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).
A season of injury concerns continued for Notre Dame this weekend in Pittsburgh. Running back C.J. Prosise left the win against the Panthers and is currently going through concussion protocol. It is unknown when Prosise will return to the field for the playoff-contending Irish, but head coach Brian Kelly is optimistic his top running back may not have to miss much playing time.
Prosise left the game Saturday after appearing to injure his shoulder, but he also hit his head on the ground. He did not return to the game after being taken to the locker room at Heinz Field, although Kelly only commented on Prosise’s shoulder after the game. According to College Football Talk contributor JJ Stankevitz, via CSN Chicago, Kelly said he is hopeful Prosise can return to practice at some point this week. In the meantime, Notre Dame will move forward with freshman Josh Adams carrying the football. Adams filled in nicely for the Irish by rushing for 147 yards for Notre Dame in the road win against Pittsburgh.
Notre Dame should be able to afford playing without Prosise this week with Wake Forest making the trip to South Bend. After that comes a road trip to Boston to take on Boston College in Fenway Park.
Freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer threw five touchdowns to lead No. 5 Notre Dame (8-1) to a 42-30 victory over Pittsburgh (6-3, 4-1 ACC). The win, the largest margin of victory by either team in the series, keeps Notre Dame in the thick of the College Football Playoff conversation, and sets up a favorable run heading down the stretch of the regular season.
Notre Dame did not win this game at full strength though. Running back C.J. Prosise had to leave the game with a possible shoulder injury. There were early reports of a possible concussion, but all head coach Brian Kelly said after the game was Prosise was day-to-day. With Prosise out of action for most of the game, Josh Adams came in to lead the running game, and he did so running for 147 yards on 20 carries.
In the battle of star receivers, the nod also went to Notre Dame. Will Fuller caught seven passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns, compared to Pitt’s Tyler Boyd and his 84 receiving yards and one touchdown.
Notre Dame debuted in the College Football Playoff rankings as the first team out at No. 5 this week, and they could push into the top four next week after LSU or Alabama lose. It goes without saying Notre Dame is a playoff contender, and a pretty darn good one. the next two games come at home, against Wake Forest and Boston College. If all goes according to plan, that should set up a 10-1 Notre Dame in the regular season finale at Stanford in what could very well be a playoff elimination game between the Irish and Cardinal.
This was the second straight loss for the Panthers, but losing a game to Notre Dame means nothing int terms of the ACC Coastal race. Despite losing at home to UNC last week, the Panthers still have a chance to grab the division crown, although they need some help. With the Tar Heels smacking Duke at the same time this game was happening, UNC still needs to lose twice in order for Pitt to creep back to the top of the ACC Coastal, which also means Pitt needs to win their remaining conference games.
Pitt gets a week off to prepare for a road game against Duke. Pitt ends the season with home games against Louisville and Miami.
After picking up a win on the east side of Pennsylvania last week, Notre Dame is looking to score a win on the western side of the commonwealth this afternoon. Things are looking good so far for the Irish, who lead Pitt 21-3 at the half.
Notre Dame struck early with a DeShone Kizer touchdown pass to Will Fuller on a 47-yard scoring play on the opening drive of the game. Kizer tossed his second touchdown of the day in the second quarter, this time to Torii Hunter Jr. inside the red zone for a 14-3 lead. Pitt’s lone score of the first half came on a Chris Blewitt field goal from 22 yards.
Pittsburgh had what looked to be a promising drive developing later in the second quarter, but a pass from Nathan Peterman was picked off at the Notre Dame 20-yard line by Mathias Farley. Pittsburgh’s defense came up to force a three-and-out, but the Irish would score once more before halftime. Kizer completed another touchdown pass to Fuller from 46 yards out to lift the Irish to a big 21-3 lead late in the second quarter. Fuller is now tied for the school record of 27 career touchdowns, a record currently shared with Jeff Samardzija.
Notre Dame running back C.J. Prosise did have to leave the game to receive medical treatment. Early reports suggest Prosise suffered a concussion in addition to a shoulder injury.
The push for the College Football Playoff is not the only thing heating up in November. Award season is started to come closer and closer. On Monday, the Maxwell Football Club released its list of semifinalists for two of the top individual awards in college football, the Maxwell Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award. Every Power 5 conference is represented on the Maxwell Award semifinalist list with 2 from the ACC, 4 from the Big 12, 2 from the Big Ten, 4 from the Pac-12 and 2 from the SEC. The SEC led the power conferences with seven players named to the Chuck Bednarik Award semifinalists with four.
Last year’s winner for the two Maxwell Football Club awards were Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota (Maxwell Award) and Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright (Bednarik Award). A quarterback has won the Maxwell Award 13 times since 2000 and has included players like Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. Notre Dame running back C.J. Prosise gives the Irish a chance to move into sole possession of first place in the list of all-time winners by school. Notre Dame and Penn State each have seven Maxwell Award winners for the most of all-time. Navy, Ohio State and Texas each have four winners.
Penn State also has more Bednarik Award winners than any other school with four. LSU has a chance to come within one with linebacker Kendall Beckwith named a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award. Past winners of the Bednarik Award, first awarded in 1995, include Pat Fitzgerald, Charles Woodson, LaVar Arrington, Ndamukong Suh, Tyrann Mathieu, Manti Te’o and Aaron Donald.
The winners of the Maxwell Award and Bednarik Award will be announced on December 10, 2015 during ESPN’s college football awards show. Three finalists will be announced for each award prior to that on November 24. A formal presentation for the awards will be held during the Maxwell Football CLub’s annual awards gala in Atlantic City, New Jersey, currently scheduled for March 11, 2016 at the Tropicana Resort & Casino.
2015 Maxwell Award Semifinalists
- RB Devontae Booker, Utah
- QB Trevone Boykin, TCU
- WR Corey Coleman, Baylor
- QB Connor Cook, Michigan State
- RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State
- WR Josh Doctson, TCU
- QB Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky
- RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
- RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
- RB Royce Freeman, Oregon
- RB Derrick Henry, Alabama
- QB Cody Kessler, USC
- QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis
- QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
- RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
- QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
- RB C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame
- QB Keenan Reynolds, Navy
- QB Greg Ward Jr., Houston
- QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
2015 Chuck Bednarik Award Semifinalists
- LB Kendall Beckwith, LSU
- NT Andrew Billings, Baylor
- DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State
- DE Jonathan Bullard, Florida
- DE Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
- S Jeremy Cash, Duke
- LB Su’a Cravens, USC
- DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
- CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
- DE Shaq Lawson, Clemson
- CB Jourdan Lewis, Michigan
- LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple
- DE Carl Nassib, Penn State
- DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
- DE Emmanueal Ogbah, Oklahoma State
- LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama
- CB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
- DL A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
- LB Joe Schobert, Wisconsin
- LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame