Michigan Wolverines

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No. 5 Wisconsin muscles their way to 11-0 against No. 24 Michigan

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No. 5 Wisconsin (11-0, 8-0) moved one step closer to an undefeated regular season thanks to a strong second-half showing against No. 24 Michigan (8-3, 5-3 Big Ten). The Badgers struggled to get much of anything going on offense in the first half, but the plays seemed to come together in the second half en route to a 24-10 victory in Madison on Saturday afternoon. The Badgers scored 21-unanswered points to overcome a 10-7 deficit in the third quarter.

Michigan was on the wrong end of a controversial instant replay in the first half, but even if the correct call had been made in the review it would not have been enough to score the upset. The Badgers wore down Michigan in the second half and found some passing plays to use to their advantage off the arm of Alex Hornibrook. Hornibrook completed just nine passes out of 19 attempts with one going for a touchdown and another deep ball providing a spark along the way. The recipe for a win, of course, remained running the ball. Freshman sensation Jonathan Taylor ripped off 132 yards on 19 carries to power Wisconsin’s offense.

Michigan starting quarterback Brandon Peters was carted off in the third quarter with an apparent head injury. He did not return, and John O’Korn was tasked with taking over the offense for the remainder of the game. Had Peters not been injured, it may not have mattered. Wisconsin’s defense was still making plays when they needed and not allowing Michigan to seize control for extended periods of time.

The win keeps Wisconsin knocking on the door to the College Football Playoff. If the Badgers win their next two games, they will stand an excellent chance of getting to the playoff for the first time in school history. Wisconsin will wrap up the regular season on the road next week with the annual rivalry game with Minnesota. The Gophers were getting thumped by Northwestern and will need a long-overdue win against Wisconsin in order to become bowl-eligible. Wisconsin has not lost to Minnesota since 2003. After that, it will be a date in the Big Ten Championship Game against the champion of the East Division, which will more than likely be the team Michigan plays next week.

Michigan will be home in Ann Arbor for their rivalry game against Ohio State. The Buckeyes will need the win in order to remain on the playoff radar heading into the Big Ten championship game. Jim Harbaugh has not beaten Urban Meyer yet.

Controversial replay, poor punt coverage costs Michigan in first half vs. Wisconsin

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It’s a good old-fashioned defensive battle in the Big Ten between Michigan and Wisconsin, and if not for a couple of plays going the wrong way, Michigan could very well be in the lead. Instead, the Wolverines and Badgers are locked in a 7-7 draw at halftime as the defenses have set the tone on both sides of the sideline so far today.

Wisconsin’s lone score came on a punt return by Nick Nelson in the first quarter, and it came after making a usually costly decision to pick the ball up to make a return. He managed to avoid a disaster and found pay dirt for the first score of the game.

Just when it appeared Michigan was about to get some point son the scoreboard with a touchdown, a video replay from the Big Ten officials upheld a controversial incompletion to Donovan Peoples-Jones. The play was ruled incomplete but the video review appeared to show the receiver get his left foot down just before the right foot touched out of bounds. This may have been a case of not feeling the video evidence was indisputable to overturn the original call on the field. Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters lost the football on a fumble while trying to pick up an extra yard near the end zone, giving the Badgers the ball deep in their own end with a 7-0 lead preserved.

Michigan did manage to get in the end zone in the first half though, and there would be no review to overturn the result. Ben Mason powered his way across the goal line at the end of a seven-play, 84-yard drive. Still, Michigan fans have to be a bit upset about that non-touchdown call by the replay booth. We’ll see if that comes back to haunt Michigan in the second half or not.

Michigan has out-gained Wisconsin 170-99 at the half. The Badgers have just four first downs.

Two weeks from Championship Saturday, here are all of the division-clinching scenarios

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Unbelievably, we’re down to the penultimate full weekend of the 2017 season. And, with that, races for divisional and conference championships are both heating up and winding down — or, in a handful of cases, already settled.

Below is how each of the 10 leagues stands with just two Saturdays remaining before championship weekend.

AAC EAST
The winner of the Nov. 24 USF (6-1) at UCF (6-0) game will win the division, regardless of what happens in UCF’s game against Temple at noon today.

AAC WEST
Memphis (5-1) beat Houston (4-2) in mid-October. Memphis clinches the division with a win in either today’s game against SMU or East Carolina in the regular-season finale, regardless of what Houston does. Houston needs for Memphis to lose both of those games, plus win their final two games Tulane and Navy.

ACC ATLANTIC
Clemson has already clinched the division.

ACC COASTAL
Miami has already clinched the division.

BIG 12
Unless Oklahoma (6-1), which beat both TCU (5-2) and Oklahoma State (5-2) earlier this season, loses its last two games — ROTFL one of them is against Kansas — the Sooners have essentially clinched one of the two spots in the conference title game. TCU needs to either win one of its last two games (at Tech, vs. Baylor) and have OSU lose at least one, or win out regardless of what OSU does in order to claim the other spot. OSU, meanwhile, needs to win out (vs. K-State, vs. Kansas) and have the Horned Frogs lose at least one. West Virginia (5-2), which lost to both TCU and OSU, needs to beat Texas and win at OU while TCU and OSU lose at least one game apiece.

There’s also the possibility that all four teams finish at 6-3, getting there by way of OSU, TCU and WVU winning out.  In such a scenario, Oklahoma and TCU would play for the Big 12 title by virtue of a 2-1 record against the foursome.  At 1-2, Oklahoma State and West Virginia would be eliminated.

BIG TEN EAST
If Ohio State beats Illinois AND Michigan loses to Wisconsin today, the Buckeyes will win the division. If that doesn’t happen, the B1G East race will play out in Week 13. Courtesy of the Big Ten Network, below are all of the scenarios heading into Week 12:

Ohio State (6-1): Win vs. Illinois AND Michigan loss at Wisconsin OR win final two games (vs. Illinois; at Michigan).
Michigan (5-2): Win final two games (at Wisconsin; vs. Ohio State) AND Michigan State and Penn State lose one game.
Michigan State (5-2): Win final two games (vs. Maryland; at Rutgers) AND Ohio State loses final two games.
Penn State (5-2): Win final two games (vs. Nebraska; at Maryland) AND Ohio State loses final two games AND Michigan State loses a game.

BIG TEN WEST
Wisconsin has already clinched the division.

CONFERENCE USA EAST
Florida Atlantic (6-0) clinches the division with a win over Florida International (4-2) later today OR with a win over Charlotte in Week 13 even with a loss to FIU. FIU needs to beat FAU AND Western Kentucky AND have FAU lose to Charlotte as well.

CONFERENCE USA WEST
North Texas has already clinched the division.

MAC EAST
Akron and Ohio are both 5-2, but the Zips beat the Bobcats this past Tuesday night. Thus, Akron wins the division with either a Week 13 win over Kent State OR an Ohio loss to Buffalo. Ohio, meanwhile, needs to win next week AND have Akron lose.

MAC WEST
Toledo (6-1) and Northern Illinois (6-1) are left standing, with Toledo beating NIU in the first week of November. So, Toledo wins the West with either a win over Western Michigan OR an NIU loss. Northern Illinois needs to beat Central Michigan AND have Toledo lose to WMU at home to win the division.

MWC MOUNTAIN
Boise State (6-0) beat Wyoming (5-1) Oct. 21. Thus, Boise State wins the Mountain division if it wins its last two games (vs. Air Force, at Fresno State) regardless of what Wyoming does; if it wins one game regardless of what Wyoming does; if it loses its last two games and Wyoming does the same. Conversely, Wyoming needs to win its last two games (vs. Fresno State, at San Jose State) while Boise State loses its last two.

MWC WEST
Fresno State (5-1) beat San Diego State (4-2) Oct. 21. Thus, Fresno State wins the West division if it wins its last two games (at Wyoming, vs. Boise State) regardless of what San Diego State does; if it wins one game regardless of what San Diego State does; if it loses its last two games and San Diego State does the same. Conversely, San Diego State needs to win its last two games (vs. Nevada, vs. New Mexico) while Fresno State loses its last two.

PAC-12 NORTH
And now we come to the somewhat convoluted portion of the program. Stanford and Washington State are both 6-2, while Washington is 5-2. Stanford has beaten Washington but lost to Wazzu, while the Apple Cup awaits next Saturday. So, off we go with how each team can win the division.

Stanford: win vs. Cal in Week 12 AND Washington State loss to Washington in Week 13.
Washington: win vs. Utah in Week 12 AND win vs. Washington State in Week 13 AND Stanford loss to Cal in Week 12.
Washington State: win vs. Washington in Week 13 OR losses by Washington AND Stanford in Week 12.

And, if all three teams finish 6-3? Washington, by virtue of its record in divisional games — 4-1, compared to 3-2 for the others — would get the nod.

PAC-12 SOUTH
USC has already clinched the division

SEC EAST
Georgia has already clinched the division

SEC WEST
This one is really simple: the winner of the Alabama-Auburn Iron Bowl next Saturday will clinch the division.

SUN BELT
There’s Pac-12 North convoluted, then there’s SBC convoluted. Entering Week 12, this conference has four teams with just one loss apiece — Troy, Georgia State and Appalachian State at 5-1, Arkansas State at 4-1. To make matters even worse, there has been just one game played between the four — Troy beat Georgia State — and just two in the remaining three weeks of the season — Troy vs. Arkansas State, Georgia State vs. Appalachian State. Things will become (a little) clearer after Week 12 play for the only FBS league that doesn’t have a league game to determine a champion.

Wisconsin wideouts Jazz Peavy, George Rushing no longer with team according to Paul Chryst

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Madison is the center of the college football universe this week as No. 5 Wisconsin looks to remain undefeated and in the College Football Playoff race with a big game against Michigan. While you would think that would mean all hands on deck for the Badgers, it appears two of the team’s biggest names will not be around to watch what unfolds.

Head coach Paul Chryst met with reporters after practice on Thursday to provide an update on the team’s personnel and injury situation when he revealed that wide receivers Jazz Peavy and George Rushing were both no longer with the team at the moment.

“For different reasons, both are not with the team right now,” Chryst said. “There’s a lot going on in these guys’ lives, and all that matters if that they’re doing all right. It was kind of decided for both to kind of help them navigate everything and take some time away from football.”

Peavy was Wisconsin’s No. 1 weapon in the passing game last year with five touchdowns and 635 yards receiving, but was not quite as effective during the first few games this season prior to leaving the team for personal reasons last month. Rushing was injured during the Badgers’ fall camp and had not played a down all year.

While the team is experienced at being without both by this point, the pair’s absence highlights how thin Wisconsin’s passing attack is outside of star tight end Troy Fumagalli given this year’s leading receiver, Quintez Cephus, was lost for the rest of the season prior to the team’s win over Iowa. It hasn’t tripped up the team yet but as we enter a key stretch in November and December, it could be a big factor in making it to the playoff or not for Chryst and company.

Tennessee interim head coach Brady Hoke changing routine up to wear a headset on the sidelines with the Vols

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It’s not every day that you wonder if a head coach will wear a headset for a game but this isn’t most days at the University of Tennessee.

Following the firing of Butch Jones earlier in the week, the Vols named former Michigan and San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke as the team’s interim coach. While you normally wouldn’t think much of it, the team’s recent defensive line coach earned a little bit of a reputation for being the rare person at any level of football to not wear a headset on the sideline during his stops in Ann Arbor and beyond.

That will not be the case at Neyland Stadium as Hoke steps into Jones’ shoes as head coach however, as it appears he will don a headset to communicate with his coaches like, well, everybody else in this line of work.

“You know, it’s funny, I was just going to tell you that I am going to wear a headset,” Hoke joked on Wednesday, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. “I swear I was.”

Hoke has accurately stated his lack of wearing a headset was overblown in the past but when you’re losing football games, everything gets magnified and the head coach not doing something his 129 other peers are doing tends to become an issue. It’s good to see he’s changing up the routine for this two-game stretch with the Vols even if it won’t matter much to the fans at home with an entirely new coaching staff inbound in a few weeks.

Tennessee hosts LSU this week and Vanderbilt next Saturday to close out their season, needing to win both in order to make it to a bowl game this year after a 4-6 start.