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Posted on: November 13, 2010 4:08 pm

Dan Persa suffers ruptured Achilles tendon

Posted by Adam Jacobi

On first and goal from the Iowa 6-yard line, Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa took the snap, scrambled, and leapt to throw a pass. That pass found Jeremy Ebert for what would be the game-winning touchdown. And as if the pass weren't consequential enough, when Persa came down, he appeared to injure his ankle, and was helped off the field.

According to head coach Pat Fitzgerald , the worst-case scenario for that leg injury has come true: Dan Persa has a ruptured Achilles tendon. The injury will cost Persa the rest of his season, of course, and it's not even certain that Persa will be healthy for the start of next season.

Obviously, this is a tough blow for Northwestern, even as the Wildcats celebrate their fifth victory over Iowa in their last six meetings. Persa was the 10th-ranked quarterback in the nation in passing efficiency, and he was also the Wildcats' leading rusher on the season (he still may end up being the team leader even after missing the last three games). He single-handedly tired out the Iowa defense on Northwestern's two fourth-quarter touchdown drives. Dan Persa basically is the Northwestern offense. How the 'Cats will respond to this devastating news against Illinois next week will be something worth watching.

Posted on: November 12, 2010 1:03 pm

Nutt hopes Masoli can play Saturday

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It may be firmly implanted in last place in the SEC West, but if Ole Miss can somehow manage to win two of its last three games, the Rebels will become bowl eligible this season.  Of course, considering that after this week's tilt against Tennessee that the Rebels have to travel to LSU before taking on Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, winning two games isn't going to be easy.

Which means that, realistically, if the Rebels don't beat Tennessee this weekend, they can forget about going to a bowl game.  So it would be nice if they had their starting quarterback available, though nobody is quite sure whether that will be the case. 

Jeremiah Masoli suffered a concussion last week against Louisiana-Lafayette, and is yet to be cleared to play against the Volunteers on Saturday.  Still, Houston Nutt is keeping his fingers crossed.

"I'm hoping (tonight, trainer Tim Mullins) can say he's going to be all right," Nutt told the Clarion-Ledger. "That's what I'm hoping."

Masoli has participated in practice this week, though he has been limited.  While Nutt is hoping that Mullins will clear Masoli to play on Friday night, he also said that it could come on Saturday morning, and that if that is the case, then Masoli will be prepared to play.  If Masoli can't go, Nathan Stanley will start in his place. 

Stanley replaced Masoli last week and completed only 6-of-14 passes for 108 yards.  Odds are that if Stanley does play, you can expect another heavy dose of Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis,  as both running backs rushed for over 100 yards last week.
Posted on: November 12, 2010 12:08 pm

Ponder practicing, still questionable

Posted by Tom Fornelli

This week's game against Clemson is a big one for Florida State.   The Seminoles have dropped their last two games to North Carolina and North Carolina State, but still find themselves in first place in the ACC's Atlantic division.  Still, a third straight loss could drop them as far back as fourth in the division, and kill just about any chance of winning the ACC.

So it would be nice if quarterback Christian Ponder could play on Saturday, but even though he's returned to practice, Ponder is still listed as questionable on the injury report.  Ponder has returned to practice, and though he's been somewhat limited there, Jimbo Fisher seems optimistic that his quarterback will be available.

“He did some,” said Fisher. “I didn’t want to take a chance, so we limited what he did. What we’re doing right now, he feels very good about. He took some reps and did some things but we limited what he did as far as numbers. I didn’t want the day after to be a bear. I think he’ll feel good. I really do. …

“We’ll have to see how [Friday] goes. But I expect him to be even better. There’s hardly [any fluid] in there now. The rest has helped a lot. That’s as good as anything with any injury. You watch it in the NFL. If you really evaluate the quarterbacks, they probably practice like once-a-week once they start getting banged and bruised. They’re already in a rhythm this late in the year with what they’re doing, throwing and reading.”

If Ponder's throwing elbow flares up and he can't go on Saturday, he'll be replaced by E.J. Manuel.
Posted on: November 11, 2010 12:30 pm

Michigan may be without Mouton against Purdue

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Michigan has one of the worst defenses in the country this season.  A unit that has been depleted over the last few years thanks to transfers and injuries finds itself ranked 114th in the country in total defense, and 104th in scoring defense.  Which wouldn't be so terrible if there were 400 teams in the FBS, but there are only 120.

So, naturally, the last thing Michigan needs right now is another injury on the defensive side of the ball.  Unfortunately for the Wolverines, that's exactly what they have.  Linebacker and leading tackler Jonas Mouton pulled a chest muscle during Michigan's crazy triple-overtime victory over Illinois last weekend, and now his status for Michigan's game against Purdue this Saturday is in doubt.

"We'll see how he progresses as it relates to Saturday," Rich Rodriguez told The Detroit News. "I don't think there's structural damage, but there's muscular issues that are causing some pain, and it's kind of a day-to-day thing. He's a tough guy, and if he can play and is cleared by the trainers, he'll be ready to go."

Obviously, Michigan can't really afford to lose anybody on defense these days, let alone its leading tackler.  If Mouton can't go on Saturday, Rodriguez said he'll be replaced by co-captain Mark Moundros at weak-side linebacker.

Moundros was a fullback last season.

The Wolverines may want to put up 60 again.
Posted on: November 9, 2010 12:22 pm

Vandy offense going from bad to worse

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Two weeks ago, Vanderbilt made an unusual midseason change at the offensive coordinator's position , elevating running backs coach Des Kitchings to the role of play-caller and demoting previous OC Johnny Kiser . The results have been, unfortunately, right in line with what you'd expect from Vandy following a Titanic deck-chair rearrangement: 156 total yards against Arkansas , a miserable 109 against Florida . Total first downs those two weeks: 15. Total punts those weeks: 19. Oy.

So if there's any team that deserves a break on the injury front, it's Vandy. But this being, you know, Vandy (which apparently used up all the luck they'd missed out on in the lean years before and all the luck they may ever have in their miraculous bowl season of 2008), they are not getting those breaks . In a sentence:
Vanderbilt will be without its top two running backs Saturday at Kentucky, and its No. 3 back is questionable.
Those first two backs are Warren Norman , already out for the season following wrist surgery, and Zac Stacy , who started in Norman's place but left the Florida game in the second quarter following a concussion that has left him doubtful for the remainder of the season. Stacy's replacement, Wesley Tate , didn't even make it to halftime before injuring his ankle and remains questionable for the Commodores' matchup this weekend against Kentucky .

All of this attrition leaves senior Kennard Reeves as the team's likely starting tailback for Saturday. Reeves has 271 career yards in his four years at Vanderbilt, his 77 yards this year representing 6.4 percent of his team's total for the year. Norman and Stacy, Vandy's top two leading rushers? 67 percent.

If there's any good news for Vandy, it's that the Wildcat defense ranks ninth in conference play in total defense, so maybe Kitchings and the 'Dores can start to make some headway even without their most dangerous offensive players. But there's little doubt at this stage that Kentucky's still the ones getting the better news.

Posted on: November 8, 2010 2:33 pm

Denard Robinson should be 'good to go' Saturday

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It just wouldn't be a normal week in the college football world if we didn't have to wonder what the status of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was for the coming weekend.  Robinson had to leave Michigan's video game triple-overtime victory over Illinois during the third quarter on Saturday, and experienced concussion-like symptoms.  Robinson had a headache and was dizzy, so Michigan trainers felt it best to keep him out of the rest of the game, and Tate Forcier filled in admirably to lead the Wolverines to a victory.

But what about this Saturday's game against Purdue?  

Well, Rich Rodriguez did his best to avoid the word concussion during his news conference on Monday, but did say that Robinson should be "good to go" after going through tests on Sunday.

"All's good," Rodriguez said. "There are no issues."

Which means that Robinson is likely going to start against Purdue on Saturday, break off a big run, take a hit, and then have to leave the game.  Then next Monday or Tuesday we'll be writing the same post here again about Robinson's status for the game against Ohio State.  So I guess we'll see you then!
Posted on: November 5, 2010 1:30 pm

Kenjon Barner to play vs. Washington

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The "as if Oregon needed another weapon" lead-in is so obvious in a story like this it ought to be avoided, but Oregon has so many weapons it's worrying to think what they might do with them if we go with a different one, so: As if Oregon needed another weapon, Kenjon Barner is back to full strength :
Nearly a month [after his injury vs. Washington State ], after Barner took and passed the required post-concussion tests, he is expected to play again for the first time since the injury when No. 1-ranked Oregon meets Washington in a 12:30 p.m. game, Saturday in Autzen Stadium ...

Barner said when he steps between the lines, he will play hard, fast and not spend a nano-second worried about the possibility of injury.

“You can’t think about that come gametime,” he said. “If you’re thinking about that, that’s all you’re going to be focused on. And that would affect the way I would play.”
Not that the Huskies -- blitzed 41-0 by Stanford in Seattle just last week -- had much hope of escaping Autzen with a victory in the first place, but having a healthy Barner at Chip Kelly 's disposal clearly won't help matters. All Barner has done this season in his limited time behind LaMichael James is rush for 147 yards on just 14 carries against New Mexico , return a punt for a touchdown against Tennessee , average better than 108 all-purpose yards in his six games and 11.4 yards per touch.

But none of that honestly matters much for Washington, who was always going to be Duck roadkill. The bigger story of Barner's return -- and his shaking off the rust he may claim not to have, but likely does, given that he admits to being "nervous" about playing again -- is what it means down the road for the Ducks' tests against Arizona and at Cal and Oregon State .

And what it means is that the chances of Oregon being thrown off stride, say, by a James' injury or an off-night for a slot receiver or Kelly not being able to use that one play where he really needs Barner -- and losing some place between here and Glendale -- are worse than ever.

Posted on: November 5, 2010 1:06 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 1:07 pm

T-Magic a game-time decision

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez suffered an ankle injury during the Cornhuskers win over Missouri last week, and though the injury forced him to miss practice on Monday, Martinez practiced throughout the rest of the week.  Which would lead you to believe that Martinez will be ready to play when Nebraska takes on Iowa State this weekend in a game that means a lot more than most of us would have thought when the year began.

That may not be the case, though.  According to Bo Pelini, Martinez is getting better, but whether he plays or not will be a game time decision.

"He's getting better each day," Pelini told Husker Extra. "It will be probably a game-time decision, but he's getting better every day."

Which, in my opinion, means that Martinez will be starting for Nebraska on Saturday.  This is a very big game for Nebraska, because a loss against Iowa State would completely render last week's victory against Mizzou meaningless, and give Missouri the inside track to the Big 12 title game.  It would also drop the Cornhuskers to third in the division, as they'd have the same record as Iowa State, but would lose the tie-breaker.

So, in other words, Nebraska has to win this game or its chances of winning the Big 12 are done.  Considering what Iowa State did to Texas in Austin a few weeks ago, it's apparent that this is not a Cyclones team to take for granted, so unless Martinez is incapable of walking on Saturday morning, he'll be playing.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or