World Boxing Association Light Heavyweight Champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad made the first defense of his title after stopping Jerry Martin at 2:25 of round at at the Great Gorge Playboy Club in McAfee, New Jersey on July 20th, 1980. Muhammad led on two scorecards 88-82 and 87-83 with one even 85-85. The 28 year old Muhammad improved to 37-4-1, 31 KO’s while the 26 year old Martin dropped to 19-2, 12 KO’s.

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WLB Markus Bailey and the rest of the Purdue defense will have their work cut out for them in 2018.

The Purdue Boilermakers had a magical season in 2017 under new head coach Jeff Brohm. Among the many feats accomplished were winning back-to-back games for the first time since 2012, winning on the road by the largest margin since 1999, selling out Ross-Ade Stadium for the first time since 2008, winning a game in November for the first time since 2012, the largest margin of victory in a Big Ten game since 2012, and winning the Old Oaken Bucket for the first time since 2012.

It’s no wonder why Brohm’s name was brought up for the Tennessee head coaching job. After the rumors of Brohm’s departure to Knoxville were put to rest, Purdue beat Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl. Brohm joined legendary Purdue head coach Joe Tiller in winning a bowl game in his first season in West Lafayette.

Brohm has his work cut out for him in 2018 if Purdue is to reach back-to-back bowls for the first time since 2011-’12. Known for his offense, it was his defense, coordinated by Nick Holt with eight returning starters, that showed major improvement last year in going from allowing 446 yards per game and 38.3 points per game in 2016 to 375 yards per game and 20.5 points per game in 2017. Purdue must replace seven starters from the defense including middle linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, who also led the team in tackles for loss and was drafted by the New England Patriots.

The main hurdle in front of Purdue this season is a schedule that noted college football prognosticator Phil Steele rates as the second toughest in the nation! While all three non-conference games are at home, two are versus Power Five conference schools that made a bowl last year in Missouri and Boston College. Both are expected to be improved in 2018. The Boilermakers three Big Ten crossover games are versus Ohio State, at Michigan State, and of course at Indiana for the Old Oaken Bucket. All three of those teams are projected to reach a bowl with Ohio State expected to return to the playoffs.

Purdue returns nine starters on offense, including quarterback Elijah Sindelar. While the Boilermakers offense will be improved over the 2017 version, the difference is not likely to compensate for the drop-off the defense is likely to suffer due to inexperience. There’s little doubt that Holt will have the defense prepared, but the opposing offenses will be too much for Purdue to overcome and make a bowl this season.

World Boxing Association heavyweight World Champion “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon made the first defense of hist title after stopping Frank Bruno at 2:57 of round 11 in front of 40,000 fans at Wembley Stadium in London, England on July 19th, 1986. The 28 year old Witherspoon landed four consecutive right hands that dropped Bruno, resulting in his corner immediately throwing in the towel. Witherspoon was ahead on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage 99-96, 98-96, and 97-94 and improved to 25-2, 17 KO’s. The 24 year old Bruno dropped to 28-2, 27 KO’s.

International Boxing Hall of Fame member Michael “Jinx” Spinks won the World Boxing Association Light Heavyweight World Championship after winning a 15 round unanimous decision over Eddie Mustafa Muhammad by the scores of 146-138, 145-139, and 144-140 at the Imperial Palace Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 18th, 1981. The 29 year old Muhammad was making his third defense of the title and fell to 38-5-1, 32 KO’s. The 24 year old Spinks improved to 18-0, 11 KO’s.

International Boxing Hall of Fame member Pepino Cuevas won the World Boxing Association Welterweight World Title after stopping Angel Espada at 2:37 of round two at the Plaza de Toros Calafia in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico on July 17th, 1976. The 18 year old Cuevas scored three knockdowns int he 2nd round to become the youngest (at the time) Welterweight World Champion ever. Cuevas improved to 15-6, 13 KO’s, while the 28 year old Espada dropped to 36-8-4, 20 KO’s.

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Texas WLB Gary Johnson was named pre-season 1st Tm B12 for 2018 by Phil Steele

Texas was one of the most dominant teams in the nation at the turn of the century. From 2000-2009, the Longhorns went 110-19 with seven Top 10 finishes including a National Championship in 2005.

Fans in Austin have been longing a return to relevancy since. Texas went just 46-42 in the following seven years, making two coaching changes in the process. After three consecutive losing seasons, the Longhorns made a splash by hiring Tom Herman last year.

While the 7-6 record Texas finished with was hardly overwhelming, they did win their first bowl game since 2012. The offense surprisingly regressed under the tutelage of the offensive minded Herman. The defense, however, showed major improvement, going from allowing 448 yards per game and 31.5 points per game in 2016 to allowing 366 yards per game and 21.2 points per game in 2017. With four of their losses by five points or less, Texas was basically one play away from finishing 11-2!

The 2018 season appears that it will be very kind to the Longhorn faithful. Texas has seven returning starters on each side of the ball, eight on offense if you include both quarterbacks Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechele. The offense will be improved in the second year of Herman’s system. Not only do the Longhorns return experience at quarterback, but also their top two wide receivers in 6’2” Collin Johnson and 6’4” Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Leading running back Daniel Young also returns, but don’t be surprised if he is beaten out by incoming true freshman Keaontay Ingram, a 6’1”, 200 pound speedster. Texas features four offensive lineman that have been full-time starters.

The front end of the schedule is a little daunting, specifically a brutal four week stretch when they host USC and TCU, followed by road trips to Manhattan versus Kansas State and Dallas for the Red River Rivalry. If Texas can manage that stretch and remain healthy, their last six games will be much easier and some blowouts in November will force the College Football Playoff committee to pay attention.

Texas has the talent to finish in the Top 10 of the rankings for the first time since 2009 and with a little luck, could find itself in the Playoffs.

International Boxing Federation World Champion Simon Brown made the first defense of his title after stopping Jorge Vaca at 2:05 of round three at the National Arena in Kingston, Jamaica on July 16th, 1988. Brown scored five knockdowns overall and led 20-15 twice and 20-13 on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage. The 24 year old Brown improved to 26-1, 20 KO’s, while the 28 year old Vaca slipped to 42-8-1, 36 KO’s.

World Boxing Council Welterweight World Champion Milton McCrory made the fifth defense of his title after stopping Carlos Trujillo at 2:03 of round three at the Stade Louis II in Fontvieille, Monaco on July 14th, 1985. The 23 year old McCrory led 20-18 twice and 20-17 on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage and improved to 27-0-1, 22 KO’s. The 24 year old Trujillo dropped to 19-3, 14 KO’s.

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First Team All-Big Ten wide receiver Stanley Morgan

The Nebraska Cornhuskers failed to make a Bowl game last year for the first time since 2007 and their four wins were the fewest in a season since 1961. Fortunately for Nebraska fans, they won’t have to wait long to see improvement.

After failing in their attempt to shift to a pass offense for a second time (first was from 2004-2007) Nebraska is moving to a spread option attack under new head coach Scott Frost, who led the ‘Huskers to their last National Championship as the quarterback in 1997.¬†Frost was named the National Coach of the Year after leading the UCF Knights to the only undefeated season in the FBS in 2017.

The change in offensive philosophy perfectly suits quarterback Adrian Martinez, a 6’2” 205 pound true freshman from Fresno, Ca. Martinez threw for over 2,500 yards and ran for nearly 1,500 with 39 total touchdowns as a high school Junior, but missed his Senior season due to a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. Still, expert college football prognosticator Phil Steele rated Martinez as the No. 17 quarterback in the 2018 recruiting class. Martinez enrolled early and took part in spring practices, showing he’s recovered from the injury.

Helping Martinez transition to the college game will be an elite pair of wide receivers in Senior Stanley Morgan and Sophomore JD Spielman. Nebraska may be changing their offensive scheme, but that doesn’t mean they will be eliminating their passing attack altogether.

Frost’s UCF offense averaged 332 passing yards per game in 2017. Sure, having an All-American quarterback certainly allowed for more passing in the playcalling, but that also shows that Nebraska’s offense should be able to matchup against different defensive formations thrown its way.

Morgan set a ‘Husker record with 986 yards last year while earning First Team Big Ten honors. Spielman’s 830 yards was the most ever by Freshman in Lincoln.

Nebraska enters this season on a four game losing streak and after losing back-to-back non-conference games last year for the first time since 1957, should have little trouble starting 3-0 in 2018 before beginning Big Ten play.

While their conference schedule is brutal with road games at Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Ohio State, and Iowa (all bowl teams), Nebraska should be favored at home versus Purdue, Minnesota, and Illinois.

After being outscored by an average of 36-26 and outgained by an average of 51 yards per game in 2017, Steele projects Nebraska to get outscored by just three points per game and outgained by five yards per game in 201, despite the tougher schedule.

Nebraska should get back to a bowl game and while six wins certainly won’t appease most ‘Husker fans, it certainly beats staying home for the holidays. The record won’t show a drastic improvement, but the play on the field will and Nebraska is certainly trending in the right direction.

International Boxing Hall of Famer and World Boxing Council Light Heavyweight World Champion Matthew Saad Muhammad made the fourth defense of his title after stopping Yaqui Lopez at 2:03 of round 14 at the Great Gorge Playboy Club in McAfee, New Jersey on July 13th, 1980. The contest was named Ring Magazine “Fight of the Year” with round eight named the “Round of the Year” by the same publication. The 26 year old Saad Muhammad dropped the 29 year old Lopez four times in round 14 in improving to 27-3-2, 19 KO’s. Lopez fell to 49-10, 33 KO’s. This was the second time they fought each other with Muhammad winning the initial encounter, also by stoppage, in round 11 in 1978.