Saturday, September 30, 2017

No. 22 Notre Dame 52, Miami (OH) 17: Irish reach the 900-win plateau in the FBS

                                                        Photo Credit: Jon Opiela

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter @JonOpiela24

NOTRE DAME, Ind.— The No. 22 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-1) recorded their 900th win in school history in a 52-17 blowout over the Miami University Redhawks (2-3, 1-0 Mid-American Conference). Notre Dame joins Michigan (935) as the second program in FBS history to reach the 900-win milestone.  Notre Dame’s offense looked in peak form as it recorded 503 yards of total offense, including 333 on the ground in the win.

The Irish poured on 45 first half points, the most in a first half under a Brian Kelly coached team.

“45 points in the first half so I’m really proud of our guys. They had a great week of preparation,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “Miami; Chuck [Martin] does what great coaches do in these kind of games. He limits possessions… He keeps the ball away from you so we knew we had to be opportunistic.”

The Irish recorded over 100 yards of total offense within the first four minutes of the game. Josh Adams got the Irish offense started with a 72-yard rushing touchdown up the middle.   Greer Martini intercepted a pass from Miami quarterback Gus Ragland and returned it 42 yards before being taken down. Brandon Wimbush found Chase Claypool for 21 yards on 4th and 11 to keep the drive alive for Notre Dame. Wimbush capped the drive off with a 1-yard touchdown rush, his eighth of the season.

Miami (OH) kept the pigskin flying and picked up three first downs through the air on their way to the end zone. Ragland found James Garland for a 34-yard touchdown to get Miami (Ohio) on the scoreboard. The duo combined for a second touchdown in the second quarter.

Adams found the end zone for a second time in the first quarter on a 59-yard run that featured a highlight reel stiff arm. The run gave Adams 151 rushing yards on five carries and moved him into eighth place on Notre Dame’s all-time rushing list.

“Barkley is a great player at Penn State, but Josh has got to start to get some kind of national recognition for the kind of season that he’s having. He is a load. He is a big, physical running who gets in the open and then runs away from people,” Kelly said.  “This is a special back and he’s having a special year.”

Claypool made a phenomenal catch while falling out of bounds for a 7-yard touchdown pass from Wimbush.  Notre Dame began the drive at the Miami 30 after nose guard Jerry Tillery had a strip sack and Jay Hayes recovered for the Irish.

Equanimeous St. Brown celebrated his 21st birthday with a 14-yard touchdown reception from Wimbush to push the Irish lead to 35-7.  Wimbush added a 54-yard touchdown pass when he found Miles Boykin wide open on a fly route.

“It’s my roommate.  I told him ‘I’m going to get you the ball and I want you to go score you,” Wimbush said. “We did that and he was pretty excited and we’re going to go celebrate.”

Wimbush went 7-of-18 for 119 yards through the air and three touchdowns. Late in the game, Wimbush came out of the game and allowed backup quarterbacks Ian Book and Montgomery Van Gorder to shine.

Notre Dame running back Dexter Williams was a game-time decision with an ankle injury.  Before halftime, Notre Dame also lost Josh Adams and Tony Jones Jr. to injuries, leaving fourth-string running back Deon McIntosh, in charge of the running game. McIntosh contributed 12 carries for 35 yards in last weeks contest against Michigan State.

“Josh could have played. His ankle was not a serious situation, but we didn’t want to put him in harms way. Tony got hit, he wasn’t ruled out of the game so we just felt like we would run with Deon and just be safe,” Kelly said. “We expect Dexter back next week.  Josh should be full go and I think Tony gets this week to really get back to 100%.  I feel good going into next week.”

In the fourth quarter, McIntosh added a 26-yard touchdown run of his own to validate the depth in Notre Dame’s backfield.

Looking Ahead:

Both teams are back in action on Oct. 7 as Notre Dame heads to Chapel Hill, N.C. to take on the North Carolina, while Miami hosts Bowling Green.

Video recap of Nebraska's 28-6 win at Illinois

Here is my video recap of Nebraska's 28-6 win over Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.


0:08- Nebraska players exiting the field
0:30- Nebraska coach Mike Riley press conference

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twittere @TheGenoGreen.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Nebraska 28, Illinois 6: Huskers dominate behind Lee's breakout performance

                                                            Photo Credit: Geno Green

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.— In an underwhelming start to the season with nine interceptions in the first four games, quarterback Tanner Lee bounced back as Nebraska (3-2, 2-0 Big Ten) continued to climb back into respectability in the Big Ten with a 28-6 win against Illinois (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) at Memorial Stadium Friday night.

Lee showed poise and received plenty of protection from the offensive line as he went 17-of-24 for three touchdowns through the air and finished with a quarterback rating of 198.2.

Nebraska’s wide receivers came alive as Stanley Morgan finished with a game-high 96 yards, on eight receptions for a touchdown, while De’Mornay Pierson-El amassed 94 yards, highlighted by a 45-yard TD reception in the first quarter.

Illinois running back Mike Epstein came into the game sixth in the FBS with an average of 73.7 rushing yards per game, but would be neutralized by the Nebraska defense to 42 yards on 10 carries.

Cornhuskers coach Mike Riley praised both sides of the ball for a complete effort from start to finish.

“It was a balanced football game on offense and defense. We don’t have to pass more, we have to pass more efficiently,” Riley said. “The passing lanes were created well tonight with playaction coupled with the running game, that can be a nice combination going forward.”

Not quite the old blackshirts, but the Huskers defense finished with five sacks and 10 tackles for loss, but Riley came away more impressed with their key stops when the Illini entered the red zone twice and allowed six points.

“I thought the defense rose up all night long and Illinois had some nice looking drives, but our ability to keep them out of the end zone was beautiful,” Riley said.

On 3rd and 10, Illini free safety Bennett Williams got ejected from the game for targeting on Cornhuskers tight end Tyler Hoppes, which left Julian Hylton as the only other free safety on the Illini depth chart for at least one half. Nebraska took advantage of the targeting penalty as Lee connected off his back foot to a Pierson-El for a 45-yard touchdown reception to open the scoring.

The Cornhuskers found themselves with early momentum— something they had struggled with for most of the season.

Illinois quarterback Chayce Crouch took matters into his hands on the next drive with six carries for 26 yards, but would be sacked by Nebraska linebacker Ben Stille for a loss of five yards. A 25-yard FG conversion from Chase McLaughlin put the Illini on the board three seconds into the second quarter, but chewed up 9:00 in time of possession.

Lee responded on Nebraska’s next drive with precision as the offensive line gave him plenty of a time to find receivers left and right going 5-of-5 for 52 yards through the air, which set up a 15-yard TD run from Devine Ozigbo, who finished with a game-high 106 yards on the ground. Nebraska took control at 14-3 as the energy in the stadium came to a halt.

A stalled Illinois drive led to Nebraska’s answer on its next series as Lee continued to pick apart the defense like a surgeon as a series of moderate receptions led to a 6-yard touchdown rollout to Hoppes as the lead increased to 21-3 and started to look more like the team picked as a contender in the Big Ten West after 30 minutes in regulation.

Like the movie Groundhog Day, Illinois drove to Nebraska’s goal line, but forced to settle for another 25-yard field goal conversion from McLaughlin as Crouch threw back-to-back incompletions to Ricky Smalling and Malik Turner, which led to the attempt.

A fumble recovery by free safety Stanley Green put Illinois in prime position for another scoring opportunity at the Nebraska 32-yard line, but lost 14 yards and taken out of field goal range— highlighted by a 12-yard sack by defensive end Carlos Davis.

Morgan put the icing on the cake as he edged the sideline going 23 yards to the end zone from Lee as the Huskers exacted revenge at Memorial Stadium from their 14-13 loss to the Illini back on Oct. 3, 2015.

Only time will tell if Nebraska’s performance is a one-trick pony or the start of something special.

Looking Ahead:

Both teams return to action on Oct. 7 as the Fighting Illini goes to Iowa City to take on Iowa Hawkeyes at 11 a.m. CT, while the Cornhuskers host the No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers at 7 p.m. CT.

Pick Six- Week 5 CFB Slate

                                    Photo Credit: Minnesota Athletic Department

Welcome to Week 5 of Pick Six.

Larimore went 4-2 last week and is still the top dog at 21-9 as his lead has grown to four games on Baligian and Lucas (17-13 each). Baligian and Lucas have some work to do as they each went 1-5 last week.

Standings after Week 4:


Larimore   21-9         -

Baligian    17-13        1

Lucas       17-13        1

Week 5 picks:                            Larimore          Baligian        Lucas

Maryland at Minnesota                Minnesota       Minnesota    Minnesota

Florida State at Wake Forest       Florida State  Florida State  Florida State

Arizona State at Stanford              Stanford        Stanford       Stanford

Mississippi State at Auburn            Auburn          Auburn         Auburn

Oklahoma State at Texas Tech    Texas Tech   Oklahoma St.  Oklahoma St.

Wild Card:

Colorado State at Hawaii           Colorado St.    Colorado St.    Hawaii

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The common thread of Ara Parseghian unites Miami (OH) and No. 22 Notre Dame in Saturday's meeting

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

The Miami (OH) Redhawks (2-2, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) take on the No. 22 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-1) for their second all-time meeting on Saturday (5 p.m. ET, NBCSN). In its only other meeting, Notre Dame defeated Miami (OH) 46-0 back on Nov. 14, 1909 collided at Cartier Field in South Bend. The one common link between the two programs turns out to be Ara Parseghian.

Both teams will pay respects and honor Parseghian on Saturday.  Parseghian won two national championships as the head football coach at Notre Dame in 1966 and 1973.  Parseghian was a graduate of Miami (OH) and played football, basketball and baseball during his time as a student.

The Irish are coming into Saturday’s contest after winning two consecutive road games over Boston College and Michigan State. The remainder of Notre Dame’s games will be played against teams who competed in the bowl games following the 2016 season.

There was a good amount of uncertainty regarding the abilities of Notre Dame defense coming into the 2017 season. To this point, the Irish have limited big plays and allowed 18.5 points per game.

“I could tell you the first meeting that we came in here with our defense, [defensive coordinator] Mike Elko puts up a PowerPoint that talks about situational awareness, talks about eliminations big plays.  This is not by coincidence,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “This is about crafting the tenets of playing the kind of defense necessary to be a championship football team.”

The Redhawks are coming off a 31-14 win on the road over the Central Michigan Chippewas to open their Mid-American Conference Schedule.  The week before, Miami played rival Cincinnati, where the Redhawks fell 21-17.  Miami held a 17-6 lead over the Bearcats with less than four minutes remaining in the game.

Miami boasts one of the nation’s top defenses through the first four games of the season as it has allowed 19.0 points per game.  Miami is looking to slow down a Notre Dame offense that has averaged 38.75 points per game this season. With six interceptions and three forced fumbles, the Redhawks also rank 13th in the FBS in turnovers forced.

Notre Dame isn’t overlooking Miami University simply because they come a Group of Five conference.

“We’ve only built one mindset.  It’s to dominate the opponent,” Kelly said.  “This is really about inner focus on how we prepare for our next opponent, whether it’s Miami University or the University of Miami.”

Quarterback Gus Ragland looks to lead the Redhawks though the air. Through the first four games of the season, Ragland is averaging 220.2 yards of passing per game. Ragland’s favorite target is James Gardner, who is averaging 73.5 yards a game and has also found the end zone twice.  Alonzo Smith and Kenny Young split the carries for the Miami backfield with both back averaging at least 51 yards a game. 

All-Time vs Miami (Ohio):

Notre Dame is 1-0 all-time against Miami (Ohio) with the lone contest resulting in a 46-0 Irish victory back in 1909 and 5-0 all-time against Mid-American Conference opponents.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Projecting the New Year's Six for Sept. 26

Welcome to the fifth New Year's Six projections of the 2017 college football season.

Like last season, the projections will be based off the CSO Mock CFP Committee rankings from that very week. 

Here are the fifth set of projections for this season:

Sugar Bowl (CFP Semifinal):

1) Alabama vs 4) USC

Rose Bowl (CFP Semifinal):

2) Clemson vs 3) Oklahoma

Cotton Bowl:

5) Penn State vs 11) TCU

Orange Bowl:

9) Ohio State vs 14) Miami (FL)

Fiesta Bowl:

6) Washington vs 7) Michigan

Peach Bowl:

10) Georgia vs 17) South Florida

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.

Monday, September 25, 2017

CSO Mock College Football Playoff committee Top 25 for Sept. 25

                                 Photo Credit: Rob Ferguson- USA Today Sports

Thanks to my mock selection committee for coming through and making the fifth edition of the rankings possible this season.

Biggest jump: TCU (+6) 11

Biggest fall: Florida State (-10) 22

(##)- Number of first place votes

     Team                          Points               Last Week

1) Alabama (9)                249                       1

2) Clemson (1)                240                       2

3) Oklahoma                   228                      3

4) USC                            210                      5 (+1)

5) Penn State                  208                       4 (-1)

6) Washington                 201                       6

7) Michigan                    184                       8 (+1)

8) Wisconsin                   172                       9 (+1)

9) Ohio State                  170                      10 (+1)

10) Georgia                   154                       11 (+1)

11) TCU                         138                       17 (+6)

12) Auburn                     119                       15 (+3)

13) Oklahoma State       118                         7 (-6)

14) Miami (FL)              116                        13 (-1)

15) Virginia Tech            109                       14 (-1)

16) Washington State       96                        16

17) South Florida             85                        19 (+2)

18) Louisville                   79                        20 (+2)

19) Utah                           77                        22 (+3)

20) Florida                       70                        21 (+1)

21) San Diego State         48                         24 (+3)

22) Florida State              33                        12 (-10)

23) Mississippi State        27                        18 (-5)

      LSU                            27                        23

25) Stanford                     20                        NR (+2)

Others receiving votes:

Notre Dame 19, West Virginia 16, Duke 12, California 9, Wake Forest 3, Texas Tech 3, Tennessee 2, Central Florida 2, Kansas State 2, Oregon 2, Iowa 1

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Notre Dame 38, Michigan State 18: Irish blow out the candles on the Spartans for the next decade

                                                 Photo Credit: Notre Dame Athletics

By: Jeremy Rosenberg

On a sweat-soaked Saturday night at Spartan Stadium, the MSU-Notre Dame rivalry (and hopefully excessive alliteration) began a 10-year hiatus. Unlike so many of the match-ups in this historical rivalry, this one fizzled out early, as multiple turnovers sank the Spartans. In the end, Notre Dame outclassed Michigan State for a 38-18 victory.

Notre Dame opened the scoring with a brilliantly scripted opening drive. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush picked the Spartan defense apart with his arm before capping the drive off with a 16-yard touchdown run right through the heart of the MSU defense. The drive and touchdown were an emphatic statement by the Irish.

An even greater statement came on MSU’s opening drive. The Spartans picked up a first down and looked to be moving the ball effectively, when Spartan quarterback Brian Lewerke made a horrendous mistake, serving up a perfect 59-yard pick-six to Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love. Less than five minutes into the game, Notre Dame had burst to a 14-0 lead.

Michigan State could have wilted, but Lewerke shook off the interception to lead the Spartans on a seven play, 75-yard touchdown drive. The drive was marked by a 52-yard run up the middle by Lewerke on a 3rd and 1 quarterback sneak. The Spartan QB was practically untouched as he slithered through the Notre Dame defense line, then he exploded ahead for the big gain. MSU scored their touchdown on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Lewerke to WR Darrell Stewart Jr., cutting the Irish lead to 14-7.

The game stabilized a bit at this point, falling into the defensive match a lot of us were expecting. The Irish and Spartans traded punts, as MSU began to blitz Wimbush in earnest, and the Irish defense completely stymied the Spartans.

After forcing a second ND punt, Michigan State made another mistake. On a desperate third down run, Notre Dame linebacker Greer Martini shook and stirred Lewerke until he coughed up the ball. Irish defensive end Daelin Hayes recovered, and all the sudden the Irish had a short field, starting at the MSU 29-yard line.

Irish running back Dexter Williams took over, culminating with an 8-yard touchdown reception for the junior. Williams displayed the nifty footwork of an experienced WR, deftly touching his toe in bounds for the score. The Irish now had a 21-7 lead with 9:30 left in the half.

Just like before, MSU shook off the turnover and proceeded to march down the field on a drive punctuated by some surgical passing by Lewerke. On what appeared to be a strong 15-yard run up the middle by Spartan junior running back L.J. Scott, disaster struck for the MSU. Just as Scott was about to cross the plane of the end zone, Irish junior cornerback Shaun Crawford jarred the football loose and the Irish recovered in the end zone. Replays confirmed the call, and the atmosphere at Spartan Stadium completely deflated.

What better way for the Irish to keep the stadium quiet than to take the ball down field, five plays for eighty yards, and punch the ball in the end zone. The highlight of this drive was a diving third down catch for 21-yards by graduate transfer tight end Dylan Smythe. Dexter Williams proceeded to punch the ball in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown. Notre Dame was up 28-7, and the rout was on.

MSU opened the second half with a promising drive that stalled just inside the red zone. Kicker Matt Coughlin booted a 40-yard field goal to make it a 28-10 lead for the Irish.

A strong defensive stand could have made this a game again, but Notre Dame methodically drove down the field, on a drive marked by eight plays, of which almost every play was reviewed. By the time Irish running back Deon McIntosh scampered into the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown run, the entire stadium was numb. The Irish lead expanded to 35-10.

The rest of the game was marked by conservative play-calling by the Irish, trying to chew clock, and more stalled near-miss drives for Michigan State. Finally, with 3:09 left in the game, MSU managed to score a second touchdown, a 25-yard touchdown run by Gerald Holmes.

As for the Fighting Irish, Notre Dame looked terrific at times – very much the team that hung with Georgia for four quarters. Notre Dame needs to run the table to get into the playoff conversation, and their schedule, while difficult, is not overwhelming.

Notre Dame may have outclassed MSU tonight, but expect good things from this rivalry in the future. Both programs will look very different in a decade, but the overall intensity should stay the same. In an era where tradition seems less and less important, college football needs rivalries like this. MSU-Notre Dame played their first game in 1897. We can all look forward to 2027.