SMU benches Padron in favor of McDermott

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After being benched in the midst of a subpar performance during SMU’s opening-game loss, Kyle Padron losing his starting quarterback job isn’t exactly a major shock.  Still, it’s somewhat startling to see it written there in black and white.

Despite a year and a half as June Jones‘ starter — and after putting up tremendous numbers in 2010 — Padron will watch from the sidelines this weekend, with Jones announcing Tuesday that senior J.J. McDermott will start against UTEP Saturday in their Conference USA opener.

Padron was pulled in favor of McDermott in the loss to Texas A&M Saturday after throwing two interceptions in his first four attempts — which equals a pass efficiency rating of minus-20.1, incidentally.  McDermott replaced Padron immediately after the second pick, with the junior never sniffing the field at all once he was yanked.

McDermott completed just under 62 percent of his passes for 254 yards and a touchdown — and no interceptions — in relief.  Obviously, McDermott showed enough during the game, as well as the week leading up to the game by splitting first-team reps with Padron, to allow Jones to bench a player who threw for over 3,800 yards and 31 touchdowns last season.

“J.J. was ready and he did a lot of good things in the game,” Jones said. “We didn’t protect him really well, and he still battled through it. …

“I told him if you’re a quarterback, it doesn’t matter if it’s in college or the National Football League, you better learn how to deal with adversity. He’s handling it positively.”

In announcing McDermott as his new starter, Jones did allow that Padron will likely play at some point during the conference opener.  When and how long remain two of the unknowns.

Jim Harbaugh advises President Trump to ‘check the Constitution’

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The latest controversy surrounding President Donald Trump has reached college football.  And, of course, it’s Jim Harbaugh doing the reacting.

At a campaign rally in Alabama earlier this past week, the POTUS let loose on those NFL players who have decided to use the National Anthem as a vehicle for protesting social injustice.  In essence, Trump called for those who participate in the demonstrations to be summarily dismissed.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!'” Trump was quoted as saying. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag, he’s fired.'”

Suffice to say, that hasn’t even remotely happened as condemnation of the fiery rhetoric has been far and wide from the NFL community and beyond.  It was also condemned by a former member of the NFL community as Harbaugh, whose former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, played a significant role in a story that’s enveloped professional football over the past year, had some choice words on this latest kerfuffle.

“No, I don’t agree with the president,” Harbaugh said following Michigan’s win over Purdue. “Listen, that’s ridiculous. Check the Constitution.”

Harbaugh, who was already at odds with Trump over the slashing of one particular program, also stated initially that he didn’t respect Kaepernick sitting out the anthem before apologizing for misspeaking shortly thereafter.  In the spring, Harbaugh referred to the still-unsigned quarterback as a hero.

Notre Dame has no trouble with mistake-prone Michigan State

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Notre Dame probably would’ve beaten Michigan State on Saturday night if the Spartans pitched a perfect game. But instead the Spartans hit three batters, tossed a handful of wild pitches, aiding the Irish in a 38-18 blowout in Spartan Stadium.

The 20-point margin represents Notre Dame’s largest victory over Michigan State since a 36-14 whipping on Sept. 18, 1993 and the largest win by either team since a 45-23 Spartans win on Sept. 12, 1998. The Irish have now won four of the last five in a series that dates back to 1897.

The Irish (3-1) opened the game with a 7-play, 78-yard touchdown drive punctuated by a 16-yard Brandon Wimbush run, then immediately capitalized on a Michigan State (2-1) mistake as Julian Love returned a Brian Lewerke interception 59 yards for a touchdown.

Michigan State rebounded with its best drive of the night, knifing 75 yards in seven snaps for a touchdown. But another Lewerke turnover, this time a fumble in his own territory, set up Notre Dame with a short field, which Wimbush turned into an 8-yard touchdown pass to Dexter Williams. The Spartans threatened to pull within 21-14 until their third and costliest turnover of the first half, an L.J. Scott fumble at the goal line that took six points off the board and handed Notre Dame the ball at the 20-yard line. Notre Dame needed only five plays to push its lead to 28-7, where it would remain until halftime.

In addition to the three turnovers, Michigan State also committed nine penalties, dropped a handful of passes and lost a possession to a turnover on downs.

Michigan State opened the second half with a Matt Coghlin field goal, but Notre Dame answered that field goal and then some with a 9-yard Deon McIntosh touchdown run. Justin Yoon pushed the lead to 28 with a 46-yard field goal with 4:51 to play.

Michigan State completed the scoring with a cosmetic touchdown — a 25-yard toss from Lewerke to Gerald Holmes — and 2-point conversion with 3:09 remaining.

Wimbush was the star for Notre Dame, hitting 14-of-20 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown with eight carries for 52 yards and a touchdown. Lewerke carried the load for Michigan State, connecting on 31-of-51 passes for 340 yards — many of them junk — with a touchdown and an interception with nine carries for 56 yards and a fumble.

Michigan State will remain in East Lansing next week to host hard luck loser Iowa, while Notre Dame returns home to face Miami (Ohio).

Disaster averted as walk-off TD pushes No. 4 Penn State past Iowa

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Entering Week 4, the last three teams ranked in the Top Five entering Kinnick Stadium had exited with a loss.  In dramatic fashion, No. 4 Penn State flipped that script.

Trailing 15-13, Iowa scored on a 35-yard touchdown run by Akrum Wadley that put Iowa up, after a failed two-point conversion, 19-15 with 1:42 left in the game.  Penn State then proceeded to go 65 yards in 12 plays and 1:42 of game time, with Trace McSorley connecting with Juwan Johnson on a seven-yard touchdown pass with zero ticks left on the clock to secure a wild 21-19 win.

That fourth quarter also featured Penn State blocking a field goal… only to see Iowa return the favor 10 minutes later to set up what would’ve been the game-winning touchdown by Wadley.

If you simply looked at the box score, however, you would’ve thought this was a blowout that swung heavily toward the visitor.

The Nittany Lions outgained the Hawkeyes 579-273.  In fact, Penn State had more yards rushing (295) than Iowa had total offense. First downs?  PSU 29, Iowa 11.  The Nittany Lions held the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game for good measure.

In the end, however, it was Penn State that came out on top on both the scoreboard as well as the stat sheet as the Nittany Lions kept their perfect season afloat as, after games against Indiana and Northwestern the next two weeks, they get set for season-defining games against No. 8 Michigan (Oct. 21) and No. 10 Ohio State (Oct. 28).  And Saquon Barkley, who set a single-game school record for all-purpose yards — 211 rushing, 94 receiving, 53 returns — will get to continue to state his case as the best football player in the country and one of a handful of Heisman Trophy front-runners.

No. 7 Washington holds slim three point halftime lead at rainy Colorado

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Colorado was anxious to extract some revenge against No. 7 Washington for their blowout loss to the Huskies in last season’s Pac-12 Championship Game and certainly went toe-to-toe against them in rainy conditions Saturday night in Boulder.

It wasn’t enough to take the lead into the locker room at halftime for the Buffs but they certainly looked like they wouldn’t be going anywhere as Washington held on to a 10-7 advantage at the break.

Jake Browning threw for just 89 yards and tossed an interception as he was forced to move around quite a bit while also dealing with the nasty weather that swirled things up on the flat irons. Counterpart Steven Montez also threw two interceptions but posted a more respectable 129 yards on 15/19 passing, most of which were short and intermediate throws.

The flip side to the signal-callers struggling at times was that the ground game was the focal point for the offenses. Myles Gaskin carried the load for the Huskies with his backup out with an injury and scored a touchdown to go along with 64 yards. Buffs’ tailback Phillip Lindsay has a tough time going against that big front seven UW trots out but still managed 46 yards and a score.

While it certainly wasn’t the sharpest half of football in Pac-12 play this season, the two teams gave every indication things would be very interesting in the second half and not the blowout we saw the last time they met down in Santa Clara.