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No. 2 Ohio State clips No. 3 Michigan in overtime classic; waiting for Big Ten East continues

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No. 2 Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten) battled its way back from a double-digit lead in a game that saw Urban Meyer outcoached by Jim Harbaugh for much of the afternoon, and came away with a wild victory in double overtime that will be remembered for years to come. Ohio State’s double-overtime victory over No. 3 Michigan (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) moved Ohio State one step closer to an appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game next weekend, but the Buckeyes no longer control the fate of the division. Instead, the hopes of a Big Ten East Division crown rest in Happy Valley, where Penn State is taking on Michigan State.

Curtis Samuel ripped off a 15-yard walk-off touchdown run after Ohio State managed to survive by the slimmest of distances on a fourth down play. JT Barrett took the ball and ran for a hard-fought first down on a fourth and one play, down 27-23. Forward progress would come into play to help the Buckeyes stay alive, giving Samuel a chance to celebrate a wild win. And wild it most certainly was.

Barrett took the ball up the middle for a touchdown run on Ohio State’s first possession of overtime, but it was Michigan that would pull out the fourth down dramatics with the game on the line at the end of the first overtime. On fourth and goal, Wilton Speight connected with Amara Darboh in the back of the end zone to keep things going, with a successful PAT to tie the game and force a second overtime. The Wolverines struck first in the second overtime with a 37-yard field goal by Kenny Allen, which set up the situation for all the marbles and bragging rights for a year for the Buckeyes.

Special teams was a disaster for the Buckeyes all afternoon. Tyler Durbin missed two field goals, including a supposed chip shot in the fourth quarter that would have tied the game at 17-17. It missed wide left, just as a field goal try in the first half sailed on the opening offensive series for Ohio State. Punter Cameron Johnston was stopped well shy of a first down on a bizarre fourth-and-seven fake punt attempt from the Ohio state 19-yard line. Michigan’s offense took advantage of the short field position with a Khalid Hill touchdown pass from Wilton Speight five plays later, building a 10-point advantage (17-7) early in the third quarter.

Barrett ended the day with 124 passing yards and a game-high 125 rushing yards. Michigan was limited to 91 rushing yards as a team. Ohio State had just 81 yards of offense in the first half but ended the game with 330-310 advantage in total offense. For Michigan, turnovers were the difference, with three turnovers leading to 14 points, including a first half pick-six.

Special teams also cost Ohio State at the end of the first half. After Malik Hooker picked off a pass by Speight and returned it a short distance for Ohio State’s first score of the game, Jabrill Peppers returned the ensuing kick to the Michigan 45-yard line, giving the Wolverines great starting field position late in the first half to answer. They did just that with a well-run touchdown drive to turn a 7-3 deficit into a 10-7 halftime lead.

With the win, Ohio State now must wait to see how Penn State does against Michigan State this afternoon. If Penn State beats the Spartans, then the Nittany Lions will play for the Big Ten Championship thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker with Ohio State. That will conclude Ohio State’s regular season at 11-1, but the Buckeyes may still be in an excellent position to secure a College Football Playoff berth after entering this weekend ranked second behind Alabama. It is unlikely Ohio State will fall in the rankings and should feel good about their odds of being chosen for the playoffs even as a non-division champion. It would be the first time a non-division (and non-conference) champion would reach the College Football Playoff in its third year of operation.

Michigan should still be an attractive option in the New Years Six bowl line-up, perhaps for the Rose Bowl, but that may also depend on what happens with Penn State. Whatever happens, the Wolverines will be a very formidable foe for whomever they face in the bowl season. And who knows, maybe crazy things happen and Michigan sneaks right back into the playoff picture?

Alabama OC Steve Sarkisian has reportedly interviewed for Colorado opening

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Very late in the churning of the 2019-20 coaching carousel, Nick Saban could find himself with a significant opening on his Alabama Crimson Tide football coaching staff.  Maybe.

When Mel Tucker left for the Michigan State head job earlier this month, it triggered an unexpected coaching search at Colorado.  Current Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator and former Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy was immediately considered the front-runner, although it’s now expected that he’ll stay in the NFL.  Air Force’s Troy Calhoun has now taken that front-runner mantle in some corners — he interviewed for the CU job this week — while former Arkansas and Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema is in the mix as well.

Steve Sarkisian‘s name has been connected to the Colorado opening as well.  It was reported by CBS Sports that the Alabama Crimson Tide football assistant interviewed for the job Wednesday, with ESPN.com confirming that development Thursday morning.

Sarkisian, of course, has experience as a head coach in the Pac-12.  His unceremonious exit from his last job in the conference, though, could make him a hard sell to the Buff faithful.

In mid-October of 2015, USC announced that Sarkisian had been dismissed as the Trojans’ head football coach, one day after he was given an indefinite leave of absence because of alleged and ongoing alcohol issues.  It was alleged that USC had instituted a zero-tolerance policy when it came to Sarkisian and alcohol use.  Leading up to his dismissal, Sarkisian allegedly showed up to meetings intoxicated.

From 2009-15, Sarkisian was a head coach in the Pac-12 — at Washington (2009-13) and USC (2014-15).  He went 46-35 during his time in that league.  He also spent two separate stints totaling seven seasons (2001-03, 2005-08) as an assistant at USC.

Following his ugly exit from USC, Sarkisian joined the Alabama Crimson Tide football program as an offensive analyst for the 2016 season. When Lane Kiffin took the head job at FAU prior to the national championship game that year, Sarkisian served as the play-caller in the loss to Clemson.

Expected to take over as the Crimson Tide’s coordinator, and after reports that his relationship with Saban had deteriorated surfaced, Sarkisian instead left a month after the title game for a job in the NFL as the coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons.  Sarkisian lasted two years in that job before he was fired in December of 2018.

A month later, he rejoined the Tide as offensive coordinator.

Florida State DB A.J. Lytton ‘has been removed from the team’

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Florida State football has seen its roster pared as we dive deeper into the offseason.

Wednesday, 247Sports.com reported that A.J. Lytton is no longer consider a member of the Seminoles program.  A Florida State football official confirmed that the defensive back “has been removed from the team.”

No specific reason, including whether it was voluntary or involuntary, was given for Lytton’s removal.

A four-star 2018 signee, Lytton was rated as the No. 3 recruit regardless of position in the state of Maryland.  He was also the No. 7 cornerback in the country.  Only one signee in FSU’s class that year, fellow defensive back Jaiden Woodbey, was rated higher than Lytton.

Over two seasons, Lytton played in a total of 22 games.  A dozen of those appearances came during the 2019 campaign.  He started one of those appearances, with that lone start coming this past season.

With two-year starter Stanford Samuels III leaving the Seminoles early for the NFL, Lytton had been expected to compete for a starting corner job.

Lytton’s departure continues the expected Florida State football roster churn since Willie Taggart‘s firing and Mike Norvell‘s hiring.  Norvell will be taking over a program that has gone 11-14 the past two seasons.  That two-year stretch is the worst for the school since they went 8-14 in 1975-76.

Mel Tucker adds former Michigan State WR Courtney Hawkins as Spartans’ receivers coach

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As Michigan State football continues to brace itself for potential NCAA sanctions, its new head coach continues to build his first coaching staff.

Wednesday, Mel Tucker announced that Courtney Hawkins has been hired as his wide receivers coach.  The move to add Hawkins will certainly be a popular one for the fan base as the newest assistant played his college football at MSU.

From 1988-91, Hawkins was a wide receiver for the Spartans.  Twice, he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors during his time in East Lansing.

“Courtney Hawkins was a phenomenal player here at Michigan State who went on to have a very successful career in the NFL,” the new Michigan State football head coach said in a statement. “He’s shown tremendous leadership serving as both the athletic director and head football coach at Flint Beecher High School. I’m really excited to get him here on campus.”

Since 2006, Hawkins served as the head football coach and athletic director at his alma mater, Beecher High School, in Flint, Michigan.  That tenure followed a nine-year career as a wide receiver in the NFL.

This will, incidentally, serve as Hawkins’ first job of any kind at the collegiate level.

The hiring of Hawkins is the fourth officially announced by the Michigan State football program.

This past weekend, it was confirmed that Ron Burton and Mike Tressel would be retained.  Shortly thereafter, Chris Kapilovic officially followed Tucker to MSU from Colorado.

Kapilovic will serve as offensive line coach and running-game coordinator for Tucker.  Burton is expected to continue on as defensive line coach.  Tressel has spent the past 13 seasons with Michigan State football as assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

Ole Miss corner Deantre Prince enters transfer portal

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If you had Ole Miss football as next up for an early-morning portal post, collect your winnings at the door.

Wednesday, it was reported by multiple media outlets that Deantre Prince has decided to enter his name into the NCAA transfer database.  By entering the portal, Prince can be contacted by any other school without receiving permission from Ole Miss football.  He can also pull his name from the database and remain with the Rebels.

Conversely, the defensive back could have his scholarship pulled at the end of the semester in which he entered the portal.

Prince’s decision, incidentally, comes two months after Lane Kiffin took over as the head coach of Ole Miss football.

A three-star 2019 signee, Prince was rated as the No. 18 player regardless of position in the state of Mississippi.  As a true freshman, Prince played in all 12 games for the Rebels.

With two interceptions, Prince tied for the team lead in 2019.  He as also credited with 25 tackles and two pass breakups.

Barring something unexpected, Prince would have to sit out the 2020 season in order to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  Unless those NCAA bylaws are changed and he’s grandfathered in, of course.