Buckeyes tie school record with 22nd straight win

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As expected, Ohio State was able to extend it’s nation’s best winning streak against an overwhelmed Illinois squad in Champaign Saturday afternoon.  This time, though, the extending came with a historical twist.  And, potentially, a punch in the gut to their BCS title hopes.

Running out to a 28-0 lead early in the first quarter, and overcoming an inexplicable malaise that lasted nearly the remainder of the game,the Buckeyes were able to outlast 3-7 Illini by the count of 60-35.  It was the 20th consecutive Big Ten loss for the Illini but, more importantly for a team entertaining BCS title game hopes, it was the 22nd straight win for the Buckeyes.

The win streak ties the longest in OSU history, matching the 22 straight won by the Buckeyes from 1967-69.  The Buckeyes can set the school record against 4-6 Indiana next Saturday in Columbus, and come within six of matching Michigan’s Big Ten record of 29 straight from 1901-03.

At 22 straight, OSU is tied with eight other schools for the 39th-longest winning streak in FBS history.  The last team to win 22 consecutive games was Florida in 2008-09, a team ironically enough coached by Urban Meyer.  With a win over the Hoosiers next weekend, the Buckeyes would match Notre Dame for the longest winning streak by an AQ program since 1989 (non-AQ Boise State won 24 straight from 2009-10).

The longest winning streak ever at the FBS/1-A level?  The staggering 47 straight won by Oklahoma, a streak that began in 1953 and was ended by the Irish in 1957.

Personally, the win was Meyer’s 23 straight as a head coach.  Meyer, who has won his first 22 games since taking over the Buckeyes in December of 2011, has not lost a game since his final season at Florida, a 31-7 loss to Florida State on Nov. 27, 2010.

Allowing Meyer to extend the third 20-plus-game winning streak of his coaching career were, of course, the one-two offensive punch of quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde.  Hyde, who was the only Buckeye who seemed to gain steam as the game wore on, rushed for a career-high 246 yards and scored four touchdowns on the ground.  For good measure, Hyde caught an 18-yard swing pass for a touchdown as well.  Hyde is now 53 yards away from giving Meyer the first 1,000-yard running back in his coaching career.

Miller accounted for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) while gaining 184 on the ground.

As will be the case for the remainder of the season, at least until a potential matchup with a highly-ranked Michigan State team in the Big Ten title game, the win will do next to nothing for the Buckeyes when it comes to the BCS standings — and will actually hurt if the stretch of stench from midway through the second quarter through deep into the fourth quarter is taken into account.  After taking that 28-0 lead with 10:20 left in the second quarter, the Buckeyes were outscored 35-32 by the three-win Illini;   Hyde’s two long TD runs very late in the fourth closed that gap significantly.  It was the kind of win that voters, who have allowed Baylor to gain ground on Ohio State in the polls the past three weeks, will use to make that final push and leapfrog the Bears over the Buckeyes when the rankings are released Sunday.

Outside of “style points,” Ohio State’s lone hope of getting back to the title game for the first time since the 2007 season is if, out of Alabama, Florida State and Baylor, at least one of them drops a game at some point between now and the end of the regular season/conference championship weekend.  More than likely, given the Bears’ remaining schedule, the Buckeyes will need two-thirds of that trio to lose.

Regardless, it can’t take away the history Meyer and these Buckeyes are in the midst of creating.  Even if said history were to involve a 25-0 mark and zero BCS titles.

Iowa LB Aaron Mends to miss extended time with injury

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Talk about a hard-luck story.

After never starting a game at Iowa, Aaron Mends (pictured, blocking punt) had earned a starting job at outside linebacker during practice this spring.  With football being the cruel mistress that it can be at times, the Hawkeyes announced Friday night that Mends “will miss an extended period of time due to injury.” The program offered no details as to the specific nature of the injury, although it’s believed to involve the knee.

According to the school’s release, the fifth-year senior suffered the injury during the final week of Iowa’s spring drills.

Mends was a three-star member of the Hawkeyes’ 2014 recruiting class.  He was the highest-rated linebacker in Iowa’s class that year.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Mends has played in 38 games the past three seasons.  A baker’s dozen of those appearances came during the 2017 season.

Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, James Franklin and Clay Helton among 15 CFB coaches attending NFL Draft

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We’re less than a week away from former college players officially finding out their new homes with the start of the 2018 NFL Draft and the excitement is palpable no matter if you’re a Cleveland Browns fan or somebody who dons the cardinal and gold of USC.

Naturally this is a big deal for the players’ former programs as well and their recent head coaches will be taking full advantage of the marketing opportunity to future recruits by stopping by the draft itself at AT&T Stadium for the festivities. The NFL released a list of 14 college football coaches and one recent one on Friday as being confirmed to attend the event and there are a few notable names beyond the big ones we’re used to seeing every year:

In addition, Stanford head coach David Shaw will serve as a draft analyst on NFL Network for a seventh year in a row and even ESPN’s College GameDay is getting involved with a pregame show outside the stadium they are quite familiar with from big games over the years.

Georgia DB Mark Webb tears meniscus in practice but expected back before fall camp

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Georgia’s injury luck this spring isn’t getting much better as the defending SEC champions move toward their annual G-Day spring game over the weekend.

Head coach Kirby Smart confirmed with reporters after Thursday’s practice that sophomore defensive back Mark Webb suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and tore his meniscus. He already had the knee scoped and is expected back before fall camp after the rather minor procedure.

Webb originally landed in Athens as a wideout but made the move to the secondary just as the season was getting going. He appeared in 13 games in 2017, mostly on special teams, but was expected to challenge for one of the starting spots at cornerback heading into the upcoming campaign.

The absence of Webb in the lineup for the final week of spring adds to a growing list of injuries for the team during practice as they do a little bit of roster building toward the future. Receiver Michael Chigbu’s career may be over due to lingering injuries and defensive back Divaad Wilson tore his ACL not long after enrolling this semester.

Safe to say that G-Day on Saturday might not be as physical as Smart and the coaching staff would otherwise like as a result of trying to keep the team healthy as they prepare to head into a big offseason.

Old Dominion announces remodel, expansion plans for S.B. Ballard Stadium

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Old Dominion is making sure the first word in the school’s name is not the first thing you think of when you are playing against the Monarchs, joining a long list of their FBS peers with some significant upgrades for their home venue over the coming years. In plans approved this week by the university, ODU released renderings and an updated timeline on a $65 million remodel of S.B. Ballard Stadium that is set to begin as soon as this summer.

“We are excited to begin Phase 1 reconstruction,” said Greg DuBois, the school’s vice president for administration and finance. “Fan comfort and high-quality amenities are the primary focus of this phase. The project will help us create the type of game-day experience fans want and will set us up for future expansions.”

The stadium, some 81-years-old, will undergo a nearly complete teardown over the next two years in order to transform the place most know as Foreman Field. Both the east and west stands will be demolished and rebuilt, complete with new seating and a new press box. There will naturally be more restrooms and concession stands as part of the plan that includes plenty more bells and whistles for the Conference USA program. Seating is expected to grow beyond 21,000 or so capacity the current venue seats.

While construction will get started in the coming months, the bulk of activity will take place after the 2018 campaign is wrapped up at home and before kickoff of the opener in 2019. The Virginian-Pilot reports that funding will not utilize state funds but that the school is requesting that the legislature approve an added $10 million to the cost structure as a result of rising prices beyond the original $55 million forecasted.

2018 will be just the 10th season for the Monarchs (and fifth in FBS) since the football program was reinstated and it goes without saying that the new digs will be some of the nicest in CUSA when all is said and done. Few programs have been able to successfully navigate the transition as well as ODU has and it seems an updated stadium in the near future is the reward for head coach Bobby Wilder and others in Norfolk.