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No. 8 Wisconsin punches ticket to Big Ten title game with dominant defensive performance vs. No. 20 Iowa

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Sometimes you just have knuckle down and win an ugly game. No. 8 Wisconsin (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten) did just that on Saturday against No. 20 Iowa (6-4, 3-4 Big Ten) by coming through for a gritty 38-14 victory on the strength of its defense. The only points scored by Iowa came from cornerback Joshua Jackson, and Wisconsin held Iowa to just 56 yards of offense. The win for Wisconsin clinched a return trip to the Big Ten championship game.

Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook was picked off twice by Jackson, and each time the interception was returned for a touchdown. It was the only way Iowa would manage to score in this one as the offense never got anything going against a stingy Wisconsin defense. Iowa forced two additional Wisconsin turnovers but Iowa could not take advantage of the opportunities unless Jackson was the one getting his hands on the football on defense. Wisconsin’s defense even got in on the scoring with a fumble return for a touchdown by Leon Jacobs. Another Iowa turnover also led to a Wisconsin score in the fourth quarter as the Badgers continued to pad their lead. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor continued to show why he is the Big Ten’s leading rusher with 158 yards on the ground.

A week after lighting up the Buckeyes, Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley completed just eight of his 23 pass attempts for 41 yards.

Here’s the thing with Wisconsin. They’re a pretty darn good team. They tend to be well coached by Paul Chryst. They don’t do many things in a sexy fashion, but they haven’t had to either. The schedule is what the schedule is, and it is fair to analyze that when comparing what Wisconsin has accomplished against what other playoff contenders have accomplished so far. And it is still fair to suggest other teams have a more impressive overall body of work too, conceding that an undefeated season does not necessarily have to mean you have been more impressive thana one-loss team or even, perhaps, a two-loss team.

But Wisconsin is doing exactly what it needs to do to achieve its first goal, which is winning the Big Ten. If the Badgers get to 12-0 with a shot at the Big Ten championship, they will absolutely be worthy of playoff consideration entering the conference title game. Anyone who argues against that is just being dismissive. This Wisconsin team is good. They might even be able to score a point in the College Football Playoff should they be fortunate enough to make it that far. For now, Chryst and Wisconsin will just focus on taking care of what they can and then letting the playoff committee do their job to determine if they are worthy or not at the end of the season.

For Wisconsin, it is on to next week to work on getting to 11-0. To do that, they will have to win one more game at home. Wisconsin will host Michigan next week in the home finale for the Badgers. The Wolverines could be tricky after seemingly discovered how to play some offense the last couple of weeks.

Iowa will return home for their home finale as well. The Hawkeyes host Purdue next week.

Texas A&M pulls LBs coach from Wake Forest

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For its newest assistant, Texas A&M football turned to an ACC school.  And, a familiar face for that matter.

Thursday, A&M announced that Tyler Santucci has been hired by Fisher as linebackers coach.  Santucci will replace Bradley Dale Peveto, who was still under contract but won’t return for the 2020 season.

Santucci’s hiring marks a homecoming of sorts as the assistant spent the 2018 season as a defensive analyst for the Texas A&M football program.

Last season, Santucci was the linebackers coach at Wake Forest.  That was his first on-field job at the Power Five level.  His first on-field job at the FBS level came as linebackers coach at Texas State in 2016.

In 2017, Santucci was a defensive analyst at Notre Dame.  During that brief stint in South bend, Mike Elko was the Fighting Irish’s defensive coordinator, the same position he’s held with the Aggies since he was hired in January of 2018.

The first coaching job for Santucci, who played his college football at Stony Brook, was at his alma mater as safeties coach.

In Jimbo Fisher‘s second season in College Station, the Aggies posted an 8-5 record.  A&M has won both bowl games since Fisher took over the program.  After finishing tied for second in the SEC West his Fisher’s inaugural season, the Aggies dipped to fourth in 2019.

Ex-Michigan RB Jordan Castleberry transfers to Maryland

Jordan Castleberry is transferring from Michigan to Maryland.
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After one semester at Michigan, freshman running back Jordan Castleberry has transferred to Maryland. Castleberry announced his transfer decision on his Twitter account on Thursday.

Castleberry originally committed to West Virginia during his recruiting process out of high school. Shortly after his commitment to West Virginia, Michigan became a more likely recruiting victor. Castleberry enrolled at Michigan in July 2019.

Castleberry did not play for Michigan in 2019, so he can use the 2019 season as a redshirt year to preserve a year of eligibility. However, NCAA transfer rules will force Castleberry to sit out the 2020 season. This will not make Castleberry eligible for Maryland until the 2021 season, at which point he will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Ruffin McNeill steps away from Oklahoma and football to be with family

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Family will always be more important than football, which is why Ruffin McNeill will be putting football on hold for an undetermined amount of time. Oklahoma announced on Thursday that assistant head coach and outside linebackers coach McNeill will leave football to help take care of his father.

“This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make,” McNeill said in a statement released by Oklahoma. “But in the end, being near my dad was a necessary choice. Right now I need to be a son again and I need to help my brother and other family members take care of my dad, who is battling significant health issues. This is not retirement for me. I still want to coach in some form or fashion. But right now that can’t be the case. My focus needs to be on my dad back in North Carolina.”

“Ruffin means so much to me and to my family, and his family means so much to him,” Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley said in a statement. “I know his decision to leave OU was a very difficult one, but was one he felt he had to make.”

Although McNeill said this is not a retirement decision and expressed a desire to continue coaching when the time is right, Riley confirmed the Sooners will be looking for a replacement on the staff.

“I still want to coach in some form or fashion,” McNeill said. “But right now that can’t be the case.”

McNeill joined the Oklahoma coaching staff under Riley in 2017.

Miami’s QB revolving door sees Miami QB Jarren Williams reportedly entering transfer portal

Miami QB Jarren Williams could be entering the transfer portal.
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As we are quickly learning with the new day and age of college football, the minute a new quarterback arrives on the scene by way of a transfer, another may soon be on the move. Case in point, the current situation at Miami. Quarterback Jarren Williams will be entering the transfer portal, according to a report from Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter).

This news is hardly shocking given the attention given to the arrival by D’Eriq King from Houston earlier this week. King, a graduate transfer with immediate eligibility for this fall, is widely expected to step in and be Miami’s starting quarterback in 2020. Naturally, that would reduce the playing time Williams or any other Miami quarterback would be likely to see in the fall.

As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Williams was Miami’s leading passer with 2,187 yards and 19 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Williams is the only Miami quarterback who played in as many as 12 games last fall. If not for the addition of King, Williams may have been Miami’s most likely starter this season.

If Williams, a former four-star recruit in the Class of 2018, does indeed enter the transfer portal and ultimately decides to leave the Hurricanes for a new school, he will have to sit out the 2020 season. He would then have two years of eligibility left to use beginning in 2021.