My how things have changed.
Last season was one of the most successful ones in Michigan State history. In 2015, 12 wins, second-most in school history, were capped off by the program’s first-ever appearance in the College Football Playoff. Nine months later?
In East Lansing Saturday, MSU jumped out to a quick 14-point lead on Northwestern midway through the first quarter. That was essentially the high-water mark in the game as the Wildcats outscored the Spartans 54-26 the rest of the way to claim a 54-40 win.
With the loss, MSU drops to 2-4 on the season — the same number of losses they had in their previous 27 games heading into this season. It’s also the team’s fourth straight loss, the longest same-season streak since 2006. That was also the last time the Spartans failed to qualify for a bowl game.
Given the remaining schedule, that streak of nine straight bowl appearances since is in jeopardy.
MSU still has to face rivals No. 4 Michigan and No. 2 Ohio State, although the silver lining there is they get both Big Ten East powerhouses in East Lansing. They also have to go on the road to face a pair of teams currently 4-2 in Maryland and Penn State. Arguably the only gimmes on the remaining slate are 2-5 Rutgers and 2-4 Illinois, with both of those teams serving as the current basement dwellers in the B1G East and West, respectively.
Suffice to say, Sparty will have a tough row to hoe in just getting to within shouting distance of six wins, let alone getting to that postseason plateau.
As has been the case for the last couple of weeks, Florida State’s receiving corps will be at less than 100-percent health.
On its official injury report, FSU listed wide receivers George Campbell and Keith Gavin (pictured) as out for Saturday’s Week 8 game against Louisville. Gavin will be sidelined because of an ankle injury, Campbell a hip issue.
Both receivers missed last weekend’s win over Duke. Campbell sustained his injury in the Week 5 loss to Wake Forest, while Gavin left the Miami loss because of his.
Gavin is currently third on the Seminoles in receptions (14) and receiving yards (134). Campbell has six catches for 122 yards, which is fourth on the team. His 20.3 yards per catch is tops on the ‘Noles.
One bright spot for this unit is the fact that Auden Tate, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury since the Week 4 loss to North Carolina State, is close to 100 percent per head coach Jimbo Fisher. Tate currently leads the ‘Noles with 19 receptions for 312 yards, and has caught five of the six touchdown passes thrown by the team this season.
If there was ever a dictionary definition of a tale of two halves, this game was it.
Through two quarters of play, Houston held a relatively comfortable 17-0 lead on No. 25 Memphis as the AAC teams headed into their respective halftime locker rooms. When the second-half dust had settled, the Tigers had righted themselves en route to a 42-point last two quarters in a stunning 42-38 come-from-behind win over the Cougars.
Riley Ferguson passed for 471 yards in the win, although he had just one touchdown pass on the night. Patrick Taylor managed the scoring load for the Tigers, though, as he scored four rushing touchdowns on 14 carries for 39 yards; Taylor had just three touchdowns the first seven games of the season entering Thursday night.
Despite Memphis’ second-half scoring deluge, homestanding Houston actually held a 10-point lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the game. Turnovers on their last two possessions, however, torpedoed any chance of the home upset of a ranked conference foe.
With the win, Memphis moves to 3-1 in American Athletic Conference play and into a temporary tie with Navy, which plays No. 20 UCF Saturday, for the top spot in the Group of Five conference’s West Division.
While everybody on the Palouse is worried about Mike Leach following athletic director Bill Moos to Nebraska this week, a more pressing concern for Washington State is getting back on track and beating Colorado on Saturday night.
That might be just a tad bit tougher now because the school has suspended leading receiver Tavares Martin Jr.’s for one game following his actions subsequent to the team’s loss at Cal last Friday. The reason he won’t suit up when the Buffs roll into Pullman? It seems he got a tad angry, throwing a bit of a temper tantrum and skipping a practice.
“He was a little angry, saying things hadn’t gone his way the last couple of games. He broke a team rule and needs to be punished for that,” the receiver’s father, Tavares Martin Sr., told The Seattle Times. “He just made a mistake, and he had to pay a price for it. It was a miscommunication between him and the coaches. He was upset. He said he felt like he should have been more involved in that game.”
Martin Jr. leads the team in receiving yards (502) and touchdowns (seven) after starting all seven games this season. Despite that, he had just three catches in the Cougars’ 37-3 loss in Berkeley that caused them to tumble out of the top 10.
The Florida native reportedly apologized for his actions and was placed on the scout team in practices prior to playing Colorado. It seems the stiff lesson is being learned quickly though as he is expected to be back for Wazzu’s game at Arizona next Saturday — likely with a much different attitude.
The greatest intersectional rivalry in college football between USC and Notre Dame is turning into a potential battle of walking wounded on defense. The latest name on the injury list? Irish linebacker Greer Martini.
The starter and team leader has been dealing with a knee injury he suffered in practice and while there was some thought he could be back for Saturday’s massive showdown with the team’s rivals from Los Angeles, that appears not to be the case. Indianapolis Star beat writer Laken Litman reported on Thursday afternoon that Brian Kelly confirmed after practice Martini would miss the game and that he had a surgical procedure to clean up an unspecified meniscus injury on his knee.
Martini is a captain on the team and the third leading tackler on the defense. In his absence, junior Te’von Coney likely slides into the starting lineup at linebacker. The good news might be that Martini could be back for an equally important game against N.C. State that could loom large in any College Football Playoff discussion next month.
The Trojans are dealing with the loss of defensive tackle Josh Fatu and linebacker Porter Gustin for this week’s trip to South Bend as well so both sides have a number of injuries that could hamper their ability to stop the run on Saturday. Given that the game will feature two of the best tailbacks in the country in Ronald Jones and Josh Adams, things could turn into a track meet come kickoff time on NBC.