Late rally falls short as No. 10 Michigan State survives No. 19 Nebraska

6 Comments

As the fourth quarter began in East Lansing, Nebraska looked like it was cooked and ready to be served on a platter. The Cornhuskers trailed 27-3 and hadn’t accomplished much of anything offensively. The ABC broadcast team moved on to blowout talk, half the Spartan Stadium crowd went home to catch the end of Nats-Giants, and the Spartans’ minds apparently started wondering where they’d be in the polls on Sunday morning.

And then Ameer Abudullah punched in a two-yard touchdown with 12:49 remaining to pull Nebraska to within 18. Then he scored again with 4:10 to go to make it 27-16. Then Nebraska forced a punt, and De’Mornay Pierson-El returned it 62 yards to make the score 27-22 with 3:22 remaining.

Michigan State, by now aware Nebraska had not consented to an easy ending, recovered the ensuing onside kick and moved the ball to Nebraska’s 19, but Michael Geiger missed a 37-yard field goal that would have ensured Nebraska could do no more than force overtime. Suddenly the Cornhuskers had the ball with a chance to win the game, and 67 seconds to make it happen.

After an incompletion on first down, Tommy Armstrong, Jr. found Alonzo Moore down the sideline for 43 yards, putting the ball at the Michigan State 37. Alas, after a first-down incompletion, Armstrong was intercepted by Trae Waynes at the 17-yard line, ending what would have been the cherry on top of a crazy Saturday in college football.

Final score: No. 10 Michigan State 27, No. 19 Nebraska 22.

The 19-0 fourth-quarter rally by Bo Pelini’s bunch makes you wonder what could have happened had Nebraska produced zero points on three first half Michigan State turnovers inside its own territory.

Michigan State’s defense was, obviously, dominant for most of the night, temporarily suspending Abdullah’s Heisman Trophy campaign by limiting the runner to just 45 yards on 24 carries. Armstrong completed 20-0f-43 throws for 273 yards with two interceptions while being credited for seven rushing yards on 11 attempts.

Jeremy Langford and Tony Lippett carried the day for Michigan State, producing all three of the Spartans’ touchdowns on the night. The former rushed 29 times for 111 yards and a touchdown, while the latter caught three passes for 104 yards and a touchdown while rushing once for a 32-yard score.

While the battle of talented running backs did not live up to billing, each of the All-America candidates at defensive end made their respective presences felt. Nebraska’s Randy Gregory intercepted Connor Cook on the second play of the game, while Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun scooped up an Abdullah fumble and returned it 38 yards, sparking an exchange that could have seen Nebraska pull within 14-7 to a Michigan State extending its lead to 17-0.

The loss denies Nebraska its chance to start 6-0 for the first time since 2001, but the Huskers still appear to be the class of the Big Ten West following Wisconsin’s loss to Northwestern earlier Saturday. Nebraska will get a week off before traveling to Evanston to face those Wildcats on Oct. 18.

Michigan State, meanwhile, visits Purdue on Saturday and will presumably play all 60 minutes of that game.

Davey O’Brien Award releases 2019 watch list

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Davey O’Brien Award released its 2019 watch list on Tuesday and, unlike the Maxwell and Bednarik awards, it did not seemingly include every player in college football. Only half of them.

In truth, 30 players were selected to the 2019 watch list, which means 100 eventual starting quarterbacks were not. Chief among them is Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, possibly because the O’Brien Foundation took the directive from Lincoln Riley that Hurts is not OU’s starter, yet.

On the list are 2018 finalist Tua Tagovailoa as well as semifinalists Ian BookMason FineJake FrommJustin HerbertD’Eriq KingTrevor LawrenceJordan Love and Shea Patterson. The SEC led the way with six representatives, followed by the Pac-12’s five and the Big 12’s four. California had the most native sons with seven, followed by Texas’ six.

The list will be whittled down to 16 semifinalists on Nov. 13 and three finalists on Nov. 25. The winner will be named as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards show on Dec. 12.

The full list:

Jake Bentley, South Carolina
Ian Book, Notre Dame
Alan Bowman, Texas Tech
Charlie Brewer, Baylor
Joe Burrow, LSU
K.J. Costello, Stanford
J.T. Daniels, USC
Sam Ehlinger, Texas
Mason Fine, North Texas
Feleipe Franks, Florida
Jake Fromm, Georgia
Justin Herbert, Oregon
Kelvin Hopkins Jr., Army West Point
D’Eriq King, Houston
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Jordan Love, Utah State
Adrian Martinez, Nebraska
Cole McDonald, Hawai’i
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Steven Montez, Colorado
James Morgan, FIU
Shea Patterson, Michigan
Bryce Perkins, Virginia
Brock Purdy, Iowa State
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Nathan Rourke, Ohio
Nate Stanley, Iowa
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Khalil Tate, Arizona
Zac Thomas, Appalachian State

Marshall, North Texas tabbed as C-USA favorites

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Conference USA released its preseason poll on Sunday, and the league’s media sees some change at the top. UAB topped Middle Tennessee to win the conference crown a year ago, but voters don’t see either team repeating atop their respective decisions this season.

In the East Division, Marshall is a moderate favorite, garnering 14 first-place votes, ahead of FIU’s nine and 2017 C-USA champion Florida Atlantic’s three. In the West, North Texas was far ahead of the pack with 20 first-place votes, far outpacing Southern Miss’ four. Defending champion UAB earned three first-place votes, but Bill Clark‘s Blazers actually came in fourth place overall, behind Louisiana Tech.

EAST DIVISION
1. Marshall (14)
2. FIU (9)
3. Florida Atlantic (3)
4. Middle Tennessee
5. Western Kentucky
6. Old Dominion
7. Charlotte

WEST DIVISION
1. North Texas (20)
2. Southern Miss (4)
3. Louisiana Tech
4. UAB (3)
5. UTSA
6. Rice
7. UTEP

North Texas has yet to win the conference since joining the league in 2013, though Seth Littrell did guide the Mean Green to the West title in 2017. Marshall won the conference in 2014 and took the East Division in ’13.

One Nebraska DB cited for weed, another for driving under suspension following traffic stop

Getty Images
1 Comment

One of these days, every single state in the Union — along with the federal government — will fall in line and come to their senses when it comes to weed.  Until then, we’ll continue bringing you stories like this one.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, two Nebraska football players, safety Marquel Dismuke (pictured) and walk-on defensive back Jeramiah Stovall, were cited by Lincoln Police Department officers Friday night. Stovall was cited for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana while Dismuke received a citation for driving on a suspended license.

The twin citations came after Dismuke’s vehicle was pulled over for failing to display  a front license plate.

“We are aware of the incident and are addressing it,” a Nebraska official said in a very brief statement.

After playing in 19 games (one start) the past two years, Dismuke is a front-runner for a starting job entering summer camp. This past season, Stovall was named as NU’s Special Teams Player of the Year.

Kentucky confirms addition of Troy transfer QB Sawyer Smith

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s now officially official.

In late April, Sawyer Smith took his first step in moving on from Troy by announcing on social media that he had placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.  Two weeks later, the quarterback used social media to reveal that his next stop at the collegiate level would be at Kentucky.

Monday, Smith’s expected new home confirmed the player’s addition to the roster.

”We’re excited to have Sawyer join our program,” UK head coach Mark Stoops said in a statement. “It’s great to add a quarterback with his experience and success. He helped lead Troy to an outstanding season last year and we’re glad to have him here.”

As Smith comes to the Wildcats as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to compete for a starting job immediately.  Additionally, he’ll have another season of eligibility he could use in 2020.

Smith played in 13 games this past season, including starts in the last seven.  In those appearances, the Florida native completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 1,669 yards and 14 touchdowns to go along with six interceptions. He also rushed for 191 yards and another touchdown.

Terry Wilson started all 13 games for the Wildcats in a 2018 season that saw UK reach double digits in wins for the first time since Jimmy Carter was sitting in the Oval Office. Wilson, though, was 10th in the SEC and 63rd nationally with a 133.9 pass efficiency rating.

For what it’s worth, Smith’s 139 rating was fifth in the Sun Belt Conference and 47th in the country.