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

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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. 9 Penn State grinds out win vs. Indiana to improve to 9-1, Buckeyes up next

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A week after suffering its first loss, No. 9 Penn State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) didn’t exactly rebound in crisp fashion at home against Indiana (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten) on Saturday. But after 60 minutes of play, the Nittany Lions will take a win any way they can as they get set for a massive test next week. A late touchdown run by Sean Clifford provided the much-needed breathing room as Penn State fought for a 34-27 victory.

After Indiana trimmed Penn State’s lead to 27-24 in the fourth quarter, Penn State orchestrated an 18-play drive that shaved off over nine minutes of game clock. Clifford ended the drive by pushing across the goal line for a touchdown to create a late two-score game. Clifford lost a fumble in the game but did not throw an interception a week after being picked off three times. Clifford ended his day with 179 passing yards and a touchdown pass to Nick Bowers, and Clifford added 54 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns in the victory.

Penn State also had another 100-yard day from running back Journey Brown (21 carries, 100 yards, 1 touchdown) and two big catches from tight end Pat Freiermuth (although no touchdowns). Penn State lost wide receiver KJ Hamler to an apparent head injury in the first half. His status moving forward will now be in some question.

Indiana also lost its top playmaker with receiver Whop Philyor leaving the game late in the first half. Peyton Ramsey and the Hoosiers still managed to make some plays to keep drives alive (Ramsey passed for 371 yards and a touchdown and scored two touchdowns on the ground), and a pair of special teams mishaps didn’t help in the effort. Philyor muffed a punt in the first quarter that ultimately led to a Penn State touchdown (although video replay showed he may not have touched the ball, but not strong enough to overturn the call on the field), and one of the worst fake punt attempts was quickly turned into a big Penn State touchdown in the third quarter.

Next up for Penn State is a big one. The Nittany Lions travel to Columbus, Ohio next week to take on Ohio State. The undefeated Buckeyes (barring a monumental upset on the road at Rutgers today) will be the biggest test of the year for a Penn State team that has had room for improvement across the board the last few weeks. First place in the Big Ten East will be on the line, and there is a chance Ohio State could wrap up the division with a win. Penn State needs to win to have a shot at the Big Ten championship and to remain in the playoff race heading into the final game of the regular season.

Indiana will play its final home game of the season next week when they host Michigan.

Penn State leading Indiana despite sluggish first-half effort

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A week after giving up the first two first-quarter touchdowns of the season, Penn State’s defense was unable to lock things down early against Indiana. Despite a tough first quarter, Penn State leads the Hoosiers 20-14 at halftime in Happy Valley as the Nittany Lions attempt to keep their playoff hopes alive for one more week.

Both teams seem to have lost their biggest playmakers in the first half. KJ Hamler had his helmet taken away on the sideline after appearing to land on his head awkwardly at the end of a kickoff return. Indiana’s Whop Philyor was taken to the sideline medical tent after being hit hard and fumbling in the second quarter. There was no targeting on the play, which was confirmed by the video replay review during a timeout. Without their top wide receivers, neither offense has looked particularly sharp despite a back-and-forth first quarter.

Sean Clifford rushed for a 38-yard touchdown and completed a touchdown pass to tight end Nick Bowers in the first quarter, but the offense has had a tough time keeping things going against Indiana. Hamler had 52 yards on two receptions before leaving the game, and he remains the leading receiver for Penn State. Philyor had 50 yards on two receptions as well. The bigger concern for Penn State has been the pass defense, which struggled against Minnesota last week and has its hands full against the top-ranked passing offense in the conference.

Peyton Ramsey and the Hoosiers are hanging around and will get the ball to start the second half.

Report: Florida State no longer considers Bob Stoops a candidate

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It appears you can put this particular piece of drama to bed.

In the days after Willie Taggart was fired as Florida State’s head coach, Bob Stoops‘ name was connected to the opening through various levels of speculation.  At one point, FSU’s athletic director, David Coburn, publicly stated that the current head coach and general manager of the XFL’s Dallas franchise is a candidate for the job; Stoops subsequently stated that “the rumors/reports of him being a candidate for the Florida State job opening are not accurate.”

Nearly two weeks later, and citing two sources familiar with the search, the Tallahassee Democrat is reporting that “Florida State has been in contact with representatives of former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and does not consider him a candidate for its vacant football coach position.”

With the former Oklahoma coach out of the running — if he was even in the running in the first place — FSU could turn its attention to current FBS head coaches such as Memphis’ Mike Norvell, Penn State’s James Franklin and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell.  Interim head coach Odell Haggins is also drawing support from current Seminole football players to take over the job permanently.

Coburn has long maintained that the university is on track to have a replacement in place before the end of November.

Ohio State confirms Chase Young suspended one more game, will return for Penn State

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In the end, this is about the best possible scenario for both the player and the football program.

In a press release early Wednesday afternoon, Ohio State confirmed that standout defensive end Chase Young will be suspended for one more game, this Saturday’s matchup with woebegone Rutgers. Young had already been suspended for last Saturday’s win over Maryland.

The university had requested Young’s immediate reinstatement, which was denied by the NCAA.

From the release:

The NCAA has concluded its review of The Ohio State University Department of Athletics’ reinstatement request for student-athlete Chase Young, and it has determined that Young should be withheld from playing in one additional game before being eligible to resume competition. Young was withheld from Ohio State’s Nov. 9 game against Maryland while the department looked into and reported a possible NCAA issue from 2018. Young will also miss Ohio State’s Nov. 16 game against Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J.

The ruling means that Young will be available for both the No. 9 Penn State and No. 15 Michigan games to close out the 2019 regular season.

No. 2 Ohio State confirmed last Friday morning that star defensive end Chase Young would not be playing in this past Saturday’s game against Maryland.  Per the school, Young would be sidelined for the foreseeable future “due to a possible NCAA issue from 2018 that the Department of Athletics is looking into.”  On his personal Twitter account, Young acknowledged he had “made a mistake last year by accepting a loan from a family friend” that he “repaid… in full last summer.” It was subsequently reported that the loan was used to pay for airfare for Young’s family — or, more specifically, his girlfriend — so they could see him play in January’s Rose Bowl against Washington.

On ESPN‘s College GameDay a day after the initial suspension was announced, Kirk Herbstreit, a former Buckeyes quarterback, stated that, because of the amount of money involved, Young will be slotted for a four-game suspension.  The university will appeal that initial number and it’s expected that the suspension will be knocked down to “two games, maybe three games,” Herbstreit stated, adding, “it won’t stay at four.”

Young had been practicing with the rest of his teammates as if he would be playing this weekend; obviously, that won’t be happening, but the talented lineman will be available for a stout stretch run that will determine OSU’s postseason fate.

“I want to thank and express my sincere gratitude to university staff members who worked so diligently and expertly to learn and understand the facts, and then to report these facts to the NCAA as part of our request to have Chase reinstated,” athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement. “This is the example of the culture of compliance we have at Ohio State.

“I also want to commend Chase Young and let him know how proud we are of him. He took responsibility for his actions, cooperated throughout the process and understood and accepted that there would be consequences. He’s a team captain and a leader and most importantly, a Buckeye. He wanted nothing more than an opportunity to play again and we’re pleased that he’ll get that chance.”

Despite missing this past weekend’s game, a blowout win over the Terps, Young still leads the nation in sacks (13½) and sacks per game (1.69).  The junior, widely expected be one of the first players selected in the 2020 NFL Draft if he does the expected and foregoes his remaining eligibility, is also third nationally in tackles per loss per game (1.9).

“I appreciate the expediency to which the NCAA reviewed and responded to our request for reinstatement,” Smith said in a continuation of his statement. “We felt that based on the circumstances, the NCAA would use its leadership capacity to take an understanding approach on behalf of all student-athletes who find themselves in a similar position, and it certainly did just that.”