Navy drops anchor on Army for 12th straight time

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Another year, another Navy victory over Army.

This year’s game was played in a mixture of snow and freezing rain as the game went on, but no matter what sort of wintry mix was falling from the sky, nothing Army was able to do was enough to slow down Navy’s red-hot quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Reynolds set an NCAA record while rushing for three touchdowns to power Navy to a 34-7 victory over their service academy rivals from West Point.

Reynolds tied the NCAA record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season with his 27th touchdown run of the year in the second quarter. In the fourth quarter he broke the three-way tie with former Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and another former Midshipman quarterback, Ricky Dobbs. On his first fourth quarter touchdown run, an 11-yard scamper, Reynolds rushed for his 28th rushing touchdown of the season to become the new record holder for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season. For good measure, he added one more from the one-yard line for his 29th of the season. Reynolds ended his day with 136 rushing yards, the fourth most rushing yards by a Navy player during Navy’s current 12-game winning streak against Army. Only running back Adam Ballard has had more rushing yards for Navy during this stretch, with 192 yards in the 2003 Army Navy Game, and Kyle Eckel‘s 179 yards in the 2004 game and 152 yards in the 2005 game.

Army seemed to struggle to adjust to the weather at times once the snow started to pick up, but this game was more about Navy’s overall advantage on the field when it comes to execution. Navy was just four of 15 on third down conversions, but Army was unable to create any momentum off of that. Army picked up just two first downs out of 11 third down conversions in the game and the Black Knights also went 0-for-2 on fourth downs. Navy was two for three on fourth down, and four for four inside the red zone.

As expected, neither team found much success throwing the football the few times they attempted to do so. Reynolds took just seven pass attempts and completed two for 10 yards.Army quarterback Angel Santiago completed half of his ten attempts for 50 yards, but he was also intercepted at midfield as Navy seemed to be putting the clamps on Army late in the first half. Amy managed just 157 yards of total offense. Navy more than doubled that production with 347 yards of offense.

Army showed signs of life midway through the third quarter when they finally got on the scoreboard with a Santiago touchdown run, but Navy answered with an 11-play drive and a field goal. In the fourth quarter, Reynolds put the game away with his two touchdown runs to earn game MVP honors.

Army’s season is now officially in the books. The Black Knights won just three games this season, and the future of the program could be in some doubt. there has been some talk floating around that Rich Ellerson may have needed this game to potentially save his job. Coaching at Army has to be one of the toughest in the country though, and by most accounts Ellerson has done all he can.With this loss, Ellerson’s record is 20-41 overall and 0-5 against Navy (1-9 against Navy and Air Force, combined).

Navy will go on to play one more game. The Midshipmen will face Middle Tennessee in the Armed Forces Bowl on December 30 in Fort Worth, Texas. Navy missed out on the postseason last year and are just 1-4 in bowl games under head coach Ken Niumatalolo.

Navy gets another year of bragging rights. Next year the Army Navy Game will travel down I-95 from Philadelphia to Baltimore, much closer to Navy’s campus.

Auburn wide receiver Kyle Davis potentially out for spring

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Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was optimistic about wide receiver Kyle Davis returning to the team at some point this spring, but the tune has changed regarding his future. Malzahn is now saying Davis may be out for the remainder of Auburn’s spring practices due to personal reasons.

“Kyle Davis is still taking care of some personal business,” Malzahn said, according to SEC Country. “I’m not for sure if he’s going to be back before the end of the spring. He will be back for the fall, just taking a little bit longer than we initially thought.”

It was just a few weeks ago Malzahn said Davis was going to be out for the start of spring practices, which are now close to half over. For now, the plan is simply to have him return over the summer in preparation for the fall.

In the meantime, Malzahn confirmed John Franklin III is working primarily as a wide receiver, which had previously been suspected to be the case.

Penn State announces three captains for 2017 season

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With Penn State just about to get started with spring football practices, head coach James Franklin wasted no time in naming his captains for the 2017 season. Quarterback Trace McSorley, linebacker Jason Cabinda, and safety Nick Scott have been voted captains by their peers on the team.

“These three young men have been leaders in our program, on and off the field,” Franklin said in a released statement. “They live our four core values and act with the program’s best interest in mind. Our team is in good hands with these guys!”

McSorley took over the offense as Penn State’s starting quarterback in 2016. A bit of a mystery to most entering the season after being the backup to Christian Hackenberg, McSorley ended his 2016 season with a Big Ten-leading 3,614 passing yards and 29 touchdown passes with eight interceptions and played a key role in guiding Penn State to a late run to a Big Ten championship and an appearance in the Rose Bowl. He enters the 2017 season as one of the top quarterbacks returning to the Big Ten, along with Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett.

Cabinda, an All-Big Ten third team player in 2016, was Penn State’s third-leading tackler last season with 81 tackles. He accumulated that many tackles despite missing five games due to injury. He is slated to be the leader in the middle of the Penn State defense with a starting role already locked down and will look to help guide some younger linebackers stepping into key roles in the defense this upcoming season, such as Manny Bowen and Koa Farmer.

Scott has been a special teams leader for Penn State and is expected to continue to lead the special teams effort once again this season.

New Arkansas house bill will allow some concealed guns at football games

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Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has signed a bill regarding a person’s ability to carry a concealed handgun into various buildings at a public university or college into state law. However, House Bill 1249 will not allow all legal gun owners to carry a gun to a football game in the state of Arkansas.

Football games will be considered a “sensitive area,” which require enhanced training in order to be allowed to carry a gun into a football stadium. The law supposedly trumps any provisions already in place to prevent guns from being allowed on the premises.

“The enhanced level of training is very important, and I am convinced the public will be more safe,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This bill, in my view, reflects the view of the general assembly.”

The bill has received praise from Arkansas Republican state representative Charlie Collins and the NRA.

While the bill has now become an act in the state, it will not go into effect until January 2018, so guns will still not be allowed in football games where Arkansas, Arkansas State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, or Central Arkansas during the 2017 season.

The news of the new Arkansas state law comes on the same day the SEC has just unveiled a new clear bag policy for football games in the 2017 season. How the SEC handles this latest state law within its footprint remains to be seen (as well as the Sun Belt Conference). The bigger question will be where the SEC stands on this law considered the law is designed to overrule any stadium policies. The way the law is written, the SEC may not be able to do much to stand in the way, but the conference has those clear bag policies hammered down, rest assured.

Kentucky hands Mark Stoops a two-year contract extension

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After guiding Kentucky through its best season in nearly a decade, Mark Stoops has been rewarded.

Kentucky announced Wednesday afternoon that Stoops’ contract has been extended by two years.  The head coach’s previous deal had been set to run through June 30, 2020; the extension pushes that date out to June 30, 2020.

Stoops will earn $3.5 million in 2017, with the new contract calling for annual $250,000 raises.  In the last year of the contract extension, and barring any additional tweaking, Stoops could earn $4.75 million.

Additionally, if the Wildcats win at least seven games but no more than nine in a season, the contract automatically extends by one year.  If the team wins 10-plus games, it extends by two years. “Stoops will continue to receive $250,000 for each win beginning with the seventh win of each season and $50,000 per semester in which the team grade-point average is 2.75 or higher,” the release stated.

Participation in an SEC-affiliated bowl will net Stoops a $100,000 bonus, provided the Wildcats win at least six games that season.  There’s also a $50,000 bonus for earning a spot in a non-SEC bowl game, with the same six-win threshold.  Last season, UK qualified for a bowl game for the first time under Stoops and the first time under anyone since 2010.

“The last four years have been a grind for Mark and his staff, but he has never wavered in his commitment to building Kentucky football into a consistent winner,” a statement from athletic director Mitch Barnhart began. “While the work isn’t close to finished, we believe Mark is the coach to take us there. We are thankful to Mark and Chantel for all they have done to this point and we look forward to our program’s bright future under his leadership.”

The Wildcats’ 7-6 record last season was the program’s best since hitting the same mark in the last season under Rich Brooks in 2009.  The first three seasons with Stoops in control, UK posted a 12-24 mark.

In SEC play, they are just 8-24 since 2013, although they were 4-4 in conference play this past season.  The Wildcats have finished seventh (2013), sixth (2014), tied-fourth (2015) and tied-second (2016) in league play with Stoops as head coach.

“I want to thank Dr. (Eli) Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and the Board of Trustees for their continued support,” Stoops said. “When we came here, doing a rebuild in a challenging situation, I said that full support from everyone involved was imperative and we have always received that. We needed great commitment, we’ve had great commitment and we’re continuing to get great commitment.”

If Stoops is fired by UK, he’s entitled to receive 75 percent of the remaining guaranteed compensation on the contract.  If Stoops leaves of his own accord, he’d owe the university $1 million regardless of how many years are left on the deal.