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Biletnikoff Award semifinalists are heavy on Big 12 receivers


College football’s award season is coming soon, which means various individual awards are trimming down their massive watch lists to much smaller lists of semifinalists, and soon finalists. The Biletnikoff Award, which honors the nation’s best receiver regardless of position, released its list of 11 semifinalists for its award this season. As expected, some of the nation’s leading receivers managed to make the cut midway through November.

The list of semifinalists includes some of the top receivers from the Big 12 with Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, West Virginia’s David Sills V, Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace, and Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley are among the 11 semifinalists for the award. Wesley leads the nation in average receiving yards per game with 134.7 ypg. Wallace is not far behind with 128.2 ypg. Those two are among the seven receivers who have already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this season.

UMass receiver Andy Isabella, who leads the nation with 1,479 receiving yards was also named a semifinalist for the award. Hawaii’s John Ursua, the nation’s leader in receiving touchdowns (15) also made the cut.

The SEC’s top two receivers, A.J. Brown of Ole Miss (SEC-leading 1,047 receiving yards) and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy (SEC-leading 10 touchdowns and second-most receiving yards, 925 yards). Arizona State’s N'Keal Harry, among the Pac-12 leaders in receiving yards and touchdowns, is joined by Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside as the Pac-12’s semifinalists.

Freshman star Rondale Moore of Purdue is the only player from a Big Ten school named a semifinalist for the award. Among the power conferences, the Big Ten has the longest drought of Biletnikoff Award winners with Braylon Edwards of Michigan being the last Big Ten player to win the award in 2004. The Big 12 has dominated the award over the past decade with seven Biletnikoff Award winners since 2007 including the last three years (Corey Coleman of Baylor in 2015, Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma in 2016, and James Washington of Oklahoma State in 2017) and two back-to-back winners (Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech in 2007-2008 and Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State in 2010 and 2011).

This list of 11 semifinalists will be trimmed down to three finalists on Nov. 19. The 2018 Biletnikoff Award will be presented on Dec. 6 at The Home Depot College Football Awards Presentation on ESPN.

On last-second FG, No. 16 Iowa becomes Purdue’s latest Top 25 victim

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If you’re a ranked Big Ten team, you probably don’t want to see Purdue coming up on the schedule anytime soon.

Two weeks ago, Purdue knocked off No. 2 Ohio State in one of the biggest upsets of the 2018 season.  Saturday night, Purdue played host to No. 16 Iowa and, for the second time in as three games, picked up the upset as the Boilermakers knocked off the Hawkeyes in a 38-36 thriller.

Trailing 35-23 early in the fourth quarter, a pair of Mekhi Sargent one-yard touchdown runs and a missed two-point conversion combined to give the visiting Hawkeyes a 36-35 lead with 10:19 remaining.  The teams then traded punts on their next possessions, with the Boilermakers getting another opportunity with just over four minutes left on the clock and the ball well-positioned at midfield.

A fourth-down conversion at the Iowa 30-yard line kept the drive moving, while a critical pass interference call against the Hawkeyes moved the ball well within field-goal range at the 16.  Another first down on a DJ Knox 11-yard run set the ball up at the 5-yard line.

With eight seconds left, Spencer Evans connected on what turned out to be the game-winning field goal.

David Blough passed for 333 yards and four touchdowns in the win.  Terry Wright was responsible for 146 of the yards and caught three of the touchdowns.

In addition to Iowa and Ohio State, Purdue also knocked off then-No. 23 Boston College in Week 4.  This marks the first time since 2003 that the Boilermakers, now 5-4 on the season, have beaten three ranked teams in the same season.

The loss for Iowa, meanwhile, puts a serious dent in their Big Ten West hopes.  Now sitting at 3-3 in conference play, Hawkeyes find themselves behind Northwestern (5-1) and Wisconsin (4-2).  Iowa has already lost to Wisconsin, while they face Northwestern next weekend in Iowa City.

Boiler up! Purdue blasts No. 2 Ohio State, 49-20, shaking up Big Ten picture

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After starting the season with three tough losses, the season looked bleak for Purdue. But the season has taken quite a dramatic turn for the Boilermakers after a 49-20 victory over No. 2 Ohio State became the fourth straight win in a row for Purdue. This one, highlighted by three fourth-quarter touchdowns by the home team, may have redefined the season not just for Purdue, but for Ohio State and the Big Ten as a whole.

Purdue quarterback David Blough passed for 378 yards and 3 touchdowns in the win, with Rondale Moore being on the receiving end of 170 yards and two touchdowns. Moore’s second touchdown was an incredible mix of determination and a poor display of tackling by Ohio State, essentially summing up the way this game came to a close in the fourth quarter.

Purdue running back D.J. Knox also had a big night for the Boilermakers by rushing for 128 yards and three touchdowns on 16 rushing attempts.

It may not have been a turning point, but the defining moment of the night for Purdue may have come at the end of the first half when Purdue ran a fake field goal play to pick up a first down in the closing moments of the first half. One play later, Blough completed a nine-yard touchdown pass to Moore to push the Purdue lead to 14-3 just before halftime. The touchdown drive came immediately after Ohio State missed a field goal that could have cut Purdue’s lead to 7-6. It was a gutsy decision by Jeff Brohm, but one that may have been necessary.

While Ohio State’s defense could not slow down Purdue’s offense in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes didn’t exactly go away quietly. Dwayne Haskins kept Ohio State in the game with a 431-yard performance and two touchdowns, including one on a fourth down play with under five minutes to play to cut the Purdue lead to 35-20. But even one of this season’s best offensive players in the Big Ten was prone to making a mistake. Haskins was picked off by Markus Bailey late int he fourth quarter, and the Purdue defender returned the interception 41 yards for one last exclamation point on the wild upset victory.

With the win, Purdue manages to stay right in the thick of the Big Ten West Division race. Northwestern, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Purdue all have just one conference loss, although Purdue’s only loss to this point has come against Northwestern. Purdue will also get Iowa and Wisconsin at home in November, and it has become clear this is not a place you want to travel to play right now. Purdue has not played in a Big Ten championship game, which is played in Indianapolis, but perhaps these Boilermakers have something special cooking right now. They absolutely cannot be dismissed in the West Division now.

Ohio State’s setback means the Buckeyes are now looking up in the Big Ten East standings for the first time this season. The team sitting above them just so happens to be Michigan, the last undefeated team in Big Ten play this season after the Wolverines took care of Michigan State earlier in the day. The fate of the Big Ten East could very well come down to the regular season finale between Ohio State and Michigan this year in Ohio Stadium, and Ohio State will clearly have some work to do if they are going to climb back to being the team to beat in the division they were expected to be.

It is still too early to go crazy over the College Football Playoff implications for Ohio State with this loss, because a one-loss Big Ten champion — be it Ohio State or Michigan — would still figure to have a solid chance of being one of the four teams selected at the end of the year. The first playoff rankings will come at the end of the month, but the Buckeyes will be sitting on this loss when those rankings make their debut, so they will not have a chance to redeem themselves in front of the watchful eyes of the selection committee.

Ohio State will look take next week off with a bye before looking for a rebound win on November 3 at home against Nebraska. Purdue will look to continue flexing against the Big Ten East Division next week when they travel to East Lansing to take on a beat-up Michigan State team.

The last time Purdue beat the No. 2 team in the country was October 6, 1984. The opponent that day? Ohio State.

Purdue tricks Ohio State with fake field goal and capitalizes with touchdown before halftime

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Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm knows his team cannot afford to settle for field goals if the Boilermakers are going to upset No. 2 Ohio State tonight. So with a 7-3 lead late in the first half and a fourth down from the Ohio State 13-yard line, Brohm opted to try a fake field goal in an attempt to tack on a few more points just before halftime. Fortunately for Brohm, that worked out to perfection, and now Purdue holds a 14-3 lead on the Buckeyes at halftime as result.

Holder Joe Schopper took the snap and promptly got up and ran to the left side of the field, needing four yards to pick up a first down for Purdue. Schopper had the room but needed to throw his body into a defender just enough to make sure he picked up the first down. Against Ohio State’s special teams unit, he did just that.

Had Purdue gone into halftime with a 10-3 lead, there may not be a Boilermaker fan in the state of Indiana that would have passed up on that scenario if it was an option before the game started. And the possibility of still having to settle for a field goal could still have become a reality if not for the first-and-goal pass from David Blough to Rondale Moore, who scooted into the end zone to cushion the Purdue lead.

Purdue’s late-half touchdown drive came immediately after Ohio State kicker Blake Haubeil missed on a 35-yard field goal to try cutting Purdue’s lead to one. So go ahead and consider this a 10-point swing that Brohm was not content to let slip by him.

We’ll see if Brohm has to dig into a bag of tricks in the second half.

Scott Frost still looking for a win as Purdue runs Nebraska’s losing streak to eight for the first time ever

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Scott Frost knows the view from the top of mountain at Nebraska, having led the Cornhuskers to a national title just over two decades ago. Unfortunately for the team’s current head coach, he also knows what it looks like at the program’s lowest point too.

Purdue racked 516 yards of offense in a 42-28 win and embarrassed many of the Big Red faithful who showed up to Memorial Stadium on Saturday as their team lost eight games in a row for the first time in the 129 year history of the school playing football.

David Blough continued his hot streak under center for the Boilermakers, throwing for 328 yards and a touchdown in mistake-free football for the team as they averaged over seven yards a play and scored on all six trips to the red zone. His arm helped open things up for the speedy playmakers with D.J. Knox running for 87 yards and two scores while freshman Rondale Moore managed 85 yards receiving. Brycen Hopkins also impressed against the Blackshirts with 103 yards on five catches with a score as well.

As for Nebraska, signal-caller Adrian Martinez showed flashes of greatness at times in trying to rally his team (especially coming out of halftime) but it just wasn’t enough in the end as they managed to record over 500 yards of offense (562 to be exact) for the second time in 2018. The true freshman still threw for 323 yards and two touchdowns (one interception) while rushing for another 91 more but seemed to press a bit more as the deficit grew early in the first half. Tailback Devine Ozigbo was also a nice bright spot with two scores and 170 yards rushing but there was only a single red zone trip for the offense to even feature him as they spent most of the day between the 20’s.

Things don’t get any easier for Frost’s team either as they’ll travel to face Big Ten West behemoth Wisconsin next and follow that up with another long road trip at Northwestern. The worst start to a season for the school was an 0-5 mark back in 1945 and it wouldn’t be out of the question to see that mark equalled (or exceeded) soon for the Cornhuskers.

That’s of no concern to opposite number Jeff Brohm, who helped Purdue win their first game ever in Lincoln and evened his record at the school to 9-9 overall. The team has certainly regained momentum with two in a row on the right side of the ledger after three close losses to open their 2018 campaign. While it might not be enough to make things interesting in the division, they’ll at least have a fighting chance at making another bowl game thanks in part to the victory on Saturday against the Huskers.