Western Kentucky (10-3) became the second program in Conference USA history to win back-to-back conference championship games on Saturday with a wild offensive shootout against Louisiana Tech (8-5), 58-44. Hilltoppers quarterback Mike White passed for 403 yards and four touchdowns and Anthony Wales led things on the ground with 194 rushing yards and three scores to push the home team past the Bulldogs.
Offenses for both teams were locked in from the start, with over 1,100 combined yards of offense. Louisiana Tech quarterback Ryan Higgins passed for 507 yards and three touchdowns, but Western Kentucky used a more balanced approach and had an advantage on the ground to help overcome three turnover sin the game. Wales carried the football 35 times for Western Kentucky and was a workhorse for them from start to finish, with the final touchdown of the game ultimately delivering the knockout punch to Louisiana Tech, who would throw an interception on their final possession.
With 102 combined points, Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech set a new combined points record for an FBS conference championship game. The previous record was 101 points, which was done twice. Wisconsin and Nebraska scored 101 point sin the 2012 Big Ten championship game (won by Wisconsin, 70-31) and Auburn and Missouri matched that point total the following season in the SEC Championship Game (won by Auburn, 59-42).
Coming into the game, Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz made it a point to say his team could not give up big plays if they were to get a win. Needless to say, that did not work out in his favor in this one.
The last time a school won back-to-back Conference USA championships was in 2008 and 2009 when East Carolina won consecutive titles. Perhaps in a bit of irony, Holtz was the coach of those ECU teams.
The future of the Western Kentucky program will be something to keep a close eye on. Head coach Jeff Brohm has been linked to various coaching rumors, most noticeably with the Purdue vacancy in the Big Ten. He has certainly proven worthy of being a hot name in the coaching carousel after coaching Western Kentucky to back-too-back 10-win seasons for the first time in program history.
For now, bowl destinations will have to be settled.
One member of the Arkansas football Class of 2020 has more to worry about than the start of his collegiate playing career.
According to the Saline County (Ark.) Sheriff’s Office, Catrell Wallace was arrested Monday morning on one count each of second-degree sexual assault and tampering. Both of those charges are felonies. The Arkansas football signee had turned himself in after a warrant had been issued for his arrest.
The alleged assault took place on New Year’s Day this year. Wallace was 18 at the time. The alleged victim was 12.
“Although it appears to have been a consensual encounter, BNPD detectives were able to determine that Wallace had reason to believe the victim was underage at the time of the crime,” a portion of a statement from the Benton (Ark.) Police Department read. “It was also noted that Wallace instructed witnesses to lie about the crime in an effort to conceal it.”
Sam Pittman, the first-year Arkansas football head coach, said in a statement that his program is aware of the off-field situation.
“We are aware of the serious allegations involving Catrell Wallace,” said Pittman. “We are gathering information and [are] in contact with the proper authorities regarding the situation. Once we have additional information, we will make a determination on his status with our program.”
Wallace was a three-star 2020 prospect who signed with Arkansas football this past December. The linebacker was the No. 6 recruit regardless of position in the state of Arkansas. Only one linebacker in the Razorbacks’ class was rated higher than Wallace.
The pause button has been hit on the recent Michigan football tradition stared under Jim Harbaugh.
In 2017, Harbaugh and the Wolverines traveled to Italy as part of its spring football practice. The following year, the program went to France. This past year, it was South Africa that was the program’s spring destination.
This year, Michigan football had been expected to take another trip abroad. That destination had yet to be determined. As it turns out, a determination won’t be necessary as, due to fears over the coronavirus outbreak, U-M has decided to nix its 2020 plans for the team to travel abroad.
“The football team will not be taking an international trip this spring due to the health concerns around the world, most notably coronavirus,” a Michigan football spokesperson stated. “In lieu of traveling abroad, as the team has done the last three years, the players are expected to participate in community projects in the Ann Arbor area,” the Detroit Free Press wrote.
And for those unfamiliar with the coronavirus? From NBC News:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that there have been two cases of person-to-person transmission in the U.S., and that the virus can be spread via respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The CDC says on its website that the virus is not currently spreading in the U.S.
The majority of deaths linked to COVID-19 have been in mainland China, where the outbreak began. There have been 12 deaths in Iran, eight in South Korea, seven in Italy, and others elsewhere, according to public health officials.
In mainland China, the national health commission on Tuesday morning local time reported a total of 2,663 deaths linked to COVID-19.
The epicenter of the outbreak has been in Hubei Province, where the city of Wuhan is located. There have been more than 77,600 confirmed cases in mainland China, according to the national health commission.
When it came to a member of the Indiana Hoosiers football program, this was an expected next step.
Late Saturday night, Peyton Hendershot was arrested on multiple charges in connection to an alleged domestic violence incident. The tight end is facing one count each of residential entry, domestic battery, criminal mischief and criminal conversion. The residential entry charge is a felony; the other three are misdemeanors.
Sunday, the Indiana Hoosiers football program issued the following statement:
Indiana University Athletics is aware of the arrest of redshirt sophomore Peyton Hendershot. IU Athletics will continue to gather facts, cooperate with and monitor the legal and administrative processes, and take further action as the evolving situation warrants.
A day later, the Indiana Hoosiers football program issued an updated statement in which it was confirmed that Hendershot has been indefinitely suspended.
Indiana University Head Football Coach Tom Allen has suspended redshirt sophomore Peyton Hendershot immediately and indefinitely from all team activities. He will continue to evaluate the situation pending further developments.
It should be noted that Hendershot was expected to miss spring practice because of injury issues prior to his off-field situation.
Hendershot was a three-star member of the Class of 2017 for Indiana Hoosiers football. An injury his true freshman season allowed the Indiana native to take a redshirt. In 2018, Hendershot started 10 games, catching 15 passes for 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
This past season, Hendershot set a school record for tight ends by catching 52 passes for 622 yards. After starting all 13 games, Hendershot was named third-team All-Big Ten.
Not surprisingly, it will continue to pay to be the Ohio State football head coach.
Tuesday morning, OSU announced it has agreed to a three-year extension for Ryan Day. The coach is now signed through the 2026 season.
It should be noted that the agreement is pending approval by the Ohio State University Board of Trustees.
According to the school, Day will make $5.375 million from Feb. 1, 2020 through Jan. 31, 2021. Additionally, OSU will make an employer contribution of $1 million to his retirement continuation plan on Dec. 31, 2020. Day will then make $6.5 million in 2021 and $7.6 million in 2022.
“Increases to his compensation package after Feb. 1, 2023 will be determined by the director of athletics and approved by the Board of Trustees,” the school wrote.
In 2019, Day’s $4.5 million in guaranteed compensation was seventh in the Big Ten and 22nd nationally.
“Ryan Day’s management of this football program, from mentoring and leading our student-athletes in their academic pursuits and off-field endeavors to coaching them on the playing field, has been exceptional,” Senior Vice President and Wolfe Foundation Endowed Athletics Director Gene Smith said. “I am appreciative of his work. And I want to thank President Michael V. Drake for his leadership and the Board of Trustees for its work with this extension.”
In his first full season as the Ohio State football head coach, Day guided the Buckeyes to a 13-1 record. After winning the Big Ten title, Day became the first OSU coach in four decades to be named as the Big Ten Coach of the Year. Ohio State football also returned to the playoffs for the third time in six seasons.
Day is actually 16-1 as a head coach. With Urban Meyer suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season, the Buckeyes went 3-0 with Day as the acting head coach.