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Cardale yanked, sluggish Buckeyes on upset alert vs. N. Illinois


For the second Saturday in a row, Ohio State has looked sluggish and sloppy in the first half.  This weekend, though, they’re facing the kind of team with the talent to make them pay in the end.

On a rain-soaked afternoon in Columbus, the defending national champions bumbled and stumbled their way to a 10-10 tie with a Northern Illinois team that has won 11 or more games each of the last five season.  The tone for OSU’s first half was set on its first two possessions — and then continued on into the initial possession of the second quarter.

On the third play of the Buckeyes’ first possession of the game, Cardale Jones tossed an interception that the Huskies turned into a touchdown three plays later.  The next possession for OSU, an Ezekiel Elliott fumble that was recovered by NIU.  On the first play of the second quarter, Jones tossed another pick that was turned into three points.

That was enough for an exasperated Urban Meyer, who yanked the 2014 postseason star (4-9, 36 yards) in favor of record-setting backup J.T. Barrett.  Jones’ first-half performance continues a season-long malaise; in 10 quarters this season, the rifle-armed redshirt junior has completed 26-of-47 passes (55.3 percent) 334 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions.  He hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since early in the third quarter of the opener against Virginia Tech.

Barrett, though, failed to provide any type of spark.

Barrett’s performance lends credence to those who thought he should’ve been the starter opening the season instead of Jones [/pulls muscle patting self on back].  Well, for one possession anyway.

After a three-and-out on his first possession that included a near-miss pick-six for NIU, Barrett found Michael Thomas in the end zone on their ensuing possession from 23 yards to tie the game at 10-all halfway through the second quarter.  In what was essentially a quarter’s worth of work, Barrett completed 3-of-6 passes for 31 yards.

Perhaps most disturbing for the Buckeyes is their play-calling.  Arguably the best running back in college football, Ezekiel Elliott has just 10 carries for 39 yards.  Conversely, 16 plays for a passing game that simply isn’t clicking — in fairness, NIU has a solid defense — have been called.  For the second consecutive week, the loss of coordinator Tom Herman to Houston (head coach) is being felt by the offense.

Florida to host Florida Atlantic in 2021

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Florida will host Florida Atlantic in 2021, FAU announced Tuesday. The game will take place on Sept. 4 and serve as the season-opener for both schools.

The schools have met three times previously, all of them in Gainesville. Florida won 59-20 on Nov. 17, 2007, 41-3 on Sept. 3, 2011, and 20-14 on Nov. 21, 2015.

The game will round out both schools’ non-conference schedules.

Florida will visit USF on Sept. 11, host Florida State on Nov. 27 and has a TBD home game against Samford, most likely on Nov. 20.

Today’s news means Florida has a future game on the schedule with every FBS program in the Sunshine State except UCF and Florida International. Florida beat Miami in Orlando to open this season and will play a home-and-home with the ‘Canes in 2024-25.

Florida Atlantic will follow its Gainesville trip with an excursion to Colorado Springs to play Air Force. After that, the Owls will host Fordham and Georgia Southern to round out September.


With Husky mascot retiring in 2021, Northern Illinois to introduce successor on Tuesday

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Northern Illinois’ husky mascot, Mission, is retiring in 2021, and on Tuesday the school will introduce his successor.

Mission II, born on July 6 and weighing a tender 14.5 ounces, will replace Mission two years from now, and the puppy will begin his official duties as NIU’s next official mascot on Tuesday.

“We have long been searching for the heir apparent to Mission, and there is no question that we have found the right Huskie,” NIU Alumni Association Executive Director Reggie Bustinza said. “Mission has set very high expectations, but there is no doubt in my mind that Mission II cannot only meet those demands, but surpass them.

“We are happy that Mission will have plenty of years to enjoy his retirement.”

Mission will turn 10 years old in 2021, and by that time Mission II will be fully versed in all the expectations placed upon the Official Northern Illinois Husky.

Mission II, a Siberian husky born in southern Wisconsin, will accompany Mission “to all eligible events for experiential learning and proofing,” which begins at a tasting for an NIU-branded beer on Tuesday evening in DeKalb.

The school has not revealed when Mission II will make his debut at a Husky football game, and in the meantime he’ll continue training with Lisa Boland while also attending daily puppy classes.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing Mission and Mission II do the job together during the training period,” Boland said. “It will be wonderful to watch ‘Mini-Mish’ learn from Mission, and see them work as a team. Mission has set a very high bar in mascotting, and Mission II will be working very hard to follow in his footsteps. I am so proud of Mission and the work that he’s done as the official NIU mascot.

“I am thrilled to have the privilege of guiding his successor to best represent Huskie Nation.”

Troy loses RB B.J. Smith, SBC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, to season-ending injury

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This one will certainly leave a lasting mark.

Over the summer, Troy’s B.J. Smith was named as the Sun Belt Conference’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.  Two months later, the football program confirmed, the running back will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2019 season because of an injury sustained in the Week 3 loss to Southern Miss.

While the specific nature of the injury wasn’t divulged by the school, it’s believed Smith injured his knee midway through the second quarter of last Saturday’s game.

Last season, Smith led the Trojans with 1,186 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.  This season, the fourth-year senior had rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries in two games.

Because of the timing of the injury, Smith can take a redshirt for the 2019 season and return to the Trojans next season.

Texas LB Caleb Johnson enters transfer portal

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Sitting at the quarter-pole of the 2019 regular season, and Texas is the latest FBS program to feel the pain of the portal.

Joe Cook of was the first to report that Caleb Johnson has placed his name into the NCAA transfer database. subsequently confirmed the initial report, writing that the junior linebacker “feels he has not fit in well since he arrived at Texas.”

247Sports provided further details as to the events leading up to Johnson’s decision.

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Johnson met with the staff Monday morning to inform them of his intentions to enter the transfer portal. While the staff requested he think more about his decision, Johnson decided to enter his name into he NCAA Transfer Portal, and is listed in the portal as of Tuesday morning.

Johnson joined the Longhorns from the junior college level, enrolling early and taking part in spring practice this past offseason.  He was a three-star 2019 signee who was rated as the No. 3 JUCO outside linebacker in this past year’s class.

Through three games, Johnson hadn’t yet taken the field for the Big 12 program.