On day of upsets, Texas A&M benefits with wild win

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On a day full of upsets around college football, Texas A&M managed to avoid an upset bid from Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi. Josh Lambo‘s short field goal as time expired gave Texas A&M a wild 41-38 victory. The win paired with some losses around the country should help the Aggies move up in the rankings on Sunday.

A game short on scoring in the first half, or at least shorter than expected, turned in a second half that saw momentum swing back and forth. Things really got crazy in the fourth quarter. Texas A&M extended their four-point lead with a field goal to open the fourth quarter, but Ole Miss quickly responded with a quick seven-play, 51-yard touchdown drive capped by a Barry Burnetti touchdown pass to Evan Engram from nine yards out. It was starting quarterback Bo Wallace who tossed the next touchdown pass, this time to freshman Laquon Treadwell, from just inside the red zone roughly 90 seconds later, capitalizing on a fumble by Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Manziel and Texas A&M had an answer though, driving 75 yards on seven plays for a touchdown, served up by the speedy feet of Trey Williams for a nine-yard score.

Ole Miss and Texas A&M continued to exchange blows, first with Wallace connecting with Jaylen Walton for a 50-yard touchdown, and then with Manziel leading the Aggies down field for a six-yard touchdown run to cap a 75-yard drive. Manziel would lead the game-winning drive after Ole Miss went three-and-out with three incomplete passes to leave TexasA&M with more than enough time. Manziel rushed for 25 yards and completed a 14-yard pass to move the Aggies down to the Ole Miss 32-yard line and running backs Ben Malena and Tra Carson helped set-up the game-winning field goal attempt by Lambo from the Ole Miss 15-yard line.

Manziel did not have a touchdown pass, but he did run for two and put up big numbers. For the fourth time in his career Manziel passed for 300 yards (346) and rushed for 100 yards (124). That is the most times that has happened in FBS history.

The Aggies are now 5-1 and still looking good in the SEC West picture, although they will need some help if they are to get by Alabama in the standings to earn a trip to Atlanta at the end of the season. For the Aggies, the next few weeks should result in wins against Auburn, Vanderbilt and UTEP (non-conference, of course), and likely against Mississippi State. That would set up a 9-1 Texas A&M team to hit the road for their final two games at LSU and surprisingly strong Missouri. The Aggies should also be moving up in the rankings with the upsets that were occurring in other games. Stanford and Georgia losing should allow Texas A&M to move up at least two spots when the new polls are released, and the BCS standings are coming shortly.

Ole Miss linebacker and leading tackler Serderius Bryant had to be taken off the field on a stretcher after a tough collision with Manziel on a fourth down run that went for a first down. Earlier in the game, Ole Miss lost Robert Nkemdiche as well to a strained hamstring suffered while chasing Manziel.

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts uses photo of Clemson celebrating title win as motivational phone background

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Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.

Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.

The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.

“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …

“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

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The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.