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Eastern Michigan drops Illinois, beats Big Ten school for the third year in a row

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Perhaps the two conferences could work a trade? I hear one B1G school — I won’t say the name, but it rhymes with “Shmutgers” — may be available.

Trailing Eastern Michigan 31-17 in the middle of the fourth quarter, Illinois rallied for two touchdowns in a span of just over six minutes to tie the game at 31-all.  The last score, a 36-yard touchdown pass from Michigan transfer Brandon Peters to USC transfer Josh Imatorbhebhe, was the culmination of a seven-play, 93-yard drive that included a 4th-and-10 conversion from their own seven-yard line.

That would be the highest of the highs on the day for the Fighting Illini as the Eagles’ punctuated their own late-game drive with Chad Ryland‘s 24-yard field goal as time expired to claim a thrilling 34-31 win.

This marks the third straight season that Chris Creighton‘s EMU squad has knocked off a school from the Big Ten.  In September of 2018, it was Purdue (20-19); in September of 2017, it was Rutgers (16-13).

Prior to 2017, Eastern Michigan had never beaten a team from that conference in 39 tries.

Overall, the MAC has now beaten at least one Big Ten team in 14 straight seasons.

And try this final nugget on for size: Creighton now has nearly as many wins over Big Ten teams (three) as Lovie Smith (four).  Heading into Illinois’ B1G opener against Nebraska next weekend, Smith has posted a 4-23 record in conference play.

Kentucky confirms QB Terry Wilson done for 2019 after left knee injury

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Mark Stoops may have known late in Kentucky’s win over Eastern Michigan that he had lost his quarterback for the season but it became officially official on Sunday evening.

The Wildcats confirmed the tough news that starting quarterback Terry Wilson is done for the rest of the season after tearing his patellar tendon in his left knee on Saturday, requiring surgery and a long recovery stint.

“I’m very sorry about Terry’s injury,” Stoops said in a statement. “He has done so much for our program over the last two seasons, both in leadership and his production on the field. As a team captain, he will continue to be an important part of our team and we look forward to him returning to the field when he has recovered.”

Wilson had thrown for 360 yards and two touchdowns during roughly seven quarters worth of work this year at UK. He departs with a 12-3 mark as a starter for the Wildcats dating back to the opener in 2018, leading the team to double-digit wins while throwing for nearly 1,900 yards and 11 scores.

In his place, it seems like the team is fully in Sawyer Smith’s hands. The Troy transfer knows a thing or two about taking over for an injured starter at least, having done the same with the Trojans by starting the last seven games of 2018. He threw for 1,669 yards and 14 touchdowns (six interceptions) with the Sun Belt power before transferring to Lexington this offseason.

Mark Stoops caught saying QB Terry Wilson is done for the season

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Lost amid the typical craziness of a college football Saturday was some very bad news out of Lexington.

Kentucky beat Eastern Michigan 38-17 but the most significant action in the game came in the third quarter when Wildcats quarterback Terry Wilson was brought down by a nasty horsecollar tackle and needed to be carted off the field.

It goes without saying that a QB getting taken off in that manner is not a great sign and it was made even worse by what TV cameras caught Mark Stoops saying to EMU head coach Chris Creighton after the game:

The ‘My guy’ that Stoops is referring to is no doubt Wilson, whose precise injury hasn’t been announced but was serious enough to get a full MRI work up on Sunday.

Backup Sawyer Smith, a graduate transfer from Troy, appears to be the guy going forward and played the rest of the game against the Eagles. He threw two touchdowns on nine attempts in place of Wilson and that passing while UK was up big was the reason Stoops apologized to a fellow member of the coaching community in the first place.

Needless to say, the loss of Wilson is a blow after he led the team to a banner 10-3 season in 2018 and threw for 1,889 yards with 11 touchdowns and eight picks.

Smith won’t have any time to ease into the starting role no matter how long Wilson is out as Kentucky hosts No. 11 Florida next and then travels to Mississippi State and South Carolina the rest of September.

Doak Walker Award watch list highlighted by 2016 semifinalists Barkley and Pettway

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A watch list of the top running backs in the nation has been released by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum on Thursday. The Doak Walker Award watch list is full of great players, including 2016 Doak Walker Award semifinalists Saquon Barkley (Penn State) and Kamryn Pettway (Auburn).

Among those included on this year’s initial Doak Walker Award watch list (more players can be added at any time) are LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, LJ Scott of Michigan State, Mike Weber of Ohio State, and Bo Scarbrough of Alabama, Washington’s Myles Gaskin, and Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin.

D’Onta Foreman of Texas beat out both Barkley and Pettway last season for the award. The Doak Walker Award has been presented to the nation’s top running back annually since 1990. Among the winners over the years have included Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush, and Montee Ball.

To be included on this watch list, the university athletic department must submit a nomination.

2017 Doak Walker Award Watch List

Josh Adams, Notre Dame
Ryquell Armstead, Temple
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Alex Barnes, Kansas State
Jamauri Bogan, Western Michigan
D’Angelo Brewer, Tulsa
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Jordan Chunn, Troy
Justin Crawford, West Virginia
Damarea Crockett, Missouri
Rico Dowdle, South Carolina
D’Andre Ferby, WKU
Kendrick Foster, Illinois
Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
Myles Gaskin, Washington
James Gilbert, Ball State
Derrius Guice, LSU
Damien Harris, Alabama
Kyle Hicks, TCU
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Jon Hilliman, Boston College
Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Chris James, Wisconsin
Ty Johnson, Maryland
Ronald Jones II, USC
Ray Lawry, Old Dominion
Phillip Lindsay, Colorado
Tonny Lindsey Jr., Utah State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Sony Michel, Georgia
Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech
David Montgomery, Iowa State
Jamal Morrow, Washington State
Ryan Nall, Oregon State
Jacques Patrick, Florida State
Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
Demario Richard, Arizona State
Diocemy Saint Juste, Hawaii
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
Jordan Scarlett, Florida
LJ Scott, Michigan State
Bradrick Shaw, Wisconsin
Armand Shyne, Utah
Justin Silmon, Kansas State
Ito Smith, Southern Miss
Rodney Smith, Minnesota
Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky
Terry Swanson, Toledo
Shaq Vann, Eastern Michigan
Akrum Wadley, Iowa
Mark Walton, Miami
Warren Wand, Arkansas State
Tre Watson, California
Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
Mike Weber, Ohio State
Braeden West, SMU
Devwah Whaley, Arkansas
Aeris Williams, Mississippi State
Shaun Wilson, Duke
Marquis Young, Massachusetts

The Fifth Quarter: Week 1 Rewind


As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

The Pac-12 came into the 2015 season looking to challenge the SEC for conference football supremacy.  While that may end up still being the case, it was a rough Week 1 in myriad regards for the Left Coast league, particularly its northern division.

First and foremost, No. 21 Stanford went into Evanston as heavy favorites only to be upended and upset by Northwestern.  And it wasn’t just that one of the preseason favorites in the North was beaten, it was that they were roughed up by the Wildcats and seemed to play timid on both sides of the ball.  More embarrassingly, a couple of hours later Washington State lost to FCS Portland State, which came into the game a 30-point underdog.

The South contributed to the first-week malaise as No. 15 Arizona State, viewed by some as a darkhorse playoff candidate (sheepishly raises hand), capped off the night with a 20-point loss to unranked Texas A&M.  At least that, though, was a loss to a Power Five school, and one from the stacked SEC West no less, in what was essentially a home game for the Aggies.

Add in Washington’s loss to Boise State — no shame in that — and Colorado’s loss to Hawaii Thursday night — a whole hell of a lot of shame in that — and it turned into a horrific lost weekend for the conference.  That said, remember how many were writing the Big Ten off a year ago at this time?  Yeah, it wouldn’t be wise to repeat that history.

If you thought that the Week 1 schedule, especially Saturday, was especially lacking when it came to compelling on-paper matchups, you’re not alone.  In fact, the raw data is sitting right along side you.

Opening weekend, and including the two still remaining, there were/are 87 games involving FBS teams.  Of that, 11 pitted Power Five vs. Power Five (for this exercise, I’m considering BYU a P5); another 47 — more than half — featured FBS teams playing an FCS team.  There were 22 Power Five teams that opened their season against an FCS team, with the ACC far and away leading the cupcake way with seven.  The Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 had four apiece, while the pastry alley that is the late-season SEC lagged behind with three.

There were also 23 games played between Power Five and Group of Five teams.  The SEC accounted for eight of those games, while the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 saw four each.  The FCS-heavy ACC had three such games.

It wasn’t just the Power Fives feeding on the FCS, though, as 25 Group of Five teams opened against the former Div. 1-AA.  The remaining six games saw Group of Five squads squaring off against each other.

While most of the FBS feasted on their FCS cupcakes, a handful choked on them.  Two that lost to FCS teams were Power Five members in the aforementioned Wazzu and Kansas (South Dakota State, more on that below) and two were Group of Five teams in Army (Fordham) and Wyoming (North Dakota).

Vernon Adams transferred from Eastern Washington to Oregon earlier this offseason and ultimately earned the Ducks’ starting quarterback job.  As luck would have it, Adams’ current and former teams squared off in the season opener in Autzen Saturday night, and there was one interesting development in UO’s 61-42 win.