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Biletnikoff Award watch list highlighted by 2017 finalist David Sills

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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  Yet another watch list.

The latest to release theirs is the Biletnikoff Award, with the honor going to the nation’s top receiver issuing a list consisting of 50 players from all nine FBS conferences as well as one independent (UMass).  Headlining this year’s preseason list is West Virginia’s David Sills, who was a finalist for the 2017 award claimed by Oklahoma State’s James Washington.  One other 2017 semifinalist is included as well, Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown.

A total of seven teams placed two receivers each on the watch list: Cal (Kanawai Noa, Vic Wharton III), Louisville (Dez Fitzpatrick, Jaylen Smith), Nebraska (Stanley Morgan Jr., JD Spielman), North Texas (Jalen Guyton, Michael Lawrence), Oklahoma (Marquise Brown, CeeDee Lamb), Toledo (Diontae Johnson, Cody Thompson) and West Virginia (Gary Jennings Jr., Sills).

Three conferences totaled seven players apiece, the ACC, Big 12 and MAC.  That trio is followed by five each from Conference USA and four apiece for the AAC, Pac-12 and Sun Belt.  The Big Ten and Mountain West each placed three.

Below is the complete list of 2018 Biletnikoff Award preseason watch listers:

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
Tyre Brady, Marshall
A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
Trevon Brown, East Carolina
Ryan Davis, Auburn
Greg Dortch, Wake Forest
Terren Encalade, Tulane
Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville
James Gardner, Miami-Ohio
Jonathan Giles, LSU
Marcus Green, ULM
Jalen Guyton, North Texas
Emanuel Hall, Missouri
Justin Hall, Ball State
Kelvin Harmon, North Carolina State
N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Penny Hart, Georgia State
Justin Hobbs, Tulsa
Andy Isabella, Massachusetts
Gary Jennings Jr., West Virginia
Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
Collin Johnson, Texas
Diontae Johnson, Toledo
KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Michael Lawrence, North Texas
Ty Lee Middle, Tennessee
McLane Mannix, Nevada
Scott Miller, Bowling Green
Denzel Mims, Baylor
Stanley Morgan Jr., Nebraska
Kanawai Noa, California
James Proche, SMU
T.J. Rahming, Duke
Ahmmon Richards, Miami
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
David Sills V, West Virginia
Steven Sims Jr., Kansas
Jaylen Smith, Louisville
Kwadarrius Smith, Akron
JD Spielman, Nebraska
Cody Thompson, Toledo
John Ursua, Hawaii
Teddy Veal, Louisiana Tech
Jamarius Way, South Alabama
Nick Westbrook, Indiana
Vic Wharton III, California
Malcolm Williams, Coastal Carolina
Olamide Zaccheaus, Virginia

Big plays keep No. 9 Wisconsin out front of Nebraska at halftime

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28 minutes into Wisconsin and Nebraska’s crucial game for Big 10 West superiority, the defenses were controlling and the offenses more prone to stalling.

Then the final two minutes of the first half rolled around and each side started to rack up big play after big play to make things much more interesting in Lincoln as the Badgers held onto a slim 17-10 lead at halftime.

Cornhuskers quarterback Tanner Lee was both hot and cold on the night, showing why exactly he is both the best option under center for the team (finding Stanley Morgan for an 80 yard touchdown) and worst (a pick six on the first drive) in not much time at all.

That pick-six  — Lee’s fourth of the year — was a huge momentum shifter early after a solid start for Mike Riley’s embattled team. Nebraska looked like they were going to really make things interesting on the Morgan touchdown with just 1:20 left on the clock but the defense failed to stop Wisconsin tailback Jonathan Taylor on the next series as he answered the score with one of his own from 75 yards out on the ground. A field goal with just one second left was eventually tacked on to cap a wild final two minutes that had the sellout crowd on their feet yelling at the same time they were wondering what was happening in front of them.

Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook had only a few clean pockets but threw for 62 yards on 6/11 passing after two quarters. Taylor led the way on the ground and was already up to 144 yards rushing despite having just 10 carries.

A lot of the attention in the conference may be focused on what’s happening in Ann Arbor right now but this Big Ten West battle is certainly extremely interesting after one half of play. If the Cornhuskers can make some defensive stands and the Badgers respond with big plays, we could get a fun one in front of Big Red.