Associated Press

No. 15 Michigan holds off Minnesota at the goal line to win Little Brown Jug

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Playing its first game since head coach Jerry Kill‘s abrupt and emotional retirement just three days prior, Minnesota mounted a dramatic comeback to take the lead with 19 seconds remaining, seemingly giving the Gophers an emotional win. But Drew Leidner‘s pass to Drew Wolitarsky was downgraded from a 23-yard touchdown to a 22-yard completion after an official review, and Minnesota had the ball at the Michigan one-yard line with 19 seconds left.

With a timeout remaining, Minnesota lined up to run a play… and shifted… and shifted… and shifted some more. Seventeen seconds later, Leidner’s pass fell incomplete in the end zone. After a timeout, interim head coach Tracy Claeys elected to eschew an overtime-forcing field goal and play for the win. The Gophers called for a Leidner sneak and Michigan, which entered the game with college football’s second-ranked rush defense, held. The spot was upheld upon review, and No. 15 Michigan held on for a 29-26 win.

The Wolverines led 14-3 in the second quarter and 21-16 in the third, but Minnesota re-took the lead on a 24-yard Leidner run, and then pushed the score to 26-21 with a 47-yard Ryan Santoso field goal.

Michigan mounted a comeback despite starting quarterback Jake Rudock knocked from the game after a shot to the head, as backup Wilton Speight (who hadn’t completed a pass this season before tonight) rebounded from four consecutive punts to move the Wolverines 40 yards in seven plays and more than three-and-a-half minutes, punctuated with a 12-yard scoring strike to Jehu Chesson on 3rd-and-10 with just 4:57 remaining. Speight finished the night 3-of-6 for 29 yards in urgent action, while Rudock connected on 13-of-21 throws for 140 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Minnesota accepted the ball at its own 25 on the ensuing possession and methodically moved its way down the field, converting a 3rd-and-17 at its own 18 and a 4th-and-5 at the Michigan 39. Two plays after Leidner hit K.J. Maye for a 12-yard gain on that do-or-die fourth down, he hit Wolitarsky for the apparent game-winning score.

And then, somehow, the Gophers snapped the ball only twice more in the final 19 seconds despite holding a timeout in its back pocket. One may wonder why Claeys, in his second stint now replacing Kill at Minnesota, did not call timeout from the sideline when it appeared Leidner (317 passing yards, 37 rushing, two total touchdowns) was unaware of  the rolling clock.

But he didn’t, and Michigan (6-2, 3-1) survived. The win reclaims some of the momentum lost in the shocking Michigan State loss two weeks ago and keeps the Wolverines alive in the Big Ten East race. Michigan will return to Ann Arbor next week to host Rutgers, then visit Penn State and Indiana in advance of Ohio State’s much-anticipated Nov. 28 visit to the Big House.

Minnesota drops to 4-4 (1-3 Big Ten) with the loss and puts the Gophers bowl hopes in jeopardy. Unless Minnesota pulls an upset at Ohio State next week or Iowa the week after, the Gophers will have to sweep Illinois and Wisconsin – winners of 11 straight in the series.

The loss also robbed Minnesota of its first back-to-back wins in the Little Brown Jug series since winning four straight from 1960-63. In a series dating back to 1892, Michigan now holds a 74-25-3 lead.

 

Colorado dismises LB N.J. Falo

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The rocky tenure of N.J. Falo at Colorado has come to an abrupt end.

According to the university, the linebacker has been dismissed from head coach Mike MacIntyre‘s football program.  Other than the standard violation of unspecified team rules, no reason for the dismissal was given.

In late April of last year, Falo (pictured, No. 42) and then-Buffs running back Dino Gordon were arrested in connection to an alleged dorm-room theft.  The duo had been accused of stealing prescription drugs, laptops, video games and other electronics from a dorm room earlier that month.

Falo, who played in seven games as a true freshman in 2015, was suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season because of the incident.  After returning, the then-true sophomore played in the final 11 games of the year.  As a backup, he was credited with 12 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.

Because of injury, he sat atop CU’s post-spring depth chart just months ago.

Texas transfer Brandon Hodges uses Twitter to commit to Pitt

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A month after leaving Texas, Brandon Hodges has decided on a new college football home.

On his personal Twitter account Tuesday afternoon, Hodges announced that he has decided to enroll at Pittsburgh and continue his playing career with the Panthers.  As the offensive lineman is coming to the Panthers as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2017.

The upcoming season will be his final year of eligibility.

Hodges spent the first two seasons of his collegiate career at East Mississippi Community College before transferring to UT in 2015. He took a redshirt his first season in Austin.

Last season, Hodges started nine games at right tackle for the Longhorns. Academics forced Hodges to miss some of spring practice this year as well as the spring game, although he was able to graduate from the university not long after.

Urban Meyer: Greg Schiano ‘will be head coach’ again after turning down two ‘significant’ jobs this offseason

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It won’t be this year, but Urban Meyer could be forced to replace his defensive coordinator in short order.

In December of last year, Greg Schiano‘s name was attached to head coach openings at Oregon (HERE) and USF (HERE), although those jobs ultimately went to Willie Taggart and Charlie Strong, respectively.  At the Big Ten Media Days Tuesday, Schiano’s boss stated that his coordinator had turned down two “significant” opportunities this offseason to again become a head coach.

While the Ohio State head coach declined to divulge the names of the jobs Schiano decided against, or even what level of the sport was involved, Meyer emphatically stated that it’s a matter of when, not if, Schiano becomes a head coach again.

“He will be a head coach (again),” Meyer said by way of ElevenWarriors.com. “I’m going to keep him as long as I can. He’s one of the best I’ve ever been around.”

Schiano, who was the head coach at Rutgers from 2001-11, is entering his second season leading the Buckeyes’ defense.  In his first, OSU was third nationally in points per game (14.2) and tied for fourth in yards per game (282).

New medical study finds CTE in brains of 48 of 53 deceased college football players

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As the sport at all levels continues to aggressively address the issue of safety for its players, another report has surfaced that shines a harsh light on the potential brutality of the game.

In a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Tuesday, the Associated Press reports, researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine and the VA Boston Healthcare System examined the brains of 202 deceased men who had played football at various levels.  Of those, 53 played college football; 48 of them were diagnosed postmortem with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE as it’s more commonly known.

Even more startling, 110 of the 111 brains of former NFL players studied had CTE.  Conversely, three of 14 brains of individuals whose highest level of football was high school were diagnosed with it.

From the AP:

There are many questions that remain unanswered,” said lead author Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University neuroscientist. “How common is this” in the general population and all football players?

“How many years of football is too many?” and “What is the genetic risk? Some players do not have evidence of this disease despite long playing years,” she noted.

It’s also uncertain if some players’ lifestyle habits — alcohol, drugs, steroids, diet — might somehow contribute, McKee said.

Dr. Munro Cullum, a neuropsychologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, emphasized that the report is based on a selective sample of men who were not necessarily representative of all football players. He said problems other than CTE might explain some of their most common symptoms before death — depression, impulsivity and behavior changes. He was not involved in the report.

CTE is a degenerative disease found in people who have suffered repeated blows to the head, particularly in sports such as boxing hockey, rugby and, of course, football.  At this time, CTE can only be diagnosed after death, although there are experimental tests being studied that may work on the living.

In that vein, the AP writes that “McKee said research from the brain bank may lead to answers and an understanding of how to detect the disease in life, “while there’s still a chance to do something about it.”

Among those who donated their brains and were part of the new study included Ken Stabler (Alabama), Bubba Smith (Michigan State), Junior Seau (USC), Dave Duerson (Notre Dame) and Frank Wainright (Northern Colorado).  All of those went on to lengthy careers in the NFL.