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.
A couple of weeks or so before kicking off summer camp, the defending national champion’s depth in the secondary has taken a bit of a hit.
Exiting spring practice, Kyler McMichael was listed as A.J. Terrell‘s back up at one of Clemson’s cornerback slots. However, as first reported by 247Sports.com, McMichael’s name is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.
It’s at this point in the program where we’re compelled to remind readers that McMichael can pull his name from the portal and remain with the Tigers, although entering is, more times than not, the first step toward a transfer. Taking a seat in the portal also affords other programs the opportunity to contact the defensive back without receiving permission from Clemson.
Should McMichael ultimately opt to leave the Tigers, it’s highly likely that he’d have to sit out the 2019 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules if he lands at another FBS program.
A four-star member of Clemson’s 2018 recruiting class, McMichael was rated as the No. 8 corner in the country; the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 56 prospect overall on 247Sports.com’s composite board. He was the highest-rated defensive back in the Tigers’ class that year.
McMichael picked Clemson over offers from, among others, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.
As a true freshman, McMichael played in 12 games. During that action, he was credited with a pair of tackles in just over 100 snaps.
Cue Clay Davis because the birthplace of college football has a new name and fans probably can’t wait to make fun of it.
Rutgers announced on Friday that they have agreed to a new stadium naming rights deal with SHI International Corp. that will see the Scarlet Knights’ home rebranded over the next seven years into SHI Stadium. The venue was officially known as HighPoint.com Stadium last year but the naming rights deal with what most know as High Point Solutions expired this offseason.
“As the State University of New Jersey, we are thrilled to partner with SHI,” Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs said in a statement. “Headquartered right here in Somerset, SHI proudly embraces its strong Rutgers ties. As we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of college football here at the Birthplace, we are delighted to partner with a company that shares in our Relentless Pursuit of Excellence. This partnership will positively impact athletics, the university and the New Jersey community.”
Terms were not announced by the school but “a person familiar with the contract told NJ Advance Media it’s a 7-year deal starting at $1.25 million and increasing by $100,000 annually to $1.85 million in 2025-26.” At a total of nearly $10 million over the lifetime of the contract, that isn’t quite what other Power Five programs have fetched but a still significant bump over the previous $600,000 a year the school got.
The Scarlet Knights previously played at Rutgers Stadium up until 2011. The first football game at the newly renamed stadium will happen on Aug. 30 against UMass.
Are you a starting center for 2019? Good, because chances are high you made the Rimington Trophy watch list.
The Rimington Trophy Committee released their annual pre-season watch list for the award given to the nation’s best center and remarkably, 80 of the 130 FBS teams were represented on the list. While watch lists are always notable for their length and being sometimes too broad, it kind of feels like everybody who is in line to start was granted a place on this year’s edition.
Among the notable names were Clemson’s Sean Pollard, Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz, Michigan State’s Matt Allen, Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey, Notre Dame’s Jarrett Patterson, Stanford’s Drew Dalman, Washington’s Nick Harris and LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry III.
You can find the full list of centers nominated here.
The winner of the award will be announced in early December along with a host of other college football honors. The winner will then be recognized at the Rimington Trophy Presentation in Lincoln, Nebraska on January 18, 2020.
Being a tight end in today’s version of college football means you’re a player wearing many hats.
While blocking is emphasized less than ever before, players at the position still need to do it in addition to splitting out wide, running reverses and lining up all over the field in a variety of offensive sets. This year’s annual watch list for the 2019 Mackey Award includes a host of players who can do it all and leave an impact between the lines that can make them a headache for opposing defensive coordinators.
While the entire list includes just about every starter at the position in the country, some of the headliners for the upcoming season include Washington’s Hunter Bryant, Oklahoma’s Grant Calcaterra, Alabama’s Miller Forristall, Memphis’ Joey Magnifico, Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam, Stanford’s Colby Parkinson and Vandy’s Jared Pinkney.
The full list of players on the Mackey Award watch list can be found here.
Last year’s winner was Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson, who later became a top 10 draft pick for the Detroit Lions the following spring.