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.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.