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Miami (OH) one win away from first MAC East title in nearly a decade

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It’s been quite the conference turnaround for Chuck Martin‘s Miami (OH) squad the past couple of years.

In the head coach’s first four seasons, the Redhawks went 14-18 in MAC play.  With Wednesday night’s dominating 44-3 win over Bowling Green, Miami improved to 5-1 in the league on the season; the past two years, that record now stands at 11-3.

Not only that, but Miami is one win away from claiming its first MAC East title since 2010, closing out the regular season against winless Akron and a road trip to 4-5 Ball State.

At 6-4, the Redhawks could be going bowling for the first time since 2016 and just the second time in nearly two decades.  Two more wins would give the football program its most victories in a season since the 10-4 2010 squad that won the division and the conference championships.

Miami’s four losses this season, incidentally, have come to No. 2 Ohio State, No. 17 Cincinnati, No. 20 Iowa and Western Michigan, which currently leads the MAC West division.

In the latest win, a 27-point second quarter fueled Miami’s 37-3 halftime lead en route to its most lopsided win of the season over a non-FCS school.  Their previous four FBS wins had come by a combined 25 points, including three by seven points or less.

Bowling Green, meanwhile, was officially eliminated from the postseason as the Falcons’ record now sits at 3-7 on the season.

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.

Ohio State down three D-linemen, including Jonathon Cooper a fourth straight game

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Ohio State’s defensive line in general and one player in particular can’t buy a health break.

On the weekly status report released late Friday morning, OSU listed three prominent linemen as unavailable for this weekend’s game against Miami (Ohio) — ends Jonathon Cooper and Tyreke Smith as well as tackle Robert Landers.

This will mark the fourth straight game Cooper has missed to start the 2019 campaign.  An unspecified injury, believed to be a high-ankle sprain, sidelined the senior for the season-opening win over Florida Atlantic as well as the Week 2 romp over Cincinnati and Week 3 throttling of Indiana.

As a true junior last season, Cooper started all 13 games for the Buckeyes and was credited with 25 tackles, 6½ tackles for loss, 2½ sacks and two quarterback hits.  He earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors for his play in 2018.

Landers has served as the Buckeyes’ No. 2 nose tackle for the first quarter of the season.  Smith missed the opener because of injury but had played in the last two games, getting the start in last Saturday’s conference opener.

With both Cooper and Smith sidelined, true freshman Zach Harrison will get the start opposite preseason All-American Chase Young.

Bob Stoops to serve as honorary captain at Iowa’s opener

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Long before his soon-to-be Hall of Fame coaching career at Oklahoma, Bob Stoops played his college football at the University of Iowa. This weekend, Stoops’ present will slam headfirst into his past.

This Saturday, Iowa opens the 2019 season at Kinnick Stadium against Miami (OH).  Friday morning, the Hawkeyes announced that Stoops will serve as the honorary captain for the RedHawks game.

The school wrote that “Stoops will accompany the Iowa captains to midfield for Saturday’s pregame coin toss” and “will also be with the Hawkeyes in the locker room before and after the game.”

Stoops played defensive back for the Hawkeyes from 1979-82.  His senior season, the Youngstown, OH, native earned first-team All-Big Ten honors.

After his playing career, he began his coaching career at his alma mater from 1983-87 as a graduate assistant under Hayden Fry.  Of course, Stoops went on to win 190 games and 10 Big 12 championships during his 17 seasons (1999-2016) with the Sooners.

Incidentally, Kirk Ferentz took over in Iowa City the same season Stoops did the same in Norman.  Unlike Stoops, however, Ferentz remains with the Hawkeyes and is entering his 21st season as the head football coach at the school.

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