In honor of the Kentucky Derby being held today, here’s a little horse-related college football goodness to digest.
Staton Flurry, a stable owner in Arkansas, has a new steed taking on the namesake of LSU running back Derrius Guice. The name is more than appropriate given the LSU running back ended the 2016 season as the conference’s second-leading rusher and enters the 2017 season as one of the top running backs in the nation.
Flurry seems to enjoy naming horses after LSU running backs. Last summer, Flurry showed off another horse he owned named after former Tigers running back Leonard Fournette. While we won’t be seeing Guice at today’s running at the Kentucky Derby, Fournette did win a race at Belmont Park last summer. Also last summer, a video of Fournette in a scuffle was played off as just horseplay. No more horse puns. I promise.
As for the real Guice, he will also not be running at the Kentucky Derby today. That gives him more time to prepare to win a bet between he and Ohio State’s Mike Weber and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley.
Helmet sticker to Gridiron Now.
You have to admire the willingness of Ohio State running back Mike Weber for issuing a challenge to two of the best running backs in the nation coming into 2017. Sure, Weber will be among the best as well, but he is ready to drop the gloves in a friendly dinner bet with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley and LSU’s Derrius Guice.
Weber challenged Barkley and Guice to a little bet based on total rushing yards in the 2017 season. The premise is simple enough, with the player with the fewest rushing yards buying the other two a dinner at a time to be determined.
Weber took to Twitter to issue the challenge to Barkley and Guice…
Barkley replied with some confidence…
Guice also accepted the challenge…
Barkley finished the 2016 season with 1,496 rushing yards in 14 games, including the Big Ten championship game and Rose Bowl. Barkley actually finished the year second in rushing yards behind Northwestern’s Justin Jackson, so perhaps Jackson may want to see if he can get in on this fun. Weber was the Big Ten’s sixth-leading rusher with 1,096 yards in 13 games and 182 rushing attempts (Barkley had 272 attempts). Guice was the SEC’s leading rusher with 1,387 yards on 183 rushing attempts in 12 games. These stats did not go without mention by the running backs.
(As mentioned above, Guice actually had one more rushing attempt than Weber last season.)
The fun continued when the Buckeyes running back responded to Barkley with a reason
The challenge has been set. Let’s see how it all plays out (and if the NCAA comes cracking down on it as this is technically against the NCAA rules regarding gambling).
It would be unwise to guess what a college football player plans to do nine to 10 months from now, so overreacting to a single tweet dropped online over the weekend while watching the NFL Combine in Indianapolis may just be catching a player caught up in the fun. Michigan State running back L.J. Scott seemed to leave a hint online to his Twitter followers that he could already be looking forward to his go at the combine “a year from now.”
As a sophomore in 2016, Scott rushed for 994 yards and six touchdowns in a woeful season for the Spartans. Scott is considered one of the top running backs in the Big Ten heading into 2017, along with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, Minnesota’s Rodney Smith, and Ohio State’s Mike Weber. Like Scott, Barkley and Smith will be juniors this fall and could also be in a position to consider making the leap to the NFL in 2018.
A total of 19 running backs declared early for the 2017 NFL Draft. The only position with more players declaring early for the draft was at wide receiver, with 27.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold and Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver were the stars of the FWAA’s Freshman All-America Team for the 2016 season, and Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente and USC head coach Clay Helton shared the award for First Year Coach of the Year.
The FWAA’s Freshman All-America Team, announced today, includes 20 true freshmen including Oliver, Ohio State running back Mike Weber, Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill and Florida State defensive lineman Brian Burns.
Fuente is coming off his first season as the head coach at Virginia Tech after a successful stint as head coach at Memphis, with an ACC Coastal Division championship and appearance in the ACC Championship Game. Helton overcame a rough start to coach USC into a top 10 finish and a Rose Bowl victory over Big Ten champion Penn State. Both have been head coaches before, of course, but the FWAA First Year Coach of the Year is open to any coach in his first full season as a head coach at his current school.
- QB Sam Darnold, USC
- RB Mike Weber, Ohio State
- RB Benny Snell, Kentucky
- RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
- WR Ammon Richards, Miami
- WR Demetris Robinson, California
- WR Ty Lee, Middle Tennessee
- TE Isaac Nautta, Georgia
- OL Michael Jordan, Ohio State
- OL Jawaan Taylor, Florida
- OL Ryan Bates, Penn State
- OL Thomas Shoaf, BYU
- OL Ben Bredeson, Michigan
- AP Donnie Corley, Michigan State
- DL Ed Oliver, Houston
- DL Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
- DL Brian Burns, Florida State
- DL Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State
- DL Reggie Walker, Kansas State
- LB Logan Wilson, Wyoming
- LB Troy Dye, Oregon
- LB Leo Lewis, Mississippi State
- LB Josiah Tauaefa, UTSA
- LB David Reese, Florida
- DB Xavier Crawford, Oregon State
- DB Javon Hagan, Ohio
- DB Taylor Rapp, Washington
- DB Jessie Bates, Wake Forest
- DB Clifton Duck, Appalachian State
- K Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia
- P Tom Sheldon, North Carolina
- KR Tony Pollard, Memphis
- PR Malik McGue, Army
No. 2 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten) did just enough to get out of their final road game of the season with a 17-16 win. Michigan State (3-8, 1-7 Big Ten) has been going through a frustrating season but gave Ohio State one of their best efforts of the year in their final home game. Despite riding LJ Scott as much as they could, a failed two-point conversion in the fourth quarter allowed Ohio State to get out of Spartan Stadium with a key win to keep their playoff hopes alive with one regular season to go.
Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett rushed for 105 yards and Mike Weber rushed for 111 yards and a score. Running was the key to the game for both teams, as Barrett completed fewer than half of his 22 pass attempts (although one was for a touchdown to Curtis Samuel) and Michigan State’s Tyler O’Connor completed fewer than half of his passes. Spartans running back Scott rushed for 160 yards and a touchdown. Defenses were on point though for both teams, but the Buckeyes won the turnover battle with a late interception on Michigan State’s final offensive possession of the game.
Michigan State scored a late touchdown in the fourth quarter with fewer than five minutes to play, cutting the Buckeye lead to 17-16. Rather than kick the extra point to tie things up, Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio gambled (as he had earlier in the game with some tricks up his sleeve) by keeping the offense on the field for a two-point conversion try. With nothing to lose, Dantonio went all in for the lead, but O’Connor’s pass over the middle was picked off in the end zone, securing a narrow lead for Ohio State.
Next up for Ohio State is a regular season finale rivalry game with Michigan. A stake in the Big Ten East Division will be on the line for the noon kickoff, but a win by the Buckeyes next week will not necessarily send them to the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis. Penn State can still wiggle their way to Indy with an Ohio State next week and their own win against Michigan State next week in State College. Penn State also must beat Rutgers tonight, which is pretty much a 94% certainty if we’re being conservative.
Ohio State Clinches Big Ten East If…
- Ohio State beats Michigan AND Penn State loses once
A win by Ohio State next week should make for a fun discussion about the Playoff. Assuming Ohio State stays in the top four this week, a win against a highly-ranked Michigan next week should probably wrap up a playoff spot for the Buckeyes despite the possibility of not playing for a conference championship.
Could the program that won the first College Football Playoff national championship set the precedent for a non-division winner to reach the playoff?