Sun Bowl Football

USC, the preseason No. 1 team, falls to 7-6 after Sun Bowl loss

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There are few teams that have fallen farther from grace this season than West Virginia. USC managed to do it, though.

The preseason No. 1 team has been the biggest disappointment in college football this year. The depth issues facing the Trojans were becoming impossible to ignore in the preseason, but it was hard to predict USC losing five out of its final six games, including today’s Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech.

Max Wittek, replacing the injured Matt Barkley, went just 14-of-37 for 107 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions as the Trojans fell to the Yellow Jackets 21-7. Aided by blustery conditions, Wittek overthrew receivers all day and had a hard time connecting with Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. But the redshirt freshman also generally had one mode for throwing the ball all afternoon: as hard as he could.

Wittek is young and will learn from the experience, but his performance was an impression of how Lane Kiffin once again was unable to make successful second half adjustments — if there were adjustments at all. For the third time this season, the Trojans failed to score in the second half of a game.

Kiffin calls the offensive plays, yet USC had just 205 total yards and had just seven first downs the whole game without the help of penalties. For perspective, that’s 182 yards less than what Georgia Tech, which fired defensive coordinator Al Groh midseason, allowed on average per game all year, and only 1-AA Presbyterian scored fewer points against the Yellow Jackets in 2012.

And it’s Monte Kiffin, USC’s defensive coordinator, who is retiring.

Of course, you can blame the game conditions or the inexperience of Wittek, but USC showed from the first down of play that it had no interest being in the Sun Bowl. Not that it was some gigantic secret.

So now USC becomes the first preseason No. 1 team since 1950 to lose six games in a season. It’s final loss came against a team that needed a bowl waiver just to get to the postseason.

It was going to be interesting to see how Wittek played since it appears he’s the future for USC at the quarterback spot, but the Sun Bowl turned into a disaster where little, if any, positives could be taken away for the Trojans.

Kiffin’s going to need a banner season in 2013 now more than ever. If he doesn’t, it will likely be his last in Los Angeles.

Report: Season-opening starting QB Blake Barnett transferring from Alabama

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 3: Blake Barnett #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws against the USC Trojans in the first quarter during the AdvoCare Classic at AT&T Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Not surprisingly, the rise of Jalen Hurts has led to some turnover in Alabama’s quarterback room.

Citing unnamed sources, al.com is reporting that Blake Barnett has left the Tide football program and is expected to transfer.  Thus far, the school has declined to address Barnett’s status with the team moving forward.

Barnett started the season opener against USC but lasted all of two series before being replaced by the true freshman Hurts.  In his three starts since, all wins for the top-ranked Tide, Hurts has completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 609 yards and three touchdowns.  Most importantly, he hasn’t throw an interception, although he did toss one in relief of Barnett.

A five-star 2015 recruit, Barnett was rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 21 player overall on 247sports.com’s composite board.  The 6-5, 200-pounder took a redshirt as a true freshman.

Hurts also adds an extra dimension in the running game as he’s second on the team with 251 yards rushing and tied for the lead with three rushing touchdowns.

Should Barnett move on to another FBS program, he’d likely have to sit out the 2017 season.  He’d then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.

With Barnett presumably gone, the Tide would likely turn to Cooper Bateman, who served as Jake Coker‘s primary backup last season and started one game, as Hurts’ primary backup.

Purdue’s Martesse Patterson facing felony battery charge

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: Purdue Boilermakers mascot Purdue Pete is seen during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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A rather serious-sounding situation is the latest to trigger a resetting of the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.

According to the Lafayette Journal & Courier, Martesse Patterson was arrested Wednesday and charged with one count of battery resulting in serious bodily injury.  That charge is a felony.

Even more noteworthy is the fact that the charge stems from an altercation with a former teammate, ex-Boilermaker walk-on Alex Hilger.  From the Journal & Courier:

Hilger alleged that on Sept. 7, Patterson entered Hilger’s room at their residence in the 800 block of Hayes Street in West Lafayette “to borrow some property.” Hilger told Patterson he was not allowed to borrow the property, but Patterson took it anyway and returned to his room.

According to the affidavit, when Hilger approached Patterson to retrieve his possession, Patterson punched him in the face. Hilger sought treatment at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after sustaining a broken jaw requiring a two-day hospital stay. The affidavit cites medical records showing Hilger suffered a “displaced fracture of the left mandible and a non-displaced fracture of the right mandible.

Hilger, who played in 12 games last season but is not a member of the team this year, obtained a no-contact order against Patterson, who admitted to police that he both took the property and punched Hilger.

Darrell Hazell is aware of the situation, with a statement saying that the head coach “respects that there is a legal process that he will allow to evolve before further commenting.”

Patterson started the first two games of the season before being demoted for what Hazell described as a “personal matter.” The demotion came shortly after the incident that led to the charge.

Report: Arizona lineman Zach Hemmila’s death caused by toxic mix of prescription drugs

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 03:  Arizona Wildcats helmets display the #65 to honor offensive lineman Zach Hemmila who passed away in the off-season before the college football game against the Brigham Young Cougars at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Nearly two months after his tragic passing, a cause of death for Zach Hemmila has been confirmed.

Based on the autopsy report filed by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, the Arizona Republic is reporting that the 22-year-old Hemmila’s death was the result of the combined toxic effects of two different prescription drugs. The two drugs, the Republic noted, were oxymorphone, an opiate painkiller, and alprazolam, an anxiety medication.

From the newspaper’s report:

Chewing tobacco was found in Hemmila’s mouth, according to the autopsy report. No intact pills were discovered in his gastrointestinal system. His lungs were “markedly congested,” per the report.

Hemmila passed away either very late on the night of Aug. 7 or early in the morning Aug. 8. A cousin discovered Hemmila’s body at the Arizona offensive lineman’s residence.

His death has officially been ruled an accident.

“Arizona Athletics continues to mourn the passing of Zach Hemmila,” a statement from the university said in response to the report. “We will honor the family’s request for privacy and support them in any way we can.”

Hemmila started six games last season. He was slated to start at center for the Wildcats this season.

The Wildcats will continue to wear a sticker the No. 65 to honor Hemmila for the remainder of the season.

LSU reinstates suspended starting D-lineman, but Leonard Fournette a game-day decision vs. Mizzou

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 03:  Chikwe Obasih #34 of the Wisconsin Badgers tackles Leonard Fournette #7 of the LSU Tigers during the second half at Lambeau Field on September 3, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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LSU received some good news and not so good news ahead of its first game without Les Miles on the sidelines in more than a decade.

On the latter news front, star running back Leonard Fournette is listed as a game-day decision for Saturday’s contest against Missouri because of a lingering ankle issue.  The All-American initially injured the ankle during a mid-August summer camp practice; then aggravated it against Wisconsin in the opener; sat out the Week 2 game against an FCS foe; and then aggravated it again in Week 4 against Auburn.

After leading the country in yards per game last season with nearly 163 yards per game, Fournette is currently 10th at 128.7. That total still tops the SEC.

On a more positive tip for the Tigers, interim head coach Ed Orgeron confirmed that starting defensive lineman Davon Godchaux has been reinstated to the program and will be permitted to practice with his teammates.  Whether he plays this Saturday remains to be seen.  Godchaux had been arrested on a pair of charges stemming from a domestic incident over the weekend, but the prosecutor in the case announced Tuesday that he would not be filing formal charges.

Godchaux has started all four games this season (26 in his career) and is fifth on the team in tackles.