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Injuries highlight No. 25 Stanford’s low-scoring win over Northwestern

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The Pac-12 scored a much-needed non-conference victory on Saturday afternoon over the defending Big Ten West title-holders but it proved to be a costly one in terms of injuries for both sides. At least Stanford head coach David Shaw can revel in a 17-7 win over Northwestern in a game that was far uglier as the final scoreline indicated.

Shaw’s quarterback K.J. Costello was the first major injury in the contest, suffering what appeared to be a head injury after a defender’s forearm slammed into his helmet while he was sliding at midfield just before time expired in the first half. He didn’t return to the game after a pretty solid start to the season with 152 yards and a touchdown. Backup David Mills, a former top recruit, entered in the third quarter and did just enough to keep the chains moving while throwing for 81 yards.

Brandon Scarlett rushed for 97 yards in his first action as the lead back for the Cardinal while Connor Wedington (69 yards) and Michael Wilson (47 yards, one touchdown) emerged as the top options in a passing game that has a lot of new faces in the lineup compared to 2018.

While Stanford clearly slowed down after their starting quarterback went down, the same was the case for Northwestern even though it was the backup exiting that seemed to throw off the Wildcats. Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson got the start but was uneven throughout, tossing an interception on his first drive (he tossed another later on) and completing just five passes for 46 yards. Backup T.J. Green entered on the final series of the first half and seemed to have the offense moving a little more but he exited after taking a hit and fumbling, not returning the rest of the way.

To make matters worse, the heart of the NU attack also left the game as tailback Isaiah Bowser suffered a leg injury after rushing for 54 yards on 10 carries. Factor in four turnovers, losing the lopsided time of possession battle, fumbling for a touchdown on the final drive plus managing just 201 yards of offense and it was a forgettable debut for Johnson and the rest of Pat Fitzgerald’s crew who didn’t play on defense.

The defending division winners in the Big Ten still can regroup when they head across country as they proved last season when they lost all their non-conference games yet still made it to Indianapolis. The quarterback play had to be a bit of a red flag for those in purple however — to say nothing of the injuries.

As for Stanford, they won their 12th straight home opener and notched a badly needed non-conference victory for their beleaguered conference lacking much of note early in 2019. The defense forced four turnovers and the offense somehow found a way to win despite the loss of Costello early on. The Cardinal will certainly take a 1-0 start as they pass the first of a number of tough tests this month with USC and a trip to UCF upcoming over the next few weeks.

Walk-on UCLA TE Greg Dulcich rewarded with scholarship on his birthday

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Courtesy of UCLA football, those weary of the misery that’s engulfing our country at the moment can find a reason to smile a little in this post.

Greg Dulcich would’ve been entering his third season as a walk-on for the UCLA football team. The key phrase there, of course, is “would’ve been.” Late last week, the Bruins announced that Dulcich has been placed on scholarship.

Arguably the best part? The announcement came on the redshirt sophomore’s birthday.

Dulcich received the news from UCLA football head coach Chip Kelly. Following the phone call, the in-self-isolation tight end celebrated with family.

From the Los Angeles Times:

When I hung up the phone,” Dulcich said, “it was pretty loud in here.”

He sprinted over to the dining room to give his mom a hug before his siblings converged for what Dulcich described as “a big ol’ family hug.” They celebrated over a birthday dinner of chili cheese dogs and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, the dessert made just the way Dulcich likes it.

Kelly made it clear to Dulcich that the scholarship was not a birthday present so much as a reward for all of his hard work. Dulcich caught a 20-yard touchdown pass last season against San Diego State and has made the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll, requiring at least a 3.0 grade-point average, during every quarter since his arrival.

“He was pretty adamant about making me feel like I earned it,” Dulcich said, “and that was really cool of him to put it like that.

The past two seasons, Dulcich has appeared in 14 games for the UCLA football team. Because he played in just three games during the 2018 season, he was able to take a redshirt and save a season of eligibility.

In that action, the California native has caught nine passes for 111 yards and a touchdown. Eight of catches, 105 of the yards and the lone score came this past season.

Tulane shows off fresh new turf for football season

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We don’t know, officially, when college football will return to our lives. When it does, Tulane will have a brand new playing surface waiting to be broken in.

Tulane shared a look at the updated turf in Tulane’s Yulman Stadium, complete with the signature fighting green wave logo sitting at midfield. But the most noticeable update is a consistent green pattern as opposed to the alternating shades of green on the previous turf. The ends zones also have a fresh coat of paint, doing away with the white checkerboard pattern and replacing it with a light blue backdrop with “Green Wave” painted in green and outlined in white in each end zone.

The loss of the checkerboard end zones is slightly upsetting, but overall this is a worthy upgrade. Keeping the midfield logo was essential, and the blue end zones are certainly a pleasant upgrade.

Tulane is coming off a 7-6 season capped by a victory in the Armed Forces Bowl. After back-to-back winning seasons and bowl victories, Tulane and head coach Willie Fritz will hope to take advantage of their new turf and take the next step toward playing for the American Athletic Conference championship in 2020.

Despite New York shutting down construction, work on Syracuse’s Carrier Dome continues

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Like many states around the country, New York has issued a state-wide shutdown of all non-essential businesses. The updated order from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has included a ban on non-essential construction projects, which is notable to Syracuse University. Just weeks after deflating the roof of the Carrier Dome for the final time as renovations were underway, whether or not the Carrier Dome classifies as essential construction or not is still being debated.

As noted by Syracuse.com, stadiums did not fall under the list of construction projects that could be considered essential. Essential projects have included those on roads, bridges, transit, utilities, hospitals and affordable housing, just to name a few. Clearly, the Carrier Dome does not fall under any of those categories. But, of course, that has not stopped some officials from stating the construction on the Carrier Dome should be allowed to continue.

The Dome project should be exempt,” Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said recently, according to Syracuse.com. “I already had a call with the state on this. Regardless on the Dome project, it has to be exempt because that big metal structure on the Dome isn’t secure. They’re still putting it up. We’re not going to stop construction and have 50 mph winds present another public health challenge. I called the state and just put everybody on notice on that. I talked to the contractor.”

Syracuse will be replacing the roof after a new railing support system is in place. The renovations to the Carrier Dome are priced at $118 million and the original plans were to have the project completed in full by 2022, although some parts of the renovations were likely to be completed in time for the 2020 college football season. Whether that will remain the case or not remains to be seen as the entire sports world and beyond has been put on ice amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Minnesota coach PJ Fleck has encouraging words for everyone during COVID-19 pandemic

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If there is one coach in college football that can be trusted to find the silver lining in times like these, it has to be Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck. Always one of the most uplifting and positive-thinking coaches sin the game, Fleck shared a message to everyone that may help you feel at least a little better about everything going on right now with the COVID-19 pandemic taking a toll on our lives.

In an interview last week with Pat Mcafee on his YouTube show, (The Pat McAfee Show), Fleck was asked what his message would be to people if they need a little bit of encouragement. Naturally, Fleck was up to the task;

“[There] are no problems, only situations, and from a situation creates opportunity,” Fleck said. “So for us, it’s about how we’re going to be able to respond to this, how are we going to be able to get back to this norm? everybody wants to keep chasing this norm. When’s normal coming back? I got news for you. Normal’s not coming back!”

Even as someone who is optimistic that things will return to “normal,” I can’t help but think Fleck is probably correct in this line of thought. He continued.

“Whatever your view of normal is, it’s not coming back. There are going to be ways and things that we implement that becomes the new norm,” Fleck explained. “But if you’re afraid of that, who says the new norm can’t be better? Why can’t our world be better? Why can’t our nation be better? Why can’t we continue to grow? Why can’t we be intentional with our intentions to make this a better world after we get through this? Who’s to say it has to be worse?”

“We all have a role in this, and we can all row the boat together,” Fleck said, working in his own personal motto that has worked so well for him over the years for good measure. “We can all look at our problems, look at them as situations and create these opportunities that make this world better. Here’s the one thing. We all affect this. every single one of us have an impact of how we actually change the future of this nation.”

I don’t know about you, but I feel a little better moving forward. Maybe we need to hear from Fleck every day until things do return to whatever the newly established “normal” shall be.

Here is the video clip of Fleck’s interview, via McAfee’s Twitter account;