Buckeyes step on Badgers’ throats, bully way to B1G first-half lead

31 Comments

A starting quarterback who, were it not for injuries, would’ve been the No. 3 quarterback in early December, and facing the best statistical defense in the conference?  So far, no problem at all.  Literally.

Thanks in equal parts to a combination of Cardale Jones, Ezekiel Elliott and a stifling, swarming defense, Ohio State completely controlled, dominated, lorded over, however you want to describe it, the first half of the Big Ten championship game and leads Wisconsin 38-0 after two quarters of play.

Jones, a redshirt sophomore who was making his first-ever start and came into the game with 121 career passing yards, looked like a seasoned veteran in completing 10-of-13 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns — both to Devin Smith (3-95).  It actually would’ve been three touchdown tosses were it not for Elliott dropping what would’ve been an easy touchdown.

Elliott, though, more than made up for that misstep, leading the Buckeyes with 150 yards rushing and two touchdowns on just 14 carries.  One of those scores was an 81-yard touchdown run that is the longest in Big Ten championship game history.

Wisconsin’s defense came into the game giving up an average of 260 yards per game; Ohio State had 224 yards in the first quarter alone.  For the half, OSU totaled 364; 10 of the 12 teams UW played this season didn’t reach that mark in entire games.

Not to be outdone, the Buckeyes’ defense, at times a source of angst for the coaching staff and fan base alike, has been at its dominating best on the biggest stage of the year.

Melvin Gordon, widely viewed as the only player with even a remote chance of finishing close to Oregon’s Marcus Mariota in the Heisman chase, was held to just 43 yards on 14 carries; he came into the game averaging nearly 200 yards per game.  Reining in Gordon was part of an impressive defensive effort as the Buckeyes’ held the Badgers to a measly 91 first-half yards and eight first downs.

Five of UW’s eight possessions ended in punts, with four of those punts coming after three-and-outs.  The other drives ended with an interception, a fumble and the end of the half.

That fumble was returned by Joey Bosa for a touchdown late in the second quarter, putting an exclamation point on OSU’s best half of football this season in all three phases of the game.  Michael Bennett, who is wearing No. 53 to honor fallen teammate Kosta Karageorge, had a first-half sack to add an emotional bent to the woodshedding.

With the game essentially over, the question will now become: does OSU have enough of a case to be a part of the four-team playoff?  I don’t know if they do or not — that Virginia Tech loss still looms large — but they are certainly making it tough on the committee that will ultimately answer that very question.

Conference championship Saturday now locked in with confirmed kickoff times

Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Feel free to update your planner accordingly, because the ACC and Big 12 championship games now have confirmed start times.

The Big 12 Championship Game will kick off Championship Saturday on Dec. 7 with a noon eastern kickoff. The game will be televised on ABC and will share a time slot with the MAC Championship Game (on ESPN or ESPN2).

The ACC Championship Game will once again be played in primetime with a 7:30 p.m. eastern start time scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7 on ABC. It will once again go opposite the Big Ten Championship Game on FOX, although the ACC will get a half-hour jump on the Big Ten title game.

With the ACC and Big 12 now on the schedule, here is the updated look at the conference championship game schedule:

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6

  • Pac-12: 8:00 p.m. ET, ABC (Santa Clara, CA)

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7

  • Big 12: 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC (Arlington, TX)
  • MAC: 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN 2 (Detroit, MI)
  • Sun Belt: 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2 (TBD*)
  • Conference USA: 1:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network (TBD*)
  • American: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC (TBD*)
  • Mountain West: 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN (TBD*)
  • SEC: 4:00 p.m. ET, CBS (Atlanta, GA)
  • ACC: 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC (Charlotte, NC)
  • Big Ten: 8:00 p.m. ET, FOX (Indianapolis, IN)

* = The highest-seeded team in the conference hosts the conference championship game

Mark Dantonio responds to accusation made by former staffer

Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

A day after an alarming story accused Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio of recruiting a player he was warned could be a potential problem, Dantonio has responded alongside his lawyer. Dantonio defended himself against the claims of former assistant Curtis Blackwell and re-directed to previous comments Dantonio made regarding the player in question.

“The fact that Mr. Blackwell’s contract was not renewed has nothing to do with Auston Robertson,” Dantonio said in a statement on Friday. “Two years ago, I spoke at length about Auston Robertson when he was dismissed from the team in 2017. Rather than engage in a public argument with a former staffer, I refer you to those previous statements. Further, there have been multiple investigations into the program’s handling of sexual assaults, including Jones Day in 2017 and the NCAA in 2018, and they concluded that the program and myself committed no violations.”

Blackwell, a former Michigan State recruiting director, claimed he and multiple coaches asked Dantonio not to continue recruiting Robertson, who was guilty of misdemeanor battery in high school and later was arrested and charged with assault to his girlfriend just after his freshman season in East Lansing. Robertson was later removed from the program.

Dantonio concluded his statement by saying he will have no further comment due to ongoing litigation.

“Mr. Blackwell’s lawsuit concerns his allegations that his contract was not renewed because he refused to co-operate with investigations being conducted by the MSUPD and a law firm hired to evaluate the MSU football program’s compliance with sexual assault reporting policies,” Dantonio’s lawyer, Tom Kienbaum, said in a separate statement. “The lawsuit has nothing to do with the recruitment or actions of any student athletes, including Auston Robertson.”

Kentucky LB Kash Daniel will play after video of alleged intent-to-injure surfaced

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
3 Comments

After video surfaced seemingly suggesting Kentucky linebacker Kash Daniel tried to hurt a Florida football player last weekend, head coach Mark Stoops confirmed Daniel will be on the field again this weekend against Mississippi State. What has not been confirmed, however, is whether or not Daniel will start the game for the Wildcats.

Video footage from last weekend’s victory over the Gators appeared to show Daniel attempting to twist the ankle of Florida quarterback Kyle Trask at the bottom of a pile at the end of the play. Trask denied any intent to injure to Trask but did admit he gets caught up in some smack talk on the field, which of course is perfectly normal in sports.

Stoops said he has discussed the alleged incident with Daniel and the SEC office. Whatever came out of those discussions will remain behind closed doors, because Stoops has decided to keep that all in-house. So if Daniel is not on the field to start the game for Kentucky’s defense, this may not be a coincidence. However, regardless of what happens, Daniel will be playing against Mississippi State.

New Mexico State locks in bowl agreement with New Mexico Bowl

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
1 Comment

New Mexico State may not have a rich bowl history, but the independent college football program has worked out an arrangement to secure a spot in a postseason bowl game in the next few years.

New Mexico State has reached an agreement with ESPN Events to reserve a spot in the New Mexico Bowl from 2020 through 2025, as long as the Aggies meet the NCAA bowl-minimum win total.

“New Mexico State University and our football program are excited to enter into an agreement with the New Mexico Bowl from 2020 through 2025,” New Mexico State Director of Athletics Mario Moccia said in a released statement. “The proximity of the game from our campus as well as Albuquerque and the surrounding areas having the largest population of NM State alumni in the country outside of Doña Ana County is a perfect opportunity for our football program and Aggie Nation.”

New Mexico State would face a team from either the Mountain West Conference or Conference USA. In addition, New Mexico State can be chosen to play in any other bowl game not owned by ESPN if an opportunity is available to them.

New Mexico State is an independent program, which makes them free to work out their own bowl deals. But because most bowl games have deals in place with conferences, there are typically few bowl spots to go around for independent programs (unless you happen to be Notre Dame).

The Aggies played in a bowl game at the end of the 2017 season, which was the first bowl game for the program since 1960.