Buckeyes hold off Gophers, remain in thick of playoff hunt


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.

Missouri AD Jim Sterk is even more mad about NCAA penalties after Mississippi State case

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At some point in the distant future, Missouri fans, coaches, players and administrators will forget about the sanctions that the NCAA handed out to their football program.

That day is not today however.

Hot on the heels of Friday’s decision by the NCAA to slap the wrist of Mississippi State over a somewhat similar academic fraud case, Tigers AD Jim Sterk is telling anybody who will listen just how wronged his school was in the wake of what happened at his SEC rival.

“We believe that the penalties imposed in the recently decided and factually similar case (at Mississippi State) further illustrate that the penalties imposed on Mizzou were excessive and inconsistent with previous case precedent,” Sterk told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. We have never wavered from our stance or the merits of our appeal and remain hopeful it will be successful.”

The Tigers are hopeful that an appeal will be decided in the fairly near future and, obviously, that it will be a favorable ruling.

There are a handful of differences between Mizzou’s and the Bulldogs’ cases and enough to make comparing them apples to oranges despite being under the broad umbrella of academic fraud. We’ll see what ultimately ends up happening but something says that short of a complete reversal, Tigers fans and others sporting the gold and black won’t be happy with the NCAA for a long, long time.

Wisconsin confirms that Jack Coan will indeed be the Badgers starting QB this season

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The latest completely unsurprising quarterback decision? Step right up Wisconsin!

As has long been expected, the Badgers confirmed via their Week 1 depth chart release on Sunday that junior Jack Coan would be the Badgers starting quarterback for the upcoming season:

Coan was an obvious choice for Paul Chryst given his experience at the position and one wonders what took the program so long in naming him the guy given his five starts last season, including leading a blowout of a Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl. He threw for 515 yards and five touchdowns (against three interceptions) last year and replaced a rather ineffective Alex Hornibrook down the stretch.

With Hornibrook transferring to Florida State in the offseason and both Graham Mertz and Chase Wolf being freshmen, picking Coan to lead the team under center was an expected end result.

Perhaps the far more interesting name on the Wisconsin depth chart is that of wide receiver Quintez Cephus as the backup behind Kendric Pryor. While the former’s talent undoubtedly makes him one of the top options in the passing game, it’s still notable to see his name pop up given that he was so recently reinstated to the team following his acquittal of sexual assault charges earlier in the month.

Cephus has been practicing with the team but he did miss all of last season while dealing with the legal issues and will have less than two weeks of practices under his belt before the opener at USF on Aug. 30.

Either way, we at least know where he stands in the pecking order for the Badgers and who will be throwing him passes this season as UW gets set to make another run at the Big Ten title.

Georgia DL Bill Norton arrested on a number of alcohol-related charges

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The SEC East sure is having itself a weekend. And only a handful of teams can say that’s a good thing.

Hot on the heals of Tennessee DB Bryce Thompson getting arrested, Georgia is now dealing with an arrest of their own. While the charges are not quite as serious as those in Knoxville, they are still enough to make Kirby Smart blow a gasket or two.

As per DawgNation, Bulldogs freshman defensive lineman Bill Norton was booked on a number of alcohol-related charges early Sunday morning and eventually released on bond. Record show he was cited for driving under the influence, failure to maintain lane/improper driving and minor in possession of alcohol.

A court date does not appear to have been set just yet in the matter.

While there seemed to be little chance that Norton saw action in the opener against Vanderbilt on Saturday night, his arrest probably ended any slim hope of seeing the field or traveling with the team to Nashville.

A four-star prospect coming out of high school in Tennessee, Norton picked Georgia over fellow SEC rivals Alabama, Ole Miss, Tennessee and others.

Nick Rolovich, Arizona State have some fun at Arizona’s expense after late night Hawaii win

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Week 0 is officially in the books and oh how great it was to have college football once again in our lives.

While most of the attention nationally was on the compelling matchup between Florida and Miami down in Orlando, the better of the two FBS games in action on Saturday was actually out in the islands where Hawaii pulled a 45-38 upset of Arizona. The latter game had a ton of moments that only seem to happen late into the night like turnovers galore, some wild touchdowns and the Rainbow Warriors defense stopping a weaving Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate at the one yard line to preserve the win a la Kevin Dyson in Super Bowl XXXIV.

The real fun may have come after the game was over while most of America was soundly sleeping though. First off, Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich took to Twitter to have a little fun with the prognosticators on ESPN’s College GameDay for their game picks…

Well played. He wasn’t the only one to have a bit of fun at Arizona’s expense either with the Wildcats’ bitter rivals Arizona State also getting into the act with a cheeky Mahalo as well.

Troll game… strong. Welcome back college football, where that Territorial Cup game at the end of the regular season just might be a little more fun given the way the season has started off.