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.
There is a new preseason favorite for the 2016 Heisman Trophy, at least as far as Bovada is concerned.
The betting service Tuesday listed LSU running back Leonard Fournette checks in with the best odds at 9/2. He moved ahead of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, whose odds went from 9/2 in January to 5/1 now.
Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey’s odds moved to 11/2 while Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield are all at 12/1.
Several players were added to the board since January, including UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen (16/1), Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough (20/1) and Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham (28/1).
The group of newcomers also includes both of the competitors to be Notre Dame’s starting quarterback. DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire are both set at 28/1.
Oklahoma defensive back Jordan Thomas was arrested early Thursday morning and stands accused of three offenses.
Cleveland (Oklahoma) County sheriff arrest records show the 20-year-old Thomas was booked at 2:45 a.m. on charges of assault and battery, public intoxication and interference.
A school spokesperson told The Tulsa World the department is aware of and monitoring the situation.
Thomas, who reportedly has been released on bond, was second on the Sooners with nine pass defended last season and was credited with 46 tackles. He had five interceptions.
The World notes Thomas has been in trouble both with the law and the team previously.
Thomas was jailed in Grady County before last year’s Orange Bowl after failing to appear in court following a traffic citation.
The junior also has faced issues on the team. He missed the first quarter of the 2015 opener against Akron and the entire Tulsa game for undisclosed disciplinary reasons.
The Sooners won the Big 12 last season and made the College Football Playoff.
They are expected to be contenders again this season and have a showdown with Ohio State looming in Norman on Sept. 17.
Ohio State has quietly added Joker Phillips and Brian Knorr — two experienced college coaches — to Urban Meyer’s staff.
Although the athletics department has not made an announcement yet, Phillips is listed in Ohio State’s employee directory as a sports program associate with the working title of “Football QC – kicking,” which presumably means he is a quality control assistant for the Ohio State kicking game.
Knorr is listed simply as an athletics intern.
Of the two, Phillips is the more experienced. Now 53, he began his coaching career as a G.A. at Kentucky, his alma mater, and eventually spent six seasons as a full-time receivers coach for the Wildcats in the early 1990s.
He also coached at Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina before returning to Lexington as an assistant and eventually rising to head coach in 2010.
The Wildcats went just 13-24 in his three seasons, and he spent last year as wide receivers coach of the Cleveland Browns. He also spent a season coaching receivers at Florida, where he was found guilty of a level two recruiting violation.
Knorr was most recently the defensive coordinator at Indiana. He spent two seasons in Bloomington after six at Wake Forest.
A Kansas native, he played quarterback at Air Force and previously worked in the Buckeye State as an assistant to Jim Grobe and then Frank Solich at Ohio University from 1995-2004.
The Hoosiers ranked last in the Big Ten in scoring defense and total defense last season, and he was replaced by Tom Allen in January.
Make that four new additions to Texas’ 2016 recruiting class in late June.
The school announced Wednesday that Patrick Hudson, an in-state offensive lineman from Silsbee, has signed a financial aid agreement and is expected to enroll in Austin in July when the second summer session begins.
Hudson is a four-star prospect and the 50th-best player in the country according to 247Sports’ composite rankings.
He signed with Baylor in February but was granted a release from his letter of intent after a report accusing members of the school and athletics department of mishandling accusations and incidents of sexual assault delved the school into controversy.
J.P. Urquidez and brothers Devin and Donovan Duvernay also signed with the Longhorns in the past week.
“We’re really excited to have Patrick joining our program,” Texas coach Charlie Strong said in a release. “Patrick coming to Texas, along with J.P. and Donovan earlier this week, are tremendous additions to an already impressive class of 2016. Patrick and J.P. are two big, physical, talented linemen, and Donovan is an explosive athlete who has played on both sides. We’re looking forward to getting them on campus and working with the team.”
Urquidez is also a four-star offensive lineman while Devin Duvernay is a four-star receiver and Donovan Duvernay is a three-star athlete per 247Sports.
Texas’ class is ranked seventh nationally and No. 1 in the Big 12 as Strong looks to put a rocky start to his tenure behind him and return the Longhorns to national prominence.
They start the season with a visit from Notre Dame on Sept. 4.