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Big Ten teams feel right at home on the road, and dysfunction reigns in Big 12

Terrell Newby
Nebraska running back Terrell Newby has been a fourth-quarter workhorse for the unbeaten Cornhuskers.
(Nati Harnik / Associated Press)

Each week during the season, visit the Huddle for the latest in college football news, notes, conversation and opinion.

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For the record:
3:52 AM, Aug. 16, 2019 A previous version of this article said Nebraska running back Terrell Newby had rushed for 102 yards against Illinois, then 140 yards against Indiana. His 102-yard game was against Indiana, his 140 against Illinois.

This is notable

Home field advantage was non-existent in the Big Ten Conference last weekend; all six visiting teams left town with victories for the first time since 2009.

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The most impressive victory might have been Ohio State’s come-from-behind effort over then-No. 8 Wisconsin. The No. 2 Buckeyes (6-0) return to the road this week to play at Penn State.

A win over the 4-2 Nittany Lions would give the Buckeyes a Big Ten-record 18 consecutive conference road wins.

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Former Chaminade High standout Terrell Newby has become the go-to player in the fourth quarter for No. 8 Nebraska. The senior had the first two 100-yard rushing games of his college career the last two weeks, in wins over Indiana and Illinois.

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Against Indiana, 49 of Newby’s 102 yards rushing came in the fourth quarter. Last week against Illinois, he rushed for 113 of his 140 yards in the final quarter. 

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Hot off the presser

“Somebody asked me and said, ‘Nobody gives you a chance.’ I said, ‘It’s a good thing nobody’s playing.’ ” 

—Kevin Sumlin

The Texas A&M coach doesn’t seem fazed that his No. 6 Aggies are double-digit underdogs at top-ranked Alabama on Saturday.

Texas A&M is 6-0 and the Aggies will have fresh legs after enjoying a Saturday off last week. 

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“You guys want to keep putting these expectations on these kids and all this stuff. All we’re trying to do is win the next game. And that’s the bottom line.”

—Chris Petersen

The third-year Washington coach kept his building process quiet, tucked away in the Pacific Northwest for two seasons. But now the word is out. The No. 5 Huskies are 6-0 and are in the College Football Playoff hunt. If only Petersen could make the media do 500 pushups for conversations he didn’t want to hear.

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“I don’t think we’ve decreased the number of shots we have taken down the field. I think we’ve decreased the efficiency of our shots downfield.”

—Dan Mullen

“He made some mistakes and threw some balls in the dirt, but I think if you took those away he would grade out comfortably well.”

 —Bill Snyder

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Coaches say the oddest things when defending their quarterbacks. Mullen, the coach at Mississippi State, was talking about Nick Fitzgerald after he completed 17 of 36 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown. Snyder, Kansas State’s coach, was talking about Joe Hubener, who completed 12 of 23 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown in relief of injured starter Jesse Ertz during a lopsided loss to Oklahoma.

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“Well, I think they still steal signs. … That’s certainly the reputation, and I think they have technology an expertise on the subject, which if they ever go to a different conference or something, I’d certainly like them to share it with us. … It’s like breaking the Enigma Code with them. I think they ought to do a full-on investigation to see how they’re doing it and make sure it’s within the rules.”

—Mike Leach

The Washington State coach is convinced Arizona State has a command center to coordinate the stealing of signs. Here’s the good news, coach: Even if the allegations are true, the Sun Devils are 2-2 in the Pac-12 Conference and your Cougars are 3-0.

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Fresh out the Pac

Utah needed an able set of legs before last week’s game against Oregon State. 

Luckily for Coach Kyle Whittingham and the No. 19 Utes, they knew a guy. 

Senior Joe Williams retired from football after the Utes defeated Brigham Young on Sept. 10, hinting to reporters that it was because of nagging aches and pains. 

But with his former team shorthanded, Williams decided he would give the game another go. “I came back for the team rather than myself,” he told reporters.

Williams rushed for 179 yards and a touchdown in a 19-14 victory over Oregon State.

“It was nice to have an experienced guy like Joe get back in the lineup and give us the production that he did,” Whittingham told reporters. 

Utah, which is tied for first place in the Pac-12 South, plays UCLA at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.

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My Thiry

After a three-month charade, the Big 12 Conference announced this week that it would remain at 10 schools.

“We’ve had a reputation of being dysfunctional in the past and I really have not found that to be the case,” commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a conference-produced video. 

Interesting. Air Force, Brigham Young, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Connecticut, Houston, Rice, South Florida, Southern Methodist and Tulane might disagree. Officials for all of schools were interviewed about joining the smallest of the Power Five conferences.

And none were actually turned down. The Big 12 just decided it didn’t want to expand in the first place — not even by a couple of teams so its name would make sense.

It’s undoubtedly disappointing for these programs to not join a Power Five, where a berth into the College Football Playoff is more likely and revenue generated for the program would grow exponentially.

But what’s worse is that conference realignment and expansion has turned into a routine offseason conversation. And, in this case, a long, dysfunctional waste of time.

lindsey.thiry@latimes.com

Follow Lindsey Thiry on Facebook and Twitter @LindseyThiry


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