Big Ten

Big Ten preview: Terps embark on three-way quarterback competition

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Big Ten preview: Terps embark on three-way quarterback competition

Believe it or not, C.J. Brown is finally gone from Maryland.

The quarterback was a member of the Terrapin football team for six years. But 2014 was his last campaign, which means that there’ll be a new QB running the Maryland offense this fall.

Who it will be, though, is far from determined.

Like there is happening at numerous Big Ten schools — see Michigan, Northwestern — there’s a much-discussed quarterback competition going on at Maryland. This race features three guys: Caleb Rowe, Perry Hills and Daxx Garman. And it would appear your guess is as good as anyone's as to which of the three will start the season-opener against Richmond on Sept. 5.

“We’re all great competitors, and that’s great because it will bring out the best game in each of us,” Hills said Monday during the team’s media day. “We’re each going to give 100 percent every time because the position is open for anyone to take like coach (Randy) Edsall said.”

[MORE BIG TEN: Bad news for Spartans as Ed Davis goes down with season-ending knee injury]

Rowe and Hills have been with Maryland for a while now, each starting a handful of games during their careers and each falling victim to the same injury bug that so often bothered Brown. After Brown tore his ACL ahead of the 2012 season, Hills started the team’s first seven games. Then he tore his ACL, forcing Rowe to step in and play in a couple games before he tore his ACL.

Hills redshirted in 2013, and when Brown suffered another injury, Rowe started a couple more games. Last season, more injuries meant more playing time for both Rowe and Hills.

All in all, Rowe has completed 53.7 percent of his career throws for 1,768 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Hills has completed 57 percent of his career passes for 1,422 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Garman, though, might be commanding the most attention after he transferred in from Oklahoma State this offseason. He made eight starts for the Cowboys last season and threw for a total of 2,041 yards and 12 touchdowns to go along with 12 interceptions.

[MORE BIG TEN: Big Ten preview: Will Gophers improve statistically sour passing attack?]

No one has really emerged as a leader yet, with camp just underway. But with all three guys capable of winning the job, the attention this position battle will receive is unlikely to diminish any time soon.

“Everybody starts from the same starting line,” offensive coordinator Mike Lockley said. “Perry has started and won games here. Caleb has started a couple of games here. Daxx has started and played at this level at Oklahoma State. They all are coming from a place where they have had opportunities as a starter, so they all start from the same point and work from there.”

Garman is the man garnering much of that attention, given his newness to the program as well as his claim to the most recent experience among the trio. He’s been around, starting at Arizona before moving to Oklahoma State and now Maryland. But he won his first four career starts and played a big factor in five of the Cowboys’ six wins last season en route to a bowl appearance.

That experience is something Edsall is pretty excited about.

“He's a young man that went to Arizona first and then had the coaching change and then went from Arizona to Oklahoma State. Started games there at Oklahoma State, won games. Very smart. Very cerebral. Throws a very catchable and accurate ball,” Edsall said last month during Big Ten Media Days. “And so he's coming in, and he's challenging Caleb Rowe and Perry Hills for the quarterback job. But the thing that I like about him, he's an experienced young man. He's a young man that won at a very high level. Came from a very good high school program. And somebody that has adapted and fit in very, very well, you know, with our team.”

[MORE BIG TEN: Big Ten preview: To reach next level, Gophers need to beat Badgers]

“You only get better from experience, and I valued my time at Oklahoma State,” Garman said Monday. “I’m ready to take that experience and elevate my game to a new level here at Maryland.”

That’s not to say, though, that the other two guys are without experience or that Garman’s is any more valuable than their’s. This race is wide open.

“That is going to be an interesting battle,” Edsall said. “Daxx and Caleb and Perry are going to fight it out, and we will see how it all unfolds. They are all eager and they are all hungry and they all want to be the guy. We’ll see how it goes.”

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.

See how they stack up: Week 12 college football top 25 rankings

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USA TODAY

See how they stack up: Week 12 college football top 25 rankings

With Week 12 in the books, here’s my top 25:

1. Oklahoma (10-1)

Still the team with the best resume in the country, no one can compete with OU’s wins over TCU, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, the latter two coming away from Norman. Baker Mayfield might not be a choir boy, but he’s the best player in the nation.

2. Miami (10-0)

You might think that being down 28-14 to Virginia in the second half was cringe-worthy, but the Canes made up for things by storming back with 30 unanswered points. Now they finally have to go away from South Florida for the first time since almost losing to North Carolina last month.

3. Alabama (11-0)

Tide gonna roll. But this Cupcake Weekend in the SEC has got to stop. While teams in other conferences are slugging it out against rivals, Bama gets to take a day off against Mercer? It’s just not fair. Also, Bama’s schedule is so soft, there’s no way it deserves to be the No. 1 team in the country.

4. Georgia (10-1)

The Dawgs should wrap an 11-1 regular season this weekend against Georgia Tech. But the SEC title game presents a kind of no-win scenario: undefeated Alabama or Auburn, who throttled Georgia earlier this month.

5. Wisconsin (11-0)

You didn’t need Wisconsin to do what it did to Iowa and Michigan to prove it had one of the best defenses in the country — but that sure didn’t help. Stockpiling national love with those two wins, a win in the Big Ten title game figures to make the Badgers a Playoff lock.

6. Clemson (10-1)

Why’d Kelly Bryant have to go and get hurt for that Syracuse game? The Tigers would be No. 1 and the undisputed best team in the country. Still, though, a win over Miami in the ACC title game ought to get the champs back into the Playoff.

7. Auburn (9-2)

Great job pounding Louisiana-Monroe, Tigers. You shall not escape the wrath over Cupcake Weekend in the SEC. That dumb game aside, Auburn and Alabama will meet in a titanic Iron Bowl this weekend with a trip to the SEC title game on the line — and perhaps a Playoff spot, as well.

8. Ohio State (9-2)

Not that pummeling Illinois is any big deal, but the Buckeyes are still alive in this thing and look like a team capable of making some Playoff noise. First, Ohio State has to win The Game and then the Big Ten title game to knock out undefeated Wisconsin.

9. Notre Dame (9-2)

Out of the Playoff chase thanks to that loss at Miami, Notre Dame squeaked by Navy this past weekend. Hope a New Year’s Six bowl game is enough for the Irish. We know it’s not enough for those ND fans. So maybe join a conference? Just saying.

10. TCU (9-2)

The Frogs can still make their mark on the Playoff race, even if they can’t get in themselves. The Big 12 title game will almost surely be TCU’s attempt at revenge on Oklahoma. Unfortunately, if revenge does come, it will probably cannibalize the conference’s Playoff hopes, too.

11. Penn State (9-2)

Why Penn State gave up 44 points to Nebraska, I do not know. What I do know is that probably no one cared because Penn State is going to go down as the most inconsequential 10-2 team of all-time. Such a bummer considering the preseason expectations for both the team and Saquon Barkley.

12. USC (10-2)

Yeah, I guess there’s still a way for USC to make the Playoff, but it’s hard to imagine that madness unfolding, even in the oft-mad college football. The Trojans get the winner of the Apple Cup in the Pac-12 title game.

13. UCF (10-0)

Finally we get our much-anticipated UCF-USF showdown this weekend. Make it count, Knights. This is probably gonna be Scott Frost’s last regular-season game in Orlando.

14. Washington (9-2)

It’s hard to say who has the edge in the Apple Cup, but certainly the stakes are high, with the winner going off to play USC in the Pac-12 title game. Can either team make the Playoff? Well, probably not, no.

15. Washington State (9-2)

Is this it for Mike Leach on The Palouse? He could be a hot candidate this offseason and leave for perceived greener pastures. Winning the Apple Cup would go a long way toward making that happen.

16. Mississippi State (8-3)

A win in the Egg Bowl means a 9-3 regular season for the Bulldogs with their three losses coming against three top-10 teams.

17. Oklahoma State (8-3)

Poor Okie State has been so good all year and had two losses to the two best teams in its conference, and then it went and lost to K-State for some ridiculous reason. The Mullet deserved better in 2017.

18. Northwestern (8-3)

The Cats are the fourth-best team in the Big Ten, simple as that, with wins over Michigan State and Iowa and conference losses to Wisconsin and Penn State. As commendable an effort as you’ll find in a highly competitive league. Plus, Fitz’s team is on a six-game win streak that could end up extending to eight.

19. Stanford (8-3)

Already with a win over Washington, Stanford could close the regular season with two wins over top-10 teams in its final three games. Also Bryce Love is back in the groove after back-to-back 100-yard games.

20. Memphis (9-1)

The Tigers have lost just one game all season, to the best Group of Five team out there. Heck of a season by Memphis.

21. Michigan State (8-3)

A 17-7 win over Maryland couldn't have been the most exciting way for anyone to spend their weekend. Sparty's had a mighty fine season, though, considering how badly things went in 2016.

22. LSU (8-3)

The SEC has seemingly gotten increasingly better as the year has progressed, with LSU and Mississippi State making for a solid-enough middle tier. But remember when LSU lost to Troy? That wasn’t good.

23. South Florida (9-1)

If not for that loss to Houston, USF’s showdown with UCF this weekend would be for Group of Five supremacy. Even without that, though, this should be a highly entertaining affair.

24. Virginia Tech (8-3)

The Hokies have a chance to salvage their tumble at the close of the season with a win at Virginia. But given how well the Cavs played at Miami this past weekend, a VT win is no sure thing.

25. Iowa State (7-4)

I understand the math and all, but can't the Big 12 just suspend its rules and send Iowa State to the title game? We all want to see the OU-ISU rematch. Why are you preventing us from being happy, Big 12?