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No. 15 Michigan flashes look of Big Ten contender in win over Maryland

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No. 15 Michigan (5-1, 3-0 Big Ten) won their fifth straight game since losing the season opener by flexing their defensive strength against Maryland (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) on Saturday afternoon in Michigan Stadium. The Wolverines sent the homecoming crowd home happy with a 42-21 win behind the strength of a defense that made things extremely difficult for the Terrapins all afternoon.

Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson passed for 282 yards and three touchdowns in the win, and running back Karan Higdon rushed for 103 yards. The Michigan offense continues to look formidable as the season goes along, even after overcoming a rough start last week against Northwestern. Michigan was efficient with their third-down conversions, converting 8 of 13 in the game, but this was a story for the defense.

Maryland didn’t go over 100 yards of offense until a fourth-quarter touchdown drive of 75 yards, which took them to 122 yards of offense. Maryland had four three-and-out drives and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter the offense put any points on the scoreboard. A kickoff return of 98 yards for a touchdown by Ty Johnson was the lone score for Maryland in the first quarter until the fourth-quarter score. The Terrapins did add a third touchdown late in the fourth quarter with the game all but official.

The win moves Michigan to 3-0 in Big Ten play, and the Wolverines now sit in front of both Penn State and Michigan State in the Big Ten standings after the Nittany Lions lost last week and the Spartans went down at home on Saturday. Michigan will still have to play both of those division foes of course, as well as Ohio State, so it’s not time to start speculating about Michigan contending for the Big Ten title just yet. However, the defense remains the strength of the team and the offense continues to look consistent enough to make some noise in the Big Ten race.

Next up for Michigan is a big one. The Wolverines host Wisconsin next weekend. The Badgers will likely come to Michigan Stadium with a 4-1 record (assuming they beat Nebraska) and a top 15 ranking, The game against Wisconsin will open a challenging three-game stretch with games against Michigan State on the road and home against Penn State to follow. If Michigan gets through that stretch no worse than 2-1, it’s game on for a Big Ten title run.

Maryland will look for a rebound win next week when they host Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights lost at home to Illinois on Saturday and are now 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the Big Ten.

NCAA committee chair hints at changes coming to four-game redshirt rule

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This college football season has been a bit different from most thanks to a combination of two factors that have very little to do with the play on the field: a new rule allowing players to redshirt despite playing in four games and the NCAA transfer portal.

Amid a flurry of player movement as a result of those two, on top of unique situations like Houston’s D’Eriq King deciding to take a redshirt in what amounts to a lost year for the Cougars, it seems the powers at be are already eyeing tweaking the current status quo. West Virgnia AD Shane Lyons chairs the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee and remarked on a local radio show that adjustments to the current set of rules are likely to be discussed during meetings at the NCAA convention in January.

“I don’t think it’s a good optic for college sports,” Lyons said, according to the West Virginia MetroNews. “The way it looks, a student-athlete is potentially quitting on his team.

“It’s something the committee will look at in their January meeting to make any adjustments as necessary.”

Despite the redshirt rule originating from coaches themselves, in practice it has proven to be problematic for many because players have either removed themselves from action in order to save up a season and play elsewhere or simply entered the transfer portal. Such roster management concerns have led to plenty of criticism about the unintended consequences of the changes and now it appears the adults in the room are getting together to come up with a few changes to defeat the reasoning behind both rules.

We’ll see what happens between now and the January meetings but the days of going four-and-out for some might be coming to an end with the 2019 season.

Nearly half of Saturday’s conference championship games feature double-digit odds

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At least based on the sportsbooks, you shouldn’t expect much drama on championship weekend — which means we should all brace for absolute and utter hell breaking loose, of course.

Friday night and on into Saturday, the 10 FBS conferences will hold their respective league championship games, the results of which will not only shape the College Football Playoff but the New Year’s Six Bowls and all the way down to the lower-tier bowls. As of this posting, and by way of the BetMGM Sportsbook, nearly half of those 10 title games feature double-digit odds:

  • ACC — No. 23 Virginia vs. No. 3 Clemson (-28½)
  • Big Ten — No. 1 Ohio State (-15½) vs. No. 8 Wisconsin
  • Mountain West — Hawaii vs. No. 19 Boise State (-13½)
  • AAC — No. 20 Cincinnati vs. No. 17 Memphis (-10½)

A fifth, the Big 12 championship game, is nearly double-digits as No. 6 Oklahoma is a 9½-point favorite over No. 7 Baylor.

The other five matchups have hovered around seven points or so, including the SEC title game featuring 6½-point favorite and second-ranked LSU clashing with No. 4 Georgia, since the matchups were decided last weekend:

  • Pac-12 (Friday night) — No. 5 Utah (-6½) vs. No. 13 Oregon
  • Sun Belt — Louisiana vs. No. 21 Appalachian State (-6½)
  • MAC — Miami (OH) vs. Central Michigan (-6½)
  • Conference USA — UAB vs. Florida Atlantic (-7½)

Ohio State first school to score Top-10 wins in football, hoops in four days since… Michigan three decades ago

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Some history was made overnight that involves both sides of The Game.

Wednesday night, sixth-ranked Ohio State took seventh-ranked North Carolina to the woodshed in a 74-49 win, handing the Tar Heels the basketball program’s worst-ever home loss at the Dean Dome under Roy Williams.  Four days earlier, second-ranked Ohio State took 10th-ranked Michigan to the woodshed in a 56-27 win, handing the Wolverines their eighth straight loss — and 15th in 16 meetings — in the rivalry.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, this marks the first time in nearly three decades and just the second time ever that one school had scored wins in Associated Press Top-10 matchups in football and basketball in a span of four days or fewer.  The only other school to pull off that feat?  Michigan, in 1992-93.

I have no clue what it actually all means, but it sounds pretty impressive.  And fairly hilarious that it involves both sides of the greatest rivalry in all of sports.

Oklahoma DL Jalen Redmond’s status unclear for Big 12 title game

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Ahead of Saturday’s Big 12 championship game, the status of a key rotational piece of one of the participant’s defensive line is decidedly up in the air.

Jalen Redmond didn’t travel with the rest of his No. 6 Oklahoma teammates to last Saturday’s Bedlam win over No. 25 Oklahoma State because of an unspecified issue.  With a date against Baylor on tap for Saturday, it remains unclear whether the redshirt freshman defensive lineman will be available for the conference title game.

“He has progressed this week,” Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley said when asked about Redmond’s availability. “We don’t have a complete decision right now, but he’s certainly better at this point than he was last week.”

In July of last year, Riley confirmed that, because of blood clots, Redmond would not play at all in 2018. However, the then-true freshman defied the initial medical odds and ultimately returned in October to play in three games before a recurrence of the clots in mid-November sidelined Redmond for the remainder of the year.

This season, Redmond had played in the first 11 games, starting two of those contests, before missing the Week 14 win.  Redmond is currently third on the Sooners in tackles for loss with seven and second in sacks with four.