Montee Ball

Death, taxes and Keenan Reynolds running the football; Navy QB inches closer to NCAA history

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Navy seems to be enjoying their first year as a member of the American Athletic Conference. The Midshipmen have already secured two victories in conference play, including yesterday’s 28-13 victory against Connecticut. As is typically the case, Navy’s success starts with the performance of quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who continues to be moving closer to making some NCAA history more commonly reserved for running backs.

Reynolds rushed for three touchdowns in Navy’s win this weekend, giving Reynolds 73 career rushing touchdowns. That puts him just four touchdown runs away from tying the NCAA’s all-time rushing TD record of 77, currently held by former Wisconsin running back Montee Ball. Reynolds is also easily on pace to set a Division 1 career rushing touchdown record as well. Among all Division one programs, Georgia Southern’s Adrian Peterson (must be something with that name) had 84 career rushing touchdowns between 2004 and 2006.

Reynolds may be too far removed from the NCAA all-division career rushing touchdown mark, which is 125 career rushing touchdowns. That belongs to Mount Union’s Nate Kmic, between 2005 and 2008. The Division 2 record is owned by Germaine Race of Pittsburg State (2003-2006).

Reynolds already owns the NCAA FBS record for most career rushing attempts by a quarterback, most career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a season, and most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single game.

This week Reynolds and Navy host Air Force. Last season Reynolds rushed for just 27 yards and one touchdown on 21 rushing attempts against the rival service academy. He did rush for three touchdowns against Air Force in 2013, the last time Navy hosted the Falcons.

The Fifth Quarter: Week 1 Rewind

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

WACK-12
The Pac-12 came into the 2015 season looking to challenge the SEC for conference football supremacy.  While that may end up still being the case, it was a rough Week 1 in myriad regards for the Left Coast league, particularly its northern division.

First and foremost, No. 21 Stanford went into Evanston as heavy favorites only to be upended and upset by Northwestern.  And it wasn’t just that one of the preseason favorites in the North was beaten, it was that they were roughed up by the Wildcats and seemed to play timid on both sides of the ball.  More embarrassingly, a couple of hours later Washington State lost to FCS Portland State, which came into the game a 30-point underdog.

The South contributed to the first-week malaise as No. 15 Arizona State, viewed by some as a darkhorse playoff candidate (sheepishly raises hand), capped off the night with a 20-point loss to unranked Texas A&M.  At least that, though, was a loss to a Power Five school, and one from the stacked SEC West no less, in what was essentially a home game for the Aggies.

Add in Washington’s loss to Boise State — no shame in that — and Colorado’s loss to Hawaii Thursday night — a whole hell of a lot of shame in that — and it turned into a horrific lost weekend for the conference.  That said, remember how many were writing the Big Ten off a year ago at this time?  Yeah, it wouldn’t be wise to repeat that history.

WEAK 1?
If you thought that the Week 1 schedule, especially Saturday, was especially lacking when it came to compelling on-paper matchups, you’re not alone.  In fact, the raw data is sitting right along side you.

Opening weekend, and including the two still remaining, there were/are 87 games involving FBS teams.  Of that, 11 pitted Power Five vs. Power Five (for this exercise, I’m considering BYU a P5); another 47 — more than half — featured FBS teams playing an FCS team.  There were 22 Power Five teams that opened their season against an FCS team, with the ACC far and away leading the cupcake way with seven.  The Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 had four apiece, while the pastry alley that is the late-season SEC lagged behind with three.

There were also 23 games played between Power Five and Group of Five teams.  The SEC accounted for eight of those games, while the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 saw four each.  The FCS-heavy ACC had three such games.

It wasn’t just the Power Fives feeding on the FCS, though, as 25 Group of Five teams opened against the former Div. 1-AA.  The remaining six games saw Group of Five squads squaring off against each other.

While most of the FBS feasted on their FCS cupcakes, a handful choked on them.  Two that lost to FCS teams were Power Five members in the aforementioned Wazzu and Kansas (South Dakota State, more on that below) and two were Group of Five teams in Army (Fordham) and Wyoming (North Dakota).

BAD BLOOD CHEAP SHOT?
Vernon Adams transferred from Eastern Washington to Oregon earlier this offseason and ultimately earned the Ducks’ starting quarterback job.  As luck would have it, Adams’ current and former teams squared off in the season opener in Autzen Saturday night, and there was one interesting development in UO’s 61-42 win.

(more…)

Denver Broncos conduct a symphony playing college fight songs

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College fight songs are cool. They are what helps separate college football from the NFL. And let’s face it, college fight songs are better than stadium jock jams every day of the week (especially on Saturdays). Over the years we have seen plenty of college football players lead their school’s marching band in a celebratory rendition of the school fight song, and that is always a specioal moment.

The Denver Broncos went the extra yard and organized an opportunity for members of their football team’s roster to lead the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in symphonic arrangements of their various alma mater’s fight songs, and some of them even managed to stay on the down beat! Wisconsin’s Montee Ball starts off well but starts to fall behind the beat, although he did manage to get back in time at one point. As for Peyton Manning, well, for some reason he held his conductor’s baton the wrong way [insert Super Bowl opening play against Seattle here].

Unfortunately we cannot embed the video here, but feel free to check out the video hosted by the Broncos’ team website.

Former Wisconsin RB Montee Ball calls Heisman a “QB award”

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A quarterback has won the Heisman Trophy each of the last five years and 13 times dating back to 2000. The game of college football has evolved to see quarterbacks pile up stats and gather plenty of notoriety during the course of the season, so it may not be a surprise to see the Heisman Trophy slant in favor of high-profile quarterbacks winning the award with regularity.

On Saturday night, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota continued that trend by running away with the 2014 Heisman Trophy. Mariota pulled away from the nation’s best wide receiver, Alabama’s Amari Cooper, and the nation’s leading rusher, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon. Gordon not winning the award did not seem to sit well with another former Badgers running back, another Heisman Trophy finalist.

Montee Ball, a 2011 Heisman finalist after rushing for 1,759 yards and 32 touchdowns, shared his reaction to his Wisconsin successor getting passed over for another quarterback.

Ball finished fourth in the 2011 Heisman Trophy voting. That year’s award went to Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. Stanford’s Andrew Luck finished second, followed by Alabama running back Trent Richardson.

This was a strong year for running backs, but Mariota entered the year as a Heisman favorite and did nothing this season to detract from his Heisman track. Is the Heisman Trophy a quarterback award, or did the voters get it right this year?

Doak Walker Award finalists filled by Big Ten trio

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The Big Ten has a handful of really good running backs, and it shows with the naming of the finalists for the Doak Walker Award. Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah and Indiana’s Tevin Coleman were each named finalists for the top running back award, filling all three finalist spots.

Gordon held the single-game rushing record for just one week, but his production this season has been steady. Gordon leads the nation in rushing with 2,109 rushing yards with one more regular season game to play and possibly two more if Wisconsin plays in the Big Ten Championship Game and Gordon plays in Wisconsin’s bowl game.

Abdullah is also one of the top running backs in the country, but he has been slowed by injuries at times. Abdullah is still on track for a possible 2,000-yard season with 20 rushing touchdowns with one regular season game left and a bowl game.

Indiana’s offense may have been a disappointment this season, but this does not apply for Coleman. Coleman is the nation’s second-leading rusher behind Gordon with 1,906 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. Coleman has carried the Hoosiers offense for much of the season, and he has handled it well.

Wisconsin’s Montee Ball was the last Big Ten running back to win the Doak Walker Award, two seasons ago. As good of a running program Nebraska has been through the years, the Cornhuskers have never had a Doak Walker Award winner. Indiana is also looking for its first Doak Walker Award winner. Gordon looks to be the favorite in this pack though.

If Gordon wins the award, he will become the third Wisconsin running back to win the award. That total would also tie Texas for the most Doak Walker Award winners.