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Seven — seven!!! — turnovers leave Boise dazed, G5 hopes on the ropes

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No. 21 Boise State came into Friday night’s game in Logan riding a 12-game winning streak against Utah State.  If they’re going to make it a baker’s dozen against their Mountain West foes — and remain in the Group of Five picture — they’re gonna have to do it coming from behind.  From way, way, waaayyy behind.

Through two quarters of play, a stunned Broncos squad finds itself down 45-10 to the home-standing Aggies.  In the Broncos’ last four games, all wins, they’d allowed a combined 24 points.  The only game in which the defense had allowed more than 14 points this season came in a Week 2, a 35-24 loss at BYU.

To say that the Broncos’ offense has been off its game — and the Aggies’ defense on its — would be an understatement.  Boise came into the game 10th nationally in scoring offense (40.7 ppg) and 19th in total offense (482.3 ppg); the Aggies held the Broncos to negative first-quarter yardage and didn’t allow a first down until a couple of minutes were gone in the second quarter.

The key sequence of the half, and perhaps the game as well as the Broncos’ postseason, came late in the first and on into the second quarter, with Boise trailing 7-3 at the time.

USU’s Jake Thompson hit on a 51-yard field goal that seemingly would’ve been good from 71 yards out with 3:17 left in the opening quarter.  On the ensuing possession, true freshman Brett Rypien was sacked on a third-and-seven and fumbled, with the recovery giving the Aggies the ball at the Broncos’ 11-yard line.  Three plays later, Kent Meyers hit Hunter Sharp from 10 yards out for a touchdown.  On Boise’s next play from scrimmage, another Rypien fumble on a strip-sack was again recovered by USU at the opponent’s 15; three plays after that, LaJuan Hunt scored on a four-yard run.

So, in a span of 3:48, the Broncos saw a four-point deficit balloon to 21 at 24-3 thanks to two costly turnovers.  A third turnover, Rypien’s first interception of the game, on the drive after Hunt’s touchdown didn’t hurt the Broncos on the scoreboard as the Aggies were forced to punt for the first time since very early in the first quarter.

The Broncos actually turned it over on four straight possessions, but the Aggies fumbled a second Rypien pick back to Boise.  The visitors then turned that turnover flip-flop into a positive — a Kelsey Young one-yard run — to seemingly give the Broncos some much-needed momentum heading into the locker room.

Unbelievably, and after forcing a three-and-out with 2:30 minutes left that gave them the ball just shy of the 50 with a chance to add to the momentum, the Broncos handed the ball back to the Aggies on a Devan Demas fumble with 2:09 left in the quarter.  A 39-yard touchdown run by Meyers a minute later stripped the Broncos of any momentum they may have gotten from the Young score.

But wait, there’s more.  Seriously.

On the very next possession, with just 1:12 left in the half, a Rypien pass completion to Chaz Anderson was in turn fumbled, with USU recovering at the 20-yard line.  For those keeping score at home, that’s six turnovers for the Broncos — four lost fumbles, two interceptions.

One play later, USU put what could have been the final nail in Boise’s coffin as Meyers hit Sharp on a 21-yard touchdown catch.

But wait, there’s more.  Seriously.

With :11 seconds to play, Rypien threw his third pick of the game, which Marwin Evans returned 90 yards for a touchdown as the final seconds ticked off the clock.  And that pick came on the play right after another Rypien fumble recovered by the Aggies was instead ruled as an incomplete pass.

So, if you’re keeping a final score at home, that’s seven turnovers, five for which Rypien was directly responsible.  In the Broncos’ first six games, they had turned the ball over six times combined.

They do get the ball first to start the second half, so that have that going for them, which is nice.

One final note: The FBS record for turnovers in a game is 13 (five fumbles, eight interceptions) by Georgia vs. Georgia Tech back on Dec. 1, 1951.  Hey, it’s something to shoot for at least.

One final non-turnover note: in other Group of Five action, undefeated and 24th-ranked Houston has taken a comfortable 28-7 lead on the road into the half against 2-3 Tulane.  UH quarterback Greg Ward Jr., who came into the game as the only FBS player averaging 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing, has totaled 263 yards of offense — 213 passing, 50 rushing.

 

Iowa loses RB James Butler ‘at least through the bye’

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Iowa sat Akrum Wadley for much of Saturday’s 31-14 win over North Texas after he was flagged for a (frankly ridiculous) excessive celebration penalty for high-stepping his way to the Kinnick Stadium end zone. (The score was wiped off the board, but Iowa completed the drive with a touchdown anyway.) The Hawkeyes will have no choice but to give him carries now.

Running back James Butler (20) has injured an elbow that will keep him out for the next few weeks.

“I think James will be out through the bye week,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said, via Hawkeye Report. “It will be a couple of weeks before we get him back.”

A Nevada transfer with two 1,000-yard seasons to his credit, Butler was a graduate transfer addition to the Hawkeyes, announcing his transfer on July 4. He ranks second on the club with 36 carries for 158 yards thus far in 2017, carrying a season-high 16 times for 74 yards before the injury.

Butler’s carries figure to go to fellow senior Wadley and freshmen Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin. Wadley leads the club with 60 carries for 258 yards and a touchdown, and Young and Kelly-Martin have combined to rush 30 times for 152 yards and two scores. Young made his debut in Wadley’s absence in the second half Saturday, rushing 19 times for 78 yards.

The 3-0 Hawkeyes host No. 4 Penn State on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ABC), then visit undefeated Michigan State the week after (4 p.m. ET, FOX). Iowa will host Illinois before its Oct. 14 bye week.

Lincoln Riley to earn $3.1 million a year as OU head coach

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Lincoln Riley won’t be paid nearly as much as Bob Stoops was as Oklahoma’s head coach, but he’ll earn significantly more than he did as the Sooners’ offensive coordinator.

Oklahoma approved and released Riley’s new deal on Tuesday, a 5-year contract that pays him $3.1 million annually and rises $200,000 a year. Stoops made $5.5 million in his last season, according to USA Today, while Riley earned $900,000 as offensive coordinator.

Perks include 25 hours of private airplane use, not one but two private golf club membership, and bonuses ranging from $25,000 for winning Big 12 coach of the year honors to $250,000 for a national championship.

Riley is 3-0 in his young tenure, already proving himself to be a tremendous bargain for the Sooners.

SEC releases 2018 schedule

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The SEC released its 2018 slate on Tuesday, beginning the weekend of Sept. 1 and running through the SEC Championship on Saturday, Dec. 1. It would be entirely pointless to break down winners and losers of the ’18 slate considering we don’t really even know who’s good yet in 2017 — other than Alabama — and we especially don’t know who will be good in ’18 — other than ‘Bama, of course.

But we can point out some dates that look interesting as we sit here on Tuesday, Sept. 19, the year of our Lord 2017. And, no, intra-divisional games don’t count, since they are played every year.

  • Auburn vs. Washington — Sept. 1 (at Atlanta)
  • Alabama vs. Louisville — Sept. 1 (at Orlando)
  • LSU vs. Miami — Sept. 1 (at Dallas)
  • Tennessee vs. West Virginia (at Charlotte)
  • Clemson at Texas A&M — Sept. 8
  • Vanderbilt at Notre Dame — Sept. 15
  • Florida at Mississippi State — Sept. 29
  • Tennessee at Auburn — Oct. 13

Consult the full schedule here. 

Louisville-Ole Miss 2021 Chick-fil-A Kickoff opener made official

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After reports had signaled it, it’s a done deal.

The “it” in this case is Louisville opening the 2021 season against Ole Miss, with the two programs confirming Tuesday that they will square off in one of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff games that year.  The game will be played at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, although a date and kickoff time are still to be determined.

The 2021 game will mark the first-ever meeting between the football teams.  Each has made one previous appearance in the Kickoff Game, Louisville in 2015 (31-24 loss to Auburn) and Ole Miss in 2014 (35-13 win over Boise State).

“To have the opportunity to play in this game again for the second time is a huge win for our program,” Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said in a statement. “We are honored to be welcomed back by the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, which is a tremendous testament to our loyal fan base, who helped pack the stadium in 2015. Our fans have a great history of traveling, and to have the opportunity to play a great program like Ole Miss in this brand-new facility will certainly be a hot ticket for the fans. Gary Stokan and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl group do a tremendous job with this game and we appreciate them selecting Louisville for what has become the premier game to kick off the season.”

“We are thrilled to once again be part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. We always set the goal to end the regular season in Atlanta, so it’s only fitting that’s where we begin it,” Jurich’s Ole Miss counterpart, Ross Bjork, said in his. “With our strong alumni base in Georgia, Rebel Nation will arrive in full force to experience this premier matchup in the nation’s finest new stadium. In addition, the Atlanta market is a key recruiting area for our staff, and this trip offers a tremendous opportunity to compete in front of those prospects.”

Earlier this month, it was confirmed that Alabama and Miami would square off in the other Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game the opening weekend of the 2021 season.