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No. 10 Ohio State makes B1G statement as they dump No. 4 Michigan from playoff chase in 62-39 rout

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If you wanted a bit of a shakeup in the College Football Playoff picture, then No. 10 Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten) delivered. The Buckeyes were a rare home underdog against No. 4 Michigan (10-2, 8-1 Big Ten) on Saturday afternoon but they sure did not play like it. Ohio State scored the most points they have ever scored in a game against Michigan in a 62-39 blowout of the rival Wolverines. The win not only sends Ohio State back to the Big Ten championship game next week as two-time defending East Division champions, but the Buckeyes just scored a loud playoff statement worth considering against one of the nation’s top-ranked defenses.

Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins passed for 318 yards and five touchdowns in the win. His fourth touchdown pass, a short pass to K.J. Hill in the fourth quarter, set a new Big Ten single-season passing touchdown record with his 40th of the year (he later added a 41st for the season). The previous record was set by Drew Brees of Purdue in 1998.

Ohio State freshman wide receiver Chris Olave had himself a career day out of nowhere for the Buckeyes. Playing in just his fifth career game, Olave scored his first two career touchdowns in the first half and he blocked a Michigan punt in the second half that was returned for a touchdown to push the Ohio State lead to 34-19. It was pretty much over from there, as Ohio State turned a Michigan interception by Shea Patterson into a touchdown with a short run by Mike Weber to extend the lead to 41-19 just about 90 seconds later. Michigan didn’t roll over and quite, but enough damage had been done.

Ohio State scored the most points they have ever scored in the history of the storied rivalry since hitting 50 points in 1961 and again in 1968. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has now been the head coach of the Wolverines for two of the worst defensive performances against the Buckeyes after giving up 42 points in 2015 and now 48 points this season.

Michigan also got banged up on the field with injuries to key players. Devin Bush was treated for a thigh injury early in the third quarter. Later in the same quarter, Zach Gentry had to be helped off the field with a possible head injury. And in the fourth quarter, Shea Patterson was taken off the field for evaluation on his knee, the same one he previously injured at Ole Miss.

With the win clinching the East Division of the Big Ten, Ohio State will now head to Indianapolis to play in the Big Ten championship game for a second straight season. It will be Ohio State’s fourth trip to the conference championship game with a 2-1 record in the game entering next week against Northwestern. The Wildcats will make their first appearance in the Big Ten championship game after winning the West Division a few weeks ago. Ohio State leads the all-time series with Northwestern, 61-14-1, with a six-game winning streak in the series, although the two have not played each other since 2016.

Ohio State fans will also be eager to see where the Buckeyes move in the next batch of rankings from the College Football Playoff selection committee. The Buckeyes will absolutely be moving up in the rankings on Tuesday, jumping Michigan and a handful of other programs on the way, most likely. Where Ohio State ranks compared to Oklahoma will be what to pay close attention to as the Buckeyes and Sooners could be battling to impress the selection committee the most next week with a potential spot in the playoff up for grabs now that Michigan will tumble out of the fourth spot and Alabama or Georgia is guaranteed to lose next week in the SEC Championship Game (Georgia entered the week No. 5 in the rankings and will likely take over the fourth spot before championship week).

It remains to be seen if Ohio State will be in the College Football Playoff, the Rose Bowl as Big Ten champion, or some other bowl. For now, the range of bowl possibilities is pretty wide for Ohio State. For Michigan, the chance to still play in the Rose Bowl is a possibility, but it would only be an option if Ohio State is selected for the College Football Playoff. If the Rose Bowl is out of the mix though, a spot in a New Years Six bowl should still be on the table for the Wolverines, as they will more than likely remain within the top 12 of the playoff committee’s rankings, which would make them eligible for consideration for an at-large invite to an open bowl spot in the New Years Six lineup.

But for now, we sit and wait to see what comes next for Michigan and Ohio State. The one things we do know is Ohio State will begin preparing for Northwestern.

Charlie Strong wants Jerrod Heard to push Tyrone Swoopes for Texas QB job

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Tyrone Swoopes finished his sophomore campaign about as poorly as the quarterback position can be played. Following a dazzling 28-7 win at Oklahoma State in which he connected on 24-of-33 throws for 305 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers, Swoopes turned the ball over five times in a 48-10 blowout loss to TCU, then closed the year by accounting for 25 total yards in 30 combined pass/rush attempts plus an interception and a fumble in his own end zone in a 31-7 flattening at the hands of Arkansas in the Texas Bowl.

So it’s no surprise that Charlie Strong is all but begging redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard to push Swoopes for the starting job throughout spring ball, which opens Wednesday for the Longhorns.

“Going into spring practice, we’re going to give them equal reps and give them a chance to go compete against each other,” Strong told ESPN.com.

The easiest path for Texas to return to contention for Big 12 and national titles is for Swoopes to simply turn into the quarterback his potential suggests he can be. Swoopes has the strongest arm of any Texas quarterback in recent memory and has regularly beaten the wide receivers and defensive backs in sprints this winter. The problem for Swoopes has been between the ears, and Strong hopes running with the gazelles can boost his confidence. “When I placed him in that group, he didn’t back away at all,” Strong said. “You see a big guy like that winning most of the races, and he’s beating our skill guys. He didn’t back away at all.”

If not Swoopes at quarterback, Texas has no other option than Heard. The Longhorns saw Zach Gentry decommit in favor of Michigan and missed on a late pursuit of Texas A&M signee Kyler Murray. Texas did sign Kai Locksley and Matthew Merrick last month, but the latter won’t enroll this fall and the former is viewed as a future wide receiver.

With that in mind, when Heard saw his competition run with the skill groups, he followed suit. “When Jerrod saw me move him, he automatically moved on his own,” Strong said. “I turned around and looked and he says, ‘I’m going with the skill guys.'”

Just like Strong had in mind.

 

Report: Iowa to release Jake Rudock to any school, Michigan included

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It appears that, if Jake Rudock wants to stay in the Big Ten, Iowa won’t stand in his way.

Earlier this month it was reported that Jake Rudock was looking to transfer from Iowa, with Michigan mentioned as the likely landing spot.  The only problem, the thinking went, was that most couldn’t see Iowa releasing the quarterback to another Big Ten school.

That apparently won’t be the case, however, as 247Sports.com writes that “Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz will release transfer quarterback Jake Rudock to any school in the country including Michigan.” According to a tweet from Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com, “Rudock is heading to Michigan for a visit in the next 36 [hours].”

In the same tweet, Feldman wrote that the player hopes to hear from the Big Ten in the next week regarding his eligibility. As a graduate transfer, Rudock would normally be eligible to play immediately, although moving within the conference doesn’t make it a lock. The fact that the Hawkeyes are granting him a full release, however, seemingly bodes well for his chances with the league.

247Sports also notes that Boise State remains in play, although all of the signs are pointing to Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines — providing the Big Ten doesn’t force him to sit out a year, of course. The recruiting website states that “if Michigan does offer Rudock a spot on the roster that he will accept,” while “the Wolverines are expected to offer Rudock” at some point during his visit.

The past two seasons combined, Rudock has passed for nearly 5,000 yards, 34 touchdowns and 18 interceptions while completing roughly 60 percent of his passes. He added eight rushing touchdowns for good measure.

Rudock started all 25 games in which he played in 2013 and 2014. If he ends up with the Wolverines, he’d easily be the most experienced of a group of contenders that will include junior Shane Morris, redshirt freshman Wilton Speight and true freshmen Alex Malzone and Zach Gentry. Morris is the only one of that group with any experience at the collegiate level, starting two of the 10 games in which he played the past two years.

Harbaugh flips Texas Longhorn-bound QB to Michigan

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National Signing Day is coming up next week, and Jim Harbaugh is looking to close in as big a way as possible to help save what had been a disappointing recruiting class in Ann Arbor. This weekend Harbaugh managed to flip the commitment of four-star quarterback Zach Gentry from Texas to Michigan.

Gentry is a 6′-6″, 230 pound pro-style quarterback, ranked fourth among pro-style passers according to Rivals. The top prospect out of the state of New Mexico, Gentry would have been a key recruit for Charlie Strong and the Texas Longhorns, but now he is the prize of Harbaugh and his newly assembled staff at Michigan. Gentry is the first commitment added to Michigan’s Class of 2015 since Harbaugh was hired. Gentry flipped his decision while on an official visit to Michigan this weekend.

Gentry is the second quarterback added to Michigan’s Class of 2015. Four-star talent Alex Malzone, an in-state recruit, was an early enrollee for the Wolverines. He will get a head start on the offense and a chance to compete for playing time under Harbaugh this spring, while Gentry will not be able to join the program until the summer. All of a sudden, Michigan is has some young quarterbacks with some good potential to work with.

Michigan also added three-star defensive end Reuben Jones, from Lakeland, Florida, to the Class of 2015. The Wolverines currently have eight players in the Class of 2015, including a pair of early enrollees.

Texas has a much fuller class even without Gentry. The Texas recruiting class also include three-star quarterback Matthew Merrick. Texas also added four-star quarterback Jerrod Heard to the program in last season’s recruiting class.