Utah State shuts down Jordan Lynch and NIU in Poinsettia Bowl

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Utah State scored two second half touchdowns and shut down Jordan Lynch and Northern Illinois to score a victory in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego Thursday night. Darrell Garretson had his moments to forget in the victory but tossed a go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter and a two-point conversion attempt to follow Joey DeMartino‘s fourth quarter touchdown run to send Utah State to the 21-7 victory. DeMartino rushed for 143 yards to power the Aggies to the win, the second straight bowl victory for the program.

The NIU defense was actually pretty strong in the first half, holding the Aggies to a pair of field goals and fewer than 130 yards of offense, but the halftime adjustments made by Utah State proved to be too much for the Huskies. Utah State’s offense turned the table sin the second half by holding down the Huskies offense and not allowing Lynch to hurt them. Utah State succeeded in forcing Lynch to beat them through the air, and that has generally been a successful strategy for those who have defeated Northern Illinois, including Bowling Green in the MAC Championship Game. Lynch did drive the Huskies down the field in the final minutes of the game, just after Utah State took a 21-7 lead with a little over four minutes to play, and he completed a touchdown throw to Juwan Brescacin, but an onside kick attempt by NIU was recovered by Utah State to allow the Aggies to run the clock out.

Lynch ended his collegiate career with just 39 rushing yards and a touchdown and 216 passing yards and a touchdown. It was not exactly the type of performance Lynch had been accustomed to this season, but it should be a credit to Utah State’s defense to hold him to 39 rushing yards on 18 attempts. What back-to-back losses will do to his draft stock will be best left to break down by the NFL Draft scouts, but his last two performances do leave some room for criticism when discussing where he fits at the next level.

The MAC is now 0-4 in the postseason after seeing both conference championship participants, Northern Illinois and Bowling Green, suffer losses on Thursday. The conference’s last chance to win a bowl game will be placed in the hands of Ball State, a program that has never won a bowl game.

The Mountain West Conference is now 3-2 this postseason. Both losses have come against the Pac 12. The MWC i 2-0 against the MAC, including Colorado State’s wild finish against Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl.

Drew O’Bryan leaves Western Kentucky, drops down to FCS level

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Another day, another FBS player has transitioned away from his first college football home.

On his personal Twitter account recently, Drew O’Bryan acknowledged his decision to transfer from Western Kentucky. Additionally, he announced his next destination for good measure — Eastern Kentucky.

The linebacker said he made the decision “[a]fter talking with my family and many prayers.”

As EKU plays at the Football Championship Subdivision level, O’Bryan will be eligible to play immediately for the Colonels in 2017.

O’Bryan was a two-star member of WKU’s 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 18 player at any position in the state of Kentucky. He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

Pair of Alabama defenders undergo surgery after Tide’s spring game

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Alabama’s spring game wrapped up on Saturday and with it, the last of the Crimson Tide’s spring practices. While that means the coaching staff is free to fly across the country to visit recruits during the evaluation period, it also results in several players going under the knife to correct injuries in order to be back by fall camp.

Two of those players are starting cornerback Anthony Averett and (likely starting) linebacker Christian Miller, both of whom underwent sports hernia surgery this week according to AL.com.

The report states that Averett played with the hernia most of last season while the Tide marched their way to the national title game. Miller was one of the stars of the show on Saturday during Alabama’s spring game, recording two sacks while dealing with the injury.

Both are expected to be fully healthy for camp in August as Nick Saban and company vie for yet another conference title and berth in the College Football Playoff.

SEC commissioner hints at review of rules regarding alcohol sales in football stadiums

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The prohibition of alcohol at football stadiums has undergone one interesting about-face in college athletics the past 15 years or so. While various suite levels at stadiums across the country have generally had access to a few adult beverages, there’s been some very large programs that have opened up the taps in the general seating areas the last few years.

From West Virginia to Texas to Ohio State, more and more programs are selling beer and/or liquor across the board and raking in hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in added revenue while doing so. One conference that isn’t jumping in on that trend however has been the SEC, which has numerous restrictions on where those types of beverages can be sold. That may be about to change in the near future however according to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.

“At some point, I’m relatively certain, there will be further review of the prohibition,” said Sankey on Monday, per The Tuscaloosa News. “That doesn’t predict any outcome.”

While you may think that the league is close to opening the floodgates on alcohol being served at stadiums across the conference, you probably shouldn’t jump to any conclusions on the matter as Sankey seemed to hold his ground and stand firm on keeping things as is right now.

“The conference has a policy that says that we’re not selling alcohol in the general seating area,” he added. “Now, you can agree or disagree with that policy, but that’s the policy. The basis for changing that or maintaining it is one that’s developed in the conversation.

“I think we were at like 98 percent ticket sales in football… So is that one-percent margin a trade that we’re going to make?”

It’s no secret that of-age fans can easily find a few beverages at SEC tailgates prior to games nowadays but it seems momentum is slowing building in the conference to allow fans to buy some during a game. It might not happen anytime in the very near future but the conversation is certainly going to keep popping up each year with many more schools across the country jumping in on this trend.

QB Malik Zaire reportedly sets timetable for transfer decision while adding Harvard to the mix

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While we don’t yet know where former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire is transferring to, we might have an idea of when he plans on making a move this offseason.

Per Orangebloods.com’s Anwar Richardson, the signal-caller has zeroed in on the end of May for an announcement on his new school in a timetable that coincides with the Irish’s graduation ceremonies. Perhaps just as interesting is the fact that there may also be a new school in the mix and it’s known for being a powerhouse of a different kind away from the gridiron.

“In addition, I was told a new school is in the mix. Zaire is still considering Texas, Wisconsin and Florida, and the grad transfer quarterback has added Harvard to his short list. It remains unclear how serious Zaire is about playing Ivy League football. If he does go that route, Harvard would be his landing spot.”

The Ivy League power is an interesting new destination for Zaire and could be a pretty good backup option given what’s going on at his other finalists.

While Texas and Wisconsin are both on his shortlist, both the Longhorns and Badgers return their starting quarterbacks from last season in Shane Buechele and Alex Hornibrook. Richardson reports that Zaire wants to start in 2017 and not hold a clipboard but he is still keeping his options opens when it comes to the thin depth charts at the position in both Austin and Madison.

Complicating things is Florida, which should be a prime landing spot for Zaire were it not for an SEC rule passed last year that is preventing him from transferring him there this offseason. The league is set to talk about changes to that rule at their spring meetings in Destin, Fla. but it remains unclear if the QB will wait and see before making a decision (and it’s entirely possible the SEC keeps things as they are).

Either way, the former Irish starter does not appear to be lacking options when it comes to the graduate transfer market.