Buckeyes easily extend win streak to 21 straight

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If margin of victory on the field equates to style points for voters off of it, then Ohio State has accrued a ton of them the past two Saturdays.

One week after pasting Penn State 63-14, the Buckeyes took woefully undermanned Purdue to the woodshed, going into West Lafayette this afternoon and easily hurdling its way to a 56-0 win. The Buckeyes led the 1-7 Boilermakers 28-0 after the first quarter — Braxton Miller tossed three touchdown passes in the opening stanza — and OSU never looked back.

As dominating as the win looked on the scoreboard, it appeared just as one-sided on the stat sheet.

In the first half alone, the Buckeyes outgained the Boilermakers 350-87 in total offense.  For the game, the advantage was 640-116 for the visiting Buckeyes.  Driving home the statistical difference specifically and the massive gulf in general between the two programs, the Boilermakers did not eclipse the 100-yard mark in total offense until there were under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Ohio State’s Big Two of Miller and Carlos Hyde played their usual significant roles in the first-half pummeling, with the former passing for 233 yards — on 19-of-22 passing — and four touchdowns and the latter rushing for 91 yards on just seven carries.  Neither played much in the second half after OSU rolled out to a 42-0 halftime lead and Urban Meyer took his foot off the Boilermakers’ throats a bit.  

Miller, in fact, did not play at all the last two quarters, while Hyde played the first possession of the second half and finished with eight carries for 111 yards.  It’s Hyde’s fourth consecutive game with 100-plus yards since missing the first three games of the season because of a suspension.  Hyde now needs less than 300 yards (299 to be exact) in the final three games of the regular season to give Meyer the first 1,000-yard rusher of his coaching career.

With the win, the Buckeyes have now won a nation’s best 21 straight dating back to the first game of the 2012 season, with nine of those coming this season.  Their last loss came 669 days ago in the Jan. 2, 2012, Gator Bowl against Meyer’s former team, the Florida Gators.  OSU can tie the school record of 22 straight, set back in the late sixties, with a win over Illinois Nov. 23 — they have a bye next weekend — then break it at home the following Saturday against Indiana.  

OSU’s current streak is the longest at the FBS level since Texas won 21 straight from 2004-06; ironically enough, it was the Buckeyes that snapped that Longhorn streak.  The Buckeyes still have a ways to go to break the Big Ten’s overall record, however, as the Wolverines won 29 straight in 1901-03.

Incidentally, Alabama (12), Baylor (11) and Oregon (10) — all on byes this weekend — are the only other FBS teams with current double-digit win streaks.  Florida State or Miami can reach 10 straight with a win in tonight’s Top-10 showdown.

Northern Illinois, thanks to its win today over UMass, is on the cusp of double digits at nine straight.

Auburn dismisses WR Kyle Davis

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Kyle Davis began the 2017 season in Gus Malzahn‘s doghouse.  Today, he’s been kicked out of the yard and to the curb.

Last week, Davis was a non-participant in practice and didn’t travel with his teammates for the Week 7 game against LSU.  Malzahn confirmed Tuesday that the wide receiver has been dismissed from his Tigers football program.

The only reason given was breaking unspecified team rules.

We wish him nothing but the best moving forward,” the head coach said in announcing the dismissal.

Davis and two other Tigers were suspended for the season opener against Georgia Southern for, again, breaking unspecified team rules.  Since returning, the sophomore has seven receptions for 210 yards.  His 30 yards per catch is tops on the team.

A four-star 2016 signee, Davis was rated as the No. 10 receiver in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Georgia.    As a true freshman, he caught 12 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games.  He started one of those contests.

Mike Leach downplays rumors that have him following Bill Moos to Nebraska

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Sunday, it was confirmed that Bill Moos was leaving his job as athletic director at Washington State to take the same position at Nebraska.  It didn’t take long after the official announcement of the move for the speculation to commence.

A home loss to Northern Illinois was the football program’s first-ever to a MAC school and its first home loss to a Group of Five team since 2004, sparking talk as to how much longer Mike Riley could last as the Cornhuskers’ head coach.  Losses by a combined 63 points the last two weeks to Wisconsin and Ohio State did nothing to alleviate those concerns.

Enter Moos, whose last football hire at Wazzu has turned into a very significant upgrade for that program.  Taking over a team that won a combined nine games the four years before he was hired by Moos, Mike Leach guided the Cougars to 12 wins his first three years after being hired in 2012.  The past two seasons have turned into breakout ones of sort for the Cougars as they won nine games in 2015 (most since 2003) and eight in 2016.  They were off to a 6-0 start this season before Cal stunned them in Week 7.

Add Riley’s struggles to Leach’s successes and mix in Moos’ departure Pullman for Lincoln, and the recipe was there for Leach-to-‘Huskers talk.  Monday, the coach downplayed such a possibility.

“I don’t have any plans to do that and then they already have a head coach there and he’s a pretty good one, Mike Riley,” Leach said according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “Wish Bill the best and we just move forward.”

Leach did, though, have high praise for his now-former boss.  Extremely high praise.

“He’s the best AD that I’ve ever met,” Leach said. “Everything from active to retired to dead. Bill’s the best AD I’ve ever even met. …

“Bill’s a very honest, straightforward guy and he was a guy you could count on, who you knew had your best interest.”

Alabama settling in as five-touchdown favorite over Tennessee

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Five-touchdown, not five-point.  The Butch Jones Era, ladies and gentlemen.

In the wake of yet another crippling, emasculating loss for the Tennessee football program, Butch Jones again pulled fired up his verbal backhoe and further buried his coaching tenure on Rocky Top.  There’s little doubt Jones’ time as the Volunteers will expire at some point between now and shortly after the end of UT’s season; there’s exactly zero doubt that, outside of Knoxville — and probably inside, to be blunt — the perception of the program under Jones is at its lowest in decades.

The latest case in the latter point?  Wagering establishments.

Sunday afternoon, UT will enter the not-so-friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa for the 100th edition of its annual rivalry game against top-ranked Alabama.  Over the weekend, the Vols opened as anywhere from a 33- to 34.5-point undergo.  As we head toward midweek, it’s crept a bit upward according to Bovada.lv.

Bovada tells CFT that, over the last 31 years, the Vols have never been as large of an underdog as they are right now.  Prior to a 23-13 loss, they were 30- point underdogs to Florida in 2009.  In 2011 and 2013, they were 29- and 28-point underdogs, respectively, to Alabama.  They ended up losing both contests, 37-6 in the former and 45-10 in the latter.

In the previous 99 meetings between the rival programs, the Vols have lost by 35 or more points exactly four times. The first came in 1906 (51-0), the second in 1963 (35-0).  The last two times?  The 2013 game mentioned above and 2016 (49-10).

Ahead of last year’s game in Knoxville, the Crimson Tide was in the neighborhood of a seven-point favorite.

Cal loses leading tackler to season-ending injury

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Cal’s stunning upset in Week 7 came with a very steep price tag on the defensive side of the ball.

In the second half of Cal’s upending of then-No. 8 Washington State Friday night, Devante Downs went down with an unspecified injury.  Three days later, the football program confirmed that the inside linebacker would miss the remainder of the 2017 season because of it.

Other than lower body, the specific nature of the injury wasn’t detailed.

Regardless of what exactly is sidelining Downs, it’s a very significant blow to a Golden Bears defense that’s currently tied for 67th in scoring after finishing the past four seasons 125th, 123rd, 108th and 125th in the same category.

Through seven games, Downs is far and away Cal’s leading tackler with 65.  Next closest?  Ra Davison‘s 43.  He also leads the team in sacks (three), quarterback hits (four) and forced fumbles (two), while he’s tied for the lead in interceptions (two) and fumble recoveries (two).  The 5.5 tackles for loss for which he’s been credited are tied for second.