Gamecocks stun Wolverines on late TD to claim Outback Bowl

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For a fleeting moment Tuesday afternoon, it appeared the Big Ten was about to shake the postseason SEC monkey off its back.  Northwestern had already easily handled a disappointing Mississippi State squad, while both Nebraska and Michigan held leads, albeit tenuous ones, on their SEC opposition.

In the end, though, we’re right back to where New Year’s Day began: the SEC owning the B1G.

As noted earlier, Georgia pulled away from the Cornhuskers in the second of the three B1G-SEC matchups.  In the third, it was No. 11 South Carolina pulling some late-game magic out of the Ol’ Ball Coach’s visor to add another B1G notch to the SEC’s headboard.

After Michigan had taken a 28-27 lead with 3:29 left in the game, a 70-yard Gamecocks drive was capped by a 32-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Thompson (backup quarterback) to Bruce Ellington (basketball point guard) with 11 ticks left, handing USC a stunning 33-28 Outback Bowl win over the Wolverines.  The Gamecocks have now won 23 games the past two seasons, with the 12 wins last season and 11 in 2012 marking the two winningest seasons in the school’s history.

Ace Sanders was the offensive star of the game for the Gamecocks, catching two touchdown passes as well as returning a punt 63 yards for another score.  It was Jadeveon Clowney, though, who stole the show.

The freakish sophomore defensive end was the talk of Twitter, largely due in part to one play that personified his freakish ability.  On that play, which came immediately after one of the most blatant missed calls of this or any other bowl season, Clowney simultaneously relieved Michigan’s Vincent Smith of both his helmet and the ball in one of the more jaw-dropping sequences you’ll ever witness:

 

That right there is exactly why Clowney will be a preseason favorite for the 2013 Heisman Trophy and the odds-on favorite to be the first player selected in the 2014 NFL draft.

As for Michigan, it’s the fourth time the past five seasons the Wolverines have finished with at least five losses.  This five-loss season, though, was different from other years as the five losses came to teams with a combined record of 57-7, including losses to the only two FBS schools that finished the regular season undefeated (Notre Dame, Ohio State).

There was one bright spot on the day as Denard Robinson broke Pat White‘s FBS record for most rushing yards by a quarterback with 4,505.  The former West Virginia Mountaineers finished his WVU career with 4,493 yards.

The SEC is now 3-2 this bowl season, while the Big Ten dropped to 2-4.  The SEC is now 11-5 against the Big Ten in bowl games the past six years, including a 7-2 mark the past three postseasons.

Indiana freshman DB Bryant Fitzgerald ruled a non-qualifier after compliance error

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A key member of Indiana’s recruiting class won’t be able to play for the Hoosiers this season as a result of a serious compliance gaff at the school.

Freshman defensive back Bryant Fitzgerald was ruled by the NCAA to be a non-qualifier according to a statement released by the program and, as a result, will now be unable to play or practice for the team. A waiver was requested but both it and the appeal were denied.

At the heart of the matter seems to be the IU compliance office incorrectly advising Fitzgerald what classes to take in order to be eligible right away at the school in the eyes of the NCAA. As the above statement and a later one from athletic director Fred Glass make clear, this was a mistake on the school’s part that will cost the defensive back a full season and not about anything he did or didn’t do.

Fitzgerald was a three-star recruit coming out of high school in nearby Avon, Ind. but was expected to make a serious run at playing time given past comments by head coach Tom Allen. It certainly seems like a bummer all around for player, school and coach but the situation is what it is at this point.

Lane Kiffin lands yet another talented transfer in WVU wideout Jovon Durante

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We can joke about Lane Kiffin turning FAU into the real ‘Last Chance U’ in 2017 but… it’s kind of happening for real.

In addition to adding several alums from the Netflix show, the Owls have been stocking the roster left and right with FBS transfers this offseason and added yet another just before the season starts in West Virginia wide receiver Jovan Durante.

Durante has started 17 games in his first two seasons in Morgantown, racking up 331 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore in 2016. He was expected to assume a starting role once again this year but didn’t report to the Mountaineers preseason camp for what WVU coach Dana Holgorsen described as personal issues.

The South Florida native will have to sit out the 2017 season but will have two seasons of eligibility for the Owls after he redshirts this year.

BYU linebacker looking to transfer to Utah after being forced to redshirt

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When BYU announced this week that linebacker Francis Bernard was going to redshirt this season, only a few people seemed to think anything was really amiss. That does not seem to be the case anymore just a week before the Cougars start their season.

The Salt Lake Tribune talked with Bernard’s brother, James, about the matter and it appears the family is not too happy over the situation and is now looking to transfer. While that wouldn’t normally be much to write home about, the fact that the younger Bernard wants to move up the road to Holy War rival Utah is bound to raise some eyebrows.

“Just to be clear: My brother wants to transfer, regardless,” James Bernard told the paper. “We talk almost every day. He just doesn’t want to stay there any more.”

He went on to say that the reason that first prompted the redshirt announcement was not related to academics or playing time but a potential Honor Code issue with the school. What exactly that violation was however, is not exactly being made clear by the program to the family.

Bernard was suspended from the team’s bowl game last year for an unspecified violation of team rules but was given every indication that he would be back in the good graces of the team prior to preseason camp. That is obviously not the question and it appears a brewing transfer battle to move from Provo to Salt Lake City will soon be taking place between two bitter rivals over the junior linebacker.

Ohio State starting RB still dealing with hamstring injury but expects to play in opener

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Ohio State’s newish looking offense is expected to lean on the ground game early in 2017 but a key cog in that machinery might not be 100 percent healthy heading into the Buckeyes’ opener against Indiana.

Starting tailback Mike Weber has dealt with a lingering hamstring injury he suffered over the summer and hasn’t participated at all in the team’s preseason camp. Despite that bit of concerning news, it seems both the running back and the coaching staff is expecting him to be good to go in less than two weeks when the team kicks off the 2017 campaign.

“I’m getting close,” Weber said Friday, according to Cleveland.com. “They’ve been holding me back all camp to make sure I don’t have problems with it during the season. … I talk to the trainer a lot and it’s looking pretty good. I’m not at full speed yet, but I’m going to get there and I should be ready for the first game.”

Weber rushed for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns last year as a redshirt freshman and will see an increased load carrying the ball with Curtis Samuel off to the NFL. True freshman J.K. Dobbins has apparently slid into the backup role but running backs coach Tony Alford told reporters that the starting job is Weber’s when it comes time to go against the Hoosiers.

We’ll see if that eventually holds up given how finicky hamstring injuries are for tailbacks but at least the prognosis is good enough that Buckeyes fans can breathe a little easier as camp winds down in Columbus.