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Penn State cites NCAA compliance in removing t-shirts players were wearing pre-game vs. Iowa

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No. 10 Penn State beat No. 17 Iowa on Saturday in a very on-brand low scoring Big Ten game but the biggest drama at Kinnick Stadium this weekend might have occurred pre-game.

Nittany Lions players, in response to a fan’s racist letter that was sent to safety Jonathan Sutherland last week, warmed up in t-shirts that read “Chains, Tattoos, Dreads, & WE ARE.” While the idea was designed to be a show of support, school officials made sure they didn’t wind up wearing the shirts all that long and confiscated them a few minutes into warmups.

While some may have thought that the school was trying to ward off any further controversy in the matter, it seems there was a more practical issue at hand: NCAA compliance. According to the Centre Daily Times, a local State College bar was behind printing the shirts and put their logo on them. While the players organized the entire thing by themselves according to PSU officials, the commercial connection was flagged out of an abundance of caution over the eligibility of those who wore them.

“While we are supportive of our students expressing themselves in a thoughtful manner, they are expected to wear team-issued apparel on game day. We asked our students to remove the shirts out of an abundance of caution for NCAA compliance,” the school said in a statement released to the paper.

While head coach James Franklin didn’t appear to directly address the shirts post-game, he did offer an impressive diatribe in support of his players and against the issues mentioned in the racist letter earlier in the week.

“The football that I know and love brings people together and embraces differences. Black, white, brown, Catholic, Jewish or Muslim. Rich or poor. Rural or urban. Republican or Democrat. Long hair, short hair, no hair,” Franklin said. “They’re all in that locker room together. Teams all over this country are the purest form of humanity that we have. We don’t judge, we embrace differences.”

The issue (with, it should be said, an extremely minuscule minority of the Penn State fan base) is unlikely to die down during the coming week with plenty of attention on the university and the football program, including ESPN’s College GameDay coming to town and a host of national media descending upon State College for the team’s huge Big Ten matchup against Michigan on Saturday.

QB Aidan Smith doubtful for Northwestern vs. No. 10 Minnesota

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When it comes to its passing game, Northwestern can’t catch a break at all this season.

Through the first eight games of the 2019 regular season, the Wildcats had thrown an FBS-low two touchdown passes.  In the ninth game, a 24-22 loss to Purdue, Aidan Smith tossed a pair of touchdown passes to double that total; while he didn’t throw one the following week, Smith did direct a Northwestern offense that put up a season-high 45 points in a win over UMass.

With a daunting task against No. 10 Minnesota on deck in Week 13, Northwestern very likely won’t have Smith available as the junior is listed as doubtful on the Wildcats’ official injury report.  Smith is dealing with an unspecified injury sustained earlier this month.

With Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson not even listed on the two-deep depth chart released by the Wildcats Thursday, it would appear that sophomore Andrew Marty is in line to make his first career start at the collegiate level.

The good news, such as it is, for Northwestern is that this weekend’s opponent has injury concerns at the quarterback position as well.

Late in Minnesota’s Week 12 loss to Iowa, Tanner Morgan suffered a concussion after being sacked on back-to-back plays.  As of Friday morning, Morgan remains in concussion protocol and has yet to be medically cleared, leaving his status for Saturday up in the air.

If Morgan is unable to go, the Gophers will go very young under center as the next two quarterbacks on the depth chart are true freshmen Jacob Clark and Cole Kramer.

Tua Tagovailoa’s injury means little brother won’t be able to redshirt at Alabama this season

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Tua Tagovailoa‘s Injury Heard ‘Round the College Football World last Saturday, as it turns out, won’t just impact Alabama’s push for a sixth consecutive playoff berth.

Prior to Tagovailoa’s season-ending hip injury, Alabama had planned on redshirting Tagovailoa’s younger brother, Taulia Tagovailoa, who had been serving as the Crimson Tide’s No. 3 quarterback as a true freshman this season.  As the third-string quarterback, the younger Tagovailoa had played in four games in 2019, the threshold of appearances for a player to still maintain the ability to redshirt.

Because of the injury to his brother, however, Nick Saban confirmed Thursday that Tagovailoa will play Saturday against FCS Western Carolina, meaning a redshirt will officially be off the table.

We’re gonna play him this week in this game some kind of way regardless of how the game goes to try to get him some experience, some playing time and hopefully some confidence,” the head coach said on his weekly radio show. “When we had the unfortunate injury last week to Tua, that kind of negated the opportunity to be able to redshirt to Taulia. …

“With him being now the backup quarterback, we thought we needed to play him, because if something happens to this quarterback, Mac Jones, he’s going to be the guy that’s got to go in the game and try to win the game for us.”

A four-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2019 recruiting class, Tagovailoa was rated as the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Alabama (he and his family moved to Tuscaloosa when his brother joined the Tide in 2017).  In limited action this season, Tagovailoa has completed seven-of-nine passes for 72 yards.

Tagovailoa will now serve as the redshirt sophomore Jones’ primary backup moving forward, and those two will compete for the starting job next year if the older Tagovailoa brother does the expected and enters the 2020 NFL Draft.

DB Deon White leaving Cal as a grad transfer

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After a stellar spring game, the stage seemed to be set for Deon White to shine in what would’ve been his last season at Cal.  Instead, the defensive back will finish his collegiate career at an undetermined elsewhere.

Via Twitter earlier this week, White announced that he has decided to leave the Golden Bears and transfer to another school.  As White would be departing with a bachelor’s degree in hand, he would be eligible to play at another FBS school in 2020.

Next season would serve as White’s final year of eligibility as he will take a redshirt for the 2019 campaign.

After beginning his career at a California junior college, White played in a dozen games during his first season with the Bears in 2018.  During this year’s spring game, he totaled a team-high seven tackles and two tackles for loss.

Despite all of that, White had played in just one game this season prior to his decision to enter the portal.

Broken jaw leaves Pitt’s top WR a game-time decision

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If Pitt is to keep its ACC Coastal hopes alive this weekend, they may have to do so (again) without a very productive piece of its offensive puzzle.

Maurice Ffrench suffered a broken jaw in Pitt’s Nov. 2 win over Georgia Tech, then was sidelined for this past week’s win over North Carolina.  With a trip to Blacksburg on tap for this Saturday, Ffrench is official a game-time decision for the matchup with Virginia Tech.

“He’s practiced this week,” head coach Pat Narduzzi said, noting that the senior was in non-contact mode. “His jaw is better than it was before.”

Ffrench had a steel plate inserted into his broken jaw, which will give him a better chance of seeing the field this weekend.

Ffrench currently leads all ACC players in receptions (75) and receptions per game (8.3).  The receptions per game are also third nationally.

Pitt is 4-2 in ACC play entering Week 13, tied with Virginia Tech for second place in the Coastal and a half-game behind first-place Virginia (5-2).  The Panthers have already lost the Cavaliers this year, meaning they would need UVa to lose its last conference game of the regular season (Nov. 29 against rival Tech) in addition to winning each of their last two games (at Tech, home vs. Boston College) in order to earn a spot opposite Clemson in the ACC championship game.