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Justin Jackson’s career day helps Northwestern nip No. 23 Pitt in Pinstripe Bowl

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If you’re a fan of Northwestern football, go ahead and send all of your thank you notes and/or cards to Justin Jackson, c/o NU athletics.  Although, you could save some for the secondary as well.

Thanks in very large part to Jackson’s career day, Northwestern (7-6) was able to hold off No. 23 Pittsburgh (8-5) and stake its claim to the 7th annual New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium with a 31-24 win.  The victory was the Wildcats’ first in a bowl game since 2012 and just the third ever since the program was established in 1892.

And, again, thanks be to Jackson.  The junior running back gashed the Panthers defense for 224 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries.  His previous career-high was 188, set in a mid-October win over Michigan State earlier this season.

Jackson was part of a back-and-forth second half, with the lead changing hands four times in the last two quarters after the Wildcats had taken a 14-10 lead into the halftime locker room.  What turned out to be the final lead change didn’t involve Jackson, though, as Clayton Thorson connected with Garrett Dickerson for a 21-yard touchdown pass on a fourth and one with 8:23 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Panthers a four-point lead.

On the first play of the ensuing possession, Quadree Henderson, playing in pace of the injured James Conner, fumbled the ball back to the Wildcats at the Panthers’ 27-yard line; four plays later, a Jack Mitchell 37-yard field goal extended the lead to seven.

Pitt’s second-to-last chance to tie the game nearly ended in a touchdown but for a tremendous defensive play in the end zone and instead came to a halt on an interception tossed by Ben DiNucci, who prior to this game had never attempted a pass at the collegiate level.  The redshirt freshman was in the game because starter Nathan Peterman sustained a third-quarter head injury and didn’t return.  Conner suffered the same fate on the same type of injury in the same quarter.

Another DiNucci interception with 1:22 left sealed the Panthers’ third consecutive bowl loss.  The 24 points were the fewest for a Pitt offense this season that came into the game 11th in the country in scoring at 42.3 points per game.

Interestingly, with Pitt’s loss, ranked teams are off to an 0-3 start to the bowl season.  The Big Ten is 2-1 this postseason, while the ACC suffered its first loss after winning its first three.

Zach Smith pleads guilty to disorderly conduct, accepts three-year protection order

NCAA FOOTBALL: AUG 16 Ohio State Media Day
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The criminal case that sent the Ohio State football program and its head coach hurtling into controversy this offseason has come to an end.

According to court documents, former OSU assistant Zach Smith has pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.  Smith had been cited for criminal trespassing in May; in exchange for his plea agreement, that charge was dropped.

The Delaware County (OH) judge overseeing the case ordered Smith to pay $289 in fines and court fees.  Additionally, Smith’s ex-wife, Courtney Smith, received a three-year protection order against his ex-husband.  On Twitter, however, and continuing his social media beef with college football reporter Brett McMurphy, Zach Smith took issue with his ex-wife being “awarded” a protection order, writing that he “REQUESTED the Mutual Order for LIFE” but was advised by his legal team “to just do a 3-year (protection order).”

“AND I pled ‘guilty’ to a minor misdemeanor to avoid the cost of a trial because they wanted to end this,” Smith added.

In mid-July, reports surfaced that showed Zach Smith had been cited for criminal trespassing in May of this year in connection to an alleged domestic incident involving his ex-wife.  Not long after, other reports that Smith had physically abused his ex-wife helped lead to the Buckeyes firing him as OSU’s wide receivers coach on July 23.

As he has done repeatedly, Smith again denied every abusing his ex-wife.

“As I have stated from day one, I was falsely accused of very serious allegations that should not be taken lightly,” Smith wrote in a lengthy statement posted to Twitter Tuesday evening. “Domestic Violence is a horrific crime and as a father to two beautiful daughters of whom I adore, I have been destroyed over the public perception and media’s spin on things that came out. …

“This practice of ruining a human being and their family before truths can come out is archaic and directly opposed to how the judicial process is designed to work.”

Courtney Smith had claimed in interviews that Urban Meyer was aware of the allegations of domestic abuse, which dated back to when Meyer and Zach Smith were at Florida.  The head coach had initially denied he knew of incidents of abuse in 2015, although he subsequently clarified that he had “failed” to be “completely accurate” when confronted with questions at the Big Ten Media Days in late July.

As part of the fallout from the domestic situation, Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave in early August as questions into his handling of domestic abuse allegations made against his now-former assistant coach surfaced.  The university launched an investigation into Meyer’s actions and, as a result of that investigation, the coach was suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season.

Zach Smith has never been convicted of domestic violence.  Courtney Smith’s mother had previously gone on the record to state that she doesn’t believe her ex-son-in-law every intentionally abused her daughter.

Texas Tech QB Alan Bowman cleared to fly to Red Raiders’ game at Iowa State

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Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman missed the better part of the Red Raiders’ loss to West Virginia and all of their win over TCU after dealing with a partially collapsed lung suffered during the WVU game. While he did not play in the TCU game, he was in attendance, though in an unusual way. While the team flew from Lubbock to Fort Worth, Bowman had to make the 5-ish hour drive to Cowtown and back since he was not cleared to fly.

He returned to the lineup Saturday for the Red Raiders’ home game with Kansas. The freshman diced the Jayhawks to the tune of 36-of-46 passing for 408 yards with three touchdowns against one interception in a 48-16 blowout win. His return brings a much-needed second dimension to the Texas Tech attack, bolstering the Red Raiders’ status as a Big 12 dark horse contender over the last five weeks of the regular season.

But one key question remained: could he fly?

The answer is yes, head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday. Texas Tech visits Iowa State on Saturday, and Kingsbury confirmed his freshman quarterback will make the trip.

“We bussed him to the TCU game, but he was cleared after that,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said, via the Dallas Morning News.

Texas Tech (5-2, 3-1 Big 12) visits Iowa State and its freshman phenom quarterback Brock Purdy (572 yards, seven touchdowns in two games) in a must-win game. The Red Raiders host No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 6 Texas in the two games following the trip to Ames. Win those, and Kansas State and Baylor will be the only things standing between the Texas Tech and the Big 12 Championship.

BC RB A.J. Dillon on track to return to lineup vs. Miami

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Boston College running back A.J. Dillon has missed the Eagles’ last two games, but it’s all systems go for the club’s next game.

Head coach Steve Addazio said Tuesday Dillon should be back in the lineup when BC hosts Miami on Friday. He participated in practice on Tuesday.

“He looked really good and I would say barring anything popping here I think he’ll be ready to roll,” Addazio told the Boston Herald. “It’s been a slow steady process and I think the last two days have been his real matriculation back into normal practice.

“It was a little bit slow (Monday) and little bit more today and it will be full tomorrow.”

The action will be Dillon’s first in a month. He rolled up 106 carries for 652 yards and six touchdowns before exiting the Eagles’ Sept. 29 win over Temple after rolling his ankle.

The leading ACC rusher at the time of his injury, Dillon rushed for 149 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Holy Cross and 185 yards and a score in a 41-34 win at Wake Forest on Sept. 13.

Dillon missed the Eagles’ last two games, a 28-23 loss to No. 22 NC State and a 38-20 win over Louisville.

 

LSU fans to fund ‘Free Devin White’ billboards around SEC offices

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Devin White will miss the first half of No. 4 LSU’s date with No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 3 (8 p.m. ET, CBS). The SEC confirmed as much on Tuesday, and Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron has conceded the fact.

“Discussions with the SEC made clear there is no process for appeal,” LSU senior associate athletic director Robert Munson told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “The suspension will stand.”

Though the administration has accepted White will miss the first two quarters, the fans have not.

A GoFundMe campaign launched Monday has now surpassed its goal of $4,150 to place two “Free Devin White” billboards in the Birmingham metro areas, which holds the SEC offices. As of this writing, the campaign had amassed $6,130.

Reads the campaign, started by LSU fan Edward H.:

We’re putting up a billboard for two weeks in Birmingham, AL, the home of SEC headquarters, to let them know it’s time to #FreeDevinWhite.

A downtown Birmingham billboard will cost $2305.

An I-65 billboard will cost $1845.

We’ll fund as many billboards as possible, with any excess funding going as a donation toward the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, in honor of Devin’s love of horses.  

That’s a Geaux Tigers.

White was ejected for targeting during the fourth quarter of the Tigers’ 19-3 win over Mississippi State over a targeting call that is ticky-tack at best.

LSU’s fervor — I read one post on Tiger Droppings on Sunday that polled whether the White suspension should be a catalyst for LSU to leave the SEC — is indicative of how devastating to the Tigers’ chances it will be to play without White for the first half. The linebacker is easily LSU’s leading tackler with 76 stops.

Alabama’s offense averages 38.8 points per game… by halftime.