Associated Press

No. 10 Ohio State looks nothing like playoff contender in outlasting Nebraska

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Thanks to an off weekend, Ohio State had a couple of weeks to right what went horribly wrong in the 29-point loss to Purdue in Week 8. Based on what went down at Ohio Stadium Saturday afternoon, they probably could’ve used a couple (or a few) more.

Showing they were in for an all-day battle against a team that came in at 2-6, and with boos from the home crowd very audible, the Buckeyes entered the halftime locker room down 21-16 thanks in large part to a pair of turnovers that led to 14 Cornhusker points.  A pair of touchdowns late in the third quarter, however, gave OSU a lead it would never relinquish in a 36-31 win that was far from as easy as the last two meetings between the schools (combined score: OSU 117, NU 17).

Trailing by nine with under eight minutes left in the game, an 18-yard field goal brought the ‘Huskers to within six at 30-24.  Three minutes later, however, J.K. Dobbins seemingly put the game away with a 42-yard touchdown run that, with a failed two-point conversion, pushed the lead out to 12 with 4:52 remaining in the contest.

On the ensuing possession, a 75-yard touchdown drive punctuated by a 17-yard Adrian Martinez touchdown pass to JD Spielman pulled the feisty Cornhuskers to within five with less than three minutes left in the game.  A healthy dose of Dobbins on the final drive bled out the rest of the clock and dashed any hopes the Cornhuskers had entertained in pulling off what would’ve been a huge upset.

All three of NU’s first-half scores came on the ground, which continued a troubling trend for OSU this year.  In 14 games last season, the Buckeyes allowed 13 rushing touchdowns; through nine games this season, they’ve allowed 15.

Another area of concern, though, showed some signs of life for the Buckeyes.  After struggling in the running game for a good chunk of the season, OSU ran for 229 yards — unbelievably, its most since Week 2 vs. Rutgers — paced by Dobbins’ season-high 163 and aided by Mike Weber‘s 91.  The former also accounted for a trio of touchdowns on the ground.

That said, the past two games have exposed the Buckeyes as a team that, as currently composed and presently playing, should not be considered one of the top four teams in the country despite their better-than-it-looks 8-1 record and No. 10 ranking in the initial CFP Top 25. The good news for OSU is that there are loads of talent on the roster — injuries are admittedly hampering the defense — and they have a pair of road games (Michigan State, Maryland) to help get them right before a matchup against hated rival and fifth-ranked Michigan in the Horseshoe the last Saturday of November — a matchup that will very likely decide the East’s representative in the Big Ten championship game..

Based on how both teams are playing at the moment, though, the Wolverines have to feel more confident than ever that they can end their drought in The Game — even if it will be in the not-so-friendly confines of Ohio Stadium.

Reports: Alabama DC interviews for, accepts job with Cleveland Browns

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The offensive side of Nick Saban‘s Alabama coaching staff has been ravaged by poaching over the past few weeks. As of Wednesday night, it appears the defensive side won’t go unscathed this offseason either.

According to Matt Zenitz of al.com, Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi interviewed for a job with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns this week. Zenitz didn’t specify for what position Lupoi interviewed with the Browns, which officially filled its defensive coordinator position earlier this week.

However, a subsequent report not only identified the position for which Lupoi interviewed, but that the erstwhile Tide coordinator has accepted the job.

Lupoi, one of the best recruiters in the sport, has spent the past five seasons on Saban’s staff. After serving as a defensive analyst his first two years, he was the Tide’s outside linebackers coach in 2016 before taking over as coordinator for Jeremy Pruitt, who left to take the head job at rival Tennessee.

Prior to Alabama, Lupoi was the defensive line coach at Washington (2012-13) and Cal (2008-11).

The Browns recently named Freddie Kitchens as its latest head football coach. Kitchens, for those of you who don’t remember, was a three-year starter at quarterback for Alabama in the mid-nineties.

Saban, for those of you who don’t remember, was the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns from 1991-94 under Bill Belichick before taking the head job at Michigan State.

Mike Locksley reportedly turns to ex-ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery as Terps’ OC

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Mike Locksley is turning to a former head coach to become his first offensive coordinator at Maryland.

As first reported by InsideMDSports, the new Terps OC will be none other than former East Carolina head coach Scottie Montgomery. The move by Locksley comes a few days after fellow former Alabama assistant Josh Gattis reportedly spurned Maryland to take the same job at Michigan.

Montgomery’s track record as an assistant is certainly a bit better than what he did with the Pirates after going 9-26 overall in three seasons in charge of the program. While ECU’s offense did put up some impressive numbers at times (as well as produce players like Gardner Minshew II before he transferred to Washington State), Montgomery is probably best known for his work on the Duke staff under David Cutcliffe.

The 40-year-old started out as a wide receivers coach at his alma mater before eventually becoming OC of the Blue Devils, with a short stint in the NFL mixed in.

The good news for Locklsey and Montgomery is that they do have talent to work with in College Park even after missing out on grad transfer QB Jalen Hurts. The Terps are set to return both Tyrrell Pigrome and potentially Kasim Hill at quarterback as well as a slew of speedy backs and receivers.

Oklahoma will grant QB Austin Kendall waiver to play immediately at WVU

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It only took a few hours of getting thrown under the bus by fans and the national media, but cooler heads have prevailed in Norman.

Not long after it surfaced that graduate transfer Austin Kendall was being blocked by Oklahoma from being immediately eligible at West Virginia in 2019, USA Today reports that the Sooners have relented and the quarterback will indeed be able to play right away with the Mountaineers.

Kendall arrived at OU as part of the class of 2016 and saw limited playing time behind back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners at his position in Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. While it’s possible he could have stuck around to be the starter for the team in 2019, former Alabama starter Jalen Hurts announcing he was transferring in as a graduate transfer earlier on Wednesday all but put an end to that line of thought.

The reversal from Lincoln Riley and Oklahoma’s athletic department shows once again that schools have little to gain by even threatening to block a player from transferring. At some point a college football program will learn that it invites nothing but bad press in the short term over somebody who is leaving town anyway. At least everybody came to that same conclusion this time around before Kendall and his family had to call up a lawyer or two to reach the same end point.

Oh and by the way, Kendall will be back in Norman with the Mountaineers on October 19 during the upcoming season for what figures to be a Big 12 game with more than the usual on-field storylines coming in.

Iowa State not playing spring game in 2019 due to weather, construction concerns

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The calendar says January and the national title game was just last week but it’s never too early to start thinking about spring football around the college landscape.

The folks at Iowa State certainly are.

In a release from the school issued on Wednesday, the Cyclones confirmed that they would not be playing a spring game in 2019 and will now go two years between any potential showcases to cap off their prescribed 15 practices.

“As a result of the uncertain weather conditions we face each spring in Iowa, plus the site preparation work that will begin this Spring for the new Sports Performance Center project, Coach Campbell and I have decided to not schedule a spring football game,” Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard said in a statement.  “Similar to last year, Coach Campbell and his staff can use that day to conduct a 15th spring practice which they feel is more beneficial for the overall development of the student-athletes and the football program.”

Though there are indeed plenty of reasons why a program might join the growing trend of skipping out on playing a spring game, it’s certainly disappointing for many ISU fans to go two years without being able to see their team in action and what new faces might end up contributing in the fall. Weather concerns are nothing new in Ames though, as an actual non-conference game in 2018 was cancelled and replaced with an FCS foe in December, to say nothing of last year’s spring game getting called off due to the elements.