Rakeem Cato’s late heroics leads Marshall to Conference USA title

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A week after their big bowl dreams appeared to go up in flames with an offensive shootout and overtime loss at home to Western Kentucky, Marshall may still be in the mix.

Marshall (12-1, 7-1 Conference USA) needed its star quarterback to make a play, and Rakeem Cato delivered.  On second and goal from the Louisiana Tech (8-5, 7-1 Conference USA) five-yard line, Cato completed a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to Deon-Tay McManus for a go-ahead touchdown with just under two minutes to play. After securing its first lead of the afternoon, the defense went to work and Evan McKelvey picked off a pass from Cody Sokol on Louisiana Tech’s first play on the ensuing possession, thus wrapping up the win for the Conference USA championship. Marshall erased the pain of last year’s Conference USA championship game loss to Rice with a gutsy 26-23 victory in this year’s title game. Now, Marshall awaits its bowl fate.

It was far from a pretty performance by Marshall, playing at home, but the end result was all that truly mattered most. Cato was not particularly accurate at times, but he ended the day with 308 passing yards and two touchdowns to overcome a sluggish start and an interception. Offense tends to be the story for Marshall, but it was the defense that kept the game within reach for its offense and it was the defense that made some key plays. Marshall had four turnovers in the game, but the defense stood tall often enough.Louisiana Tech jumped out to a 17-7 lead midway through the second quarter, but the visiting Bulldogs scored just one other time in the game, late in the third quarter with

Louisiana Tech jumped out to a 17-7 lead midway through the second quarter, but the visiting Bulldogs scored just one other time in the game, late in the third quarter with Kenneth Dixon’s third touchdown of the game. Dixon was the only Louisiana Tech to contribute on offense, and he nearly carried the team to victory with 156 yards and three touchdowns. The rest of the team managed to add just 112 yards of offense against Marshall.

Marshall is now eligible for consideration in the College Football Playoff selection committee’s process to determine which Group of Five conference champion may be invited to a New Years Six Bowl. Boise State appears to be in the best position, and a win in the Mountain West Conference will likely wrap up that big bowl spot tonight. But if the Broncos stumble, the bowl invite could be there for 12-1 Marshall. Other teams in the running are Northern Illinois (won the MAC championship Friday night), Memphis, UCF and Cincinnati. The three AAC schools ended the year with a share of the conference title.

If Marshall is not chosen to play in the Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl or Peach Bowl, then it will be likely the Thundering Herd are sent to either the Bahamas Bowl or Boca Raton Bowl or the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl may also be an option. Louisiana Tech should also expect to play in one of those three bowl games as well. Bowl arrangements will be finalized on Sunday.

Hawaii removes WR Melquise Stovall from program

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Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich has announced the removal of wide receiver Melquise Stovall from the program, effective immediately. While no details about the removal from the program were given, Rolovich noted all players are held to certain standards that, apparently, Stovall was unable to meet.

“There are certain expectations required of a football student-athlete here at the University of Hawai’i,” Rolovich said in a released statement. “We hold all of our student-athletes to these standards and expect them to represent our football program to the highest degree. We wish Melquise the best as he moves forward.”

Stovall appeared in five games for Hawaii this season. In those five games, Stovall caught 18 passes for 248 yards and four touchdowns. During his freshman year at Cal, Stovall caught 42 passes for 415 yards and three touchdowns in 2016.

Miami’s N’Kosi Perry suffers shoulder injury after returning to starting lineup to replace injured Williams

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Well, this has to sting for the Miami Hurricanes. N’Kosi Perry, who recently was temporarily named the starting quarterback, suffered a shoulder injury in Miami’s loss over the weekend to Georgia Tech. The injury to Perry, a separated shoulder, was revealed to the media Monday by Miami offensive coordinator Dan Enos during a press conference according to The Miami Herald.

The shoulder injured is Perry’s left shoulder, his non-throwing shoulder. It is currently unknown how this injury may impact Perry’s availability for Miami’s road game this weekend at Pittsburgh.

“That’s up to our doctors and medical team to establish that,” Enos said.

Perry has started the last two games for Miami while starter Jarren Williams works his way back from his own shoulder injury. Williams did enter last weekend’s game in place of the injured Perry, but it is still unknown just when Williams will be ready to return to the starting role. With Perry’s status also now floating up in the air a bit, Miami could have a tough quarterback situation coming up this weekend against the Panthers. Third-string quarterback Tate Martell, who transferred from Ohio State after Justin Fields joined the Buckeyes from Georgia, would be the next in line for the Hurricanes if needed. But head coach Manny Diaz doesn’t seem to be thinking that will be necessary.

“We still have a package for Tate,” Diaz said. “But when I look at what we’re doing offensively now, and I look at our numbers … when Jarren has played and what N’Kosi has done over the last couple weeks have absolutely given us a chance to win all those games. And that’s nothing against Tate, but those guys are playing well.”

Whoever plays quarterback for Miami against the Panthers this week, it looks as though it will be either Perry or Williams.

Michigan safety J’Marick Woods enters transfer portal, looking to grad transfer

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While the Michigan Wolverines try to regroup and find a way to topple Notre Dame this week after a tough loss at Penn State, safety J’Marick Woods is the early stages of weighing his potential transfer options. Woods has reportedly entered the transfer portal.

As noted by Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic, Woods will be a graduate transfer, which will allow him to be eligible to play for any other FBS program next season. He has one final year of eligibility to use, so wherever he ends up will be for a one-year term.

Woods, a junior, has appeared in four games this season, in which he has recorded four tackles. Woods played in 11 games for Michigan last season and 12 games in 2017. The Alabama native may be better suited to finding a new opportunity as the Wolverines are in solid shape with depth in the secondary, and he was already playing a minimal role in the defense.

By entering the transfer portal, Woods is free to have contact with any other college football program interested in recruiting him to their program. Woods also has the option of pulling his name from the portal to remain at Michigan if he decides to stay put.

Injured Minnesota linebacker a game-time decision vs. Maryland

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The Minnesota Golden Gophers are looking to improve to 8-0 for the first time since winning the national championship in 1941 with an 8-0 record. When Minnesota returns home to face Maryland, a decision on whether or not linebacker Kamal Martin will be made.

Martin injured his right knee in last weekend’s road game at Rutgers, but head coach P.J. Fleck told reporters on Monday there is a chance the injury was not too serious. Fleck said Martin will be a game-time decision after monitoring his progress throughout the week and checking with trainers and medical staff to evaluate his availability.

“I don’t have a specific answer yet,” Fleck said on Monday, according to The Star Tribune. “He’s still got a few more tests. But we got some really good news, and that’s where we’re at.”

It’s possible Minnesota may not need their leading tackler to take care of Maryland at home this week, but having Martin healthy and ready to go for their following game may be essential. Minnesota hosts No. 6 Penn State on Nov. 9. The Gophers will have a bye week after playing Maryland to provide more possible rest for Martin if needed. even if Martin is ruled out for Maryland, it sounds as though Fleck is optimistic Martin will get to play against the Nittany Lions. If things work out, it could be a clash of undefeated Big Ten teams few expected could happen before the start of the season.