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…
As if this day wasn’t busy enough, Ole Miss announced late Monday evening star-crossed offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil‘s suspension has been capped at seven games, meaning he’ll miss Saturday’s trip to Memphis but return in time for Texas A&M visit to The Grove on Oct. 24.
From the university:
The University initially withheld Tunsil from competition at the start of the season as both the NCAA and the University examined several alleged improper benefits. During the course of the process, it was determined by the NCAA that Tunsil received impermissible extra benefits that included the use of three separate loaner vehicles over a sixth-month period without payment, a four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate, and one day use of a rental vehicle. In addition, it was determined that Tunsil was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators regarding the loaner vehicles. He later corrected his account and since apologized.
As part of his reinstatement conditions, the NCAA imposed a seven-game suspension, ordered Tunsil to pay the value of the extra benefits to a charity, perform community service, and he will also make the vehicle down payment.
Said Tunsil: “I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made and want to thank everyone for their continued support. I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and the entire Ole Miss family for how my choices affected our program. This was a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to being back on the field with my team and redeeming myself. The last 10 months have been a physical and mental battle for me, but I love playing this game more than anything else. I want to be here for my teammates who are depending on me to finish what we started together.”
The news is, obviously, great for Tunsil and head coach Hugh Freeze personally, as well as the entire Ole Miss football program. It’s also a nice plus for NFL scouts, as it means Tunsil’s first live action of 2015 will come against possible future No. 1 draft pick Myles Garrett.
Hope he’s been practicing.
Say it ain’t so, Steve.
According to a report from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated Monday evening, Steve Spurrier is set to retire.
Spurrier, 70, is a legend the likes college football has never seen before and never will again.
He was a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at Florida, then returned to his alma mater and turned the program into a juggernaut, leading the Gators to 122-27-1 record from 1990-01 and a national championship in 1996. After a stint with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, Spurrier landed at South Carolina, where since 2005 he’s racked up a school record 86 wins.
But those wins slowed down of late. After an SEC East championship in 2010 and three straight 11-2 seasons from 2011-13, the Gamecocks fell to 7-6 in 2014, and are off to a 2-4 mark this fall. With the possibility of losses to nemeses old and new like Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida and Clemson ahead, Spurrier, it appears, would rather fade away quietly to the putting green.
Perhaps no two sentences summarize Spurrier, then and now, more precisely than this:
Combined with his three years at Duke, Spurrier closes up shop with a 228-89-2 mark, and a bust in the coaches’ wing of the Hall of Fame waiting for him.