Freshman kicker Quinn Nordin kicked a school-record five field goals to help No. 7 Michigan (3-0) overcome red zone deficiencies in a hard-fought 29-13 victory against Air Force (1-1) Saturday afternoon in Michigan Stadium.
For the third straight week, Michigan’s offense continued to sputter at best, leaving some questions for the Wolverines as they prepare to enter Big Ten play next week. Michigan managed to score just one touchdown against the Falcons, and the Wolverines really showed some warts trying to move the ball. Give Air Force credit for the defensive effort they presented, but Michigan only converted three of 11 third-down attempts and was unable to score a touchdown on any of their four red zone trips. It may not have cost Michigan a win today, but at some point, that trend cannot continue if the Wolverines are going to make a run for the Big Ten championship this fall.
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight was never pulled from the game, but his day was far from impressive as the leader of a Michigan offense still trying to find itself three weeks into the season. Play calling lacked creativity at times as well, but that just means there is room for improvement for Jim Harbaugh and his squad. Fortunately for Michigan, they have a kicker who continues to be automatic from any distance early on and the defense continues to rise to the occasion.
Air Force did find something to work with in the second half as they worked to tire down Michigan’s defense using their trademark option attack, but the Wolverines proved to have the decisive edge anytime Air Force tried to mix things up using their speed. Michigan was just faster. On a fourth-quarter drive, with Air Force trailing 22-13, a promising drive was thwarted when the Falcons tried running Timothy McVey to the right side. The Wolverines gobbled him up behind the line of scrimmage inside the red zone and Air Force kicker Luke Strebel sailed a field goal attempt wide left. Air Force probably needed to get a touchdown on the drive anyway, but the missed field goal midway through the fourth quarter felt like a near knockout blow for an Air Force offense not known for quick drives.
Michigan now enters Big Ten play looking to finish what they failed to do a year ago; win the Big Ten East Division, and perhaps the Big Ten championship. The defense is locked in for the job. Next week, the Wolverines head to Purdue to take on a Boilermaker team that has looked like a new program this season under new head coach Jeff Brohm. Purdue is playing at Missouri today and has already pushed Louisville into the fourth quarter. Can Michigan avoid an upset next week?
Air Force will return home for a big Mountain West Conference game against San Diego State. The Aztecs will be coming off a home game against Stanford.
Unfortunately, Cal’s worst injury fears have been realized yet again.
In the Bears’ season-opening win over North Carolina, Cameron Goode sustained what’s only been described as an unspecified lower-leg injury. The redshirt sophomore linebacker did not play in the past two games because of the injury and won’t play again this season, Justin Wilcox confirmed Wednesday.
“I really feel for him because he puts a lot into football,” the head coach said. “He’ll go through that window of not being able to play this year. It’s a pretty short window, then he’ll start working on what’s next.”
It’s expected Goode will be fully recovered by the start of spring practice.
This marks the second-straight season his year has ended prematurely because of injury. Last year, he started the first nine games before being sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Goode had returned an interception for a touchdown in the opener before going down with the leg injury. He also returned a pick for a score last season in the win over Ole Miss.
There’s incredibly sad news coming out of the Minnesota football program Thursday afternoon.
In an absolutely heartbreaking missive posted to Twitter, Chuck Connelly, the father of former Minnesota offensive lineman Nick Connelly, revealed that his son lost his three-month battle with cancer Wednesday. Or, as the elder Connelly put it, “[o]n Wednesday Sept. 19, 2018 Heaven needed a right tackle and Nick Connelly got the call.”
Connelly was just 22 years old.
The younger Connelly was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma in June of this year. A very rare form of cancer — WebMD states just that just 1,200 cases are diagnosed annually in the United States, with nearly 60 percent of those coming in patients over the age of 40 — and is recognized as the fastest growing human tumor.
In late October of last year, Connelly, who had started the first five games of the 2017 season at right tackle for the Gophers, announced that he was retiring from football because of the effects of multiple concussions.
Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to Connelly’s family, friends and former teammates for their loss.
Another day, another FBS player has made an in-season move away from their now-former program.
Marquez Trigg wrote on his personal Twitter account this week that he has decided to transfer from Western Kentucky. “I will graduate in December and transfer to pursue other opportunities for my 5th year of college football,” the running back wrote.
While the redshirt junior gave no specific reason for the departure, a steep drop in opportunities this season likely played a significant role.
After taking a redshirt as a true freshman in 2015, Trigg ran for 465 yards combined in 2016 (298) and 2017 (167) on 122 carries. This season, his nine carries in three games netted him just 12 yards.
Trigg totaled four rushing touchdowns during his time with the Hilltoppers, two each during the last two seasons. He also caught 12 passes for 59 yards out of the backfield last season.
With a key road trip to Happy Valley looming, this isn’t the news Ohio State or its fans wanted to hear.
During his return to his weekly radio show Thursday, Urban Meyer confirmed that Nick Bosa underwent surgery because of what the head coach described as a “core muscle injury.” The standout defensive end suffered the injury, believed to be either a groin or abdominal issue, in the Week 3 win over TCU.
The brother of Joey Bosa had already been ruled out of the Week 4 game against Tulane, and there’s no timeline for a return.
While Bosa, one of the top defensive linemen in the nation and a likely Top Five pick in the 2019 NFL draft, won’t be missed this weekend, the same can’t be said for No. 4 OSU’s Week 5 matchup against No. 10 Penn State.
As far as replacing Bosa in the short-term, the Columbus Dispatch wrote that, per Meyer, “Jonathon Cooper and Chase Young are expected to start at defensive end on Saturday against Tulane.” The head coach also “mentioned freshmen Tyreke Smith and Tyler Friday as players who could see increased action” because Bosa is sidelined.