Irish eye 4 football players in academic probe

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Irish eye 4 football players in academic probe

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame football players KeiVarae Russell, DaVaris Daniels, Ishaq Williams and Kendall Moore are being held out of practice while the school investigates what it is calling "suspected academic dishonesty."

The school announced Friday it has notified the NCAA about the inquiry. Because of potential violations, the four players can't compete until the conclusion of the investigation and the university honor code process.

The Fighting Irish open the season against Rice on Aug. 30.

The Rev. John Jenkins, the university president, said during a news conference that no student has been judged responsible for "academic dishonesty."

"Nobody has been dismissed," Jenkins said.

All were expected to be key contributors this season, coach Brian Kelly's fifth at Notre Dame.

"We have great confidence in Brian and his staff," Jenkins said. "They have been nothing but supportive."

Russell, a junior, starts at cornerback. Daniels, a junior, is the team leading returning receiver. Williams, a senior, was expected to be a big part of the defensive line. Moore, a senior, is backup at linebacker.

Athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the players have not been suspended. He said they remain grant-in-aid students and have access to athletic facilities and resources.

Jenkins said evidence students had submitted papers and homework that had been written for them by others was initially detected at the end of the summer session. The case was then referred to the compliance office on July 29.

"If the suspected improprieties are proven, we will use the experience to reinforce among our students the importance of honesty in all that they do. We are also examining ways of better conveying to students that they can avail themselves of legitimate academic assistance without resorting to cheating," Jenkins said.

Jenkins said the school would vacate victories if it is determined players have been ineligible during past competition. All four were members of the 2012 team that played for the BCS national championship.

The investigation is the latest in a series for the Irish in the past 15 months involving academics, starting with starting quarterback Everett Golson in May 2013. He was suspended for the fall 2013 semester what he called poor academic judgment.

Jerian Grant, the leading scorer on the basketball team at the time, was suspended in December for the spring semester for an academic violation. Daniels was suspended two weeks later for the spring semester and was recently reinstated.

Temple, Matt Rhule deliver AAC championship with win over Navy

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Temple, Matt Rhule deliver AAC championship with win over Navy

BOX SCORE

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The genesis came nearly four years ago when Matt Rhule walked down the cheerleader and band-lined hallway at the Liacouras Center, greeting fans and shaking the hands of those who took the time to come as he made his way to the to the podium for his introductory press conference. In previous days, he was named Temple’s head coach after leaving the previous regime at Temple for a one-year stint on Tom Coughlin’s staff with the New York Giants.
 
When Rhule spoke that cold December day in 2012, he promised he would bring Temple a championship. Any type of championship. Hardware that the long-suffering program, its players, its fans and its alumni could be proud of.
 
Along the way, there were bumps in the road that brought ridicule to that promise.
 
There was the 2-10 season from hell in 2013 that included losses to Idaho and Fordham. There was the 6-6 season of frustration in 2014 when Rhule had to tell his players, notably his heartbroken seniors, that no bowl wanted anything to do with them even though they were eligible to play in one. There was the hoopla of a dream 2015 season that ended with the nightmare of losses to Houston in the conference title game and Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl. And then there was earlier this season when the Owls seemed without a sense of direction after a painful 3-3 start.
 
But through all of the muck and grime, Rhule kept his players believing in his promise.
 
And on Saturday afternoon, nearly four years to the day he made that promise, he and his players delivered, at the Naval Academy, of all places.
 
Phillip Walker, the four-year starter at quarterback who’s been with Rhule the entire way, was stellar with 16 completions for 199 yards and two touchdown passes and Temple’s defense shut down No. 19 Navy’s vaunted rushing attack as the Owls won the American Athletic Conference title game on Saturday with a 34-10 victory at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium (see Instant Replay).
 
The triumph pushed the Owls’ record to 10-3 and marks just the second conference title in Temple football history and first since the Owls brought home a Middle Atlantic Conference championship in 1967.
 
“For me, it means the promise has been fulfilled,” Temple’s victorious head coach said after the game. “[Athletics officials] were sitting there with me there in the locker after we lost to Fordham our first year. And to bring it full circle, so that to me, is almost a relief of a job well done.
 
“But the true thing for me about this is just to have these players to be able to call themselves champions. That’s the way they live their lives. When you win this conference, you’ve done something special. This a fantastic conference with great teams from top to bottom.
 
“For us to say we did it, that’s the accomplishment. … The competitors we have on our team, the men we have on our team – they were ready to take one more step. And that’s what they did. ”
 
It’s fitting that the seniors who’ve been with Rhule the last several years led the Temple charge from the moment the ball was kicked into the windy air on Saturday.
 
Walker took command on the game’s opening drive with five completions, including a huge 4th-and-7 throw to Keith Kirkwood after Kirkwood dropped an easy catch on the previous play. Walker and Kirkwood later admitted the Owls ran the same play again on fourth down. One play later, Jahad Thomas, another senior, scampered into the corner of the end zone from 15 yards out to open the scoring.
 
On the Owls’ next drive, Walker hit Ventell Bryant on an out route for a 22-yard touchdown that made the score 14-0 in favor of Temple.
 
As time wound down in the first, Temple junior safety Sean Chandler made a touchdown-saving tackle on Navy’s Dishan Romine at the Temple 25-yard line after a 34-yard catch. On the next play, Chandler stripped Navy’s Darryl Bonner after a screen pass and the Owls recovered at their own 30.
 
On the ensuing drive, Walker threw a lovely deep ball with perfect touch to a wide-open Kirkwood, who glided into the end zone and put Temple up 21-0 just over a minute into the second quarter.
 
You could have started polishing the trophy then and there because the rout was on.
 
“This means a lot to the program,” Walker, the namesake of numerous Temple quarterback records, including touchdown passes (72), completions (802) and passing yards (10, 272) said of Temple’s win on Saturday afternoon. “I told Coach Rhule before I got here that this was going to happen. That was the process of me just trusting and keep doing what I’ve been doing. I go out there every day and bring my effort and my energy every day. And hopefully everyone else around me will follow.
 
“Going in there every day and playing and competing at a high level, it shows that we had a really good team that was capable of doing a lot of good things.”
 
Thomas and Walker were teammate’s at North Jersey’s Elizabeth High School before coming to Temple four years ago. Their high school careers followed the same story arc of their college careers – misery as freshmen, improved mediocrity as sophomores, falling just short as juniors and championship glory as seniors.
 
“You definitely hit lows coming from an 11-0 season in high school to a program that was known for losing,” Thomas said before he boarded the team bus Saturday evening. “But we know with all the young guys we had coming in that we had an opportunity to be something special as we got older.
 
“So we just worked and worked in the offseason and continued to get better. We continued to buy in to Coach Rhule’s process. And now, as seniors, we won.”
 
Needless to say, Temple’s defense did more than its fair share against a Navy team that entered second in the nation with 342 rushing yards a game and dropped 75 points on SMU last week.
 
Facing that potent Navy attack and the mental roadblock of the 328 yards a similar-style Army team ran for in a season-opening 28-13 defeat at The Linc, Temple stuffed Navy to the tune of 168 yards on the ground.
 
Navy senior quarterback Will Worth, who entered Saturday leading the nation with 25 rushing touchdowns, injured his ankle in the second quarter and did not return. He was replaced by sophomore Zach Abey. But still, quite the impressive showing from Temple’s defense nonetheless. Or a “good ole fashioned butt whipping,” as Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo put it.
 
“We just made it simple. Just don’t overthink it,” Temple senior defensive lineman Praise Martin-Oguike said of the Owls’ Saturday performance against Navy’s triple option. “It’s football at the end of the day.  Everybody did their job, just like coach was saying.
 
“This is a program that has never won. So to actually see it happen is just unbelievable with how far we’ve come. There’s a lot of people involved in that. Not just us, but the previous years before us. And it’s incredible to see this happen.”
 
While the Owls will soak in the feeling of championship glory Saturday night, they’ll find out their postseason fate on Sunday afternoon when the bowl selections are announced.
 
And that’s where things get interesting.
 
As a conference champion, Temple is eligible for the New Year’s Six at-large bowl bid to the Cotton Bowl. And the Owls should be in the College Football Playoff selection committee’s rankings after stomping the No. 19 team in the country on its home turf.
 
But No. 17 Western Michigan of the MAC completed its season with a spotless 13-0 record after holding on for dear life against Ohio in Friday’s conference title game in Detroit.
 
So now it’s up to the committee to weigh the resumes of 10-3 Temple and 13-0 WMU for that Cotton Bowl berth. And not to get too far ahead, but that berth could well mean a meeting with Penn State if the Nittany Lions don’t represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl.
 
WMU’s signature wins this year are victories at Northwestern (6-6) and at Illinois (3-9), both of the Big Ten.
 
The Owls’ top wins are at home against then-No. 24 South Florida (10-2) and Saturday’s triumph at No. 19 Navy (9-3). There was also September’s seven-point defeat at No. 7 Penn State mixed in there as well, if you want to discuss strength of schedule.
 
While logic with the records says the odds may not be in the Owls’ favor, Rhule left his message for the committee on Saturday evening.
 
“I think we can say we’re one of the top teams in college football right now based on the way we’ve played,” Rhule said.
 
“I’ll never talk down about another team. And I think any team that goes undefeated, I wish them all the best. But we are the sixth power conference. If you win this league, you should go to a New Year’s Six Bowl. That’s neither here nor there. And when you’ve seen what [AAC] teams have done in New Year’s Six Bowls, you should want to have us there.
 
“Over the last half of the year, I would say we’re as hot as any team in the country. Again, I’m not saying anything negative about anyone else, but we should be playing in a New Year’s Six Bowl."

Andy Talley's career comes to an end as Villanova falls to South Dakota State

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Andy Talley's career comes to an end as Villanova falls to South Dakota State

BROOKINGS, S.D. - Villanova got its style of game. South Dakota State got the victory.

Freshman Chase Vinatieri kicked a 40-yard field goal with 1:21 left to lift the eighth-seeded Jackrabbits to a 10-7 victory at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium and end the career of retiring Villanova coach Andy Talley.

South Dakota State (9-3) advanced to a quarterfinal next weekend at No. 1 seed North Dakota State (11-1). The two times shared the Missouri Valley Football Conference title, but the Jackrabbits beat NDSU 19-17 inside the Fargodome on Oct. 15.

Villanova (9-4) controlled the clock and the No. 3 defense in the FCS limited SDSU's high-powered offense to 197 yards - 284 below its season average.

But the Wildcats' bid to extend Talley's career fell short. His career ended with a 230-137-1 record in 32 seasons at Villanova and 258-155-2 in 37 overall. Included was the 2009 FCS national title.

Vinatieri's field goal capped a 37-yard drive. He is the nephew of NFL kicking great Adam Vinatieri.

The first-ever meeting between these programs was played in snow showers. South Dakota State took a 7-0 lead on Taryn Christion's 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Goedert with 2:40 left in the first quarter.

Villanova tied the game on Alex Padovani's 6-yard touchdown reception from Zach Bednarczyk with two seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Christion completed 20 of 33 passes for 190 yards, accounting for most of the offense as the Jackrabbits had only seven rushing yards. Bednarczyk was 20 of 36 for 220 yards.

SDSU linebackers Christian Rozeboom and Jesse Bobbit, the team's leading tacklers, had 13 and 10 stops, respectively.