Week 13: Penn State's division and playoff hopes extinguished in Columbus


Week 13: Penn State's division and playoff hopes extinguished in Columbus

Penn State saw its high hopes for the season fade in a loss to Ohio State, Virginia and VIrginia Tech are on a collision course, Navy is still in it and Maryland's tailspin got even worse.

Here's a recap of the Week 13's local college football action.

Ohio State 28, Penn State 17

The good

Ohio State has steamrolled every team it has played this season. Its lowest margin of victory coming into Saturday was 24 points. It looked like this game would not be much different as the Buckeyes took a 21-0 lead into halftime. Give credit to Penn State for the way they battled back.

Quarterback Will Levis stepped in for an injured Sean Clifford and punched the ball in on a one-yard touchdown run to make it 21-14. Penn State would score 17 points in the third quarter to pull within four of the Buckeyes before a fourth-quarter touchdown for Ohio State put the game out of reach.

The bad

Justin Fields threw for only 188 yards. The real difference for Ohio State's offense was the running game which Penn State had no answer for. J.K. Dobbins rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns while FIelds added another 68 yards on the ground.

The crazy

Just in case you forgot how dominant Ohio State defensive end Chase Young was while he was suspended for two games, he put the country on notice with an outstanding performance. He recorded nine total tackles, four tackles for loss and three, that's right, three sacks. He now has 16.5 on the year, breaking a school record for sacks in a single season.

Think about that. Young missed two games and still set the single-season record.

Virginia 55, Liberty 27

The good

A depleted Virginia secondary delivered the turning point of the game. Liberty led 14-10 in the first half and drove the ball down to UVA's 38, but quarterback Stephen Calvery was picked off by safety De'Vante Cross who returned it 52 yards beffore being brought down. The Cavaliers would score a touchdown on the resulting drive and they would not trail again.

The bad

Despite Cross' game-changing interception, Liberty was still able to move the ball through the air effectively throwing for 313 passing yards. Part of that was out of necessity. Calvert ended up completing less than 50-percent of his 40 passes, but he also threw two interceptions.

The crazy

On their first drive in the second half, the Cavaliers led 24-14 and faced a fourth and nine on Liberty's 31. Bronco Mendenhall dialed up a fake field goal and backup quarterback Brennan Armstong found linebacker Charles Snowden for a 24-yard pass. Two plays later, Virginia would get into the end zone for the toudhdown.

Navy 35, SMU 28

The good

If Navy was going to win this game, it would need a big game from Malcolm Perry and it got it. Perry rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries. When the Midshipmen began to find success on the ground in the second half, SMU stacked the box and Perry began torching them through the air as he passed for 162 yards and another touchdown.

Navy took the lead with just over six minutes remaining then stopped SMU on a fourth-and-4 at their own 12 with less than three minutes left to go.

The bad

SMU's first score came on a kickoff return by receiver C.J. Sanders. He went 100 yards on the return tying the longest return in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium history.

The crazy

The MIdshipmen won three games last season. In their third game in 2019, they lost by 12 to Memphis. Now they boast a record of 8-2 and are very much in contention for the AAC West Division. Navy just needs Memphis to lose which they could do against Cincinnati next week who already wrapped up the East Division.

Virginia Tech 28, Pitt 0

The good

Bud Foster's final game at Lane Stadium could not have been scripted better. The Hokies held the Panthers to 177 total yards, only 60 yards rushing, forced one turnover, held them on all three fourth-down attempts and obviously recorded the shutout. This is Virginia Tech's first back-to-back shutouts since 2005.

The bad

Yes, Foster still intends to retire at the end of the season. Justin Fuente was asked this after the game and told the media, "I think his mind is pretty made up."

The crazy

The win sets up a winner-take-all matchup with rival Virginia next week in Charlottesville. Considering that Virginia Tech went 0-2 in conference play to start the season including a 35-point blowout loss at home to Duke, it is amazing that the Hokies have gotten to this point.

Nebraska 54, Maryland 7

The good

The only positive from this game is that the season is almost over. This team seemingly has given up on the remainder of the 2019 season and the results speak for themself.

The bad

Where to begin.

The situation at quarterback is an unmitigated disaster. Four different players got onto the field at quarterback and not one completed 50-percent of his passes. As a team, the Terps completed seven out of 21 passes for 57 yards. No receiver on the team caught more than one pass. Maryland rushed for 149 yards, but the team's leading rusher, Javon Leake, fumbled the ball three times and Maryland lost all three.

Defensively, the Terps gave up 305 yards on the ground and 531 total. Adrian Martinez threw for 194 yards and rushed for another 94. He would score three total touchdowns.

The crazy

Not only did all of this happen on senior day, it also happened against a Nebraska team that had one win on the road, had lost four straight and whose last win came back on Oct. 5.

Here’s why the NCAA is not giving winter sports an additional year of eligibility like spring sports

Here’s why the NCAA is not giving winter sports an additional year of eligibility like spring sports

On Monday, the NCAA announced that it will allow schools to grant student-athletes an additional year of eligibility for spring sports but not for winter sports. This means there will not be an additional year granted to men’s and women’s basketball student-athletes. 

While the move may be disappointing for seniors and fans alike of several basketball programs, this move is the correct one as the NCAA navigates through the impact of the coronavirus. 

Four days before the selection of the men’s basketball NCAA Tournament field, and five days before the women’s, the NCAA canceled all winter and spring sports championships. In addition to no March Madness and no national champion, there are several conference titles left undecided with the regular season completed. 

Many teams across the country, though, had already wrapped up their seasons. The week prior to cancelation had wrapped up over half of the men’s and women’s 2019-20 campaigns with losses in respective conference tournaments. This was primarily the men’s mid-major conferences and most of the women’s high-major (Power 5) leagues. A select few were waiting on their postseason fate, but many were either home or on their way there and making offseason plans. 

This is the lone reason cited in the Division I Council’s release. But that is only part of the reason why the NCAA isn’t granting an additional year.

Logistically this would be a nightmare. Already, the NCAA revealed as much in its announcement of another year of competition for spring sports. It leaves the discretion of giving the additional year to each institution instead of a broader relief. 

“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” council chair and Penn athletics director M. Grace Calhoun said in the release. “The Board of Governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that."

To make this possible, the NCAA adjusted financial aid rules, is providing funding and is extending the five-year clock of competition by a year. Most importantly, it also expanded the roster limit for baseball teams to allow incoming high school seniors to not occupy roster spots for those who wish to return. No other sports have roster limits. 

Div. I basketball programs are allowed no more than 13 full scholarships. Giving seniors the opportunity to come back would complicate how schools would make decisions on which players can do so, and which ones couldn’t. Any spot that a school would allow a senior to come back could take away a scholarship from a recruit that already committed to the program. 

Not every school would make the same decisions either. The scholarship limit would have to be lifted, but then for how much and for how long? Would the extra year be given to the underclassmen too? 

Allowing those programs to get that season back would create more problems in a trying time for many across the world. Administrators, coaches, fans, players, recruits; there would be no easy solution that would be fair to all parties. 

At least a canceled March Madness stinks for everyone. Fans included. 

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March Madness Revisited: When 16-seed Mount St. Mary's pushed 1-seed Villanova

March Madness Revisited: When 16-seed Mount St. Mary's pushed 1-seed Villanova

As March winds down without its usual flurry of March Madness moments, NBC Sports Washington takes a look back at some smaller DMV schools who made a big impact during their most recent NCAA Tournament appearances.  

A season removed from winning the national championship in 2016, Villanova found itself trailing by a point with less than five seconds to play in the first half of the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 

At the time, no No. 16 seed had ever beaten a No. 1 seed. That would come a year later. The Wildcats’ opponent that March evening in Buffalo, N.Y.? Mount St. Mary’s.

The little school from Emmitsburg, Md. had been to the Big Dance before. Legendary coach Jim Phelan, who ran the program for 49 years and is in the College Basketball Hall of Fame, shepherded the Mountaineers from Division II to Division I in the early 1990s. They won the Northeast Conference tournament in 1995 and 1999 to reach the tournament and made it twice more in 2008 and 2014 even after Phelan retired. 

But it was its fifth trip the NCAA Tournament, under current George Washington coach Jamion Christian, where The Mount put a scare into the defending champs and heralded what UMBC would do a year later against No. 1 seed Virginia.     

The road to becoming Northeast Conference champions did not get off to an easy start. The Mountaineers opened the 2016-17 campaign with nine straight road games. But that was by design.  

“I knew when we built that schedule we had a great team,” Christian told NBC Sports Washington. 

Entering a Dec. 22 showdown with Coppin State, the Mountaineers were 1-11. Mount St. Mary’s won its final non-conference game with ease, 87-49, and went 14-4 in NEC play en route to claiming the conference’s regular season championship. 

“I bet on their ability to rally around one another when it got tough and I bet on their ability to be great,” Christian said. “We got it spot on that year.”

Christian had played four years for Phelan and his successor, Milan Brown, from 2000-2004. But a three-year starter and captain, his teams at The Mount never reached the NCAAs. He did take them there as head coach in 2014, a 71-64 loss to Albany in a First Four game in Dayton.  

But 2016-17 was different. Until that season, Mount St. Mary’s had never won the NEC regular season title and tournament in the same year. The Mount defeated St. Francis (Pa), 71-61, at home at Knott Arena to earn the school’s fifth trip to the tournament. 

On Selection Sunday, the Mountaineers learned that they would be headed to Dayton again for the second time in four years as part of the First Four. This time they were a little offended, not just happy to be going at all. 

“We didn’t feel like we should have been in Dayton,” Christian said. “We felt like we should have been a 15 - or even a 14 seed with our numbers that year. And we went into that game bringing back the underdog mentality that we wanted to prove and show the world how good of a team we had.”

The 2014 loss to Albany had prepared Christian’s group for what was to come in 2017. They weren’t worried about escaping Dayton this time around. 

“It was a perfect scenario for us with all of that,” Christian said. “We had played in Dayton before. We had made some mistakes playing in Dayton the first time just because you don’t know.”

Led by a 23-point performance from Junior Robinson, the Mountaineers defeated New Orleans, 67-66, in Dayton. 

Next up? Villanova less than 48 hours later in Buffalo. Christian said he learned a lot from a 90-59 loss to the Wildcats in 2013 and knew exactly what his game plan was going to be. 

“The number one thing was we wanted to be aggressive. We wanted to be in attack mode,” Christian said. 

Top seeded teams were 130-0 against No. 16 seeds entering that game. But following an Elijah Long 3-pointer, the Mount led Villanova 10-2 with 13:27 to play in the first half. The Mountaineers led the majority of that first half and owned a 29-28 lead in the closing seconds of the half before a Jalen Brunson backdoor layup put Villanova in front heading into the locker room.

“When we got to the half, I remember walking in and the guys were breathing really hard and I said, ‘Oh boy,’” Christian recounted. “It was one of those moments where you want to try to continue to give them confidence, but you’re also letting them take a moment to take a deep breath so they can play to their full potential.”

Villanova eventually pulled away in the second half and won 76-56. But the game did leave Wildcats head coach Jay Wright impressed. For a large part of that game, The Mount made Wright and the Wildcats uncomfortable. 

“It’s in the back of your mind,” Wright said after the game. “It hits you for a second. ‘This could be one of those nights.’ You’ve got to knock it out and concentrate on the next play. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t come up.”

It didn’t end quite the way they wanted it to. The really big upset would have to wait until the following season when UMBC stunned Virginia 74-54. But after its 1-11 start, Mount St. Mary’s won 20 games in a season for the first time in two decades and showed everyone the blue print for how a 16 could finally beat a 1. 

“The best don’t look at winning and losing as a finale, they look how hard you compete,” Christian said. “And I felt [Villanova] had a great level of respect for how hard our team competed that day.”

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