Late comeback lifts Texas Tech over Minnesota

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Six years ago, Texas Tech needed what was the biggest comeback in bowl history to beat Minnesota in the Insight Bowl 44-41 in overtime. The Red Raiders’ rally over Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas Friday night wasn’t quite as large, but nevertheless dramatic.

The Gophers led the Red Raiders 31-24 with just over one minute remaining in the game when TTU wide receiver Eric Ward caught a 35-yard pass from quarterback Seth Doege as part of a seven-play, 82-yard drive. Minnesota ran just three plays on its next possession before D.J. Johnson intercepted Philip Nelson and returned the turnover 41 yards to the Gopher 22-yard line. Two plays later, kicker Ryan Bustin made a 28-yard field goal as time expired.

Minnesota had a superb ground game with 222 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. Nelson wasn’t particularly efficient for the Gophers with just seven completions on 18 attempts for 138 yards, but he had a couple of scoring passes as well. The late interception, as one can imagine, was costly.

It was also an especially chippy game. Texas Tech alone had 13 penalties for 135 yard and there were 20 penalties for 220 yards between the two teams. Of those 20 penalties, nine were personal fouls with the two sides going at each other more than a couple of times after the whistles blew.

The 34-31 win was Texas Tech’s third straight bowl victory while Minnesota is still looking for its first bowl victory since the 2004 Music Bowl over Alabama. Still, Jerry Kill is doing a tremendous job in Minneapolis and this program is showing improvement under his watch. This heartbreaking loss is going to be tough to carry through the offseason, but there’s no doubt Kill has UM headed in the right direction.

On the other side, Texas Tech is looking forward to the beginning of the Kliff Kingsbury era in Lubbock. Kingsbury replaces Tommy Tuberville, who surprisingly left for Cincinnati earlier this month.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.