Texas uses defense, run game to beat K-State

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This was just what Mack Brown needed.

With his starting quarterback out of the game due to a head injury and the pressure on to beat Kansas State for the first time since 2003, his Longhorns (2-2) came through with a much-improved defensive effort and a solid running game to defeat the Wildcats, 31-21.

“The defense played much better. We’re 1-0 in the Big 12 and moving forward,” Brown said afterward.

The previous two games saw the Texas defense allow a combined 822 yards on the ground, but the Wildcats (2-2) were held to just 124 yards on Saturday night. The Longhorns ran for a combined 256 yards and averaged just 3.3 yards per carry in those games, but they rushed for 226 yards and 5.3 yards per carry against K-State.

In other words, Texas seems to have fixed what had been ailing it the most. At least for now.

The game certainly didn’t end up like Texas thought it would. Up 17-7, the Longhorns looked like they might roll, but they lost starting quarterback David Ash to a head injury at half time. Case McCoy came on in relief of Ash and Texas decided to play things close to the vest. McCoy attempted just nine passes so the Longhorns fed the ball to sophomore running back Johnathan Gray, who rumbled for a career-high 141 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.

Texas held a 31-14 lead with nine minutes to play, but Kansas State came storming back. A Jake Waters one-yard touchdown dive put the Wildcats to within 10 with seven minutes to go. Then Waters again drove K-State inside the Texas seven-yard line, this time with two minutes left. However, Waters fumbled the ball away on a keeper and the Longhorns recovered. K-State penetrated as deep as the Texas 11-yard line in the closing moments thanks to a 40-yard punt return by Tramaine Thompson, but Waters fumbled again to seal the game for Texas.

It wasn’t a particularly pretty win, but it snaps a five-game losing streak by Texas to K-State and keeps the Longhorns alive in their quest for a Big 12 title. Plus, it gives Brown a brief reprieve from the torrent of criticism coming his way.

The bright side for Kansas State was the play of Waters. The junior college transfer had his best game of the season, completing 19 of 30 passes for 275 yards, while also rushing for 26 yards and a score. If he can cut down on his turnovers, he has a chance to develop into one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12. It doesn’t get any easier for the Wildcats defense, which must face Oklahoma State and Baylor in its next two outings.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.