Buckeyes hold off Gophers, remain in thick of playoff hunt

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There were many in and around the Ohio State football program worried about a hangover from last Saturday’s huge win over Michigan State bleeding into this Saturday.  Shaking off a first-half headache that was part Minnesota-induced and part weather-related, OSU (mostly) allayed those fears over the course of the last two quarters.

Up by a scant three points at halftime, the Buckeyes outscored the home-standing Gophers 14-10 in the second half to head back to Columbus with a 31-24 win.  And, sounding eerily similar to a broken record on a weekly basis, it was the play of J.T. Barrett that played a significant role in OSU’s ninth win in 10 games this season.

The redshirt freshman quarterback had four total touchdowns — three passing, one rushing — to give him 37 on the season, breaking the school record of 36.  He also has 29 touchdown passes on the year, one shy of tying Troy Smith‘s school record of 30 set in 2006.

Barrett also accounted for 375 yards of offense — 198 passing, 189 rushing.  310 of those yards came in the first half, and the rushing yards set another school single-game record for a quarterback.  In the first half, he set a school mark for longest touchdown run by a quarterback with his 86-yarder.

Both the marks Barrett broke had been held by Braxton Miller, who, while his replacement is in the midst of the Heisman race, is in the midst of getting Pipp’d.

The Buckeye defense intercepted a pair of Mitch Leidner passes in the second half, with the offense converting one of those into a touchdown.  The Gophers managed 303 yards of offense, while the Buckeyes posted 489.

Leidner threw for just 85 yards; it was the second time this year he’s thrown for under 100 yards in a game.  Gopher running back David Cobb ran for three touchdowns in a losing effort.

In extending its conference-record winning streak to 22 straight, Ohio State moves to within one victory — or a Michigan State loss — of clinching the Big Ten East and a spot in the conference championship game the first weekend of December.  Given the remaining schedule that looks to be a near-certainty as OSU closes out the regular season with home games against 3-6 Indiana and 5-5 Michigan.

The Buckeyes also kept themselves very much in the thick of the College Football Playoff.  What will be interesting is how the committee views this win.

The Gophers came into this game 25th in the latest CFP rankings and tied for first, with Nebraska and Wisconsin, in the Big Ten West.  Not only that, but Minnesota is a common opponent for No. 8 OSU and No. 5 TCU as the Horned Frogs beat the Gophers 30-7 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth in mid-September.

Many were touting that non-conference win as one of the reasons TCU should be ranked ahead of the likes of Alabama and Baylor, and it was no doubt part of the equation for the committee. With their win coming on the road against the same team, the Buckeyes will no doubt, and rightly so, be looking for a boost in its résumé on which the committee will lean to set the four-team playoff field on down the road.

Also unknown?  How the committee views the seven-point win.  The Buckeyes led by 17 early in the fourth quarter before the Gophers scored 10 points in the last seven minutes to make the score closer than the game actually was.

Still, the Buckeyes’ best playoff hopes, in tandem with winning out, rests on chaos ahead of them the last three weeks of the season as well as a one-loss Nebraska in the Big Ten title game.  Anything less than that and OSU will be on the outside of the playoff window looking in.

Lott IMPACT Trophy announces semifinalists

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You know we are getting close to award season in college football because it seems this week has been filled with announcements about semifinalists for every award possible. Welcome to the party, Lott IMPACT Trophy. A total of nine semifinalists were announced by the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is awarded to the best defensive player with a focus on success on and off the field, integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity.

The nine semifinalists for this year’s Lott IMPACT Trophy are:

  • Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
  • Cole Christiansen, LB, Army
  • Jordan Fuller, DB, Ohio State
  • Brandon Jones, DB, Texas
  • Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
  • Chris Orr, LB, Wisconsin
  • Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
  • Curtis Weaver, DL, Boise State
  • Evan Weaver, LB, Cal

Linebacker remains a strong position for the Lott IMPACT Trophy this season, with five of the nine semifinalists playing a linebacker position.

This year’s recipient of the Lott IMPACT Trophy will be announced on Dec. 15 at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach. This list of nine semifinalists will be trimmed down to four finalists prior to the announcement.

Kentucky’s Josh Allen took home the award last season.

Class of 2019 four-star Baylor commit says he’s heading to Utah

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Former Baylor quarterback Peyton Powell has a new football home in the Pac-12. Powell announced on Thursday he is heading to Utah to join the Utes program.

“It’s time for me to clear the air and I WILL be doing that at THE University of Utah,” Powell said in a statement share don his Twitter account on Thursday afternoon.

Powell came to Baylor with the hopes of being able to compete and play quarterback for the Bears. That opportunity was one of the reasons Baylor ended up winning his commitment out of high school, while many schools hoping to sign the four-star athlete could find ways to use his athleticism at different positions. Powell, a member of the Baylor Class of 2019, has not played this season and will have four years of eligibility remaining. NCAA rules would force Powell to sit out the 2010 season before being ruled eligible to play, but he may be given a chance to play right away considering he did not play during his freshman year at Baylor.

Arizona continues shaking up coaching staff with reported firing of defensive line coach

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As a year of disappointing results comes down the final stretch for the Arizona Wildcats, changes are already in the air for Kevin Sumlin and the program. On Thursday, Arizona continued to go through the process of overhauling its defensive coaching staff with the firing of defensive line coach Iona Uiagalelei.

News of the coaching change was first reported by Jason Scheer of Wildcat Authority. According to that same report, defensive analyst Greg Patrick will be moved into the position of defensive line coach, at least for the remainder of the current season.

Arizona ranks 73rd nationally in rushing defense, 113th in sacks, and 119th in tackles for a loss. These are all stats most commonly used to evaluate the performance of the defensive line, and the results this late in the season just simply aren’t good any way you look at it.

A month ago, Arizona parted ways with defensive coordinator Marcel Yates and linebackers coach John Rushing. Uiagalelei is the third defensive coach to be removed from the staff during the 2019 season.

Jonathan Taylor, Chuba Hubbard among semifinalists for Doak Walker Award

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Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is attempting to do something that has only been done twice before by winning the Doak Walker Award in back-to-back seasons. Taylor was one of the 10 semifinalists revealed by the Doak Walker Award on Thursday, putting last year’s top running back one step closer to pulling off the rare feat on the college football award circuit.

Taylor will have some stiff competition for the award this season. Among the other semifinalists for the award include Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard, the nation’s rushing leader with 1,726 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns (Taylor has 1,463 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in the same number of games as Hubbard).

Darren McFadden of Arkansas is the most recent player to win the Doak  Walker Award in back-to-back seasons, doing so in 2006 and 2007. The only other player to win the award in consecutive seasons, and the only other two-time winner of the Doak Walker Award, is Ricky Williams of Texas. Williams won the award in 1997 and 1998. Taylor joined former Wisconsin running backs Melvin Gordon (2014), Montee Ball (2012) and Ron Dayne (1999) to move Wisconsin into first place for most all-time Doak Walker Award winners. Texas also has four awards won, but by three players (Ricky Williams twice, Cedric Benson in 2004 and D’Onta Foreman in 2016).

The other semi-finalists for the Doak Walker Award this year include LeVante Bellamy of Western Michigan (21 touchdowns leads the nation), AJ Dillon of Boston College, JK Dobbins of Ohio State, Clyde Edwards-Helaire of LSU, Travis Etienne of Clemson, Kenneth Gainwell of Memphis, Xavier Jones of SMU, Zack Moss of Utah.