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Nebraska, Illinois to open 2021 season in Ireland

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Nebraska and Illinois will open their 2021 seasons in Dublin, Ireland, the programs jointly announced Monday.

“The University of Illinois, our football program, our alumni and fans, and the entire Fighting Illini family are in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the Emerald Isle,” Illini AD Josh Whitman said. “When first approached about this game almost two years ago, we had immediate interest. This game will provide an incredible educational opportunity for our football student-athletes who, because of their schedule, generally do not receive the same international experiences as many of our other student-athletes. For our fans, I hope they will journey with us across the Atlantic for a wonderful trip and a major football game, all set against the beauty of Ireland.”

The game will take place Aug. 28, 2021 at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, the same site that hosted Notre Dame vs. Navy in 2012 and will host the Irish and Midshipmen again in 2020. College GameDay will broadcast from the Notre Dame-Navy game in 2020. Penn State and UCF played in Ireland in 2014, and Georgia Tech and Boston College did the same in 2016.

“It is a privilege to be here at the University of Illinois for the announcement of the teams for the 2021 Aer Lingus College Football Classic,” Dublin mayor Paul McAuliffe said. “I welcome the news that both the University of Illinois and University of Nebraska teams and fans will travel to Dublin in 2021 and I look forward to seeing the colour and energy that they will bring to the city of Dublin. Dublin and Ireland are ready to welcome you! This fixture is an important date in our calendar and showcases Dublin as a destination for hosting major international sporting events.”

The game was originally scheduled to be played Nov. 13, 2021 in Champaign, and likely will not be the last in Ireland, as the nation works to make Dublin the European capital of American college football.

Houston to use All-America DT Ed Oliver on offense

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Ed Oliver has contributed a lot in his two seasons at Houston. In fact, he’s poured in 139 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 39.5 TFLs, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 12 passes defended.

But he has not caught or rushed the ball.

That’s about to change.

Speaking at AAC media days on Tuesday, Major Applewhite said Houston will work to get the ball to its All-American defensive tackle as many times as possible this fall.

In an age where the “best overall player” award goes to the best quarterback on a CFP-contending team, Houston will have to get creative and lucky for college football’s actual best overall player to be in contention. The last Heisman winner to be a defensive-first player was Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997, and he also played offense and special teams. The last Heisman winner from a Group of 5 school was BYU’s Ty Detmer in 1990.

WVU QB Grier, TCU DE Banogu headline Preseason All-Big 12 team

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The puffs of white smoke continue to fly out the chimney, and we got a big one on Wednesday with the first unveiling of a conference’s Preseason All-Big 12 team. It’s just a preseason team, yes, but it’s actual football talk about the actual season that’s actually about to happen…. in seven more weeks.

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier earned Preseason Offensive Player of the Year honors and TCU defensive end Ben Banogu garnered Defensive Player of the Year accolades. Grier is easily the pass-happy conference’s leading returning passer; his 3,490 yards from 2017 place him more than 1,500 yards ahead of the pass-happy conference’s second-leading returning passer in Texas’s Sam Ehlinger (1,915 yards). Banogu leads all returning pass rushers with 8.5 sacks in 2017.

Oklahoma defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles, a freshman from Inglewood, Calif., by way of IMG Academy, earned Newcomer of the Year honors. Radley-Hiles was the 38th-rated player in the 247Sports Composite rankings for the 2018 class; for what it’s worth, three Big 12 signees ranked higher in Texas safeties Caden Sterns and B.J. Foster and Oklahoma offensive tackle Brey Walker.

The 3-time defending Big 12 champion Sooners placed five players on the Preseason All-Big 12 offense and none on the defensive side. Texas Tech did not have a single player placed on the offense but put three players on defense.

Here’s how the full teams break out.

OFFENSE
QB Will Grier, West Virginia
RB David Montgomery, Iowa State
RB Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma
RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
WR Denzel Mims, Baylor
WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
WR David Sills V, West Virginia
TE Grant Calcaterra, Oklahoma
OL Dalton Risner, Kansas State
OL Bobby Evans, Oklahoma
OL Ben Powers, Oklahoma
OL Marcus Keyes, Oklahoma State
OL Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia

DEFENSE
DL JaQuan Bailey, Iowa State
DL Daniel Wise, Kansas
DL Jordan Brailford, Oklahoma State
DL Ben Banogu, TCU
DL Breckyn Hager, Texas
LB Joe Dineen, Jr., Kansas
LB Dakota Allen, Texas Tech
LB David Long, Jr., West Virginia
DB Brian Peavy, Iowa State
DB Kendall Adams, Kansas State
DB Kris Boyd, Texas
DB Jah’Shawn Johnson, Texas Tech
DB Justus Parker, Texas Tech

SPECIALISTS
P Austin Seibert, Oklahoma
PK Austin Siebert, Oklahoma
PR/KR KaVontae Turpin, TCU

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger, C Zach Shackelford in concussion protocol

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Texas has lost two straight upset bids in strikingly similar fashion: true freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger leads a potential-game winning drive, scrambles, hits his head on the turf and ends the possession in a puzzling throw.

The first came in last week’s loss to No. 10 Oklahoma. Trailing 29-24 late in the fourth quarter, scrambled for two yards to the Texas-48 yard line but hit his head on the Cotton Bowl turf and was forced to leave the game for five plays. Shane Buechele pushed the Longhorns to the Oklahoma 31, but he was replaced after a sack and Ehlinger ended up throwing the ball away on 4th-and-13 from the OU 34 with two minutes to play. That, as they say, was that.

Fast forward to Saturday and Texas was trailing No. 11 Oklahoma State 13-10 in overtime when Ehlinger opened the possession with a scramble that again saw the back of his head bang against the Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium turf. He stayed in the game this time, but ended the game on a puzzling (to say the least) interception to absolutely no one on 3rd-and-4 from the OSU 6.

While Ehlinger was not evaluated for a concussion during the game, he did not practice Sunday and head coach Tom Herman said Monday that Ehlinger and center Zach Shackelford are in concussion protocol.

Complicating matters for Texas is that sophomore back-up Shane Buechele is playing on a gimpy ankle that kept him out against San Jose State and Kansas State that Herman said will not improve as the season goes on.

No matter, Texas will face a hungry Baylor team on Saturday (noon ET, ESPNU) that nearly completed a comeback against No. 22 West Virginia on Saturday night.

Colorado officials disciplined for handling of allegations

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BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Three University of Colorado officials, including its chancellor and football coach, have been disciplined for their handling of domestic violence allegations against a former assistant football coach.

Chancellor Phil DiStefano will serve a 10-day suspension and athletic director Rich George and football coach Mike MacIntyre will each have to make $100,000 donations to domestic violence causes.

The college’s Board of Regents on Monday also ordered that all three receive letters of reprimand.

 A woman who has accused former assistant coach Joe Tumpkin of domestic violence contends the school knew of the abuse and took measures to cover it up.

An independent investigation determined mistakes were made by the university, but there was no intent to cover up or break the law.

The investigative report authored by former U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar noted a failure to report domestic violence allegations, a failure to report the information to law enforcement officials and a failure of supervision of Tumpkin.

“All of us involved have learned that we have additional reporting responsibilities, and we will follow those procedures in the future,” MacIntyre said in a statement. “I had never been in a situation where one of my coaches was accused of abusing a spouse or partner.”

But MacIntyre noted that the regents and University of Colorado President Bruce Benson recognized that he never acted in bad faith.

“We didn’t handle this matter as well as we should have,” Benson said. “CU does not and will not tolerate domestic violence or any sort of sexual misconduct.”

Benson acknowledged that not everyone will be happy about the discipline delivered, with some saying it goes too far and others saying it’s not enough.

The attorney for the victim who accused Tumpkin of abusing her for two years said his client was “betrayed and devastated” by the punishments handed down against the three.

“Punishments are more severe for recruiting violations,” New York-based attorney Peter Ginsberg said Monday.

Tumpkin was charged in January with five felony counts of second-degree assault and three misdemeanor counts of third-degree assault. His next court date is June 22. He has not been asked to enter a plea yet.

Tumpkin resigned from Colorado on Jan. 27.