Nelson gives BYU last-minute TD to lift Cougars to Armed Forces Bowl win

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This year’s Armed Forces Bowl may not have featured as many points possible with high-scoring Tulsa taking on BYU, but it still came down to the final minute. And, in the end, it was BYU who came out on top of a 24-21 game that never featured a lead by any team larger than one touchdown.

Two of BYU’s three scores came within the final seconds of each half, but one really put the Cougars back in the game. BYU couldn’t muster much of anything offensively and had just three points on the scoreboard when they punted to Tulsa with just under a minute left in the second quarter, but a muffed punt gave BYU great field position for quarterback Riley Nelson.

One play later, Nelson threw a 17-yard touchdown to Cody Hoffman, who made a diving second effort to cross the goal line after grabbing the ball in the middle of the field from a Nelson scramble. That was the turning point for the junior QB, who had by that point had done nothing but throw two bad interceptions. A 14-10 halftime deficit soon disappeared when BYU took a 17-14 lead in the third quarter, and the Cougars needed more last-minute heroics from Nelson and Hoffman to beat the Golden Hurricane.

In all, the QB-WR connected eight times for 122 yards and three touchdowns.

Nelson started out shaky, but really finished strong for BYU, giving him and the team (10-3) lots of momentum heading into the offseason. No five-star Jake Heaps? No problem.  Nelson had originally taken a backseat to the younger Heaps, who has since transferred to Kansas, but has been the consistent starter for the Cougars this year after the sophomore Heaps was benched during the Utah State game.

Coincidentally enough, Nelson scored the game winning touchdowns against USU and Tulsa with the same amount of time left in the game: 11 seconds.

Heaps would see playing time toward the end of the season when Nelson sustained two fractured ribs against Idaho, but coach Bronco Mendenhall made it clear Nelson was the starter upon his return; after today, there shouldn’t be any issues about who will be starting for BYU in 2012, either.

Oklahoma State’s Jordan Brailford undergoes shoulder surgery, may be back before opener

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The injury-plagued career of Jordan Brailford (pictured, right) in Stillwater is apparently showing no signs of slowing down.

While the football program has yet to confirm it, Oklahoma State’s student newspaper, the Daily O’Collegian, has reported that Brailford has undergone a surgical procedure to repair unspecified damage in his shoulder. The Oklahoman subsequently confirmed the initial report.

It’s expected that the surgery will sideline the redshirt junior defensive lineman for up to four months, which would put him back in time to participate in the latter portions of summer camp. The Oklahoman notes that, via a team source, “Brailford’s availability for the opener depends on how quickly he heals and strengthens the shoulder.”

OU opens the 2017 season against Tulsa Sept. 2, although that game could be moved to Aug. 31.

A three-star 2014 signee, Brailford took a redshirt his true freshman season after suffering a fractured tibia. After playing in 10 games the following season, he missed all of 2016 because of a stress fracture in his foot.

He’s already received a medical hardship waiver for one of those seasons.

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts uses photo of Clemson celebrating title win as motivational phone background

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Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.

Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.

The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.

“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …

“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

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The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.