Nick Wilson

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Arizona RB Nick Wilson ‘out for an extended period of time’

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With four losses in a row, Arizona’s season is quickly taking on water, and this development certainly won’t help.

It’s believed that Nick Wilson sustained some sort of injury to his right knee in the Week 8 loss to USC.  The specific nature of the injury hasn’t been detailed; however, head coach Rich Rodriguez indicated that it’s an injury that will sideline the running back for a significant number of games.

Wilson’s 320 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns are tops among Wildcat backs this season. However, he’s rushed for just 66 yards the last five games — he had been dealing with an ankle issue — and doesn’t have a touchdown in that span.

Wilson’s latest injury continues the depth issues the Wildcats have experienced in the backfield. Late last month, J.J. Taylor, still third on the team in rushing with 261 yards, suffered a broken left ankle and is out for the year.

Given the injuries, Rodriguez is down to using converted wide receivers and walk-ons at the position. From 247Sports.com:

With recently converted running back Tyrell Johnson also less than 100%, wide out Samajie Grant is listed as a co-starter at running back with Zach Green. Grant had been splitting reps between wide receiver and running back the past few weeks, but all indications are that he has been getting all his reps in the back field.

Walk-on Brandon Leon is listed as the third string running back. He had his first collegiate carries late against USC, carrying 4 times for 18 yards.

Grant is currently tied for second on the team… in receptions with 19.  Green’s 164 yards rushing are fifth on the team.

QB Taysom Hill’s return powers BYU to win over Arizona

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If it seems like Taysom Hill has been around forever, you would not be mistaken. Saturday night’s Cactus Kickoff Classic was the fifth BYU season opener that the quarterback took a snap in and his fourth straight start in the first game of the year for the Cougars.

By all accounts however, this opener was probably the sweetest of them all for the signal-caller who graduated high school back in 2009. Hill suffered season-ending injuries in 2012, 2014 and last year but triumphantly returned to the field against Arizona to deliver a rousing 18-16 victory in the final two minutes that also doubled as head coach Kalani Sitake’s first win with the Cougars.

Hill finished the evening 21-of-29 for 202 yards and a touchdown through the air, leading his team on the game-winning drive with just 1:38 left on the clock. The quarterback built like a tank also rushed for 37 yards and provided plenty of veteran leadership on the sidelines next to first time college coordinator (and former BYU legend) Ty Detmer.

The Cougars defense also came to play, sacking Wildcats quarterback Anu Solomon four times and picking him off twice. They are active in the trenches against a young offensive line and linebacker Butch Pau’u seemed to be all over the field on his way to an eight tackle (2.5 for a loss) and one sack night.

There was a bit of mystery as to whether Solomon would start behind center for Arizona or if head coach Rich Rodriguez would opt to go with redshirt sophomore Brandon Dawkins instead. It was Solomon’s show all game long and he extended a few plays with his legs but was otherwise middle of the road until the final quarter. That’s when the team came roaring back, with the quarterback keying a crazy comeback that gave the Wildcats the lead after a 49 yard run by tailback Nick Wilson.

That late game situation put the pressure on a first year head coach in Sitake, who took over at his alma mater from now Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall. BYU had to sweat things out at the end a bit but thankfully they had Hill behind center to help calmly march the Cougars down the field.

Sitake remarkably tapped freshman Jake Oldroyd — not the team’s other kicker, Rhett Almond — for his first ever college kick to be the eventual 33 yard game-winner.

It was a extraordinary way to win your first game but it was likely just as memorable for the team’s veteran quarterback.

No. 9 UCLA blowing out No. 16 Arizona through one half

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Arizona opened the biggest game of the night with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by a 34-yard pass from Anu Solomon to Nate Phillips. It’s been all UCLA from there. The ninth-ranked Bruins lead No. 16 Arizona 42-14 at the half in Tucson.

The Bruins scored touchdowns on six of their seven first half possessions, as freshman quarterback Josh Rosen completed 13-of-17 throws for 212 yards and three touchdowns, and Paul Perkins added 16 carries for 56 yards and three touchdowns.

Solomon struggled aside from his touchdown pass, hitting only 3-of-9 throws for 21 yards aside from his scoring strike. He left the game in the second quarter with an apparent head injury.

Jerrard Randall entered the game for Solomon and promptly raced for a 39-yard touchdown to make the score 28-14 with 10:34 to go in the second quarter but he has also struggled to throw the ball, connecting on only 1-of-5 passes for 17 yards and an interception. Nick Wilson has been the lone bright spot for the Wildcats with 112 yards on 16 carries.

Casey Skowron missed a 29-yard field goal as time expired that would have pulled the Wildcats within 17.

UCLA will receive the ball to open the second half.

Week 2, Statistically Speaking

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A statistical snapshot of the week that was in college football…

2 — Yards of offense allowed by Michigan in the last three quarters of a win over Oregon State.  The Beavers had posted 136 yards of offense in the first quarter.

2 — 300-yard passing games to start the 2015 season for Northern Illinois’ Drew Hare.  He came into the year with zero such games to his credit, with 285 yards last September serving as his previous career-high.

4 — Touchdown receptions for Corey Coleman in Baylor’s win over Lamar, setting a single-game school record.

4.5 — Miles between the campuses of Duke and North Carolina Central, which met Saturday for the fourth time since 2009.

5 — FBS programs with a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) above 80 percent and have averaged 10 or more wins a season from 2012-14: Northern Illinois, Notre Dame, Stanford, UCF and Utah State.

5 — Consecutive 300-yard passing game for Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the longest such current streak in the FBS.  During the streak, Mahomes has passed for 2,105 yards.

7 — ESPN College Gameday appearances each for Alabama and Florida State, the most of any team in the country since 2013.  Oregon and Michigan State are next with six and five, respectively.

11 — Total yards of offense for Howard in a 76-0 loss to Boston College.  The margin of victory was BC’s widest since 1949, with it getting so bad in the first half — a 62-0 BC lead — that both coaches agreed to shorten the third and fourth quarters to 10 minutes apiece.

13 — Number of Georgia Tech players credited with at least one carry as the Yellow Jackets ran for 439 yards in a 65-10 win over Tulane.

Idaho v USC14 — Number of USC players to catch passes in the Trojans’ 50-point romp over Idaho, led by JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s 10 for 192 yards.  Additionally, nine players recorded at least one carry in the contest.

11:30 — Kickoff time for the Florida State-USF game Saturday morning, the earliest the Seminoles have kicked off a football game in the program’s history.

17 — Consecutive home wins for Alabama and Baylor after dropping Middle Tennessee State and Lamar, respectively, this weekend to extend the nation’s longest such streak.

18 — Former ACC quarterbacks on NFL rosters opening weekend, the top total for any FBS conference.

20 — With the defeat at the hands of No. 14 Ole Miss, Fresno State has now lost 20 straight games against ranked opponents.  Their last win against such a team came in the 2004 MPC Computers Bowl against No. 18 Virginia.  The Bulldogs are also now 0-6 all-time against teams from the SEC.

27 — Freshmen, redshirt included, who played for Clemson in Week 1, easily the most of any FBS team.  In fact, the ACC had the top five totals in that category: Clemson’s 27, followed by Florida State and North Carolina State with 23 each, Syracuse with 21 and Wake Forest with 20.  The first non-ACC school was Texas with 20, while the first non-Power Five team was Rice with 19.

27 — Consecutive games in which TCU has forced a turnover, the longest streak at this level.

31 — Consecutive games in which Ohio State has scored at least three touchdowns.  The next closest to OSU’s nation’s-best streak is Baylor at 17 straight.

California v Oregon33 — Seasons running backs coach Gary Campbell has been an assistant coach at Oregon.  Brown’s served on the coaching staffs of four different head coaches: Rich Brooks (1983-94), Mike Bellotti (1995-2008), Chip Kelly (2009-12) and Mark Helfrich (2013-14).

36 — With its game against Virginia in Charlottesville, the number of states in which Notre Dame has played football games in its history.  The Irish have also played games in Ireland (1996, 2012) and Japan (1979).

43 — Consecutive non-conference home games won by LSU, the longest such streak in the country.  Miami (Fla.) holds the all-time record of 48 straight, which began Oct. 12, 1985, with a 38-0 win over Cincinnati and ended Sept. 24, 1994, with an 18-point loss to Washington.

58 — Consecutive games Iowa has played without missing an extra point, the longest in the nation.

70 — With a late fourth-quarter toss, consecutive games in which Oregon has thrown at least one touchdown pass, breaking the FBS record of 69 previously held by Texas Tech (2006-11).

74 — Career wins for Frank Solich at Ohio, moving him past Gary Pinkel (Toledo) and into fifth place on the all-time win list for MAC head coaches.  Next up is Bowling Green’s Doyt Perry (77), while he has a long way to go to catch record holder Herb Deromedi of Central Michigan (110).

149 — Points scored by Ole Miss the first two games, the most in school history to open a season.  Ole Miss beat Fresno State Saturday 73-21, one week after dropping UT-Martin 76-3.

Penn State v Temple193 — Career-high rushing yards for Temple’s Jahad Thomas in the win over Cincinnati.  It was his second straight 100-yard game after coming into the season with just one career such effort.

194 — Rushing yards for Nick Wilson in Arizona’s win over Nevada.

390 — Team rushing yards for Colorado as it ended its 10-game losing streak with a 48-14 win over UMass.

410 — Career-high passing yards for USC quarterback Cody Kessler in a 59-9 win over Idaho.  His previous career-high was 400 against Washington State last November.

413 — Team rushing yards for Georgia Southern in a win over Western Michigan.  Two Eagles topped the 100-yard mark: Matt Breida (176) and quarterback Favian Upshaw (103).

427 — Passing yards for Cincinnati’s Gunner Kiel in a loss to Temple.  It’s the third 400-yard performance in his 14 starts with the Bearcats.

441 — Passing yards for Brandon Doughty in Western Kentucky’s Thursday night win over Louisiana Tech.  The sixth-year senior now has 13 career games of 300 or more yards passing, including three 400-yard games and two 500-yard games.

487933328468 — Passing yards for Washington State’s Luke Falk in the three-point road win over Rutgers.  It’s Falk’s third 400 yard-plus passing effort in his last six games.

651 — Yards of total offense for Memphis in a 55-23 embarrassment of Kansas in Lawrence.  That total was the Tigers’ most-ever against a Power Five opponent.

1916 — The last year prior to this one that Notre Dame did not have a team from the Big Ten on its football schedule.  This is also the first time in the program’s history they will not play a fellow football independent as Navy is in its first year as a member of the AAC.

1922 — Until this year, the last time Penn State played five consecutive games at home.  They began this current streak Saturday against Buffalo, and will follow it up with home dates against Rutgers, San Diego State, Army and Indiana over the next four weekends.

1931 — Prior to Thursday’s game against Western Kentucky, the last time Louisiana Tech had played a conference opener east of the Mississippi River.

1966 — The year of the last meeting between Associated Press Top 10 teams at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing before Saturday’s non-conference clash between No.5 Michigan State and No. 7 Oregon.  In 1966, No.2 MSU and No. 1 Notre Dame played to a 10-10 tie in the “Game of the Century.”

1988 — Last year Eastern Michigan had won a non-conference road game prior to a 48-29 win over Wyoming in Laramie.

18,040 — Distance in round-trip miles Hawaii traveled for its game against Ohio State in Columbus, the longest road trip any FBS team will take this season.  It was the first-ever meeting between the two football programs, and the second time the Rainbow Warriors had played in the state of Ohio — the first was in 1951 vs. Cincinnati.

311,371 — As of approximately 3:30 ET Sunday morning, the number of Twitter followers for Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, the most of any head coach at the FBS level.  Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh is next with 307,565.

For this week’s Fifth Quarter, please click HERE.

 

2015 could be the year of the running back in college football

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College football has been a game for quarterbacks over the last decade or so, but the 2015 college football season could be a big one for the running backs. The young running backs that have taken the big stage during the 2014 season have shown glimpses of what could be one of the finest seasons for fans of the running game in quite some time.

Just look at some of the names coming back to line up in the back field with authority in 2015.

Now a couple of years removed from the SEC’s best quarterback class in some time, the SEC should be heavy on the run in 2015. The SEC’s leading rusher returning in 2015 will be Georgia’s Nick Chubb for his sophomore season, and LSU freshman Leonard Fournette could also be worthy of striking his Heisman pose. Chubb rushed for 1,547 yards and an SEC-leading 14 touchdowns this season, and most of that came while backing up Todd Gurley until he went down to injury. Fournette also rushed for over 1,000 yards, including 143 yards in a bowl game loss against Notre Dame. If you need more running power from the SEC, look no further than Arkansas with sophomore Alex Collins. Collins is coming off a 1,100-yard season with 12 touchdowns and should be a big piece of the offense for Bret Bielema in 2015. If there is one thing Bielema knows how to do, it is run the football. With Collins on the field, Arkansas will do just that. Alabama will look for a big year from  too. Henry was 10 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season but he did rush for 11 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.

Up north, the Big Ten should continue to see plenty of production on the ground. In 2014 the Big Ten running game was the story with Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon earning a nod as Heisman finalist and Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah a household name. But the Big Ten also saw great seasons from Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, Minnesota’s David Cobb and Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford. The Big Ten will lose all of these players to the draft, but there are some talented running backs ready to pick up the steam. Right now there is no hotter name among young running backs than Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, who turned in a postseason run worthy of Mr. January consideration. Wisconsin has Corey Clement ready to be the next running back in line in Madison. Two other sophomores to keep an eye on in the Big Ten will be Michigan’s Derrick Green, who could have a big impact if he bounces back healthy in 2015, and Penn State’s Akeel Lynch if the Nittany Lions firm up on offensive line.

Move just west of Penn State and you may find the best running back in the state with Pittsburgh’s James Conner. The sophomore led the ACC in rushing with 1,765 yards and his 26 touchdowns were twice more than the ACC’s next leading rushing touchdown leader, Boston College’s Jon Hilliman (a freshman). Florida State’s Dalvin Cook could have a huge role in 2015 as well.

Out west it is easy to get caught up in the quarterback action in the Pac-12. This year was certainly the case with players like Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley, but next year could see some big years from running backs as well. Paul Perkins of UCLA led the Pac-12 in rushing with 1,575 yards this season and will be back in 2015. So will Arizona’s Nick Wilson, the conference’s fourth-leading rusher as a freshman, and Oregon’s Royce Freeman. Freeman did not have a great championship game against Ohio State, but he should take on a heavy load without Mariota leading the offense in 2015.

The pass-happy Big 12 is not without some impact running backs in 2015 either. Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine led the Big 12 with 1,713 yards and 21 touchdowns as a freshman in 2014. Baylor’s Shock Linwood was second in the Big 12  as a sophomore with 1,252 yards and 16 touchdowns. West Virginia’s Rushel Shell is also capable of doing some major damage if the Mountaineers have more faith in him.

Quarterbacks will likely remain the face of many programs, but the 2015 season could be a huge season for the running backs.