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In surviving Northwestern, Urban Meyer passes Bob Stoops for most wins in first 15 years as coach

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It came a week later than expected, and was hardly easy, but Urban Meyer added another line to what will ultimately be a Hall of Fame résumé.

Coming off the upset loss to Penn State in Week 8, sixth-ranked Ohio State bounced back with a hard-fought 24-20 Week 9 win over stubborn Northwestern in Columbus. The Wildcats, who exit the game at 4-4, entered it as a nearly four-touchdown underdog and were looking for their first road win over the Buckeyes since 1971 and their first over the same team since 2004.

The Buckeyes jumped out to a 10-0 lead through the first quarter, only to see the Wildcats tie the game at 17-all in the third quarter.  A Curtis Samuel four-yard run with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game gave the Buckeyes the lead.  The Wildcats drove to the OSU three-yard line on the ensuing drive, but a pair of negative plays, including a backbreaking holding penalty, forced a field goal that cut the lead to four.

A J.T. Barrett pass for 16 yards to Noah Brown on third-and-8 and then a Barrett 35-yard run on third-and-10 helped bleed the clock as the Wildcats couldn’t get the ball back as the Buckeyes ran out the clock.

Barrett and the Buckeyes again struggled in the passing game, especially downfield, as Barrett’s 32 completions resulted in just 223 yards. OSU added 208 yards on the ground, with Mike Weber accounting for a game-high 87 of those.

The win officially marks the 161st win of Meyer’s stellar career, pushing him past Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops (160) for the most victories in the first 15 seasons as a head coach. Stoops had passed both Barry Switzer of Oklahoma (148) and Tom Osborne of Nebraska (147) a couple of years ago.

Of those wins, 57 have come at OSU while he picked up 65 at Florida. He also had 22 in two seasons at Utah and 17 in his two years at Bowling Green to start his head coaching career.

Meyer’s career winning percentage of .852 (161-28) is the best of any current head coach with at least 10 years of experience. All-time at the FBS level, he trails only a Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne (.881, 105-12-5), ND/Boston College’s Frank Leahy (.864, 107-13-9) and Bowling Green’s Doyt Perry (.855, 77-11-5). The all-time leader at any level? Mount Union’s Larry Kehres with just 24 losses and three ties in 359 games (.929) over 27 seasons at the Div. III power.

The only current head coach, with at least a decade of experience, in Meyer’s percentage area code is Washington’s Chris Petersen at .826 (114-24). Alabama’s Nick Saban is fourth in that category, behind Meyer, Petersen and Stoops (.792, 183-48).

And the worst in this particular area? Doug Martin, who has a career winning percentage of .304 as he has just 38 wins in 125 career games during his 11 years as head coach at both Kent State and his current job, New Mexico State.

RB who transferred from UTEP to Georgia Southern this offseason reverses course, returns to Miners

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Who says you can’t go home again, even in the same offseason?

Joshua Fields left UTEP earlier this offseason and, in June of this year, enrolled in classes at Georgia Southern as he was set to continue his collegiate playing career with the Eagles. It was also reported that the running back would seek a waiver from the NCAA that would grant him immediate eligibility at the Sun Belt Conference school.

Fast-forward two months, though, and it’s now being reported that Fields has decided to reverse course and return to the Miners. That development came a couple of days after the Eagles confirmed in a statement that Fields was no longer a part of the program.

Joshua left the team early in camp. We wish him the best of luck moving forward.

According to the El Paso Times, Fields initially left the Miners because of a family member’s health issue, “but those circumstances changed and now he is back with his family in El Paso.” The Times also reports that Fields should be eligible to play for UTEP this season, presumably because he never attended classes at GSU despite enrolling at the university.

Clarification on his status could come as early as Thursday.

In 2017, Fields’ 362 yards rushing (on 89 carries) were tops on the Miners. According to the school at the time, Fields was the first true freshman to lead the team in rushing since 2013.

This past season, however, Fields’ production dipped to 57 yards on 31 attempts, which works out to just 1.8 yards per carry. That yards-per-attempt figure was the lowest among all FBS running backs with at least 30 carries last year.

Braden White named prestigious 12th Man at Texas A&M

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The 12th Man is a big, big deal at Texas A&M. In fact, it’s pretty much the brand of not just the football program, but the entire athletics department. Case in point, A&M’s athletics department website is 12thman.com.

For the uninitiated, in 1922 the Aggies found themselves short of players in a football game against Center College, the No. 1 team in the country at the time, after multiple players sustained injuries over the course of the game. Down to just 11 players, A&M student E. King Gill volunteered to suit up and stand on the sidelines in case the team needed him. Gill now has a statue outside of Kyle Field, and A&M’s student section is collectively referred to as the 12th Man.

As such, it’s a tremendous honor for an active Aggie player to be awarded the No. 12 and, after fullback Cullen Gillaspia donned the jersey for a record-tying 39 games, it’s time to hand it off to a new player.

On Tuesday, Jimbo Fisher awarded the No. 12 jersey to Braden White, a walk-on linebacker from Florence, Ala.

“I’m honored just to be able to represent this great university and everything about it,” White said. “It’s a true blessing.”

White is a redshirt junior who has checked all the boxes of a player who checks all the 12th Man boxes. He was named Defensive Scout Team MVP during his redshirt year of 2016 and was honored as the Top Conditioned Athlete at the Aggies’ 2018 team banquet. He has appeared in 18 career games, recording 16 career tackles playing primarily as a special teams contributor.

White will wear No. 12 for the first time next when Texas A&M — ranked, ironically, No. 12 in the preseason AP poll — hosts Texas State next Thursday night (8:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network).

UConn begins building out independent schedules with BC home-and-home

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Until they tell us otherwise, Connecticut is going to try to make it as an FBS independent. This upcoming season will be the Huskies’ final one as a member of the American Athletic Conference, as the Huskies’ Olympic sports will return to the Big East and the football team will go it alone.

This will require lots (and lots and lots) of scheduling work, and quickly. As of now, the Huskies have four games on the schedule for a season that begins 12 months from now.

While it does nothing to help the 2020 slate, UConn began chipping away at the mountain in front of it on Wednesday by announcing a home-and-home with Boston College. The first game will be Oct. 29, 2022 in Storrs, with the return game going down Oct. 28, 2023 in Chestnut Hill.

The two programs have met 14 times previously; BC leads the series 12-0-2. The Eagles took the most recent meeting 39-16 in 2017.

Additionally, BC announced a 2023-28 home-and-home with Army and a Sept. 9, 2023 home game with Holy Cross.

Safety graduate transfers from Penn State to Pitt

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Penn State safety Johnny Petrishen has left State College for Pittsburgh, where he is now a Panther.

Petrishen announced the transfer on Tuesday evening, and Pitt confirmed his addition on Wednesday morning.

Petrishen has two years of eligibility remaining thanks — if you want to use that term — to two medical redshirts.

A Lower Burrell, Pa., native, Petrishen appeared in 17 career games as a Nittany Lion, including all 13 last season. Primarily a special teams player, he posted eight career tackles and one TFL in State College.