Updated: Navy makes it 10 in a row over Army

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There were no Heisman candidates or major award winners. With a combined seven wins, neither team was within a sniff of a bowl.  Yet, none of that mattered on a crisp and clear Saturday afternoon less than 10 miles from the nation’s capital at Fed Ex Field. It was, after all, the 112th playing of Army and Navy.

An event that oozes with pride and patriotism had a heightened level of both thanks to a visit from President Barack Obama, who took in the opening half on the Navy side before crossing the field at halftime to be with the West Point brass.  Well after the late-autumn sun had disappeared and the first game played between the Academies within the Capital Beltway was entered as another chapter in the storied series history, the Midshipmen and their faithful celebrated yet another victory. The 27-21 win was Navy’s 10th consecutive over Army.

This victory, in front of 80,789, was unlike any of the previous nine in which Navy was victorious by a combined 322-91 and winning five by at least 28 points. This game would not be a rout as the teams went back and forth with Navy letting a pair of leads slip away, including a 14-0 second-quarter advantage.  The Middies took the lead for good, though, on Jon Teague’s 23-yard field goal that made the score 24-21 with 12:03 remaining the fourth quarter. The kick capped an 18-play, 75-yard drive that chewed up 9:12.

After Army’s Scott Williams fumbled away the ensuing kickoff when he was leveled by Navy’s Noah Copeland, the Midshipmen were knocking on the door again with Black Knights’ 27 the starting point. Though Navy could not muster a single yard on three plays, Teague drilled a 44-yard field goal with 10:26 to play for the final margin.

For the senior kicker, it was a wonderful way to conclude what had been a difficult season. Teague had an extra point blocked against Air Force in a 35-34 overtime defeat on Oct. 1 and things continued to go down hill after that. He made only 8-of-13 field goals coming in and had a couple of disheartening misses. Teague had a potential game-winner blocked late in the fourth quarter against Rutgers on Oct. 15 and he hit the right upright on the game’s final play versus East Carolina the following week. He kept battling and better times were ahead.

“Beating Army is something that I have always dreamed,” said Teague. “I know it sounds cliché, but it’s the best feeling in the world. I was definitely hugging the right upright today, but they went through.”

They did indeed and they put to an end to criticism directed at Teague that lit up many a message board during that rough month of October. Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo choked up at the postgame press conference when he started to talk about his kicker.

“It’s just a game and some of the things that were said about the kid were like he committed a crime,“ said Niumatalolo of how people responded to Teague’s misses. “It could not have ended up better for someone like Jon, who had to persevere through all of the criticism.”

Army, which fumbled the ball away three times, would not have an answer to Teague’s field goals. The Black Knights would drive to the Navy 24 with six minutes remaining, but that’s when junior linebacker Matt Warrick took over. On 2nd-and-6, he picked a great time to record his first-career sack, dropping Trent Steelman for a five-yard loss. Two plays later with the Black Knights having to go for it on 4th-and-7, Warrick tackled Steelman for a one-yard loss and giving the ball to the Middies with less than four minutes remaining.

On that ensuing possession, facing a fourth down and less than a yard at their own 48, Navy’s Gee Gee Greene faked going into motion. That drew Army offside and, from there, the Middies were able to largely melt the clock as they left Army with one desperate play from its own 10.

“It was a battle and both teams fought hard to the end,” said Niumatalolo, now 4-0 versus Army. “It’s unfortunate one team had to lose. Both teams had a hard time stopping each other.”

With the win, Navy improves its all-time series lead to 56-49-7.

“We didn’t do the things that correlate with success on the scoreboard,” said Army coach Rich Ellerson, who endured his third loss in the series. “We didn’t win the turnover battle. We got crushed in the kicking game and those are always going to be strategic determinations of who wins and loses.”

For Navy supporters, the scoreboard indicated they will have bragging rights for another year – a year that will once again be painful at West Point.

Georgia loses second player to transfer in as many days

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On the same day they picked up a significant graduate transfer, Georgia has seen another player leave Kirby Smart‘s football program.

As all of the cool transfers are doing these days, Jaleel Laguins took to his personal Twitter account to confirm that, “[a]fter careful consideration with coaches and family, I’d like to announce that I will be transferring from The University of Georgia.” “Athens will always be a special place for me, but now it’s time to start a new journey,” the linebacker added.

A four-star member of the Bulldogs’ 2016 recruiting class, Laguins was rated as the No. 10 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 21 player at any position in the state of Georgia. He was the top-rated linebacker in UGA’s class that year, and only three signees on the defensive side of the ball — defensive tackles Julian Rochester and Michail Carter, and defensive end Chauncey Manac — were rated higher.

As a true freshman, Laguins played in six games. He took a redshirt for this past season, and would have to sit out the 2018 season if he moved on to another FBS program.

Laguins was the second Georgia player to transfer this week. Tuesday, Pat Allen, a four-star 2015 offensive lineman, announced on his private Twitter account that he too was moving on from the Bulldogs. Allen began the 2017 season as UGA’s starting left guard but lost it heading into Week 2 and never regained it.

UNC and Minnesota line up future home-and-home deal

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While one football series between an ACC and Big Ten team may be hard to come by, North Carolina and Minnesota have put together a future home-and-home scheduling agreement to look forward to. The Tar Heels and Gophers will meet for the first time on the football field in 2023 and follow up with a second game in 2024, the schools announced on Wednesday.

North Carolina will host Minnesota on Sept. 16, 2023. The two schools will then open the 2024 season at Minnesota, either on August 31, 2024 or for a Thursday opener on August 29, 2024.

The ACC and Big Ten each require their members to play one game against another power conference opponent each season. North Carolina already satisfied that requirement in 2024 with a season-opener against South Carolina scheduled to be played in Charlotte, NC, but the 2024 game fulfills the power conference scheduling requirement for the Tar Heels. The home-and-home series will also satisfy Minnesota’s obligation to the Big Ten scheduling policy for both seasons (Minnesota is getting an exemption for 2018 and 2019 due to previous scheduling arrangements being in place prior to the Big Ten’s stance on strength of schedule in non-conference play.

Pitt leaves renewal of football series in Penn State’s hands

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Ever since the in-state rivalry between Penn State and Pitt came to a temporary end in 2001, it has been a struggle to get the two schools back on the field for any stretch of time. With the third in a four-game series upcoming this fall, Pitt is hoping to find a way to continue playing the Nittany Lions on future schedules, but the offer is now apparently in Penn State’s hands awaiting a response.

Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke told reporters Wednesday she has proposed a four-year series beginning in 2026 to her Penn State counterpart, Sandy Barbour, but Penn State has not responded to the offer.

“We’re going to wait a tad more patiently, but not much,” Lyke said, according to Trib Live. “We can’t. We have people who want to play us and good opportunities to play what would be a very attractive game.”

The four-game series currently ongoing between the Panthers and Nittany Lions comes to a close after their meeting in the 2019 season in Happy Valley. According to FBSchedules.com, Penn State will not have another opening for a non-conference game until 2021. That is also the first season Pitt will have scheduling availability for non-conference matchups. Both schools already have power conference opponents lined up through 2025 as well, perhaps eliminating the desire to add another power conference opponent to the schedule.

Both Penn State and Pitt have scheduling requirements for non-conference play from the Big Ten and ACC, respectively, to include at least one game against another power conference opponent. It seems like a natural solution for Penn State and Pitt to agree to a long-term scheduling commitment to satisfy their respective conferences’ scheduling requirements, but the old issue has always come down to the financial incentive of a game. With Penn State playing in a larger stadium, it would be losing out on potential revenue that could be gained by an extra home game when possible. And playing road games at Pittsburgh only helps another program in the state by filling the seats more than any other home game on Pitt’s schedules in just about any season (Notre Dame and West Virginia would be other candidates to help Pitt fill Heinz Field).

It took so long just to get the two schools together for a two-year series, which was later expanded to a four-year arrangement. Don’t count on this in-state rivalry being renewed for quite some time after the 2019 season.

QB Blake Barnett reportedly transferring from Arizona State

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Quarterback Blake Barnett is now on the graduate transfer market. According to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, via Twitter, Barnett will find a new program to wrap up his college football career as a graduate transfer. South Florida is reportedly set to get an official visit from the former Sun Devils and Alabama quarterback.

Barnett started his football career at Alabama, where he sat out the 2015 season as a freshman. During his redshirt freshman in 2016, Barnett appeared in just three games as Jalen Hurts rose to become Alabama’s starting quarterback that would lead the Tide for the next two seasons (until halftime of last season’s national championship game). Barnett transferred to Arizona State, leaving behind a seemingly tumultuous relationship with Nick Saban, and played in just two games for the Sun Devils last fall, while Manny Wilkins established himself as the quarterback for former head coach Todd Graham.

A former four-star recruit out of high school, Barnett has played in just five games and completed 14 of 24 pass attempts for 259 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Barnett’s latest transfer news comes a day after former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen took a swipe at Barnett, who was ranked ahead of Rosen in various recruiting rankings out of high school.

“Blake Barnett was the Elite 11 MVP,” Rosen said, per SEC Country. “He was the dude that was going to go to ‘Bama, win a couple championships, call it quits and go to the league as the first overall pick. You don’t really hear about him too much.”

As a graduate transfer, Barnett will be eligible to play immediately this fall.