COUNTDOWN TO THE SEASON

Del Olaleye: The weekly college football update includes more trouble for the Big 10

Somehow, UT coach Tom Herman got dragged into the Big 10's mess. Tim Warner/Getty Images

The weekly look at all things college football:

Rough going in the Big Ten

The conference of Leaders and Legends has had a rough summer. If you’re not familiar with those two words in reference to the Big Ten, those were the pretentious names they used temporarily to name their divisions in football. Oddly enough those names didn’t go over well so now the Big Ten’s divisions are simply named East and West. Much appreciation to the Big Ten for figuring out that they are the only ones who think they are special.

The Zach Smith/Urban Meyer saga continues into its third week. Ohio State has a hatchet man in Jeff Snook attempting to discredit Brett McMurphy and throw University of Texas head coach and former Meyer assistant Tom Herman into the grease. Herman and his wife responded to the allegation by Snook that Herman alerted McMurphy to the drama involving Smith by denying any involvement. Herman did say his wife gave temporary financial help to Smith’s estranged ex-wife. Meanwhile Ohio State’s investigators will meet with Zach Smith as the campaign to protect Meyer at all cost continues.

The Buckeyes’ biggest rival is involved in something less serious but still could affect their season. Michigan is investigating whether their players sold exclusive Jordan brand shoes. Jim Harbaugh doesn’t expect anything to come of it as Michigan football has conducted its own investigation. Michigan hopes to not suffer the same fate as fellow Jordan brand school North Carolina which had multiple starters suspended for selling shoes, including their potential starting quarterback.

The Big Ten wasn’t done making news this week as Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin was put on leave after a not so complimentary ESPN report. The report state that Durkin was at the head of program with a toxic culture. This reports comes just months after the death of Maryland player Jordan McNair. McNair’s death certainly raised questions about the Maryland program and the subsequent report chronicled the levels of fear and intimidation that may have led to McNair’s death. Durkin’s strength and conditioning coach, Rick Court, considered one of the main culprits, was fired August 14th.

If there is one conference who just wants games to begin it has to the conference of of 14 members that calls itself the Big Ten.

QB battles to be decided

We’re entering the second week of training camp which means we’re one week closer to the greatest time of the year. While I can relax as my favorite team has named their starting QB other marquee programs are still using practices and scrimmages to make a decision.

LSU: The transfer of former Ohio State QB Joe Burrow was supposed to simplify the quarterback quandary for the Bayou Bengals. That isn’t the case as the team’s first scrimmage didn’t show Burrow separating from the quarterbacks who were on the roster last year. Burrow is one of four players who hope to start for LSU come September 2nd and LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron has alluded to possibly playing two QBs in the season opener.

Tennessee: The Vols have a new head coach in former Alabama, Florida State and Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt but the questions at quarterback remain the same. This is year two of trying to replace Josh Dobbs and Tennessee has Keller Cryst, a transfer from Stanford and returnee Jarret Guarantano vying for the job. Deciding on a QB is one of Pruitt’s biggest decisions early in his tenure and whoever wins the job doesn’t get a warm up game to start. The Volunteers face West Virginia in a neutral site game to begin the season.

Alabama: Tua vs Jalen. Easy. It will be Tua. Everyone knows it. It is just a matter of time. Let’s keep it moving.

 

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Houston drops first of three

Mariners heat up late to take series opener over Astros

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

With the playoffs just a little over a week away, the Astros started their last week of regular-season games in Seattle against the Mariners. A couple of wins against them would secure Houston's spot as the AL West's second playoff participant, with Oakland all but having locked up the first spot sitting six games in front of Houston with seven left to play. Here is a quick rundown of the opener from T-Mobile Park:

Final Score: Mariners 6, Astros 1.

Record: 27-27, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Marco Gonzalez (7-2, 3.06 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (3-3, 4.24 ERA).

Bitter end to an impressive start for McCullers Jr.

Both starting pitchers would take a scoreless deep late into Monday night's game. While the Astros were trying to figure out Marco Gonzalez, Lance McCullers Jr. was repeating the success of his last start, a seven-inning two-hit start against the Rangers.

McCullers Jr. allowed a two-out walk in the bottom of the first inning, then proceeded to retire the next fourteen batters before a one-out double in the bottom of the sixth gave the Mariners their first hit of the night. He would go on to finish the sixth before things unraveled in the seventh.

A leadoff walk would result in a run after an error by Jose Altuve left runners on first and second, setting up an RBI-double to give the Mariners the first run of the night and a 1-0 lead. McCullers Jr. looked like he was going to cap off his night by stranding the runners on second and third after back-to-back strikeouts, but before he could get the last out of the inning allowed a three-run home run to blow the game open at 4-0. His final line: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 102 P.

Mariners take the opener

Despite getting several hits against him along the way, Houston could not get anything substantial going against Gonzalez, who would shutout the Astros over eight innings of work. After Enoli Paredes finished the seventh, Brandon Bielak would take over out of Houston's bullpen for the bottom of the eighth.

He struggled mightily, loading the bases with no outs, including a hit batter before allowing a two-RBI single to extend Seattle's lead to 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the top of the ninth, getting a two-out double by Carlos Correa, who would score on an RBI-single by Josh Reddick. That would be too little, too late as the 6-1 score would go final as the Mariners took the opener, keeping the Astros' magic number at two.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will be another 8:10 PM Central start on Tuesday. On the mound will be Framber Valdez (4-3, 3.82 ERA) for the Astros and Ljay Newsome (0-1, 6.35 ERA) for the Mariners.

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