffer was subsequently identified as Blackwell.

A police investigation, as well as a Title IX probe, into the allegations continue.  Blackwell is not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault, but rather a non-sexual crime that’s connected to the investigation.

Mark Dantonio hadn’t spoken publicly about the allegations until earlier this week, and the head coach probably would’ve been better served to have kept it that way.

A&M, UCLA both add New Mexico to future schedules

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Texas A&M and UCLA announced Wednesday that their 2017 opener had been moved from Saturday to Sunday.  As it turns out, that wasn’t the only scheduling news connecting the two football programs.

As part of a release announcing seven games being added to its future schedules, New Mexico confirmed that two of those contests will include A&M and UCLA.  Both of those games, obviously, will be on the road, with the Lobos traveling to College Station Sept. 18, 2021, and to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl Sept. 13, 2025.

In its release, the school wrote that “[t]he game in College Station has a guarantee of $1,100,000 and 450 complementary tickets,” while “[t]he game in Pasadena has a guarantee of $1,200,000 plus 2,000 complementary tickets that UNM can sell for extra revenue.”

The last and only time New Mexico and UCLA squared off was in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl, a 27-13 win for the Bruins.  UNM and A&M actually completed a home-and-home series relatively recently, with the Aggies winning both games played in the 2008 (28-22) and 2009 (41-6) seasons.

In addition to the future Power Five games, a continuation of the long-running rivalry with UTEP will be extended.  UNM will play in El Paso in 2021, then host UTEP in 2022.  Those two games will mark the 79th and 80th contests in the regional rivalry.

Michigan State, Washington round out future schedules with Utah State

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Needing to fill a single spot in some future schedules, both Michigan State and Washington have come calling to the Mountain West for an opponent. Utah State was happy to oblige.

Michigan State will host Utah State on September 1, 2018. The Aggies will travel to Washington on September 19, 2020. For their travels, Utah State will collect $2.9 million between the two games, according to FBScheduels.com ($1.4 million from Michigan State, $1.5 million from Washington).

The Big Ten and Pac-12 each use nine-game conference schedules, leaving three spots open for non-conference games. The Big Ten requires all conference members schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent (the Pac-12 has no such requirement of its members at this time), although exceptions are made. Utah State, as a member of the Mountain West Conference, would not satisfy that requirement for the Big Ten, but the Spartans already have a road game against Arizona State (Pac-12) on the schedule in 2018. Michigan State and Arizona State will play again in 2019 in East Lansing. Michigan State also has future power conference matchups with Notre Dame (2017, 2026, 2027) and Miami (2020, 2021). Michigan State will also play BYU in 2020 in Provo.

Washington has future power conference matchups with Rutgers (2017), Auburn (2018, in Atlanta), and Michigan (2020, 2021). The Huskies will also face Mountain West Competition from Fresno State (2017), Hawaii (2019), and Nevada (2027).

Utah State will face power conference opponents on the road in 2017 (Wisconsin, Wake Forest), 2018 (Michigan State), 2019 (Wake Forest, LSU), 2020 (Washington), and 2021 (Washington State). Utah State will also host Washington State in 2020 as part of a home-and-home deal. Utah State also has an annual series against BYU running through 2020.

Old Dominion hopes to “hit the ground running” on new stadium project

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Some fans of the Old Dominion football program may be getting a little impatient with the progress (or lack of) in the development of the football stadium, but Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig says things are coming along nicely and progress will start to be seen soon enough.

“Once we get the architects engaged, we’ll figure out what $55 million will buy in 2019 dollars,” Selig said, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “Then we’ll have an idea for how much additional money needs to be raised to support the project.”

Old Dominion is planning on tearing down Foreman Field at the end of the 2018 season and rebuild it with modern seating and amenities. The $55 million project remained on the books in the Virginia budget in February, allowing the university to move ahead with their plans. The first step is finding an architect to take on the job.

Because Old Dominion’s football stadium is among the smallest in the nation and will remain so even after the rebuild and renovations, the entire project is expected to move fairly swiftly once the work actually begins. Old Dominion isn’t building a grand football palace, so any concerns over the lack of updates on the stadium should be calmed.

If nothing else, the concerns raised about the lack of updates on the stadium renovations may just mean Old Dominion has some eager fans excited about the future of the program.