Getty Images

Big plays keep No. 9 Wisconsin out front of Nebraska at halftime

Leave a comment

28 minutes into Wisconsin and Nebraska’s crucial game for Big 10 West superiority, the defenses were controlling and the offenses more prone to stalling.

Then the final two minutes of the first half rolled around and each side started to rack up big play after big play to make things much more interesting in Lincoln as the Badgers held onto a slim 17-10 lead at halftime.

Cornhuskers quarterback Tanner Lee was both hot and cold on the night, showing why exactly he is both the best option under center for the team (finding Stanley Morgan for an 80 yard touchdown) and worst (a pick six on the first drive) in not much time at all.

That pick-six  — Lee’s fourth of the year — was a huge momentum shifter early after a solid start for Mike Riley’s embattled team. Nebraska looked like they were going to really make things interesting on the Morgan touchdown with just 1:20 left on the clock but the defense failed to stop Wisconsin tailback Jonathan Taylor on the next series as he answered the score with one of his own from 75 yards out on the ground. A field goal with just one second left was eventually tacked on to cap a wild final two minutes that had the sellout crowd on their feet yelling at the same time they were wondering what was happening in front of them.

Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook had only a few clean pockets but threw for 62 yards on 6/11 passing after two quarters. Taylor led the way on the ground and was already up to 144 yards rushing despite having just 10 carries.

A lot of the attention in the conference may be focused on what’s happening in Ann Arbor right now but this Big Ten West battle is certainly extremely interesting after one half of play. If the Cornhuskers can make some defensive stands and the Badgers respond with big plays, we could get a fun one in front of Big Red.

Pitt, Nebraska (and LSU?) among power conference teams with uphill battle to bowl season

Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images
2 Comments

We are getting close to the end of September, which is the time I start taking a look at the challenges some teams will face just to get to a bowl game at the end of the year. Scanning the power conferences, there are a number of programs already on the verge of facing a bowl-less season, some more obvious than others.

Florida State starting the season 0-2 certainly looks to be in some trouble considering the Seminoles still have game sot play against Clemson and Louisville and Miami, in addition to a non-conference game against Florida at the end of the season. But I still think FSU manages to scratch together six wins by the end of the season, so I see no reason to push a panic button there just yet. But there are some ACC schools entering some rough territory.

In putting together this list, I avoided the usual suspects like Kansas and Purdue (wait, they may actually go this year) and instead focused on teams that can generally be counted on to be involved in a bowl game somewhere. I found three teams that have dug a rough hole, two who could face a difficult conference slate, and one that is two games above .500 but could stumble down the stretch. Here they are, in no particular order.

Here they are, in no particular order.

PITTSBURGH (1-3)
Wins needed: 5
Remaining schedule:

  • RICE
  • at Syracuse
  • NC STATE
  • at Duke
  • VIRGINIA
  • UNC
  • at Virginia Tech
  • MIAMI

The Panthers defense continues to get lit up by opponents and after going 1-3 to start the year the Panthers are now facing quite an uphill battle just to get to the postseason. Pit still has a scheduled back-loaded with a road game at Virginia Tech and a home game against Miami, but before that the Panthers will host an NC State team that just won in Tallahassee and a Virginia team that may be improving if a road trip to Boise State is any indication. A road trip to Duke is no walk in the park and even Syracuse just gave LSU a mild scare in Baton Rouge.

NORTH CAROLINA (1-3)
Wins needed: 5
Remaining schedule:

  • at Georgia Tech
  • NOTRE DAME
  • VIRGINIA
  • at Virginia Tech
  • MIAMI
  • at Pittsburgh
  • WESTERN CAROLINA
  • at NC State

If the Panthers have an uphill battle, then the Tar Heels may be scaling a mountain with their remaining schedule. UNC has to play on the road against Virginia Tech and equally desperate Pitt, and they also are on the road against Georgia Tech this week before hosting Notre Dame next week. Ending the season in Raleigh is tricky too. Like Pitt, the question is what five games on the remaining schedule can Tar Heel fans place much faith in going their way to go bowling this season?

TEXAS (1-2)
Wins needed: 5
Remaining schedule:

  • at Iowa State
  • KANSAS STATE
  • Oklahoma
  • OKLAHOMA STATE
  • at Baylor
  • at TCU
  • KANSAS
  • at West Virginia
  • TEXAS TECH

The Longhorns were off this week to regroup a bit after a hard-fought loss on the road against USC, but can Tom Herman find five wins in Big 12 play? Texas will obviously have to battle Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weeks, and now a road trip to TCU looks to be a little extra challenging, as does a late season road trip to Morgantown. And don’t forget about Kansas, because, well, you know. Picking up five wins in Big 12 play seems attainable, but there is a very slim margin for error.

NEBRASKA (2-2)
Wins needed: 4
Remaining schedule:

  • at Illinois
  • WISCONSIN
  • OHIO STATE
  • at Purdue
  • NORTHWESTERN
  • at Minnesota
  • at Penn State
  • IOWA

The Cornhuskers only need four games, but this is a team that lost at home against NIU and struggled against Rutgers in back-to-back weeks, and the crossover conference schedule does Nebraska no favors with Ohio State and Penn State appearing on the schedule that already includes division games with Wisconsin and Iowa. And this road game at Purdue looks to be more of a hurdle than most would have anticipated. This season may come down a must-win game at Minnesota.

LSU (3-1)
Wins needed: 3
Remaining schedule:

  • TROY
  • at Florida
  • AUBURN
  • at Ole Miss
  • at Alabama
  • ARKANSAS
  • at Tennessee
  • TEXAS A&M

Are we reaching to suggest that a 3-1 team is facing an uphill battle to the postseason? Maybe… not? Have you seen anything you are overly excited or optimistic about out of LSU so far this season? I think the last two weeks have soured my take on the Tigers, and I entered the season not very high on them, to begin with. Now, in conference play, I sincerely think LSU could be in for a battle just to go to a bowl game. The good news for LSU is they face some teams in hot seat situations like Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas A&M to close out the year and all three of those games should be considered wild cards and toss-ups for all teams involved. The four-game stretch including three road games at Florida, Ole Miss, and Alabama has to see LSU grab one win if the Tigers are going to reach the postseason. And remember, because of the hurricane fiasco with last year’s schedule, LSU is playing the Gators in Gainesville this year instead of at home.

Keyshawn Johnson Jr. not part of Nebraska team ‘right now,’ will take time off to ‘mature’ per dad

Getty Images
8 Comments

This is certainly an interesting development.

Nearly two weeks ago, Keyshawn Johnson Jr. was cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Friday, Rivals.com is reporting behind its paywall, the wide receiver is not currently a part of the Nebraska football team.

From KETV.com‘s detailing of the report from HuskerOnline.com‘s Nate Clouse:

I’m told that Johnson Jr. will be taking somewhat of a leave of absence from the team right now, but the door is open for his return next January, assuming he has taken care of a few requirements prior to that time,” Clouse wrote.

According to Clouse, Johnson has returned to Los Angeles and will likely take classes online or at a junior college in the fall.

Johnson’s father, former USC All-American wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, subsequently confirmed to the Omaha World-Herald that his son is indeed taking a leave of absence in order to “mature” and will not play in 2018

Thus far, the football program has declined to discuss Johnson’s status with the team moving forward.

A three-star 2017 signee who was an early enrollee and participated in spring practice, the younger Johnson had been expected to be an immediate contributor for the Cornhuskers this season.

Les Miles says it’s pretty simple, “I want to coach football.”

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
10 Comments

Les Miles, the former head coach of the LSU Tigers still has no plans to transition into a peaceful retirement. After being let go by LSU last fall, Miles put his hat in the ring for a handful of coaching opportunities that did not pan out, but the Mad Hatter still has his eye on coaching in the future. As a guest speaker at a coaching clinic at Nebraska over the weekend, Miles made it clear he still wants to be a coach.

“I want to coach football,” Miles said to reporters in Lincoln, according to an Omaha World-Herald report. “That’s pretty simple. I want an opportunity at a place that can win and a place where they really want to invest in the players. If they do that, I’m good.”

In November, Miles was on record suggesting he feels he has another decade of coaching in him. Clearly, Miles has not had second thoughts about his possible coaching future. While he may have been the odd man out in the recent round of musical coaching chairs, it should be expected his name will be floating around plenty of rumor mills in the next round of the coaching carousel. He may be on the older side of the coaching lifespan, he still brings name recognition with him and can bring a level of credibility to any program that hires him. Plus, it would be so good to see Miles on a sideline again, somewhere.

Miles making a guest appearance at Nebraska is not all that surprising. His son, fullback Ben Miles, committed to the Cornhuskers and will be a freshman in Lincoln this fall.

Three-star 2017 Texas signee Reese Leitao arrested on drug charge

Getty Images
3 Comments

Tom Herman‘s first recruiting class at Texas has gotten off to an inauspicious off-the-field start.

According to FOX23.com, Reese Leitao was arrested at his Oklahoma high school Tuesday on a charge of possession/delivery of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to sell within a thousand feet of a school.  The television station’s website wrote that “Leitao admitted to a Jenks administrator he was selling the Xanax.”

From the station’s report:

According to the Jenks campus police report, Leitao had 20 Xanax pills and more than $1,300 on him.

Leitao was a three-star 2017 signee, rated as the No. 19 tight end in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Oklahoma.

A statement attributed to Herman was sent out a short time ago.

“We’re aware of the situation involving our signee, Reese Leitao,” the first year head coach said. “We’re collecting information, will talk to Reese and his family, let the legal system run its course and then address it further at the appropriate time.”