Tavon Austin, Gage Shaeffer

Alston, Austin snap WVU’s losing streak; Mountaineers going bowling

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It took a little longer — okay, a lot longer — than West Virginia was hoping, but the Mountaineers are in fact going to a bowl game this season. It wasn’t pretty, though.

WVU was one of the hot teams in college football for the month of September. The Mountaineers were ranked fifth in the country and Geno Smith was the runaway leader in the Heisman discussion. Then the Mountaineers got blown out by Texas Tech, starting a five-game losing streak.

Part of the problem for West Virginia during that time was the defense. Giving up 42 points per game heading into Friday’s match against Iowa State was costing WVU when the offense wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders. That problem was thanks in part to the absence of running back Shawne Alston, who has been hampered with a thigh bruise. But against the Cyclones today, Alston rumbled for 130 yards and a touchdown while still visibly limited with his injury.

Mountaineers receiver Tavon Austin, who rushed for over 300 yards in last week’s loss to Oklahoma, had 74 yards on the ground. Austin’s big play came on a 75-yard “pass” — a forward toss from Smith that was lethal against Clemson in last January’s Orange Bowl — to put the Mountaineers up 31-24. That would be the final score of the game.

(Austin also had a punt return for a touchdown. However, that was called back because of a hold, proving that while WVU is still struggling to stop opposing offenses, it has no problem stopping its most electric playmaker.) 

WVU is now 6-5 and finishes the season at home against Kansas. A win against the Jayhawks would likely put WVU in the Holliday Bowl against a Pac-12 opponent (Rich Rodriguez‘s Arizona Wildcats perhaps?).

North Carolina, Appalachian State announce 3-game series

CHAPEL HILL, NC - SEPTEMBER 19: General view of the game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Illinois Fighting Illini at Kenan Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Appalachian State hosted Miami last year and recently announced a 4-game series with East Carolina, but Monday’s announcement tops both of them combined…. probably.

The Mountaineers announced Monday a 3-game series with North Carolina, which calls for the Tar Heels’ first-ever visit to Boone among the set.

North Carolina will host Appalachian State on Sept. 21, 2019 and Sept. 9, 2023, with the Heels heading to the mountains for the sandwich game on Sept. 3, 2022. The 2022 visit marks the third ACC team to visit Appalachian State in a 7-year span, and just the second of the Big Four in-state schools to visit Boone; the Mountaineers host Wake Forest on Sept. 23 of this coming season to mark the first of such games.

“This series is the next addition in bringing Power 5 programs to Kidd Brewer Stadium,” App State AD Doug Gillin said in a statement. “With a record crowd for Miami last year, Wake Forest this season, and North Carolina in 2022 we are continuously looking for opportunities to bring great opponents to The Rock.  Our goal is to continue to bring Power 5 opponents, when available, and quality Group of 5 opponents to Boone, which benefits our students, student-athletes, university and community.  I truly enjoyed working with the UNC administration in constructing a series that is a win-win. Playing regional and in-state opponents makes a lot of sense for us.  We will see an increase in tickets sales both home and away, reduced travel costs and less missed class time for our students. Over the next eight seasons we will be playing the series with UNC, in addition to a four-game series with ECU, and home-and-home series with Wake Forest, Charlotte, and Marshall.”

Appalachian State has played the Big Four 29 times previously, all in their respective homes: 22 trips to Winston-Salem, six to Raleigh and one to Chapel Hill, a 56-6 Heels win in 1940.

Penn State football coaches one-up Mike Gundy’s wrestling singlet effort

Photo: James Franklin/Twitter
James Franklin/Twitter
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Over the weekend, there was a high-profile college wrestling match in Stillwater between traditional powers Oklahoma State and Penn State. In an effort to spread the word and encourage fans to pack the arena for the competition, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy shot a quick promo video wearing a wrestling singlet that was a massive viral hit.

The turnout for the matchup was as expected, but Penn State went home with the victory. That led James Franklin and his entire football coaching staff to one-up Gundy’s effort as they congratulated Penn State’s wrestling program. Franklin shared an image of the entire staff wearing Penn State wrestling uniforms during a meeting.

You have to love the offseason.

Should Penn State and Oklahoma State ever meet on the football field, let us just hope the wrestling coaches at both schools pull off a similar stunt in football pads and helmets.

Investors ask San Diego State to pay $100 million for Qualcomm Stadium renovation plan

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 05:  The Aztec Warrior mascot of the San Diego State Aztecs awaits the opening ceremonies prior to playing the Mountain West Championship game against the Air Force Falcons at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
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San Diego State is being asked by a group of investors to put up half the cost to renovate the Qualcomm Stadium site. The $100 million expense may sound pricey for the school, but the school would he handed the keys to the stadium after five years.

New stadium renderings for the proposed renovation plan for Qualcomm Stadium site were recently released in San Diego as the work to reshape the stadium and surrounding area moves forward after losing the NFL’s Chargers to Los Angeles. San Diego State still has two years remaining on its lease with Qualcomm Stadium and the university has made it clear it is working to hash out a long-term future for the football program. The most popular idea has been to partner in a plan to construct a 30,000-seat stadium that could also host Major League Soccer.

According to a report from CBS 8 in San Diego, the total cost of the proposed renovation that includes a stadium overhaul and development of shops, restaurants, bars and housing for San Diego State students, is $200 million. FS Investors is asking the university to put up $100 million to help with the upfront cost of the project, and after five years the firm would hand over the keys to the stadium. That would allow San Diego State to own the stadium and manage it and anything that occurs in it. While that does put a burden on the budget for San Diego State, what needs to be determined is if San Diego State can turn a profit running the stadium after retaining ownership of it.

Between MLS games and live entertainment that could be hosted in the stadium, it seems San Diego State may be able to keep the budget in the black, and if that is the case then this may turn out to be a good deal for the university, even if it takes a few years to recoup its $100 million investment.

Nearly three dozen teams show interest in Clemson grad transfer

CLEMSON, SC - OCTOBER 01: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals looks to pass under pressure from Scott Pagano #56 of the Clemson Tigers during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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It was expected there would be a significant market for a Clemson defensive lineman leaving the Tigers as a graduate transfer. Suffice to say, that is indeed the case.

This past week, Dabo Swinney‘s football program confirmed that Scott Pagano would be leaving the team and transferring elsewhere. The head coach also revealed that the tackle would “probably” end up at a West Coast school to finish out his career.

Teams in that part of the country are indeed interested in the one-year rental, as are myriad others as 247Sports.com is reporting that 32 made contact with the lineman in the hours after his impending pending departure was announced. Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, USC, Washington and Hawaii are among the teams out west who have expressed interest.

A handful of Power Five programs further east have expressed interest as well, including Arkansas, Baylor, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Purdue, Texas and Texas A&M. Group Five teams that have shown interest include Charlotte, East Carolina, FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, SMU, Temple and Utah State.

Coming out of high school in Hawaii as a four-star 2013 recruit, Pagano was rated as the No. 24 tackle in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state. Pagano started 13 games the past two seasons, four of which came in 2016.