Up on Badgers, Gophers 30 minutes from Indy

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Could we be in for a rematch in next weekend’s Big Ten championship game?  If the second half of the Minnesota-Wisconsin game goes the same way as the first, we absolutely will.  Maybe.

Through two quarters of play, and on the road in Madison, the Gophers have (mostly) maintained control of the first two quarters, taking a 17-13 lead on the Badgers into the halftime.  The winner of this game, in addition to grabbing the famed Paul Bunyan’s Axe trophy, will claim the Big Ten West and earn a spot opposite Ohio State in the conference title game next Saturday in Indianapolis.

OSU beat Minnesota earlier this month 31-24 in Minneapolis.

In this game, the story for the most part has been the Gophers’ defense, especially when it comes to containing the Badgers’ vaunted rushing attack.  Melvin Gordon came into Week 14 leading the nation in rushing with 2,109 yards; through two quarters of play, he has 55 yards on 14 carries.  Gordon’s longest run of the day has gone for 23 yards, meaning he has totaled just 32 yards on 13 of his carries.

Overall, the Badgers were limited to 187 yards of offense and four first downs; 70 of those yards, though, came on a Joel Stave pass to Alex Erickson that set-up a touchdown catch by Gordon late in the second quarter, while another 49 came on a last-minute drive that ended in a field goal.  The Gophers weren’t exactly a well-oiled machine, either, putting just 153 yards of total offense in the stat book.  They were able to dent the scoreboard twice with touchdowns, though, one early in the first quarter on a Matt Leidner touchdown pass and one later that quarter on a David Cobb 40-yard touchdown run.

Cobb, incidentally, led all rushers with 95 yards.  Additionally, he broke the school’s single-season rushing record on a first-quarter run.

The story of the first half, though, was defense so, if you’re more the visual type, here’s the first two quarters in GIF form:

Gopher Badger WWE

What has to be troubling for the Gophers, though, is how momentum shifted to the Badgers late. UM was up 17-3 late in the second quarter before UW put up 10 points to close the gap significantly.

The Badgers and their momentum will also get the ball first to start the second half, adding to the Gophers’ halftime angst.

Texas A&M pulls LBs coach from Wake Forest

Texas A&M football
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For its newest assistant, Texas A&M football turned to an ACC school.  And, a familiar face for that matter.

Thursday, A&M announced that Tyler Santucci has been hired by Fisher as linebackers coach.  Santucci will replace Bradley Dale Peveto, who was still under contract but won’t return for the 2020 season.

Santucci’s hiring marks a homecoming of sorts as the assistant spent the 2018 season as a defensive analyst for the Texas A&M football program.

Last season, Santucci was the linebackers coach at Wake Forest.  That was his first on-field job at the Power Five level.  His first on-field job at the FBS level came as linebackers coach at Texas State in 2016.

In 2017, Santucci was a defensive analyst at Notre Dame.  During that brief stint in South bend, Mike Elko was the Fighting Irish’s defensive coordinator, the same position he’s held with the Aggies since he was hired in January of 2018.

The first coaching job for Santucci, who played his college football at Stony Brook, was at his alma mater as safeties coach.

In Jimbo Fisher‘s second season in College Station, the Aggies posted an 8-5 record.  A&M has won both bowl games since Fisher took over the program.  After finishing tied for second in the SEC West his Fisher’s inaugural season, the Aggies dipped to fourth in 2019.

Ex-Michigan RB Jordan Castleberry transfers to Maryland

Jordan Castleberry is transferring from Michigan to Maryland.
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After one semester at Michigan, freshman running back Jordan Castleberry has transferred to Maryland. Castleberry announced his transfer decision on his Twitter account on Thursday.

Castleberry originally committed to West Virginia during his recruiting process out of high school. Shortly after his commitment to West Virginia, Michigan became a more likely recruiting victor. Castleberry enrolled at Michigan in July 2019.

Castleberry did not play for Michigan in 2019, so he can use the 2019 season as a redshirt year to preserve a year of eligibility. However, NCAA transfer rules will force Castleberry to sit out the 2020 season. This will not make Castleberry eligible for Maryland until the 2021 season, at which point he will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Ruffin McNeill steps away from Oklahoma and football to be with family

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Family will always be more important than football, which is why Ruffin McNeill will be putting football on hold for an undetermined amount of time. Oklahoma announced on Thursday that assistant head coach and outside linebackers coach McNeill will leave football to help take care of his father.

“This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make,” McNeill said in a statement released by Oklahoma. “But in the end, being near my dad was a necessary choice. Right now I need to be a son again and I need to help my brother and other family members take care of my dad, who is battling significant health issues. This is not retirement for me. I still want to coach in some form or fashion. But right now that can’t be the case. My focus needs to be on my dad back in North Carolina.”

“Ruffin means so much to me and to my family, and his family means so much to him,” Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley said in a statement. “I know his decision to leave OU was a very difficult one, but was one he felt he had to make.”

Although McNeill said this is not a retirement decision and expressed a desire to continue coaching when the time is right, Riley confirmed the Sooners will be looking for a replacement on the staff.

“I still want to coach in some form or fashion,” McNeill said. “But right now that can’t be the case.”

McNeill joined the Oklahoma coaching staff under Riley in 2017.

Miami’s QB revolving door sees Miami QB Jarren Williams reportedly entering transfer portal

Miami QB Jarren Williams could be entering the transfer portal.
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As we are quickly learning with the new day and age of college football, the minute a new quarterback arrives on the scene by way of a transfer, another may soon be on the move. Case in point, the current situation at Miami. Quarterback Jarren Williams will be entering the transfer portal, according to a report from Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter).

This news is hardly shocking given the attention given to the arrival by D’Eriq King from Houston earlier this week. King, a graduate transfer with immediate eligibility for this fall, is widely expected to step in and be Miami’s starting quarterback in 2020. Naturally, that would reduce the playing time Williams or any other Miami quarterback would be likely to see in the fall.

As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Williams was Miami’s leading passer with 2,187 yards and 19 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Williams is the only Miami quarterback who played in as many as 12 games last fall. If not for the addition of King, Williams may have been Miami’s most likely starter this season.

If Williams, a former four-star recruit in the Class of 2018, does indeed enter the transfer portal and ultimately decides to leave the Hurricanes for a new school, he will have to sit out the 2020 season. He would then have two years of eligibility left to use beginning in 2021.