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J.T. Barrett rallies No. 6 Ohio State past No. 2 Penn State, 39-38

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Whew!

After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter after a blazing fast start by No. 2 Penn State (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten), No. 6 Ohio State (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten) pulled together a 19-3 fourth quarter against one of the best second-half teams in the nation to capture a monster 39-38 win in the Big Ten race, and the College Football Playoff race. J.T. Barrett was incredible with 33-of-39 for 328 yards and four touchdowns and 95 rushing yards.

After Penn State had a 10-play drive to tack on what seemed to be a pivotal field goal to take a 38-27 lead, Ohio State and Barrett would not be stopped. The Buckeyes scored two touchdowns on their next two possessions while the defense put the clamps down on the Nittany Lions. Penn State had two straight possessions with negative yardage with the game still on the line, and Ohio State made them pay for it.

For Penn State, it was reminiscent of the Rose Bowl against USC, where a game that looked to have a favorable ending coming together came crashing down without a killer instinct to make a key play or two on either side of the football to close the book. It was a tough loss to take for Penn State, but how damaging it ultimately ends up being will now be left in the hands of the College Football Playoff selection committee starting next week.

Saquon Barkley returned the game’s opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and he had a 36-yard touchdown run in the first half as Penn State was making the big plays while Ohio State was dominating the offensive yardage in the box score. Ohio State bottled up Barkley for the majority of the game outside of those two plays as he ended the day with 44 rushing yards and 23 receiving yards (and 105 kickoff return yards). Barkley should still be heading to New York, but he will very likely have some company from the Big Ten joining him as Barrett should be in the conversation now as well.

Ohio State out-gained Penn State 529-283 and racked up 27 first downs to Penn State’s 17. That helped wear Penn State down and to overcome two turnovers and 10 penalties for Ohio State. Ohio State also had two interceptions of Trace McSorley in the end zone overturned by replay review. Both overturned picks were led by Penn State touchdowns, including one that occurred on the same play. It was a game that Penn State shouldn’t have won and the fates tried hard to prevent Ohio State from winning. But college football is goofy sometimes, and then things like Penn State squandering an 11-point lead in the final five minutes happens.

Ohio State now owns the inside track to the Big Ten championship game with a head-to-head win against Penn State. Ohio State would have to lose twice if Penn State wins their remaining games in order for the Nittany Lions to get a chance to return to the Big Ten championship game. And with the playoff rankings about to be unveiled, Ohio State should feel confident they will be ranked in the top four from the selection committee.

Ohio State will have to keep the momentum going next week with a road game at Iowa. Penn State will look to rebound next week on the road against Michigan State. The Spartans dropped an overtime game at Northwestern and will also be looking for a rebound win. There is still a lot of football to be played, but Ohio State is rolling right now.

Gary Pinkel undergoing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for a second time

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Former Missouri and Toledo head coach Gary Pinkel revealed in a TV interview on Sunday night that he is once again undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“I’m doing good. I had to get treatment again for the first time in four years. My cancer came out of remission, and so I had treatment last month. I’m doing fine,” Pinkel told KMIZ. “With my type of lymphoma, you’ll never be healed. But that’s kind of why I retired when I did – I just wanted to not go back and regret working 85 hours a week, 35 weeks out of the year when I could be doing other things with my family and my eight grandkids.”

Pinkel was originally diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May of 2015 and stepped down after that season. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer that begins in the lymph nodes and then spreads throughout the body.

“You keep battling it. I’m going to battle it, Pinkel said. “I’ve got a very positive approach to it, and I’m around a lot of good people that are helping me. There’s a lot of people out there with a lot worse cancers than Gary Pinkel has, and so prayers to all of them.”

Since retiring, Pinkel has used his time as a fundraiser for Missouri and also running the GP M.A.D.E. Foundation, which supports children with cancer and also provides mentoring for at-need kids.

Pinkel, 63, was 191-110-3 as a head coach at two schools over 25 seasons.

 

Former Bengals offensive coordinator reportedly joining Florida support staff

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Former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese is joining Florida’s staff as an analyst, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Benoit.

Zampese spent the 2016-17 seasons as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator after serving 13 seasons as Marvin Lewis‘s quarterbacks coach. Cincinnati went 13-18-1 in Zampese’s two seasons running the offense, which is why he spent 2018 as the Cleveland Browns’ quarterbacks coach and the first part of 2019 as the offensive coordinator for the AAF’s Atlanta Legends.

He is the son of former Chargers, Rams, Cowboys and Patriots offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese.

It is not immediately known what the younger Zampese’s role will be with the Gators, but his experience indicates he’ll work with Dan Mullen and coordinators John Hevesy and Billy Gonzales to develop Florida’s offensive plan and help Brian Johnson tutor the quarterbacks, or perhaps use his coordinator experience to self-scout Florida’s offense and scout Florida’s future opponents.

Arizona launched hostile workplace probe following sexual harassment claims against Wildcat football players

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Arizona launched a hostile workplace investigation into its football program following multiple claims of sexual assault and sexual harassment made by multiple female equipment managers against multiple former Wildcat football players, the program confirmed to the Tucson Daily Star.

Lawyers representing the university did not say when the probe took place, but did say it was sparked by two complaints made by female equipment mangers. From the paper:

In 2014, two UA students who worked as equipment managers separately reported incidents involving nonconsensual sex with football players. In August of that year, police were told that a 21-year-old woman working for the athletic department had sex at least twice with three UA football players while the she was heavily intoxicated. One of the players recorded at least one of the encounters and showed it to other students, the report said.

The woman told police that she lost her job after the recording was released, according to the report.

….

While investigating the woman’s claim, UA’s Title IX office approached former manager Jacquelyn Hinek, who had quit her job months before, citing pervasive sexual harassment. After speaking to UA investigators, Hinek told Tucson police that she had been sexually assaulted in April 2013 by several men associated with the football team while at an off-campus party. She said the incident was recorded on a cell phone and later shown to other students. 

“The Office of Institutional Equity conducted a thorough review of the football equipment manager program and there were no findings of sex discrimination as a result of that investigation,” UA spokesman Chris Sigurdson told the paper via email.

The probe was one of three major investigations into the football program.

Arizona is currently being sued for Title IX violations by an alleged victim of former Wildcats running back Orlando Bradford, whom the victim says hit, choked and imprisoned her over a 2-day period in September 2016. Bradford is currently serving a 5-year prison sentence, but the Title IX suit seeks to depose a number of key figures within the football program, including former head coach Rich Rodriguez, who himself was the subject of a hostile workplace investigation in 2017. Allegations of sexual harassment made by his former assistant led to his dismissal last January. Rodriguez has denied any sexual harassment claims, arguing instead they were an extortion attempt against him.

In total, Arizona said it investigated 27 athletes or athletic department employees for sexual harassment, sexual assault or domestic violence from 2012 through ’17 (the period coinciding with Rodriguez’s hiring and firing), eight of them involving the football program.

UConn reportedly looking to keep football program in FBS, not FCS

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All the reporting that came out since the bombshell reports saying Connecticut is looking to leave the American Athletic Conference to rejoin the non-football Big East have confirmed that, yes, this is really happening, likely in time for the 2020-21 athletic year. The reporting has also said that UConn’s soon-to-be-homeless football program will not drop down to FCS, but instead join a different conference or try to make it as an FBS independent.

On Saturday, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy tweeted that UConn has determined it will not return to FCS, where the program competed for most of its history before joining the then-power conference Big East in 2004.

On Sunday morning, NCAA.com’s Andy Katz followed with a note saying it looked like the Huskies will try to make a go of it as an independent, writing that UConn will attempt to schedule neighbors like UMass (a fellow independent), Boston College, Syracuse and Rutgers while honoring existing contracts for home-and-homes with Duke, Illinois, NC State and others.

For a check in with someone who might actually know something, let’s see what Huskies head coach Randy Edsall has to say.

Oh, well.

Either way, it sounds like the train is moving and we could hear something official sooner rather than later.