Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh announced senior cornerback Jeremy Clark will not play another down this season. Clark suffered a torn ACL in a blowout win against Penn State on Saturday while on special teams duty.
With Clark no longer an option for the defense, Harbaugh mentioned a few players as possible replacements for the rest of the season; Brandon Watson, Lavert Hill, and David Long.
Harbaugh also said the school will petition the NCAA to see if they can get a sixth year of eligibility for Clark. Players are eligible to apply for a medical redshirt of a season-ending injury occurs in the first third of the regular season, which Michigan’s fourth game would qualify for. Clark has already used a redshirt season at Michigan.
The Michigan Wolverines already owned the top spot in college football’s record book for most all-time wins, but it took back the top spot in another statistical category worth recognizing on Saturday. Michigan is the new number one team in college football history with the best all-time winning percentage, nudging one ten-thousandth of a point past Notre Dame.
With Michigan improving to 4-0 on the season with a blowout win over Penn State and Notre Dame slumping out to a 1-3 start this season, the Wolverines picked up enough ground on their rivals from South Bend to make up for the difference in the winning percentage race.
Most people may not care about such nonsense, but Michigan and Notre Dame fans have long argued over these records, and debated which one matters more. Michigan held the claim to the most wins while Notre Dame would sound off about winning a larger percentage of their games. Now, at least for one week, Michigan holds the upper hand in both regards.
There was not a whole lot of movement in the top portion of the Amway Coaches Poll this week, as most of the top teams maintained their positioning within the top 10. Alabama remains on top of the coaches poll, without much debate, ahead of Ohio State, Clemson and Louisville.
The Miami Hurricanes had the biggest rise in the coaches poll this week, jumping up five spots to No. 14 with a 3-0 record. The Hurricanes trail No. 13 Baylor, the highest-ranked team in the Big 12 in this week’s coaches poll.
No. 8 Wisconsin is one of three Big Ten teams in the top 10, joining Ohio State and No. 5 Michigan. No. 15 Nebraska moved ahead of No. 16 Michigan State this week.
Here is the full coaches top 25 for this week, with first-place votes noted;
- Alabama (61)
- Ohio State (2)
- Clemson (1)
- Texas A&M
- Florida State
- Michigan State
- Ole Miss
- North Carolina
- San Diego State
Jeremy Clark started the first three games of the 2016 season for Michigan because All-American Jourdan Lewis was battling through some nagging injuries.
Lewis (pictured, No. 34) returned to the lineup Saturday against Penn State, but, unfortunately, it appears his replacement has been lost for a substantial period of time. In fact, after the beatdown of the Nittany Lions, head coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t shy away from the fact that the senior cornerback is likely gone for the remainder of the year with a torn ACL.
“Sad right now about Jeremy Clark, I don’t think we’re going to be able to dodge a bullet on that one. That’s got everyone in the locker room a little sad right now,” Harbaugh said. “We think it’s a season-ender, we think it’s an ACL. We’ll know more tonight.”
A fifth-year senior, whether Clark would qualify for a sixth season is decidedly unclear.
While Clark stepped aside for the return of Lewis, he would’ve been a consideration for the starter at the corner position opposite the All=Big Ten performer. At the very least, he likely would’ve served as the nickel corner.
Prior to this season, Clark had made 13 starts for the Wolverines.
If you’re listening closely, you can hear the heat underneath James Franklin‘s seat warming ever so slightly. Still.
Saturday afternoon, Penn State never had a chance against Michigan in Ann Arbor, falling behind 28-0 in the first half before the Wolverines hit cruise control to ease into an embarrassingly easy 49-10 win in the Big House. The Nittany Lions, with a rash of injuries up front, were outgained 298-40 in rushing yards, a microcosm of how dominated the visiting team was on the day.
Even more disturbing is this game merely continued a trend under Franklin.
Franklin-led Penn State teams have faced the Big Ten East’s heavyweights Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State seven times. Not only have the Nittany Lions lost all seven, they’ve lost those seven by an average of 22 points per game. Five of those losses were by 12 points or more, with four of those coming by 24 or more.
In other words, the Nittany Lions under Franklin aren’ even remotely ready to compete in their own division let alone climbing back onto the national stage once again. It seems doubtful that, unless the wheels and transmission and engine completely fell off between now and the end of November, the athletic director would pull the trigger on a move after three seasons.
Should the struggles against the Big Three continue into the 2017 season? That’s a situation that will bear watching, especially as Franklin’s struggles against good teams stretch all the way back to his Vanderbilt days.