Associated Press

Michigan State rains on No. 7 Michigan’s unbeaten season, upsets Wolverines in storm-swept Big House

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With the first-ever Michigan-Michigan State night game looming at the Big House, both athletic directors were concerned over fans’ actions off the field.  When it came to one of the ADs, they should’ve worried more about their players’ play — and the weather — on the field.

With a torrential downpour weighing heavy on a portion of the last 15 minutes of action, 10-point underdog MSU went into Ann Arbor and stunned their in-state counterparts in a 14-10 win.  The loss is the seventh-ranked Wolverines’ first of the season, one that will likely knock them out of the Top 10 when the new rankings are released early Sunday afternoon.

UM turned the ball over a whopping five times — MSU came in having forced just four turnovers, total, the first four games this season — but the Spartans converted those gifts into just seven points.  John O’Korn, starting at quarterback in place of the injured Wilton Speight, threw interceptions on back-to-back-to-back possessions late in the third quarter and on into the fourth, but Sparty failed to produce points on any of those turnovers in keeping the game closer than it could’ve been.

Right up to the very end, as it turned out.

The Spartans, which held a 14-3 halftime lead, had zero first downs in the second half until less than three minutes were remaining in the fourth quarter, and then picked up a second, on a crucial third down no less, with under two minutes left that essentially sealed the upset win for MSU in the in-state rivalry game.  The key word there is “essentially” as MSU did their damnedest to hand the game back to its rivals, from a holding penalty on their last offensive possession that kept them from, basically, running out the clock to an inexplicable personal foul penalty on their last defensive possession that helped give the Wolverines one shot at a (failed) Hail Mary with no time left.

Even prior to the weather rolling in, it was a defensive battle from start to finish.  The Wolverines actually outgained their counterparts 300-252, with the Spartans converting just two of 14 on third-downs.  Two scores less than 10 minutes apart, though, proved to be the difference — quarterback Brian Lewerke‘s 14-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter, his 16-yard touchdown pass to Madre London in the middle of the second quarter.

While the loss put a dent in Michigan’s College Football Playoff hopes, it did the same for its biggest rival.

Thanks to its Week 2 loss, Ohio State needed, in part, Oklahoma and Michigan to run the table.  Not only did the Wolverines lose in Week 6, the Sooners did the same as 30-point home favorites earlier in the day in Norman.

It’s far too early for both UM and OSU to be excluded from the playoff discussion, but the former did neither of the Big Ten East schools any favors with this home loss.

Oh, and there’s this bit of trivia to chew on:

Maryland hires George Helow to Mike Locksley’s staff

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The lone hole on Mike Locksley‘s Maryland Terrapins football staff has been filled.

In late December, John Papuchis left the Maryland Terrapins football program to take a job with Mike Norvell at Florida State.  Exactly four weeks later, Locksley has landed Papuchis’ replacement, with the addition of George Helow officially announced by the school.

Helow will serve as Maryland’s special teams coordinator.  He’ll also coach the Terps’ inside linebackers.

Helow spent the past four seasons at Colorado State.  The first two were as a defensive quality control coach and graduate assistant.  The last two were spent as safeties coach.

The 2018-19 seasons were Helow’s first as an on-field assistant at the collegiate level.

In addition to the Mountain West Conference school, he has also been a football staffer at:

  • Georgia, defensive quality control assistant (2014-15)
  • Florida State, defensive graduate assistant (2013)
  • Alabama, defensive intern (2012)

Helow played his college football at Ole Miss from 2006-10.  Most of his action during his 38 games played came on special teams.

Todd Graham named as Hawaii’s next head coach

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The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football program has afforded a wayward coach a means to return to the sidelines.

In the days after Nick Rolovich left to replace Mike Leach at Washington StateRobert Anae‘s name had been mentioned prominently as a potential successor.  Tuesday, however, the Virginia offensive coordinator announced in a statement that he has withdrawn his name from consideration for the job as the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football head coach.

Just prior to that, it was reported by The Athletic‘s Bruce Feldman that Todd Graham is getting consideration for the job.  Very late Tuesday night, Hawaii confirmed that Graham has been hired as the school’s 24th head coach.

Graham will be introduced at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

The 55-year-old Graham has been a head coach at four different FBS schools:

  • Arizona State (2012-17)
  • Pitt (2011)
  • Tulsa (2007-10)
  • Rice (2006)

Graham has posted a 95-61 record at those stops.  His teams have played in 10 bowl games in 12 seasons, winning five of those postseason appearances.  He’s also won three divisional titles.

After being fired by Arizona State in November of 2017, Graham has been out of coaching.  He was mentioned as a candidate for the Kansas job that ultimately went to Les Miles.

Duke hires veteran offensive line coach Greg Frey

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Two weeks after losing an assistant, the Duke Blue Devils football program has filled the lone hole on David Cutcliffe‘s coaching staff.

Jan. 8, Jim Bridge abruptly resigned as Duke’s offensive line coach; two days later, it was announced that he had taken the same job at Memphis.  Tuesday, Cutcliffe officially dipped into the veteran coaching ranks, hiring Greg Frey as Bridge’s replacement.

“We’re thrilled to have Coach Frey join our staff,” Cutcliffe said in a statement. “It isn’t often you have the opportunity to add an individual who, within the landscape of college football, played at the highest level, has coached at the highest level and comes with 20-plus years of experience on the sideline. Coach Frey’s coaching and mentoring abilities are inspiring, and he will have an immediate and positive impact on the young men in our program. We look forward to welcoming Greg, his wife Andrea and children into our football family.”

Frey has previously coached offensive lines at:

  • Florida State, line coach (2018)
  • Michigan, tackles/tight ends coach, running-game coordinator (2017)
  • Indiana, line coach (2011-16)
  • Michigan, line coach (2008-10)
  • West Virginia, line coach (2007)
  • USF, line coach (2000-06)

In 2017, Frey was the tackles/tight end coach as well as running-game coordinator at Michigan. Frey comes to Duke after a one-season stint (2019) at Florida as a quality control analyst.

“As you go through life and build your family and your career, who you surround yourself with becomes very important,” Frey said. “What attracted me so much to Duke University was the faith, the family and the football, as well as the way Coach Cutcliffe runs his program. As we move forward, we want to be at the forefront of building the culture and championship level play that Duke expects. I’m excited to get started and can’t wait to go.”

Virginia Tech confirms addition of Rutgers transfer RB Raheem Blackshear

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A talented new addition to the Virginia Tech football roster is officially official.

After playing in the first four games of the 2019 season at Rutgers, Raheem Blackshear, a team captain, opted to sideline himself for the remainder of the campaign in order to preserve a year of eligibility. Three months later, Blackshear indicated on Twitter that he has decided to leave RU and continue his playing career with the Virginia Tech football program.

Two weeks after that social media announcement, the Hokies confirmed via Twitter that the running back is signed, sealed and delivered.

In addition to Virginia Tech, Blackshear had also considered a transfer to Temple.  A return to Rutgers for the back was in play as well.

It’s expected that Blackshear, a redshirt sophomore, will seek a waiver that would allow him to play immediately for the Hokies in 2020. If that appeal is denied, he would be left with one season of eligibility he could use in 2021.

A three-star 2017 signee, Blackshear ran for 238 yards as a true freshman. The next season, he led the Scarlet Knights in rushing with 586 yards.

Blackshear could also be a significant asset in the Hokies’ passing game.

In addition to being the leading rusher in 2018, Blackshear also led the team in receptions (44), receiving yards (367) and receiving touchdowns (two). Despite playing in just four games this past season, he was second on the Scarlet Knights with 29 receptions (the leader, Bo Melton, ended up with 30) and 310 yards (Melton had 427). His two receiving touchdowns were tied with Melton for the team lead as well.