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.

Second ex-Baylor football player arrested for 2013 gang rape

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For the second time in as many days, a former Baylor football player has been arrested for his connection to an alleged gang rape in 2013., according to The Dallas Morning NewsMyke Chatman, a former Baylor running back, was arrested Thursday by U.S. Marshals for suspected gang rape of a female Baylor student one day after former Baylor teammate Tre'Von Armstead was arrested and charged for the same incident.

Chatman and Armstead had previously been suspected of rape in 2013 but no charges were dropped at the time after the alleged victim chose not to pursue legal action against the football players. The woman filed charges against Baylor University in January and has since reached a settlement with the university. However, information from the lawsuit led to more information being revealed and shared with the authorities to contribute to ongoing investigations since these issues have been brought back to life in recent years.

Armstead was arrested for the second time this month, with the most recent arrest related to this 2013 incident. Earlier in March, Armstead was arrested for domestic battery, resisting arrest and damaging a police vehicle.

Report: LSU DL Isaiah Washington ruled ineliegible for spring

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Sophomore defensive end Isaiah Washington has been ruled ineligible for the spring practice season at LSU, according to Ross Dellenger of The Advocate.

Washington was a four-star recruit in LSU’s Class of 2015. The New Orleans native appeared in six games for the Tigers as a freshman. Washington did not play in the 2016 season due to a knee injury suffered in the summer. He was slated to be a backup linebacker and defensive end in 2016 prior to the injury. It is expected to be a backup option for LSU’s defensive line with all four starters back this season.

Ex-Baylor player Sam Ukwuachu has sexual assault conviction overturned by appeals court

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Former Baylor and Boise State football player Sam Ukwuachu has had his conviction for sexual assault overturned, but he is far from free just yet. The 10th Couth of Appeals in Texas overturned a sexual assault conviction on Thursday and is sending the case back to district court for a brand new trial.

The Court of Appeals determined phone evidence used by the prosecution was improperly used and attained.

“In six issues, Ukwuachu complains that the trial court erred by allowing the State to reference the cell phone records of his roommate during its cross-examination of his roommate and his roommate’s friend, that the indictment was defective, that evidence of an extraneous offense was improperly admitted, that his due process rights were violated due to an abuse of the grand jury process by the State, and that text messages between the victim and a friend of hers the night of the alleged offense were improperly excluded,” an elaborate ruling from the Court of Appeals explained. “Because we find that the trial court erred by disallowing the admission of evidence … we reverse the judgment of conviction and remand this proceeding for a new trial.”

“While I respect the 10th Court of Appeals, I disagree with their decision and reasoning in this case,” McLennan County District Attorney Abelk Reyna said upon learning of the appeal decision. “I am extremely confident in the decisions made by our prosecutors and the rulings made by Judge Johnson in the trial of this case.”

Ukwuachu transferred from Boise State to Baylor after being dismissed by the Broncos program in 2013, reportedly following a case of depression in Boise. Boise State denied any knowledge of Ukwuachu’s violence toward women when he was with the program, which was prompted by comments from former Baylor head coach Art Briles. Former Boise State head coach Chris Petersen did claim to have informed Briles of Ukwuachu’s violent past.

Ukwuachu was found guilty and sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years probation for rape in August 2015.

The alleged victim of Ukwuachu has already settled a lawsuit with Baylor.

Arkansas state senate votes to revise concealed gun law to prevent guns in football stadiums

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One day after Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill to allow concealed guns to be carried into football stadiums, the state senate voted to make an exemption to block guns on game day.

The house bill that was signed into law by the governor this week would have allowed those with proper training to be allowed to bring a concealed handgun into an otherwise restricted area such as a football stadium. The bill overruled any stadium policies banning weapons as well, but that will no longer be the case.

According to the Associated Press, the Arkansas state senate voted 22-10 in favor of an exemption to the rule that would uphold a weapons ban in football stadiums throughout the state. The law will still allow those with the proper training to carry a concealed handgun on college campuses, in bars and government buildings, but football stadiums are off limits.

The amended bill still must pass through the House of Representatives in Arkansas.