Todd Grantham

NFL teams eyeing pair of SEC East defensive coordinators


If the NFL has its way, Chip Kelly won’t be the last high-profile departure from the collegiate ranks.  And, not so surprisingly, Kelly may have a hand in at least one of the future departures.

Multiple media outlets are reporting that Kelly, who officially left Oregon Wednesday for the Philadelphia Eagles, is interested in Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham for the same position with the NFL club.  In fact, a report from Wednesday evening hints that Grantham is the front-runner for the job.

It seems as if the reported interest on the part of the Eagles would be reciprocated as the Macon Telegraph‘s Seth Emerson writes that “[t]he thinking around the program, according to a source, is that Grantham would likely take the Eagles job if he were offered.”

Per the terms of Grantham’s contract, which runs through the end of the 2014 season, the coordinator must notify the athletic director of any potential employment opportunity; Greg McGarity told the Telegraph Thursday morning that Grantham has not notified him of such a development.

The Bulldogs, though, aren’t the only SEC East team that could be raided by the professional ranks.  According to ESPN‘s Adam Schefter, there is a “strong possibility” that Florida coordinator Dan Quinn will move to the Seattle Seahawks for the same job.  The Seahawks’ coordinator, Gus Bradley, was officially named as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Schefter also mentions the Eagles and Cleveland Browns as possibilities for Quinn, who has spent the past two seasons orchestrating the Gators’ defense.  He had previously served as a defensive line coach with the same NFL club.

Alabama takes halftime lead over Auburn in Iron Bowl

Keith Holcombe, Marcus Davis, Rashaan Evans
Associated Press
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No. 2 Alabama holds a 12-6 lead over Auburn at halftime of the Iron Bowl.

Alabama’s offense has been typical of the 2015 season — Derrick Henry and not much else. Henry rushed 16 times for 102 yards, while Jake Coker hit 9-of-15 passes for 106 yards.

Adam Griffith kicked field goals of 26, 40, 26 and 50 yards for the Tide, while Auburn’s Daniel Carlson countered with makes of 24 and 44 yards. Carlson also missed from 48 yards toward the end of the half, ending a streak of 15 consecutive makes.

Jovon Robinson led Auburn with 12 carries for 53 yards, while Jeremy Johnson hit 3-of-7 passes for 56 yards with three rushes for 14 yards.

Alabama held a slight 109-104 edge over Auburn in ground yards, and neither team committed a turnover.

Alabama will receive the ball to open the second half.

Michigan State one half away from Indy

Connor Cook
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Needing a win to clinch the Big Ten East Division and face Iowa with a likely spot in the College Football Playoff on the line next week in Indianapolis, Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook is giving all he can to give the Spartans a chance to celebrate a division title in East Lansing today against Penn State. So far, so good enough. Michigan State leads the Nittany Lions 20-10 at halftime.

Penn State has managed to move the ball on the Spartans and even have more offensive yards than Michigan State, but Penn State also has two turnovers that have led to 14 points for the men in green, including one defensive touchdown. Penn State did, however, manage to put together a late half touchdown drive, capped with a touchdown reception by Chris Godwin. Michigan State’s Cook has attempted just 15 pass attempts so far, and he has completed 10 of them for 110 yards and a touchdown.

Any time Penn State has presented any sense of a threat against the Spartans, disaster seems to strike. Penn State opted to kick a field goal from the Michigan State one-yard line in the second quarter. The game’s opening drive ended with Christian Hackenberg throwing deep into the end zone from the 31-yard line, only to be intercepted by Arjen Colquhoun. Late in the first quarter, Penn State once again had a promising drive working, thanks in large part to freshman running back Saquon Barkley saving Penn State on a 22-yard run on 3rd and 23 followed by a short gain on fourth down around midfield. The drive again imploded when Hackenberg completed a pass to tight end Kyle Carter, but Carter lost the football immediately and Demetrious Cox picked up the loose ball and found blockers to allow him to return the fumble 77 yards for a touchdown and a 20-3 lead.

It might as well be game, set and match for Michigan State the way this one is going, which surely is a bit deflating for Ohio State fans. After roughing up Michigan in Ann Arbor, Ohio State needs Penn State to win this game in order to represent the Big Ten East in Indianapolis as the Big Ten East champion. A Michigan State win clinches the division for the Spartans.

Adoree’ Jackson punt return gives USC halftime edge on UCLA

Eric Kendricks, Javorius Allen, Cody Kessler
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Never kick to USC playmaker Adoree’ Jackson. That si the lesson UCLA learned the hard way late in the first half in The Los Angeles Coliseum this afternoon. A 42-yard punt return by Jackson gave USC a 20-14 lead late in the first half and gives the Trojans the edge at the midway point of what amounts to the Pac-12 South Division Championship Game. The winner of this game moves on to next week to face Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

USC was the first to put points on the scoreboard in the Coliseum when a lengthy drive stalled inside the red zone, forcing the Trojans to send Alex Woods out for a 30-yard field goal. It would take two more offensive possessions by UCLA to put their own points on the board. Paul Perkins ripped off a 19-yard touchdown run on a fourth and one play from the USC 19-yard line, giving UCLA the 7-3 lead.

USC put together a 10-play, 85-yard touchdown drive a couple of possessions later, with quarterback Cody Kessler punching one in from the goal line. UCLA’s Thomas Duarte hauled in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Josh Rosen in the second quarter to regain the lead, 14-10. That lead evaporated with USC’s special teams chipping in with a field goal and Jackson’s punt return.

S. Miss rolls over LaTech, sets up C-USA title tilt with WKU

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 13:  Head coach Todd Monken of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles yells to his team during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Western Kentucky earned one of the spots in the Conference USA championship game on Black Friday.  A day later, they learned who will be their competition on the other sidelines next weekend.

Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech came into their game Saturday tied atop the West division standings at 6-1, effectively turning the contest into a play-in game.  Thanks to a huge day from quarterback Nick Mullens, the Golden Eagles jumped out to a 24-10 halftime and really poured it on in the fourth quarter in rolling to a 58-24 win over the Bulldogs.

Mullens passed for 386 yards and three touchdowns in the win.  It was Ito Smith, though, who put the final nails in the Bulldogs’ coffin as the USM back ran for three fourth-quarter touchdowns to turn the game into a rout.

With the win, Southern Miss will move on to face Western Kentucky in the conference championship game next Saturday afternoon in Bowling Green.  The Hilltoppers finished a perfect 8-0 in conference play to the Golden Eagles’ 7-1, giving WKU the home-field advantage.

Southern Miss will be playing in its first Conference USA title game and third overall.  WKU is in just its second season in Conference USA, and will be playing for its first conference title.

The division title also continues the quietly astounding turnaround head coach Todd Monken has fashioned in Hattiesburg.  In Monken’s first year, coming off a winless 2012 season, the Eagles went 1-11 and followed it up with a 3-9 2014 campaign.  With two games remaining in 2015, Monken has his team sitting at 9-3, easily the team’s best record since going 12-2 in Larry Fedora‘s last season in 2011.