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Auburn survives Kentucky comeback, hangs on for much-needed win

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Through the first half of 2015, Auburn’s season has been a disappointment.  Thursday night, they avoided it toppling over into the embarrassing.

Up 23-10 at halftime, AU watched as Kentucky mounted a semi-furious second-half rally, with the Tigers hanging on for a 30-27 win.  The win was the Tigers’ first in SEC play against two losses, and pushed them to 4-2 overall with six games remaining.

Conversely, the loss was seriously damaging to any hopes Kentucky had held to keep pace with Florida in the SEC East.  Not only did UK fall to 2-2 and into a tie with Georgia in the division, they now, in reality, are two-and-a-half games behind 4-0 UF as the Gators already beat the Wildcats earlier in the season.

Arguably the key sequence that could very well have changed the narrative in the above paragraph came a handful of minutes into the fourth quarter.

A Peyton Barber run from the UK 48-yard line ended with what was ruled a fumble that was recovered by the Wildcats with 10:18 remaining.  Upon further review, however, Barber was ruled down and the ball reverted back to the Tigers.  Two plays later, Sean White hit Ricardo Louis for 34 yards down to the UK 12; three plays later, Barber ran in from three yards out to push the lead to 30-20 with 7:56 remaining.

Roughly four minutes after that, a Mike Horton one-yard touchdown run sliced the lead to 30-27 4:06 left.  The Wildcats got the ball back at their own 15 with 2:12 remaining and one last chance, and managed to move as far as the Tigers’ 44-yard line before Patrick Towles, forced out of the pocket, was stopped on a fourth-down run that gave the ball back to AU on downs with just 25 ticks left on the clock.

All six touchdowns scored in the game, three by each team, came on the ground.  AU’s Peyton Barber and UK’s Boom Williams accounted for two apiece.

Towles passed for 359 yards in a losing effort.  It was the junior’s second straight 300-yard game and fifth of his career; the Wildcats’ record in those games dropped to 2-3.

The loss was Kentucky’s ninth straight at home to Auburn.  The Wildcats have not beaten the Tigers in Commonwealth Stadium since 1966.

VIDEO: LSU RB Derrius Guice squats 650 pounds

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Derrius Guice may be the most underrated player in college football.

Playing in the shadow of Leonard Fournette, Guice posted an eye-popping 8.55 yards per carry (51 rushes for 436 yards) as a freshman in 2015, then kept his big-play ability as his usage increased while Fournette battled injuries in his final college season. Guice rushed 183 times for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns; his 7.58 yards per carry average was the most among Power 5 rushers with at least 180 carries.

So, yes, Guice is really good. He’s also a physical freak.

LSU captured and tweeted video Friday of Guice squatting 650 pounds, more than three times his listed 212 pounds.

If — and this is a massive, Les Miles-firing if — LSU can consistently throw the ball in 2017, go ahead and make Guice your darkhorse Heisman contender in 2017.

(HT CBS Sports)

Former Miami TE Jovani Haskins headed to West Virginia

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Jovani Haskins announced two weeks ago he was leaving Miami for “somewhere else.” That somewhere else proved to be a favorite destination of other Sunshine State transfers: West Virginia.

“WVU is my new home and I can’t wait to perform in front of the fans of West Virginia!” he tweeted on Saturday.

A 3-star prospect out of Bergenfield, N.J.., Haskins was offered by West Virginia in the class of 2016 and most recruiting experts actually had him signing with the Mountaineers before a surprise commitment to Miami.

Haskins joins two former state of Florida players on WVU’s roster: starting quarterback Will Grier (Florida) and former Miami quarterback Jack Allison (Miami). The Mountaineers also employed Florida State transfer Clint Trickett at quarterback and Miami transfer Antonio Crawford at cornerback.

Haskins redshirted in 2016 and will presumably sit out 2017 before gaining eligibility in ’18. West Virginia could use the help immediately; the roster lists one scholarship tight end at present. WVU currently has two tight ends pledged for the 2018 class in addition to Haskins.

 

BYU wearing special patch in honor of LaVell Edwards

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BYU got the summer media day fun started on Friday with their football media day. BYU tends to pull out all the stops on its media day with coach and player interviews, alumni returning, and a handful of announcements about the future of the program. In addition to news about their relationship with ESPN, BYU also announced the football team will be sporting a patch this season in honor of the late LaVell Edwards.

In addition to players wearing the patch on their jerseys, BYU coaches will also wear the patch on their sleeves.

Edwards passed away in December at the age of 86. The BYU coaching legend spent 29 seasons on the sidelines in Provo and accumulated 257 wins along the way. Among those was a national championship season in 1984, which remains the most recent national championship to be claimed by a program not currently in a power conference. Edwards took 22 BYU teams to a bowl game.

Now if we can just keep getting BYU to stick to that lighter shade of blue as their main home uniform, we’ll be in great shape.

Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks found guilty of rape

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks was convicted by a jury on Friday for rape of a female Vanderbilt student. Following 15 hours of jury deliberations, the verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery was in.

”He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, said after the verdict. ”We have some really good issues to raise.”

Part of Banks’ defense was built on succumbing to peer pressure, suggesting he feared he may be beaten up by teammates if he did not participate in the scandalous activity. The jury, having reviewed videos and photos from the incident, some of which were shot by Banks, determined that was not a viable defense.

”Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,” Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said in closing arguments, according to the Associated Press. ”But it doesn’t give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that’s the case, then we’d have the ‘football team defense.”’

Banks will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison. One count of aggravated rape has a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Other former Vanderbilt players had previously been convicted for their roles in the 2013 rape. Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison in April 2016. Brandon Vandenbeurg was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.