Fullbacks are a dying breed in college football. So for those who appreciate when one of the sport’s finest positions is actually on the field (yours truly included), it’s tough when one goes down to injury.
Especially just before his team’s biggest games of the season.
Just ahead of a date with Notre Dame and the Pac-12 Championship, Stanford fullback Daniel Marx will miss the remainder of the Cardinal’s season with what the program is describing a “lower leg injury.”
“It’s tough,” Stanford head coach David Shaw told ESPN Tuesday. “Daniel has had a phenomenal year. This is a guy who is going to play on Sundays. He’s that good — a very versatile football player.”
A sophomore, Marx has not rushed the ball this season, but he does have three receptions for 25 yards to his credit. Far more importantly, he’s paved the way for Christian McCaffrey to accumulate 260 carries for 1,546 yards and seven touchdowns.
Headed into a showdown against No. 4 Notre Dame with the Cardinal’s College Football Playoff hopes hanging by the thinnest of threads, Marx’s absence will be missed.
Stanford will turn to senior Chris Harrell in Marx’s stead.
“We have a lot of faith in Chris,” Shaw said. “We have a combination of guys we may use at that position. Chris has prepared as a starter.”
The fourth set of College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, and Clemson is No. 1 for the fourth consecutive week. Alabama remained second, and Oklahoma leapt from seventh to third after winning their second consecutive game against a top-20 team. Iowa moved up a spot from fifth to fourth, and Michigan State jumped from No. 9 to No. 5 after its massive road win over Ohio State.
Ohio State fell from third to eighth due to that loss. Baylor passed the Buckeyes for No. 7 following their decisive win at then-No. 6 Oklahoma State, and Notre Dame dropped from fourth to sixth after a close win a Boston College.
Washington State, Mississippi State, UCLA, Toledo and Temple jumped into the rankings, while LSU, Houston, Memphis, USC and Wisconsin fell out.
The full rankings:
5. Michigan State
6. Notre Dame
8. Ohio State
11. Oklahoma State
13. Florida State
14. North Carolina
18. Ole Miss
20. Washington State
21. Mississippi State
With Ohio State being bumped behind Michigan State in the Big Ten East Division hunt this past weekend, the Buckeyes have seen their chances of defending their national championship take a hit. That makes Alabama and Clemson the top two favorites for the College Football Playoff national championship as the regular season comes to a close this week in both the SEC and ACC.
According to David Purdum, Las Vegas SuperBook lists Alabama with 3/2 odds to win the national championship, followed by Clemson at 4/1. Ohio State now has the same odds as Iowa, at 20/1. Michigan State has the best odds out of the Big Ten with 12/1 odds following this weekend’s victory in Columbus. Oklahoma, Baylor and Notre Dame are also in the mix between Clemson and Michigan State.
The latest College Football Playoff rankings will be updated Tuesday night. Clemson, Alabama and Notre Dame are expected to hold on to one of the top four spots at a crucial point in the season. Iowa, Michigan State and Oklahoma all have arguments to be made to be place din the top four, but it is also important to remember there are some key games still to be played that could shake up the entire playoff picture in the final couple of weeks. Notre Dame has to get out of Stanford with a win this week to remain in contention. Oklahoma still has to play Oklahoma State. Michigan State and Iowa could square off in the Big Ten Championship Game if the Spartans take care of business at home against Penn State this week.
The odds may be in Alabama’s and Clemson’s favor for now, but each will have to win their rivalry games this weekend against Auburn and South Carolina, respectively (which should be expected), and then win conference title games against Florida and UNC, respectively once more.
Ohio State lost to Michigan State but, contrary to popular opinion, the Buckeyes are not packing it in for the rest of the season and folding the program. At least, that’s what the folks in Vegas think.
The Buckeyes opened Week 13 a 2.5-point favorite over Michigan Sunday, according to Vegas Insider. After all, Ohio State is 48-4 under Urban Meyer and has posted a 12-2 record against the hated Wolverines since Jim Tressel‘s arrival in 2001. However, both Michigan wins came in Ann Arbor, as Saturday’s game will be.
Other Rivalry Week opening lines of note:
- Iowa (-1) at Nebraska
- Navy at Houston (-1.5)
- Marshall at Western Kentucky (-10.5)
- Baylor (pick ’em) at TCU
- North Carolina (-6) at N.C. State
- Florida State at Florida (-3)
- Clemson (-15.5) at South Carolina
- Georgia (-4.5) at Georgia Tech
- Texas A&M at LSU (-4)
- Alabama (-13) at Auburn
- Southern Miss at Louisiana Tech (-6.5)
- Ole Miss (-2) at Mississippi State
- Oklahoma (-3.5) at Oklahoma State
- Notre Dame (-2) at Stanford
- UCLA at USC (-3.5)
Notre Dame senior defensive back KeiVarae Russell will miss this week’s game against Stanford as he recovers from surgery for a broken tibia. The injury, which occurred during Notre Dame’s Shamrock Series victory in Boston against Boston College, will keep Russell out of action for the next six to eight weeks.
If you take a look at the calendar and do the math (don’t worry, I’ll do it for you right now), six weeks from today is January 3, 2016. Eight weeks is January 17, 2016. This would appear to have Russell out of action for the remainder of the year, including Notre Dame’s still-to-be-decided postseason, but it is still too early to suggest Russell will not see the field again just yet. If he happens to be available in six weeks, then he would have a chance to play in final game for the Irish, IF Notre Dame ends up playing in the College Football Playoff national championship game. That would be quite the story for the senior.
Russell was among the handful of Notre Dame players suspended last year as the university opened an internal investigation regarding academic integrity. Russell expressed his frustrations with the process as he had to continue to wait for the investigation to wrap up before being eligible to play again. He eventually had to sit out the entire 2014 season but returned to the Irish this season. Russell leads the Irish with two interceptions this season and he is second on the team in tackles, trailing only Jaylon Smith.
The injury news for Russell was not the only tidbit shared by head coach Brian Kelly Sunday. Kelly also noted running back C.J. Prosise will be doubtful for this weekend’s game at Stanford due to a high ankle sprain. Prosise leads Notre Dame with 1,029 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, including 54 rushing yards against Boston College. That would be a big loss for the Irish as they head on the road for the final game of the season, and the final opportunity to impress the College Football Playoff selection committee as conference championship week is played next week. Stanford has held three of their last four opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards (Oregon rushed for 231 yards).