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Spartans snap Buckeyes’ 23-game win streak on last-second FG, take control of B1G East

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All week long leading into their game against Ohio State, Michigan State had to hear pundits downplay their chances of going into a Columbus and stealing a win from the No. 3 Buckeyes.  Never mind that, ranked eighth in the country, the Spartans weren’t exactly coming into a gun fight armed only with a knife.

Saturday night, they served notice to anyone that overlooked them or just flat-out forgot about them.

Battling a hostile environment in inclement weather and without their starting quarterback, the Spartans stood tall, turning a gutsy performance into a stunning 17-14 upset of the Buckeyes.  The game-winning points came of the right leg of Michael Geiger, whose 41-yarder as the clock expired was the difference.

For Ohio State, it was the end of a 23-game winning streak; a couple of years ago, it was Michigan State that ended the Buckeyes’ 24-game winning streak in the Big Ten championship game.  The loss also ended the Buckeyes’ record of 30 straight regular season Big Ten wins.

For Michigan State, the win gives it complete and total control of the Big Ten East.  MSU can earn a spot in the conference championship game opposite Iowa with either a win over Penn State next week or, if they lose, a Michigan win over OSU.  The Buckeyes can still claim the East, but it would take a win over the Wolverines and a Spartans loss to the Nittany Lions.

Making the win all the more impressive was the fact that the Spartans did it without All-Big Ten quarterback Connor Cook, who sat out with an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder.  In his place, Tyler O'Connor made his first collegiate start, and the junior did exactly what he was supposed to: manage the game and not turn the ball over.  For the most part he did all of that, even as his one turnover, a fumble, led to the Buckeyes’ first touchdown.

It was the Spartans’ defense, though, that was the story of the game — well, that any the lack of any type of cohesive game plan on OSU’s part.  The high-powered Buckeyes were held to a season-low 132 yards of offense; it was also the lowest total ever in head coach Urban Meyer‘s coaching career.  On a night when they passed for just a mere 43 yards, and could do nothing down the field, Heisman Trophy candidate Ezekiel Elliott ran the ball just 12 times.  Unbelievably, just three of those carries came in a second half in which the Buckeyes either led or were tied for all 30 minutes.

While much of the credit should go to the Spartans’ defense, Meyer will (rightly) have a lot of explaining to do for a plan that more closely resembled a game of blindfolded darts than anything else, especially for a game played in those conditions.

As for the playoff picture?  It doesn’t change it much if at all in that it seems highly likely the winner of the Big Ten championship game, whether it’s one-loss Michigan State or unbeaten Iowa, will still be a decided favorite to claim one of the spots in the two semifinals.  In fact, the only thing that really changed is, barring a significant turn of events, Ohio State won’t be getting the opportunity to defend its 2014 national championship.

Such is your lot in life, though, when you have a Porsche and you keep it parked for most of the race.

Texas set to give DC Todd Orlando new contract with raise to $1.7 million a year

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Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the raises.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the University of Texas System Board of Regents are set to approve several athletics-related contracts next week, headlined by athletic director Chris Del Conte’s multi-million dollar six-year deal and a hefty raise for Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

Orlando, who joined Tom Herman when he came over from Houston prior to last season, was already one of 15 assistants who were making over $1 million in 2017. He was courted by several programs this offseason however and the cost to retain him on the 40 Acres didn’t come cheap as his amended contract is set to pay him a reported $1.7 million as part of a new four-year deal.

Also on tap for the board? The Statesman notes that new offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand has a three-year contract awaiting approval worth nearly $640,000 annually.

While all those new contracts do add up for the Longhorns, it’s not like the burnt orange can’t afford it all as one of a handful of programs who topped $200 million in revenue last year.

Texas A&M athletic director: “There are resource issues in the ACC versus the SEC.”

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CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd recently stopped in College Station to do a deep dive on one of college football’s biggest storylinesJimbo Fisher’s $75 million move from Florida State to Texas A&M.

While the money — some $90 million for the Aggies when all is said and done — is one of the more eye-catching parts of the story that are broken down, the comments from some at the school probably won’t go unnoticed by those in Fisher’s former conference.

“I’m not going to put words in Jimbo’s mouth, but there are resource issues in the ACC versus the SEC,” Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward told CBS Sports, answering part of the question as to why the national title-winning head coach made the move from one of the sport’s blue-bloods to one of the oft-labeled “sleeping giants.”

We’re guessing those in ACC territory will not take kindly to those comments and note that some schools in the league have no problem raising cash, such as Clemson when it comes to their new football facility that has everything from mini-golf to sleep specialists. They also would probably point out that the conference has just as many national titles in the past five years as the SEC does too.

Still, when you look at the larger picture, there’s little question that the SEC is ahead of the ACC when it comes to revenues as a whole and the slow pace of facilities upgrades in Tallahassee was one of the many public grumbles that Fisher made known about before leaving FSU.

Something says all those ACC-SEC football games in 2018 will see Woodward’s comments brought up again — especially when Clemson heads to College Station to play Texas A&M in Week 2.

UCF’s Shaquem Griffin wins inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award

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UCF has won another trophy for last season and this is one they can very proudly display in the school trophy case.

That’s because recent Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin was named the winner of the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award during a ceremony in the Dallas area on Thursday night. Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph were also finalists for the new award.

Griffin was one of the best players in college football for UCF despite the fact that his left hand was amputated when he was younger because of a congenital condition called amniotic band syndrome. A tenacious pass rusher, he was the AAC’s defensive player of the year in 2016 and was recently named the defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl as his team capped off a perfect season.

The award honors “exemplary leadership” on and off the field from a Division I college football player and was presented by Witten’s foundation. The former Tennessee star and All-Pro tight end with the Dallas Cowboys started the award last year and serves somewhat as the college version of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

HBO releases new trailer for Joe Paterno movie starring Al Pacino

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We’re inching closer to the release date of HBO’s Paterno about former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno and his story in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. Emotions already run high in State College whenever this subject is brought up and that seems like it will be the case again after today as the worst scandal in college sports history is relived and brought vividly to life on cable TV.

This is something that is happening however and HBO released a new, official trailer for the film on Friday that gives us an extended look at both Al Pacino in the title role and a bit more on some of the plot lines that are being brought to the silver screen.

In addition to starring Pacino, Barry Levinson is directing the movie, Riley Keough plays reporter Sara Ganim, Kathy Baker is Sue Paterno and Darren Goldstein was cast as former Nittany Lions coach-turned-whistleblower Mike McQuearyAs you can see in the trailer above, the film is mostly centered on what Paterno did or did not know about Sandusky — the team’s defensive coordinator who was found guilty on 45 of 48 child-sex abuse charges in June of 2012 and is currently serving a prison sentence of at least 30 years.

Paterno premieres April 7th on HBO.