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J.T. Barrett rallies No. 6 Ohio State past No. 2 Penn State, 39-38

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Whew!

After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter after a blazing fast start by No. 2 Penn State (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten), No. 6 Ohio State (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten) pulled together a 19-3 fourth quarter against one of the best second-half teams in the nation to capture a monster 39-38 win in the Big Ten race, and the College Football Playoff race. J.T. Barrett was incredible with 33-of-39 for 328 yards and four touchdowns and 95 rushing yards.

After Penn State had a 10-play drive to tack on what seemed to be a pivotal field goal to take a 38-27 lead, Ohio State and Barrett would not be stopped. The Buckeyes scored two touchdowns on their next two possessions while the defense put the clamps down on the Nittany Lions. Penn State had two straight possessions with negative yardage with the game still on the line, and Ohio State made them pay for it.

For Penn State, it was reminiscent of the Rose Bowl against USC, where a game that looked to have a favorable ending coming together came crashing down without a killer instinct to make a key play or two on either side of the football to close the book. It was a tough loss to take for Penn State, but how damaging it ultimately ends up being will now be left in the hands of the College Football Playoff selection committee starting next week.

Saquon Barkley returned the game’s opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and he had a 36-yard touchdown run in the first half as Penn State was making the big plays while Ohio State was dominating the offensive yardage in the box score. Ohio State bottled up Barkley for the majority of the game outside of those two plays as he ended the day with 44 rushing yards and 23 receiving yards (and 105 kickoff return yards). Barkley should still be heading to New York, but he will very likely have some company from the Big Ten joining him as Barrett should be in the conversation now as well.

Ohio State out-gained Penn State 529-283 and racked up 27 first downs to Penn State’s 17. That helped wear Penn State down and to overcome two turnovers and 10 penalties for Ohio State. Ohio State also had two interceptions of Trace McSorley in the end zone overturned by replay review. Both overturned picks were led by Penn State touchdowns, including one that occurred on the same play. It was a game that Penn State shouldn’t have won and the fates tried hard to prevent Ohio State from winning. But college football is goofy sometimes, and then things like Penn State squandering an 11-point lead in the final five minutes happens.

Ohio State now owns the inside track to the Big Ten championship game with a head-to-head win against Penn State. Ohio State would have to lose twice if Penn State wins their remaining games in order for the Nittany Lions to get a chance to return to the Big Ten championship game. And with the playoff rankings about to be unveiled, Ohio State should feel confident they will be ranked in the top four from the selection committee.

Ohio State will have to keep the momentum going next week with a road game at Iowa. Penn State will look to rebound next week on the road against Michigan State. The Spartans dropped an overtime game at Northwestern and will also be looking for a rebound win. There is still a lot of football to be played, but Ohio State is rolling right now.

Kevin Sumlin says he has not spoken with Aggies’ AD this week

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While it seems like Texas A&M has been preparing to fire head coach Kevin Sumlin since this summer, it very much appears as though his tenure in College Station is going to officially come to an end at the conclusion of the regular season on Saturday.

A report on Tuesday evening from the Houston Chronicle said that Sumlin will be let go — win or lose — following the team’s game at LSU. Despite that definitive-sounding nature of the report from the well-sourced newspaper, the head coach himself says he has not spoken with athletic director Scott Woodward in nearly a week to discuss his status with the team going forward.

“I haven’t talked to Scott since Saturday at the game, so there hasn’t been any discussion about that,” Sumlin said on the SEC coaches teleconference. “It’s not like we haven’t dealt with this since the spring. I think our team has done a really nice job of focusing on games at hand, and we’ll continue to do that. Certainly we’ve had that experience since the beginning of the year.

“We haven’t really had a chance to talk to our team yet, because we haven’t practiced yet and all this information came out after practice. We’ll deal with it the way we’ve dealt with everything this year, and we’ll continue to do business as usual. Like I said, our staff and our coaches have done a nice job of handling it. In football, it’s not just about football. You try to teach lessons and dealing with adversity, that’s what life’s about.”

Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman said that players and coaches learned of the Chronicle’s report after practice on Tuesday and were upset at the timing and nature of the news surfacing ahead of the team’s game against an SEC rival like the Tigers. While it’s not like they couldn’t see things coming given the animosity on all sides following a disappointing, if injury-riddled, campaign for the Aggies, it’s still not the greatest feeling in the world to go into a game knowing it will be the coaching staff’s last no matter the result.

East Carolina suspends punter charged with drunk-driving, fleeing

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Punters are players too. And apparently drinkers and, in this case, runners as well.

According to multiple media outlets, East Carolina’s Austin Barnes (pictured, No. 17) was arrested on a handful of charges very early Sunday morning following an attempted traffic stop and apparent chase. Specifically, the senior punter was charged with driving under the influence, fleeing/eluding arrest and having no operator’s license.

No details of what led to the arrest and charges have been released.

As a result of the suspension, Barnes has been suspended by Scottie Montgomery. Below is a statement attributed to the head coach:

Representing East Carolina University is a privilege and any behavior that’s not in accordance with that is unacceptable. We have conduct standards and expectations in place for our program for a reason and it’s disappointing when individuals choose not to be accountable for their teammates, especially those who are perceived to be in leadership roles.

As Barnes is in his final season of eligibility, and as the three-win Pirates can’t become bowl-eligible, this ends the collegiate portion of the booter’s collegiate playing career.

With a 44-yard average, Barnes currently leads the AAC and is 19th nationally in yards per punt. Barnes came to ECU s a graduate transfer from Eastern Michigan.

(Tip O’ the Cap: ArrestNation.com)

Florida QB Luke Del Rio says he won’t use sixth season of eligibility

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The long, winding journey that’s been Luke Del Rio‘s collegiate playing career has come to an end.

Because of injuries, Del Rio had a sixth season of eligibility that he could’ve used at Florida in 2018.  Instead, the quarterback confirmed on his personal Twitter account Wednesday afternoon that he has decided to not take advantage of that additional season.

No specific reason for that decision was given.

Del Rio started the first six games of the 2016 season, only to see his second year year in Gainesville come to a premature end because of injuries.  After losing the battle for the starting job to Feleipe Franks in August of this year, Del Rio got the job back and started the Week 5 win over Vanderbilt.  Unfortunately, he suffered what turned out to be a season-ending shoulder injury in that same game.

The Swamp was actually the well-traveled Del Rio’s third college football home.

Del Rio, the son of former USC great and current NFL head coach Jack Del Riotransferred to Oregon State from Alabama in January of 2014.  He was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA, and served as Sean Mannion’s primary backup that season as he completed 8-of-18 passes for 141 yards.

In May of 2015, he transferred from OSU to Florida.  He finished the Gator portion of his career completing 130-of-226 passes for 1,496 yards, nine touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Kent State makes firing of Paul Haynes official

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It’s official: there are currently eight openings (for now) at head coach in the FBS.

The latest to officially face the coaching guillotine is Paul Haynes, who Kent State announced Wednesday afternoon would not have his contract renewed, confirming reports that had surfaced earlier in the day.  Haynes wrapped up his fifth, and what turned out to be final season with the Golden Flashes with a 24-14 loss to rival and MAC East champion Akron Tuesday night.

“Making a coaching change is never easy,” athletic director Joel Nielsen said in a statement. “As an alum, Paul gave his all for this university and to Golden Flashes football, and moved the program forward in many ways. We thank Paul and his family for their service and commitment to Kent State student-athletes.”

In 2012, the year prior to Haynes’ arrival, Kent went 11-3.  In the five years under Haynes, they were 14-45 overall.  The Golden Flashes won either two or three games each of the past four seasons, including a 2-10 mark in 2017.

That stretch of 10 wins is the worst four-year run for the program since they won six from 1997-2000.  That was part of a lost decade-plus that saw the Golden Flashes win a combined 16 games in 12 seasons (1989-2000).