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John Mackey Award names eight semi-finalists for top tight end award

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Eight of the nation’s top tight ends were officially named semi-finalists for this season’s John Mackey Award on Monday. The award, named after Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end and former Syracuse player John Mackey, is presented to the nation’s top tight-end as determined by a select voting panel.

This year’s semi-finalists are:

  • Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic
  • Hunter Bryant, Washington
  • Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
  • Brevin Jordan, Miami
  • Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
  • Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
  • Colby Parkinson, Stanford
  • Giovanni Ricci, Western Michigan

A couple of notable omissions from this list stand out. Florida’s Kyle Pitts, who has the second-most receptions and fifth-most receiving yards among the nation’s tight ends somehow slipped through the voters here. The sophomore for the Gators has averaged 4.2 receptions per game and has accounted for 566 yards and five touchdowns for the Gators. No other tight end in the SEC has more yards per game than Pitts. Penn State’s Pat Freiemuth being omitted was also slightly surprising. Freiermuth has seven touchdowns, easily more than any other Big Ten tight end this season and tied for third-most in the conference this season.

Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson won the John Mackey Award in 2018. Other past winners of the award include Dallas Clark of Iowa, Tyler Eiffert of Notre Dame, Jake Butt of Michigan, Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington, and Aaron Hernandez of Florida.

This year’s Mackey Award winner will be announced on Dec. 11th.

Only Northwestern player to catch TD pass this season ruled out vs. Purdue

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This isn’t exactly optimal for a passing “attack” as woeful as Northwestern’s.

An unspecified injury suffered during the Oct. 26 loss to Iowa kept J.J. Jefferson out of last Saturday’s loss to Indiana. Ahead of its Week 11 matchup with Purdue, the football program confirmed that the wide receiver has also officially been ruled out for the Boilermakers.

As was the case the week before, Northwestern has not identified the specific nature of the injury.

Jefferson is currently second on the Wildcats with 155 receiving yards and tied for third in receptions with 12. He also leads the team with a 12.9 yards per catch average and two receiving touchdowns.

In fact, Jefferson’s two touchdown catches are the only two for the team through eight games. Northwestern is currently tied with Georgia Southern and Old Dominion for the fewest scoring tosses at the FBS level. Rutgers’ six are next-worst among Power Five schools.

One other injury note: Second-leading rusher Isaiah Bowser is not listed on the injury report, but he’s also not listed on the two-deep depth chart that was attached to the report. Bowser has been struggling with a knee injury suffered in the season opener, one that’s already sidelined him for a total of three games.

No Moore: Purdue’s star WR ruled out for yet another game

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When it comes to Rondale Moore’s availability, it’s lather, rinse and repeat — and it might be time to consider shutting him down for good for the year as well.

Because of a hamstring injury suffered in the Week 4 loss to Minnesota, Moore has missed each of Purdue’s last five games. With a Week 11 matchup against Northwestern fast approaching on the horizon, head coach Jeff Brohm has confirmed that the star wide receiver will be sidelined for a sixth straight game.

With just two regular-season games remaining after this weekend — at 16th-ranked Wisconsin, home versus 7-2 Indiana — and, currently sitting at 3-6, bowl eligibility an unlikelihood, a decision on what’s left of the sophomore’s truncated 2019 campaign will need to be made.

Despite missing more than half the season, Moore is still fourth on the Boilermakers in receptions (29) and third in receiving yards (387).  The sophomore’s also tied for third in receiving touchdowns with two.

Last year as a true freshman, Moore caught 114 passes for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns.  He added another 213 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries while also averaging 20.1 and 6.8 yards per kickoff and punt return, respectively.

Injury woes mounting for Purdue quarterbacks

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Your local bubble wrap distributor is calling, Purdue.  May want to consider picking up.

After beginning the season as Purdue’s starting quarterback, Elijah Sindelar suffered a broken collarbone in a late September loss to unbeaten Minnesota. While there has been hope Sindelar, who once helped Purdue win a bowl game on a torn ACL, could return at some point this season, head coach Jeff Brohm stated Monday that he’s “not optimistic that Elijah will be back this year.” Brohm did add, though, “I don’t want to rule it out completely,” which leaves the door somewhat ajar.

During this past Saturday’s win over reeling Nebraska, Sindelar’s replacement, Jack Plummer, went down with what appeared to be a serious lower-leg injury.  In updating Sindelar’s status, Brohm also confirmed that Plummer suffered a broken ankle and will “probably” be sidelined for the remainder of the year.

Per the coach, Plummer was set to see a doctor later on that day to determine whether surgery will be necessary.

With both Plummer and Sindelar sidelined for the foreseeable future, Aidan O’Connell (pictured) will take over Purdue’s offense and make his first collegiate start this Saturday at Northwestern.  In limited action this season, the redshirt sophomore O’Connell, who originally joined the team as a walk-on, has completed 15-of-22 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.  After replacing the injured Plummer, O’Connell went 6-7 for 62 yards in closing out the over the Cornhuskers.

“You guys have heard me say all year long, we were not hesitant to put him in, even though he hasn’t played before,” Brohm said in quotes distributed by the team. “And I think getting a little bit of experience in the Illinois game helped him and when he came in this last game, he had his feet wet a little bit and he did a very good job.

“He’s a guy that I think can execute the offense. You know, the plays there, I think he’ll stand there and try to make the throw and sit in that pocket and do the best job that he can. I think he is an accurate passer that has good fundamental form — fundamentals, and technique and form, and has worked hard to perfect his throwing mechanics and craft.”

Nebraska’s bowl hopes dim as Purdue sends ‘Huskers to fourth loss in five games

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So much for those high hopes the first month of the season.

Through four games, Nebraska was sitting at 3-1, with the lone negative being a bizarre come-from-ahead loss to Colorado on the road.  The next four, though, produced a 1-3 record, with two of the losses coming by a combined 68 points and the lone win coming by three points against 1-6 Northwestern at home.  Following the third loss, a 38-31 setback to Indiana, head coach Scott Frost and his players took turns exchanging apologies.

Even with the mea culpas, The Big Red train refused to get back on track in Week 10 as Nebraska squandered a pair of fourth-quarter leads en route to a 31-27 loss Saturday afternoon over a Purdue team that came into the contest at 2-6.  The Cornhuskers went up 27-24 with just over four minutes remaining on quarterback Adrian Martinez‘s four-yard touchdown run, only to see the Boilermakers go 82 yards on 12 plays in a drive that culminated in David Bell‘s game-winning touchdown run from nine yards out with 1:08 remaining.

The latest loss drops Nebraska to 4-5 on the season with three games left — No. 18 Wisconsin, at Maryland, No. 19 Iowa.  In order to become bowl-eligible, the Cornhuskers will have to win at least two of those three.

If they don’t, the football program will fail to qualify for a third straight postseason.  That would mark the longest bowl-less streak for the ‘Huskers since way back 1955-61.

Speaking of which, how much do you think the Cornhuskers and their faithful would pay for a 9-3 Bo Pelini Special right about now?  From this vantage point, the over/under is a kidney or some other mid-level body organ.