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Big Ten lines up Thursday and Friday night football for 2018

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The Big Ten is planning ahead to buckle down and try to make Thursday night and Friday night football a thing in the conference. After breaking the ice on Thursday and Friday night football in the 2017 season, the conference has officially moved five games on the 2018 conference schedule to Thursday and Friday nights.

Purdue will host Northwestern in the Big Ten season opener on Thursday, August 30, marking the second straight season the Big Ten will kick off the college football season with a Thursday night football game. Indiana hosted Ohio State in a Thursday night season opener this season. The opening week of the season will continue the following night with Michigan State hosting Utah State and Wisconsin hosting Western Kentucky on Friday, August 21, 2018. This will mark the second straight season Wisconsin will open the season at home on a Friday night in Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers hosted Utah State on Friday, September 1 this season.

The three games on Thursday and Friday night in the opening week of the 2018 season keeps the Big Ten on the primetime lineup on various TV partners between ESPN, FOX Sports, and the Big Ten Network, although the programming specifics will come later on. But the idea of adding games to Thursday and Friday nights has been designed to add programming to TV partners and add content across all partner networks as part of the latest contracts with ESPN and FOX, along with the Big Ten Network.

The Big Ten has moved two additional games Friday nights next season as well. Illinois will host Penn State on Friday, September 21, 2018. Minnesota will host Indiana on Friday, October 26, 2018.

Illini lose DB Tony Adams to season-ending shoulder surgery

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Earlier this year, Tony Adams became the first true freshman to start at cornerback for Illinois since Vontae Davis in 2006.  A few weeks later, his season has ended on a much lower note.

Lovie Smith has confirmed that Adams will miss the remainder of 2017 after undergoing surgery on his shoulder.  The defensive back originally suffered the injury in an Oct. 7 loss to Iowa and didn’t play in last weekend’s loss to Rutgers because of it.

This marks the second straight year Adams’ season has ended prematurely as he suffered a torn ACL as a senior in high school.

“Unfortunately, you know he was doing some good things for us,” Smith said according to the Associated Press. “But, you know Tony had a serious knee injury in high school and came back from it so he’ll come back from this.”

Adams was a three-star 2017 signee who was rated as the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Illinois.  In the Sept. 15 loss to South Florida, he recorded his first career interception.

Urban Meyer now 10-1 vs. his former assistants with romp over D.J. Durkin and Maryland

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Once again, the teacher has taken a former student to school.

Despite an embarrassing series of first-half special teams gaffes that bled into the third quarter, and with their opponent starting their third-string quarterback, Ohio State jumped out to a 41-7 halftime lead and never really looked back en route to a 62-14 woodshedding of overmatched Maryland.  In the first half alone, the Buckeyes held a 361-26 advantage in total offense; they finished the game with 584 yards to the Terrapins’ 66, 27 of which came on a late touchdown drive following an OSU fumble by backup quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

J.T. Barrett accounted for four touchdowns — three passing and one rushing — in three quarters worth of work.  True freshman J.K. Dobbins led all rushers 96 yards on 13 carries.

The Terps, which were forced to go to fourth-string quarterback Caleb Henderson after third-stringer Max Bortenschlager was knocked out of the game late in the third quarter, wer limited to just 16 yards passing for the entire game.  They also averaged just 1.2 yards per carry, and their only touchdown prior to the one in garbage time came on a kickoff return for a score in the first quarter.

With the win, Urban Meyer improved to 10-1 all-time against his former assistant coaches who went on to become head coaches.  The lone loss for Meyer?  Florida’s 10-7 defeat in 2010 to Mississippi State and Dan Mullen, Meyer’s former offensive coordinator with the Gators.

Since that loss, Meyer has ripped off nine straight wins over his former assistants, all of which have come since he came to OSU.  And those wins haven’t, for the most part, even been close as the Buckeyes won those games by an average of 42.6 points per game.  The only team to come within 25 points of OSU Urban was Gary Andersen‘s Wisconsin Badgers, which dropped a 31-24 decision in September of 2013; take out that game, and margin of victory stretches to 47.6 ppg.

Below are the all-time records of Meyer assistants vs. their former boss:

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State, 1-1 (29-19 loss in 2009; 10-7 win in 2010)
Tim Beckman, Illinois, 0-3 (52-22 loss in 2012; 60-35 loss in 2013; 55-14 loss in 2014)
Gary Andersen, Wisconsin, 0-2 (31-24 loss in 2013; 59-0 loss in 2014)
Chris Ash, Rutgers, 0-2 (58-0 loss in 2016; 56-0 loss in 2017)
D.J. Durkin, Maryland, 0-2 (62-3 loss in 2016; 62-14 loss in 2017)

This was also the 200th game of Meyer’s career as a head coach, with his teams going 170-30 in that span.  His .850 winning percentage is fourth all-time among FBS head coaches behind a pair of Notre Dame greats, Knute Rockne (.881) and Frank Leahy (.864), as well as Bowling Green’s Doyt Perry (.855).  It’s the highest for any coach with at least 200 games under his belt; Nebraska’s Tom Osborne and his .836 clip in 307 career games had previously held that honor.

Illini making change at QB, replacing Chayce Crouch with Jeff George Jr.

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Given the offensive struggles through the first quarter of the season, it was only a matter of time before the trigger was pulled.

Monday, Lovie Smith confirmed that Jeff George Jr. will replace Chayce Crouch as Illinois’ starting quarterback, beginning with Saturday’s game on the road at Iowa.  Not only is Crouch no longer the starter, but tue freshman Cam Thomas will serve as George’s backup, effectively turning the ousted starter into the No. 3 quarterback for the foreseeable future.

“(Making a change at the position) is definitely necessary to give us the opportunity to push the ball downfield and use all of our weapons,” offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said according to the Decatur Herald & Review.

Through four games, the Illini are 113th in the country in passing yards per game and 114th in points per game.  They’re last in the Big Ten in the latter category, and ahead of only Rutgers in the former.

Of the 119 individual quarterbacks listed on the NCAA’s official stats website, only three — Charlotte’s Hasaan Klugh (91.9), Ball State’s Jack Milas (91.8), Rice’s Jackson Tyner (91.5) — have lower pass efficiency rating than the junior Crouch’s 93.7.

“Chayce was not playing the way everyone anticipated him playing,” the coordinator bluntly stated. “He has a little more development to do in terms of seeing the field and keeping his eyes on the coverage. His eyes tend to drop down and he misses a lot of guys running open down the field. And he understands that.”

As for George, the son of Illini legend Jeff George, he started four games as a redshirt freshman last season.  This season, he’s played in one game, completing 12-of-21 passes for 211 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in a 47-23 loss to South Florida in Week 3.

Illinois proves to be a cure for Nebraska’s struggles as Cornhuskers capture easy Big Ten win

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It’s been a difficult past few weeks at Nebraska after the school lost to Northern Illinois. Naturally, the cure for all those issues was to come back and thump Illinois on the road on Friday night and capture a nice Big Ten victory in the process.

The Cornhuskers led throughout and were rarely threatened in a must-win game for Mike Riley’s squad, eventually leaving town with a 28-6 victory over the Illini that probably wasn’t even as close as that score would indicate on the field.

NU quarterback Tanner Lee produced his best performance in a Huskers uniform, throwing for 246 yards and three touchdowns. Most importantly, he failed to throw a pass to the other team with a rare no-interception outing in the passing game after throwing nine picks on the year coming in.

Devine Ozigbo produced the biggest highlight for the Big Red rushing attack with a touchdown run around the edge early in the game. He later finished with 106 yards on the ground and may have solidified his status atop the depth chart heading into next week.

As for the Illini, they showed why they’re better left to getting lost in the shuffle on Saturday’s instead of getting the spotlight put on them in a rare national TV gig on Friday. Junior Chayce Crouch was just 9/15 for 99 yards and an interception at quarterback as the team struggled to sustain much of anything offensively after an early field goal drive. Perhaps most disappointing for Lovie Smith’s team was the defensive effort though, as missed tackles were a common sight despite the university honoring Hall of Famer Dick Butkus on the field during the game. The team is playing a huge number of freshmen this season and that was certainly evident at times in this one.

The flip side of the comfortable margin on the other sideline was probably just what the doctor order in Lincoln however. After such a difficult few weeks and lots of chatter around the football team, the team is right back on track and 2-0 in conference play with a key extra day of rest heading into next week.