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No. 10 Ohio State survives OT shootout at Maryland, still in Big Ten title hunt

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No. 10 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten) did not hold a lead until overtime, but that’s all that matters for the Buckeyes on this day. A failed two-point conversion attempt by Maryland (5-6, 3-5 Big Ten) gave Ohio State a 52-51 victory to keep a shot at playing for the Big Ten East Division championship next week at home.

Ohio State and Maryland exchanged five straight touchdown drives as the offenses hit another gear in the final 15 minutes of regulation. Maryland had a chance to score last with the ball getting to the Ohio State 38-yard line, but Ohio State’s Chase Young chased down Maryland quarterback Tyrell Pigrome on 2nd & 10 for a loss of 14 yards and Dre’Mont Jones followed that with a sack for a loss of six yards on the final play of regulation as Maryland was out of field goal range in the closing seconds. That sent the game to overtime.

Starting on offense in overtime, Ohio State gambled with the way the offenses were going on a 4th and 1 play. After a timeout, Dwayne Haskins completed an easy pass to his left to Rashod Berry to get the ball to the five-yard line. Shortly after Ohio State was moved back 15 yards for a hands to the face penalty and a pass interference penalty on Maryland moved the ball forward 15 yards one play later, Haskins took care of business himself by running and stretching for the end zone and a touchdown. The call on the field had to be upheld following a video review to certify Ohio State’s first lead of the game.

Maryland wasted no time answering with a big 24-yard run by Anthony McFarland on the first play of Maryland’s overtime possession, and Tayon Fleet-Davis scored on the next play to bring Maryland within one. Rather than kick an extra point to force the second overtime, Maryland head coach Matt Canada opted to end the game one way or the other with a two-point conversion. Pilgrome rolled to his right and fired off a pass but it was unable to be hauled in, and Ohio State breathed a massive sigh of relief.

McFarland rushed for a career-high 298 yards with two long touchdown runs of at least 75 yards and Maryland rushed for a team total of 339 yards and five touchdowns against an Ohio State defense that once again showed plenty of problems. Making this less encouraging for Ohio State was the defense played one of their better games a week ago against Michigan State after some woeful performances leading up to that. Ohio State compensated with their offense, led by Haskins throwing for 405 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 59 yards and three touchdowns. J.K. Dobbins rushing for 203 yards and a touchdown.

Ohio State running back Mike Weber did not play in the game, although he was on the sidelines in uniform. No explanation for his absence was provided.

Ohio State has plenty of room for improvement next week when the Buckeyes host rival Michigan in the regular season finale. The winner of next week’s game between the Buckeyes and Wolverines will clinch the Big Ten East Division and head to Indianapolis to play Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game in two weeks. The win also helps keep Ohio State on the College Football Playoff radar, although the Buckeyes have a crowded pack in front of them.

Maryland will conclude its regular season next week on the road at Penn State. The Nittany Lions have won the last three meetings in the series since Maryland won the first Big Ten matchup between the two in 2014. Maryland lost at home 66-3 in last season’s regular-season finale. Maryland will have to win next week in order to qualify for a bowl game.

Tanner Tessmann chooses pro soccer over kicking for Clemson

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This is quite the odd “loss” for Clemson football.  To say the least.

Back in December, Tanner Tessmann signed to play soccer at Clemson.  The plan was also for Tessman to kick for the Clemson football team as a scholarship player as well.

Thursday, however, FC Dallas announced that the 18-year-old Tessmann has signed a three-year contract with the Major League Soccer team.  The deal also contains club options for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.

Tessmann could begin his professional soccer career as early as Saturday.

“I’m excited to get started,” Tessmann said in a statement. “Signing a professional contract has been a goal of mine since I moved to Texas to join the Academy at 14 years old. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to get this opportunity, so it meant a lot to have my family here with me today.”

Back in December, Dabo Swinney was very, very effusive in his praise of Tessman, who the Clemson football coach has known for the young man’s entire life.

From TigerNet.com:

(Clemson soccer coach Mike) Noonan is somewhere, having a party somewhere right now because he just signed an unbelievably talented soccer player,” Swinney said back then. “But I’ve had the inside track on this one for a long time. My best friend is PJ Tessmann, and we’re basically brothers-in-laws…so I’ve kind of been the pseudo uncle to his two kids – Tanner, and his daughter Ashley literally their whole lives and kind of been Uncle Bo and kind of like Godfather if you will.

“But I had the inside track because I’ve seen him his entire life. And he’s one of the best athletes. He could go play D1 basketball. He could probably start at receiver at Clemson. He could probably play safety at Clemson. He’s a six-foot-two phenom. He can fly. He’s as good athlete as I’ve ever seen…It was a really difficult thing but, you know, it was a very tough thing for PJ and his mom, PJ’s wife Kelly, because FC Dallas came recruiting him and his dream was to play soccer professionally and maybe in Europe and all that. And so, FC Dallas literally came and recruited him, came to their house and it was just a very challenging thing because he was going to be going off in the eighth grade to this place developing.

“And so he’s been living in Dallas, literally since the eighth grade. And it’s amazing. So, I’m the only person on the planet that knew because he could bomb it 45 to 50 yards in the eighth grade. No one really knew because he has not played football. But he comes around and gets out there and plays around and kicks the ball and this and that. I mean it’s been amazing to watch him develop.

Clemson football should be okay on the kicking front, though, as the Tigers return their primary kicker from their run to the 2019 national championship game.  As a true sophomore last season, B.T. Potter made all 79 of his point-after attempts and 13 of his 21 field-goal tries.

Both of Nebraska’s primary kickers in 2019 have now left the Cornhuskers, with one leaving to focus on… club soccer?

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It was quite the day on the kicking front for the Nebraska football program. And not in a good way.  At all.

Thursday, it was reported that Barrett Pickering was no longer a part of the Nebraska football team.  The placekicker subsequently confirmed that he was stepping away from the sport because of health concerns.  Pickering will, however, remain on scholarship as a student at the school.  The Alabama native won’t count against the 85-man scholarship limit for Nebraska football.

Not long after the news of Pickering’s decision broke, it was also confirmed that kicker Matt Waldoch will not be returning to the program as well.  The reason?  Club soccer.

The twin departures leave Nebraska football very thin at the position.  At least, experience-wise it does.

As a true freshman in 2018, Pickering served as the primary placekicker for Nebraska football.  That season, he hit on 14 of his 18 field-goal attempts (77.8 percent) and missed just one of his 41 point-after attempts. Pickering did not miss over the final six games, going 25-of-25 on extra points and 9-of-9 on field goals.

During that stretch, he accounted for all nine points (three field goals) in a 9-6 win over Michigan State.  That was the first time Nebraska football won without scoring a touchdown since 1937.

Despite that momentum, Pickering’s 2019 season was essentially a wasted year.  The Alabama native missed the first seven games last season because of an unspecified injury.  When he returned, he went 3-of-5 on field goals and was successful on all 10 extra points.

By the end of the year, though, Waldoch, an in-season tryout player off the club soccer team, had become the Cornhuskers’ primary kicker.

With Pickering exiting the program, Waldoch would’ve entered the spring as the favorite to win the job.  Waldoch didn’t miss a kick this past campaign, connecting on four field-goal and nine point-after tries.

Nebraska football will enter spring practice with three non-scholarship options at the position: redshirt freshman Gabe Heins, junior-college transfer Chase Contreraz and true freshman Tyler Crawford.  Contreraz will head into the spring as the favorite to win the job.

Highest-rated signee in Texas A&M Class of 2018, Leon O’Neal, enters transfer portal

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For nearly the dozenth time this cycle, a Texas A&M football player is looking to leave College Station.  And this one was a huge 2018 get.

On his personal Twitter account Thursday evening, Leon O’Neal announced that he has decided to leave the Aggies and continue his playing career elsewhere.  No reason for his decision to enter the NCAA transfer database was given.

“I want to thank Texas A&M for everything,” the defensive back wrote. “Every game was one I’ll never forget. Win, lose or draw The 12th Man never lost [their] spirit. I want to thank my brothers for the love and support. Our bond will last forever.”

A four-star member of the Texas A&M football Class of 2018, O’Neal was the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Texas.  He was also the No. 8 safety in the country.  Most notably, O’Neal was the highest-rated member of the Aggies’ class that year.

O’Neal was part of Jimbo Fisher‘s first recruiting class after taking over as the A&M football head coach in December of 2017.

As a true freshman, O’Neal appeared in all 13 games for Texas A&M football.  Most of that action came on special teams.  This past season, the safety started eight of the 12 games in which he played.

Boise State DB DeAndre Pierce opts to enter transfer portal

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The playing career of one injury-plagued Boise State football player has come to an end.  At least, in Idaho it has.

According to 247Sports.com, DeAndre Pierce has made the decision to move on from the Boise State football program.  A BSU football official subsequently confirmed overnight that the defensive back’s name is listed in the NCAA transfer database.

No specific reason for the parting of ways was given.

If Pierce follows through and transfers away from Boise State football, he would do so as a graduate transfer.  That would allow him to play at another FBS school immediately in 2020.  If that’s the tack he chooses, of course.

Pierce was a three-star member of the Broncos’ Class of 2016.  The California native took a redshirt as a true freshman.  In 2017, Pierce started 11 of the 14 games in which he played.  He earned honorable mention All-Mountain West Conference honors for that season.

Then, the injuries hit.

The safety started four of the first five games in 2018 before a lacerated spleen sidelined him for the rest of the season.  In 2019, Pierce started five games… but missed the other nine because of various injuries.

When healthy, Pierce was credited with 144 tackles, seven tackles for loss, six passed defensed, one sack and one interception.