It wasn’t pretty, but No. 18 Ole Miss (1-0) will take it. A fourth quarter interception of Boise State (0-1) quarterback Grant Hedrick was quickly capitalized on when Bo Wallace connected with Quincy Adeboyejo for a 31-yard touchdown play, aided by some missed tackles by Boise State defenders. The score midway through the fourth quarter gave Ole Miss a double-digit lead and Boise state was unable to make a late dent in the deficit. A 76-yard touchdown pass to Cody Core served as the dagger to Boise State’s hopes for a victory in Atlanta. Ole Miss won the first game in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff, 35-13.
Wallace had his ups and downs with four touchdowns and three interceptions, but managed to make some nice throws in the fourth quarter to help lead his team to victory. The go-to target of the night was Laquon Treadwell, who got into some feisty verbal and physical exchanges during the night but ended up letting his play do most of the talking. Treadwell was the go-to receiver, but Core was the big play receiver. Core and Treadwell each put together a 100-yard night.
Bryan Harsin‘s debut as Boise State head coach will see him return to Boise with plenty to work on moving forward. The defense was worn down but performed well for the most part. The Broncos intercepted three passes and put the clamps down on the Ole Miss running game. The offense though, was up against a wall for most of the night. Credit to the Ole Miss defensive line, but Hedrick was intercepted four times and the Broncos were unable to take advantage of opportunities. One interception came in the end zone and Boise State had to settle for a field goal when a drive stalled just yards shy of the end zone. Running back Jay Ajayi never had much room to do much on the ground, accounting for 88 rushing yards and the only touchdown of the night for Boise State.
Ole Miss will play on the road next week in a SEC contest. The Rebels visit Vanderbilt, who saw their Thursday night opener against Temple pushed back late into the night due to severe weather. Ole Miss showed some very good things on defense but obviously needs to find a way to get on track offensively if the Rebels are going to be any legitimate threat in the SEC West, or at least to cause some trouble for programs like Alabama, Auburn or LSU (or Texas A&M).
Boise State likely loses a shot to get out in front of the race for a guaranteed spot in the College Football Playoff bowl line-up. The highest-ranked conference champion from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference or Sun Belt gets a spot in one of the big revenue bowl games. Boise State could have used a win over a top 25 SEC team to crack the top 25 rankings next week and get out in front of the pack.
Earlier today we had the report that Cal, they of the normally bowl-eligible six wins on the season, were not actually bowl eligible. The hang up was due to some NCAA red tape on how many scholarships Grambling, a 73-14 victim to the Bears on opening Saturday, had actually awarded this year.
Why the number of scholarships awarded by an opponent of a 6-5 team could determine what glorified exhibition said 6-5 could or could not play is a matter for another time, but the fact is it mattered.
But according to a report from Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com, the Bears received approval to count the win toward their total, meaning Sonny Dykes and company will go bowling for the first time since 2011.
“We have conferred with both Grambling and the NCAA,” Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told ESPN. “As anticipated, Grambling has confirmed their football program has met the 90 percent financial aid requirement over the rolling two-year average. Therefore, Cal football’s win over Grambling counts toward bowl eligibility. Cal football is bowl eligible.”
The Bears have a chance to become bowl eligible the old fashioned way with a win over Arizona State Saturday in Berkeley.
The end of the college football regular season brings with it bowl bids, conference championship entries and rivalry games. Along the way, though, come end-of-season firings. So many end of-season firings.
According to a report from Dan Wolken of USA Today Wednesday night, the first one is already on the books. Or at least close to it.
Wolken reports Tulane is set to part ways with head coach Curtis Johnson following the Green Wave’s Friday finale against Tulsa “barring a last-minute change of direction.”
Johnson is 15-33 in nearly four complete seasons at Tulane, reaching a high point of a 7-6 mark wtih a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning two, three and three games in his other three campaigns.
If and when the move becomes official, Tulane will become the 15th FBS school to change head coaches this season, matching the total number of changes during the 2014-15 cycle.
Wolken reports Tulane will hire a new athletics director within the next week, and once that hiring is complete the school will then embark on hiring Johnson’s replacement.
Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin has emerged a “strong candidate” for the Maryland job, according to reports from Yahoo‘s Pat Forde and Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman Wednesday.
“Durkin, 37, met recently with Maryland officials, sources said,” Forde wrote. “No job offer was made, but the interview went well, sources said.”
Durkin is in his first season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, helping the 9-2 Wolverines jump from 14th to third nationally in yards per play allowed (4.77 to 4.15) and 27th to sixth in scoring defense (22.4 to 14.9).
Prior to working on Jim Harbaugh‘s staff, Durkin served as Will Muschamp‘s defensive coordinator at Florida for two years, and as his special teams coordinator for two years before that. He previously worked at Stanford, Bowling Green (his alma mater) and Notre Dame.
Should he be offered and accept the job, Durkin would immediately become Big Ten East rivals with his mentor Harbaugh.
“This week is so important to our guys, my 100% focus is on this game and our players — that’s what this profession is all about. You’ve got to make sure you’re taking care of the job you have week in and week out. It’s a tough task, especially with this team we have this week,” Durkin told the Detroit Free Press when asked about the reports.
“My goal is to get the best game plan possible together for Ohio State and have our guys go play well. To answer rumors or speculation right now and put something to it, my total focus is 100% on Ohio State and nothing else.”
Illinois will decide whether or not to retain interim head coach Bill Cubit for the full-time job by Sunday, interim AD Paul Kowalczyk told WSKJ-FM Wednesday.
“We need to make that call and figure out which way we’re going for everyone’s sake,” Kowalczyk said, via the Chicago Tribune. “For me, it’s posthaste.”
Illinois closes its regular season Saturday against No. 16 Northwestern in Champaign. The Illini are 5-6 on the year and, for what it’s worth, Cubit desperately wants the job.
Also worth noting: the athletics department is operating under a total state of dysfunction in the wake of AD Mike Thomas‘s firing.
From 670 The Score in Chicago on Wednesday:
Sources tell 670 The Score that as overwhelmed university officials are dithering and providing little guidance, the group of trustees, boosters and alums left to run things can’t yet agree on much. Some want to hire a search firm with a spotty recent track record, others want to form their own search committee, while another faction thinks they need to act faster by using their own contacts to target specific AD and coaching candidates right now and just get moving.
Any support for retaining Bill Cubit is getting strong push-back from those who don’t believe he wasn’t aware of Tim Beckman’s aberrant behavior, and from some who feel strongly about making a more dynamic hire.
For those keeping score at home: Illinois is dealing with a power vacuum of trustees, boosters and alums battling for control while an interim chancellor and interim athletics director work to reach a resolution on an interim football coach.
And the coaching carousel starts spinning in full four days from now.