Category: Northwestern Wildcats

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 29:  Former Tennesse quarterback Peyton Manning and current quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts is honored alongside his former college coach Phillip Fulmer before the start of the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks on October 29, 2005 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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SEC, Ohio State tops on Carolina, Denver Super Bowl rosters

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Cam Newton may be hurtling toward history, but the former Auburn quarterback will not be the lone player representing the SEC in next month’s Super Bowl.  In fact, he’s far, far from it.

As you may have heard, Newton’s Carolina Panthers are set to square off with Peyton Manning‘s Denver Broncos in the 50th Super Bowl Feb. 3.  Manning and Newton are two of and FBS-best 30 former SEC players who are on the two teams’ rosters, which includes those on the 53-man, reserved/injured list, practice squad, reserved/suspended by commissioner and reserve/future squad.

The Pac-12 is next with 23, followed by the Big Ten (21) and ACC (17).  The final Power Five conference, the Big 12, has 10, three less than the Mountain West’s 13.  The AAC, with eight, is the only Group of Five league to come close to double digits.  The MAC, meanwhile, is the only conference to be shutout, while all of the other divisions in the NCAA combined for 18 players.

Nearly every SEC team is represented in this year’s big game, the lone exception being Vanderbilt.  Of the dozen schools in the Pac-12, only Arizona and Washington State are missing.  Both the ACC and Big Ten have 11 of their 14 teams in the game, the lone exceptions being Clemson, Louisville and Virginia Tech for the former and Illinois, Minnesota and Rutgers for the latter.

One of those B1G schools that’s in, Nebraska, has had at least one player on a Super Bowl roster for 23 straight years, the longest active streak for any FBS program.

Ohio State easily outdistances individual schools with seven, three more than the four each for Auburn, Georgia Tech, Oregon State and Tennessee.  Alabama, Arizona State, Colorado State, Georgia, Nevada, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M, USC and Utah.

A total of 20 schools have two players each, including Coastal Carolina, the only non-FBS program in the group.  The other 19 includes Arkansas, Boise State, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Carolina, San Diego State, South Carolina, Stanford, Troy, Tulane, Washington and Wisconsin.

Two weeks from signing day, offer pulled from lineman committed to Michigan since 2013

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 21:  Jim Harbaugh head coach of the Michigan Wolverines during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium on November 21, 2015 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Evan Habeeb/Getty Images)
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The past couple of weeks have featured nothing but feel-good stories — some would call one them creepy — of Jim Harbaugh on the recruiting trail. Today, though, the unsightly underbelly of the recruiting game has been exposed yet again.

Erik Swenson was the first commitment to Michigan’s 2016 recruiting class, verballing to Brady Hoke and the Wolverines back in November of 2013. Even with the coaching change from Hoke to Harbaugh in December of 2014, the four-star offensive lineman remained committed. Why? Because he committed to a school, not a coach.

“You have to stick with your commitment, you committed to Michigan, you have to honor that,” Swenson told mlive.com last June. “You made a commitment and you have to show you’re willing to honor it. There will be ups and downs at any place, and any place you go you’ll have to show you can push through them.”

Fast-forward seven months, and how was Swenson’s loyalty rewarded? By having his offer from UM pulled exactly two weeks before National Signing Day.  At least, that’s the recruit’s side of the story.

From mlive.com:

In a text message to MLive, the four-star offensive tackle said Michigan recently pulled its scholarship offer and canceled his previously scheduled official visit. He said the program did not provide a reason for doing so. He declined to speak further on the matter at this time.

Swenson had previously revealed on his personal Twitter account that, “[d]ue to unforeseen circumstances, I am reopening my recruitment.”

Because of NCAA bylaws, UM officials will not be permitted to address, at least on the record, their side of a story that’s certainly to cause its share of controversy.

Swenson is the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Illinois and the No. 227 overall in the country according to Rivals.com. He also holds offers from, among others, Alabama, Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Virginia Tech.

Alabama tops final AP poll; Big Ten leads all conferences with six top 25 teams

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The final Associated Press top 25 of the college football season has been published, with No. 1 Alabama claiming all 61 first-place votes following its College Football Playoff national championship victory over No. 2 Clemson. The Crimson Tide and Tigers swapped spots atop the poll, the first since conference championship weekend in early December.

The final poll saw Pac-12 champion Stanford move up to No. 3 thanks to a dominating showing in the Rose Bowl against No. 9 Iowa. No. 4 Ohio State climbed up three spots with a win over No. 11 Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. The next spots were filled by the other two participants in the College Football Playoff, with No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 6 Michigan State each falling in the polls. The top 10 also included No. 7 TCU, No. 8 Houston and No. 10 Ole Miss.

The Big Ten placed six teams in the final AP Top 25 poll of the season, one more than the SEC’s five. Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin and Northwestern all finished in the final poll with a combined record of 66-14. The Big Ten also had three teams finish in the top 10, although both Michigan State and Iowa suffered two of the worst bowl losses by any team during the bowl season. the Big 12 finished with four teams in the final top 25, and the ACC and Pac-12 each placed three in the final ranking. The American Athletic Conference was represented by Houston and Navy and Western Kentucky carried the Conference USA banner in the final poll.

Final AP Top 25 Teams By Conference

  1. Big Ten – 6
  2. SEC – 5
  3. Big 12 – 4
  4. ACC – 3
    Pac-12 – 3
  5. AAC – 2
  6. C-USA – 1

Final AP Top 25 Poll of the 2015 Season

  1. Alabama (61 first-place votes)
  2. Clemson
  3. Stanford
  4. Ohio State
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Michigan State
  7. TCU
  8. Houston
  9. Iowa
  10. Ole Miss
  11. Notre Dame
  12. Michigan
  13. Baylor
  14. Florida State
  15. North Carolina
  16. LSU
  17. Utah
  18. Navy
  19. Oregon
  20. Oklahoma State
  21. Wisconsin
  22. Tennessee
  23. Northwestern
  24. Western Kentucky
  25. Florida

No. 23 Tennessee sets stage for 2016 by pasting No. 13 Northwestern in Outback Bowl

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1:  Alvin Kamara #6 of the Tennessee Volunteers avoids a tackle by Drew Smith #55 of the Northwestern Wildcats during the first half of the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Do you hear that? Off in the distance? That faint “whoo!” you hear is the sound of Tennessee’s hype train, chugging hard toward the next season.

The 23rd-ranked Vols kicked off what they hope will be a big 2016 by whipping No. 13 Northwestern 45-6 in the Outback Bowl Friday afternoon in Tampa. The 39-point margin was the largest in Outback Bowl history.

Tennessee started slowly, not denting the scoreboard until the 14 second mark of the first quarter on a 14-yard Joshua Dobbs run. Aaron Medley nudged the lead to 10-0 with a 35-yard field goal at the 10:47 mark of the second quarter, and Northwestern showed its only sign of life for the entire afternoon when Justin Jackson capped a 75-yard, five-minute touchdown drive with a five-yard dash, pulling the Wildcats to within 10-6 (Jack Mitchell‘s PAT try failed).

The Vols immediately answered by racing 75 yards in nine plays, culminating in an 11-yard Alvin Kamara run, effectively putting the game out of Northwestern’s reach at 17-6 with 2:18 left in the first half.

Jalen Hurd added a three-yard run in the third quarter, and Dobbs and John Kelly added scoring dashes of their own in the fourth quarter. Evan Berry put the exclamation point on the Vols’ day by returning an interception 99 yards for a touchdown with eight seconds left in the game.

The interception capped an abysmal day for the Northwestern (10-3) offense. Zack Oliver and Clayton Thornson combined to complete 14-of-33 throws for 129 yards with no scores and four interceptions. The ground attack was out-gained 226-130, and the Wildcats converted only four of 15 third-down tries.

Tennessee (9-4) closed the year with wins in their final five games and losses to national finalist Alabama by five, national semifinalist Oklahoma in double overtime, to Florida by one and to Arkansas by four. Though perhaps we should ask the 2014 Tennessee Volunteers what a major bowl victory does for next season. That Tennessee team closed with four wins in five tries and a shellacking of Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl — only to start this season 3-4, while Iowa plays in the Rose Bowl later today.

But with Dobbs (166 passing yards, 48 rushing yards, two touchdowns) and Hurd (24 carries for 130 yards and a touchdown) returning, the Vols will be heavy favorites to reach Atlanta for the SEC Championship game, and perhaps even return to Tampa for the 2016 national championship game. With eight months to speculate, there’s no telling how high expectations could rise for Butch Jones and company.

When that train is barreling upon you in July and August, don’t say you didn’t hear it coming.

SEC leading bowl standings heading into New Year’s Day

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There’s still a lot of football left to be played — 11 games, for those counting — but there’s a lot of football already been played, too. And to this point in the 2015-16 bowl season, the SEC has again been the top conference in FBS.

Heading into New Year’s Day, the SEC has posted a 4-1 record, topping the Pac-12 (5-2) and Big Ten (3-2) and the already-completed Conference USA (3-2).

If the SEC is to win this year’s entirely-fictional and yet all-important bowl cup, there is still much work to be done.

Tennessee faces Northwestern in the Outback Bowl while Florida meets Michigan in the nearby Citrus Bowl this afternoon, and Ole Miss squares off with Oklahoma State tonight in the Sugar Bowl.

On Saturday, Georgia dukes it out with Penn State in the TaxSlayer Bowl, and Arkansas dances with Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl.

And then there is that matter of Alabama brawling with Clemson for the national championship on Jan. 11.

The Pac-12, meanwhile, sends Stanford to battle with Iowa in the Rose Bowl, and on Saturday Oregon meets a depleted TCU team in the Alamo Bowl and Arizona State gets a virtual home game against West Virginia in the Cactus Bowl.

Again, there’s a lot of football left to be played, but the SEC is once again setting pretty.