Buckeyes cap back-to-back perfect regular seasons with wild win in The Game

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It was far from easy, as is ofttimes the case when it comes to The Game.  But, ultimately, it ended the same way Ohio State’s previous 23 games had — with Buckeyes on the correct side of the scoreboard.

Behind the one-two workhorse punch of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde, Ohio State was able to hang on in the face of hated rival Michigan’s furious fourth-quarter rally and stake its claim to a 42-41 win in the Big House.  The Buckeyes took a 35-21 lead into the fourth quarter only to see it evaporate on the strength of a pair of Devin Gardner touchdown passes, the second of which came with 5:01 remaining and knotted the score at 35-all.

An OSU touchdown nearly three minutes later was matched by UM with :32 left.  Eschewing a game-tying extra point that would’ve nearly guaranteed overtime, Brady Hoke made the gutsy — and correct — call to go for two and the likely win.  Gardner’s pass, however, was intercepted at the goal line, securing what was a wildly-entertaining win for the Buckeyes.

The victory capped the second straight undefeated season for the Buckeyes, who have not lost under second-year coach Urban Meyer.  This is the eighth time in the past nine games — that have officially counted — OSU has beaten That School Up North, which still holds a 58-44-6 edge in the ultimate gridiron grudge match.

Miller and Hyde combined to rush for 379 yards, 153 for the former and 226 for the latter.  Hyde’s total is a record for an Ohio State player in The Game, while  Miller ran for three touchdowns and passed for two more.

Gardner passed for 451 yards and four touchdowns — three of which came in that wild fourth quarter — in what was the Wolverines’ fifth loss of the season.

The win extended OSU’s school-record winning streak to 24 straight.  It’s tied for the 27th-longest winning streak in FBS history, joining Boise State (2009-10), Princeton (1949-52), Minnesota (1903-05), Nebraska (1901-04, Yale (1894-95; 1882-84) and Harvard (1890-91).  They are now five games away from tying Michigan’s record of 29 for a Big Ten school set from 1903-05.

The win also kept alive the Buckeyes’ hopes for a shot at a BCS title.  They don’t however, control their own destiny.  If Alabama and Florida State win out, it will be the Tide and Seminoles vying for the crystal regardless of what the Buckeyes’ do in the Big Ten Championship game against Michigan State next weekend.

California’s state-funded travel ban to discriminating states raises mild football scheduling concerns

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The state of California is banning state-funded travel to the states of Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, and South Dakota. Those states are added to the previous state-funded travel bans that included Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee due to what California lawmakers say are laws that allow for discrimination against gay and transgender people.

So what does this have to do with college football? My colleague, Bryan, notes this latest decision from the state means scheduling any potential road games for a handful of schools just got a tad trickier.

This development poses a couple of issues for some California schools to address moving forward.

San Jose State is the school affected by this latest news right off the bat. San Jose State has a road game scheduled at Texas on September 9 this season. San Jose State may have to rely on some of that guaranteed money from Texas to cover the expenses, which would put a dent in the total takeaway from playing the game in the first place.

Cal is also scheduled to play at North Carolina on September 2. Cal also plays at TCU in 2021 and at Auburn in 2024. If the ban is still in operation at those times, then Cal will have to budget ahead of time to tackle the expenses. UCLA will play at Memphis on September 19.

The state-funded travel ban to these states may not be an issue for the postseason, as bowl game expenses tend to be carried by the conference and their revenue shares.

Fresno State has a road game at Texas A&M scheduled in 2020. San Diego State has no future scheduling hassles to worry about for the time being.

When ‘physically, mentally ready,’ door wide open for Keyshawn Johnson Jr.’s return to Nebraska

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Keyshawn Johnson Jr. has yet to play a down for Nebraska, but, if it’s up to Mike Riley, he will at some point down the road.

Earlier this month, the son of former USC great Keyshawn Johnson was cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.  This past week, the younger Johnson decided to take a leave of absence, with his father stating that his son needed some time to “mature” and will not play for the Cornhuskers in 2017.

Left open at the time was the question of whether Johnson Jr. would ever play for the ‘Huskers, period.  Friday, Riley left the door wide open for a return.

“We’re disappointed that he’s not here with us right now today,” the head coach said according to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “I think there’s kind of a wellness factor for Keyshawn going home. We talked to him about the possibility of maybe enrolling part time and taking care of his progress toward his degree, and also getting in great shape.

“And we opened the door for return, which is just kind of left open that we’ll deal with at the time that he is physically and mentally ready to do that.”

A three-star 2017 signee who was an early enrollee and participated in spring practice, the younger Johnson had been expected to be an immediate contributor for the Cornhuskers this season.

Ex-K-State WR involved in release imbroglio transfers to Appalachian State

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After public pressure helped get him out of the Little Apple, Corey Sutton is going to resume his collegiate playing career on the East Coast.

On his personal Twitter account Friday night, Sutton (pictured, No. 12) announced that he is “[b]lessed to say I will be continuing my collegiate career at Appalachian State University.” The rising sophomore will have to sit out the 2017 season because of arcane and one-sided NCAA transfer rules.

Beginning in 2018, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

The move comes three weeks or so after a very noisy exit from his first college football home.

In early June, the transferring wide receiver revealed in an interview that Kansas State had denied a release to all 35 schools he requested, including FCS and Div. II programs.  Bill Snyder both confirmed the accuracy of Sutton’s accounting of events and defended his decision, then inexplicably ratcheted up the public rhetoric by revealing Sutton had failed a pair of drug tests.

Facing a maelstrom of criticism, Snyder subsequently apologized publicly while the football program granted Sutton a “full release” from his scholarship that still restricted him from transferring to any Big 12 school or one that’s on K-State’s future schedule while he still has eligibility. It’s unclear if the Sun Belt Mountaineers were on Sutton’s original list of 35 schools that was denied by the university.

In his lone season with the Wildcats, Sutton played in 11 games, catching four passes for 54 yards. Sutton came to K-State as a three-star 2016 signee after playing his high school football in North Carolina.

ESPN extends broadcast agreement with BYU football through 2019

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BYU’s future as an independent appears to be on solid ground through at least the next couple of seasons.

That’s the biggest takeaway from Friday’s announcement at the Cougars’ annual football media day in Provo as the school confirmed ESPN had exercised their contractual option to extend broadcast rights for BYU home games through 2019.

“We’ve enjoyed a great relationship with ESPN for decades and that relationship seems to get stronger every year,” athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a release. “There is great collaboration, and I feel really good about what we are doing together. We’ve had good dialogue about extending the contract and felt this option would give us some time for additional conversations.”

ESPN agreed to an eight-year deal with the school when they originally opted to become a football independent back in 2011. The network holds the rights to all BYU home games aside from at least one game a year that will be aired on the school’s own network, BYUtv.

In addition to extending the broadcast deal another season, BYU also secured a slot in a bowl game thanks to ESPN’s backing. The Cougars, if eligible, didn’t have a set bowl game to go to in 2017 and their slot in the Poinsettia Bowl for 2018 went away when the bowl folded earlier this year. The end result is that if BYU hits the necessary six wins in the next few seasons, they’ll wind up playing in one of the many postseason games that ESPN owns, operates or televises.