Getty Images

Spartans snap Buckeyes’ 23-game win streak on last-second FG, take control of B1G East

37 Comments

All week long leading into their game against Ohio State, Michigan State had to hear pundits downplay their chances of going into a Columbus and stealing a win from the No. 3 Buckeyes.  Never mind that, ranked eighth in the country, the Spartans weren’t exactly coming into a gun fight armed only with a knife.

Saturday night, they served notice to anyone that overlooked them or just flat-out forgot about them.

Battling a hostile environment in inclement weather and without their starting quarterback, the Spartans stood tall, turning a gutsy performance into a stunning 17-14 upset of the Buckeyes.  The game-winning points came of the right leg of Michael Geiger, whose 41-yarder as the clock expired was the difference.

For Ohio State, it was the end of a 23-game winning streak; a couple of years ago, it was Michigan State that ended the Buckeyes’ 24-game winning streak in the Big Ten championship game.  The loss also ended the Buckeyes’ record of 30 straight regular season Big Ten wins.

For Michigan State, the win gives it complete and total control of the Big Ten East.  MSU can earn a spot in the conference championship game opposite Iowa with either a win over Penn State next week or, if they lose, a Michigan win over OSU.  The Buckeyes can still claim the East, but it would take a win over the Wolverines and a Spartans loss to the Nittany Lions.

Making the win all the more impressive was the fact that the Spartans did it without All-Big Ten quarterback Connor Cook, who sat out with an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder.  In his place, Tyler O'Connor made his first collegiate start, and the junior did exactly what he was supposed to: manage the game and not turn the ball over.  For the most part he did all of that, even as his one turnover, a fumble, led to the Buckeyes’ first touchdown.

It was the Spartans’ defense, though, that was the story of the game — well, that any the lack of any type of cohesive game plan on OSU’s part.  The high-powered Buckeyes were held to a season-low 132 yards of offense; it was also the lowest total ever in head coach Urban Meyer‘s coaching career.  On a night when they passed for just a mere 43 yards, and could do nothing down the field, Heisman Trophy candidate Ezekiel Elliott ran the ball just 12 times.  Unbelievably, just three of those carries came in a second half in which the Buckeyes either led or were tied for all 30 minutes.

While much of the credit should go to the Spartans’ defense, Meyer will (rightly) have a lot of explaining to do for a plan that more closely resembled a game of blindfolded darts than anything else, especially for a game played in those conditions.

As for the playoff picture?  It doesn’t change it much if at all in that it seems highly likely the winner of the Big Ten championship game, whether it’s one-loss Michigan State or unbeaten Iowa, will still be a decided favorite to claim one of the spots in the two semifinals.  In fact, the only thing that really changed is, barring a significant turn of events, Ohio State won’t be getting the opportunity to defend its 2014 national championship.

Such is your lot in life, though, when you have a Porsche and you keep it parked for most of the race.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

Getty Images
2 Comments

LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

Getty Images
1 Comment

A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.