Western Michigan Broncos

Getty Images

Notre Dame, Western Michigan agree to 2020 game in South Bend

1 Comment

More #MACtion is heading to South Bend.

Western Michigan and Notre Dame announced on Thursday that the two schools have agreed to a single game series that will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. It will mark the fourth time the two teams have met in their long histories, but a decade since they last faced off in a 44-20 Irish win back in 2010.

The Broncos will receive a $1.175 million payout from Notre Dame for the game according to a release.

While playing a MAC team is a bit of a regular occurrence for Notre Dame now, their meeting with WMU back in 2010 was actually the first time they ever played a team from the conference. The Irish play at least one opponent from the MAC from now until at least 2021 with Western Michigan added to their slate of future games.

The Irish have been busy filling out the 2020 schedule and have just one opening remaining with this contract being signed. The Broncos join home games against Arkansas and Stanford, a trip to Charlotte to play Wake Forest, Wisconsin at Lambeau Field, the annual USC game in Los Angeles and the opener at MetLife Stadium outside New York City against Navy. Additional games against Clemson, Duke, Louisville (at home) and a road trip to Pittsburgh are also on tap as part of the ACC scheduling agreement.

 

Pete Carroll ‘couldn’t stop crying’ after watching blind USC long-snapper play in game

4 Comments

One of the most heartwarming stories you’ll ever see continues to give, even after the first week of the 2017 college football season has been put to bed.

In 2009, the Pete Carroll-led USC Trojans football team essentially adopted Jake Olson, a teenage fan at the time suffering from cancer of the retina in his right eye (he lost his left eye when he was less than one year old).  It was subsequently determined that Olson would need the right eye removed; on his final day of sight prior to the surgery that would leave him blind for the rest of his life, he chose to attend a Trojans football practice.

Fast-forward a few years, and Olson walked on to the USC football team as a long-snapper in 2015.  He took his first live-drill reps with the Trojans in September of that year, then snapped for the team in the 2016 spring game.  While he didn’t see any real-game action either year, Saturday, at the end of USC’s closer-than-expected win over Western Michigan, Olson finally got to take his place on the field in an actual game with the rest of his special teams teammates as the long-snapper on an extra point — thanks in large part to a very classy assist from WMU head coach Tim Lester.

Watching from afar was Carroll, now the head coach of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.  Following practice Monday, Carroll spent a significant period of time discussing just what it meant for Olson to play in a college football game, saying in part that he “couldn’t stop crying” because of what he had witnessed.

From the team’s official website:

That was an incredible moment. I’m so glad that (USC) Coach (Clay) Helton figured out a way to create the opportunity for Jake to show what he could do. This is just an extraordinary young man. Jake has done stuff throughout his life. From the time he was 10 years old, he has been doing remarkable things—he wrote his first book at 10—and onward. For a guy to out there and play in a college football game, snap a ball, they kick the extra point and make it, that’s just something, that’s just something about Jake. Jake’s a huge story. He’s one for all of us about courage and character and grit and vision and special qualities that few people would be able to hold onto. …

“He’s going to be a big factor. We’re all going to see him do a lot of stuff in this world. There’s nothing holding Jake back. I was so excited to see it, I couldn’t stop crying. It was thrilling. It was good to see a Trojan win too, but it was really something. …“I would have imagined that Jake would have been dreaming about playing for the Trojans, but the fact that it could ever come true, I would have not have thought that was possible. But then again, it’s Jake, so anything’s possible

“I would have imagined that Jake would have been dreaming about playing for the Trojans, but the fact that it could ever come true, I would have not have thought that was possible. But then again, it’s Jake, so anything’s possible.

 

On his Instagram account over the weekend, Olson gave a heartfelt thank you to Carroll for taking him in and embracing him as a 12-year-old.

“To Coach Carroll, none of this would have been possible without you,” a portion of Olson’s post read. “If you hadn’t made me a member of the Trojan Family when I was 12, I don’t know where my life would be. You are a special person, and I will be forever thankful for your generosity.”

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to achieve a lifelong dream and snap in a game for the USC Trojans. I cannot possibly thank all the people who have played a role in making this happen, but there are some people who I feel deserve special shout-outs. Mom, Dad, and Emma, none of this would have been possible without you guys. You have always been there for me, and there is simply no way I would be where I am today without your love and support. I am beyond blessed to have such an amazing family. Coaches Helton and Baxter, thank you for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to show what I can do. You push me every day on the field, and I am lucky to have you as coaches and mentors. To all my teammates, especially my special teams unit, thank you for being there for me and allowing me to feel so comfortable as a member of the team. To my friends, thank you for always supporting me and helping me get where I need to go. To Coach Carroll, none of this would have been possible without you. If you hadn’t made me a member of the Trojan Family when I was 12, I don’t know where my life would be. You are a special person, and I will be forever thankful for your generosity. Yesterday was a big day in my life, and I am hoping it’s the first of many, so stay tuned. Thank you everyone. It means the world to me knowing that I can and have inspired many through this experience. #fighton

A post shared by Jake Olson (@jakethesnakeolson) on Sep 3, 2017 at 10:29am PDT

Week 1 overreactions and hot takes: The Big Ten is awesome and USC is overrated

4 Comments

There is still some college football to be played, but the bulk of college football’s first weekend is in the books. Now it’s time to take a look at some of the hot takes and overreactions you may come across in the coming days. Which ones are fair, and which ones should you avoid? Here is a look at five that will get some attention.

The Big Ten is the best conference in college football

The Big Ten just turned in an impressive 10-2 mark for the opening weekend, not including Ohio State’s victory over Indiana in conference play Thursday night. Highlighting that win total was Michigan’s defensive performance against Florida in Arlington, but top 10 teams Wisconsin and Penn State also turned in decisive blowout victories against inferior opponents as well. Maryland spoiled Tom Herman‘s coaching debut against a low Top 25 Texas squad, and even Purdue and Rutgers managed to hang with Louisville and Washington, respectively, before turning in the only two blemishes on the Big Ten schedule in Week 1. All things considered, it was a very good week for the Big Ten.

But now let’s see what happens in Week 2 with some notable games against the Big 12 (Ohio State vs. Oklahoma, Iowa State vs. Iowa), Pac-12 (Oregon vs. Nebraska, Oregon State vs. Minnesota), and the ACC (Penn State vs. Pitt, Duke vs. Northwestern). An equally successful Week 2 would go a long way to support the Big Ten’s strength of schedule argument. A rough week would negate the production of Week 1.

It’s still Alabama and everybody else in the SEC

This may still be true. Alabama’s win over Florida State certainly made it seem like that on the same day that saw Florida dismantled by Michigan. But LSU turned in a good showing against BYU in New Orleans, as did Auburn at home against Georgia Southern. And Georgia put to rest any idea about an Appalachian State upset bid rather solidly with Jake Fromm stepping in at quarterback. The SEC still has two more games to play with Texas A&M visiting UCLA tonight and Tennessee taking on Georgia Tech in Atlanta tomorrow. With a handful of victories over the FCS, one of which needed Missouri to put up over 50 points to win, it is still a tad early to suggest the SEC overall had a great weekend despite an 11-1 mark so far. Alabama, yes. The rest of the SEC? We’ll see how the next 48 hours go.

The U is back!

No, not yet, although Miami starting the year with a 41-13 victory over an FCS foe in Bethune-Cookman did nothing to suggest we should dismiss the idea already. Miami heads to Arkansas State, who just pushed Nebraska to the limit last night. I’ll be careful about placing the Hurricanes on upset alert after doing so a year ago against Appalachian State blew up in my face. Florida State in two weeks remains the litmus test.

USC is overrated

Despite turning it on in the fourth quarter like the Trojans were back in the Rose Bowl against Penn State, USC had a difficult time with Western Michigan in the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday. We’ll see how the pollsters weigh in on the Trojans, who started the year No. 4 in the preseason AP Top 25. With Sam Darnold being picked off twice and the Trojans having trouble getting going, perhaps USC is not quite as mighty as anticipated. Stanford comes to town next week. Let’s see if the Trojans iron out a few things with the Cardinal coming in rested from their trip to Australia a week ago.

The American Athletic Conference is far from a power conference

This much we already knew despite the conference’s PR push to be considered a power conference. TEams are even taking the field with a Power 6 flag and the conference’s P6 logo is on the goal posts this season. But the conference just went 8-3 this weekend. Wait, that actually sounds pretty good. Take away the wins against FCS opponents (one of which needed a fourth quarter rally by UConn against lowly Holy Cross) and the conference went just 3-3, with one of those losses coming at home against the top-ranked FCS program in the nation (James Madison beating East Carolina) by a 20-point margin.

Defending champ Temple was soundly defeated by Notre Dame by 33 points. Preseason favorite South Florida needed a second half burst to get by Stony Brook. At least Navy, Memphis, and UCF looked good this weekend though.

At least the Mountain West Conference had an equally shaky Week 1, if not worse. Colorado State and Wyoming combined for six points. Utah State was blasted by Wisconsin. Boise State held off Troy. UNLV surrendered the biggest upset in college football history.

Blind walk-on long-snaps on extra point in USC win over Western Michigan

Associated Press
3 Comments

We’re still in Week 1, but there might not be a cooler or more heartfelt moment than what we witnessed at the Coliseum Saturday evening.

A few years back, the Pete Carroll-led USC Trojans football team essentially adopted Jake Olson, a teenage fan at the time suffering from cancer of the retina in his right eye (he lost his left eye when he was less than one year old).  It was subsequently determined that Olson would need the right eye removed; on his final day of sight prior to the surgery that would leave him blind for the rest of his life, he chose to attend a Trojans football practice.

Fast-forward roughly five years, and Olson walked on to the USC football team as a long-snapper in 2015.  He took his first live-drill reps with the Trojans in September of that year, then snapped for the team in the 2016 spring game.  While he didn’t see any game action either year, Saturday, at the end of USC’s closer-than-expected win over Western Michigan, Olson finally got to take his place on the field in an actual game with the rest of his special teams teammates.

That. Is. Awesome.  Again, it’ll be hard to top this scene this season.

And, for those who are curious, Olson is the second legally-blind player to appear in an NCAA football game. The first?  Tulane’s Aaron Golub, who long-snapped on an extra point for the Green Wave in October of 2015.

No. 4 USC escapes Western Michigan’s upset bid

Getty Images
2 Comments

When USC accepted the ball to open its season and rolled 75 yards in six plays, capped by a 16-yard Ronald Jones II scoring rush, it looked to be business as expected for the Trojans.

But then the Trojans went 3-and-out on its next possession, and Western Michigan responded with an 8-play, 59-yard touchdown drive to tie the game. And then, when USC went 3-and-out again, and Western Michigan again capitalized with a lengthy touchdown march — 84 yards in 11 plays — it was obvious nothing about Saturday’s opener was business as expected for USC.

That moment did not arrive until the 3:49 mark of the fourth quarter, when Stephen Carr raced for a 52-yard touchdown, providing put-away score of No. 4 USC’s 49-31 defeat of Western Michigan.

This game remained so close for so long because the Broncos, playing their first game under new head coach Tim Lester, performed every bit like the defending MAC champions that they are. Four players carried the ball at least seven times and all gained at least 30 yards. LeVante Bellamy led the way with 102 yards on nine carries, and WMU as a team rushed 43 times for 251 yards and two scores.

Jones far and away outperformed USC’s purported Heisman candidate Sam Darnold. Jones racked up 159 yards and three touchdowns on only 18 carries, while Darnold completed 23-of-33 passes for 289 yards and no touchdowns against two interceptions, though he did run for an 11-yard score.

The teams traded touchdowns for much of the game. After Jones’s opening punch, Western Michigan notched two consecutive scores to grab a 14-7 lead, marching 59 and 81 yards in the process. Jones’s second touchdown, a 1-yard plunge, tied the game at 14-14 just before the half.

Western Michigan moved 75 yards, punctuated by a 27-yard scoring strike from Jon Wassink to Keishawn Watson, to reclaim the lead at 21-14 to open the second half, then had a chance to take complete control after intercepting Darnold for a second time. But the Broncos punted on their ensuing possession, and USC took advantage with an 83-yard touchdown drive. In fact, Western Michigan would not stop USC again after Darnold’s second pick.

The Trojans pulled ahead for the first time since 7-0 on a 1-yard Carr run, but Western Michigan immediately responded when Darius Phillips went goal line to goal line on the ensuing kickoff.

USC needed only three plays to move 83 yards to reclaim the lead at 35-28 thanks to a 37-yard Jones run and, after a WMU field goal, put the game away on Carr’s 52-yard sprint. Marvin Tell III provided the exclamation point with a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown with 3:13 left to play.

The loss was Western Michigan’s (0-1) first regular-season setback since falling to Northern Illinois on Nov. 18, 2015, a streak of 14 games. USC (1-0) extended its winning streak to 10 games, trailing only Oklahoma’s 11 for the longest active winning streak in FBS.