Getty Images

Nebraska falls to No. 16 Wisconsin, matches worst start in program’s storied 129-year history

8 Comments

If you wondered whether Nebraska’s start to the 2018 season was historic, the answer is a resounding “yep.”

First, though, the in-game particulars.

Nebraska entered Saturday night’s game against No. 16 Wisconsin in Madison as a three-touchdown underdog. They exited it covering the spread but still coming out on the wrong end of a 41-24 score, extending its school-record losing streak to nine in a row.

For the Blackshirts, they had no answer for Jonathan Taylor, who ran for a game-high 221 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries.  It was the second time the sophomore had rushed for 200-plus yards this season, and the fifth time in his career.

All told, the Badgers averaged 7.7 yards per attempt in rushing for 370 yards as a team.

In a losing effort, true freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez — mark it down: he’s going to single-handedly win a game for the Cornhuskers this season — passed for a career-high 384 yards.  It was Martinez’s second straight 300-yard passing performance.

JD Spielman caught nine of Martinez’s 24 completions for 209 yards.

With the loss, the Cornhuskers fell to 0-5 on the season. It matches their worst record through five games since 1945; a loss to Northwestern next weekend would, at 0-6, be the worst start in the 129-year history of the storied program.

While there’s still a lot of football left to be played, the Cornhuskers will very likely be underdogs in all but one of their last eight games — they play FCS Bethune-Cookman Oct. 27 — and could very well surpass the 1957 team for the worst record in school history. That squad finished 1-9, beating Kansas State in its third game before reeling off seven straight losses to close out the year.

Nebraska’s remaining schedule, outside of the FCS game that was spawned by the canceled season opener, that could send them to a program?

  • at Northwestern — 2-3, but coming off an upset of No. 20 Michigan State
  • Minnesota — 3-2, losers of two straight
  • at third-ranked and unbeaten Ohio State
  • Illinois — 3-2, coming off first Big Ten win since 2015
  • Michigan State — 3-2, could be back in rankings come mid-November
  • at Iowa — 4-1, could be ranked come regular-season finale

Texas Tech adds two more grad transfers

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s been a busy last few days, both incoming and outgoing, for Texas Tech and new head football coach Matt Wells on the transfer front.

Tuesday, quarterback McLane Carter announced that he has decided to take his leave of Lubbock and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere.  The same day, however, Tech confirmed the addition of Penn State graduate transfer defensive back Zech McPhearson.

A day later, the roster Christmas continued for Wells as Tech announced that they have added two more graduate transfers — linebacker Evan Rambo of Cal and running back Armand Shyne of Utah.  As is the case with McPhearson, Rambo and Shyne will be eligible to play immediately in 2019.

McPhearson will have two years of eligibility remaining counting this season, Shyne one.  If Rambo’s appeal to the NCAA for a sixth season is successful — he missed all but four games in 2016 because of a season-ending injury before missing all of 2017 with an injury sustained in the spring — he’ll have two as well.

This past season, Shyne’s 513 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the ground were both second on the Utes.  Shyne will finish his time in Salt Lake City with 885 yards and nine touchdowns on 198 carries.

Rambo played in 22 games during his stint with the Golden Bears, starting five of those contests.

WR Brandon Benson tweets decision to transfer from SMU

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Back in January, it was reported that Brandon Benson had become one of the myriad players to place their names into the NCAA transfer database this offseason, signaling a potential move on from SMU. A couple of months later, the wide receiver has made the divorce official.

Utilizing his personal Twitter account, Benson announced in a tweet that, “after praying and talking to my family, I have decided to transfer from SMU to continue my football and academic careers.”

A three-star 2016 signee, only two members of the Mustangs’ class that year were rated higher than Benson. Despite that pedigree, Benson played in just 10 games (one start) in his three seasons with the AAC school, catching one pass for 72 yards and a touchdown. That scoring play came as a redshirt freshman in 2017 against FCS Stephen F. Austin.

Syracuse and Pitt add future home-and-home games with Western Michigan

Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Any time a MAC program can land a home-and-home deal with a program from a power conference is considered a nice victory. To be able to land two is even better.

Western Michigan has done just that with the addition of two home-and-home series with ACC members Syracuse and Pittsburgh. The addition of two games with Syracuse is a continuation of a current arrangement between the two schools while the games with Pitt are new to the schedule.

Western Michigan will host Syracuse on September 26, 2020 and the Broncos will pay a visit to the Orange on September 9, 2023. Pittsburgh will host the MAC program on September 18, 2021 and the Panthers will visit Western Michigan on September 17, 2022.

As members of the ACC, both Syracuse and Pittsburgh are required to schedule at least one non-conference game against another power conference opponent. Western Michigan does not satisfy that scheduling requirement but each school has the requirement satisfied in the years with their Western Michigan games. Pitt is scheduled to play at Tennessee in 2021 and will host West Virginia and Tennessee in 2022. Syracuse is set to play at Rutgers in 2020 and will play at Purdue in 2023.

Western Michigan has plenty of power conference opponents on the future schedules in addition to the home-and-home deals with Syracuse and Pittsburgh, but the other games currently scheduled are all road games. Western Michigan will play at Michigan State this year (they also play at Syracuse in their original scheduling agreement). Future road games against power conference opponents include Notre Dame (2020), Michigan (2021), Michigan State (2022, 2025), Iowa (2023), Illinois (2025), and Wisconsin (2026).

LSU AD Joe Alleva officially stepping down

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
7 Comments

Despite plenty of success across the entire athletics department under his watch, LSU athletics director Joe Alleva is stepping down from his position. LSU confirmed the news, which had been broken earlier in the day by multiple outlets, with an announcement Wednesday evening. Alleva will transition to a new position with LSU as the special assistant to the president for donor relations. Alleva will continue in the role of AD until a permanent replacement can be found.

“We are grateful to Joe for his years of service and dedication to LSU,” said LSU President F. King Alexander said in a released statement. “Under his leadership, LSU Athletics has become even more nationally competitive and our student-athletes have reached new levels of academic achievement.”

“The eleven years Annie and I have been here in Baton Rouge have been some of the best in our lives,” Alleva said in his statement. “We have made lifelong friends and memories in Louisiana. This is truly a special place. It’s been an honor to serve LSU, and I am proud to continue to do that in a new role.”

Alleva was named the athletics director at LSU in July 2008 after previously holding the same position at Duke. Alleva has never been one to find himself not in the spotlight for various degrees of controversy, from his handling of the rape scandal with the Duke lacrosse program to his time at LSU trying to satisfy boosters. Alleva was criticized by some boosters for being reluctant to part ways with former LSU head coach Les Miles and make a move to hire Jimbo Fisher from Florida State. Instead, Alleva ended up hiring Ed Orgeron to be the head coach of the Tigers and Fisher is now handsomely paid to be the head coach at SEC West foe Texas A&M.

Alleva has always been one of the more vocal ADs in the SEC, never shy to share an opinion he had regardless of how popular it was with LSU fans or others around the SEC. Alleva led the charge in a bizarre feud with Florida over the handling of rescheduled games due to weather-related issues in recent years, as just one example. Within the LSU community more recently, Alleva came under fire for the handling of men’s basketball coach Will Wade, who was just reinstated by the program after his suspension related to his connection to the FBI recruiting scandal investigation.

LSU will undoubtedly be able to hire a top-notch AD to replace Alleva once this potential change becomes official, although how soon LSU will have a replacement lined up remains to be seen. As for Orgeron, his job should appear to be on pretty stable ground. Any time an AD is fired it is easy to wonder what happens to the football coach. Fortunately for Orgeron, he’s coming off a victory in the Fiesta Bowl and has LSU playing some winning football. It may not be SEC championship caliber football, but it is still some good quality football producing some notable wins along the way to secure any coach’s job. Unless the 2019 season is a complete disaster in Baton Rouge, Orgeron should feel more than comfortable in his current position regardless of who becomes the next AD at LSU.