Updated: players reiterate dedication to Penn State

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Now that the NCAA has drastically loosened its transfer restrictions for Penn State free agents football players, the mad dash to fill positions of need on rosters around college football has begun in earnest.

Some players will inevitably decide to pursue other opportunities, as coach Bill O’Brien noted on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” Wednesday morning. And they should be allowed to do so without any criticism whatsoever. Players choose a school for different reasons. If it was to compete for a national championship, they’re not going to get that chance with the Nittany Lions.

But some Penn State players have decided they will stick with the program, at least for today. Roughly 25 of those players gathered for a group statement right around the time O’Brien was making the ESPN rounds. Speaking on behalf of the group was senior running back Michael Zordich and senior linebacker Michael Mauti.

You can watch video of the announcement HERE, or read it in its entirety below:

This team is sticking together. We aren’t going anywhere. And we could not be more proud to be Penn Staters now. We look at this as a great opportunity to have the ability to bring back not only a team but an entire university.

This team has taken on more adversity than any team has faced in history which is a testament to our commitment to our teams character, our fans, and our university. One man didn’t build this program and one man sure as hell cannot tear it down. This program was built on the backs of the thousands of great men who put on the Penn State uniform. Today it is no different.

No sanction or politician can tear this team apart. No one can take away what this university means to us. We will stick together and create our own legacy. Our loyalty lies only with our teammates, coaches, fans and families. No one else.

It’s not going to be easy but we know that we have acquired the strength that we have overcome and we will embrace our anger and burn it as fuel this season.

We can’t wait for September 1 and to be back in Beaver Stadium and playing for Penn State in front of the best fans in the nation. We ask everyone to come out, show the support, wear your colors proudly and show that adversity makes the Penn State nation tougher and stronger.

Not among the group was running back Silas Redd. Redd was scheduled to appear at Big Ten media days, but now word is coming that no players from PSU will. 

It’s been rumored Redd might transfer to USC.

Additionally, starting quarterback Matt McGloin tweeted the following statement yesterday:

“If I have learned anything from this game, it is: “tough times don’t last, tough people do.” This program has been through some hard times. I and many others, have stayed here out of love for this university; its academic programs, teammates, our wonderful fans and tremendous student body. We, as student-athletes, are being punished for going to class, graduating, being involved in the community and playing football. Even though these penalties are extremely harsh, I am a Nittany Lion and will remain one. I believe in the core values I have learned in this program. It is not Nittany Lion Football. It is Nittany Lion family. I encourage all players, recruits, and supporters to stay committed to the greatest football program in America. Scholarships and bowl games cannot destroy the fabric of our family. Coach O’Brien and his staff will lead us through this difficult time. All I ask is for the fans to continue to believe in us. WE ARE!”

Houston QB D’Eriq King done for the season after torn meniscus

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While everybody and their mother seemed focus on the brouhaha between Houston star Ed Oliver and head coach Major Applewhite during Thursday night’s win against Tulane, another pretty significant thing happened that was overlooked by many: starting quarterback D’Eriq King was taken off on a stretcher in the first half.

Now we know the extent of the damage and it’s just as bad as many feared. Per the Houston Chronicle, King suffered a torn meniscus and will miss the rest of the 2018 season as a result.

“He simply handed the ball off and went to carry out his fate,” Applewhite said. “It all kind of stunned us, quite honestly, when he said he could not straighten his leg out.”

King has been stellar in taking over as the Cougars starter this season, coming into the weekend responsible for the most points in all of FBS. Sadly he’ll wrap up the year with an even 50 touchdowns, including 36 scores through the air to go with 2,982 yards passing and six interceptions. The elusive dual-threat also rushed for 674 yards.

True freshman Clayton Tune took over for King in the 48-17 win over Tulane and appears to be the starter the rest of the way for Houston, which has a good shot at making it to the AAC title game in a few weeks. Tennessee graduate transfer Quinten Dormady is also on the depth chart as a backup but has appeared in only one game this year for the program.

Report: Les Miles finalizing a deal to become next Kansas head coach

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Mad Hatter meet Rock Chalk.

According to a report from Sports Illustrated, former Oklahoma State and LSU head coach Les Miles is finalizing a long-rumored deal to take the vacancy at Kansas — with an announcement coming as soon as this weekend.

The move from the pristine grass of Baton Rouge to the wheat fields of Kansas has been one that was identified early on by several people in college football almost as soon as Jayhawks athletic director Jeff Long made the decision to fire David Beaty in early November. Both men spent several years together while at Michigan in the 1980’s and Long reportedly once tried to hire Miles when he was in charge at Arkansas back in 2012.

Speculation that the Jayhawks settled on Miles as their next head coach has been the prevailing wisdom for the past several weeks but really kicked into high gear on Thursday afternoon when LSU announced they had reached a settlement with their ex-head coach on his hefty buyout. Instead of the school paying the $6.5 million still owed over the next several years, the Tigers instead cut a $1.5 million check to wrap up their financial obligations — freeing up Miles to take another job without any strings attached.

Needless to say, people don’t cut bait on $5 million like it’s nothing so KU’s financial package for the new head coach will likely be significant.

Miles is no stranger to the Big 12 Conference, though it has been 14 years since he was getting Oklahoma State turned around as a program. The 65-year-old most notably spent a dozen years leading LSU to a 114-34 overall record that included one national title in 2007 and a pair of SEC championships during his time in Baton Rouge. After he was fired in 2016, Miles has been mentioned for several other jobs around the country but has spent part of his time as a broadcaster and aspiring actor.

It appears those days of non-coaching work are over however as the affectionately-named Mad Hatter will embark on one of the biggest tasks in college football: turning around a Jayhawks program that has gone 22-88 in the past decade.

The Big Game between Cal and Stanford has been moved to Dec. 1 due to Bay Area wildfires

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It’s been a trying time in California the past few weeks as several terrifying wildfires have continued to burn in multiple parts of the state. Air quality in several regions has been a huge issue as a result — particularly so in the Bay Area, where the haze from the nearby Camp Fire has caused several health warnings to be issued.

Taking all that under advisement, the Pac-12 has made the correct decision to postpone this weekend’s annual rivalry between Cal and Stanford from Saturday to December 1st at noon PT. The 121st Big Game between the Cardinal and Bears, still set to be played in Berkeley, will therefore serve as the regular season finale for the conference as it comes one day after the Pac-12 title game down in nearby Santa Clara.

“We have been carefully tracking air quality in Berkeley and the Bay Area over the past week, relying on the best data and guidance available to us from medical and environmental experts,” Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton said in a statement. “The forecasts we have received show a minimal chance of the improvement necessary to hold the game on Saturday. While we would have preferred to play the Big Game on its scheduled date, once we realized that air quality would likely not return to acceptable levels, we made the decision to postpone for the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, gameday staff, students, band and spirit groups, alumni and fans.”

“The entire Stanford Athletics community recognizes this has been an extremely challenging time for so many people who have been affected by the wildfires, both in the Bay Area and throughout the state,” Stanford AD Bernard Muir added. “Our thoughts are with them, first and foremost. We are thankful to the University of California for collaborating with us on the logistical challenges of rescheduling the Big Game, and are looking forward to playing the game on Dec. 1.”

Tickets will continue be honored despite the date change and the game will still be televised on Pac-12 Networks in the middle of championship Saturday in college football. There will be several rescheduled games already on the docket for Dec. 1, including several on the other side of the country that were moved as a result of hurricanes earlier in the season.

Neither Cal or Stanford are in the running for the Pac-12 title game so the decision to push their game back comes as no surprise. Both teams will have this weekend off before the Bears face off against Colorado (in Berkeley) next Saturday, while the Cardinal will play their other in-state rival UCLA down at the Rose Bowl.

You can follow NBC News for additional reporting on the non-sports aspects of the deadly wildfires throughout the state of California.

College football odds for Week 12, including Notre Dame-Syracuse, UCF-Cincinnati, Iowa State-Texas

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November has not been a kind month to those who take the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the points, but they are eager to show they’re a more explosive team. The Fighting Irish are 10-point betting favorites against the Syracuse Orange with a 65-point total in a matchup taking place at Yankee Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The OddsShark College Football Database shows that Notre Dame is 8-1 straight-up in its last nine games against the Atlantic Coast Conference, but 1-6-1 against the spread in its last eight games in November. Syracuse is now a nationally-ranked team under coach Dino Babers, but it is 0-12 SU and 4-8 against the spread (ATS) in its last 12 games as a double-digit underdog.

Elsewhere in Week 12:

NO. 10 OHIO STATE (9-1) AT MARYLAND (5-5)
The Ohio State Buckeyes are 14.5-point road favorites against the Maryland Terrapins with a 58.5-point total. Ohio State is 1-5 ATS in its last six games. The total has gone OVER in six of Ohio State’s last eight road games, with an average combined score of 60.0 points. Maryland is 2-9 ATS in its last 11 home games in November.

INDIANA (5-5) AT NO. 4 MICHIGAN (9-1)
The Michigan Wolverines are 28.5-point favorites against the Indiana Hoosiers with a 53.5-point total. Indiana is 1-4 ATS in its last five road games. Michigan is 9-0 SU in its last nine games.

IOWA STATE (6-3) AT NO. 15 TEXAS (7-3)
The Texas Longhorns are three-point favorites against the Iowa State Cyclones with a 47-point total. Iowa State is 6-1 ATS in its last seven road games. The total has gone UNDER in 13 of Iowa State’s last 17 games, with an average combined score of 45.9 points. Texas is 0-5-1 ATS in its last six home games in November.

NO. 9 WEST VIRGINIA (8-1) AT OKLAHOMA STATE (5-5)
The West Virginia Mountaineers are five-point road favorites on the college football Week 12 odds against the Oklahoma State Cowboys with a 73-point total. West Virginia is 22-7-1 ATS in its last 30 road games in November. Oklahoma State, coming off a loss against Oklahoma, is 9-2 SU in its last 11 games after a loss.

KANSAS (3-7) AT NO. 6 OKLAHOMA (9-1)
The Oklahoma Sooners are 36-point favorites against the Kansas Jayhawks with a 69-point total. Kansas is 1-50 SU and 15-36 ATS in its last 51 road games. Oklahoma is 12-4 ATS in its last 16 home games. The total has gone OVER in five of Oklahoma’s last six games, with an average combined score of 88 points.

NO. 20 BOSTON COLLEGE (7-3) AT FLORIDA STATE (4-6)
The Boston College Eagles are 1.5-point road favorites against the Florida State Seminoles with a 48.5-point total. Boston College is 7-1 ATS in its last eight road games. The total has gone UNDER in seven of Boston College’s last nine conference games. Florida State is 2-11 ATS in its last 13 conference games.

DUKE (7-3) AT NO. 2 CLEMSON (10-0)
The Clemson Tigers are 28-point favorites against the Duke Blue Devils with a 57.5-point total. Duke is 0-5 ATS in its last five road games against Clemson. The total has gone UNDER in eight of Duke’s last 10 road games, with an average combined score of 47.9 points. Clemson is 5-0 ATS in its last five conference games.

NO. 24 CINCINNATI (9-1) AT NO. 11 UCF (9-0)
The Central Florida Golden Knights are seven-point betting favorites against the Cincinnati Bearcats with a 60.5-point total. Central Florida is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games. The total has gone UNDER in five of Central Florida’s last six games, with an average combined score of 64.3 points.

ARIZONA (5-5) AT NO. 8 WASHINGTON STATE (9-1)
The Washington State Cougars are 10.5-point favorites against the Arizona Wildcats with a 62.5-point total. Arizona is 2-6 ATS in its last eight road games. Washington State is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games. The total has gone UNDER in seven of Washington State’s last nine home games, with an average combined score of 48.2 points.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.