Category: Penn State Nittany Lions

Christian McCaffrey
Associated Press

Finalists for O’Brien, Outland, Bednarik, other awards announced


A slew of finalists for college football’s major individual awards were announced Tuesday evening, highlighted by multi-award finalists Derrick HenryChristian McCaffrey and Deshaun Watson. Eleven of the 12 awards listed below (excluding the Burlsworth Trophy) are members of the National College Football Awards Assocation and will have their winners announced during ESPN’s Home Depot 25th Anniversary College Football Awards Show, to be broadcast from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta on Thursday, Dec. 10 (7 p.m. ET).

The winner of the Rimington Award as the nation’s top center will also be revealed on ESPN’s show, but finalists aren’t announced until Monday, Dec. 7.

The finalists are:

Maxwell Award (best overall player)
Derrick Henry, Alabama
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
Deshaun Watson, Clemson

Davey O’Brien Award (best quarterback)
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Deshaun Watson, Clemson

Doak Walker Award (best running back)
Leonard Fournette, LSU
Derrick Henry, Alabama
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

Biletnikoff Award (best wide receiver)
Corey Coleman, Baylor
Josh Doctson, TCU
Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss

John Mackey Award (best tight end)
Hunter Henry, Arkansas
Austin Hooper, Stanford
Jordan Leggett, Clemson

Outland Trophy (best interior lineman)
Spencer Drango, Baylor
Joshua Garnett, Stanford
A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama

Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player)
Tyler Matakevich, Temple
Carl Nassib, Penn State
Reggie Ragland, Alabama

Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back)
Jeremy Cash, Duke
Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
Desmond King, Iowa

Lou Groza Award (best kicker)
Daniel Carlson, Auburn
Jake Elliott, Memphis
Ka’imi Fairbairn, UCLA

Ray Guy Award (best punter)
Michael Carrizosa, San Jose State
Tom Hackett, Utah
Hayden Hunt, Colorado State

Burlsworth Trophy (best walk-on)*
Luke Falk, Washington State
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Carl Nassib, Penn State

Wuerffel Trophy (best community servant)
Ty Darlington, Oklahoma
Landon Foster, Kentucky
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana

* – winner not announced at ESPN awards show

The Fifth Quarter: Week 12 Rewind

<> at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 21, 2015 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Getty Images

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

Thanks to losses by a pair of previously-unbeaten OSUs — Ohio State and Oklahoma State — it appears the potential playoff field has been whittled down to seven, possibly eight.

It’s a near-certainty that, if Clemson and Alabama win out, they will be the top two seeds; on that, you won’t get much if any argument from anyone. Notre Dame, with Stanford remaining, could nearly lock up a spot with a win in Week 13, although the lack of a conference title game, as the Big 12 can attest, could prove to complicate the Irish’s standing at least on some level.  Again, though, their résumé appears strong enough in the committee’s eyes that the lack of a championship game will be of little or no import.

Thus, there’s a very real possibility that four, possibly five, teams will be fighting for one seat at the table the next two weeks: Iowa, Oklahoma, Michigan State and Baylor.  Florida would be only a possible at the moment, thanks in large part to the embarrassing win over Florida Atlantic in The Swamp.

So, with that as a quick backdrop, how did the eight teams mentioned above help themselves or not this weekend?  Let’s take a look.

Michigan State v Ohio StateSTOCK UP
No. 9 Michigan State — You beat the No. 3 team in the country, on the road, you can bet you’ll see yourself rise in the rankings when they are released Tuesday.
No. 10 Baylor — The Bears went into Stillwater and hung a double-digit loss on an undefeated and sixth-ranked team, and did so using their Nos. 2 and 3 quarterbacks.  Again, the committee will look favorably upon a visiting team taking it to a higher-ranked opponent.

No. 8 Florida — Allowing a two-win Conference USA team take you to overtime at home?  Embarrassing.  Then again, beat up on No. 14 Florida State and No. 2 Alabama and all will likely be forgotten.

No. 1 Clemson — A methodical 20-point win over three-win Wake Forest will do nothing to hurt or help the Tigers in the eyes of the committee.
No. 2 Alabama — They played an FCS team in a glorified scrimmage; do the math.
No. 4 Notre Dame — Almost everyone looks ugly playing Boston College, and the Domers were no exception.  The committee really likes the Irish, though, so no harm no foul (probably) in a three-point win at Fenway Park.
No. 5 Iowa — Jumped out to a 20-0 lead on two-win Purdue, then watched the Boilermakers cut the deficit to 20-13 in the third quarter.  A 20-7 run closed the game out, and left the unbeaten Hawkeyes in neutral.
No. 7 Oklahoma — OU looked like they were going to be in the “Up” category until the starting quarterback was knocked out and they ended up a missed two-point conversion away from their second loss of the season.

Boston College v Notre DameSo, when looking at how the committee will slot the Top Four this week, I think it’s a fairly safe bet that Clemson, Alabama and Notre Dame will occupy Nos. 1-3, in that order.  There’s no way Florida moves up four into that No. 4 spot, and Baylor’s win over Oklahoma State was its first quality win of the year.  That then leaves three teams this week — this week — for one spot: Iowa, Oklahoma and Michigan State.

In the end, I see the committee valuing Iowa’s road wins over two currently ranked teams, Northwestern and Wisconsin, slightly — very slightly — more than what either of the other two teams have done thus far.  The injury to Baker Mayfield helped TCU get back into the game Saturday, so that home win, even with last week’s road win over Baylor, might not help OU as much as it could’ve if the quarterback had stayed healthy.  Michigan State also has impressive road wins over currently ranked teams, OSU and Michigan, but they have that one loss, to 5-6 Nebraska, that will hold them back at least another week.

One final note: while significant, Ohio State’s loss wasn’t a fatal blow to the Buckeyes’ playoff chances.  Yes, the odds are long, but if OSU can get into the Big Ten championship game — they’d need to beat Michigan in Ann Arbor and have Michigan State lose to Penn State — and drop an unbeaten Iowa, OSU would be right back in the discussion.  Again, it’s a longshot, and they’ll need some help outside the conference in addition to taking care of their own business, but it’s just something to keep in mind as these last two weeks play out.

The other OSU, on the other hand, very likely saw their playoff chance disappear completely, even if they bounce back and drop their bitter rivals in Bedlam.  Why would the Midwest OSU still have shot, however, long it may be, while the Southwest OSU doesn’t?  One has a conference championship game it could play in, the other doesn’t.

North Carolina v Virginia TechCONFERENCE CHASE CLARITY
As was the case entering Week 11, there were just two Power Five divisions/conferences — ACC Atlantic, SEC East — that had already been decided entering Week 12.  North Carolina (ACC Coastal), Ohio State (Big Ten East), Iowa (Big Ten West), Stanford (Pac-12 North) and Alabama (SEC West) all came into this weekend with a chance to clinch their respective divisions by either winning or having another team lose — or both.

In the end, three teams managed to clinch in Week 12: UNC, with its overtime win over Virginia Tech; Iowa, with its win over Purdue; and Stanford, with its win over Cal in the Big Game.  Thus, there are still three divisions left to be decided with one weekend left in the regular season and one conference to be determined with their two weekends remaining, although that one could be decided next weekend as well.

So, below are the current clinching scenarios for all remaining divisions/conferences:

Michigan State’s win over Ohio State simplified this division: if MSU beats Penn State, the Spartans are in the Big Ten championship game.  If MSU loses, the winner of the OSU-Michigan game gets the early-December trip to Indianapolis.

BIG 12
The only certainty in this conference is that 6-2 TCU was eliminated with its loss to Oklahoma.  7-1 OU can win the league if it beats Oklahoma State in Bedlam.  6-1 Baylor can claim it if OU loses to OSU and it beats TCU and Texas (would own tiebreaker over 8-1 OSU).  7-1 OSU would be crowned champs if they beat OU and BU loses one of its last two.

Thanks to 5-3 Utah’s loss to 5-3 UCLA Saturday and their loss earlier this season to 5-3 USC, the winner of the USC-UCLA game will win the division and face Stanford in the conference championship game.

An Alabama win over Auburn in the Iron Bowl will clinch the division and a spot in the SEC championship game against Florida.  A ‘Bama loss coupled with an Ole Miss win in the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State would send the Rebels to Atlanta to face the Gators — and knock the conference out of the playoffs in the process.

Below is a list of links for all of the Week 12 gamers/pertinent pieces posted by the CFT crew, placed in one handy and convenient space for you, our beloved and dear readers.

A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Sunday if I, ya know, had a real vote.

1. Clemson — After 12 weeks, one thing this season is clear: Clemson and Alabama have separated themselves from the pack as the two best teams in college football.  Clemson just needs to avoid tripping up against a really bad South Carolina team to set up a tougher-than-most-people-are-giving-it-credit-for ACC title game matchup with North Carolina a week later. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: at South Carolina, Nov. 28

2. Alabama — Since the Sept. 19 loss to Ole Miss, ‘Bama has outscored the opposition by a combined score of 276-89 during their eight-game winning streak.  It’s safe to say that the Saban dynasty is far from dead; the exact opposite, actually. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: at Auburn, Nov. 28

3. Oklahoma — OU had been just as impressive as ‘Bama following their only loss a month ago, but the head injury sustained by Baker Mayfield bears watching.  With Mayfield, the Sooners were closing the gap on the top two teams.  Without him, they barely survived injury-ravaged TCU, and could find themselves in a heap of trouble if they have to play Bedlam without him. (Last week: NR)
Next up: at No. 6 Oklahoma State, Nov. 28

4. Notre Dame — I won’t gig them for the uninspiring win over Boston College as nearly every team looks dingy coming out of its games with the rough and ragged Eagles. I won’t move them up either; whether the playoff committee does remains to be seen. (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: at No. 11 Stanford, Nov. 28

5. Iowa — I very nearly put Baylor here, and maybe I should’ve given how BU dominated previously-unbeaten Oklahoma State, but opted for one of the two remaining unbeatens.  The good thing for the Hawkeyes is what I think of them doesn’t matter; all they need to do is win their last two games and they will likely punch a ticket to one of the playoff semifinals. (Last week: NR)
Next up: at Nebraska, Nov. 27

(Dropped out: No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 Oklahoma State)
(Others considered: Baylor, Michigan State)

2014 Heisman Trophy PresentationHEISMAN RACE, BY THE NUMBERS
A statistical look at how the top contenders for this year’s stiff-armed trophy fared this past week.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (9-2, No. 14)
Saturday: 15 carries for 106 yards (7.1 ypc), two touchdowns; one reception for five yards
Season: 185 carries for 1,475 yards (8.0 ypc), 16 touchdowns; 19 receptions for 207 yards, one touchdown

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (10-1, No. 2)
Saturday: nine carries for 68 yards (7.6 ypc), two touchdowns; one reception for 28 yards
Season: 249 carries for 1,526 yards (6.1 ypc), 21 touchdowns; 10 receptions for 97 yards

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (10-1, No. 7)
Saturday: 9-20 (45%), 127 yards, two touchdowns; 10 carries for 42 yards
Season: 226-329 (70.2%), 3,209 yards, 33 touchdowns, five interceptions; 120 carries for 343 yards (2.9 ypc), six touchdowns

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (9-2, No. 11)
Season: 231 carries for 1,354 yards (5.9 ypc), seven touchdowns; 33 receptions for 367 yards, two touchdowns; 23 kick returns for 665 yards; 11 punt returns for 32 yards; 1-2 passing (50%), 28 yards, one touchdown

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (11-0, No. 1)
Saturday: 24-35 (68.6%), 343 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions; 10 carries for 44 yards, one touchdown
Season: 241-344 (68.7%), 2,944 yards, 26 touchdowns, 10 interceptions; 118 carries for 642 yards (5.4 ypc), six touchdowns

(Dropped out: Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, LSU running back Leonard Fournette)
(Added: none)

JT’s Personal Top Fivesman
1. Henry — The worst statistical output of the season did nothing to hurt Henry’s Heisman stock as he played relatively little in the scrimmage against an FCS team.  In fact, he might have seen his stranglehold on the front-runner status grow stronger as a pair of challengers seemingly fell by the wayside this weekend. (Last week: No. 1)
2. Cook — Cook was in much the same boat as Henry, with FSU playing an FCS team as well.  The sophomore’s biggest issue is that his Seminoles aren’t a part of the playoff chase, and his profile has been somewhat pushed to the side to make room for the quarterbacks whose teams are.  That’s a shame, because Cook should be recognized for the kind of season he’s having.  (Last week: No. 2)
3. Watson — The sophomore just keeps plugging along, putting up numbers rather quietly for someone who is the quarterback of the No. 1 team in the nation.  Might need, or even probably needs, a signature performance in the ACC championship game to truly challenge Henry for the Trophy. (Last week: No. 3)
4. McCaffrey — Just give the man his ticket to New York City already.  And give the man his due, sleepy East Coast voters.  Oh, and give him the Hornung Award while you’re at it. (Last week: NR)
5. Mayfield — This candidacy could be hurt by the fact that Oklahoma will be sitting at home the first weekend in December while the four players above him, will be playing in conference championship games.  Mayfield needs a very impressive performance in Bedlam next weekend — if the head injury allows him to take the field, of course — to leave an impression with voters that’ll linger longer than a couple of days. (Last week: NR)

It appears that Philadelphia Eagles fans aren’t the only idiot football fans when snow is within reach.  With a winter storm whipping through the Midwest, Madison was hit with a significant amount of snow ahead of Wisconsin’s game against Northwestern.  Speaking of hit, some of those in attendance decided it would be cute and/or cool to pelt their own cheerleaders with snowballs, forcing them to take shelter in a tunnel.

As if that weren’t enough, the fans decided to show their disgust with a controversial ending by doing the same thing to the officiating crew.

Well done, Wisky Nation.  Well done.  You should all be proud.

Jim Harbaugh is, to be kind, animated on sidelines most Saturdays.  Week 12 was no exception as the Michigan head coach took exception to a pass interference call that went against his Wolverines and decided to initiate a sideline striptease.

That would be the last of the clothes shedding for Harbaugh as the Wolverines held on to beat the Nittany Lions.

There are a few things you never, ever do on a football field, one of which is put your hands on an official.  In Virginia Tech’s loss to North Carolina, Dadi Nicolas not only crossed that line, but shattered it on the way by.

Here’s to guessing the fifth-year senior will be receiving, at bare minimum, a stern call from the ACC at some point in the not-too-distant future.

This is Miami’s crowd about 20 minutes prior to its Senior Day kickoff against Georgia Tech at Sun Life Stadium…

… and this is the crowd shortly before halftime:

The Hurricanes desperately need a coaching hire that excites the fan base as that’s an embarrassment for a Power Five program with the pedigree The U possesses.

Halftime score: West Virginia 42, Kansas 0
Halftime yards: WVU 402, KU 59
Halftime rushing: WVU 295, KU minus-one

In the end, the Jayhawks stiffened in the second half in dropping a 49-0 heartbreaker to the Mountaineers in Lawrence, the program’s nation’s worst 14th straight loss.  KU hasn’t won a game in 379 days (Nov. 8 vs. Iowa State); hasn’t won a game away from Lawrence since 2009 (UTEP); hasn’t won a Big 12 road game since 2007 (Oklahoma State); hasn’t beaten a non-conference Power Five team on the road since 2009 (Duke); and hasn’t beaten a non-conference Power Five team, period, since September of 2010 (Georgia Tech).

In other words, Kansas football remains your prototypical…

Dumpster fire

If you haven’t heard of Mississippi State’s Fred Ross, you have now as the Bulldog wide receiver made one of the best catches of the season against Arkansas.  Oh, and the run after catch wasn’t bad either.

Saturday marked Frank Beamer‘s final game at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg.  While Virginia Tech was unable to come away with a win over North Carolina for the retiring head coach, the fans in attendance couldn’t help but thank the man for what so far has been a 278-win career.

Tech will need to beat in-state rival Virginia next Saturday to reach six wins and send Beamer out with a bowl thank you.

Dammit if I don’t still miss “Parks and Recreation.”

“They just out-coached us.  They outclassed us.” — interim head coach Shawn Elliott, following South Carolina’s embarrassing loss to FCS Citadel.

“That analogy doesn’t resonate with me. I don’t like comparing humans to chickens or any other kind of animal.” — Jim Harbaugh, when asked why his Michigan team never laid an egg.

“We can’t seem to get out of our own way. … We don’t value the ball very much. … It’s like a broken record — same old, same old.” — Paul Johnson, after watching his Georgia Tech team lose the turnover battle 4-0 and the game to Miami in falling to 3-8 on the season.

“I call a lot of plays anyways. So fingers will be pointed right here. And I have to do better. We didn’t — very conservative.” — Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, on the play-calling in the loss to Michigan State that was publicly eviscerated by one of his own players.

“I honestly do not. I’m definitely in danger of feeling badly. I feel that right now.” — LSU’s Les Miles, when asked if he feels he’s in danger of losing his job following a third straight loss.

Meads Cup Final - North Otago v WanganuiSTREAKING
Thanks to Ohio State’s 23-game winning streak crashing into a heap,  Clemson’s 14-game streak is now tops in the country. Iowa (11) and North Carolina (10) are the only others in double digits as, in addition to OSU, Oklahoma State’s 12-game streak ended while Houston saw its own 10-game winning streak come to an end this weekend as well.

On the other side of the won-loss ledger, the “proud” owner of the nation’s longest losing streak is Kansas at 14 straight, followed by UCF (12), Charlotte (nine), Eastern Michigan (nine), Louisiana-Monroe (nine), Hawaii (nine), Maryland (eight), Oregon State (eight) and Boston College (seven).

Entering Week 12, there were 62 teams that had secured bowl eligibility.  Exiting the weekend, there are now 71 teams eligible for the postseason with three weeks left in the regular season.  The newest additions this week total nine: Akron, Arizona State, Auburn, Central Michigan, Colorado State, Middle Tennessee State, UConn, Utah State and West Virginia.

There are still 18 teams that can become bowl-eligible with two weeks remaining: Buffalo, East Carolina, Georgia State, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas State, Kentucky, Louisiana-Lafayette, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Old Dominion, San Jose State, South Alabama, Texas, Tulsa, Virginia Tech and Washington

There are 40 bowl games this season — counting the two College Football Playoff semifinals — meaning 80 teams will need to reach the six-win threshold in order for teams with sub-.500 records to remain where they belong: at home during the postseason.

Wisconsin has averaged 33.9 passing attempts through its first 11 games this season, the highest average in program history. Only twice in the modern era (since 1946) have the Badgers averaged more than 30 passes per game: in 1983 (30.6) and 1995 (30.2). From 1996 to 2014, UW averaged 23.7 passing attempts per game.

The meeting between Notre Dame and Boston College was the first football game at Fenway Park since December 1, 1968, when — after five years of calling it home — the Boston Patriots played their last AFL game at the ballpark.  The last college football game played in the venerable park came in 1956, the final season BC used Fenway Park as its home stadium.  That game was played Dec. 1 against Holy Cross.

For the past five weeks, Oregon State has used a quarterback-center battery of brothers Nick Mitchell and Josh Mitchell. According to a recent survey of college football sports information departments, the Mitchells are the only brothers to snap to each other in recent memory. Minnesota has a brother combination at center and quarterback, but the duo has never played at the same time.

Ole Miss has scored 50-plus points in four games for the first time in school history; the Rebels had never done it three times in a season prior to this year. Additionally, for the first time in school history, Ole Miss has eclipsed 600 total yards three times in a season; the Rebels had never done it more than once in any of the 120 prior seasons.

Notre Dame is 5-1 this year against ACC teams. The Irish had never beaten five teams from the same league in the same season prior to 2015. On six occasions, the Irish have beat four Big Ten teams in one season, most recently in 1993.

Courtesy of the Wisconsin sports information department

Percentage of Possessions Leadin to a Score

Courtesy of the Clemson sports information department

Consecutive 10-Win Seasons

Courtesy of the UT-San Antonio sports information department

2015 First-Time Players

Courtesy of the Louisiana-Monroe sports information department

Players From the State of Texas

Courtesy of the Louisiana Tech sports information department, featuring the winningest father/son coaching combinations in Div. 1 entering Week 12

Winningest FatherSon Coaching Combos

Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau, who wears jersey No. 13, sustained a season-ending injury on Friday the 13th last week, just 13 yards shy of becoming the school’s all-time passing yards leader.

The top three defenses coming into Week 12 in points per possession came from the Big Ten: Wisconsin (.82 points per possession), Michigan (.87 ppp) and Ohio State (.89 ppp).

Saturday’s game against Wake Forest was the 1,200th in the history of the Clemson program, and the win over the Demon Deacons was the 700th for the Tigers.  It took Clemson 11 years, one day to go from 600 to 700 wins; the previous quickest 100 wins was 11 years, one month, five days in going from 400 to 500 wins from September of 1979 to October of 1990.

Mississippi State v ArkansasDID YOU KNOW THAT

… with five touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns in the wild win over Arkansas, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott became the fourth player in FBS history to throw for at least 60 touchdowns in a career and run for at least 40?  The other three in the 60/40 club are Florida’s Tim Tebow, Central Michigan’s Dan LeFevour and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick.

Brandon Allen‘s six touchdown passes in Arkansas’ loss Mississippi State tied a single-game SEC record?  Four others have accomplished that feat: Tennessee’s Erik Ainge, Kentucky’s Tim Couch (twice), Florida’s Doug Johnson and Florida’s Terry Dean.

… with one rushing touchdown in Navy’s win over Tulsa, quarterback Keenan Reynolds is one score away from tying and two from breaking Wisconsin running back Montee Ball‘s record of 83 total touchdowns?  In Week 11, Reynolds broke Ball’s record for career rushing touchdowns.  Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon has 81 career touchdowns, although he was kept out of the end zone in Week 12.

Rice v Florida Atlantic… with Rice running back Darik Dillard‘s third-quarter touchdown, he and his brother, former Rice wide receiver Jarett Dillard, surpassed the FBS record for most touchdowns by siblings, breaking the record of 81 previously held by Jacquizz (51) and James Rodgers (30) of Oregon State?  Jarett Dillard still hold the FBS record for most career receiving touchdowns with 60 from 2005-08.

… Washington running back Deontae Cooper was previously granted a seventh season of eligibility by the NCAA?  Cooper sustained knee injuries — ACL tears in each knee — in 2010, 2011 and 2012 that caused him to miss the entirety of all three of what would’ve been his true freshman, sophomore and junior years, leading the NCAA to take the extremely rare step of essentially resetting his eligibility clock, minus a redshirt, beginning with the 2013 season.  Cooper, relatively speaking, has been healthy each of the past three seasons, and will be eligible to play in 2016 as a former 2010 signee.

Connor Cook (Michigan State), Brad Kaaya (Miami), Paxton Lynch (Memphis), and Dak Prescott (Mississippi State) are the only FBS quarterbacks to have thrown for 2,400-plus yards this season with 10 or more touchdowns and four or fewer interceptions?

Florida Atlantic v FloridaJim McElwain is the first head coach in Florida history to win 10 games in his first season with the Gators? Urban Meyer (2005), Steve Spurrier (1990), Galen Hall (1985) and Ray Graves (1960) all won nine games in their first seasons in Gainesville.

Todd Graham became the first Arizona State head coach to reach bowl eligibility in each of his first four years with the Sun Devils?  This is also only the second time in program history ASU’s qualified for a bowl four straight seasons, with the first coming under Frank Kush from 1970-73.

… Baylor beat Oklahoma State in back-to-back games for the first time since 1939-1942?

… Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, USC, and Wisconsin are the only Power Five teams that have posted a winning record each of the past 11 seasons?

… Clemson is 8-0 in ACC play for the first time in the football program’s history?  The Tigers went 7-0 in 1983 and 6-0 in 1967, 1978, 1981 and 1982.

Purdue v Iowa… Iowa tied a school record for wins in a season with 11?  It’s been accomplished two other times, 2002 and 2009.  The Hawkeyes have their regular-season finale plus at least two postseason games to shatter the record and set a new standard.

… at 9-1, Navy is off to its best start since Roger Staubach‘s Heisman season in 1961?  The service academy has also won 14 of its last 16 contests, with the only losses coming to rival Notre Dame.

… Kansas State’s six-game losing streak entering Week 12 was the Wildcats’ longest since 1989?  K-State’s win over Iowa State ensured the streak didn’t reach seven in a row.

… Florida State and Ohio State are the only teams that have yet to allow an opponent to score 30 or more points this season?  The most FSU has allowed was 24 in an Oct. 10 win over Miami, with OSU allowing 28 in an Oct. 10 win over Maryland serving as its high-water mark.

… Colorado and Hawaii are the only two teams without a bye in 2015?  After next weekend, they will have played for 13 consecutive weeks.

No. 12 Michigan survives road trip to Penn State to keep B1G dreams alive

Jake Rudock, Evan Schwan

Year one of the Jim Harbaugh Era in Ann arbor will see Michigan playing for the Big Ten East Division next week in Michigan Stadium. That is the situation after No. 12 Michigan (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) took to the road and left Penn State (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) with a 28-16 win.

On fourth and goal from the two-yard line, Penn State elected to kick a field goal while down 21-13 with roughly eight minutes to play. Michigan made them pay for that decision. After the short field goal was blocked but still managed to sneak in for three points, Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff to the Penn State 4-0-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Jehu Chesson swung to the left side of the field and ran down the left sideline for a 20-yard gain to put the Wolverines in the red zone in the blink of an eye. De'Veon Smith capped the drive with a short touchdown run by leaping and extending the ball over a pile for a decisive touchdown. Penn State went four-and-out on their next, and final, possession and Michigan ran the clock out for the final three minutes and change because Penn State used its final timeout with over five minutes to play in the game.

It was a long afternoon for Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who completed just 13 of his 31 pass attempts and was roughed up from start to finish, especially in the second half. Penn State converted just three of 14 third-down situations (Michigan converted seven of 14) and the offense ended with just 207 yards of offense. Freshman running back Saquon Barkley had 68 rushing yards, but 56 came on a long run on the game’s opening drive. Too many times Penn State went for a big pass and hoped to come down with the football, and Michigan would have taken that strategy all day long. Michigan was rarely burned by a big play.

Michigan’s quarterback, Jake Rudock, was much more efficient and effective, completing 25 of 38 pass attempts for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Michigan also had to overcome discipline issues as well. Michigan was flagged for 13 penalties amounting for 117 yards. Michigan also had two turnovers in the game.

Michigan remains in position to win the Big Ten East Division, but it still needs to beat Ohio State next week and hope Michigan State takes a loss thanks to an earlier head-to-head going the way of the Spartans earlier this season. Ohio State hosts Michigan State today, and Michigan State will host Penn State next week. Odds are Michigan fans will actually be pulling for the Buckeyes here, which has to feel a bit weird.

Blocked Michigan punt leads to PSU TD, but Wolverines take halftime lead

James Franklin , Jim Harbaugh

A blocked punt for Michigan gave Penn State’s lifeless offense a glimmer of hope, but Penn State’s inability to stop the opposition from answering allowed Michigan to take a 14-10 lead into the half in Happy Valley.

The Nittany Lions cashed in on the special teams gaffe by the Wolverines when Christain Hackenberg lofted a deep pass to Saeed Blacknall for a 25-yard rainbow touchdown and a 10-7 lead. But Michigan got a good kick return from Jourdan Lewis to take over at their 30-yard line with three timeouts left and 2:01 to play. A third-and-10 conversion with a great catch from Amara Darboh moved the football 26 yards into Penn State territory. Missed tackles were key for Penn State as Michigan used smart, short plays to pick up extra yardage as well as De’Veon Smith picked up 11 yards on one play when he could have been stopped for a minimal gain. Jake Rudock connected with Darboh again for an 11-yard go-ahead touchdown.

Penn State’s game-opening drive reached the red zone quickly thanks to a 56-yard run by Saquon Barkley, but Michigan tightened up and held the Nittany Lions to a field goal for the game’s first points.

Michigan answered using some good pass protection for Jake Rudock to move down the field using the middle fo the field to their advantage. Jehu Chesson caught a couple of big gains on third down situations to keep Michigan’s opening drive alive, and Rudock found an open Jake Butt down near the goal line and the tight end took the extra steps needed before falling into the end zone for a 7-3 lead.

After Penn State scuffled on their next drive, it was the defense that made some plays to try and turn the field of possession. A big sack by Torrence Brown (in for Carl Nassib) put the Wolverines in a 3rd and 17, and Blake Bell picked off the next pass from Rudock.

Nagurski Trophy taps five 2015 finalists

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 5: Tyler Matakevich #8 of the Temple Owls reacts after an interception against the Penn State Nittany Lions on September 5, 2015 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Owls defeated the Nittany Lions 27-10 (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Tyler Matakevich
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A pair of defensive ends, Clemson’s Shaq Lawson and Penn State’s Carl Nassib, were named as finalists Wednesday for the Lombardi Award.  A day later, the line duo is up for another national honor.

In conjunction with the Charlotte Touchdown Club, the Football Writers Association of America announced Thursday the five finalists for the 2015 Bronko Nagurski Trophy.  In addition to Lawson and Nassib, the finalists consist of Duke’s Jeremy Cash, Temple’s Tyler Matakevich and Alabama’s Reggie Ragland.

In addition to the twin ends, a safety (Cash) and two linebackers (Matakevich and Ragland) are represented.

Interestingly, Matakevich is a finalists for an award that honors the best defensive player in the country.  However, he’s not even a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, which honors the nation’s best linebacker.  Ragland was a semifinalist, with five of the 10 hailing from the SEC and just one (Utah State’s Kyler Fackrell) from non-Power Five conferences.

The winner of the 2014 Nagurski Trophy was UCLA’s Eric Kendricks.  The 2015 winner will be announced Dec. 7.

Below are the brief biographical sketches of the five finalists, courtesy of the FWAA:

Jeremy Cash, S, Duke (6-2, 210, Sr., Miami, Fla.): A second-team FWAA All-America selection last season, Cash has come back strong in 2015 and is tied for third in the Atlantic Coast Conference in tackles per game at 8.8. He also is the only defensive back in the Top 100 in FBS in tackles for loss per game and is second in the country behind Penn State end Carl Nassib with 17.5 (79 yards in losses). In addition, Cash has broken up three passes, recovered one fumble, registered eight quarterback hurries and forced three fumbles. His coach David Cutcliffe says: “I don’t know if there is a better defensive player from a production standpoint in the country.”

Shaq Lawson, E, Clemson (6-3, 270, Jr., Central, S.C.): The big-play tackler for the nation’s top-ranked team in the CFP poll, Lawson is one of the strongest players in college football and is a standout against the run. He has 16.5 tackles for loss, which is among the Top 10 in the country. He has also broken up a pass and made 12 quarterback hurries. In the victory over Notre Dame he had 3.5 tackles for loss when he was matched up against Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, a clear victory for Lawson.

Tyler Matakevich, LB, Temple (6-1, 232, Sr., Stratford, Conn.): The current career leader in tackles in the FBS is on target to record more than 100 total tackles in each of his four seasons at Temple. He is the first first-team defensive All-American in school history and is the only player in the FBS to lead his team (8-2 overall) in tackles every game this season. He leads all FBS linebackers with five interceptions (47 return yards) and he has 11.5 tackles for 56 yards in losses, including four sacks for 25 yards in losses.

Carl Nassib, E, Penn State (6-7, 272, Sr., West Chester, Pa.): A former preferred walk-on at Penn State, Nassib has added weight and strength to become one of college football’s best defenders. His coach James Franklin describes him as “big, long, explosive, athletic.” Nassib leads the FBS in sacks (15.5), tackles for loss (19.5) and forced fumbles (6). He has recorded at least one sack in each game this season and has five multi-sack games in 2015. He is one forced fumble away from tying the school record.

Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama (6-2, 252, Sr., Madison, Ala.): Very active off the field in community service, Ragland, a team captain, has a team-leading 82 tackles. He has 5.5 tackles for 20 yards in losses, five pass breakups, three quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. He has led the team in tackles in six of the Crimson Tide’s 10 games. Alabama’s defense, after giving up 43 points in a loss to Ole Miss, has been stellar as opponents have averaged just 11.8 points a game in the last seven contests, all Alabama victories.