Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

No. 8 Wisconsin defense scores twice as Badgers hang on against Northwestern

Leave a comment

It was to be expected that Northwestern (1-3, 0-2) would have a difficult time scoring on No. 8 Wisconsin (4-0, 2-0 Big Ten) on Saturday afternoon. What may not have been accounted for was just how difficult it would be for the Northwestern offense to prevent the Badgers defense from scoring. Wisconsin scored two defensive touchdowns on the Wildcats in a 24-15 game in Big Ten play.

After leading Northwestern just 7-3 at halftime, courtesy of Jonathan Taylor’s touchdown run on the game’s opening possession, Wisconsin’s defense gave some breathing room with a fumble recovery in the end zone. Late in the third quarter, Northwestern quarterback Hunter Johnson was sacked by Eric Burrell and the ball went flying backward into the end zone. Matt Henningsen fell on the loose ball for an easy touchdown and a 14-3 lead.

The Badgers added a field goal early in the fourth quarter and the defense made another big play moments later to put the game well out of reach for a struggling and beat-up Northwestern offense. Aidan Smith entered the game in place of an injured Johnson. After two incompletions, Smith then tossed up a pass under pressure that was easily picked off by Noah Burks, who returned the ball 68 yards for a touchdown.

Johnson did not return to the game for the Wildcats. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald also made questionable decisions to attempt two-point conversions in the fourth quarter, keeping the game just out of reach despite a couple of fourth-quarter scores. There was no report of any injury to Northwestern’s kicker, so this seemed like a case of Fitzgerald simply over thinking the situation.

Wisconsin’s Taylor finished the game with 119 rushing yards on 26 carries and the one touchdown score don the opening drive. Northwestern fared well in keeping him from making too many highlights against them. But sometimes, Wisconsin can by on their defense even though the Wildcats clawed together a bit of a late rally to cut into the lead. In the end, Wisconsin was fortunate the defense scored twice.

With the win, Wisconsin jumps out to a 2-0 start in Big Ten play with home wins against Michigan and the Wildcats. Wisconsin will jump out of conference play next week for a home game against Kent State. After that will be a home game against Michigan State as the Badgers face another opponent from the Big Ten East. Northwestern will be on the road again next week for another division game, this time against Nebraska.

CB Tony Butler posts classy, heartfelt goodbye in announcing transfer from Nebraska

Nebraska football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Thanks to a Nebraska football player, we won’t have to go through an entire day without a portal post.  Hurray?

Late this past week, Tony Butler announced in a very classy, heartfelt post on Twitter that he will be entering the NCAA transfer database.  The move would serve as the first step in a departure from the Nebraska football program.

The cornerback could also return to the Nebraska football team if he so desires.

That said, Butler would be leaving the Cornhuskers as a graduate transfer.  The 2020 season will be his final year of collegiate eligibility.

“In 2016, I came here as an 18-year-old kid lost and looking for a home.  Nebraska, you became my home and brought me in with open arms,” Butler wrote. “This place became very special. …

“Nebraska, you have done an incredible job at helping a lost boy become a man.  My family and I are forever grateful for this opportunity.”

A three-star 2016 signee, Butler was rated as the No. 22 player regardless of position in the state of Ohio.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

The past three seasons, Butler played in 27 games.  Four of those appearances came in 2019, which was likely the trigger for the decision to transfer.  Most of the games played came on special teams.

Butler is the third player to leave the Nebraska football program in a week.

Linebacker Pernell Jefferson, a three-star 2016 signee, entered the portal Wednesday.  Days before that, offensive lineman John Raridon decided to retire from football to pursue a career in architecture.

Five-star Penn State WR Justin Shorter tweets transfer to Florida

Florida Gators football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Florida Gators football program is the latest to benefit from Ye Olde Transfer Portal.

In late November, Justin Shorter took the initial step in transferring from Penn State by entering the NCAA database.  Two months to the day later, the wide receiver took to Twitter to announce that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career as part of the Florida Gators football team.

As of yet, UF has not announced Shorter’s addition to the roster.

A five-star member of the Nittany Lions’ 2018 recruiting class, Shorter was rated as the No. 1 receiver in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of New Jersey; and the No. 8 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only defensive end Micah Parsons was rated higher than Shorter in Franklin’s class that year.

Limited to four games as a true freshman in large part because of injuries, Shorter caught three passes for 20 yards in 2018.  In 11 games this season, Shorter caught 12 passes for 137 yards.

Barring the unexpected, Shorter will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  He would then have two seasons of eligibility beginning in 2021.

World of college football reacts to tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant, 13-year-old daughter in helicopter crash

Leave a comment

As is the case across the entire world of sports, college football is reacting to the devastating news involving Kobe Bryant.

Sunday morning, Bryant was one of nine people killed — initial reports had the number at five — in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on his way to a travel basketball event.  The former NBA superstar, who retired from the sport following the 2015-16 season, was 41.

Adding to the devastation, one of Bryant’s daughters, who was also a player on her father’s travel basketball team, 13-year-old Gianna Maria Bryant, was killed in the crash as well.

Kobe and Gianna are survived by wife/mother Vanessa and three daughters/sisters.  The oldest is 17, the youngest will turn one in June.

In the hours after the heartbreaking news was confirmed, the world of college football mourned the passing of Kobe Bryant. Below is just a sampling.

 

Georgia state rep. proposes pay-for-play legislation with a twist that will make no one happy

Getty Images
1 Comment

Ever since California’s SB 206 passed last September, more than a dozen states followed with their own versions of the Golden State’s Fair Pay to Play Act, to go along with a number of concurrent pushes in Washington. No matter your stance on the pay-for-play issue or what side of the political aisle you sit on, it seems we can all agree that politicians are not the people to solve this issue, and yet the NCAA kept dragging its feet, and dragging its feet, and draaaaggging its feeetttt and, well, here we are. And Sandra Scott‘s bill a large reason why.

Scott, a state representative in Georgia (D-Rex) has introduced HB 766, a type of compromise bill that will make no one happy.

The appeal, at least from the outside, of California’s SB 206, is that it would allow college athletes to capitalize on their popularity during the lifetime of that popularity while costing the school very little money, since the money would come from third-parties.

Scott’s bill does neither. In fact, it goes out of its way to do the opposite.

According to HB 766, Georgia would require its schools to set aside a third of all monies earned in postseason play into an escrow account, which would then be given to players upon graduation.

Read for yourself below.

To recap, Scott’s bill would cost the schools millions of dollars and also shut out a lot of the players who generate those millions. Why should, say, Jake Fromm be barred from having a hand in the money he produced for Georgia just because he went pro?

In short, Scott’s (well-meaning) bill would anger both schools and athletes while continuing the overly paternalistic attitudes adults have adopted toward college athletes that applies to no other demographic in college sports.