Say what you will about the quarterback situation at Ohio State, and how well the coaching staff handled it from the start of the season, but one of the biggest reasons Ohio State’s offense made a difference in the first College Football Playoff was the play of running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott rushed for over 200 yards in three games this season. It just so happened those three games each came in the postseason. Elliott rushed for 220 yards in the Big Ten Championship Game as Ohio State crushed Wisconsin. He followed that up with 230 rushing yards against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and finished the year off with 246 rushing yards and four touchdowns in Monday night’s College Football Playoff national championship win against Oregon.
In the month of January, Elliott rushed for 476 yards. That is two fewer rushing yards than Washington State’s entire 2014 rushing production (478 yards) and three fewer yards than Wake Forest’s 2014 rushing total (479 yards). Elliott also scored more rushing touchdowns in January (6) than Washington State (5) and Wake Forest (4) each had in 2014. Elliott’s rushing touchdowns in January also matched the 2014 rushing touchdown total of Kent State.
One of the popular questions asked this season, especially as Ohio State was running wild in the postseason, was how did the Buckeyes lose to Virginia Tech. Elliott was far from becoming the reliable running back he proved to be over the course of the season in week two of the season. Elliott carried the football eight times for just 32 yards against the Hokies, the only setback for Ohio State during the 2014 season. Elliott was the starting running back but in week two of the season Ohio State was still trying to figure things out on offense with young players filling big shoes. Virginia Tech’s defense is good, but I would wager dollars to donuts Elliott would improve on that rushing total if the Buckeyes and Hokies lined up today. As is the case in college football and any sport, how you finish is always the most important factor in a season.
Elliott is only 19 years of age, and he has two more years left of eligibility. He should move into the 2015 season among the preseason Heisman Trophy favorites in what could be a huge season for running backs in the Heisman race (LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Oregon’s Royce Freeman and Georgia’s Nick Chubb also in that conversation). Big Ten defenses will have to bulk up and be ready to find a way to bring Elliott down, otherwise he could be Ohio State’s first Big Ten leading rusher since Eddie George led the Big Ten in 1995.
There’s some additional clarity to what was the biggest college football storyline in Week 12 — or the entire 2019 season, for that matter.
After hours and hours worth of ofttimes ominous speculation, Alabama announced Saturday night that Tua Tagovailoa had been diagnosed with a dislocated right hip, an injury suffered in the first half of its rout of Mississippi State, and would miss the remainder of the 2019 season. At the time, the school stated that Tagovailoa “is undergoing further testing to determine the best course of treatment.”
Sunday night, the football program confirmed in a statement attributed to Dr. Lyle Cain, the team’s orthopedic surgeon, that the junior quarterback will undergo surgery on his injured hip in Houston Monday.
For the past 24 hours our medical team has consulted with multiple orthopedic experts across the country, who specialize in hip injuries and surgeries. Based on that research, Tua is being flown to Houston tonight to be evaluated and is scheduled to have hip surgery Monday. As previously stated, we anticipate a full recovery. The main focus has been, and will remain, on Tua, his family, and making sure we are providing them the best medical care possible.
It’s long been expected that Tagovailoa would forego his remaining year of collegiate eligibility and make himself available for the 2020 NFL Draft. At this point, it’s unclear how the injury will impact Tagovailoa’s decision.
There were two major events on Saturday in the state of Louisiana: LSU’s closer than expected win at Ole Miss and the hotly contested gubernatorial race that saw incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards win reelection.
And yes, those events are in order of importance to most.
It seems there’s quite the sports angle to the latter too and it not surprisingly involves the former. You can start on Wednesday where Edwards, calling himself ‘John B.’ from Amite, called into Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron’s weekly radio show ahead of the polls opening over the weekend.
“It is an easier state to govern when the Saints and LSU are winning,” Edwards also told the New York Times. “People are just in a better mood.”
While we will leave the political analysis of Edwards’ victory to others, it’s worth noting that the result was also a personal win for Orgeron, who endorsed the Democrat back in the spring and has enjoyed a good relationship with those in and around the statehouse ever since taking over the program as head coach. It is pretty rare for a head coach to ever wander into political waters nowadays (especially in a non-presidential election cycle) it seems that’s not the case for the Louisiana-loving Cajun in charge of No. 1 LSU.
Also a quick kudos to the governor himself, who said earlier in the week on Orgeron’s radio show that the Tigers shouldn’t overlook the Rebels in Oxford. Given the fight that Matt Luke’s team put up, that was certainly spot on in big sandwich game after beating Alabama and taking on Texas A&M.
MetLife Stadium has been home to some awful NFL football this season but this past Saturday fans in the Tri-State region were at least treated to a far more interesting product on the field..
As we noted back in early October, this year’s Battle for the Cortaga Jug was going to be extra special because it was going to take place in the Meadowlands as Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland attempted to set a new Division III record for attendance. According to the Ithaca Journal, the pair did just that with 45,161 fans showed up to the game as the Bombers (that’s Ithaca) won their third straight Jug, 32-20.
“The electricity was unreal,” Cortland senior running back Zach Tripodi told the paper, “… When I scored, I don’t think I’ve ever felt something like that. You really felt the crowd.”
The final tally broke the previous D3 mark of 37,355 (from a 2017 matchup between St. Thomas and St. John’s at Minneapolis’ Target Field) by a considerable margin.
For what it’s worth, the D3 game at MetLife also had a bigger crowd than the ones that watched some of the FBS programs in New York, including the 16,286 down in Durham, N.C. that saw Syracuse thump Duke, the 8,450 that saw Buffalo lose at Kent State or the 25,747 in West Point that saw Army beat Virginia Military Institute.
Good football, it seems, is hard to come by in the Empire State but fans will come out for quality play no matter what level.
For some teams, reaching a bowl game — even those obscure dot com-sponsored ones — is quite meaningful. Such is the case at Louisville as they have embarked on one of the better turnarounds in the country this season under new head coach Scott Satterfield.
Following up a 2-10 disaster at the hands of Bobby Petrino last year, the new staff has revitalized the program and secured bowl eligibility on Saturday by beating N.C. State 34-20. That’s a cause worth celebrating around the city and Cardinals AD Vince Tyra certainly did not short himself on that front after the sixth victory of 2019 by donning a rather comical mask in the locker room and breaking out some very expensive whiskey to share with the head coach.
Tyra and Satterfield may indeed be the only ones to drink Pappy out of a Gatorade cup but it probably tasted even sweeter than it normally does given the accomplishment it’s celebrating. While some fans may scoff at reaching six wins in a season, the jubilation in Louisville is a good reminder that benchmarks like that have plenty of meaning for programs who sat at home in disarray last year.