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Pitt, Nebraska (and LSU?) among power conference teams with uphill battle to bowl season

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We are getting close to the end of September, which is the time I start taking a look at the challenges some teams will face just to get to a bowl game at the end of the year. Scanning the power conferences, there are a number of programs already on the verge of facing a bowl-less season, some more obvious than others.

Florida State starting the season 0-2 certainly looks to be in some trouble considering the Seminoles still have game sot play against Clemson and Louisville and Miami, in addition to a non-conference game against Florida at the end of the season. But I still think FSU manages to scratch together six wins by the end of the season, so I see no reason to push a panic button there just yet. But there are some ACC schools entering some rough territory.

In putting together this list, I avoided the usual suspects like Kansas and Purdue (wait, they may actually go this year) and instead focused on teams that can generally be counted on to be involved in a bowl game somewhere. I found three teams that have dug a rough hole, two who could face a difficult conference slate, and one that is two games above .500 but could stumble down the stretch. Here they are, in no particular order.

Here they are, in no particular order.

PITTSBURGH (1-3)
Wins needed: 5
Remaining schedule:

  • RICE
  • at Syracuse
  • NC STATE
  • at Duke
  • VIRGINIA
  • UNC
  • at Virginia Tech
  • MIAMI

The Panthers defense continues to get lit up by opponents and after going 1-3 to start the year the Panthers are now facing quite an uphill battle just to get to the postseason. Pit still has a scheduled back-loaded with a road game at Virginia Tech and a home game against Miami, but before that the Panthers will host an NC State team that just won in Tallahassee and a Virginia team that may be improving if a road trip to Boise State is any indication. A road trip to Duke is no walk in the park and even Syracuse just gave LSU a mild scare in Baton Rouge.

NORTH CAROLINA (1-3)
Wins needed: 5
Remaining schedule:

  • at Georgia Tech
  • NOTRE DAME
  • VIRGINIA
  • at Virginia Tech
  • MIAMI
  • at Pittsburgh
  • WESTERN CAROLINA
  • at NC State

If the Panthers have an uphill battle, then the Tar Heels may be scaling a mountain with their remaining schedule. UNC has to play on the road against Virginia Tech and equally desperate Pitt, and they also are on the road against Georgia Tech this week before hosting Notre Dame next week. Ending the season in Raleigh is tricky too. Like Pitt, the question is what five games on the remaining schedule can Tar Heel fans place much faith in going their way to go bowling this season?

TEXAS (1-2)
Wins needed: 5
Remaining schedule:

  • at Iowa State
  • KANSAS STATE
  • Oklahoma
  • OKLAHOMA STATE
  • at Baylor
  • at TCU
  • KANSAS
  • at West Virginia
  • TEXAS TECH

The Longhorns were off this week to regroup a bit after a hard-fought loss on the road against USC, but can Tom Herman find five wins in Big 12 play? Texas will obviously have to battle Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weeks, and now a road trip to TCU looks to be a little extra challenging, as does a late season road trip to Morgantown. And don’t forget about Kansas, because, well, you know. Picking up five wins in Big 12 play seems attainable, but there is a very slim margin for error.

NEBRASKA (2-2)
Wins needed: 4
Remaining schedule:

  • at Illinois
  • WISCONSIN
  • OHIO STATE
  • at Purdue
  • NORTHWESTERN
  • at Minnesota
  • at Penn State
  • IOWA

The Cornhuskers only need four games, but this is a team that lost at home against NIU and struggled against Rutgers in back-to-back weeks, and the crossover conference schedule does Nebraska no favors with Ohio State and Penn State appearing on the schedule that already includes division games with Wisconsin and Iowa. And this road game at Purdue looks to be more of a hurdle than most would have anticipated. This season may come down a must-win game at Minnesota.

LSU (3-1)
Wins needed: 3
Remaining schedule:

  • TROY
  • at Florida
  • AUBURN
  • at Ole Miss
  • at Alabama
  • ARKANSAS
  • at Tennessee
  • TEXAS A&M

Are we reaching to suggest that a 3-1 team is facing an uphill battle to the postseason? Maybe… not? Have you seen anything you are overly excited or optimistic about out of LSU so far this season? I think the last two weeks have soured my take on the Tigers, and I entered the season not very high on them, to begin with. Now, in conference play, I sincerely think LSU could be in for a battle just to go to a bowl game. The good news for LSU is they face some teams in hot seat situations like Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas A&M to close out the year and all three of those games should be considered wild cards and toss-ups for all teams involved. The four-game stretch including three road games at Florida, Ole Miss, and Alabama has to see LSU grab one win if the Tigers are going to reach the postseason. And remember, because of the hurricane fiasco with last year’s schedule, LSU is playing the Gators in Gainesville this year instead of at home.

Papa Bosa explains Nick Bosa’s decision to shut it down at Ohio State

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Nick Bosa has played his last snap as an Ohio State Buckeye, a decision that, John Bosa said, did not come easy.

“It’s difficult on him,” Bosa’s father told Sports Illustrated Tuesday. “He had set all kinds of team goals. The love he has for his D-line group and D-line coach is something special.”

However, the elder Bosa said the decision wasn’t really much of one at all. Nick Bosa underwent surgery to repair injuries to both sides of his core on Sept. 20. Though the public learned of Bosa’s injury during the Buckeyes’ Sept. 15 win over TCU, John Bosa said the family knew he was most likely playing through injuries against Oregon State and Rutgers as well.

And, as John Bosa explained, though the prescribed recovery time of 12 weeks indicates Nick could return this season, that doesn’t take into effect the tole of preparing for and then playing defensive line in the style Bosa plays. Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson teaches his linemen to “flip their hips” to angle them toward the quarterback. It’s a style that has served both Bosa brothers well, but it’s one that causes considerable strain on the body’s core.

When taking that variable into effect, Bosa’s season ended on Sept. 15 regardless of his likelihood as the No. 1 pick looming.

“The way he plays the game, the amount of torque and power he creates, when you have any little issue it’s going to be exposed,” John said.

Bosa recorded four sacks and six TFLs in his three appearances this season.

With Khalil Tate still out, Rhett Rodriguez to start at QB for Arizona

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Imagine hearing a year ago that Khalil Tate missing a game, forcing Kevin Sumlin‘s Arizona Wildcats to start Rhett Rodriguez at quarterback may actually be a good thing for the club.

A year ago at this time, Tate had just rushed for 230 yards and two touchdowns and passed for another 148 and a score en route to a 47-30 win over UCLA. It was part of an out-of-nowhere storm that saw Tate throw for 1,591 yards, rush for 1,411 yards and total 26 touchdowns in essentially nine games.

But a lot has changed over the past 12 months. Rich Rodriguez, of course, is out, and Arizona’s Heisman candidate quarterback hasn’t gelled with Sumlin’s offense. Through seven games, Tate has thrown 178 passes — he threw 179 all of last season — for 1,415 yards with 11 touchdowns against four interceptions while rushing only 46 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns.

Tate injured his ankle early in a 42-10 loss to Utah and the younger Rodriguez finished the game, hitting 20-of-38 throws for 226 yards and a late touchdown.

With Tate still injured, Sumlin revealed Tuesday Rodriguez will start for the Wildcats against UCLA.

Rodriguez had thrown only seven passes ahead of Saturday’s loss to Utah and threw one pass as a freshman in 2017.

Arizona is just 3-4 overall (2-2 Pac-12) while UCLA is 1-5 and 1-2 against the Pac-12.

Status of Temple’s leading rusher iffy for game vs. No. 20 Cincinnati

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Whether Temple has the biggest piece of its running game this weekend remains decidedly up in the air.

Ryquell Armstead didn’t play in last Saturday’s win over Navy because of an ankle injury.  With a huge matchup with No. 20 Cincinnati on deck for this weekend, the running back’s status is very much up in the air.

Head coach Geoff Collins stated Armstead “is still day-to-day,” and that “we are excited about his healthy return, whenever that may be.”

Armstead is far and away the Owls’ leading rusher with 626 yards on the ground, and he’s scored exactly half (six) of Temple’s 12 rushing touchdowns.  Jager Gardner’s 101 yards are a distant second on the team.

Police: Louisville TE Kemari Averett held gun to girlfriend’s head, threatened to kill her

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A very scary and disturbing incident is the latest to trigger a resetting of the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Louisville tight end Kemari Averett was arrested on one count each of first-degree wanton endangerment and domestic violence (fourth-degree assault).  Averett is accused of holding a gun to the head of his girlfriend, who is also the mother of his child, and threatening to kill her.

From the Courier-Journal‘s report:

According to an arrest citation, Averett was at the woman’s house Sunday night to study and left his backpack. The woman went over to Averett’s apartment to return the backpack Monday night. He walked to the car and gave the woman a baby outfit and ultrasound pictures, according to the citation.

When he retrieved the backpack, he noticed his laptop was missing, the citation said.

She told Averett she wasn’t aware the laptop was missing. Police said Averett then came at the woman, put a gun to her left temple and said, “(expletive), I will kill you.”

Averett then told her to return to her hometown, and “I’ll have my people looking for you,” police said. He also told a witness in the back seat that, “I should pistol whip your (expletive) for running your mouth,” the citation said.

As a result of the arrest, the 20-year-old Averett has been indefinitely suspended from the football program.

“Kemari Averett has been suspended immediately from all football activities per further investigation,” a statement from head coach Bobby Petrino began. “He will not have access to our facility or be involved in any team activities during this suspension.”

Averett, a true sophomore from Atlanta, has started four of the six games for the Cardinals this season.  He’s caught eight passes for 65 yards and is tied for the team lead with two receiving touchdowns.