Carlos Hyde, Taylor Richards, Frankie Williams

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.

Amidst medical mystery, Georgia’s Trenton Thompson withdraws from spring semester classes

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 19: Anthony Jennings #11 of the Lousiana-Lafayette Rajin' Cajuns is pursued by Trenton Thompson #78 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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While the details are very hazy at the moment, a member of the Georgia football team has apparently suffered a health scare recently that calls into question his short-term future with the football program.

First reported by WSB-TV, defensive end Trent Thompson suffered an unspecified medical emergency very early Thursday morning and was rushed to an Athens hospital. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution subsequently confirmed the initial report.

Thompson was released from the hospital Thursday morning, his mother confirmed to the television station. No specifics have been released publicly, although the Journal-Constitution, citing sources with knowledge of the situation, is reporting that no drugs or alcohol were involved. It’s also believed that the issue isn’t related to football.

In the wake of those reports as well as others that indicated he had a run-in with Athens police immediately prior to the hospitalization, UGA released the following statement, which reveals that Thompson will be withdrawing from classes this semester because of the unspecified medical issues:

Based upon recent events, Trenton Thompson’s family has authorized UGAAA to release the following information. Trenton has been dealing with a significant medical issue which required emergency hospitalization and extended hospital stay. Trenton was recently discharged from the hospital and remains under close medical care. With respect to last night’s incident, the physical appearance and behavior described in the UGA PD report is solely related to an adverse reaction to medications prescribed specifically for his medical condition. The adverse reaction required emergency transport to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center where he was treated and released. Toxicology tests performed at the hospital were negative for OxyContin. We cannot release any further information at this time due to federal privacy laws. Due to the medical issues, Trenton is withdrawing from classes this semester, and his family requests privacy during this time.

As a sophomore last season, Thompson started seven of the 13 games in which he played. His 9.5 tackles for loss led the Bulldogs, while his five sacks were tied for the team lead and the 56 tackles with which he was credited were tops among linemen.

Capping off that breakout season, he was named MVP of UGA’s Liberty Bowl win over TCU.

Iowa State DB Mike Johnson suspended amid domestic violence arrest

AMES, IA - NOVEMBER 19: Wide receiver Keke Coutee #20 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders blocks defensive back Mike Johnson #3 of the Iowa State Cyclones as he rushed for yards in the first half of play at Jack Trice Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
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Iowa State has suspended defensive back Mike Johnson after he was arrested Thursday on the accusation that he choked his girlfriend.

As reported by the Des Moines Register, Johnson and his girlfriend were fighting over social media posts and music playing over each other’s phones when each tried to reach for the other’s device. That escalated to the point where Johnson allegedly had both hands around the woman’s throat, to the point where told police she “saw stars” and had trouble breathing.

She also had, according to police, bite marks on her right cheek, on her neck and behind her left ear, a swollen upper lip and had what appeared to be dried blood on her. Johnson also said he was bitten during the altercation.

“We are aware of Mike Johnson’s arrest and allegations associated with his arrest,” head coach Matt Campbell told the paper in a statement. “Our program has zero tolerance for domestic violence. Mike has been suspended from all team activities, including practice, under the student-athlete code of conduct policy as we gather more information. His long-term status with the team will be determined once we gain more facts.”

Johnson posted 44 tackles, three pass breakups and 1.5 tackles for loss in 12 games last season.

Report: Former Pitt RB James Conner given clean bill of health

James Conner
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James Conner will head to next week’s Combine with a clean bill of health, according to a report Thursday from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“Pitt RB James Conner, who missed most of 2015 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, received a clean scan today, a week prior to combine, per source,” Schefter tweeted.

Conner led the ACC in rushing in 2014, rushing for 1,765 yards and 5.92 yards per carry with 26 touchdowns in 2014, before a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis caused him to miss all but one game of the 2015 campaign. (And in that one game, Conner still rushed for nearly 10 yards per carry and two touchdowns.)

He battled back to return to the field in 2016, again leading the Panthers with 216 carries for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns while finishing third on the club with 21 grabs for 302 yards and four touchdowns.

Conner will compete at the Combine for draft positioning with fellow running backs Leonard FournetteDalvin Cook and D'Onta Foreman, among others.

Willie Taggart no longer speaking with Oregon beat reporter

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Head Coach Willie Taggart walks the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Miami Hurricanes on September 28, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Oregon strength coach Irele Oderinde is now back at work after serving a 1-month, unpaid suspension resulting from three players being hospitalized after Oderinde’s first supervised workout with the Ducks, but the story is not over in Eugene.

According to Oregon’s student paper The Daily Emerald, Taggart is no longer speaking with the reporter who broke the story, The Oregonian‘s Andrew Greif.

“When you’re not fair and honest, then to me that’s personal,” Taggart told the paper. “When you do something that’s negative and it’s going to be personal, then I won’t have shit to do with you.”

Greif, for his part, stands by the story and says the paper will not issue a retraction, as Taggart requested:

“Though the description of the workouts is understandably subjective, ultimately what has never been in doubt is that three UO players were hospitalized after the first week of offseason workouts and received treatment for several days,” Greif said in an email to the Emerald.

Complicating matters for Taggart is that the university commissioned faculty athletics rep Tim Gleason, a journalism professor, to review the report. In speaking with players, coaches, trainers and AD Rob Mullens, Gleason found the report not to be inaccurate.

“It’s not an unfair characterization; it’s just that the way it gets interpreted is regrettable,” Gleason said. “In the shorthand of journalism, it resulted in an impression that may not have been completely accurate.”

Also contradicting Taggart are members of his own staff, who said off-the-record that the workouts were “military-style.” Greif quoted them anonymously when inserting that phrase into the piece:

Players this week were required to finish the same workouts, which were described by multiple sources as akin to military basic training, with one said to include up to an hour of continuous push-ups and up-downs.

It’s not clear where the story goes from here, except that Taggart made clear twice in his interview with the Emerald he has no plans to answer questions from Greif in the future.