For two quarters and some change, Kevin Wilson’s return to Indiana after a messy departure last year wasn’t going as smoothly as Ohio State new offensive coordinator would have wanted. For fans at home and in the stands, the same could be said of the team’s highly anticipated new look on offense, which sputtered early and often.
Then things just started to click for the Buckeyes in the third quarter and the No. 2 team in the country started living up to that preseason ranking, eventually pulling away from the Hoosiers for a comfortable 49-21 victory on Thursday night that opened the season and Big Ten play for both teams.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett wasn’t quite as sharp as some expected the senior to be but he still posted solid numbers (284 yards, three touchdowns passing plus another score on the ground) as he broke in several new receivers for OSU. Perhaps the biggest development for Urban Meyer’s team was the emergence of freshman tailback J.K. Dobbins, who may have Wally Pipped starter Mike Weber (hamstring) with 181 yards rushing and showed off plenty of nifty moves in the open field.
Like their counterparts on the other side of the ball, Ohio State’s defense also need a little time to get warmed up but ended up performing just as expected. The vaunted defensive line helped record five sacks while Jordan Fuller and Denzel Ward both picked off passes.
Though the final score may not have indicated it, the Hoosiers did have their moments in the debut of new head coach Tom Allen and actually led at halftime 14-13. They had numerous opportunities to make things even more interesting in the third quarter but failed to capitalize each time they had a shot at the lead, eventually giving way to a 29 point unanswered run that salted the game away for the visitors. Quarterback Richard Lagow did what he could running the quick tempo offense (40-of-65 — yes 65 attempts — for 410 yards, three scores and two interceptions) and hooked up several times for some highlight reel plays with wideout Simmie Cobbs (149 yards, one score). It wasn’t enough though and the lack of any ground game certainly hampered the offense down the stretch.
If you told somebody who didn’t watch the game that Ohio State won by four touchdowns over Indiana, they probably would think things went as expected in Bloomington before the second string entered the action. That wasn’t exactly the case to start for the Buckeyes but the end result was certainly something fitting for the second-ranked team in the country. It probably won’t be good enough next week as Oklahoma rolls into Columbus but that will be a story for another time.
Iowa football finished just 8-5 last season but their biggest win for the school might have been at the box office.
A $4 million boost in ticket sales for the Hawkeyes played a big role in the athletic department finishing in the black during the most recent fiscal year, according to documents obtained by Landof10.com. It is the first time Iowa has shown a profit in three years as a result.
“When you look at the trends across the country in football attendance and basketball attendance, just nationally there seems to be a reduction,” athletics director Gary Barta told the site. “So I’m pleased generally that we’re holding our own. It seems to fluctuate a little bit more depending on good season/bad season. But for the most part we still have that core of support that’s as good as anywhere.”
Iowa managed a whopping $130.68 million in revenue overall according to reports given to the NCAA and spent around $128.9 million in the same time frame. A good chunk of that cash came as a result of the football program, including the school-record $23.7 million in football ticket sales.
Even with cost increases and salary spikes, it seems like the trend of finishing revenue positive for the department is likely to continue given the massive increases coming the way of Big Ten schools the next few years in television revenue from the conference. As big as some of the numbers put up by the Hawkeyes are though, they still trail others like Texas and Texas A&M by nearly $70 million in the last fiscal year.
It’s hard to believe that prior to last season, UAB didn’t have a football team for two years. As successful as the Blazers re-launch in the sport has been though, the next step for the program to truly be competitive in the sports landscape might have just happened on the desk of the governor this week.
AL.com notes that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a new tax law for Jefferson County that would provide a significant sum of money for a new UAB football stadium as well as other improvements to the sprawling Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) that already houses the arena for the program’s basketball teams.
Though there has been no contractual commitment to build the stadium just yet, the passing of the tax bill to provide some of the revenues needed is one of the first steps local leaders were hoping for. Current plans have the authorities responsible looking at building a 45,000-55,000 seat stadium for UAB football at an estimated cost of $175 million. The school is expected to chip in nearly $4 million a year toward the cost in lease payments.
It’s unclear as to the exact site of the potential stadium but it is expected to be in the downtown area somewhere near the current BJCC complex. It goes without saying that any new stadium, even an off campus such as this one, would be a massive upgrade from the Blazers current home Legion Field.
With the new law out of the way, the next steps appear to reside with local authorities to finalize plans and firmly commit to building the new venue. Construction on the new stadium is expected to begin in December of 2018 once the final green light is given.
Needless to say, UAB football is not only back but it certainly appears better than ever given this recent bit of news.
Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne seems to have shifted the Crimson Tide’s scheduling philosophy from having big neutral site openers for the football team to instead scheduling opponents the team has recently beat for a national title.
Following up their earlier report that said Alabama is looking to set up a home-and-home with historic power Notre Dame, the Tuscaloosa News says the school is also in discussions with Texas for a similar arrangement.
“I’ll say that we are exploring some home-and-homes,” a very coy Byrne told the paper.
The Irish lost to Nick Saban and the Tide in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game while the Longhorns fell out at the Rose Bowl to Alabama in the 2009 title game. The program is currently set to open with Louisville in Orlando for their 2018 opener while Duke (in 2019) and Miami (in 2021) are scheduled for games against the Tide in Atlanta. Outside of those three games and a handful of others against Group of Five opponents though, the schedule is otherwise wide open.
Texas is a different story on that front though as the Longhorns have games at Maryland and home against USC for the upcoming campaign and future dates with LSU (2019, 2020), Arkansas (2021), Ohio State (2022, 2023) and Michigan (2024, 2027). There is room for a home-and-home in 2025 and 2026 however.
Given this flurry of scheduling news and what looks to be a big change in philosophy, it seems like a home-and-home with Clemson is next up on the docket for Byrne and Saban to get done and really make beat-you-for-the-title-schedule-you-later thing an actual thing.
Tough news out of Western New York and it has nothing to do with basketball.
Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper posted on Instagram Friday that cancer has spread to his abdomen following surgery but it is treatable and he is expected to return to the field after undergoing chemotherapy.
Culpepper did see action last season and completed 45 passes for 518 yards and two touchdowns. The redshirt sophomore is once again expected to back up Eric Dungey once he returns to the team.
It goes without saying that the entire college football community is wishing the Orange signal-caller the best of luck and look forward to seeing him back out at the Carrier Dome next season.