Derrick Green

AP

Arkansas unravels, rallies to top No. 15 TCU in double OT

5 Comments

In a game the Hogs at separate times had in hand and let slip away, Arkansas mounted a late rally to tie and then overcome No. 15 TCU as quarterback Austin Allen surged into the end zone for a 41-38 double overtime victory in Fort Worth.

Arkansas was seemingly set Fort Worth and beat No. 15 TCU. Thanks to a red zone fumble and a pick-six the Hogs opened up a 13-0 halftime lead, and the lead was set to move to 23-7 with 11:30 to play in the game. All Arkansas kicker Cole Hedlund needed to do was make a 22-yard field goal.

He missed. That was all TCU needed to awaken from its offensive slumber.

The Frogs moved 80 yards in seven plays to pull within 20-14 with 9:44 remaining and, after forcing a three-and-out, raced from their own 16 to the end zone again, mostly on the legs of lightning bug KaVontae Turpin. He returned the ensuing punt 34 yards to midfield, then immediately snagged a 43-yard catch-and-run, setting up a seven-yard Kyle Hicks go-ahead touchdown run.

Arkansas went three-and-out again on its next possession, and again TCU capitalized. Kenny Hill and Derrick Green took turns dicing the Hogs through the ground and air, with Hill finishing off the 8-play, 50-yard drive with a 5-yard scoring dash. Rather than gamble on a chance to go up nine and put the game away, Gary Patterson kicked an extra point to go up 28-20 with 2:05 remaining.

The ramifications of that decision immediately came into effect as Arkansas glided 58 yards in four snaps to pull within 28-26, and a reverse pass from Keon Hatcher to Allen tied the game at 28-28 with 1:03 remaining.

Arkansas, for some reason, kicked to Turpin on the ensuing kickoff, which he returned 64 yards to the Arkansas 27. Hill found Emmanuel Porter for another go-ahead score on the very next play, but the scor was called back for illegal touching. The Frogs instead settled for a 28-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining, which 6-foot-10 offensive lineman Dan Skipper blocked to send the game to overtime.

The Hogs took the ball at the top of the first overtime, and Austin Allen cashed in with a third down touchdown pass to tight end Jeremy Sprinkle. Hill answered with a third down strike of his own, this one to Taj Williams in the corner of the end zone from 13 yards out.

TCU had to settle for a field goal at the top of the second overtime and, faced with a 3rd-and-goal from the 5-yard line, Allen rushed toward the goal line, was stopped short, then surged again into the end zone for a Razorbacks victory. He closed the day hitting 17-of-29 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, plus the game-winning rushing score. Rawleigh Williams III led all rushers with 28 carries for 137 yards.

Hill hit 36-of-56 passes for 377 yards with a touchdown and a pick-six while also leading the Frogs’ (1-1) ground efforts with 15 carries for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Turpin notched seven catches for 126 yards, plus another 169 yards in the return game.

Arkansas (2-0) secured a massive win for a program that struggled to secure close games under head coach Bret Bielema. Of the Hogs’ 11 losses over the past two seasons, seven had come in one score games.

TCU (1-1) heads into a rivalry game with SMU facing major questions about its defense as Big 12 play looms around the corner.

Derrick Green granted release by Michigan, will transfer

Getty Images
8 Comments

After much speculation of late, the Michigan playing career of Derrick Green has come to an end.

A source with knowledge of the situation has confirmed to CFT that Green received a release from his UM scholarship earlier this week and will transfer out of the Wolverines football program.  Rumors have been swirling for weeks that Green is a potential, or even likely transfer, although there has been no official confirmation from either side.

“The student-athlete is the one that should be confirming his decision… as we prefer they communicate their desire to transfer/graduate and play another season elsewhere. We do not confirm those decisions as an institution,” a UM spokesperson said in response to an email seeking confirmation of Green’s decision to transfer.

The running back is expected to stay in school until he graduates in the spring.  At that point, he’d be a grad transfer eligible to play immediately in 2016 if he ends up at another FBS program.  That would be his final season of eligibility, although the back does have a redshirt he could use if it became necessary.

Green came to the Wolverines as one of the highest-rated recruits in the Class of 2013.  In fact, according to Rivals.com, he was the No. 8 player at any position in the country, ahead of the likes of Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil (No. 14), Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg (No. 24) and 2015 Heisman winner Derrick Henry (No. 36), all of whom made themselves eligible for the April NFL draft.  That on-paper talent, though, never really translated into the anticipated on-field production.

In three seasons in Ann Arbor, Green totaled 898 yards on 212 carries (4.2 ypc) and seven touchdowns.  His best season came in 2014, when as a sophomore he ran for 471 yards and averaged 5.7 ypc before injuries derailed the last half of the year.

Instead of building off that momentum, however, Green ran for just 157 yards the first nine games of the 2015 season before failing to see the field the last four games.  As if to put an exclamation on the disappointment, Green did not travel with his teammates to Orlando for the Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl because of what head coach Jim Harbaugh described as “an internal matter.”

With the God-given talent Green possesses, however, he should have little trouble finding a Power Five landing spot for his senior season.

In blowout of No. 13 Northwestern, No. 18 Michigan makes its case as Big Ten’s best team

Associated Press
17 Comments

It was supposed to be a bloody-nosed fist fight pitting two of college football’s best defenses, but only one team showed up as No. 18 Michigan exposed No. 13 Northwestern, winning 38-0 at the Big House Saturday afternoon.

The demolition started from the opening kick – literally – as Jehu Chesson returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. The Wolverines forced a three-and-out and then marched 59 yards in seven plays, capped by a one-yard Drake Johnson run, effectively ending the game less than five minutes after it started. Jake Rudock danced in from two yards out, punctuating a six-play, 75-yard drive, to give Michigan a 21-0 lead before the end of the first quarter.

Jourdan Lewis added a 37-yard interception return just before the break to give the Wolverines a 28-0 halftime lead, and Derrick Green provided the exclamation point with a four-yard rush with 2:14 remaining.

In all, Michigan rushed 45 times for 203 yards and three touchdowns while Rudock added an economical 179 yards on 17-of-23 passing.

But the story, again, was the Michigan defense.

Against an admittedly limited opponent (Northwestern came in ranked 116th nationally in yards per play), Michigan posted its third shutout in a row, with an overall edge of 160-14 in its five-game winning streak. The maize and blue held Northwestern to 168 yards of total offense (130 passing, 38 rushing) and 13 first downs on the day.

But it wasn’t just what happened in Ann Arbor that staked Michigan’s claim as the Big Ten’s best team. Down south, Ohio State struggled with a Maryland team that Michigan blanked 28-0 in College Park just one week ago.

In the end, the question remains unanswered. But that it’s a question at all magnifies the job Jim Harbaugh and company have done this season.

2015 could be the year of the running back in college football

7 Comments

College football has been a game for quarterbacks over the last decade or so, but the 2015 college football season could be a big one for the running backs. The young running backs that have taken the big stage during the 2014 season have shown glimpses of what could be one of the finest seasons for fans of the running game in quite some time.

Just look at some of the names coming back to line up in the back field with authority in 2015.

Now a couple of years removed from the SEC’s best quarterback class in some time, the SEC should be heavy on the run in 2015. The SEC’s leading rusher returning in 2015 will be Georgia’s Nick Chubb for his sophomore season, and LSU freshman Leonard Fournette could also be worthy of striking his Heisman pose. Chubb rushed for 1,547 yards and an SEC-leading 14 touchdowns this season, and most of that came while backing up Todd Gurley until he went down to injury. Fournette also rushed for over 1,000 yards, including 143 yards in a bowl game loss against Notre Dame. If you need more running power from the SEC, look no further than Arkansas with sophomore Alex Collins. Collins is coming off a 1,100-yard season with 12 touchdowns and should be a big piece of the offense for Bret Bielema in 2015. If there is one thing Bielema knows how to do, it is run the football. With Collins on the field, Arkansas will do just that. Alabama will look for a big year from  too. Henry was 10 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season but he did rush for 11 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.

Up north, the Big Ten should continue to see plenty of production on the ground. In 2014 the Big Ten running game was the story with Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon earning a nod as Heisman finalist and Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah a household name. But the Big Ten also saw great seasons from Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, Minnesota’s David Cobb and Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford. The Big Ten will lose all of these players to the draft, but there are some talented running backs ready to pick up the steam. Right now there is no hotter name among young running backs than Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, who turned in a postseason run worthy of Mr. January consideration. Wisconsin has Corey Clement ready to be the next running back in line in Madison. Two other sophomores to keep an eye on in the Big Ten will be Michigan’s Derrick Green, who could have a big impact if he bounces back healthy in 2015, and Penn State’s Akeel Lynch if the Nittany Lions firm up on offensive line.

Move just west of Penn State and you may find the best running back in the state with Pittsburgh’s James Conner. The sophomore led the ACC in rushing with 1,765 yards and his 26 touchdowns were twice more than the ACC’s next leading rushing touchdown leader, Boston College’s Jon Hilliman (a freshman). Florida State’s Dalvin Cook could have a huge role in 2015 as well.

Out west it is easy to get caught up in the quarterback action in the Pac-12. This year was certainly the case with players like Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley, but next year could see some big years from running backs as well. Paul Perkins of UCLA led the Pac-12 in rushing with 1,575 yards this season and will be back in 2015. So will Arizona’s Nick Wilson, the conference’s fourth-leading rusher as a freshman, and Oregon’s Royce Freeman. Freeman did not have a great championship game against Ohio State, but he should take on a heavy load without Mariota leading the offense in 2015.

The pass-happy Big 12 is not without some impact running backs in 2015 either. Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine led the Big 12 with 1,713 yards and 21 touchdowns as a freshman in 2014. Baylor’s Shock Linwood was second in the Big 12  as a sophomore with 1,252 yards and 16 touchdowns. West Virginia’s Rushel Shell is also capable of doing some major damage if the Mountaineers have more faith in him.

Quarterbacks will likely remain the face of many programs, but the 2015 season could be a huge season for the running backs.