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They are Legends: Spartans clinch division, B1G trip to Indy


And now it’s officially official.

The front-runner for the better part of a month or more, Michigan State finally put the finishing touches on its run at the Big Ten Legends division title with a punishing 30-6 win over free-falling — and winless in conference play — Northwestern.  The division title is the Spartans’ second in three years since the conference split the league in half beginning with the 2011 season.

It was also MSU’s seventh straight win since suffering its lone loss of the season against Notre Dame in Week 4, and, as has been the case more times than not, it was a dominating defense and a sprinkling of an ever-improving offense that led the way.

That Spartans’ defense, ranked at or near the top in nearly every major statistical category, held the limping Wildcats to a pair of first-half field goals while forcing three second-half turnovers.  Showing they are somewhat human, however, MSU allowed more than 300 yards of total offense for the second straight game; entering last weekend, they hadn’t allowed a single team to top that mark the first nine games.

Offensively, running back Jeremy Langford came within a yard of matching his career-high, rushing for 150 yards and scoring two touchdowns.  The junior’s career-high was 151 yards set a week ago against Nebraska.  Connor Cook was brutally efficient, completing 16-of-23 passes for 293 yards and a pair of touchdowns while playing a pick-free game.  One of those scoring tosses was an 87-yarder to Bennie Fowler.

The win officially ended any hopes Minnesota entertained of reaching the title game, which had involved the Gophers winning and the Spartans losing their last two.  Those two teams will wrap up the regular-season portion of their schedules in East Lansing next Saturday.

As for MSU’s opposition in the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis the first Saturday of December, that could (should) very well be decided in a couple of hours.  If Ohio State beats Indiana in its game that kicks off at 3:30 ET this afternoon, the Buckeyes will clinch the Leaders division.

If the inexplicable happens and the 4-6 Hoosiers snap the Buckeyes’ nation’s best winning streak, MSU would have to wait until next weekend to start game planning for a specific opponent.  Wisconsin, which lost to Ohio State earlier this year, would slide into its third straight conference title game if it wins out and the Buckeyes lose its last two.  An OSU win against either Indiana or Michigan in The Game would clinch the division for the Buckeyes and leave the Badgers on the outside looking in based on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Starting LB C.J. Johnson reveals surgery on social media, Ole Miss confirms

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Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.

With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future.  The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.

Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.  The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.

At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas.  The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.

Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels.  He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.

Butch Jones labels rumor of ‘physical altercation’ with Vols player ‘absolutely ridiculous’

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers yells at Marquez North #8 during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.

The website Gridiron.com, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August.  The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.

From the site’s report:

The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.

The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”

Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”

At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations.  Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.