WHO: No. 23 Pittsburgh (8-4) vs. Northwestern (6-6)
WHAT: The 7th NewEra Pinstripe Bowl
WHEN: 2:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Yankee Stadium, New York, NY
THE SKINNY: Pitt running back James Conner will play his final college football game before turning pro in the house that Derek Jeter built, Yankee Stadium. Conner has been one of the true inspirations in college football this season as he has overcome cancer to remain one of the top running backs in the nation. Connor rushed for over 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns as a key cog in Pitt’s potent offense. How much they can keep that going in the bowl season will be something to watch after losing offensive coordinator Matt Canada to LSU to be a part of Ed Oregon’s coaching staff in Baton Rouge.
Pitt had the second-highest scoring offense in the ACC this season behind Louisville, with 42.3 points per game, highlighted by a road victory over ACC champion and No. 2 Clemson, an early-season victory over eventual Big Ten champion Penn State, and scoring at least 36 points in all but one game since the season opener. The defense, however, has been the polar opposite of the Pitt offense, giving up at least 30 points in all but two games this season. The season ended by giving up 61 points to Syracuse, although the Panthers managed to get the win.
Northwestern’s offense could struggle to keep up the scoring pace Pitt has been accustomed this season, although the Wildcats have some talent on offense to cause problems for Pitt’s defense. Justin Jackson ended the regular season as the Big Ten’s rushing leader with 1,300 yards (eclipsed only by Wisconsin’s Corey Clement with the benefit of the Big Ten championship game). Jackson averages 108.33 rushing yards per game. The Wildcats also have the Big Ten’s leading receiver, Austin Carr, the only 1,000-yard receiver in the Big Ten this season (84 receptions, 1,196 yards, 12 touchdowns all lead the Big Ten).
The Pinstripe Bowl has packed some fun games the last two years since the ACC and Big Ten paired up for the game. Penn State clipped Boston College in overtime (31-30) two seasons ago and Duke edged Indiana in overtime (44-41) last December. Expect some good offensive fireworks between the Panthers and Wildcats, and another one going the distance.
THE PREDICTION: Pitt 52, Northwestern 46
Wisconsin’s passing game has taken hit, although it remains to be seen how long its effects will linger.
On his personal Twitter account Saturday night, Quintez Cephus announced that he has been “forced to take a leave of absence from the team in order to focus all of my attention on clearing my name.” In his social media statement, the wide receiver stated he was informed by his lawyers Friday afternoon that the Dane County (WI) District Attorney’s office will pursue unspecified charges against him for an incident that occurred back in April of this year.
“I have been wrongfully accused of unlawful conduct and I am innocent of any allegations associated with this consensual relationship,” Cephus wrote, adding that the pending charges are the result of a three-month investigation.
No details of what led to this situation have been divulged.
While UW has yet to publicly address the development, they are expected to release a statement on the situation in the not-too-distant future.
Last season, Cephus led the run-centric Badgers in receiving touchdowns with six and yards per catch at 16.7. His 501 receiving yards were good for second, while his 30 receptions were third on the team.
In April of last year, Cephus’ father was murdered after being shot in the head execution-style.
One of the crown jewels of Georgia’s top-ranked 2018 recruiting class will have to bounce back from a significant injury yet again.
Kirby Smart confirmed Saturday that Zamir White suffered an injury to his left knee during the second scrimmage of summer camp earlier in the day. The non-contact injury occurred when the true freshman was taking part in punt coverage.
While the head coach didn’t initially know the extent of the injury, a subsequent MRI revealed that White sustained a torn ACL in the left knee. The school has not yet confirmed the Athens Banner-Herald‘s initial report.
White suffered a torn ACL last November during his North Carolina high school team’s playoff run, but had been given the all-clear medically to fully participate in practice. That ACL injury, incidentally, was in his right knee.
A consensus five-star signee, White was the No. 1 running back on 247Sports.com‘s composite board and was the No. 9 player overall. Only one member of the Bulldogs’ class this year, quarterback Justin Fields, was rated higher than White.
White had been expected to help replace the production lost with the departures of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to the NFL.
It’s still mid-August, but Nick Saban‘s already in rare form when it comes to dealing with the media.
Saturday. it was confirmed that backup linebacker Chris Allen will be lost for the entire 2018 season because of a serious knee injury. Additionally, offensive tackle Matt Womack, who underwent surgery Friday after reinjuring his foot, will miss 4-6 weeks.
Following today’s scrimmage, Saban became agitated when he was asked by a member of the media about his level of concern with the mini-spate of reserve players going down with injuries. From al.com:
I’ve been concerned all along,” Saban said. “So, I don’t even know why you’d ask the question.”
And then things really got rolling.
“Because you all don’t, you just think we just, whatever happens, we just s**t another player and everything is going to be perfect. All of our fans think that. You all think that. That’s what you write about. That’s the message you send out there.
For the record, Saban has shat quite well on the recruiting trail over the last decade:
2018: Fifth in 247Sports.com‘s composite rankings
In that span, Saban has signed 41 five-star recruits and another 146 who were four-stars.
And the Class of 2019? Saban is getting s**t done yet again as the Crimson Tide is currently ranked No. 2 behind Georgia.
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy had a nice throwback look last season with a mullet that took the college football world by storm. Sadly, the party in the back is no more.
As seen in a recent video from Oklahoma State camp, Gundy’s hair is noticeably shorter in the back, although there may still be a foundation for an eventual mullet to make a return as the season progresses.
Here’s hoping Gundy decides to not get a haircut again until the Cowboys lose a game this season. Aside from a possible threat from Boise State in Stillwater early on in the season, there is a chance Oklahoma State could string together a good number of wins heading into November. That would give Gundy plenty of time to let that party animal grow out a little more.
Helmet sticker to Reddit.