Clemson may or may not be a national title contender, but they battled back to take one more step toward a potential ACC championship run Thursday night. After a sluggish start, Clemson pulled away for a road win at North Carolina State, 26-14. Tajh Boyd had a three-touchdown night while passing for 244 yards, Martavis Bryant had two touchdowns and Sammy Watkins had 96 receiving yards for the Tigers.
North Carolina State appeared to have taken the lead when Bryan Underwood took a handoff from his own 17-yard line and swept up the right sideline all the way for a touchdown. Despite video replay showing it appeared Underwood kept his feet in on his dash up the right side of the field, officials blew the play dead after 36 yards thinking he stepped out of bounds. The play was not reviewed in the booth and North Carolina State did not challenge the ruling. This is the play in question.
To pour some salt on the wound, three plays later quarterback Pete Thomas was sacked by Clemson’s Vic Beasley, jarring the ball loose and recovered by the Tigers. Five plays later Boyd connected with Martavis Bryant for a 30-yard touchdown pass and a 20-7 lead. This all developed in a span of just over two minutes of game time, and it may have turned the entire game around.
Clemson would go on to score another touchdown early in the fourth quarter and never looked back.
Of course we will never know what would have happened if North Carolina State had taken a 14-13 lead. Maybe Clemson comes back down field to take the lead anyway. But maybe they don’t and North Carolina State holds on.
We can spend plenty of time looking back and asking “What if?” but instead let’s turn the page and discuss what is next. The big question may be if you believe Clemson is a BCS contender based on what we witnessed Thursday night. The Tigers probably didn’t convince many people of that idea, although there is something to be said for the way this team responded after getting a good battle from North Carolina State. We will be quick to look ahead to October 19 when Clemson hosts Florida State. That game could loom large for the ACC picture. If Clemson can reach their next bye week without a loss, which appears likely if they beat Florida State, then the games at home against Georgia Tech and at South Carolina could be very interesting. This assuming Clemson does not fall victim to an upset along the way, which sometimes feels more a matter of “when” and not “if.”
As for North Carolina State, the defense managed to come up with some good stops early on but ended up getting beat on some deep passes in the second half. For the most part, the Wolfpack played Clemson pretty evenly. Penalties became a factor for the home team and the lone turnover of the game, as mentioned above, came at a real unfortunate time. North Carolina State probably doesn’t have the talent to compete for an ACC title, but this could be a team nobody in the ACC will want to play this fall. A bowl game is absolutely within view for the Wolfpack this year.
This phase of The Grand Experiment at Arizona State is officially an abject failure.
In hiring Herm Edwards, it was known that ASU was looking to retain both of Todd Graham‘s coordinators in an effort to ease Edwards’ return to coaching after a decade-long absence. Earlier this week, the new Sun Devils head coach confirmed that defensive coordinator Phil Bennett was leaving the staff because of what were described as “family matters.” Overnight, reports surfaced that offensive coordinator Billy Napier had been offered the head-coaching job at a Sun Belt Conference program and was likely to accept it.
Friday afternoon, that likelihood became a reality as Louisiana announced that Napier has been named as the Ragin’ Cajuns next head football coach. Napier replaces Mark Hudspeth, fired earlier this month after seven years with the program.
The football program will officially introduce their new coach at a Monday press conference.
“My family and I are excited and humbled for the opportunity to serve Cajun Nation and our Louisiana football program,” Napier said. “We will make it a priority to bring in the best talent from the state of Louisiana and the nation.”
Napier just completed his first season at ASU. Prior to that, he spent five seasons as the wide receivers coach at Alabama. Next Sept. 29th, Napier’s Ragin’ Cajuns squad will square off with… the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.
With Napier’s hiring, Kent State is the lone FBS program without a head coach.
In an interview earlier this week, transferring Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson expressed confidence that he would be immediately eligible to play for Michigan in 2018. Whether that confidence will be rewarded, though, won’t be known for a couple of months down the road.
Patterson and other transferring Rebels football players have retained the services of Thomas Mars — known to most of the college football world as the bulldog attorney who handled Houston Nutt‘s lawsuit against Ole Miss — in their attempt at immediate eligibility next season without having to sit out the transfer season normally required by the NCAA. In an interview with Angelique Chengalis of the Detroit News, Mars revealed that a final decision on Patterson’s eligibility to play for the Wolverines in 2018 won’t be known until late January or early February.
In the interim, Mars will argue to the NCAA that Ole Miss displayed “egregious behavior,” including misleading recruits like Patterson and his family regarding the potential seriousness of the NCAA issues facing the football program, and thus the standard transfer year should be waived in this case. “At this point, there’s no room for Ole Miss to deny it unlawfully kept the NOA (NCAA Notice of Allegations) it had just received under wraps for five months while the school misled prospects and their parents about how the NCAA investigation would likely impact the future of the football program and the goals and dreams of the student-athletes who ended up signing with Ole Miss under false pretenses,” the lawyer told Chengalis.
The News also laid out the process that will play out between Patterson, Ole Miss, Michigan and the NCAA in the coming weeks:
In the case of Patterson, Michigan must send a package to Ole Miss with information that supports the premise of Ole Miss’ “egregious behavior.” Ole Miss has several options — it can support what Michigan sent, oppose it, express neutrality or not respond at all. Once the NCAA has Ole Miss’ position on this, it moves forward with its decision-making process.
“If Ole Miss supports the transfer waivers, this could be a very easy decision (by the NCAA),” Mars said.
If Patterson is able to gain instant eligibility, he’d immediately become the favorite to win the Wolverines’ starting quarterback job.
Seth Collins‘ winding journey in Corvallis has taken yet another twist.
After asking for it, Collins has been granted a release from his Oregon State scholarship, the school has confirmed. The junior wide receiver has already parted ways with the team, and no specific reason for the departure has been given.
This marks the second time that Collins has left the Beavers football program. In January of 2016, Collins, amidst speculation that he would be moved from quarterback to wide receiver, made the decision to transfer; three months later, he returned to OSU — as a receiver.
Last season, Collins was second on the team in catches (36) and yards (418). After three games this season, Collins was ruled out indefinitely because of what was described by the team as a health-related issue; he didn’t play again for the Beavers in 2017. In the three games in which he played this season, he caught 12 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown.
That illness was unrelated to the unspecified health event last season that left him hospitalized and caused him to miss not only the last two games of 2016 but spring practice this year as well.
If Collins moves on to another FBS school, it’s believed he’ll have to sit out the 2018 season. That would leave him with one season of eligibility that he can use in 2019.
It was thought that, when Collins left the first time, he was headed to Northern Illinois, so that’s certainly something to keep an eye on moving forward.
You just have to love the vagaries of the annual coaching rumor mill.
The offensive line coach and running-game coordinator at Minnesota, Ed Warinner has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Paul Haynes as the head coach at Kent State. In fact, just yesterday, the former Ohio State and Notre Dame assistant had been labeled as a “strong candidate” for the opening.
Thursday night, however, FootballScoop.com tweeted that Warinner is no longer a candidate.
Less than 20 minutes after that tweet, Warinner took to his personal Twitter to confirm he is not only not a candidate for the job but claimed that he has “never been contacted by anyone involved with the school.” Left unsaid is whether those representing or associated with him had been in contact with the university.
Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen (HERE) and Syracuse offensive coordinator Sean Lewis (HERE) are the latest names du jour connected to the opening at the MAC school.
Kent State’s one of two jobs at the FBS level that remain open, although the other, Louisiana, could be closed in short order.