Art Briles

Baylor makes big gain on Buckeyes in coaches’ poll

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The good news for Ohio State is that the Buckeyes moved up one spot in the latest USA Today coaches’ poll and now sit just one spot outside the Top Two.

The bad news?  The object in OSU’s rear-view mirror is much closer than they would like it to appear.

Baylor jumped to No. 4 in the coaches’ poll following Missouri’s Week 8 loss, 83 points behind Ohio State.  After Week 9, the gap had shrunk a bit to 70 points.  Following the Bears’ impressive win over Oklahoma and the Buckeyes’ bye, the margin from No. 3 to No. 4 is all the way down to 25 points.

As Baylor has games left against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State (No. 10 in this week’s poll) and Texas (reentering at No. 24) to go along with TCU, and Ohio State would play no one of consequence until the Big Ten championship game — apologies, Michigan; not so much Illinois, Indiana — the Buckeyes are in serious jeopardy of being leapfrogged in the coaches’ poll and, in all likelihood, the BCS standings as the computer numbers that currently favor the Buckeyes will skew more toward the Bears.  The importance, of course, is that the team sitting at No. 3 would be primed to, provided they continue winning, slide into a BCS title game spot should either Alabama or Florida State falter.

Speaking of which, the Tide, as they have been since the preseason poll was released,  is again No. 1 this week.  Thanks to Oregon’s loss to Stanford, the Seminoles are now at No. 2.  Alabama received 58 first-place votes, up from 54 a week ago, while FSU added one and now claims the other four.

The Ducks, which held five first-place votes after Week 10, slid down five spots to No. 7.  The Cardinal and Clemson each moved up one spot to Nos. 5 and 6, respectively.

The most precipitous tumblers of the week were Oklahoma and Miami.  Each came in nine spots lower than the week before, the former down to No. 17 thanks to its 29-point loss to Baylor and the latter to No. 23 courtesy of an 18-point loss to unranked Virginia Tech.  LSU, coming off its loss to Alabama, exited Week 11 at No. 18 after entering No. 12.

The only other teams to move up or down more than two spots were South Carolina, Louisville, Fresno State, UCLA and Michigan State, which are all up three positions to Nos. 12-16, respectively.

It should also be noted that, yet again, the coaches have one-loss Louisville, which lost to one-loss UCF, ahead of the Knights.  Excellent work football support staff sports information directors coaches.

Texas Tech (No. 23) and Notre Dame (No. 25) each dropped out, replaced by Texas and Minnesota (No. 25).

Coaches' Poll Week 11

ECU transfer Kurt Benkert wins Virginia’s starting QB job

In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 East Carolina quarterback Kurt Benkert rolls out to pass during NCAA college football practice in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Four months ago, Kurt Benkert was one the losing end of a quarterback competition at East Carolina.  Fastforward to today, and he’s now the trigger man in a Power Five offense.

First-year Hoos head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced Wednesday that Benkert will start the season opener against Richmond.  Benkert had been involved in a competition that included returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.

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Benkert came to the Cavaliers as a graduate transfer, but is not a one-year stop-gap as he has two years of eligibility remaining.

Named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, Benkert sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season.  Blake Kemp took over and kept a stranglehold on the starting job through spring practice this year, triggering Benkert’s decision to move on.

Benkert has attempted 10 passes in his collegiate career, all in 2014.

In starting all 12 games for the Cavaliers last season, Johns’ 2,810 passing yards were third in school history while his 20 touchdowns were tied for fourth.  His 17 interceptions, though, were the most of any FBS quarterback in 2015.

Cassius Peat granted release by Mich. St., appears headed to JUCO

COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 15:  A Michigan State Spartans helmet on the bench during a college football game against the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium on November 15, 2014 in College Park, Maryland.  The Spartans won 37-15.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Earlier this month, Mark Dantonio stated that Michigan State was giving Cassius Peat “an opportunity to work on his academics and get himself in order” as his status with the program was “in flux.”

A week or so later?  He gone.

MSU confirmed Wednesday that Peat has been granted a release from his scholarship and will transfer from the Spartans.  And, in fact, the defensive lineman may have already found a new home, one at the junior college level.

Peat, initially a UCLA commit, was a three-star 2015 recruit who was rated as the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Arizona.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman, and had been listed as the No. tackle heading into summer camp.

However, according to mlive.com, Peat did not report for camp amidst his academic issues.

Ex-Oregon St. DB goes home to LaTech as grad transfer

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Running back Justin Davis #22 of the USC Trojans is defended by safety Cyril Noland-Lewis #17 of the Oregon State Beavers in the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. USC defeated Oregon State 35-10.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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A week after transferring from Oregon State, Cyril Noland-Lewis has found a new home that happens to also double as his hometown.

The Ruston News Star, among others, has reported that Noland-Lewis is transferring into the Louisiana Tech football program.  As he is coming to Tech as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Bulldogs in 2016, his final season of eligibility.

The defensive back, who went to high school in Ruston, was at the Bulldogs’ practice Tuesday as Tech continues preparations for the season opener Sept. 3 against Arkansas.

Noland-Lewis started 10 games for the Beavers last season.  Six of those starts came as a safety, the others as the nickel corner.  OSU moved Noland-Lewis to cornerback this offseason, where he ultimately found himself buried on the depth chart in summer camp.

The 6-0, 198-pound fifth-year senior, who began his OSU career as a linebacker, played in a total of 37 games during his time in Corvallis.

Tyler Rodgers, NMSU’s starting QB, arrested on battery charge

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Tyler Rogers #18 of the New Mexico State Aggies drops back to pass against the LSU Tigers during the first quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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It’s not been a good day for a couple of starting quarterbacks at Group of Five programs.

The Las Cruces Sun-News has reported that New Mexico State’s Tyler Rogers turned himself in last Friday on a warrant that had been issued for him Aug. 14.  The junior was booked on one count of misdemeanor charge of battery against a household member.

The alleged victim is Rogers’ girlfriend. A verbal altercation at a party allegedly turned physical in a vehicle later on. When police arrived, the woman, who was initially crying, “downplayed the incident and said that it wasn’t really anything and that the altercation did not get physical and didn’t consider Mr. Rogers grabbing her arm as being a physical altercation.”

The woman decided against completing a domestic violence supplement report, and, according to the Sun-News, it’s unclear if the woman is cooperating with police.

“I was very disappointed in hearing the news but we are in the information gathering stage,” NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia said in a statement. “These are allegations that we take very seriously and we look forward to getting as much detail as possible so the university can be informed and the athletic department can make an informed decision moving forward.”

Because “it is a misdemeanor, there isn’t a suspension coming forth right now,” head coach Doug Martin said.

Rogers has started 15 games the past two seasons for the Aggies.