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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.

Ohio State knocks Clemson to No. 4 in latest AP Poll, SMU highest ranked Group of Five team

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Dabo Swinney remarked earlier this season that Clemson was back on the ROY (rest of you) bus… and perhaps there’s something to that for the defending champions.

Despite blowing out Louisville on Saturday, the Tigers actually dropped a spot to No. 4 in the latest AP Poll, getting pipped by new No. 3 Ohio State after the Buckeyes own blowout of a bad Northwestern team on Friday night.

That wasn’t the only notable change in the top 10 as Wisconsin predictably fell from No. 6 to No. 13 after their loss at lowly Illinois on Saturday afternoon, bumping nearly everybody else up in the pecking order and allowing Penn State to take their old spot just behind No. 5 Oklahoma.

Elsewhere in the poll, there’s a new highest ranked Group of Five team as No. 16 SMU supplants Boise State after the Broncos lost at BYU. BSU actually is behind No. 18 Cincinnati and No. 21 Appalachian State as well.

No. 23 Iowa State and No. 25 Wake Forest both returned to the top 25 this week after wins to supplant Washington and Missouri.

The full AP Poll heading into Week 9:

  1. Alabama
  2. LSU
  3. Ohio State
  4. Clemson
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Penn State
  7. Florida
  8. Notre Dame
  9. Auburn
  10. Georgia
  11. Oregon
  12. Utah
  13. Wisconsin
  14. Baylor
  15. Texas
  16. SMU
  17. Minnesota
  18. Cincinnati
  19. Michigan
  20. Iowa
  21. Appalachian State
  22. Boise State
  23. Iowa State
  24. Arizona State
  25. Wake Forest

Wisconsin, Boise State drop like a rock in latest Coaches Poll, Penn State moves into top six

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A weekend in college football that was filled with upsets of ranked teams predictably caused a bit of chaos in the latest edition of the polls on Sunday.

The biggest shuffling was left to the victim of the biggest upset of the still young 2019 season as Wisconsin fell like a rock seven spots to No. 13 in the latest Coaches Poll after the Badgers inexplicable loss to Illinois. Their vacation from the top 10 allowed pretty much everybody in front of them to move up a spot in the order, with Penn State the new No. 6 team in the country after beating new No. 20 Michigan.

Though UW tanked in the poll, they weren’t the biggest free fallers as that was reserved for Boise State, which fell eight spots to No. 21 after losing on the road to unranked BYU. The Broncos did start their backup QB in the game but voters likely only paid attention to the final score, which allowed new No. 17 SMU to become the highest ranked Group of Five team.

Washington and Temple both dropped out of the top 25 following losses, replaced by No. 23 Wake Forest and No. 25 Memphis.

The full Coaches Poll heading into Week 9:

  1. Alabama (44 first-place votes)
  2. Clemson (10)
  3. LSU (3)
  4. Ohio State (8)
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Penn State
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Florida
  9. Georgia
  10. Auburn
  11. Oregon
  12. Utah
  13. Wisconsin
  14. Baylor
  15. Texas
  16. Minnesota
  17. SMU
  18. Cincinnati
  19. Iowa
  20. Michigan
  21. Boise State
  22. Appalachian State
  23. Wake Forest
  24. Arizona State
  25. Memphis

Tennessee QB Brian Maurer suffers concussion against Alabama, his second in two games

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Jarrett Guarantano might be Tennessee’s quarterback a little longer than fans would like following the team’s loss at Alabama on Saturday.

According to head coach Jeremy Pruitt in his postgame press conference, Vols starting quarterback Brian Maurer was confirmed to have suffered a concussion against the Crimson Tide and that he is being placed under the standard evaluation protocol.

Complicating matters for UT and their freshman signal-caller is that this is not just a one-off injury but his second concussion in as many games. He was taken out of the first half in the team’s win against Mississippi State and then missed the final three quarters against Alabama after taking a hard hit that wasn’t flagged, much to the chagrin of the coaching staff.

Maurer was 5-of-7 passing for 62 yards (one interception) prior to exiting with the injury.

The Vols host South Carolina next weekend and then have UAB come to Neyland Stadium the week after, both contests that seem unlikely to feature Maurer as he recovers from such a concerning trend the past two games.

Tua Tagovailoa tells Alabama teammates ‘I’ll be back for LSU’

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It’s not exactly great injury news but, in the grand scheme of things, it could’ve been a lot worse.

Late in the first half of Alabama’s win over rival Tennessee, starting quarterback and Heisman front-runner Tua Tagovailoa went down with an apparent ankle injury. After spending time in the sideline medical tent, Tagovailoa went into the locker room for further observation.

Not long after that, Tagovailoa was seen exiting the stadium and getting into the back of an ambulance; he would ultimately return to the sidelines but not the game as Mac Jones finished out the win.

Immediately following the game, Nick Saban stated that Tagovailoa suffered a high-ankle sprain, a similar injury he worked through a season ago, and will “probably be out a week or two.” In the postgame press conference, the head coach all but ruled the junior out for next weekend’s home game against Arkansas.

Following next Saturday’s game, top-ranked Alabama will be on a bye in Week 10 before its huge showdown with No. 2 LSU in Tuscaloosa Nov. 9.  According to the current timeline provided by Saban, Tagovailoa should be healthy and available for the Tigers.

Additional testing, including an MRI, will be performed Sunday morning, so the timeline for a return is certainly fluid and will be the main topic of watercooler conversation in the coming days.  At the moment, though, the player and his teammates are optimistic for a return sooner rather than later.

“He said, ‘I’ll be back for LSU,’” linebacker Terrell Lewis said in the postgame aftermath. “I know how Tua is. It’s something he’s been through before, so I don’t doubt the fact that he’s a competitor. He’s going to get right back, and he’ll be fine.”

In Saturday night’s game, and prior to the injury, Tagovailoa failed to throw a touchdown pass for the only time as the Crimson Tide’s starter and for the first time overall since Oct. 14 of 2017.  He also threw his second interception on the season.

In replacing Tagovailoa, the redshirt sophomore Jones completed six of his 11 passes for 72 yards and had neither a touchdown nor an interception.