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Jonathan Taylor paces Wisconsin to big lead on Michigan before leaving game

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Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor had a big first quarter to give Wisconsin an early jump on Michigan, but his status is unknown after a trip to the injury tent and an early exit to the locker room. The Badgers lead the Wolverines 28-0 at halftime in Madison in a Big Ten opener between two unbeaten teams.

Taylor was the star of the first quarter with 143 rushing yards and two touchdowns. His second touchdown run was a 72-yard sprint up the middle of the Michigan defense, and it came just moments after a controversial replay review wiped out a big pass play by Michigan.

During the second quarter, Taylor was seen heading into the sideline medical tent after walking gingerly on the sideline. His return was reported to be questionable, according to the sideline report during the broadcast. Taylor left the medical tent on the sideline for the locker room later in the second quartrer. That led Wisconsin’s running game to be led by another Taylor, A.J. Taylor. Taylor picked up an 11-yard run during a 15-play touchdown drive by the Badgers to put the home team up 21-0. At this rate, will Wisconsin even need to see the star Heisman hopeful back today?

Michigan’s best chance to score came on their first offensive series of the game. After going down 7-0, Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson connected on a 68-yard pass to Ronnie Bell to put the Wolverines in scoring position right off the bat, but a return to the power running game Michigan has used as its identity in those types of situations ended in failure when Ben Mason carried the football for the first time this season and fumbled at the four-yard line. Michigan appeared to be in position to move the ball on their next possession but a video replay overturned a call on the field for another deep pass to Bell. The official ruling stated the ball had come loose as Bell was diving to the ground to make the catch, although video replay never quite showed what would be considered indisputable evidence strong enough to overturn the original call on the field.

Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan ended the first half by putting his team up 28-0 with a run right up the middle of the Michigan defense.

Being down 28-0 at Wisconsin is quite a mountain for this Michigan offense right now. Even without Taylor available, potentially, Wisconsin has the defense to protect a 28-point lead in the final 30 minutes of the game, especially if the Michigan offense continues to be a massive work in progress.

We’ll see if anything changes after halftime, but Wisconsin is in a great spot at the break.

Miami WR Brian Hightower tweets move to the portal

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All of a sudden, there’s a bit of upheaval in Miami’s receiving corps.

Earlier today, we noted the long-running, ongoing drama that is the Jeff Thomas Experience at The U. Monday evening, Brian Hightower added to the collective positional brouhaha by announcing on Twitter that, “[a]fter careful consideration and discussion with my family, and THE University of Miami coaching staff, I am entering my name into the transfer portal to openly explore the best opportunities to utilize my remaining eligibility and pursue my education.”

A four-star member of Miami’s 2018 recruiting class, Hightower was rated as the No. 27 receiver in the country.  Mark Pope was the only receiver in The U’s class that year rated higher than Hightower.

Hightower played in 17 games during his time with the Hurricanes — 10 as a true freshman, all seven this season.  He totaled 148 yards and one touchdown on 12 receptions, with eight of those catches and 88 of the yards coming in 2019.

Iowa could be without leading receiver, top tackler for Northwestern

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When Iowa kicks off its Week 9 matchup with Northwestern, the Hawkeyes could very well be at less than full strength on both sides of the football.

The Hawkeyes released its depth chart Monday for this Saturday’s game against the Wildcats, and neither wide receiver Brandon Smith nor middle linebacker Kristian Welch weren’t listed.  Smith suffered an injury to his lower right leg in the win over Purdue this past Saturday, while Welch suffered an undisclosed injury during the loss the week before to Penn State and didn’t see the field against Purdue.

Official word on the pair’s status for Week 9 probably won’t come until later on in the week.

Smith currently leads the Hawkeyes with 33 receptions and four receiving touchdowns.  His 407 yards receiving are good for second on the team.

Welch’s 47 tackles are nine more than the Hawkeyes’ second-leading tackler, Jack Koerner.  With three tackles for loss, he’s second only to Chauncey Golston‘s five.

Updated coaches salaries database released, with Dabo Swinney leading the way

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You might want to sit down for this: college football head coaches continue to make a spitload of money.

As it does around this time every year, USA Today Tuesday released an updated version of its FBS coaches salaries database.  The highest-paid?  Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and his $9.32 million in total pay, overtaking Alabama’s Nick Saban, who was tops at $8.3 million in 2018 and now sits at No. 2 at $8.86 million.

At the opposite end of the financial spectrum is Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell, whose $360,000 in total compensation is the lowest salary of those obtained by USA Today.  Compensation for coaches at eight universities — Air Force, Army, BYU, Liberty, Miami, Rice, SMU, Temple — wasn’t available.

Arguably the most improbable name in the Top 10 in compensation?  Jeff Brohm at $6.6 million, ahead of the likes of Lincoln Riley of Oklahoma ($6.4 million), James Franklin of Penn State ($5.6 million) and David Shaw of Stanford ($4.6 million).  Brohm, whose wooing by Louisville led to a hefty new contract, is 2-5 this season after going 13-13 his first two seasons with the Boilermakers.

Below are the highest-paid Power Five coaches, per conference:

  • ACC — Swinney, $9.32 million
  • Big 12 — Texas’ Tom Herman, $6.75 million
  • Big Ten — Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, $7.5 million
  • Pac-12 — Washington’s Chris Petersen, $4.63 million
  • SEC — Saban, $8.86 million

Conversely, these are the lowest-paid Power Five coaches for each league:

  • ACC — Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson, $2.19 million
  • Big 12 — Kansas State’s Chris Klieman, $2.3 million
  • Big Ten — Indiana’s Tom Allen, $1.8 million
  • Pac-12 — Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin, $2 million
  • SEC — Mississippi State’s Joe Moorhead, $3 million

At $5 million, USF’s Charlie Strong‘s total compensation is far and away the highest for a Group of Five coaches, with Houston’s Dana Holgorsen‘s $3.7 million the next closest.

Of the other four G5 leagues, North Texas’ Seth Littrell of Conference USA ($1.9 million), Toledo’s Jason Candle of the MAC ($1.2 million), Wyoming’s Craig Bohl of the Mountain West ($2.1 million) and Louisiana’s Billy Napier of the Sun Belt ($875,000) are the highest-paid for their respective conferences.

One final tidbit: The combined salaries of the coaches in the Sun Belt Conference ($6.5 million) is less than the compensation of eight individual head coaches — Swinney, Saban, Harbaugh, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher ($7.5 million), Georgia’s Kirby Smart ($6.9 million), Auburn’s Gus Malzahn ($6.8 million), Herman and Brohm.  Swinney and Saban also make more individually than the MAC does combined ($7.8 million).

WR Terrace Marshall ‘should be ready to play’ for LSU vs. Auburn

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It may not be fair, but one of the most explosive offenses in college football is on the verge of getting back one of its most explosive playmakers.

When Terrace Marshall went down with a foot injury in the Week 4 win over Vanderbilt, it was initially reported that the LSU wide receiver was expected to be sidelined for as long as a month. That timeline was subsequently extended out, with Ed Orgeron stating that Marshall could return toward the “latter part” of the regular season.

On his radio show three weeks ago, however, Orgeron indicated that the wide receiver was ahead of schedule; that, though, gave way to Marshall missing each of the past three games.

With No. 9 Auburn on tap this weekend, the head coach is now indicating that Marshall “should be ready to play” for second-ranked LSU.

“We plan on easing him along, see how much he can do,” Orgeron said. “He’s going to want to do everything and be ready to go. We feel that by game time, he should be ready to play.”

Following the Auburn game, and coming off a bye, LSU will travel to Tuscaloosa to take on top-ranked Alabama in arguably the biggest game of the regular season — provided both teams hold serve this coming Saturday, of course.

At the time of his injury, Marshall’s six touchdown receptions this season were tied for second at the FBS level. He was also tied for second on the Tigers with 20 catches while his 304 receiving yards were good for third on the team.