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Jonathan Taylor scores four TDs as No. 17 Wisconsin pounds CMU; date with Michigan on horizon


Another week, another lopsided result in favor of the No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers (2-0). Wisconsin notched a second straight win to open the 2019 season with a blowout victory in their home opener with a 61-0 victory over Central Michigan. Jonathan Taylor scored four total touchdowns and quarterback Jack Coan passed for 363 yards and three touchdowns in the win. The defense also recorded a second consecutive shutout.

Taylor continues to march toward the 5,000-yard career mark. With 4,306 career rushing yards to his name entering Week 2, Taylor added 102 more yards (and three rushing touchdowns with a touchdown reception for good measure) to move closer to becoming the fourth player to record 5,000 career rushing yards through their junior season. He would join Georgia’s Herschel Walker, Oregon’s LaMichael James and, naturally, Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne. He now needs 592 more yards.

But Wisconsin is always going to be solid running the football. The more pleasant development early on may be the play of Coan. A week after a solid outing against USF, Coan was incredibly efficient and reliable throwing the football against the Chippewas. The only question is just how much as Coan been challenged by opposing pass defenses? USF was an above average pass defensive team in 2018 with 11 interceptions, and Central Michigan allowed the fourth-fewest passing yards per game last season. The flip side of that argument, however, is the Chippewas had the seventh fewest opposing pass attempts thrown against them last season. The season is still young, and the level of defensive stature is going to increase for Wisconsin. This has been an incredibly encouraging start for the Badgers, but we are still dealing with a small sample size.

Although Wisconsin has not been presented with a stiff challenge to start the season, they now prepare for one of the more challenging obstacles they will face this season. After getting a bye week next week, Wisconsin will host No. 7 Michigan, who handed Wisconsin a loss last season in Ann Arbor. Michigan will also have a bye week to prepare for their first road trip of the season, and they may need the bye week more than the Badgers. Michigan struggled at home but celebrated a double overtime victory against Army earlier on Saturday. The new-look offense is still a work in progress for the Wolverines, and it seems the Wisconsin defense could be in for a good matchup at home.

This is the second time since 2013 Wisconsin has opened the year with back-to-back shutouts. The Badgers blanked UMass and Tennessee Tech in the first two games of the 2015 season with 45-0 and 48-0 victories, respectively. The last time Wisconsin recorded two shutouts in the same season was 2015 with wins against Hawaii and Miami Ohio.

Central Michigan will hope to bounce back next week when they host Akron in MAC play.

Jerry Jeudy, AJ Dillon, Eno Benjamin and more set for State Farm All-Star Football Challenge

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It may fly under the radar for most, but the 22nd annual State Farm All-Star Football Challenge is set to take place on Jan. 31 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The skills competition will pit 24 college football stars in a team event. Among those participating in this year’s challenge will be Boston College running back AJ Dillon, Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray, and Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

Five teams representing each of the power five conferences will consist of players from those respective conferences: ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC. A sixth team of “wild card” players will be comprised of players from the Group of Five or below. This year’s wild card players will come from the Mountain West Conference (Utah State QB Jordan Love, Boise State DE Curtis Weaver), Conference USA (FAU TE Harrison Bryant) and the South Atlantic Conference of Division 2 (Lenoir-Rhyne S Kyle Dugger).

The individual events included in the competition are a quarterback accuracy contest, obstacle course, strength challenge, and a hands competition. A team event will complete the overall event.

Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
Bryce Perkins, QB, Virginia
Jason Strowbridge, DL, North Carolina

Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa

Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Carter Stanley, QB, Kansas

Salvon Ahmed, RB, Washington
Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah
Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State

Nick Coe, DE, Auburn
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Terrell Lewis, LB, Alabama
Riley Neal, QB, Vanderbilt

Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic
Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State

TE Jordan Wilson to transfer from UCLA

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UCLA redshirt junior Jordan Wilson has announced he is leaving the Bruins. In a post on his Twitter account on Friday afternoon, Wilson announced he is entering the transfer portal with the intent of finishing up his collegiate career with some other program.

“[I’d] like to announce that I will be entering the transfer portal, graduating at the end of the Spring quarter, and playing my final year of eligibility somewhere else,” Wilson announced in a statement on his Twitter account.

The decision of Wilson to leave UCLA comes at an unfortunate time for the Bruins. Wilson was likely to be a starter at tight end for UCLA in the fall. Wilson is the third tight end to leave UCLA this offseason. Devin Asiasi previously made the decision to declare for the NFL draft a year early. Matt Lynch also stepped into the transfer portal. Now, UCLA has a wide-open competition for playing time at the tight end spot beginning this spring.

Wilson caught seven passes for 72 yards for UCLA in 2019. He will leave UCLA having caught 25 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the past three seasons. As a graduate transfer, Wilson will be eligible to play his final year of eligibility anywhere he ends up this fall.

USC nabs Todd Orlando from Texas Tech

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USC has a new defensive coordinator. The Trojans announced on Friday the school has officially hired Todd Orlando to fill the role of defensive coordinator. Orlando joins USC after coaching the past three seasons at Texas.

Orlando actually joined the Texas Tech program after being let go by Texas following staff changes with the Longhorns. Despite landing a job with the Red Raiders, Orlando remained a top target for USC head coach Clay Helton.

“We are excited to have Todd join our Trojan football program,” Helton said in a released statement. “He is an experienced and successful defensive coordinator who has made an impact everywhere he has coached. He brings a passion, energy, toughness and discipline to his coaching and those characteristics were evident in our discussions. His defensive system poses an extreme challenge to offenses.”

Orlando replaces Clancy Pendergast, who was let go by Helton amid USC’s own staff changes after a down 2019 season. As previously mentioned (HERE), Orlando actually had worse defensive numbers compared to what Pendergast coached with USC last season. However, a contrast of playing styles and offensive outputs between the schedule Texas faced in 2019 (including games against LSU and Oklahoma) and what USC faced could lead to some skewed figures.

Orlando’s first test as a defensive coordinator will be a monster. USC opens the 2020 season in Arlington, Texas against Alabama.

Cal loses assistant Gerald Alexander to NFL job

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Cal assistant coach Gerald Alexander is leaving to coach with the Miami Dolphins. Alexander confirmed in a message posted on his Twitter account he is heading to the NFL for a coaching opportunity. Multiple reports have confirmed it will be with the Miami Dolphins.

Alexander thanked Cal head coach Justin Wilcox for the opportunity to be a part of Wilcox’s first coaching staff at Cal.

Alexander joined the Cal program in 2017 and spent the past three seasons as a defensive backs coach for the program. He has played a role in helping to coach one of the better defensive teams in the Pac-12. He previously coached at Montana State, Indiana State and with Chris Peterssen at Washington. Alexander played for Petersen at Boise State.

This will mark a return to the NFL for Alexander. He previously played in the league for five seasons with the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, and, appropriately enough, the Miami Dolphins. Alexander was a second-round draft pick of Detroit in 2007.