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No. 6 Wisconsin holds off No. 10 Miami in Orange Bowl; Big Ten goes 7-0 in bowls

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The Big Ten may not have landed a team in the College Football Playoff, but the conference continues to rack up the wins in the bowl season. No. 6 Wisconsin (13-1) improved their bowl game winning streak to four consecutive bowl wins with a 34-24 victory over No. 10 Miami in the Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami. The bowl win for the Badgers improved the Big Ten to a record of 7-0 this bowl season.

Wisconsin freshman running back Jonathan Taylor capped his record-setting freshman season with 130 rushing yards on 26 carries. Along the way, Taylor broke Adrian Petersen‘s all-time freshman rushing record. Though Taylor was kept out of the endzone, his ability to grind out yardage helped Wisconsin tire out the Miami defense and allowed the Badgers to get something going through the air. Alex Hornibrook passed for 258 yards and four touchdowns, with Danny Davis III catching three of those scores. The Badgers were lifted by a 21-point second quarter and were able to counter Miami in the second half to keep the ACC runners-up at arm’s length.

Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst improved to 4-1 in bowl games, including a 3-0 mark since his arrival in Madison. The Badgers have also improved their win total each of the past three seasons under Chryst’s watch. This win was much like any Wisconsin had this season, with total dominance in time of possession. Wisconsin held the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game with 24 first downs. Miami struggled to stay on the field, with just two third down conversions out of 10.

The season ends on a three-game losing streak for Miami, but this season proved Mark Richt has been able to turn a corner with the program. Playing in the ACC Championship Game for the first time since joining the ACC was a hurdle that had long been one that could not be cleared. Malik Rosier (who was picked off three times) returning for a senior season should allow Miami to keep the offense improving, and the continued recruiting efforts of Miami and player development under Richt should allow Miami to continue to be a team to watch in the ACC picture. Freshman running back DeeJay Dallas had a 39-yard touchdown run, showing some of the flashes he can offer as well.

Miami will head to Arlington, Texas for a season-opener clash with LSU in AT&T Stadium on Sunday, September 2, 2018. The Hurricanes will also host Florida State in cross-division play, as well as the only team to hand them a loss in the regular season, Pittsburgh.

Wisconsin begins the 2018 season at home on Friday, August 31, 2018 with a game against Western Kentucky. The Badgers also host BYU in non-conference play and open Big Ten play on the road against Iowa. The Badgers also draw a tough cross-division rotation on the road with games against Michigan in Ann Arbor and Penn State in State College.

WATCH: Nick Saban appears in campaign ad endorsing U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)

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Involved in a hotly-contested U.S. Senate race, Joe Manchin is bringing out the big guns in the form of one West Virginia’s favorite football sons.

In a political ad that debuted Wednesday, Alabama head coach — and Fairmont, WV native — Nick Saban, along with other God’s Country hoops favorites Bob Huggins and Jerry West, gave an unflinching endorsement of the 71-year-old Manchin, the incumbent U.S. Senator who is running for re-election against Republican Patrick Morrisey.

“Joe and I grew up together in West Virginia and he never forgets where he came from,” Saban said in the ad. “I don’t have a better friend or know a better person than Joe Manchin.”

Other than not even realizing it was Election Day two years ago and some of his statements from the past — “I don’t really make political comments. So, if I say I like one person that means everybody who voted for the other person doesn’t like me. So, why would I do that?” — it’s not surprising that Saban has endorsed Manchin.

Manchin, who is five years older than Saban, was coached in Little League baseball by the Alabama head coach’s late father. “They used to take family vacations to Myrtle Beach together,” al.com wrote four years ago in profiling the relationship between the two that extended into adulthood. “Manchin laughs telling stories about going horseback riding with Saban.”

Manchin, who went to West Virginia University on a football scholarship before an injury ended his playing career, also wholeheartedly endorsed the high school-aged Saban, who ended up playing at Kent State, while at the same time lamenting his alma mater letting one get away.

“His size was always a challenge playing these tough sports,” Manchin said. “But Nick was as tough as anyone could be. My god, if he had a little more size, he would have killed everybody. I think the biggest mistake WVU ever made was not giving Nick Saban a scholarship.”

Alabama WR Devonta Smith questionable for Tennessee game

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Alabama could be down its second-leading receiver when it takes the field for one of its two annual rivalry games.

Devonta Smith suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter of the Week 7 win over Missouri, and was then labeled as questionable as ‘Bama began prep work for this year’s Third Saturday in October clash with Tennessee in Knoxville. As preparations hit the midway point Wednesday, Nick Saban indicated there hasn’t been much if any change in the wide receiver’s status.

A final decision on Smith’s availability likely won’t be made until closer to Saturday’s mid-afternoon kickoff.

Smith is second on the team in receiving yards with 409 and tied for second in receptions with 21. The sophomore’s 19.5 yards per catch are second on the Crimson Tide as well, while he’s fourth in receiving touchdowns with three.

Western Michigan’s starting free safety questionable for Week 8 game vs. rival Central Michigan

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Western Michigan could head into a rivalry game this weekend at less than full strength in the secondary. Fortunately for them, the rival’s passing game isn’t exactly a strength — or is much of the rest of the offense, for that matter.

A.J. Thomas suffered a knee injury in practice last week and didn’t play in Western Michigan’s win over Bowling Green last weekend. With Central Michigan on the docket this weekend, the free safety is officially labeled as questionable by his head coach.

“He got a twisted knee last Wednesday, and we didn’t actually know (the extent),” Tim Lester said by way of mlive.com. “We thought it was going to be bad. We had the MRI, nothing’s wrong with him.

“He got shaken up a little bit, but no surgery is required.”

After playing in nine games as a true freshman in 2017, Thomas emerged as the Broncos’ starting free safety this season. In six games in 2018, he’s fourth on the team in tackles with 32. WMU has three interceptions as a team, and Thomas is responsible for one of them (Anton Curtis has the other two).

This Saturday’s opponent, CMU, is 117th nationally in passing at 147.9 yards per game. That, though, is part of an overall anemic offense in Mount Pleasant that’s 126th in total offense (286.7 ypg) and 124th in scoring offense (18.1 points per game).

The 1-6 Chippewas haven’t scored more than 24 points in any game this year.

Findings from Maryland football culture investigation to be revealed within next two weeks

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The University of Maryland’s Board of Regents will review the information gathered from an investigation into the football culture of the Maryland football program on Friday behind a closed session. The information from that report will then be made public within the next two weeks, according to a statement from the University System of Maryland on Wednesday.

The Board of Regents is scheduled for a regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, October 19. Part of the agenda for that meeting will be the closed session to review the independent investigation’s report on the state of the football culture allegations made against the Maryland football program under head coach D.J. Durkin. Durkin remains on an administrative leave with the program despite the football season continuing on under interim head coach Matt Canada. The board will meet again on Tuesday, October 23 in a special session to discuss the investigation and its findings. At that time, the board will begin making decisions on how to address the report, which may include determining the fate of Durkin as head coach of the Terrapins. However, no media availability or statements will be made following the special session on Tuesday.

However, according to the released statement with the updated timeline from the board of regents, the findings of the investigation are expected to be released to the public within one week of the special session scheduled for Oct. 23.

“We have said from the beginning that, if true, the allegations related to the culture of the football program at the University of Maryland, College Park are unacceptable,” said USM Board of Regents Chair James T. Brady.  “We have also said we are determined to get all the facts possible before acting.”

This investigation is separate from the previously revealed investigation that took a closer examination into the death of football player Jordan McNair, although it would not be shocking to learn the McNair situation was a key focus of this investigation. Allegations of coaches verbally abusing players and forcing players to work through grueling conditions have painted a negative image for the Maryland football program, and Durkin in particular. For now, Durkin remains Maryland’s head coach, but we should know whether or not that will remain to be true as early as next week.