Auburn picks up where it left off, cruises past Arkansas

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The last time Auburn took the pristine field at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Chris Davis carried the ball 109 yards, past the Alabama field goal unit and into the pages of history. Nine months later, Gus Malzahn and the No. 6 Auburn Tigers picked up right where they left off, cruising past Arkansas 45-21.

Jeremy Johnson earned the start for a double-secret suspended Nick Marshall and could not have started hotter, guiding Auburn on touchdown drives of 75, 75 and 98 to open the game. The sophomore hit his first eight throws for 204 yards and two touchdowns, the first of which came on the same extended play-action that tied the Alabama game, carrying Melvin Ray 49 yards into the same end zone where Ricardo Louis stunned Georgia and where the Tigers scored the tying and winning touchdowns against Alabama. Johnson played the entire first half and did all of his damage through the air, hitting 13-of-17 passes for 243 yards and those two scores.

Marshall played the second half and got the familiar Malzahn-patented running game going. In addition to his own 19-yard scoring dash to open the second half, Marshall’s presence gave Auburn’s running backs space to do their best Tre Mason impressions. Cameron Artis-Payne rushed 26 for 178 yards and one touchdown, and Corey Grant added 10 carries for 87 yards and another score.

Arkansas matched Auburn score for score early. With an offensive line that the SEC Network broadcast noted as the fourth-largest in all of football, the Razorbacks pummeled the Auburn front for 151 yards on seven yards a pop in forging a 21-21 halftime deadlock, but defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson’s unit dominated the second half. Every second half Arkansas possession traveled 20 yards or less and ended in a punt, except for the one Jermaine Whitehead ended with a 33-yard pick six that effectively shut down any chance of an upset.

After rushing for those 151 first-half yards, Arkansas was nearly doubled up on the ground, 302-153. That means Arkansas rushed for two yards in the second half.

The second half was fractured by a one hour, 28 minute weather delay. And, in the ultimate act of vengeance by the football gods, after years debate over the hurry-up no-huddle and debates about “what we want football to be” that saw Bret Bielema and Malzahn taking polar opposite sides, the Jordan-Hare Stadium clocks were inoperable for the entire first half.

Rutgers completes 2021 schedule with addition of FCS school

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The final piece of the scheduling puzzle for Rutgers has been found for the 2021 season. Rutgers announced the addition of a home game against Delaware, an FCS program, to the 2021 schedule to give the Scarlet Knights a full schedule.

Rutgers will host Delaware on September 18, 2021. Other non-conference games lined up for Rutgers includes a season opener against Temple at home and a road trip to Syracuse for a pair of games against former Big East foes.

Rutgers has not faced the Blue Hens of Delaware since 1973. Rutgers leads the all-time series, 15-13-3. Delaware was also recently added to the future schedule of Penn State, with road trips to Penn State slated for 2023 and 2027.

In a fun little uniform twist, Rutgers will play teams with the signature winged helmet with shades of blue and yellow in back-to-back weeks. A week after hosting Delaware, Rutgers is scheduled to play a Big Ten contest at Michigan. Delaware and Michigan wear similar uniforms highlighted by a similar winged helmet design.

Nebraska squeezes in 12th game against Bethune-Cookman

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Nebraska will play a 12-game schedule after all, as long as Mother Nature decides to cooperate for the rest of the season. Nebraska announced today it has added a home football game against Bethune-Cookman.

According to the release from Nebraska, the Huskers will host the FCS school on October 27. The game will replace a home game wiped out by lightning against Akron back in Week 1.

“Our great fans and our football student-athletes deserve a full schedule, and we are glad to be able to provide an additional game on Oct. 27 against Bethune-Cookman,” Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos said. “We appreciate the patience of our fans through this process.”

Nebraska will pay Bethune-Cookman $800,000 to make the trip to Lincoln.

Injury will sideline Cal’s Cameron Goode for remainder of the year

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Unfortunately, Cal’s worst injury fears have been realized yet again.

In the Bears’ season-opening win over North Carolina, Cameron Goode sustained what’s only been described as an unspecified lower-leg injury.  The redshirt sophomore linebacker did not play in the past two games because of the injury and won’t play again this season, Justin Wilcox confirmed Wednesday.

“I really feel for him because he puts a lot into football,” the head coach said. “He’ll go through that window of not being able to play this year. It’s a pretty short window, then he’ll start working on what’s next.”

It’s expected Goode will be fully recovered by the start of spring practice.

This marks the second-straight season his year has ended prematurely because of injury.  Last year, he started the first nine games before being sidelined for the remainder of the season.

Goode had returned an interception for a touchdown in the opener before going down with the leg injury.  He also returned a pick for a score last season in the win over Ole Miss.

Recently-retired Minnesota RT Nick Connelly loses three-month battle with cancer

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There’s incredibly sad news coming out of the Minnesota football program Thursday afternoon.

In an absolutely heartbreaking missive posted to Twitter, Chuck Connelly, the father of former Minnesota offensive lineman Nick Connelly, revealed that his son lost his three-month battle with cancer Wednesday.  Or, as the elder Connelly put it, “[o]n Wednesday Sept. 19, 2018 Heaven needed a right tackle and Nick Connelly got the call.”

Connelly was just 22 years old.

The younger Connelly was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma in June of this year.  A very rare form of cancer — WebMD states just that just 1,200 cases are diagnosed annually in the United States, with nearly 60 percent of those coming in patients over the age of 40 — and is recognized as the fastest growing human tumor.

In late October of last year, Connelly, who had started the first five games of the 2017 season at right tackle for the Gophers, announced that he was retiring from football because of the effects of multiple concussions.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to Connelly’s family, friends and former teammates for their loss.