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No. 10 Ohio State makes B1G statement as they dump No. 4 Michigan from playoff chase in 62-39 rout

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If you wanted a bit of a shakeup in the College Football Playoff picture, then No. 10 Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten) delivered. The Buckeyes were a rare home underdog against No. 4 Michigan (10-2, 8-1 Big Ten) on Saturday afternoon but they sure did not play like it. Ohio State scored the most points they have ever scored in a game against Michigan in a 62-39 blowout of the rival Wolverines. The win not only sends Ohio State back to the Big Ten championship game next week as two-time defending East Division champions, but the Buckeyes just scored a loud playoff statement worth considering against one of the nation’s top-ranked defenses.

Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins passed for 318 yards and five touchdowns in the win. His fourth touchdown pass, a short pass to K.J. Hill in the fourth quarter, set a new Big Ten single-season passing touchdown record with his 40th of the year (he later added a 41st for the season). The previous record was set by Drew Brees of Purdue in 1998.

Ohio State freshman wide receiver Chris Olave had himself a career day out of nowhere for the Buckeyes. Playing in just his fifth career game, Olave scored his first two career touchdowns in the first half and he blocked a Michigan punt in the second half that was returned for a touchdown to push the Ohio State lead to 34-19. It was pretty much over from there, as Ohio State turned a Michigan interception by Shea Patterson into a touchdown with a short run by Mike Weber to extend the lead to 41-19 just about 90 seconds later. Michigan didn’t roll over and quite, but enough damage had been done.

Ohio State scored the most points they have ever scored in the history of the storied rivalry since hitting 50 points in 1961 and again in 1968. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has now been the head coach of the Wolverines for two of the worst defensive performances against the Buckeyes after giving up 42 points in 2015 and now 48 points this season.

Michigan also got banged up on the field with injuries to key players. Devin Bush was treated for a thigh injury early in the third quarter. Later in the same quarter, Zach Gentry had to be helped off the field with a possible head injury. And in the fourth quarter, Shea Patterson was taken off the field for evaluation on his knee, the same one he previously injured at Ole Miss.

With the win clinching the East Division of the Big Ten, Ohio State will now head to Indianapolis to play in the Big Ten championship game for a second straight season. It will be Ohio State’s fourth trip to the conference championship game with a 2-1 record in the game entering next week against Northwestern. The Wildcats will make their first appearance in the Big Ten championship game after winning the West Division a few weeks ago. Ohio State leads the all-time series with Northwestern, 61-14-1, with a six-game winning streak in the series, although the two have not played each other since 2016.

Ohio State fans will also be eager to see where the Buckeyes move in the next batch of rankings from the College Football Playoff selection committee. The Buckeyes will absolutely be moving up in the rankings on Tuesday, jumping Michigan and a handful of other programs on the way, most likely. Where Ohio State ranks compared to Oklahoma will be what to pay close attention to as the Buckeyes and Sooners could be battling to impress the selection committee the most next week with a potential spot in the playoff up for grabs now that Michigan will tumble out of the fourth spot and Alabama or Georgia is guaranteed to lose next week in the SEC Championship Game (Georgia entered the week No. 5 in the rankings and will likely take over the fourth spot before championship week).

It remains to be seen if Ohio State will be in the College Football Playoff, the Rose Bowl as Big Ten champion, or some other bowl. For now, the range of bowl possibilities is pretty wide for Ohio State. For Michigan, the chance to still play in the Rose Bowl is a possibility, but it would only be an option if Ohio State is selected for the College Football Playoff. If the Rose Bowl is out of the mix though, a spot in a New Years Six bowl should still be on the table for the Wolverines, as they will more than likely remain within the top 12 of the playoff committee’s rankings, which would make them eligible for consideration for an at-large invite to an open bowl spot in the New Years Six lineup.

But for now, we sit and wait to see what comes next for Michigan and Ohio State. The one things we do know is Ohio State will begin preparing for Northwestern.

Dad of former Northwestern QB donated a real, stuffed wildcat to ‘Cats new facility

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Northwestern’s state-of-the-art football facility, literally on the shore of Lake Michigan, is now fully operational, at a low, low cost of $260 million.

The facility has everything — including an actual wild cat.

According to a story by Yahoo‘s Eric Edholm, a stuffed cat was donated to the program by Walter Siemian, the father of former Wildcat quarterback Trevor Siemian. The plan was to originally sell it and use the proceeds to benefit the program, but apparently Pat Fitzgerald saw the cat and fell in love.

Walter Siemian took down the predator — legally, of course — last November, sent the cat of prey in question to a taxidermist and then donated it to the program.

The initial understanding was that it would be sold, with the proceeds benefitting the program. After all, these things draw some serious coin. (One current listing here for a mountain lion, which this mammal appears to be, is going for more than $12,000.) But once Fitzgerald saw it, the story goes, there was no way he was letting it leave.

The cat was staying put. That’s also easy to see why. And it’s now the first thing you see when you enter the coaches’ meeting rooms.

The hope with facilities like these is that the enhanced investment into football will lead to the Northwestern coaching staff singing a different class of recruit, which will in turn allow the program to pair their stuffed mascot with some Big Ten championship trophies.

That’s the hope, at least.

Illinois lands former USC WR Josh Imatorbhebhe

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The Los Angeles-to-Champaign pipeline is alive and well.

After landing wide receiver Trevon Sidney and defensive end Oluwole Betiku, Jr., the Fighting Illini have added wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, he announced Monday.

“Transitions are never easy, but the support has definitely helped lighten the load,” Imatorbhebhe, No. 17 above, wrote in an iPhone note posted to his Twitter account. “Without further ado I’m pleased to announce my commitment to…

THE University of Illinois; with a plan to get my Masters (sic) in Strategic Brand Communications.”

A former 4-star recruit in the class of 2016 out of Suwanee, Ga., Imatorbehbhe redshirted in his first year on campus, then caught just two passes in his two seasons on the active roster, with his 2018 season slowed by an ankle injury.

Imatorbehbhe will have two seasons to play immediately for the Illini.

Trevor Lawrence once again says he has no desire to skip bowl games to protect NFL stock

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The trend of college football players with the NFL coming into view has become a growing one the last few seasons, but Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence says you won’t have to worry about missing him in a postseason bowl game.

“Sitting out bowl games and stuff, that’ll never be me,” Lawrence said in an interview with ESPN. “You won’t have to worry about writing those stories.”

This quote is nothing new from Lawrence. In March, Lawrence stressed a similar stance with regard to sitting out of college football bowl games to protect NFL draft stock.

From The Athletic‘s Grace Raynor in March:

Asked specifically if he would consider sitting out in an effort to protect his health for an NFL future, the Georgia native answered with two resounding “No’s.” That’s not in the cards, he says.

“Everyone’s talking about that, but I don’t really care about that,” Lawrence said Monday evening in his first public interview since the College Football Playoff.

“It’s definitely not coming from me, all that stuff, so (I’ll) just kind of ignore it. Just keep working.

Of course, there is something that needs to be pointed out here. A large majority of the players choosing to skip bowl games aren’t playing in the College Football Playoff and a national championship. While New Years Six bowl games are high in prestige even if not in the playoff rotation, they simply are not the same as playing in the playoff with a national title in sight.

Lawrence has played for and won the national championship in his freshman season and probably has two more seasons that could see Clemson continue to compete for a playoff spot. If Clemson is in the playoff the next two (or three years), the chances Lawrence skips a bowl game are reduced significantly.

Maybe Lawrence is just confident in Clemson’s ability to make the playoff the next couple of seasons. He’s not wrong though, right?

Syracuse seeing spike in football season ticket sales

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Dino Babers had Syracuse enjoying a 10-win season for the first time since 2001 last season. Fans of the Orange have had their enthusiasm for the football program rejuvenated and it shows in the season ticket sales this offseason.

According to a report from Syracuse.com, Syracuse has recorded 4,500 more season ticket sales this year than the school saw all of last year. To date, as of Friday, Syracuse has sold 6,800 season tickets for the 2019 season as the total inches closer and closet to a possible school record (8,000).

On top of the increased season ticket sales, Syracuse is also seeing a great retention rate through season ticket renewals. Syracuse has seen over 90 percent of season ticket holders renew their ticket packages for the 2019 season.

Syracuse ended the 2018 season ranked No. 15 in the final AP poll. IT is the highest Syracuse has ended a season in the AP Top 25 since the 2001 season (No. 14). Babers also ended Syracuse’s bowl drought in style by coaching Syracuse to a Camping World Victory in Syracuse’s first bowl game since 2013.

Syracuse opens the 2019 season on the road at Liberty on Aug. 31.