Associated Press

Sixth-ranked Auburn survives OT scare against FCS Jax State

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With Jacksonville State leading at the half, I wrote that “[i]t’s highly doubtful Auburn loses this game.”  In the end, they damn-near proved me wrong.

Taken to the limit by a squad from the FCS, Auburn managed to overcome poor performances all across the board and rally late for a 27-20 overtime win over Jacksonville State at Jordan-Hare Stadium.  Were it not for a couple of JSU gaffes, though, Appalachian State would’ve been moving over.  And Michigan would’ve had a bit of company.

Trailing 13-10, the Gamecocks used a field goal then a touchdown to take a 20-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter.  With AU driving for a potential game-tying score on the ensuing possession, a fumble gave the ball back to JSU, after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was stepped off, at their own seven-yard line.  A minute later, the Gamecocks (first gaffe) shanked a punt, giving the Tigers the ball back at the JSU 32-yard line with two minutes or so remaining.  Five plays later, a 10-yard touchdown pass knotted the score at 20-all.

Then, following the kickoff, JSU (second gaffe) inexplicably took a knee instead of at least attempting to get the ball down the field and into field goal range.  In overtime, Auburn scored a touchdown on its first possession.  A first down gave JSU the ball at AU’s eight-yard line on its first possession.  On third down from the five (third gaffe), quarterback Eli Jenkins was sacked for a 16-yard loss instead of throwing it away and living to fight on fourth down.  A desperation fourth-down heaved subsequently sailed out of bounds, taking with it the 41-point underdog’s hopes of a historic upset.

That said, the escape does nothing to erase the myriad questions raised throughout the course of the 60 minutes-plus for the Tigers.

First and foremost, Jeremy Johnson.  The beleaguered quarterback, who had been dubbed as Cam Newton 2.0 heading into the season, has instead turned into Thandie Newton 1.1 the first two games, tossing a total of five interceptions and generally looking lost and clueless.   Toss in a defense, which brought in Will Muschamp in the offseason to revamp a squalid 2014 squad, that gave up 438 yards to an FCS team –one week after giving up 405 to Louisville, which lost to Houston this afternoon — and you have to wonder whether AU even deserves to be ranked, let alone deep inside the Top 10 where they currently reside.

In any event, any preseason projection of AU being a bona-fide playoff contender may very well have been premature speculation at its finest.  And, yes, I’m as guilty as anyone on that front.

Report: Big 12 still raking in SEC-level cash

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It’s a bad time for the Big 12. The conference isn’t signing blue chip prospects at the rate of its peers, isn’t producing draft picks at the rate of its peers and isn’t reaching and winning big games at the rate of its peers.

But the Big 12 is still getting paid at the rate of its peers.

The league’s contracts with ESPN and FOX combined with its 10-team set up have allowed the Big 12 to keep pace with the SEC and Big Ten and remain ahead of the ACC and Pac-12 in financial distribution. The Dallas Morning News‘s Big 12 writer Chuck Carlton tweeted on Friday the league’s per-school distribution will again grow 10 percent to more than $33 million in 2017-18.

The SEC distributed just north of $40 million in 2016-17, while the Big Ten was at $33 million by 2014-15.

However, since the Big 12 does not have its own television network, its conference distributions do not include third-tier rights, which its schools keep and sell on their own — like the Longhorn Network. So schools like Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas are likely getting paid equal or above their SEC and Big Ten peers.

Now if only they could start recruiting and winning like them, too.

Former Texas DT Jordan Elliott headed to Mizzou

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Former Texas defensive tackle Jordan Elliott will now be a Missouri Tiger, he announced on Friday.

Elliott chose Missouri to follow Brick Haley, his defensive line coach in Austin that landed at Mizzou after Charlie Strong‘s firing.

“They’re a program that’s on the come up, SEC ball is the highest level,” Elliott said in an interview with Power Mizzou. “Coach Haley is one of the best D-Line coaches out there. Missouri’s a powerhouse for defensive linemen. They’re coming and going first round every year. That’s real appealing to me.

“I talked to coach Haley and got it rolling.”

Elliott was a Signing Day addition to Strong’s 2016 class who was committed to Michigan before his late flip. He said that his one season in Austin amounted to a year-long version of buyer’s remorse.

“There’s a lot of speculation going around, but at the end of the day I just wasn’t happy there,” he said. “It’s nothing against the coaches at Texas, they’re great coaches. It’s a great program and I really learned a lot of things, but I just never really enjoyed Texas since I first got there.”

Elliott posted eight tackles and 1.5 TFLs in six appearances as a true freshman last season before suffering a torn MCL against Iowa State in October.

He would have been in line for starter’s snaps had he remained on Tom Herman‘s squad this fall. Instead, Elliott will sit out the 2017 campaign and have three years remaining to compete as a Tiger beginning in ’18.

 

WATCH: FCS player paralyzed in 2015 game vs. Georgia walks

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Tired of the continuous stream of negative college football news? Here ya go.

During a September 2015 game against Georgia, Southern wide receiver Devon Gales sustained a severe spinal injury that left him paralyzed and hospitalized for five months. This week, Gales used Twitter to offer up a very encouraging and inspiring update — the former wide receiver, with the assist of a couple of physical therapists, taking a dozen steps.

On the way indeed.

In February, Georgia announced that it was launching “Drive to Build a Dawg House” for Gales and his family.

Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan avoids felony pot possession charge

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One of the top playmakers in Nebraska’s passing game has avoided what was originally a serious legal charge.

According to KETV-TV in Omaha, Stanley Morgan was arrested following a traffic stop May 6 in Port Orange, Fla., for possession of 21.4 grams of marijuana; according to the penal code in the state of Florida, possession of more than 20 grams of weed is considered a felony.  However, the television station wrote, “prosecutors charged the case as ‘possession of cannabis not more than 20 grams,’ making it a misdemeanor.”

Why the the charge against Morgan went from a potential felony to a misdemeanor — or reduced as the Associated Press reported — wasn’t detailed.  A misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia charge was dropped as well.

Cornhuskers defensive back Antonio Reed was also in the vehicle that was driven by his teammate and was charged with misdemeanor pot possession as well.

“Head Coach Mike Riley and the Athletics Department are aware of a recent incident in Florida involving Stanley Morgan Jr.,” a statement from the university began. “We will have no additional comment until we have all information regarding this matter.”

Morgan’s 33 receptions for 453 yards were second on the team last season.  With Jordan Westerkamp‘s departure, the junior is the Cornhuskers’ leading returning receiver.

Also a junior, Reed played in 22 games last season.  He was credited with 22 tackles.