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Ohio State wins first game without Urban Meyer on sideline since Nov. 5, 2011

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No Urban Meyer?  No problem.  At all.

With Meyer serving the first of what will be a three-game suspension, Ohio State had little issue dragging Oregon State into the season-opening woodshed as the Midwest OSU spanked the West Coast OSU 77-31 in Columbus.  The Buckeyes jumped out to a 42-14 halftime lead and, after a weather delay that lasted nearly an hour and a half, dropped it in cruise control the remainder of the way as acting head coach Ryan Day picked up his first career win in his first-ever game as head coach.

In his first career start, and replacing the record-setting J.T. Barrett under center, quarterback Dwayne Haskins completed 14 of his 18 passes for 164 yards and three touchdowns… in the first half.  Haskins finished the day with 313 yards, five touchdowns and one interception in going 22-of-30 passing.  The touchdown passes set a school record for a first-time starter, while the passing yards marked the first time in program history a quarterback had thrown for 300-plus in his first debut.

On the ground, Mike Weber, reduced to second fiddle behind Freshman All-American J.K. Dobbins last season, led both teams with a career-high 186 yards rushing (on 20 carries).  The junior also accounted for a career-high four touchdowns — three rushing, one receiving.  As for Dobbins, considered one of the preseason Heisman Trophy favorites, the sophomore put up a quiet 74 yards on 15 carries.

All told, the Buckeyes ran for 375 yards — they averaged 7.1 yards on their 53 carries — as part of an offense that rolled up 721 yards of total offense.  The 77 points matched the program record for an opener set in 2016 against Bowling Green.  It was also the most points scored in any game since they hung 83 on Iowa during  the 1950 season.

Defensively, Nick Bosa very loudly tossed his name into the Heisman hype hat as the true junior — and likely Top Five pick in the 2019 NFL draft — was credited with a pair of sacks and recovered a fumble for a touchdown for good measure.  Dre’Mont Jones matched Bosa with two sacks as the Buckeyes’ defensive front seven combined to drop Beaver quarterbacks six times.

In a losing effort, Artavis Pierce ran for 168 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just 11 carries.  Those touchdowns came on runs of 80 and 78 yards in a span of just over three minutes early in the third quarter.

The Beavers, incidentally, have now lost 11 straight games dating back to the 2017 season.  Conversely, the Buckeyes are now rising a six-game winning streak.

The win marked the first time Ohio State has won a game without Meyer on the sidelines since Nov. 5 of 2011, a 34-20 triumph over Indiana.  The head coach that day was Luke Fickell, who replaced Jim Tressel before giving way to Meyer the following year.  The Buckeyes went 6-7 that lost 2011 season; the Buckeyes have lost a total of eight games in the six-plus seasons under Meyer.

That 2011 season was also the only time since 2004 that the Buckeyes have failed to finish a season with at least 10 wins.

In addition to today’s game, Meyer will be suspended for the Week 2 matchup with Rutgers and the Week 3 showdown against TCU.  The coach will also be suspended through Sept. 2; that suspension prevented Meyer from taking part in the Buckeyes’ preparations for the season opener against the Beavers.  He will, however, be permitted to take part in all football activities leading up to the Rutgers and TCU games, including practices, player meetings, coaches meetings, etc.

That participation will begin Sunday as Meyer’s in-week suspension comes to an end tomorrow.

Matt Wells adds former assistant Mark Tommerdahl as special teams coach at Texas Tech

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Texas Tech officially announced the hiring of Mark Tommerdahl to be the new special teams coach for the Red Raiders on the staff led by Matt Wells. Tommerdahl takes on the title of associate head coach as well as special teams coordinator and assistant offensive line coach.

Wells previously had Tommerdahl as a special teams coach at Utah State in 2017. Tommerdahl spent the 2018 season as special teams and tight ends coach at Purdue. He has had previous stops at Cal, Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M, Alabama, TCU, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Wyoming during his coaching career since 1984.

During their one season together at Utah State in 2017, Wells and Tommerdahl had a special teams unit that ranked fourth in the nation in blocked punts and owned a top 25 kickoff return defense. Last year, Tommerdahl’s Purdue special teams ranked 39th in punting (while Texas Tech ranked 61st) and 29th in punt return defense (Texas Tech was 40th). Purdue kicked just one kickoff out of bounds last season, while Texas Tech kicked six kickoffs out of bounds.

Troy LB Tron Folsom says he will enter NCAA transfer portal

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One of Troy’s top defensive players will be looking to play somewhere new in 2019. Tron Folsom announced he will enter his name in the NCAA transfer portal to begin evaluating any potential options for his final year of eligibility on the football field.

“After talking it over with my family, I will enter my name in the transfer porta and re-open my recruitment as a graduate transfer in the spring,” Folsom said in a message posted on his Twitter account on Friday. “I have no specific schools in mind and will be open minded during this process.”

As a graduate transfer, Folsom will be eligible to play immediately for whatever his new program may be this fall. He will have just one year of eligibility remaining after playing in a total of 38 games for Troy over the past three seasons.

Folsom recorded 9.0 tackles for a loss among his 82 total tackles for the Trojans last season. Folsom also had three sacks and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

30-year old Aussie punter from Maryland enters transfer portal

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After starting each of Maryland’s last 24 games, punter Wade Lees is ready to explore his potential options. According to a report on Friday, Lees has entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal, allowing him to be in contact with other programs who may be in need of a new punter on their football roster.

The oldest player in the Big Ten last season, Lees has one year of eligibility remaining.

Lees punted 67 times with a punting average of 40.93 yards per punt last season for Maryland.  He punted five times inside the opponent’s 20-yard line in a game against Penn State last November. It was the second time he had downed five punts inside the 20-yard line in a game during his Maryland career. In 2017, Lees punted 64 times for an average of 39.23 yards per punt. Those numbers put him right about in the middle of the Big Ten punting categories with the second-highest average number of punts per game. Lees started for Maryland for all 13 games played in his freshman season of 2016 as well.

With Lees potentially on the move, Maryland’s roster has just one player listed as a punter on the official team roster published online. Bentley Faulkner, who did not appear in a game in 2018 as a true freshman, figures to take over the punting duties during spring football practices. Expect Maryland head coach Mike Locksley to try adding a punter before the fall, if just for depth as the worst-case scenario.

Mike Leach’s final lecture will stream live through the magic of the internet

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Technology is a wonderful thing. And because of it, we’ll all be able to witness to Mike Leach instructing his class this spring semester at Washington State. Specifically, the world will be invited to observe the final session of Leach’s course, Leadership Lessons in Insurgent Warfare and Football Strategies, in late April.

Leach’s course is an extracurricular course being offered by Washington State with four separate sessions beginning in late March. The course is only available to WSU students, of course, but WSU knows there is much to be gained by allowing Leach’s class to be viewed by others outside of Pullman.

According to a statement released by Washington State, the final session will summarize all four previous lectures and there will be a live Q&A session. Those watching the live feed will be invited to submit questions in text form for the Q&A too.