No. 18 BYU loses game, big bowl dreams and Taysom Hill all in one night

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What was supposed to be a memorable night honoring BYU legend Jim McMahon turned sour in a hurry late in the first half. Utah State (3-2) scored 21 points in the final five minutes of the first half and No. 18 BYU (4-1) lost quarterback Taysom Hill for the rest of the season to a broken leg suffered just before halftime. Utah State snapped BYU’s big bowl dreams with a 35-20 victory in Provo Friday night.

Hill was looking like a Heisman candidate, offering the same sort of season Northern Illinois had seen with Jordan Lynch in recent seasons. Hill suffered the injury when attempting to roll out to the sideline on a second-and-long. His leg was rolled on in a tackle attempt by Utah State’s Brian Suite. The irony of the injury was it was Suite who was involved in a play that ended Hill’s 2012 season as well.

After the game BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said Hill will undergo surgery today. It is expected to take three or four months for Hill to recover from the injury, meaning we have seen the last of Hill on the football field this season.

Utah State was already taking control of the game when Hill went down. The Aggies had just tied the game at 14-14 late in the first half when a botched exchange between Hill and BYU running back Jamaal Williams was recovered by Utah State on BYU’s first play from scrimmage of the ensuing possession. The Aggies went right for the end zone with a 22-yard pass from Darell Garretson to Devonte Robinson for a 21-14 lead. BYU’s next drive lost momentum when Hill was taken off the field with the injury. The Cougars punted and Utah State took over for one last possession starting from their 13-yard line, but on first down from the 28-yard line Garretson launched a deep pass down the right sideline to Hunter Sharp, who took it 72 yards for a touchdown, giving Utah State a commanding, and deflating 28-14 into the half. This all happened in a span of three and a half minutes, but it must have felt like an eternity for BYU.

Utah State, now without their star quarterback Chuckie Keeton for the remainder of the year, scored a major victory for the program. This was not a conference game, but the Aggies won their first game on the road this season and now look to have some confidence to move through Mountain West Conference play moving forward. Last year Utah State advanced to the conference championship game without Keeton, and if Friday night was any indication, these Aggies have what it takes to make a return trip to the conference championship game again.

BYU’s bowl picture is pretty simple. The Cougars are locked into a trip to the Miami Beach Bowl as long as they qualify for bowl eligibility. BYU only needs two more wins to become bowl eligible, which still should be a lock even without Hill. But the season started off so strong for BYU and the Cougars were making a case to be considered for a New Years Bowl slot if things continued to develop the way it seemed they could. BYU likely needed to run the table for that to be the case though, which means BYU will likely be sticking with the Miami Beach Bowl.

Former 49ers executive reportedly joining Jim Harbaugh in Ann Arbor

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Jim Harbaugh is reaching back to his NFL days for the latest hire at Michigan.

Veteran Bay Area journalist Tim Kawakami reports that recent San Francisco 49ers personnel executive Tom Gamble is headed to Ann Arbor to join the Wolverines staff.

According to the fine folks over at sister site ProFootballTalk, Gamble left the 49ers in February shortly after John Lynch was hired by the franchise as general manager. He worked with Harbaugh when their tenures with San Francisco overlapped in 2011 and 2012 before Gamble eventually departed for a two-year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles.

It’s unclear what role specifically Gamble will take with the Wolverines as Harbaugh already hired a new director of player personnel this year by bringing Sean Magee over from Navy. The former 49ers executive doesn’t have much college experience in the past few decades beyond scouting so it will be interesting to see what his official title at Michigan will be once formally announced by the school.

Either way, it seems like Harbaugh is fully investing in off-the-field roles like his peers at Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State and he is not shying away from reaching into the NFL ranks to do so.

Big Ten media poll picks Ohio State to win league, Wisconsin to capture West Division

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The Big Ten conference office turns their nose up at doing an official media poll to pick the winner of the league like all of their other peers in college football but the fine folks over at Cleveland.com have been filling in the gap for the past several years so fans, coaches and others can get a sense at which teams are the favorites to hoist the trophy at the end of the year.

The site just released the latest edition of their annual media poll and (surprise, surprise) Ohio State was picked by 29 of the 38 voters to win the Big Ten this season, including 34 first-place votes for the Buckeyes to capture the rugged East Division title. Penn State drew seven first place votes while Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan squad received just one person’s confidence in winning the division.

Wisconsin was the heavy favorite to represent the West in Indianapolis with 31 first place votes, followed by Northwestern (five) and Nebraska (two). Fittingly,  22 media members from around the league picked the Buckeyes to beat the Badgers in the conference championship game, compared to just three who reversed the outcome. Not surprisingly, 34 of the 38 voters said at least one Big Ten team will make this year’s College Football Playoff, with Ohio State being the overwhelming pick to represent the league with 26 votes.

A word of warning however as Cleveland.com notes that the poll has never successfully picked the Big Ten winner in six preseason polls and Ohio State has only ever won the conference when they were not the choice by the media.

Walter Camp releases 2017 Player of the Year Watch List

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Another day, another watch list for a major college football world.

The Walter Camp Foundation released their preseason watch list for the annual Player of the Year award and not surprisingly it has all of the usual stars from around the sport, including last year’s winner Lamar Jackson and the favorite for just about every award in 2017, USC’s Sam Darnold.

The foundation didn’t just stick with quarterbacks and pass rushers however, they also did the noble thing and included one kicker and one punter on their watch list. Kudos for recognizing that special teams players are watch list candidates too. The full list is below.

Quarterbacks

Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming, Jr.

Jake Browning, QB, Washington, Jr.

JT Barrett, QB, Ohio State, Sr.

Sam Darnold, QB, USC, Soph.

Luke Falk, QB, Washington State, Sr.

Quinton Flowers, QB, USF, Sr.

Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State, Soph.

Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama, Soph.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville, Jr.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma, Sr.

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State, Sr.

Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State, Jr.

Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA, Jr.

Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State, Jr.

Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky, Sr.

Running Backs 

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State, Jr.

Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia, Sr.

Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama, Jr.

Jarvion Franklin, RB, Western Michigan, Sr.

Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon, Sr.

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU, Jr.

Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern, Sr.

Jalin Moore, RB, Appalachian State, Jr.

Rashaad Penny, RB/KR, San Diego State, Sr.

Mark Walton, RB, Miami (Fla.), Jr.

Wide Receivers/Special Teams/Lineman 

Daniel Carlson, PK, Auburn, Sr.

Quadree Henderson, WR/KR, Pittsburgh, Jr.

Billy Price, OL, Ohio State, Sr.

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama, Jr.

James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State, Sr.

Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah, Jr.

Defense

Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama, Jr.

Rashan Gary, DT, Michigan, Soph.

Derwin James, DB, Florida State

Arden Key, LB, LSU, Sr.

Harold Landry, DE, Boston College, Sr.

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson, Soph.

Tyquan Lewis, DL, Ohio State, Sr.

Ed Oliver, DT, Houston, Soph.

Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson, Jr.

Lane Kiffin trolls Ole Miss with latest Twitter follows

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Lane Kiffin is back in the news for doing Lane Kiffin things.

Just hours after Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze resigned after discovery of phone calls to escort service, the Florida Atlantic coach decided to pop up into everybody’s timeline and subtly troll the Rebels with some recent Twitter followers. Some will interpret following the Ole Miss accounts as being a subtle way to send interest in moving to Oxford after the season but in reality this is more of Lane being Lane, especially considering his brother is wrapped up in the school’s NCAA infractions case.

We’re sure the rest of the SEC (outside of those in Oxford) will enjoy a little chuckle over the move but something says at least a few Ole Miss fans will now be intrigued about the prospect of Kiffin taking over the program.