'Bama to get a wee bit of relief from bye-week blues

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Defending national champion Alabama will face a league-high six opponents that are coming off a bye week, and it seems to be a virtual certainty that they will not receive any relief from the SEC on what some perceive to be an inequitable scheduling situation.

The Tide will, however, be getting a modicum of relief from a non-conference opponent.

According to Gentry Estes of the Mobile Press-Register, Alabama’s Nov. 20 game against Georgia State has been moved to Thursday night, Nov. 18.  The move will give Alabama eight days before their annual Iron Bowl showdown with Auburn as opposed to six.  The Tigers, of course, will head into the in-state rivalry coming off a bye.

“We have a number of scheduling challenges this year in football and this was the best way for us to deal with one of those,” UA athletics director Mal Moore said in a statement. “We explored all options available to us, with our players’ health and safety in mind. This was our best remedy. We deeply appreciate everyone’s cooperation, particularly (UA president) Dr. (Robert) Witt and Georgia State.”

“This whole Alabama opportunity has been a huge boost for our program from the very beginning,” former Tide and current Georgia State head coach Bill Curry said. “We are fortunate to be able to play a game in Tuscaloosa, and we believe that moving from Saturday to Thursday can give it added appeal for our players and our fans because Thursday night games have become so special in college football.

“We’ll make the necessary adjustments and go play the game.”

This will be Div. 1-AA Georgia State’s first year of college football — ever — so this game has been viewed as nothing more than a glorified scrimmage for the Tide.  Still, it gives Alabama an extra two days to recover from whatever bumps or bruises — or paper cuts or stomach pains caused by fits of laughter — incurred during the game before their backyard brawl the day after Thanksgiving.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.

Unitas Award whittles watch list in half down to 15

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Trevone Boykin #2 of the TCU Horned Frogs looks for an open receiver against the Texas Longhorns in the second quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season?  Watch lists are being whittled.

The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior.  The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.

The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).

The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten.  The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).

Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.

Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah