Clemson makes ACC proud, hangs on vs Georgia

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And breathe…

Clemson and Georgia was everything it was expected to be on offense, trading blows with each other for most of the night until Clemson finally delivered a knock out blow. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd completed a touchdown pass to Stanton Seckinger midway through the fourth quarter to give the home team their largest lead of the night. Georgia cut in to a double-digit Clemson lead in the final minutes, but an offsides kick was recovered by Clemson to essentially lock up a win in a battle of top ten programs, 38-35.

This one was all about the offenses. Georgia out-gained Clemson in total yards, 544-467. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray passed for 323 yards but failed to throw a touchdown pass (he dud rush for one in the final minutes from the goal line). Murray was also picked off once by Clemson. His counterpart, Clemson’s Boyd, had a much better performance by passing for 270 yards and three touchdowns, rushed for two more and had zero interceptions.

The running backs for both sides also had big time performances. Clemson’s Roderick McDowell rushed for 132 yards, but Georgia’s Todd Gurley led all players with 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns. After making some strong statements in the off-season about his confidence, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins recorded 127 receiving yards and a touchdown in the season opener.

Both teams showed they have some holes on defense, but perhaps that was expected. Georgia’s defense was not a lock-down type of defense last year but they had a knack for creating turnovers. Georgia created one turnover but the offense lost the football twice.

So, what’s next? Georgia has the tougher road ahead of them of course. Next week the Bulldogs take on South Carolina, a team that has been a hurdle for Georgia in recent years. South Carolina also gets a couple of extra days to prepare for the game after opening their season on Thursday night.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt will surely be placed back in the cross hairs of critics after losing the season opener and some already dipping their pends in the ink well to write off Richt and Georgia against their SEC East rivals from Columbia, South Carolina. It is not an easy situation to be in, but even a loss to South Carolina might not be enough to completely ruin a run for an SEC title. But Georgia was within yards of a spot in the BCS Championship Game last season and fans are waiting to see Georgia get over that hump. A season opening loss to an ACC team, albeit a good ACC team and on the road, will not sit well for Georgia and their fans. Not when Alabama steam rolled Virginia Tech, South Carolina took care of North Carolina and Florida managed to put together a solid effort despite a handful of suspensions.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is as far removed from a hot seat as possible. Clemson became the first non-SEC team to win consecutive games against top ten SEC teams, dating back to the Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over LSU last December. Clemson’s offense lived up to the hype and they should be tough to beat in ACC play. The key games on the schedule remain Florida State and South Carolina, but the Tigers should always be placed on upset alert it seems thanks to a tendency to fall victim to an act of Clemsoning at the least convenient of times.

Next week the Tigers stay home to play host to FCS South carolina State, and it should not be expected that Clemson falls victim to the FCS bug that seems to be going around this opening week. Clemson’s first road trip will come the following week when they take on North Carolina State in an early ACC contest. NC State blasted Louisiana Tech 40-14 in their season opener. The Wolfpack lost quarterback Brandon Mitchell to a broken foot, that will require surgery.

Georgia loses second player to transfer in as many days

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On the same day they picked up a significant graduate transfer, Georgia has seen another player leave Kirby Smart‘s football program.

As all of the cool transfers are doing these days, Jaleel Laguins took to his personal Twitter account to confirm that, “[a]fter careful consideration with coaches and family, I’d like to announce that I will be transferring from The University of Georgia.” “Athens will always be a special place for me, but now it’s time to start a new journey,” the linebacker added.

A four-star member of the Bulldogs’ 2016 recruiting class, Laguins was rated as the No. 10 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 21 player at any position in the state of Georgia. He was the top-rated linebacker in UGA’s class that year, and only three signees on the defensive side of the ball — defensive tackles Julian Rochester and Michail Carter, and defensive end Chauncey Manac — were rated higher.

As a true freshman, Laguins played in six games. He took a redshirt for this past season, and would have to sit out the 2018 season if he moved on to another FBS program.

Laguins was the second Georgia player to transfer this week. Tuesday, Pat Allen, a four-star 2015 offensive lineman, announced on his private Twitter account that he too was moving on from the Bulldogs. Allen began the 2017 season as UGA’s starting left guard but lost it heading into Week 2 and never regained it.

UNC and Minnesota line up future home-and-home deal

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While one football series between an ACC and Big Ten team may be hard to come by, North Carolina and Minnesota have put together a future home-and-home scheduling agreement to look forward to. The Tar Heels and Gophers will meet for the first time on the football field in 2023 and follow up with a second game in 2024, the schools announced on Wednesday.

North Carolina will host Minnesota on Sept. 16, 2023. The two schools will then open the 2024 season at Minnesota, either on August 31, 2024 or for a Thursday opener on August 29, 2024.

The ACC and Big Ten each require their members to play one game against another power conference opponent each season. North Carolina already satisfied that requirement in 2024 with a season-opener against South Carolina scheduled to be played in Charlotte, NC, but the 2024 game fulfills the power conference scheduling requirement for the Tar Heels. The home-and-home series will also satisfy Minnesota’s obligation to the Big Ten scheduling policy for both seasons (Minnesota is getting an exemption for 2018 and 2019 due to previous scheduling arrangements being in place prior to the Big Ten’s stance on strength of schedule in non-conference play.

Pitt leaves renewal of football series in Penn State’s hands

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Ever since the in-state rivalry between Penn State and Pitt came to a temporary end in 2001, it has been a struggle to get the two schools back on the field for any stretch of time. With the third in a four-game series upcoming this fall, Pitt is hoping to find a way to continue playing the Nittany Lions on future schedules, but the offer is now apparently in Penn State’s hands awaiting a response.

Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke told reporters Wednesday she has proposed a four-year series beginning in 2026 to her Penn State counterpart, Sandy Barbour, but Penn State has not responded to the offer.

“We’re going to wait a tad more patiently, but not much,” Lyke said, according to Trib Live. “We can’t. We have people who want to play us and good opportunities to play what would be a very attractive game.”

The four-game series currently ongoing between the Panthers and Nittany Lions comes to a close after their meeting in the 2019 season in Happy Valley. According to FBSchedules.com, Penn State will not have another opening for a non-conference game until 2021. That is also the first season Pitt will have scheduling availability for non-conference matchups. Both schools already have power conference opponents lined up through 2025 as well, perhaps eliminating the desire to add another power conference opponent to the schedule.

Both Penn State and Pitt have scheduling requirements for non-conference play from the Big Ten and ACC, respectively, to include at least one game against another power conference opponent. It seems like a natural solution for Penn State and Pitt to agree to a long-term scheduling commitment to satisfy their respective conferences’ scheduling requirements, but the old issue has always come down to the financial incentive of a game. With Penn State playing in a larger stadium, it would be losing out on potential revenue that could be gained by an extra home game when possible. And playing road games at Pittsburgh only helps another program in the state by filling the seats more than any other home game on Pitt’s schedules in just about any season (Notre Dame and West Virginia would be other candidates to help Pitt fill Heinz Field).

It took so long just to get the two schools together for a two-year series, which was later expanded to a four-year arrangement. Don’t count on this in-state rivalry being renewed for quite some time after the 2019 season.

QB Blake Barnett reportedly transferring from Arizona State

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Quarterback Blake Barnett is now on the graduate transfer market. According to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, via Twitter, Barnett will find a new program to wrap up his college football career as a graduate transfer. South Florida is reportedly set to get an official visit from the former Sun Devils and Alabama quarterback.

Barnett started his football career at Alabama, where he sat out the 2015 season as a freshman. During his redshirt freshman in 2016, Barnett appeared in just three games as Jalen Hurts rose to become Alabama’s starting quarterback that would lead the Tide for the next two seasons (until halftime of last season’s national championship game). Barnett transferred to Arizona State, leaving behind a seemingly tumultuous relationship with Nick Saban, and played in just two games for the Sun Devils last fall, while Manny Wilkins established himself as the quarterback for former head coach Todd Graham.

A former four-star recruit out of high school, Barnett has played in just five games and completed 14 of 24 pass attempts for 259 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Barnett’s latest transfer news comes a day after former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen took a swipe at Barnett, who was ranked ahead of Rosen in various recruiting rankings out of high school.

“Blake Barnett was the Elite 11 MVP,” Rosen said, per SEC Country. “He was the dude that was going to go to ‘Bama, win a couple championships, call it quits and go to the league as the first overall pick. You don’t really hear about him too much.”

As a graduate transfer, Barnett will be eligible to play immediately this fall.