Well hello, college football. Oh how we’ve missed you. And, Saturday’s slate, you have one helluva act to follow.
Twice during Ole Miss’ Big 12-esque 39-35 win over Vanderbilt, the Rebels reached down and came back from 11-point deficits — and that was after Vandy fell down 10-0 in the first quarter.
With just under two minutes left in the fourth quarter of the back-and-forth affair, Ole Miss held a four-point lead before Jordan Matthews turned a fourth-and-18 into a 42-yard gain — one play after vomiting all over the Vanderbilt Stadium turf as Twitter concussion specialists cried foul — and Steven Scheu turned a busted coverage the next play into a 34-yard touchdown catch-and-run.
35-32 Commodores with just 1:30 remaining and, after the ensuing kickoff, the Rebels 75 yards from a game-winning touchdown. Following an incomplete pass on first down, the Vandy defense proceeded to pull its best Matthews, coughing up a 75-yard touchdown run (pictured) to Rebels running back Jeff Scott with just over a minute left.
As deflating as that turn of events was, Vandy still had the opportunity to shock Ole Miss late in back-to-back seasons. A facemask penalty on the kickoff return following Scott’s TD stunner handed the ‘Dores the ball just shy of midfield, at their own 49. On a third-and-four with 30 seconds or so left, a tipped Austyn Carta-Samuels pass was intercepted by the Rebels, sealing the Ole Miss win in the SEC opener for both schools.
The player who tipped the final, catchable pass? Jordan Matthews, which just makes ya sick to your stomach.
While there will be plenty of pundit bloviating over Matthews and whether he should’ve been in the game, there is one certainty coming out of Nashville very early Friday morning: that was college football at its finest between two very solid teams. And, it should be noted, a warning shot across the bow of the rest of the SEC that neither Ole Miss nor Vandy will be easy outs in 2013.
When word first broke of NCAA violations against Ole Miss, word from the Rebels’ football program was one of caution, for it was uncertain how many were targeted against football versus women’s basketball and track and field.
It appears we now know.
On Tuesday evening, the Associated Press reported the NCAA levied 13 allegations out of a possible 28 against the Ole Miss football team, nine of which occurred under the watch of head coach Hugh Freeze. However, it appears the most serious violations were either already know or took place during the Houston Nutt regime.
Included in the allegations are Laremy Tunsil‘s improper benefits, for which the left tackle already sat seven games. Also included are accusations former Nutt assistant David Saunders participated in a scheme to produce fraudulent test scores for recruits — the same allegations currently levied against Louisiana-Lafayette.
The remaining allegations, as detailed by the AP, include run-of-the-mill violations such as having the wrong people provide transportation on recruiting visits or assistant coaches making improper contact with recruits, many of which Ole Miss has already self-reported.
ESPN recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton provided a massive public service through his Twitter account on Tuesday, releasing a data dump of fascinating information about the signing class of 2016.
In short, Texas was the most popular breeding ground for FBS prospects, but half of all signees came from a clean sweep from Texas, across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida and up to North Carolina.
The Lone Star State produced 359 players, with nearly half of those heading to Power 5 institutions. In fact, Hamilton reports, 72 of 128 FBS programs and 38 of 64 Power 5’s signed at least one player from Texas.
Florida trailed with 327 players, followed by California with 248 players and Georgia with 225. For what it’s worth, Ohio was not included in the study.
Data dump, begin!
The American Athletic Conference released its 2016 conference schedule highlighted by, oddly enough, non-conference games that pit league gem Houston against Oklahoma (on opening day at Houston’s NRG Stadium) and Louisville (in Houston on Nov. 19).
Those two games, more than any others, will sink or swim the conference’s chances of not only grabbing the Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six, but a spot in the College Football Playoff itself.
The 2016 conference slate kicks off with Navy meeting Connecticut on Sept. 10 and concludes with the second annual AAC title game on Dec. 3 at a to-be-determined campus site.
The AAC led the way in scheduling Power 5 opponents — highlighted by a Week 3 schedule that will see the entire East Division punching up a weight class — and includes the likes of Florida State, Maryland, N.C. State, Virginia, Syracuse, Kansas, TCU and Oklahoma (for all intents and purposes) visiting AAC campuses.
View the full AAC slate here:
Just like we all thought when watching him play at Notre Dame, Tommy Rees will be in the NFL in 2016. Just not as a quarterback.
The San Diego Chargers announced his hiring as an obnoxiously vague offensive assistant, assisting with the club’s offense in some form that they aren’t inclined to elaborate on.
After completing a career in which he threw for 7,670 yards with 61 touchdowns against 37 interceptions from 2010-13, Rees was cut by the Washington Redskins in 2014, then spent the 2014-15 seasons as a graduate assistant at Northwestern.