College Basketball: Wright State picked to finish 5th in Horizon

Published: Friday, October 06, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

            Wright State junior guard Chelsea Welch looks to pass with pressure from Central Michigan’s Presley Hudson during a WNIT game on Thursday, March 16, 2017 at the Nutter Center. Contributed Photo by Bryant Billing
Wright State junior guard Chelsea Welch looks to pass with pressure from Central Michigan’s Presley Hudson during a WNIT game on Thursday, March 16, 2017 at the Nutter Center. Contributed Photo by Bryant Billing

Wright State basketball coach Scott Nagy doesn’t mind being picked fifth for the second straight year in the Horizon League preseason poll. Like his peers, he looks at the results from the vote of the coaches, media and sports information directors only as something to draw attention to the upcoming season.

But he wasn’t pleased that returnees Justin Mitchell and Grant Benzinger were left off the 10-player all-league teams.

»RELATED: Deeper roster a good feeling for WSU women

»RELATED: Proven scorers, newcomers give WSU men hope

Mitchell, a 6-foot-4 senior from Fort Wayne, Ind., certainly seemed worthy of consideration. He averaged 11.5 points last season and finished second in the league in rebounding (8.3 per game), tied for fourth in assists (4.0), eighth in field-goal percentage (53.4) and 11th in assist-turnover ratio (1.2-1.0).

Benzinger, a 6-3 senior from Cincinnati, was also productive last season with averages of 12.8 points and 5.8 rebounds.

“The unfortunate thing is because the coaches don’t do all the voting, there’s other votes that count. I guess, to me, the coaches’ opinion should count more,” Nagy said. “Everybody just looks at the scoring. If you do a lot of scoring, you should be on the all-conference team or whatever.

“Scoring is just a small part. I know from last year, Justin was our most valuable player when you look at all the things he did for us.”

But just like Nagy will shrug off the team voting, he’s hoping his two star players do likewise.

“All you should worry about is being a good player, then all those things will happen,” said Nagy, whose team opens the season Nov. 10 at Loyola (Ill.).

Wright State guard Chelsea Welch was named the women’s preseason player of the year. She’s the first Raider to earn that honor since Kim Demmings in 2014-15.

The senior from Fairmont High School averaged 18.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists last season.

Teammate Lexi Smith was named to the preseason all-league second team, while Wright State was picked to finish second in the conference, getting four of 25 first place votes. League favorite Green Bay picked up the other 21 votes.

The Wright State women open the season Nov. 10 at Northwestern Ohio.

Oakland was picked to win the men’s title, while Northern Kentucky’s Drew McDonald was named the preseason player of the year.

College football rankings 2017: AP Poll Top 25 projections after Week 8

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 11:03 PM

AP Poll Top 25 projections for college football rankings after Week 8 include Alabama at No. 1 after beating Tennessee, 45-7. No. 2 Penn State routed Big Ten rival and No. 19 Michigan, 42-13. Unlike last week, there were no big upsets in Week 8.

Before the new poll is out Sunday, Land of 10 predicts where teams will be ranked in the AP Poll Top 25 rankings for Week 9.

AP Poll: Projections for college football rankings after Week 8

Dropped out: No. 19 Michigan

25. Iowa State (5-2)

24. Memphis (6-1)

23. LSU (6-2)

22. West Virginia (5-2)

21. USC (6-2)

20. Stanford (5-2)

19. Auburn (6-2)

18. Michigan State (6-1)

17. UCF (6-0)

16. NC State (6-1)

15. South Florida (7-0)

14. Washington State (6-1)

13. Virginia Tech (6-1)

12. Washington (6-1)

11. Oklahoma State (6-1)

10. Notre Dame (6-1)

The Fighting Irish are looking like a College Football Playoff contender. The Irish ran all over the Trojans in a 49-14 rout. Josh Adams rushed for 191 yards and 3 touchdowns while Brandon Wimbush rushed for 106 yards and 2 scores. Notre Dame picked up 377 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground.

9. Oklahoma (6-1)

The Sooners escaped Manhattan, Kan., with a 42-35 win. QB Baker Mayfield had a busy night with 410 passing yards, 2 passing scores and 69 rushing yards with two touchdowns. Oklahoma trailed 21-7 in the second quarter. But Rodney Anderson scored on a 22-yard touchdown with 7 seconds remaining to get the winning points.

8. Clemson (6-1)

The Tigers had another week to think over their loss to Syracuse. Clemson next plays Georgia Tech at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 28.

7. Miami (6-0)

The Hurricanes escaped again, this time edging Syracuse, 27-19. Miami got a big day from QB Malik Rosier, who passed for 344 yards and 2 interceptions. The Miami defense also stepped up. One week after QB Eric Dungey beat then-No. 2 Clemson, the Dungey struggled by going 13-for-41 passing for 137 yards and 4 interceptions.

6. Ohio State (6-1)

The Buckeyes had off this week. That means Ohio State had an extra week to prepare for Penn State. The Nittany Lions come to Columbus, Ohio, for a huge game next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

5. Wisconsin (7-0)

Freshman RB Jonathan Taylor had another big day, this time rushing for 126 yards and a touchdown in a 38-13 win against Maryland. Taylor is already at 1,000 yards this season and should continue to be a dark-horse candidate in the Heisman race. Taylor needed only seven games to reach 1,000 yards, which ties the FBS record for fastest freshman to reach the milestone.

4. TCU (7-0)

The Horned Frogs pushed around Kansas, holding the Jayhawks to only 21 yards and 4 first downs in a 43-0 rout. TCU QB Kenny Hill had a big game, throwing for 278 yards and 5 touchdowns to keep his team perfect.

3. Georgia (7-0)

The Bulldogs didn’t play this week, as they get an extra week to prepare for nemesis Florida. The Gators have struggled on offense all season long, so Georgia will be a strong favorite for next the game next Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla.

2. Penn State (7-0)

Penn State looked all the part of a College Football Playoff contender, routing Michigan 42-13. In the program’s first game at No. 2 since 1999, the Nittany Lions rolled up 506 yards of offense. Saquon Barkley rushed for 108 yards and had 53 receiving yards, scoring 3 total touchdowns. QB Trace McSorley also had a big game with 282 passing yards, 76 rushing yards and 4 total touchdowns.

1. Alabama (8-0)

Make it another blowout win for the Crimson Tide. Alabama destroyed Tennessee, 45-7. Alabama rushed for 272 yards but also passed for 332 yards in the rout. Tennessee didn’t do much on offense, picking up 108 yards. The Volunteers only points came on a pick-6 in the third quarter. Alabama gets LSU next.

For reference, here was the AP Poll Top 25 rankings for Week 8:

AP Poll Top 25 college football rankings for Week 8

Rank Team Record Points Previous rank
1 Alabama (61) 7-0 1,525 1
2 Penn State 6-0 1,432 3
3 Georgia 7-0 1,417 4
4 TCU 6-0 1,322 6
5 Wisconsin 6-0 1,241 7
6 Ohio State 6-1 1,184 9
7 Clemson 6-1 1,117 2
8 Miami 5-0 1,109 11
9 Oklahoma 5-1 1,066 12
10 Oklahoma State 5-1 900 14
11 USC 6-1 886 13
12 Washington 6-1 811 5
13 Notre Dame 5-1 798 16
14 Virginia Tech 5-1 727 15
15 Washington State 6-1 578 8
16 South Florida 6-0 573 18
16 NC State 6-1 573 20
18 Michigan State 5-1 563 21
19 Michigan 5-1 558 17
20 UCF 5-0 387 22
21 Auburn 5-2 303 10
22 Stanford 5-2 274 23
23 West Virginia 4-2 157 NR
24 LSU 5-2 108 NR
25 Memphis 5-1 62 NR

Others receiving votes: San Diego State 56, Texas A&M 46, Iowa State 16, Virginia 10, Kentucky 8, Utah 4, Mississippi State 3, South Carolina 2, Iowa 2, Navy 2, Texas Tech 2, Georgia Tech 1, Marshall 1, Florida State 1.

AP Poll Top 25 college football scores, results for Week 8

  • No. 1 Alabama 45, Tennessee 7
  • No. 2 Penn State 42, Michigan 13
  • No. 4 TCU 43, Kansas 0
  • No. 5 Wisconsin 38, Maryland 13
  • No. 8 Miami 27, Syracuse 19
  • No. 9 Oklahoma 42, Kansas State 35
  • No. 10 Oklahoma State 13, Texas 10 (overtime)
  • No. 13 Notre Dame 49, No. 11 USC 14
  • No. 14 Virginia Tech 59, North Carolina 7
  • No. 15 Washington State 28, Colorado 0
  • No. 16 South Florida 34, Tulane 28
  • No. 18 Michigan State 17, Indiana 9
  • No. 20 UCF 31, Navy 21
  • No. 21 Auburn 52, Arkansas 20
  • No. 23 West Virginia 38, Baylor 36
  • No. 24 LSU 40, Ole Miss 24
  • No. 25 Memphis 42, Houston 38

Baylor comes close, but comes up short against No. 23 West Virginia

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 2:38 AM

With nothing to lose but another game, Baylor benched its starting quarterback and tailback late in the third quarter against West Virginia and went with the kids on the bench.

The results very nearly allowed the Bears to snap their six-game losing streak. Freshman quarterback Charlie Brewer and tailback Trestan Ebner helped lead a fierce Baylor comeback, scoring 23 straight fourth-quarter points.

But linebacker Xavier Preston sacked Brewer on Baylor’s two-point try with 17 seconds left in the game to clinch West Virginia’s 38-36 victory.

Fans at McLane Stadium gave the team a standing ovation as the players and coaches left the field. The Bears have lost seven straight, but they’ll have life, and possibly a new starting quarterback, next week when Texas comes to town.

It’s possible that Brewer could be the new starting quarterback. That means he could renew a rivalry with Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger, a freshman and former high school rival.

“I’m not really worried about that,” Brewer said of a possible matchup with Ehlinger. “I’m worried about getting our team ready to play.”

Baylor coach Matt Rhule said it’s too early to say whether Brewer would rise to the top of the depth chart. He wants to look at game film before deciding whether his starter should be sophomore Zach Smith, who has started since the third game, or Brewer, who saw his first career action three games ago.

“I’d hate to jump to any conclusions,” Rhule said.

Rhule said Smith started showing symptoms of the stomach flu Saturday afternoon. Smith played for the first three quarters in Saturday’s game.

Smith’s performance wasn’t bad — he completed 16 of his 27 passes for 261 yards. But when he was directing the Bears, they produced only 13 points. And that wasn’t nearly enough to keep up with the Mountaineers, who coasted to a 38-13 lead after three quarters.

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier threw five touchdown passes, pushing his season total to 26. He’ll probably maintain his national lead in that category. He also surpassed 300 yards for the seventh straight game. No other quarterback in the country can match that consecutive streak.

David Sills V caught three of the touchdown passes. He now has 15 for the season. No other receiver in the country has more than nine. Sills posted his third touchdown reception — a 53-yarder — on the first offensive play of the second half but caught no more after that. He had scoring receptions of 35 yards and 16 yards in the first half.

Grier then tossed a 40-yarder to Marcus Simms and one from six yards to Ka’Raun White. By then WVU owned a 38-13 advantage with 2 minutes, 47 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

That’s when Rhule pulled Smith in favor of Brewer, who he described as having “moxie.” Brewer also can run the football, giving the Bears some zone read calls options that West Virginia hadn’t anticipated.

Ebner also came in to relieve Terence Williams and JaMychal Hasty at tailback.

Brewer threw touchdown passes of 40 and 9-yards to Ebner. And Ebner also had a 40-yard touchdown run.

Baylor’s special teams came up with an onside kick recovery provided by freshman walk-on kickoff specialist Jay Sedwick. And the defense shut out the Mountaineers in the fourth quarter to keep the comeback hopes flickering.

Brewer completed 8 of 13  for 109 yards and also added 48 rushing yards on 10 carries.  Ebner rushed for 54 yards on three carries and snagged five passes for 109 yards.

West Virginia guessed correctly on the two-point try, sending a blitz to knock down Brewer before he could sprint out and look for tight end Jordan Feuerbacher in the end zone.

The remaining fans cheered as if their team had won the game.

“There’s going to be a day when the scoreboard is going to be flipped,” Rhule said. “When it all comes together, I tell you what, it’s going to be something else, something else.”

Penn State takes emphatic step toward national-title legitimacy by bullying Michigan

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 2:33 AM

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Moments after securing one of the signature victories of his coaching career, James Franklin figured he — and his Penn State squad — earned an opportunity to soak it in. Fresh off a 42-13 win over Michigan in front of a record-setting Beaver Stadium crowd, an Oct. 28 game at Ohio State now looms large, but Franklin savored a short-lived reprieve.

Penn State takes emphatic step toward national-title legitimacy by bullying Michigan

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 2:28 AM

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Moments after securing one of the signature victories of his coaching career, James Franklin figured he — and his Penn State squad — earned an opportunity to soak it in. Fresh off a 42-13 win over Michigan in front of a record-setting Beaver Stadium crowd, an Oct. 28 game at Ohio State now looms large, but Franklin savored a short-lived reprieve.

He asked a packed Penn State media room for the time. It was 11:23 p.m. ET.

“We’ve got 37 minutes to enjoy this win. I’m not talking about the next opponent,” Franklin said. “We’re going to enjoy the heck out of this win for 37 minutes, and then [Sunday] we’ll focus on the next opponent.”

There’s little doubt Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, in the midst of a bye week, shifted focus to Penn State at least a week ago. This time, it’s the one-loss Buckeyes’ turn to play spoiler.

Last October, an unranked 4-2 Nittany Lions team ended Ohio State’s hopes for an unbeaten season Oct. 22 in Beaver Stadium. Unlike 2o16, Ohio State enters this matchup with one loss and another defeat would almost certainly dash its chances for a third College Football Playoff appearance in four years.

On the other hand, a win over Penn State would thrust the Buckeyes back into contention for postseason opportunities. The Nittany Lions, meanwhile, can bury the Buckeyes, bolster hopes for a repeat Big Ten title and help ensure there’s no legitimate case to leave them out of the playoff this time, all in one fell swoop.

It’s another exciting matchup to anticipate. For us in the media. For the fans. But not for Penn State coaches and players. At least not yet.

“If you know anything about the man who runs our program, we haven’t even talked about the next one,” Nittany Lions tight end Mike Gesicki said. “Tomorrow when we get back out there, we’ll learn from the mistakes we made today and move on to our next opponent.”

The Penn State staff will locate those mistakes. Self-assessment is a unending process for championship-caliber programs. However, there are few negatives to take away from this game at first glance.

Quarterback Trace McSorley tossed a momentum-swinging interception in the first quarter, but he was sensational aside from the turnover. McSorley totaled 358 yards and 4 touchdowns, including three rushing scores.

Running back Saquon Barkley dropped a potential long-distance touchdown toss, but he was otherworldly aside from the blunder. He fueled his Heisman Trophy hunt, becoming the first player to rush for 70 or more yards against Michigan this season (108) and scoring 3 total touchdowns.

Barkley burst through the line of scrimmage and bolted past Michigan’s defense for a 69-yard scoring sprint on the second offensive play of the night. It gave Penn State a 7-0 lead 43 seconds into the game and sent a crowd of 110,823 fans into an early frenzy.

Barkley and McSorley combined for 6 touchdowns as Penn State piled up 506 yards against a Michigan defense that entered this matchup leading college football in yards allowed per game (223.8).

“All week long, everybody was talking about their defense,” Franklin said. “We’ve got a pretty good defense around here, too.”

The Nittany Lions allowed 9 points per game during the first half of regular-season action. That number will increase after this outcome, but so will nationwide respect for the unit.

“I think we made a big statement,” cornerback Christian Campbell said. “We weren’t surprised we had the top defense. Everybody was talking about Michigan this and Michigan that. Tonight was the night that we showed the world our defense —  and our team — is good. We dominated tonight. Michigan has a great defense and a great team, but we were just the better team and dominated tonight.”

Campbell forced a fumble while sacking Michigan quarterback John O’Korn. It was 1 of 2 Wolverines turnovers, and 1 of 7 sacks.

Remember, the last time these teams met — and the last time Penn State suffered a Big Ten loss —  Michigan scored 49 points. Saturday night, 12 conference wins and a Rose Bowl appearance later, these Nittany Lions laid the lumber.

“We always have to prove something,” Campbell said. “Even if we beat a big team, we still have to prove something. We’re just going to keep playing one game at a time and keep dominating.”

Kevin Givens (No. 30) and Shareef Miller (No. 48) sack Michigan quarterback John O’Korn. (Joseph K. Aller/Getty Images)

Defensive leader Jason Cabinda, a senior linebacker, spoke to teammates Friday night during a “share” session at the team hotel. He’d suffered three losses to the Wolverines and didn’t want to deal with defeat again Saturday.

“He said he doesn’t want to leave here without beating Michigan,” defensive end Ryan Buchholz said. “You could see the emotion when he said it and we all kind of took it to heart. … It’s a good thing to check off the list.”

It’s been that kind of October for the Nittany Lions. A month to check items off the list. Franklin was 0-5 combined against Northwestern and Michigan coming into this stretch. Penn State beat both by a combined 53 points.

“Obviously, whether you beat them or not in the past, you still want to come out and get that win, but to have that extra motivation in the back of your mind definitely helps,” Gesicki said.

The Michigan game — one discussed so often across the country, one that lured ESPN’s College GameDay to campus — is suddenly now in the rear-view mirror. Ohio State, and its motivation for revenge, is next on the collision course for Penn State.

But for those 37 minutes late Saturday night, Franklin was content to take stock of what his squad’s accomplished. More of the same should ensure this team will receive its shot at a national championship.

“One of the things we’re doing, and I haven’t been around it very much, is we’re playing really good in all three phases,” Franklin said. “That doesn’t happen very often where offense, defense and special teams are all playing good enough to win. There are still a lot of things I think we can improve on, which is the exciting thing.”