Cole has ties to many of the former players from his hometown, including Michigan State receiver DeAnthony Arnett and former NFL player Stuart Schweigert. Cole doesn’t know Woodley personally, but he did get the opportunity to speak with him at an arena football game earlier in the year.
“LaMarr was teaching me about life and football,” he said. “We talked for a little while about everything. It was before I was committed to Michigan, so we didn’t talk about Michigan really.”
The ESPN 300 prospect was presented with his Under Armour All-America jersey on Wednesday and is the first from his hometown to play in the prestigious game.
“It’s just a blessing,” he said. “It’s real exciting and I’m just really thankful for this opportunity.”
Alex Malzone; I'm the closest with him. I need that go-to guy at quarterback so I’d go with him.
What is your first football memory? My first Lions game, running on the field. I got selected for the halftime show. I was about five and I won, we had to do a relay race, put different clothes on and the big shoes. I was a size four an they were a size 13. Me and my dad walked in and some big, tall guy asked us if we wanted to be in the halftime show, I didn’t know what was going on but I was excited.
What football player did you idolize growing up? Barry Sanders. He was good, he could do it all. Watching his highlights he was unstoppable, he could make you miss and he could do anything.
If you could take on one athlete in any sport, who would it be? I like hockey. I would take on Zdeno Chara. We play NHL video games and Chara always wins the fights in that game so that would be funny, because he's so big.
What number do you wear and why? I wear No. 1 because God is No. 1 and that’s my favorite number. I’ve talked to the Michigan coaches about the No. 1 at Michigan. I’m going to get it. I’m going to earn it, you have to earn it, but that’s my goal. I haven’t talked to Devin Funchess about it yet, but I saw that he has it.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? I’m humble. Most people really don’t know me, so they don’t know. I don’t really talk about sports, either, unless people ask me. I like hockey, too. I was always an active kid and all my friends had ice rinks in their backyards so I learned how to ice skate at a young age and I would always rollerblade and play hockey. I wish I knew how to play hockey.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With the matchup between college football's top two all-time wins leaders on hold for the foreseeable future, the Michigan Wolverines have moved on to the next-closest option.
The Wolverines and the Texas Longhorns, who are No. 3 in all-time wins, announced plans Wednesday for a future home-and-home series. The Longhorns will visit Ann Arbor in 2024, and Michigan will reciprocate with a trip to Austin in '27.
"A matchup of this magnitude doesn't come along all that often, and when it does, it's special for both programs and the great fans that support each institution," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said in a statement. "This also is a special series for all fans of college football, and I anticipate great games just like the first contest played between the two programs."
In their only previous meeting, Texas beat Michigan on a last-second field goal to win the 2005 Rose Bowl.
The scheduled matchups are for Aug. 31, 2024, and Sept. 4, 2027.
Michigan and Notre Dame, which ranks No. 2 in all-time wins, decided to end their annual rivalry after this season.
Since Michigan and Notre Dame decided to end their rivalry, the Wolverines have scheduled several home-and-home matchups, including Arkansas (2018-19), Washington (2020-21), Virginia Tech (2020-21), UCLA (2022-23) and Oklahoma (2025-26).
Our Big Ten reporters are voting weekly on the races, with players receiving five points for a first-place vote, four for a second-place nod, etc. Also, we try hard to base these standings on 2014 season results only, not any preconceived notions or a player's previous track records.
Here's how things shake out:
Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year
1. Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah (Five first-place votes): Abdullah gets the unanimous nod on offense as he continues to power up the Huskers attack.
2. Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg: He has become the master of the two-minute drive, and he leads the Big Ten in passing.
3. Indiana RB Tevin Coleman: He leads the Big Ten in rushing yards (437) and rushing touchdowns (five) despite having played just two games. He's averaging 9.3 yards per carry.
4. Michigan State QB Connor Cook: His completion rate is over 68 percent, and Cook can build on his stats against Eastern Michigan and Wyoming the next two weeks.
5. Illinois QB Wes Lunt: He wasn't able to summon late-game magic at Washington in Week 3 but still is among the league's top passers.
Also receiving votes: Michigan RB Derrick Green; Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon; Minnesota RB David Cobb; Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong Jr.
Nagurski Woodson Defensive Player of the Year
1. Penn State DT Anthony Zettel (5): Another unanimous pick, Zettel has been a monster in the early going for the Lions. He leads the Big Ten in tackles for loss, with seven, to go along with three sacks.
2. Ohio State DE Joey Bosa: He's tied for the league lead with two forced fumbles, in addition to 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
3. Iowa DT Louis Trinca-Pasat: His strong start to the season continues, as he has four tackles for loss along Iowa's strong defensive front.
4. Wisconsin S Michael Caputo: He and the Badgers were off last week but should get a test from Bowling Green's fast-paced offense.
Also receiving votes: Penn State LB Mike Hull; Rutgers DE Kemoko Turay; Minnesota LB Damien Wilson; Michigan State DE Marcus Rush; Ohio State LB Joshua Perry.
The sophomore, who transferred from USC this summer, had applied for a medical hardship waiver in an attempt to play immediately. Isaac, a Chicago-area native, said he was returning to the Midwest to be closer to his mother, who was recovering from hearing loss surgery.
The NCAA denied his initial request to skip the mandatory one-year waiting period for transfer players in late August.
Isaac ran for 236 yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries during his freshman year with the Trojans. The Wolverines had hoped he would be a part of the running back rotation in Ann Arbor this season.
Hoke said Isaac has been a productive member of the team while working with the scout team this fall.
"He's handled it great," Hoke said. "He had a great day yesterday. From an attitude standpoint and everything else, he's been awesome."
It’s a vicious cycle. You have to win to get the right recruits, and you have to get the right recruits to win. That’s the merry-go-round the Big Ten conference is currently on, and depending on who you ask, recruits have varying opinions on the conference.
Prospects from the North tend to believe the conference is still in the upper echelon, while a good amount of Southern recruits would say quite the opposite.
The Big Ten has an overall record of 24-14 with only two undefeated teams left, compared to the SEC with eight undefeated teams. The Big Ten also has the lowest winning percentage (63 percent) this season for any Power 5 conference, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
You could argue that there is a direct correlation to those wins and losses when comparing the number of big-name commitments as well. The SEC currently has 87 ESPN 300 prospects committed where the Big Ten has 27.
An ESPN 300 prospect from the South who wished to remain anonymous believes part of the Big Ten’s problems on the field and recruiting have to do with geography and coaching.
“The recruiting areas from the North and Midwest aren’t really a hotbed for recruiting. Plus, other than Ohio State or maybe Michigan, there’s not really any big cities or things you can sell recruits on outside of the university,” he said. “Like what does a kid from Florida do at some of those places? Plus, getting a well-known coach like Urban Meyer is a big reason why kids down here like Ohio State.
“They know he can turn things around there and they’ll win. They need to get bigger-name coaches where kids can say, 'Yeah, I know him and I know he’ll get me ready for the NFL.'"
That isn’t the sentiment for every prospect, but plenty of other Southern ESPN 300 recruits agreed with this thinking.
The Northern prospects interviewed did believe the conference is top-heavy with a few teams in the national championship conversation every year, but they had different thoughts on the outlook as a whole.
The programs' styles stood in perfect contrast. Yet in four Orange Bowl meetings over 11 years, they made for the game's best of unlikely rivalries. Though Nebraska slipped from the top in the midst of that decade, by the end, it had supplanted Miami like the Hurricanes did to Tom Osborne's team after the 1983 season.
The Hurricanes visit Lincoln on Saturday night. The thought of those two helmets together again stirs emotions. It feels big -- bigger, apparently, than it is.
ESPN's matchup-quality metric ranks games on a zero-to-100 scale, based on the team's spots in the Football Power Index and the expected competitiveness. It was jarring this week not to find Nebraska-Miami among the top five matchups in Week 4.
It's Nebraska-Miami, after all. When these two have met historically, it's not just the biggest game of the week; it's the biggest of the year.
But today in college football, Florida-Alabama (91.6 matchup quality), Clemson-Florida State (90.5), Mississippi State-LSU (90.1), Oklahoma-West Virginia (87.2) and Auburn-Kansas State (87.0) earn higher billing than the Huskers and Hurricanes.
I heard an intriguing question this week: What program is better positioned, Nebraska or Miami, to make a run at the top again? I can't say definitively. Nebraska's infrastructure and internal resources favor it; Miami's natural resources are a big advantage.
But until Nebraska-Miami cracks the top five most important games on a September weekend, neither team is in position to join the national conversation.
- Another interesting question: What Big Ten team on Saturday matched against a Power 5 opponent is most in need of a win this week? Other than Nebraska-Miami, Iowa visits Pittsburgh, Maryland visits Syracuse, Utah plays at Michigan and Indiana visits Missouri. While I'm tempted to pick Iowa, but my answer is Michigan. A loss by the Wolverines against the high-flying Utes, who won at the Big House in 2008, would serve to draw another parallel between this staff and the previous regime. And that's not good for Brady Hoke. Neither are all these turnovers.
- Columnist Rick Brown of the Des Moines Registers urges Iowa fans upset with Kirk Ferentz to be careful what they wish for. I understand the sentiment and agree that Iowa does more with less better than several Big Ten counterparts. But have you watched the Big Ten lately? Why use Illinois and Minnesota as the measuring stick? It's OK to set the bar high. Fans ought to be upset with the Hawkeyes' offensive play. Don't apologize for reasonable expectations.
Around the rest of the league:
- It's difficult for Rutgers players to turn the page from Penn State.
- Billy Price, Ohio State's right guard, has experienced a roller coaster of a college career.
- Will Michigan State be tempted to run up the score against Eastern Michigan? Mark Dantonio says no.
- After the Bowling Green debacle, is Indiana football at a crossroads?
- Penn State players are spending more time in the film room.
- Maryland coach Randy Edsall evaluates the Terps' special teams units.
- Don't panic, says Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald.
- Tommy Armstrong Jr. ranks fifth among FBS quarterbacks in rushing yardage, but the Nebraska quarterback knows he needs to be smart about putting his body at risk.
- Purdue offensive coordinator John Shoop likes Danny Etling's progress against Notre Dame.
- Looks like the seeds of a quarterback controversy have been planted at Minnesota.
- Bowling Green's offensive tempo is a concern for Wisconsin.
- If the seat of Illinois coach Tim Beckman is hot, he's not alone in the Big Ten.
Penn State picked up some good news from the NCAA, which resulted in more positive news on the recruiting trail this weekend. Ohio State solidified its spot in a top target's list, and a few new offers were extended this week.
Here is a look at the latest happenings on the recruiting trail within the Big Ten.
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Around that time, Kyle Whittingham and the Utah Utes were wrapping up their final season as a Mountain West team. Utah, just two years removed from a 13-0 season and No. 2 BCS ranking, was regarded as one of the top non-AQ teams in the country and was headed to the newly-branded Pac-12.
Since leaving their old league in their wake, things haven't exactly gone according to script for these former A-list Mountain West coaches. And when their teams meet Saturday at The Big House, it's possible the outcome could alter the trajectories of their respective careers.
Hoke enjoyed an 11-2 record and a Sugar Bowl victory in his first year with the Wolverines but has seen declining returns after an 8-5 record in 2012 and a 7-6 mark last year. He sits on one of the hottest coaching seats in America.
Meanwhile, Whittingham and the Utes have struggled to adapt to Pac-12 football. The Utes are just 9-18 in conference play since joining the league (a vicious strain of yearly quarterback injuries doesn't go unnoticed) and have failed to reach a bowl game in consecutive seasons. Whittingham's seat isn't as hot as Hoke's, but if the Utes fail to make the postseason for a third straight year, it will be.
"No coach I know of pays any attention to external chatter," Whittingham said. "We're so focused on what we're doing. That's how you have to be. That's how you have to operate. You can't be distracted."
A victory Saturday puts the Utes at 3-0 heading into conference play and gives them a quality road win over a nationally-relevant opponent. A loss sends a signal that the Utes still aren't ready for Power 5 football.
A Michigan win won't make or break Hoke's career. But a loss could re-ignite an already agitated fan base still smarting from a 31-0 loss to Notre Dame in Week 2.
"They all count as one win," Whittingham said. "If the Michigan game counted as two wins, it would be a lot more important. It's not a conference game, so it obviously doesn't impact what happens in our league. But every game is critical and we're not going to approach this one any differently."
Exactly what you'd expect Whittingham to say. However, after beating up on FCS teams, BYU and Mountain West teams the last three years in nonconference play, this is Utah's biggest non-league test since joining the Pac-12. And it's outside the state of Utah, where the Utes have only won once in the last two seasons.
There really isn't a common denominator for why both coaches have struggled in their new surroundings. Hoke went to an already established Power 5 team, rich in success and tradition. Whittingham was shepherding an entire program into a significantly tougher conference.
Still, Hoke inherited a Rich Rodriguez team that was built for the spread and an odd-front defense. His first three years have been spent trying to install a pro-style attack and an even-front defense.
Both coaches concede the obvious -- that the weekly grind in the Power 5 is significantly harder. In the Mountain West, Utah's season usually came down to one big game against TCU. This year they face a four-game stretch of USC, at ASU, Oregon and at Stanford -- four teams currently ranked in the AP top 20.
"Everyone in the Pac-12 has to deal with that, so it's not unique to us," Whittingham said. "It's a big difference from what we experienced at the non-Power 5 level ... The recruiting is better. It's all about players. Coaches are way overrated. It's all about players and personnel. The personnel in the Pac-12 is markedly better than the personnel in the Mountain West across the board."
In their two Mountain West meetings, Whittingham's Utes beat Hoke's Aztecs both times. But given the coaching and personnel changes, those game films are moot. And while Whittingham is trying to bring his team to the next level, Hoke is scrambling to hold on to the position he called his "dream job" a year before he even had it.
"You have to be comfortable with who you are and who you are representing and I think we've got great leadership on this team," Hoke said of the outside noise calling for his ouster. "... We understand how we need to compete every Saturday and go about our business."
For both coaches, Saturday might be just as much about staying in business.
The Wolverines have lost the ball eight times so far this season in a wide variety of ways. Sophomore cornerback Jourdan Lewis' interception on the second drive of last weekend’s 34-10 win over Miami (Ohio) was the team’s first and only takeaway at this point. The resulting minus-7 margin is one away from matching Louisiana-Lafayette at the bottom of the national rankings.
Nussmeier’s offense will need to take better care of the ball this weekend if the Wolverines plan to survive a visit from Pac-12 opponent Utah. The Utes and their third-ranked scoring offense (57.5 points per game) have the firepower to cash in on their opponents’ mistakes.
Michigan’s blunders have come in bunches during the past two weeks. Senior quarterback Devin Gardner accounted for three (two interceptions and a fumble) on the first four drives of the second half in a 31-0 loss to Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish led by three touchdowns when that flurry began, but Gardner’s issues eliminated any chance of a comeback attempt in South Bend. He added another interception on the final play of the game.
Opposing defenses picked off Gardner’s passes 11 times last season. All but one of those came in the first six games of the season, which led Michigan to believe those bad decisions were a thing of the past. Head coach Brady Hoke has been steadfast in his stance that Gardner will remain the team’s starting quarterback.
The three turnovers that came in a five-minute span against Miami (Ohio) can’t be blamed on Gardner. His one interception in that stretch was tipped at the line of scrimmage. The pick was sandwiched by two fumbles -- one from wide receiver Amara Darboh and the other on a botched kickoff return -- that let the clearly overmatched last-place MAC team hang with Michigan throughout the first half. Against better competition, the Wolverines will likely pay a bigger price for their miscues.
“You can’t have turnovers,” sophomore tight end Jake Butt said following Saturday’s victory. “That’s something we’ve talked about time and time and time again. Once we took care of the ball, we moved the ball. We just shoot ourselves in the foot when we turn it over.”
Everyone in the Michigan locker room recognizes the dangerous pattern, but Hoke said there isn’t one clear source of the problem or an easy solution.
“Coincidence? I don’t know,” he said when asked why the turnovers were coming in spurts. “Are we concerned about it? Yeah. We need to hold on to the ball and we need to get more turnovers on defense.”
Creating turnovers is an important and somewhat overlooked piece to the plan for a more successful turnover margin this weekend. Hoke said his team missed two opportunities to take the ball away from the RedHawks last weekend.
Despite its success in other departments this season, the Wolverines defense is tied for dead last nationally in total takeaways. The absence of starting cornerback Raymon Taylor and safety Jarrod Wilson, both with undisclosed injuries, has put more pressure on an inexperienced rotation of replacements to make big plays in the secondary.
The good news for Michigan this weekend is that the Utes are equally void of playmakers in the defensive backfield. Kyle Whittingham’s defense, which has no problem getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, has intercepted only one pass in its last nine games. Last year’s team finished with only three picks, which tied four other programs for the lowest total in FBS. If Gardner and the Wolverines are going to put their turnover troubles behind them, this weekend would be a great time to start.
After three weeks of trying to place even the most meaningless wins and losses into the context of how they might affect which four teams will battle for a national championship in January, some are starting to worry that the new system might be sucking the joy out of Saturdays in the fall.
Is the cycle of playoff-centric predictions and analysis stripping the magic away from upsets and heroic moments? Will fans lose interest once they’re told their team no longer has a title shot? Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio felt it necessary to tell his followers that not all hope was lost after a Week 2 defeat in Oregon.
While it’s probably a good thing that the setters of national storylines are treading cautiously around the long-awaited change to the postseason, it’s not time to yearn for the good ole days of the BCS quite yet. Part of the overemphasis on playoff discussion can be blamed on the system still being a new, shiny mystery. No one knows how the 13-person committee will weigh each contender yet. Some of that will fade in future years when the college football court develops a precedent.
Another part of the saturation comes from the heavy slate of inter-conference competition that occurs each September. With only four playoff spots available to five conferences, the battle to establish a positive perception before falling into league play is intense. That posturing is less likely to fade, making the future of college football a more tribal affair. The SEC won’t be the only fanbase chanting for its conference after big wins, and that doesn’t sound like a bad byproduct of the playoff hype.
Even in our unsettled present state, a crowd of red bandana-wearing Boston College students didn’t seem bothered by the fact that they aren’t playoff contenders while storming the field to celebrate their upset of USC Saturday night. Iowa’s last-second loss to in-state rival Iowa State was neither more nor less gut-wrenching than it would have been in the BCS era. Fear not, the magic isn’t gone. There’s still plenty to play for without the hope of a College Football Playoff berth.
And speaking of playing for more than a playoff spot, kudos to Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg and the rest of his Nittany Lions teammates who showed up or stayed in Happy Valley despite having the opportunity to back away penalty-free from a team that wasn’t eligible for any bowl games until a week ago.
That’s when the NCAA decided it wasn’t going to punish current players for the past sins of the program’s coaches and administrators. After leading a fourth-quarter comeback against Rutgers Saturday night, Hackenberg told reporters that the lack of a postseason goal helped bring his team closer together. Now that Penn State is atop the Big Ten East Division and eligible for bowl games, he says the camaraderie they built “is not going to change for a while.”
And now, without further ado, the links:
- Ohio State’s blowout win over Kent State this weekend was a coming out party for several key underclassmen.
- Senior Devin Gardner is firmly ensconced as Michigan’s starting quarterback.
- Rutgers Athletic Director Julie Hermann apologized Monday for “classless” fans.
- It’s been a long road to Maryland for Terrapins wide receiver Deon Long.
- Indiana coach Kevin Wilson wants his defense to be more aggressive and “care less.”
- It was a good week to be a Michigan State alumnus in the NFL.
- Penn State still has work to do on the offensive line.
- Nebraska star Ameer Abdullah says the blockers in front of him need to get better.
- Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald believes there are "a lot of of bad football teams in the country."
- The Fighting Illini running game isn't providing much help for new quarterback Wes Lunt.
- Purdue showed a higher level of intensity against Notre Dame, and Darrell Hazell says he expects that to be the norm moving forward.
- Iowa started the difficult process of putting a brutal loss behind them Monday morning.
- Wisconsin freshman Lubern Figaro wants to learn from a rocky college debut against LSU.
- Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner is battling another injury.
Mitch Sherman: Nothing has changed in the East, where Michigan State remains the team to beat. The Spartans look like the best team in the league, and I don't think you will get much of an argument from logical fans of other Big Ten teams. If anything, the results of the past two weeks -- even the Michigan State setback at Oregon -- has solidified MSU atop its division. It's murky in the West, where the schedule says Iowa is the favorite. The Hawkeyes' play does not. Wisconsin also plays a favorable slate, and we will see if the week off has allowed the Badgers to flip momentum. If so, they are a co-favorite with Nebraska, which, despite a near disaster against McNeese State, has produced two of the league's top performances this seasons in wins against Fresno State and Florida Atlantic.
Mitch Sherman: Joel Stave, fighting a football version of the yips, returned to team drills in some form last week, though coach Gary Andersen has not declared anything in regard to his senior quarterback. Sounds like it remains an extended process with Stave, who has sought some outside attention in dealing with his throwing issues. It's good to hear that Stave has maintained a healthy approach in practice, though I have concerns about his effectiveness even after he clears the hurdles necessary to get back on the field. What happens when adversity strikes in a game? How will it impact his play to perform in front of tens of thousands of people who know about his struggles? For that reason, expect the Badgers to move slowly with Stave. The schedule is on their side, staying soft through October.
Mitch Sherman: Well, considering that the Boilermakers tanked this year before playing Notre Dame, I don't know if parallels exist to be drawn. It seems that Purdue does a nice job of getting up for the Irish, or maybe it's something about the matchup that works well. Or maybe Notre Dame is disinterested. Regardless, the Boilers have a good shot on Saturday against unbeaten FCS foe Southern Illinois. If it doesn't happen, another one-win season enters the realm of possibility. As bad as the Big Ten looks, I still don't see that as likely. Quarterback Danny Etling showed improvement against Notre Dame, and hey, Northwestern visits Ross-Ade Stadium this year. Realistically, if Purdue can build on the good things from Saturday in Indianapolis, as many as four games in the Big Ten could be competitive.
@mitchsherman if OSU would've had Kent as 1st game to tune up, think they'd look as rough as they did 1st 2 games?— Matt Pacholski (@Mpachol) September 15, 2014
Mitch Sherman: That question wins the award, Matt, for most intriguing of the day. I'm not sure J.T. Barrett and the Buckeyes would have defeated Kent State 66-0 if it had been the opener. But it would have been an easy victory that could have provided the young quarterback and his offensive line with the confidence it lacked against Navy and Virginia Tech. I'm convinced that by the end of this season, Virginia Tech could not come into the Horseshoe and dominate Ohio State in any way close to what happened in Week 2. By the same token, the Buckeyes might have had even more trouble with Navy if that game came later in the season. But to answer your question, no; Ohio State would have fared better in its bid to escape this nonconference season with a perfect mark intact if the order of games had been arranged differently..
Longhorns, Wolverines Announce Home-And-Home Series
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
12:00 PM ET Iowa Pittsburgh 12:00 PM ET Eastern Michigan 11 Michigan State 12:00 PM ET Western Illinois Northwestern 12:00 PM ET Southern Illinois Purdue 12:00 PM ET Bowling Green 19 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET Maryland Syracuse 3:30 PM ET Utah Michigan 3:30 PM ET Rutgers Navy 4:00 PM ET Massachusetts Penn State 4:00 PM ET San Jose State Minnesota 4:00 PM ET Texas State Illinois 4:00 PM ET Indiana 18 Missouri 8:00 PM ET Miami (FL) 24 Nebraska