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In surviving Northwestern, Urban Meyer passes Bob Stoops for most wins in first 15 years as coach

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It came a week later than expected, and was hardly easy, but Urban Meyer added another line to what will ultimately be a Hall of Fame résumé.

Coming off the upset loss to Penn State in Week 8, sixth-ranked Ohio State bounced back with a hard-fought 24-20 Week 9 win over stubborn Northwestern in Columbus. The Wildcats, who exit the game at 4-4, entered it as a nearly four-touchdown underdog and were looking for their first road win over the Buckeyes since 1971 and their first over the same team since 2004.

The Buckeyes jumped out to a 10-0 lead through the first quarter, only to see the Wildcats tie the game at 17-all in the third quarter.  A Curtis Samuel four-yard run with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game gave the Buckeyes the lead.  The Wildcats drove to the OSU three-yard line on the ensuing drive, but a pair of negative plays, including a backbreaking holding penalty, forced a field goal that cut the lead to four.

A J.T. Barrett pass for 16 yards to Noah Brown on third-and-8 and then a Barrett 35-yard run on third-and-10 helped bleed the clock as the Wildcats couldn’t get the ball back as the Buckeyes ran out the clock.

Barrett and the Buckeyes again struggled in the passing game, especially downfield, as Barrett’s 32 completions resulted in just 223 yards. OSU added 208 yards on the ground, with Mike Weber accounting for a game-high 87 of those.

The win officially marks the 161st win of Meyer’s stellar career, pushing him past Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops (160) for the most victories in the first 15 seasons as a head coach. Stoops had passed both Barry Switzer of Oklahoma (148) and Tom Osborne of Nebraska (147) a couple of years ago.

Of those wins, 57 have come at OSU while he picked up 65 at Florida. He also had 22 in two seasons at Utah and 17 in his two years at Bowling Green to start his head coaching career.

Meyer’s career winning percentage of .852 (161-28) is the best of any current head coach with at least 10 years of experience. All-time at the FBS level, he trails only a Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne (.881, 105-12-5), ND/Boston College’s Frank Leahy (.864, 107-13-9) and Bowling Green’s Doyt Perry (.855, 77-11-5). The all-time leader at any level? Mount Union’s Larry Kehres with just 24 losses and three ties in 359 games (.929) over 27 seasons at the Div. III power.

The only current head coach, with at least a decade of experience, in Meyer’s percentage area code is Washington’s Chris Petersen at .826 (114-24). Alabama’s Nick Saban is fourth in that category, behind Meyer, Petersen and Stoops (.792, 183-48).

And the worst in this particular area? Doug Martin, who has a career winning percentage of .304 as he has just 38 wins in 125 career games during his 11 years as head coach at both Kent State and his current job, New Mexico State.

Royce Freeman will not play in Las Vegas Bowl

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Oregon senior running back Royce Freeman will not play in this weekend’s Las Vegas Bowl, thus bringing his collegiate career to a close before he moves on to the NFL next year. Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal announced Freeman’s lack of availability to reporters today ahead of the bowl game against Boise State.

Freeman played in all 12 games for the Ducks this season, rushing for 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns. Freeman’s career at Oregon has been a highly productive one under two different coaches. As a freshman in 2014, Freeman rushed for 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns to quickly begin gaining some national attention as the Ducks advanced to the national championship game in the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff (but some guy named Marcus Mariota was doing some good things too at the time to grab the majority of the national attention).

Freeman rushed for 5,621 yards and 60 touchdowns for Oregon, and he was also responsible for four touchdown receptions.

Freeman will join a growing list following a growing trend of sitting out of a bowl game before moving to the NFL.

West Virginia QB Will Grier announces return in 2018

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West Virginia quarterback Will Grier will be back for another season of football in Morgantown. Grier announced today he will be back in the blue and gold in 2018, his senior season.

Citing a desire to see his team accomplish more next season, Grier said he is “completely focused and looking forward to building off the success” experienced in 2017.

“West Virginia is my home, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future here,” Grier said in his released statement.

Grier’s return to West Virginia will be a boost for the offense next season. In his first year back playing college football after parting ways with Florida amid a drug-related suspension, Grier played in 11 games and passed for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns for the Mountaineers. He was one of three quarterbacks in the Big 12 to average more than 300 passing yards in a game, with the other two being Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph. With Mayfield and Rudolph moving on to the NFL next year, Grier will be one of the top offensive players returning to play football in the Big 12 in 2018.

UCF RB Adrian Killins: SEC football doesn’t have a lot of speed

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UCF has won all 12 games they have played this season because they have a distinct advantage with the talent on the roster. At 12-0 with an American Athletic Conference championship, the Knights are heading to the Peach Bowl to take on SEC West Division champion Auburn. When the two collide, UCF running back Adrian Killins will hope to back up his words with his performance on the field.

Speaking to the media this week, Killins said Auburn has not seen speed like the kind UCF will bring to the game in Atlanta on January 1. Defying the popular narrative over the years about how much speed the SEC has, Killins does not seem to be too impressed.

“SEC football, they don’t have a lot of speed, honestly,” Killins told The Orlando Sentinel. “So, Auburn hasn’t seen any speed like we have here.”

It’s worth noting that Auburn has faced Clemson this season. Just to throw that out there. But that said, is the SEC speed narrative a thing of the past? Killins suggests the SEC is more about being physical and not so much looking to strike quickly. But the SEC has had some fast-moving offenses, including this season with Missouri and, of course, Auburn. But in terms of raw speed from the players, maybe that is where UCF will look to create an advantage against the Tigers.

“I will say they’re in for a rude awakening, because UCF football, we’re UCF fast and UCF fierce,” Killins said.

And with that, Killins has just given Auburn’s defense some good bulletin board material ahead of the Peach Bowl.

DA: No charges will be pursued against Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson

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The attorney for Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson labeled the allegations against his client “patently false.” A few days later, the Sooners football player has been vindicated.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Cleveland County (Okla.) District Attorney Greg Mashburn announced that his office would not pursue charges against Anderson.  The decision came after the prosecutor met with a Norman Police Department detective Tuesday afternoon and again Thursday morning.

Earlier this month, a woman filed for an emergency order of protection against Anderson; additional details subsequently emerged, with the woman describing the player in a written statement to the court as the “alleged rapist” and herself as the “victim of rape.” A hearing on the protective order had been scheduled for Dec. 18.

The alleged assault occurred Nov. 16, with the alleged victim claiming that she began recalling details of the alleged attack the weekend of Dec. 2 as she was speaking to a friend.

Late last week, it was reported that Anderson passed a three-hour lie detector test administered to him this past week by a retired FBI polygraph examiner. Bill Brown, the retired FBI investigator who has reportedly performed in excess of 3,500 such polygraph exams, was hired by Derek Chance, Anderson’s attorney, to administer the test.  That attorney claimed that the accuser only went to the authorities with her claims after Anderson had rejected several of her advances.

Anderson currently leads the Sooners with 960 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns on the ground.  He’s also caught 16 passes for 283 yards and another five touchdowns coming out of the backfield.

No. 2 Oklahoma is set to face No. 3 Georgia in the Rose Bowl New Year’s Day, with the winner facing the Clemson-Alabama winner for the right to play for the 2017 College Football Playoff championship.