Associated Press

Iowa extinguishes No. 6 Ohio State’s playoff hopes in blowout win


Last week, Ohio State played with fire but escaped unscathed.  This week, they got burned — and essentially torched their playoff hopes in one fell swoop.

In the thrilling 39-38 win over No. 2 Penn State last weekend, OSU rallied back from deficits of 28-17 at halftime and 35-20 at the end of the third quarter.  There would be no magic this weekend, however, as Iowa took a 31-17 halftime lead, then stepped on the Buckeyes’ throats in the third quarter and never let up en route to a dominating 55-24 win over what was the sixth-ranked team in the country in the first College Football Playoff poll.

The visiting Buckeyes actually tied the game at 17-all early in the second quarter before the Hawkeyes ripped off 31 straight points in a run that extended through early in the fourth to essentially seal the stunning upset.

The usual stout OSU defense simply had no answer for Nathan Stanley, who tied a career-high with five touchdown passes in the game.  Nearly as important was the running of Akrum Wadley, who churned out a tough 115 yards on the ground, and an Iowa defense that limited the high-flying Buckeyes — they were second in the country at 571.3 per game — to 371 yards of offense.  Add in the interception trifecta from Josh Jackson, and it was an all-around dominating performance for the 6-3 Hawkeyes.

The visitors didn’t exactly do themselves any favors as, in addition to turnovers, the Buckeyes were once again hurt by penalties — nine on the night for 95 yards.  OSU came into the game an undisciplined team, ranking 107th in the country in penalties committed and 117th in penalty yards.

The first four possessions of the second half perfectly encapsulated the Hawkeyes’ defensive dominance as the Buckeyes went three and out on the first three, then coughed it up on a J.T. Barrett interception on the fourth.  It served as Barrett’s third pick of the game, which led to 17 of IU’s points; the fifth-year senior added a career-high fourth in the fourth quarter.  Barrett had come into this game with just one interception in 246 pass attempts this season and seemingly put himself squarely in the Heisman Trophy conversation.

And, just as quickly as he’s out of that conversation, so the same can be said for OSU and the playoffs.

At sixth in the initial CFP rankings, the Buckeyes held their postseason destiny in their own hands.  Win out the remainder of the regular season, claim the Big Ten championship, and earn a third trip to a playoff semifinal in four years.  Instead, the best OSU can hope for, barring an epic collapse from myriad teams, is an at-large berth in a New Year’s Six bowl game as no two-loss team has ever qualified for the playoffs.

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:

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).