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B1G title game set as Buckeyes set school mark for consecutive wins

Carlos Hyde Getty Images

In one fell swoop, the 2013 version of Urban Meyer‘s Ohio State Buckeyes achieved a pair of historical benchmarks for the storied football program.

Most importantly, Ohio State’s snowy 42-14 whipping of Indiana pushed the Buckeyes to 7-0 in Big Ten play with just The Game against Michigan remaining.  Courtesy of a win over 6-1 Wisconsin in late September, OSU clinched its first-ever Big Ten Leaders division championship.

In the win, Carlos Hyde (18-117-2) became the first running back to rush for more than 1,000 yards for an Urban Meyer-coached team.  Despite missing the first three games of the season because of a suspension, the senior has now rushed for 1,061 yards and scored 13 touchdowns on the ground in eight games.  He’s rushed for at least 111 yards in each of the past six games, posting a career-high of 246 in the win over Illinois last weekend.

Braxton Miller contributed as usual, combining for 304 yards of total offense (160 passing, 144 rushing) while scoring two touchdowns each through the air and on the ground.

Coupled with Michigan State’s clinching of the Legends division earlier Saturday, the Big Ten title game is now set: MSU vs. OSU Dec. 7 in Indianapolis for the conference’s automatic BCS berth and, for the Buckeyes, a potential spot in the BCS title game.  The teams last met in 2012, a one-point win for the Buckeyes that was the closest, margin-wise, during their nation’s best winning streak.

Speaking of which, the win over IU was OSU’s 23rd straight, breaking the school record of 22 set from 1967-69.  The 23 straight is tied, along with five other teams, for the 34th-longest streak in FBS history, and is the longest by an automatic-qualifying program since Notre Dame in 1988-89.  Non-AQ Boise State won 24 straight in 2009-10.

The record for a Big Ten school is 29 straight by the 1901-03 Michigan Wolverines.  Just five schools who were members of the Big Ten at the time of their streaks have won more consecutive games than the 2013 Buckeyes.

While the week-long attention will be focused solely on That School Up North, the immediate attention of Buckeye Nation — from coaches to players to fans — will ever-so-briefly shift to Stillwater.  If Oklahoma State should trip up Baylor, the Buckeyes would be in the driver’s seat at No. 3 should either Alabama or Florida State — either on the field or off — stumble coming down the home stretch.

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QB Mike White granted release from USF scholarship

South Florida v Memphis Getty Images

The most experienced quarterback on USF’s roster will ply his football wares elsewhere, the school announced Tuesday.

Willie Taggart confirmed in a press release that Mike White has been granted a release from his USF scholarship.  White had been a part of a three-man quarterback competition this spring, but decided after the last of those 15 sessions that he would continue his playing career elsewhere.

No specific reason was given for the decision.

“Mike and I talked after the conclusion of spring practice, and he expressed his desire to pursue the remainder of his career at another school,” the Bulls head coach said in a statement. “We wish Mike all the best in his future and thank him for his contributions to our program and University.”

Barring an unforeseen development, White, who was a true sophomore in 2014, would be forced to sit out the 2015 season if he ends up at another FBS program.

Over the past two seasons, the Fort Lauderdale native has started a total of 15 games. White started five games as a true freshman in 2013, and 10 the following season.  He had started 13 games in a row for the Bulls before temporarily losing his starting job in late October, but came back to start the last two.

The two games White didn’t start last year were manned by Steven Bench (vs. Houston, Nov. 1) and Quinton Flowers (vs. SMU, Nov. 15), who will now move forward with what will be a two-headed quarterback competition.

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Report: OSU expects no lost eligibility for Braxton Miller

Urban Meyer, Braxton Miller

It appears that, relatively speaking, Urban Meyer was spot on.

At an appearance in Canton, Ohio, Monday, the Ohio State head coach was asked about the potential for NCAA issues when it comes to Braxton Miller. “Everything is fine. No issue,” Meyer said.

Officially, OSU’s stance is that they are seeking some clarification from the NCAA and hope to have an answer back in a week or so.  Unofficially, the school is expecting what would essentially amount to a slap on the wrist.  From the Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s Ari Wasserman:

However, a source close to Ohio State told Northeast Ohio Media Group that the program expects a secondary violation with no eligibility lost and a letter of education for Miller to be the punishment.

Meyer did allow Tuesday, however, that he spoke out of turn yesterday when addressing Miller’s situation.

“I shouldn’t comment on things I don’t know about,” the coach said. “I don’t know, other than they are telling me they think it’s good. I think it’s going to be OK. People are asking me – ‘It’s all good, it’s done?’ I don’t know.

“It’s been told to me that everything looks to be OK. They are just doing their due diligence and making sure.”

As for the issue that’s caused the imbroglio, a school spokesperson last Wednesday confirmed to The Lantern, OSU’s student newspaper, that the university is looking into a potential NCAA rules violation committed by Miller.  ElevenWarriors.com wrote at the time that “Miller… had a bit of a lapse in judgement [Tuesday] night when he appeared to endorse Advocare, a weight-loss and nutrition multi-level marketing firm that some people consider a pyramid scheme.”

The apparent endorsement came in the form of a post made to Instagram, which was subsequently taken down when the mini-controversy began to grow.

Braxton Miller

Student-athletes are permitted to hold jobs and even be self-employed, which appears to be the case in Miller’s association with the Amway-like AdvoCare group.  However, as Texas A&M compliance director Brad Barnes explained to SBNation‘s Steven Godfrey in an excellent Q&A on the issue, a player’s earnings “may not include any remuneration for value or utility that the student-athlete may have for the employer because of the publicity, reputation, fame or personal following that he or she has obtained because of athletics ability.”

That will be the decision that OSU, and potentially the NCAA, has to make: whether Miller’s Instagram post constitutes using his “reputation, fame or personal following” for financial gain (whether it should be that way is another matter entirely).

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Pat Haden, ‘proud father of gay son,’ skipping CFP meeting in Indy

Pat Haden AP

The first visceral impact of the state of Indiana’s controversial new law on the world of college football has surfaced.

Last Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law a bill that allows for private businesses to refuse service to — or discriminate against, as some would say — members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.  The NCAA quickly issued a statement expressing concern over the new law, intimating that The Association, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, could sever its ties with the state.

The Big Ten followed suit a day later, issuing a statement in which the conference, which conducts its football championship game in Indianapolis, stated that “its member institutions believe in promoting an inclusive environment in which athletic competition can operate free from discrimination.”

The College Football Playoff committee members are set to meet in Indianapolis this week as the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four will tip-off in the same city. One of the 13 committee members, however, will not be in attendance — USC athletic director Pat Haden, who is conducting his own personal boycott of the city because of the so-called “religious freedom” law.

Regardless of your stance on the new law, Haden should be roundly applauded for standing up for not only his son but for what he believes in. What will be interesting moving forward, however, is how many, if any, of Haden’s committeemen/women stand beside their fellow member and stay away from the city as well.

And, for those of you who have already tired of this issue, you’d better brace yourself; it’s not going away. In fact, it will only grow in the coming days and weeks as other Hadens from inside the world of sports and out follow suit.

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Report: UCLA’s third-leading receiver set to transfer

UCLA v Washington Getty Images

Wide receiver is one of the deepest units UCLA possesses, but it’s also a little less deep this morning.  Reportedly.

The Los Angeles Times reported overnight that Devin Lucien has decided to leave the Bruins football program and finish his collegiate playing career elsewhere. No reason was given for the decision to transfer.

Because he will be a graduate transfer, the wide receiver, unlike in the future potentially, will be eligible to play immediately in 2015 if he lands at an FBS program.

Last season, Lucien’s 29 receptions were second on the team, although he averaged just 7.8 yards per catch.  During summer camp leading up to the 2014 season, Lucien sustained a head injury in practice serious enough that he was taken to a local hospital via ambulance.  Released the following day, Lucien passed a concussion test and returned to practice less than a week later.

In 2013, Lucien overcame a back injury to start three of the 13 games in which he played, catching 10 passes for 208 yards. The year before, he was the team’s third-leading receiver (10-188) before a broken clavicle knocked him out for the remainder of the regular season.

As noted by the Times, and outside of Lucien, the Bruins will return their top seven receivers in receptions from a year ago.

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Keith Ford’s parents address OU RB’s suspension in statement

Oklahoma Sooners v Tulsa Golden Hurricanes Getty Images

In the Sept. 13 win over Tennessee, Oklahoma’s Keith Ford sustained a broken leg that kept him out for the next five games, with the running back returning for an early November game against Baylor.  Nearly five months later, Ford was indefinitely suspended for what OU described as “academic and team rules violations.”

And, according to members of Ford’s family, the two situations are related.

In a statement sent out to the local OU media, Ford’s parents claimed their’s son’s uncharacteristic actions that led to the suspension are directly connected to the injury.  The basis for that supposition, the parents said, are the opinions of “several medical professionals,” who stated behavior out of the norm is “not uncommon among athletes after suffering extensive injury.”

Just what the specific behavior was that led to Ford’s suspension has yet to be released publicly.

Last season, Ford’s 392 yards rushing were good for third on the team, while his five rushing touchdowns were tied for second.  The junior added 11 receptions for 140 yards and another touchdown coming out of the backfield.

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Oregon QB Travis Waller changes name to Travis Jonsen

Travis Zion Jonsen

Yesterday we noted that Louisville wide receiver Paul Carter had legally changed his name to Alphonso Carter.  We also noted how it seemed like a rather rare occurrence for a player at the collegiate level.

As it turns out, it’s not all that rare — at least as far as yesterday is concerned.

A short time after Louisville announced the naming news via Twitter, Oregon quarterback Travis Waller took to the same social media site to reveal something similar.  In a tweet, Waller announced to his followers that, moving forward, he will be “Travis Zion Jonsen.”  According to the player, the name change is in honor of his mom and his grandmother’s maiden name.

It wasn’t clarified as to whether Jonsen legally changed his name.

The news is somewhat of a big deal as Jonsen, as Waller, was one of the most highly-touted players at his position in the most recent recruiting cycle.

A four-star member of the Ducks’ 2015 recruiting class, Jonsen was rated as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the country; the No. 10 player at any position in the state of California; and the No. 49 player overall according to Rivals.com. Along with running back Taj Griffin and defensive end Canton Kaumatule, Jonsen was the top-rated player in UO’s class.

Jonsen might get a look at replacing Marcus Mariota under center, although the favorites for that job heading into summer camp will likely be redshirt junior and current favorite Jeff Lockie, redshirt freshman Morgan Mahalak and prized Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Falsely accused of rape, Temple’s Praise Martin-Oguike gets another year of eligibility

Temple v Houston Getty Images

After being exonerated through the legal system, Praise Martin-Oguike is now getting another chance to extend his collegiate football career as well.

In June of 2012, Martin-Oguike was hit with a litany of charges, including aggravated assault, forcible rape, sexual assault, unlawful restraint and false imprisonment, after a Temple student alleged he raped her in the linebacker’s dorm room. Martin-Oguike, who was indefinitely suspended by the Owls, maintained that the sex was consensual and, a little over a year later, all charges were dropped.

“Upon further investigation it was determined there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed to trial,” a Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office spokesperson said at the time.

Martin-Oguike was reinstated by the Owls in January of 2014, but missed the 2013 season because of what turned out to be false accusations. That has been rectified to some degree, however, as the school announced in a press release Tuesday morning that Martin-Oguike’s appeal for an additional season of eligibility has been approved by the NCAA.

Martin-Oguike will now see his eligibility extend through the 2016 season. He will be a redshirt junior in 2015.

“I can’t imagine what Praise and his family were put through from the time those accusations were made,” head coach Matt Rhule said in a statement. “Hopefully he – and the rest of our players for that matter – learn from that experience how close they are to having the privilege of playing college athletics taken away. Fortunately, in this instance, Praise has been able to restore his life and his reputation. He has done everything we’ve asked of him since returning to the team.”

“I said throughout this process that I just want to get back to the life I had before,” said Martin-Oguike. “There was a path that I was on, to play four years of college football and get my college degree, then hopefully, have an opportunity to play at the next level. I’m working towards that goal and I’m very thankful that I’m back on that path.”

In 2014, Martin-Oguike led the Owls with 7.5 sacks after starting 11 games. For his efforts, he was named second-team All-AAC.

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Oklahoma WR Jordan Smallwood suffers ACL injury

Jordan Smallwood, Steven Parker

On the same day its running back depth took a hit, Oklahoma’s pool of wide receivers got a little more shallow. The Sooners announced on their official Twitter account Monday that Jordan Smallwood had suffered an ACL injury and will be out through early-to-mid September.

A junior, Smallwood caught three passes for 21 yards a year ago.

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Nick Saban “very, very sorry” for way Jonathan Taylor situation worked out

Nick Saban

Nick Saban is sorry. Well, sort of.

The Alabama head coach spoke to reporters Monday evening for the first time since giving troubled defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor the boot one day ago for yet another domestic violence charge, saying he was sorry for the way the situation worked out but not for taking a player with two strikes on his record in the first place.

“I’m not apologizing for the opportunity that we gave him,” Saban told the Associated Press. I wanted to try to help the guy make it work. It didn’t work. We’re sorry that it didn’t work and we’re sorry that there was an incident and we’re sorry for the people that were involved in the incident. But we’re not apologizing for what we did, and we’re going to continue to try to create opportunities in the future.”

The confusing thing about the Taylor saga is that Saban went against his whole ethos to sign him, saying at SEC Media Days last summer that “there’s never been a player I’ve kicked off the team that ever amounted to anything.” So why would that mantra hold any less true for a player Mark Richt already kicked off his own team? Why did Saban mention the “psychological profiling” his program performed on Taylor, but not bother to contact Richt or the Athens-Clarke County District Attorney?

“I think you learn from every experience and we certainly learned some things from this one,” Saban said. “But I will say this. We will continue to try to create opportunities for players and try to help them be successful, and even in Jonathan Taylor’s case, if there’s anything we can do to help him overcome his issues and problem we will still certainly try and help him be successful. But right now the guy just can’t be on our football team.”

Elsewhere in “Alabama players in handcuffs” news, Saban said that Tide defensive back Geno Smith, arrested Friday on DUI charges, could return to the team provided he behaves properly.

“When he does a few things that he needs to do over the next few days, and he’s going to have quite a bit of things that he has to do in the future, which I’m not going to be willing to share with anybody — that’s kind of a private matter — then he’ll be back on the field and we’ll allow him to practice again,” Saban said.

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PHOTO: Ohio State has a Michigan fire hydrant near its vet school

Michigan v Ohio State

Ohio State is hoping, pining, aching for Jim Harbaugh to turned the hated Wolverines into a worthy adversary to Urban Meyer and the scarlet-and-grey behemoth in Columbus.

Don’t believe me?

Buckeyes fan site Eleven Warriors shared a photo taken near the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine of a maize-and-blue fire hydrant for the local canine population to, uh, enjoy.

So, yes, Ohio State is definitely ready for this to become a rivalry again.

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UW Huskies add 2017 game against Fresno State

Paul Williams

It’s not exactly Colorado adding TCU and Texas A&M or Stanford adding TCU and Vanderbilt, but another Pac-12 school has added a game to its future schedule against a very respectable Group of Five team.

In twin press releases, Washington and Fresno State announced that the two football programs have reached an agreement on a 2017 game.  Not surprisingly, that game will be played at Husky Stadium and will take place Sept. 16.

The two teams have played just three times previously, the last coming in 2006.

“This is a great opportunity for us to stay on the west coast and play a highly competitive Pac-12 program,” Fresno athletic director Jim Bartko said in a statement. “This game will provide us with great exposure and is an easy trip for both our team and our fans to get to and from Seattle.”

UW had previously announced two other non-conference games for the 2017 season, a home game against FCS Montana and a road trip to Rutgers. There are also future home-and-homes scheduled against BYU (2018,2019) and Michigan (2020, 2021).

The Bulldogs have played teams from the Pac-12 17 of the last 20 seasons, and have schools from that conference on schedules in four of the next five years: Utah (2015), UW (2017), UCLA (2018) and Colorado (2019).

(Photo credit: Fresno State athletics)

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Louisville has a new WR… sort of

Alphonso Carter

As part of Louisville’s 2015 recruiting class, the Cardinals announced the addition of Paul Harris this past December.

Paul Harris is no longer with the team, but the player is.  Wait, what?

It’s actually very simple, even as its something that leans toward the rare side: Harris, you see, has changed his name.  The U of L unveiled the name change in a tweet posted to the football program’s Twitter account, although they didn’t get into the why of the situation.

Harris… errr Carter came to the U of L from the JUCO ranks, but actually began his collegiate career at Tennessee.  A four-star member of UT’s 2013 recruiting class, Carter was rated as the No. 40 wide receiver in the country and the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Maryland.

Playing in five games in his one and only season with the Vols, Carter had one catch for 15 yards.  After transferring to Iowa Western Community College, Carter missed the 2014 season with a broken leg.

In addition to Louisville, Carter also held offers from Nebraska and East Carolina in his second recruiting go ’round.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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UNC grad assistant busted for DWI resigns

Gerald McRath

It’s not just college football players who set back our “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.

According to WRAL-TV, North Carolina graduate assistant Gerald McRath was arrested early Monday morning and charged with driving while impaired.  According to the television station’s website, McGrath was found asleep at the wheel by police with his vehicle running.

He was released on a $1,500 bond a short time later.

A few hours later, McRath also relieved himself of his duties at UNC as he announced in a statement that he has decided to, ahem, “resign” his post.

“I apologize for my actions and for bringing negative publicity and attention to the University of North Carolina and the football program,” McRath wrote. “I have decided to resign my position as a graduate assistant coach at UNC and move forward with my career.”

McRath was just added to Larry Fedora‘s staff earlier this year as a defensive grad assistant. He played a portion of his college football career for Fedora at Southern Miss during the latter’s first year in Hattiesburg (2008) before embarking on a four-year NFL career with the Tennessee Titans.

His first coaching job was in 2014 as a defensive quality control coach at his alma mater.

(Photo credit: North Carolina athletics)

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Wake Forest announces six-game series with Army, other non-conference games

Duke v Wake Forest

Wake Forest announced a season’s worth of non-conference games in one fell swoop Monday as athletics director Ron Wellman revealed 13 new games in a column on the Demon Deacons’ website.

Headlining the list of games is a six-game series with Army beginning in 2016 and then occurring occasionally through the next decade. The Deacons will host the Black Knights in 2016, 2022 and 2025 and visit West Point in 2021, 2024 and 2026. The schools have met 14 times previously, most recently a 24-21 Wake Forest win last fall, with the Deacons taking 10 of those affairs.

Wake Forest also announced a home-and-home with Vanderbilt (in Nashville in 2022, in Winston-Salem in ’23), as well as a 2022 home game with Air Force and guarantee games with Presbyterian (2017), Elon (2018) and Elon (2019). Wellman wrote to his constituents to expect more road non-conference games due to the college football underclass raising the prices of guarantee games. “Our goal of playing seven home games each season is becoming more challenging in today’s economic environment. The financial guarantees that non-conference opponents are receiving today for ‘buy games’ have doubled and tripled from just a few years ago,” he wrote. “Therefore, it is more realistic to play a home- and- away series against quality opponents than to ‘buy’ one-time games.”

Wellman also broke a little news, confirming that the ACC will indeed require a Power Five non-conference foe for each of its schools moving forward and that BYU will be counted among that group. “The ACC athletic directors have agreed that each ACC school will play a football non-conference opponent from the SEC, Big 10, PAC 12, Big 12 or Notre Dame or BYU annually,” he wrote.

As it stands today, Wake Forest has non-conference dates with the likes of Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Indiana, Tulane, Air Force, Ole Miss, Purdue and North Carolina lined up through 2026. Ah, yes, the North Carolina non-conference series. You remember that, right? Yeah, Wellman told you that you can take your criticisms and your snark for that unorthodox piece of scheduling and shove it.

“The overwhelming feedback from Wake Foresters has been extremely positive, as they want to play UNC as often as possible,” he wrote.

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More games set to be added to postseason bowl platter?

Portland Trail Blazers v Chicago Bulls Getty Images

If you’re of the mindset that the more bowls the better, you might just be in for a treat.  If you’re not?  Well, you might throw up a little bit in your mouth over the following possibility.

ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy is reporting that the cities of Tucson and Little Rock are wanting a piece of the postseason pie, tweeting that both are expected to apply for new bowl games for the 2015 season.  The proposed Tucson game would pit the Mountain West against Conference USA, while the Little Rock matchup would find the AAC squaring off with the Sun Belt.

According to McMurphy, the bowl in Little Rock will likely be televised by either NBC Sports Network or CBS Sports Network.  There is no indication from McMurphy who would televise the other, which will likely be called the Arizona Bowl.

Last year, not counting the College Football Playoff game, there were 38 bowl games.  If these two games are added, it would bring the total to a whopping 41 bowls for the 2015 season — the Cure Bowl in Orlando was announced last April and will debut following the upcoming season.  At that number, a full 65 percent of FBS programs would “earn” a bowl bid.

In 2014, there were 84 teams — counting UAB, which disbanded its football program prior to the start of the postseason — who were bowl-eligible with at least six wins.  That’s enough to fill the spots for 42 bowl games.  The year before that, 82 schools reached the requisite six wins; in 2012, there were only 77 bowl-eligible teams, which means that there could very well be years where not enough teams reach six wins and bowls would have to take a look at 5-7 teams to fill all of the slots.

And, if you’re anti-bowl expansion, that’s enough to make your skin crawl.  But wait, there’s more…

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