The last time Auburn took the pristine field at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Chris Davis carried the ball 109 yards, past the Alabama field goal unit and into the pages of history. Nine months later, Gus Malzahn and the No. 6 Auburn Tigers picked up right where they left off, cruising past Arkansas 45-21.
Jeremy Johnson earned the start for a double-secret suspended Nick Marshall and could not have started hotter, guiding Auburn on touchdown drives of 75, 75 and 98 to open the game. The sophomore hit his first eight throws for 204 yards and two touchdowns, the first of which came on the same extended play-action that tied the Alabama game, carrying Melvin Ray 49 yards into the same end zone where Ricardo Louis stunned Georgia and where the Tigers scored the tying and winning touchdowns against Alabama. Johnson played the entire first half and did all of his damage through the air, hitting 13-of-17 passes for 243 yards and those two scores.
Marshall played the second half and got the familiar Malzahn-patented running game going. In addition to his own 19-yard scoring dash to open the second half, Marshall’s presence gave Auburn’s running backs space to do their best Tre Mason impressions. Cameron Artis-Payne rushed 26 for 178 yards and one touchdown, and Corey Grant added 10 carries for 87 yards and another score.
Arkansas matched Auburn score for score early. With an offensive line that the SEC Network broadcast noted as the fourth-largest in all of football, the Razorbacks pummeled the Auburn front for 151 yards on seven yards a pop in forging a 21-21 halftime deadlock, but defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson’s unit dominated the second half. Every second half Arkansas possession traveled 20 yards or less and ended in a punt, except for the one Jermaine Whitehead ended with a 33-yard pick six that effectively shut down any chance of an upset.
After rushing for those 151 first-half yards, Arkansas was nearly doubled up on the ground, 302-153. That means Arkansas rushed for two yards in the second half.
The second half was fractured by a one hour, 28 minute weather delay. And, in the ultimate act of vengeance by the football gods, after years debate over the hurry-up no-huddle and debates about “what we want football to be” that saw Bret Bielema and Malzahn taking polar opposite sides, the Jordan-Hare Stadium clocks were inoperable for the entire first half.
Less than a week after his unexpected and abrupt departure from Georgia Tech, Dedrick Mills has found himself a new college football home.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mills has enrolled Garden City Community College in Kansas. As his next stop, which won the 2016 junior college national championship, plays below the FBS level, the running back will be eligible to play immediately in 2017.
Very late last week, Tech announced that Mills had been dismissed from the program for an unspecified violation of athletic department rules.
Last season, Mills’ 771 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns led all Tech ball carriers., with 169 of those yards coming in the bowl win over Kentucky. Mills put up all of those numbers as a true freshman despite being suspended on two different occasions for a total of three games.
More than likely, Mills will spend one season at the JUCO level before moving back to the FBS. Whatever team grabs him at that time would be getting a talented player who would still have two years of eligibility remaining.
At the moment, the injury news for Jamari Bozeman is bad. Depending on how things play out over the next several weeks, it could be bad.
According to the Toledo Blade, Bozeman will definitely miss the 2017 opener against Michigan State because of what’s described as an upper-leg injury. Additionally, the Blade reports that the defensive back will probably miss the entire non-conference schedule, which, in addition to MSU, includes the home opener against FCS South Dakota Sept. 9 followed by road trips to Northwestern and Middle Tennessee the next two weeks.
Somewhat ominously, the newspaper writes that, beyond that, “his status for the rest of the season is uncertain.”
A 12-game starter for the Falcons at safety last season, Bozeman led the team in interceptions with three. He was named third-team All-MAC after last season.
The good news is that Bozeman, a true sophomore this year, has yet to use his redshirt and would get this season of eligibility back if the injury is severe enough to sideline him for the entire 2017 campaign.
Myles Brennan is, more than likely, the future at the quarterback position for LSU. In the here and now, however, the precocious true freshman will have to bide his time — at least for now.
After a significant, and maybe unexpected, push from the true freshman Brennan, Danny Etling Tuesday was officially named as the Tigers’ starting quarterback in a battle that Ed Orgeron described as “very close.” Etling, a transfer from Purdue, came into the competition as the incumbent, starting the last 10 games of the 2016 season after taking over the job from Brandon Harris.
“We believe in Danny. We hope he has a great year,” the head coach said according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
In his first season at LSU, Etling completed 160-of-269 passes (59.5%) for 2,123 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. In his 10 starts, the Tigers went 7-3 in a season that saw them finish 8-4.
Brennan was a four-star 2017 signee, rated as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the country.
Etling’s first start in his second season with the team will come Sept. 2 against BYU in the neutral-site opener.
For those not familiar with HEB Grocery Company, it’s a grocery giant founded in Kerrville, Texas, in 1905 by a man named Florence Butt. H-E-B now owns nearly 400 stores stretching across south and central Texas and central Mexico. H-E-B essentially owns the San Antonio area and leases back to its million-plus residents, so it makes sense that when UTSA and Texas State wanted to brand their rivalry, they turned to H-E-B.
Starting this season, the UTSA-Texas State series will now be known as the H-E-B I-35 Showdown
Cue the AD boilerplate!
“We’re thrilled that H-E-B has become the title sponsor for the I-35 rivalry football games between UTSA and Texas State,” UTSA Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey said. “No matter the sport, both fan bases always show up in strong support when the Roadrunners and the Bobcats get together on the playing fields. This newly-branded name for the football games this season and next will only add to the rich history between the two schools.”
“It is great to have H-E-B supporting the I-35 football series between Texas State and UTSA,” Texas State Director of Athletics Larry Teis said. “H-E-B has a great relationship with the state of Texas and both universities. We have continued to play UTSA in other sports and the rivalry is strong for our student-athletes and fans.”
The two schools are natural gridiron rivals. They sit just 50 miles apart — connected by Interstate 35, of course — and compete for athletes and regular students alike. The Roadrunners and Bobcats have been Olympics sports rivals for years, primarily as members of the Southland Conference. Each football program is (obviously) in FBS now and have met only once, a 38-31 UTSA win in 2012, since the Roadrunners’ program launched in 2011.
The series will resume Sept. 23 in San Marcos, with Texas State making a return visit to San Antonio on Sept. 22, 2018.