Northwestern suspends senior RB for first two games

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Northwestern running back Venric Mark only played in three games last season and missed the final six games. The Wildcats are going to be without their talented running back for just a little bit longer.

According to a release from the school, Mark has been suspended for the first two games of the upcoming season due to a violation of team policy.

“I made a mistake and am prepared to deal with the consequences of that,” Mark said in the statement. “There’s no one that holds me to a higher standard than the one I hold myself to, so nobody is more disappointed than I am. First and foremost, I feel like I let my teammates down, and that feels the worst. I’m grateful to have another season to compete with this team. My focus moving forward is on working as hard as I can in camp and supporting my teammates in practice and on gamedays so that we can achieve our goals this season.”

Mark is a valuable weapon in the Wildcats’ offense and special teams. In 2012, Mark ran for 1,366 yards, and he was named a first-team All-American as a punt returner by the Football Writers Association of America. He adds a completely different dynamic to the Wildcats offense due to his explosiveness and shiftiness.

The Wildcats have two key non-conference games to open the season that Mark will miss. Northwestern opens the season against the Cal Golden Bears on national television, and the Wildcats face the always-pesky Northern Illinois Huskies a week later. Mark’s absence will be felt during those two games.

Fortunately, the Wildcats have experienced depth at running back. When Mark was hurt last season, Treyvon Green stepped in and led the team in rushing with 736 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Green will be asked to carry the load again until Mark returns Sept. 20 against the Western Illinois Leathernecks. And then the Wildcats will have an impressive two-head monster at running back when they enter Big Ten play a week later.

Overwhelming favorites Alabama, Tua Tagovailoa see Bovada title, Heisman odds shorten

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During this current college football season, three of the surest things are upsets, Rutgers continuing to embarrass the Big Ten and oddsmakers really loving the defending national champions in general and one of its players specifically.

Bovada.lv has released its latest set of odds to win the 2018 College Football Playoff championship, with Alabama yet again the overwhelming favorite to claim the title at 1/2. Those odds are a bit shorter than the 5/9 the Crimson Tide was at just a week ago.

Clemson and Notre Dame both saw their odds shorten as well, with the former going from 13/2 to 5/1 and the latter from 19/2 to 13/2. Ohio State, meanwhile, fell from 7/1 to 12/1, the same as rival Michigan. The Wolverines, coming off a big road win over Michigan State, were also at 12/1 last week at this time.

Individually, Tua Tagovailoa saw his stranglehold on the odds to win the 2018 Heisman Trophy increase. A week ago, the Alabama quarterback was at 2/3; he’s now at 4/11.

Tagovailoa’s two main competitors saw their odds lengthen, with Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray at 7/2 (3/1 a week ago) and Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins at 12/1 (3/1).

The biggest climber has been Michigan’s Shea Patterson, with the quarterback going from off the board last week to 12/1 and behind only Tagovailoa and Murray.

Below are the complete set of national championship and Heisman odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:

Suspension stands: LSU’s Devin White to miss first half of Alabama game

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Right or wrong (mostly the latter), LSU will be missing a significant piece of its defense for the first half of its huge Week 9 matchup with Alabama.

In the second half of LSU’s win over Mississippi State this past Saturday, Devin White was ejected after being called for targeting on MSU quarterback Nick Fitzgerald.  As a result, White, one of the top linebackers in the country, would be in line to miss the first two quarters of next Saturday’s game against the Crimson Tide.

The subsequent outrage over what was, at best, an asinine targeting call — a call that was inexplicably upheld upon further review — led to a GoFundMe page being created to funnel donations toward billboards that would be erected in and around SEC headquarters in Birmingham, Ala.  Those billboards would’ve carried the hashtag #FreeDevinWhite, an attempt to get the conference to bend to public pressure and rescind the half-game suspension.

Additionally, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva very publicly looked to put pressure on the SEC to reverse what was seemingly an irreversible punishment.  In the end, we’re right back where we were three days ago — White will be watching from the sidelines when the LSU-Alabama game kicks off and will continue doing so until the second half kicks off.

“Discussions with the SEC made clear there is no process for appeal,” LSU senior associate athletic director Robert Munson told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “The suspension will stand.”

White currently leads the Tigers in tackles with 76, and is tied for second on the team in tackles for loss with seven.  Additionally, he leads the team with six quarterback hits and two fumble recoveries.  His four pass breakups are tied for second as well, while his four passes defensed are tied for fourth.

Michigan losing four-star 2017 signee James Hudson to transfer

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For the second time in less than a week, Michigan has lost a four-star member of its 2017 recruiting class.

Amidst speculation regarding James Hudson‘s future with the football program, a U-M spokesperson has confirmed that the offensive tackle has decided to transfer from the Wolverines. The move away from Ann Arbor comes a couple of days after Hudson, the No. 2 right tackle, did not enter the win over Michigan State when starter Juwann Bushell-Beatty went out with an injury.

Instead, redshirt freshman Andrew Stueber took over on the right side of the line. After the game, Jim Harbaugh explained that Hudson has been dealing with a dislocated finger sustained the week before and that’s the reason Stueber entered the game.

That turn of events was also the likely trigger for Hudson’s decision to transfer.

A four-star member of the Wolverines’ recruiting class last year, Hudson was rated as the No. 13 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Ohio. Only one other defensive tackle in that class, Aubrey Solomon, was rated higher than Hudson, although he was moved to the other side of the ball this offseason.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Hudson played in three games this season.

In the middle of last week, another four-star 2017 signee, linebacker Drew Singleton, asked for and was granted a release from his U-M scholarship.

‘Mutual agreement’ sees RB Trelon Smith, Arizona State ‘part ways’

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A coach’s decision had kept Trelon Smith on the sidelines for the first half or so of the 2018 season. A player’s decision, in concert with the football program, will now keep the running back sidelined permanently, at least at Arizona State.

Both 247Sports.com and the Arizona Republic have reported that Smith has decided to transfer from the Sun Devils. The former website tweeted that Smith is “no longer a part of the team… [after] a mutual agreement [was reached],” while the latter wrote that “Smith and the ASU football program are parting ways” for unspecified reasons.

Smith did not play the first three games this season because of a coach’s decision/violation of unspecified team rules.

Smith was a three-star 2017 signee who played in nine games as a true freshman, carrying the ball just once for four yards. This season, after climbing out of his head coach’s doghouse, he carried the ball 11 times for 56 yards. Eight of those attempts and 45 of the yards came in his first game back, a loss to Washington Sept. 22.

Because he played in just four games and hasn’t yet used his redshirt, he’ll be able to keep a year of eligibility thanks to the new NCAA rule that has played a significant role in roster attrition this season. Including next season, Smith will have three years of eligibility at his disposal.