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Arkansas, Penn State trade Group of Five opponents for 2020 season openers

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While it’s not technically a college football trade, that is basically what Arkansas and Penn State pulled off this week. 

In a move you simply don’t see much, the two Power Five schools essentially traded Group of Five opponents for their 2020 season openers according to a number of reports.

WholeHogSports first reported that the Razorbacks had inked a deal to replace Kent State with Nevada for the SEC program’s season opener on Sept. 5, 2020. The originally scheduled game against the Golden Flashes wasn’t cancelled outright, but was instead shifted back to Sept. 9, 2023.

Now that whole switcheroo would have left Penn State (and Kent State) with an opening on Sept. 5 because, you see, they had previously scheduled the Wolf Pack for that same date. With Nevada instead going Southeast and not Northeast that week, the Nittany Lions apparently did the easiest thing for everybody and added the Golden Flashes to the docket instead. 

So while it may not have truly happened like a few GM’s trading players on the professional level, it sort of played out that way in Arkansas and Penn State essentially swapping Kent State and Nevada on the schedule in 2020. Everybody apparently seems happy with the new arrangement and we’re guessing that the money works out for both the MAC and Mountain West programs to accommodate the changes too.

Arkansas and Nevada will play next season for the first time ever as a result, which is certainly an interesting decision on account of the Razorbacks considering they’ve lost to Mountain West programs each of the last two years (San Jose State in 2019, at Colorado State in 2018) and Jay Norvell’s Wolf Pack recently upset a Power Five opponent (Purdue) this season. Either way, they’ll serve as Arkansas’ warm-up before the team travels to South Bend to take on Notre Dame on Sept. 12, 2020. Home games against FCS Charleston Southern and Louisiana-Monroe round out the program’s non-conference schedule.

As for PSU, they know Kent State well having met six times in State College over the years — most recently a 63-10 win for the Nittany Lions in 2018. Penn State also travels to Virginia Tech and hosts San Jose State in their non-conference slate next season.

Nevada, meanwhile, also has a cross-country trip to USF in late September and hosts UTEP and UC Davis in non-con action in 2020. That’s nothing compared to the Golden Flashes however, as Kent State hosts Kennesaw State and travels to two SEC teams next year, Kentucky and Alabama, in addition to the trip to Beaver Stadium.

Jonathan Taylor states Heisman case as No. 8 Wisconsin shuts out Kent State

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With the calendar turning to the first weekend in October, the chase for the 2019 Heisman Trophy will begin to crystallize in the coming weeks.  Saturday afternoon in Madison, Jonathan Taylor very loudly stated his case for inclusion in the stiff-armed conversation.

Entering Week 6 as a 35-point favorite, Wisconsin jumped out to a 28-0 halftime lead on overmatched Kent State and never looked back, with the Badgers taking the Golden Flashes to the woodshed in a 48-0 dismantling.  Suffice to say, Taylor was front and center amidst the carnage.

The junior running back accounted for all four UW touchdowns in the first half — three rushing, one receiving.  Taylor had another rushing score early in the third quarter before essentially calling it a day, accounting for five total touchdowns on the afternoon.  Those five scores tied a school record, with Taylor also becoming the first Big Ten player to put that number up in a single game since Penn State’s Saquon Barkley in 2016.

On the season, Taylor has now scored 12 touchdowns on the ground and another four through the air.  The latter might be the most impressive stat of all as, in his first two seasons, he didn’t have a single touchdown reception.

Taylor also had 186 yards rushing (on 19 carries), which pushes him past Melvin Gordon and into third place on Wisconsin’s career rushing list with 4,916 yards, behind only Ron Dayne (7,125) and Montee Ball (5,140).

Wisconsin also came into Week 6 with the No. 1 scoring defense in the country at 7.3 points per game, and will obviously exit it with the same lofty standing as the Badgers pitched their FBS-best third shutout this season and first since opening the 2019 campaign with back-to-back whitewashings of USF and Central Michigan.

Going back to the Pinstripe Bowl vs. Miami, the Badgers have allowed a combined 32 points in their last six games (5.3 ppg).

Ohio, New Mexico latest states linked to potential NIL legislation

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As the NIL train barrels down the tracks, the NCAA’s hopes of derailing it lessen with each passing day.

According to one report, the state of Ohio will consider passing legislation that allows student-athletes in any sport at the collegiate level to profit off their own names, images and likenesses (NIL); according to another report, a state senator from New Mexico is expected to introduce a similar bill.

All told, there are at least a dozen states that have crafted or are in the process of crafting legislation that would put more financial power in the hands of the players on whose backs their sports, particularly football, have been built.

The free-for-all officially kicked off earlier this week when California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act, which, beginning Jan. 1, 2023, guarantees student-athletes in the Golden State will have the right to market their name, image, and likeness without fear of recrimination from NCAA member institutions.  Not long after, Florida joined New York, North Carolina and South Carolina as the latest state to start down the NIL path blazed by California.

Tuesday, we noted that Pennsylvania (HERE), Minnesota (HERE) and Kentucky (HERE) were all states whose legislators are working on bills similar to the one approved in California; the next day, it was Illinois and Nevada entering the “Fair Pay to Play” fray.

And that’s in addition to a former Ohio State football player-turned-United States Congressman confirming that he “is planning to propose a new national law to give college athletes the opportunity to make endorsement money.” The congressman, Anthony Gonzalez, is expected to hold off on drafting legislation until the NCAA’s 19-person working group, established earlier this year, makes its NIL recommendations to The Association’s Board of Governors later this month.

Clemson still claims FBS-best winning streak at 16 straight, but who’s next at 10 in a row?

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The defending national champions continued its college football dominance in Week 1, while a fellow ACC school wrested the “top” spot for losing ways away from a Big Ten program.

With a woodshedding of Georgia Tech in the opener last Thursday night, Clemson extended its nation’s-best winning streak to 16 in a row. Clemson’s last loss? Against Alabama in one of the 2017 College Football Playoff semifinals, a loss it avenged in the 2018 title tilt.

Just one other school has a current double-digit winning streak, and it likely who you wouldn’t immediately be thinking of as Army has won 10 in a row in a stretch that began the week after the service academy’s seven-point overtime loss to then-No. 5 Oklahoma Sept. 22 of last year. Extending that streak to 11 straight won’t be easy to say the least as Army travels to the Big House Saturday to face No. 7 Michigan.

Ohio State and Appalachian State will take seven-game winning streaks into next weekend’s action, while four schools (Florida, Stanford, Texas A&M, Wyoming) have won five in a row and another four (Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, TCU) have claimed four straight.

At the opposite end of the streaking spectrum is Louisville, which is the only program with a double-digit losing streak at 10. The UofL had the ignominious honor of unseating Rutgers, which had dropped 11 in a row prior to a win over UMass. It’s worth noting that RU still hasn’t beaten a Power Five schools since dropping Maryland in early November of 2017.

USF (seven); Akron and Colorado State (six); Coastal Carolina and Oregon State (five); and Kent State, Pitt and Texas State (four) are all in the midst of extended losing streaks as well.

In addition to Rutgers, UConn (nine in a row); Colorado, Georgia State — AGAINST TENNESSEE — and New Mexico (seven); and UTSA (six) all snapped lengthy losing streaks in Week 1.

One final note: A total of 65 of the 130 FBS teams have either won one game “in a row” (50) or will carry a one-game losing “streak” (15) into Week 2.

The Fifth Quarter: Week 1 Rewind

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

WACK-12
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.

WEAK 1?
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).

BAD BLOOD CHEAP SHOT?
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.

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