After looking like a legitimate national title contender for two months last season, the Michigan Wolverines lost two games in November to finish in third place in the Big Ten East Division and then failed to finish the season on a winning note by dropping the Orange Bowl against Florida State. It was a rough way to end an otherwise stellar season in Ann Arbor, and it was a finish that Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is hoping will help set the tone for the 2017 season.
”I hope a lot,” Harbuagh said when asked how much inspiration he hopes the Wolverines take from last season’s finish, according to the Associated Press. ”Maybe that will motivate us to put more into it. Coach better. Play better. Train harder. Put more of our heart into each and every one of those ballgames.”
Michigan will see a good amount of roster turnover this season and will face some good challenges this upcoming season. Aside from opening up the year on a big stage in Arlington, Texas against the Florida Gators, Michigan will also look to compete in a division that will be headlined by Ohio State and Penn State (both widely accepted to be playoff contenders in 2017) and a crossover division matchup against Wisconsin. The Wolverines may have a lot of starters to replace, but Harbaugh and his staff are now truly putting their stamp on the program by developing players they have been responsible for recruiting to Ann Arbor as Harbaugh begins his third season as the head coach of the Wolverines.
With so much turnover on the roster, it would not be a shock to see the Wolverines take a few weeks to really hit their stride. That could mean Michigan will be a better team at the end of the season than they may be in the opener. Fortunately, one area Michigan appears to thrive in is with game preparation. Harbaugh’s staff is regularly praised for the amount of prep work that is done with the game plan. Michigan could either be in a shaky toss-up against Florida in Week 1 or win it going away as they did the last time the two programs met, in the 2016 Citrus Bowl (Michigan blasted the Gators, 41-7).
Michigan will be a tough team this season, but matching last season’s win total in the regular season (10) will not be easy.
The Big Ten is planning ahead to buckle down and try to make Thursday night and Friday night football a thing in the conference. After breaking the ice on Thursday and Friday night football in the 2017 season, the conference has officially moved five games on the 2018 conference schedule to Thursday and Friday nights.
Purdue will host Northwestern in the Big Ten season opener on Thursday, August 30, marking the second straight season the Big Ten will kick off the college football season with a Thursday night football game. Indiana hosted Ohio State in a Thursday night season opener this season. The opening week of the season will continue the following night with Michigan State hosting Utah State and Wisconsin hosting Western Kentucky on Friday, August 21, 2018. This will mark the second straight season Wisconsin will open the season at home on a Friday night in Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers hosted Utah State on Friday, September 1 this season.
The three games on Thursday and Friday night in the opening week of the 2018 season keeps the Big Ten on the primetime lineup on various TV partners between ESPN, FOX Sports, and the Big Ten Network, although the programming specifics will come later on. But the idea of adding games to Thursday and Friday nights has been designed to add programming to TV partners and add content across all partner networks as part of the latest contracts with ESPN and FOX, along with the Big Ten Network.
The Big Ten has moved two additional games Friday nights next season as well. Illinois will host Penn State on Friday, September 21, 2018. Minnesota will host Indiana on Friday, October 26, 2018.
At least on the field, LJ Scott‘s latest boneheaded misstep won’t prove too costly.
Thursday, it was reported that Scott was arrested Wednesday for the seventh time in the last year and a half for driving on a suspended license or similar offense. There was some question as to whether this latest off-field incident will cost the running back playing time for Michigan State’s game this weekend against Indiana.
In a statement, head coach Mark Dantonio said it would. Kinda. Sorta.
In what has been a lengthy process, LJ Scott now has a valid driver’s license, free of any restrictions. He has resolved the matter completely, and has paid a price, both financially and publicly. His status will be affected for Saturday’s game, but he will play.
Scott currently leads the Spartans with 408 yards rushing and is tied for tops on the team with three rushing touchdowns. He’s coming off a career-high 194 yards in last Saturday’s win over Minnesota.
After a rather quiet week or so on the arrest front, the last couple of days have made some noise.
The latest racket can be attributed to a Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns football player, with multiple media outlets reporting that Ferrod Gardner was arrested last Friday for felony identity theft. The linebacker was released from jail after posting a $5,000 bond.
No details of what led to the arrest and charge have been released.
As a result of the felony arrest, Gardner has been dismissed from the football program for violating unspecified team rules. UL confirmed the dismissal nearly a week after the arrest, and not long after the news of the situation became public knowledge.
Gardner was a JUCO transfer who joined the Sun Belt Conference team this past offseason. The Daily Advertiser writes that “Gardner was slated to start at the Will inside linebacker position, but he never played a game for the Cajuns after undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a foot injured early in preseason camp.”
I’m going to go ahead and guess that some will have some fun with and/or angst over Lane Kiffin for the decision made by his current employer.
In mid-June, Kalib Woods was arrested on two counts of felony battery. The charges stemmed from a January party in which it’s alleged that the Florida Atlantic wide receiver broke the jaw of one man and caused internal bleeding in another.
Because of the charges, Woods was suspended for the Owls’ first six games of the season. Despite the fact that the felony charges are still pending — his next court appearance is Jan. 10 — his lawyer has confirmed to OwlAccess.com that his client will be allowed to play in this Saturday’s Homecoming Game against North Texas.
The decision was made during a university disciplinary hearing Monday.
“I applaud the university or doing the right thing despite the fact that criminal charges are still pending,” Woods’ attorney, Michael Gottlieb, told the website.
Initially barred from campus after the arrest, the school ultimately reversed course, which allowed Woods to attend classes and practice with the team. The website also reports that Woods was removed from scholarship and is now a member of the team as a walk-on.
Last season, Woods was easily the Owls’ top threat in the passing game as he led the team with 68 receptions for 934 yards. For his career, the redshirt senior’s 111 catches have produced 1,487 yards and six touchdowns.