After watching his football team pull away from Missouri to claim an SEC crown, Gus Malzahn wasted no time stumping for Auburn to earn a spot in the BCS title game. The way the Big Ten championship game began, it seemed as if the Tigers head coach could’ve saved his breath.
The way the first half ended, though, indicates the great SEC-Big Ten debate has the potential to burn well into the next couple of nights.
After falling behind 17-0 through a quarter and a half of play, and looking tentative, uneasy and undisciplined in doing so, Ohio State regrouped to score the final 10 points of the half and entered the locker room trailing Michigan State 17-10. Another positive for OSU? They get the opening kick of the second half as well.
Connor Cook led the way for MSU as the Ohio high school product passed for 182 yards and two touchdowns as a suspect Buckeyes pass defense was once again exposed. Interference calls (two pass, one punt) on the Buckeyes aided the Spartans’ cause greatly as they ran out to that 17-0 lead with just over nine minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Bottled up for most of the first 21 minutes, Braxton Miller‘s legs awoke as he finished the half with 74 yards rushing against the top-ranked run defense in the country. The surging Heisman candidate also accounted for OSU’s only touchdown of the half, a 20-yarder to Philly Brown that cut the lead to 17-7. Carlos Hyde, who has rushed for 100-plus yards in seven straight games, has been held to 37 yards on eight carries.
An Ohio State win that sees the Buckeyes not only overcoming the deficit but easily pulling away from the Spartans could put the second-ranked and unbeaten Buckeyes in the BCS title game against Florida State. An OSU second half that mirrors the first half could, win or lose, put Auburn into the BCS title game.
Let the conference debate rage for at least another 30 minutes of playing time…
Illinois running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn is moving on from the Illini. The sophomore announced, via Twitter, he will transfer to a new school in 2017.
Vaughn rushed for a team-high 723 yards as a freshman in 2015 with a team-leading six rushing touchdowns. This past season saw Vaughn slip to third in rushing yards with 301 yards and three touchdowns behind Kendrick Foster and Reggie Corbin under new head coach Lovie Smith. Vaughn was slowed by some injury concerns in the 2016 season with a leg injury causing him to be taken out against Minnesota and limiting him to two rushing attempts for three yards in his final two games before not getting a rushing attempt against Iowa and not playing at all against Northwestern in the season finale.
With two years under his belt, Vaughn still has two years of eligibility to play and a redshirt season still available to use to preserve his eligibility. Should he transfer to another FBS program, NCAA transfer rules will prohibit him from playing this fall. He will be eligible to play immediately if he lands at a lower division school.
The Pitt Panthers have filled out their non-conference slate for the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the addition of a home-and-home series with UCF.
The scheduling deal, announced Thursday morning, confirm UCF will host Pitt on September 19, 2018. The Knights will make the trip to Pittsburgh the following season on September 21, 2019. The two schools have faced each other just once before, with the Panthers taking a blowout 52-7 victory in Orlando on October 13, 2006.
As a member of the ACC, Pitt is required to play one power conference opponent each season in its non-conference schedule. As much as the American Athletic Conference would like us to all believe the AAC is indeed a power conference, the addition of UCF does not satisfy Pitt’s ACC scheduling requirement. However, Pitt’s ACC scheduling requirement is met in 2018 with a home game against Penn State and a road game at Notre Dame (as part of the ACC’s rotating Notre Dame schedule) and with a road game at Penn State in 2019. The Panthers and Nittany Lions will play each other in 2017 as well in State College.
For UCF, the addition of Pitt to the future schedule continues to tack on power conference opponents in future seasons. UCF will play Georgia Tech and Maryland this coming season and will play at UNC in 2018 in addition to the newly added home game against Pitt. UCF also has Stanford and Texas on future schedules in addition to more games against UNC and Georgia Tech.
Politicians will always look for ways to play to their constituents, and that sometimes means tugging at the heartstrings of local sports fans. There is no other reason why a lawmaker in Mississippi is proposing a bill that aims to fine the NCAA for taking too long to conduct any investigation of a school within the state of Mississippi.
Representative Trey Lamar is endorsing a bill that provides a one-year limit for NCAA investigations after notifying the school of a pending investigation. A notice of allegations must then be presented within six months from the initial notice of a pending investigation.
It is worth remembering that Ole Miss remains under NCAA investigation for potential violations of NCAA rules. The investigation has been going on since last January and has cast a bit of a cloud of uncertainty over the entire Ole Miss football program. No hearing in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions is currently scheduled for the program, leaving many following the Ole Miss program a tad frustrated.
The problem with NCAA investigations is there is no current structure for forming a definitive timeline of the investigation process, and each investigation is handled on a case-by-case basis with a different outcome and different allegations and charges in each. Because of that, investigations can drag on for extended period of times before the NCAA feels comfortable in its resolution.
How the state can actually fine the NCAA for taking longer than a year to complete an investigation is unknown, and perhaps not likely. But hey, Lamar will get the Ole Miss vote the next time he is on the ballot.
LSU has dismissed nose guard Travonte Valentine. The dismissal for a violation of team rules was announced Thursday night with an emailed release with head coach Ed Orgeron sharing a brief statement.
“At this point in time, Travonte is no longer part of our football program,” Orgeron said. “We wish him the best.”
Valentine played in five games for LSU last season as a sophomore, but he did not play in the final seven games of the season. Valentine faced some academic troubles at LSU last year that put his eligibility in question over the summer, but he worked to meet the academic requirements to play for LSU prior to the start of the 2016 season. Valentine also had to work through NCAA issues regarding academic concerns that prevented him from playing his freshman season.
LSU did not announce or confirm the reason for Valentine’s dismissal from the program other than to say it was for a violation of team rules.