Getty Images

Upsets a mere rumor in early window as all six ranked teams hold serve

Leave a comment

If there is to be a Week 12 shakeup in the next edition of the College Football Playoff rankings, it won’t be as a result of the early television window.

In the noon block of kickoffs, six teams currently ranked in the CFP Top 25 squared off with unranked opponents.  And, in each of those matchups, the ranked teams held serve — in the majority of the cases by a comfortable margin for good measure.

There was, though, one potentially significant development to unfold during the early window.

  • No. 5 Alabama (-21) 38, Mississippi State 7 — The outcome was never in doubt and the final score doesn’t matter; the health of star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa moving forward absolutely does as the hip injury suffered by the junior late in the first half, and a couple of other injuries to Crimson Tide players for that matter, could play a significant role in helping to shape the playoff field next month.
  • No. 9 Penn State (-15) 34, Indiana 27 — The Hoosiers got as close as three points early in the fourth quarter as the Nittany Lions narrowly avoided a second straight loss, setting the stage for a huge Big Ten East matchup with No. 2 Ohio State in Columbus next Saturday.
  • No. 11 Florida (-6½) 23, Missouri 6 — *snore* *yawn* *ssstttrrreeetches* *scratches self* *snores again*
  • No. 14 Wisconsin (-15) 37, Nebraska 21 — Nice timing on that contract extension, Nebraska, as Jonathan Taylor rushes for 204 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries in the easy road win. This game marked the Badgers’ seventh-straight win over the Cornhuskers.
  • No. 15 Michigan (-13½) 44, Michigan State 10 — With pleas for civility ringing in their ears, Michigan beat its “little brother” in Ann Arbor for the first time since 2012 and earned a win in the rivalry for just the fourth time in the last dozen meetings.  It was also U-M’s most lopsided win in the series since a 49-3 blowout in 2002.
  • No. 22 Oklahoma State (-17½) 31, Kansas 13 — In Les Miles‘ return to Stillwater, the Cowboys had no problem whatsoever in extending its winning streak over the Jayhawks to 10 straight, with KU’s last win coming in 2007.  OSU’s Chuba Hubbard, who entered Week 12 as the nation’s leading rusher, ran for 122 yards in the romp.

In the 3:30 ET window, there are five more ranked vs. unranked matchups — No. 2 Ohio State at Rutgers, Wake Forest at No. 3 Clemson, No. 18 Memphis at Houston, No. 19 Texas at Iowa State and West Virginia at No. 24 Kansas State.  Later on, there are six additional such games — No. 1 LSU at Ole Miss, No. 17 Cincinnati at South Florida, No. 25 Appalachian State at Georgia State, UCLA at No. 7 Utah, New Mexico at No. 21 Boise State and Arizona at No. 6 Oregon.

Additionally, there are four games in which both teams are ranked — No. 23 Navy at No. 16 Notre Dame, No. 4 Georgia at No. 12 Auburn, No. 8 Minnesota at No. 20 Iowa and No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 13 Baylor.

No. 15 Michigan pounds Michigan State into submission, 44-10

Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
5 Comments

Shea Patterson threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns as No. 15 Michigan (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) blew out in-state rival Michigan State (4-6, 2-5 Big Ten), 44-10. The Wolverines outscored the Spartans 44-3 after the first quarter to easily keep their momentum going at the end of the season. It is the first home win for Jim Harbaugh against rivals Michigan State and Ohio State. Will Harbaugh be able to complete the rial sweep at home in two weeks?

The way Michigan has been playing lately, it is a wonder how Michigan lost two games this season. While Michigan did complete well in a loss to Penn State a month ago, the game against Wisconsin is one Michigan would probably most like to get a do-over in. Instead, a blowout win over Michigan State keeps the program moving toward a possible spot in a New Years Six bowl game. On the other end of the spectrum, Michigan State’s season is continuing to spiral in the wrong direction, and a 34-point loss to its top rival won’t help matters in East Lansing for head coach Mark Dantonio.

Michigan out-gained the Spartans 467-220 despite nearly splitting the time of possession right down the middle (Michigan State had the football for 3:05). Neither team gave up much on the ground, so it was the play of the quarterbacks that would be a major difference. Advantage, Michigan. Patterson had one of his best performances in a Michigan uniform, while Brian Lewerke was intercepted twice and completed 17 of 30 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. Patterson was without an interception. The player of the game for the Wolverines may have been receiver Ronnie Bell, who caught nine passes for 150 yards (although with none for a touchdown).

Bell has more than made up for his one glaring drop this season against Penn State. Coincidentally, Michigan has turned things on since that Penn State game. Since trailing Penn State 21-0 four games ago, Michigan has outscored its opponents 148-38.

Michigan will play on the road next week against Indiana. The Hoosiers lost in a tight battle at Penn State on Saturday as Michigan was playing Michigan State. Michigan’s regular-season finale at home against Ohio State is coming up on the horizon, but the Hoosiers always find ways to keep things interesting against the Wolverines too.

The Spartans will need to win their final two games in order to become bowl eligible. Michigan State will travel to Rutgers next week looking to keep the bowl hopes alive. Michigan State ends the regular season at home against Maryland. If nothing else, the schedule is about as favorable as it can get for Michigan State with bowl hopes on the line.

In statement, Michigan, Michigan State asks its fans to play nice

Getty Images
2 Comments

With In-State Rivalry Week 2019 winding down, both parts of the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry are apparently wanting its fans to act as cordial (this year, at least) as the two head coaches who will be roaming opposing sidelines Saturday afternoon.

“I think they are doing a great job defensively, offensively, and he’s a good football coach,” MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said earlier this week. “The guy’s a Hall of Fame football coach, whether it’s the NFL or whether it’s in college, so you can expect them to play well.”

“On high alert for everything,” Dantonio’s U-M counterpart, Jim Harbaugh, said a day earlier. “Specifically, we understand that coach Dantonio is a master motivator.”

In a similar kumbaya vein, a statement was released Thursday, attributed to both athletic directors, in which the schools implored the fan bases on each side to, essentially, play nice with each other.

The tenor surrounding this year’s game is quite different than in 2018, when Harbaugh called MSU’s pregame actions “bush league” while Dantonio pushed back against those “BS” accusations, with both head coaches receiving public reprimands from the Big Ten.

The Spartans, incidentally, have gotten the better of the rivalry of late as they’ve won eight of the last 11 meetings, including two of four since Harbaugh took over. The Wolverines haven’t beaten Sparty in Ann Arbor, the site of today’s game, since 2012.

As of this posting, U-M is a 13.5-point favorite.

Contradicting Mark Dantonio, Michigan State says QB Brian Lewerke was checked for concussion vs. Illinois

Getty Images
2 Comments

It’s not often that a school comes out firing to directly contradict their head coach on a subject but we’ve long since passed normal at Michigan State this season.

In the wake of the team’s dreadful collapse against Illinois last week, starting QB Brian Lewerke took a knee to the head from a defender and then subsequently was planted on the turf while trying to make a tackle the next play — after he threw an interception that was eventually turned into a momentum-swinging pick-six. The signal-caller told reporters after the game that he got his bell rung but he still stayed in the game.

While that sequence should have prompted Lewerke to go through the standard concussion protocol, head coach Mark Dantonio said at his Tuesday press conference that neither trainers nor coaches thought about pulling him from the game to do that because the player himself said he was fine despite the hits.

“Just I asked him and he said he’s good, and he motioned that to our trainers, as well, so he just went on with it,” Dantonio said.

That, however, is not exactly what happened and the general disregard seemingly shown over putting Lewerke through proper protocols prompted the university to issue a statement later on Tuesday clarifying the situation.

“The safety of student-athletes at Michigan State University is our No. 1 priority. Decisions on whether a player returns to competition after potentially suffering an injury are made by our medical staff, which does not report to our coaching staff or through the Athletics Department,” Michigan State health care chief medical officer and interim director of athletic medicine Dr. Anthony M. Avellino said in a statement released by the school. “Upon returning to the sideline late in the fourth quarter with under five minutes remaining in the game, Brian Lewerke was given a symptom assessment by our medical staff. After not showing signs of a concussion, he was cleared to play.

“As a precautionary measure, Brian was given further testing the following day, and was once again determined not to have a concussion.”

It’s good to know that the signal-caller didn’t get a concussion on the sequence in question but it was still a little bizarre to hear the head coach of the team imply that standard procedures were skipped simply because Lewerke said he was good. Almost all college football programs have a spotter in the press box to keep an eye on hits that may lead to players going through the protocol in addition to trainers on the sidelines.

It sounds like the Spartans did follow through with doing everything they should have but it does appear as though the head coach was the last to find out about it. It’s understandable that Dantonio might have gotten caught up in the heat of the moment of an epic collapse against the Illini but to not have his story straight three days later is a bit concerning.

At least the head coach knows his job isn’t in jeopardy from the incident (or others) because more than a few others in his position would not get quite the kind of pass that Dantonio gets on such a serious subject in college football nowadays.

Former Michigan State All-American Charles Rogers dies at 38

Getty Images
4 Comments

Former Michigan State wide receiver Charles Rogers has died, multiple outlets have confirmed. He was 38 years old.

The Saginaw, Mich., native played wide receiver for the Spartans from 2000-02, where it became instantly apparent that he was one of the most talented wide receivers in Michigan State history. In three seasons in green and white, Rogers caught 135 passes for 2,821 yards and 27 touchdowns. Rogers was a First Team All-Big Ten honoree in 2001 and ’02, and in 2002 he was a unanimous All-American and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wideout.

“I’ll tell you, he was — and I’m including Flint, too, since I coached at Flint Northern all those years — he’s the best athlete I ever seen. I mean, honestly,” Rogers’ high school coach Don Durrett told the Detroit Free Press. “We’re talking about basketball, football and track together. He could have had a scholarship in all three sports. That’s how good. … I haven’t seen nobody that fast that could do it all. He was just a blessed athlete that could do it all.”

His catch to help secure a win over Notre Dame in 2001 is one of the most memorable plays in Michigan State history.

Rogers was the No. 2 pick in the 2003 NFL draft, but injury and substance abuse issues chased him out of the league after just three seasons.

He continued to battle with substance abuse issues throughout his life, and in 2010 a judge ordered him to return $6.1 million of a $9.1 million signing bonus to the Detroit Lions for breach of contract for violating the league’s substance policy. The Lansing State Journal found Rogers living in Fort Myers, Fla., in 2017, where he said of that judgment, “I ain’t got nothing to pay them.”

“Devastated to learn of the passing of my spartan brother Charles (Rogers),” former Michigan State tight end Chris Baker tweeted Monday. “Spoke with his mom this morning. Please pray for her and his children. Please also be respectful of their privacy at this difficult time. Rip Chuck.”

Details of Rogers’ death have not been released at this time.