AP Photo/Matt York

Colorado State scores 11 points in final minute to stun Washington State in New Mexico Bowl


Too many bowl games? Tell that to Colorado State fans.

Colorado State (8-6, 5-3 MWC) took advantage of some late miscues by Washington State (6-7, 4-5 Pac 12) to win the first bowl game of the season. Kapri Bibbs pushed through for his third touchdown if the game to bring the Rams within two points of Washington State and an official review overturned a two-point conversion ruling to give Colorado State two more points to tie the game at 45-45 in the final minute of the fourth quarter. A fumbled kickoff return set the Rams up for a game winning field goal as time expired for a wild 48-45 victory.

Washington State coughed away a late lead in the game at a time when Colorado State had no timeouts to stop the clock with two minutes to play. One lost fumble was overturned following a lengthy review determining Halliday had been down before losing the football. But a handoff on the very next play saw Colorado State rip the football away from the running back to have one final chance to tie the game up. The Rams took advantage with Bibbs pushing in for the touchdown, his third of the game.

The first quarter of this one had a little bit of everything. In the first 40 seconds in to the game both teams had turned the football over. Halliday got in to a bit of a shouting match with Colorado State defensive line coach Greg Lupfer after tossing the game’s first touchdown of the afternoon. The Rams got off to a poor start and Washington State took advantage with great starting field position set up by a blocked punt in the end zone allowing Washington State to score an easy touchdown for a quick 14-0 lead. The Cougars took a 35-23 lead in to the half.

Colorado State’s Bibbs rushed for his 30th touchdown of the season in the third quarter to cut the Washington State lead to 38-30. With the touchdown run Bibbs joined some elite company in college football history by becoming the third running back to rush for 30 touchdowns in a single season. He joins former Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and former Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma State Barry Sanders. Bibbs ended the game with a game-high 169 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He became the first FBS player to rush for three touchdowns in a game eight different times in a season as well.

Where Washington State goes from here should be fun to follow. Mike Leach‘s team ends on a low note but has a bright future ahead of them. Washington State was a young team this season. On the depth chart for this bowl game the first team offense and defense had eight seniors, so there will be some holes to fill, most notably on the offensive line and in the secondary. Leach was always expected to be capable of turning things around for Washington State the way he did at Texas Tech. This season showed they still have a long way to go before being able to challenge the likes of Stanford and Oregon for Pac 12 North bragging rights, and with Chris Petersen taking over at rival Washington the challenges may only get tougher in the future, but the Cougars have now come close to the thrill of postseason victory, and that can do a lot to continue building on a foundation.

And let us not overlook what Jim McElwain has done with Colorado State since taking over as head coach. Just as Leach has created an identity for Washington State’s turnaround, McElwain is bringing a bit of a Nick Saban-esque toughness to the program and the signs of progress are showing. In just his second year in the job, McElwain coached the Rams to a winning regular season and is in a conference where competing for a championship is not a far-fetched idea if things continue to develop.

Washington State opens the 2014 season in Seattle’s Century Link Field against Rutgers, who will be making their debut as a member of the Big Ten. The Cougars also get homes games against Oregon, USC and Washington.

Colorado State’s 2014 will begin in Denver against rival Colorado along with a home game against Tulsa.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.

Penn State fires offensive coordinator John Donovan

Penn State football practice, Sept 9, 2015

Penn State has fired offensive coordinator John Donovan, the program announced Sunday.

“I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in the last five years,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

Donovan originally hooked up with Franklin when the two were at Maryland, then coordinated his offenses at Vanderbilt and later Penn State.

Despite playing with what many project to be a future first-round pick in quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ranked 101st nationally in scoring, 108th in total offense and 80th in yards per play.

Penn State dropped its final three games of the regular season and averaged only 14.6 points in its five losses.

Purdue retains head coach Darrell Hazell, fires both coordinators

Markell Jones
AP Photo

It’s never a good thing when a head coach has to fire both of his coordinators on the same day. Of course, it’s never a good thing to be 6-30, either.

Both are realities at Purdue, as the Boilers announced Sunday head coach Darrell Hazell will return for a fourth season in 2016, but offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson and defensive line coach Rubin Carter will not.

“I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years,” Hazell said in a statement. “They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions.”

Purdue, 2-10 in 2015, ranked 115th nationally in yards per play and 112th in yards per play allowed.

Virginia Tech announces Justin Fuente as head coach; Bud Foster to stay on as DC

Associated Press

Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.

“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”

Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.

Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.

And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.

After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.

The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.

The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.

Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.