No. 3 Clemson pulls away from N.C. State; now turns page toward Noles

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Three third-quarter touchdowns, including two thrown by quarterback Deshaun Watson, helped No. 3 Clemson (8-0, 5-0 ACC) pull away on the road against upset-minded N.C. State (5-3, 1-3 ACC). The 56-41 victory helped set-up the ACC’s game of the year next week against Florida State.

Watson had himself a ballgame that may get him into the Heisman Trophy conversation. Watson passed for 383 yards and five touchdowns, and he rushed for 54 yards and another score to lead Clemson’s offense to the win. Running back Wayne Gallman had a huge game on he ground, with 173 rushing yards and a touchdown.

What was a fairly balanced game in the first half slanted in favor of Clemson in the second half, although the Wolfpack made an attempt to hang around and keep the pressure on. Clemson handled it well though. Clemson ended the day with 623 yards of offense, while holding N.C. State to 254 yards.

Clemson took advantage of a late opportunity before halftime to snag the lead against North Carolina State. A missed field goal by N.C. State gave Clemson a chance to string two big plays together for a late touchdown, giving the Tigers a six-point lead at the halftime instead of a one or four-point deficit. even if N.C. State did go to the break down, the Tigers were likely to break out in a big way in the second half, and they did just that. Clemson put together three touchdown drives in the third quarter, each driving at least 75 yards. Watson threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Deon Cain to put the Tigers up by two scores, 40-27 and tossed a 35-yard touchdown later in the third quarter to Zac Brooks for a 20-point advantage.

Now, undefeated Clemson will start turning a page toward their biggest game of the 2015 season. As is typically the case, Clemson and Florida State will likely decide which teams will go on to win the Atlantic Division and give the ACC its best chance to be represented in the College Football Playoff. Florida State has won the last three meetings between the two rivals. The winner of this game has gone on to play for the ACC championship each of the past five seasons, and the odds are incredibly good that trend will continue. Florida State has already lost a game in conference play, but would hold a tiebreaker against Clemson if each finished with one conference loss, Clemson’s being to Florida State. Clemson would clinch the ACC Atlantic Division with a win before even getting to games against Syracuse and Wake Forest to wrap up ACC play.

N.C. State will look to rebound next week on the road when the Wolfpack take on Boston College. Boston College lost their fifth straight game Saturday, this one against Virginia Tech. Boston College now must win each of their remaining games in order to become bowl eligible.

Alabama, SEC reign in first round of NFL draft

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And, in other news, water’s wet, sky is blue, death and taxes and yadda yadda yadda.

The first round of the 2018 NFL draft has officially been put to bed, and four Alabama players and 10 total from the SEC were selected amongst the first 32 picks.  Those totals represent the most for an individual school and a conference yet again.

For perspective, that conference last year had a record-tying 12 players taken in the first round; Alabama, with two, was tied with Clemson and Ohio State for most for an individual school.  This year, there were six other schools with more than one player selected: College Football Playoff championship game runner-up Georgia with three, while Louisville, Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA and Virginia Tech were next with two each.

The Tech picks, incidentally, were linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (No. 16, Buffalo Bills) and safety Terrell Edmunds (No. 28, Pittsburgh Steelers).  Those two are brothers, making them the first siblings ever selected in the first round of the same NFL draft.

Aside from the SEC, the Power Five conferences went, in order of the number of selections, the ACC (six), Big Ten (four), Pac-12 (four) and Big 12 (one).  That number for the Big 12, incidentally, is two fewer than the Mountain West’s three and the same as the one each from the AAC and Conference USA.

Over the last six NFL drafts in the first round, the Power Five conference selections look like this:

SEC: 60
ACC: 36
PAC-12: 33
Big Ten: 25
Big 12: 12

Alabama joins Miami in some very exclusive NFL draft company

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It took a little while longer than what some of the early mock drafts had projected, but Alabama has finally joined some rarefied Player Selection Meeting air.

With the 11th overall pick of the 2018 NFL, the Miami Dolphins selected Alabama defensive back/Swiss army knife Minkah Fitzpatrick. With that selection, the Crimson Tide has now seen a player taken in the first round of the draft each of the last 10 years, joining the Miami Hurricanes as the only program that can make that claim.

The All-American Fitzpatrick was the second player from the SEC taken thus far, joining Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, who was taken eighth overall by the Chicago Bears.  And,  just as we were getting ready to post this, one of Fitzpatrick’s teammates, Da’Ron Payne, was taken by the Washington Redskins with the 13th-overall pick.

Baker Mayfield becomes first former walk-on to be selected No. 1 overall in NFL draft

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You can add yet another notch to Baker Mayfield‘s burgeoning list of accomplishments.

In the weeks leading up to the 2018 NFL draft, most mock drafts had either USC quarterback Sam Darnold or Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen going No. 1 overall to the Cleveland Browns. In the last 24 hours, however, there was a growing buzz surrounding the Oklahoma signal-caller for that top spot.

Thursday night, at a little after 8 p.m. ET at AT&T Stadium, that buzz turned into a reality as the Browns made Mayfield the first pick of this year’s draft. And, not only did he become the fourth-ever Sooner to be taken No. 1 overall, he becomes the only player who began his collegiate career as a walk-on to be selected first in the draft.

Famously, Mayfield walked not once but twice in his collegiate playing career — first at Texas Tech and then again at Oklahoma after he decided to transfer from the Red Raiders. Mayfield, a three-star 2013 recruit who was rated as the No. 42 pro-style quarterback in the country, actually held offers from pre-Lane Kiffin Florida Atlantic, New Mexico and Rice before opting to become a walk-on in Lubbock.

While with the Red Raiders, Mayfield became, it’s believed, the first-ever to start a season opener as a true freshman walk-on.

After transferring to the Sooners and sitting out the 2014 season, the Austin, Tex., native became one of the most prolific quarterbacks in college football history. He helped lead the Sooners to the College Football Playoffs two of the last three seasons and put together back-to-back years in 2016 and 2017 that were the best, passer rating-wise, in the history of the game. He capped off that prodigious statistical run by winning the 2017 Heisman Trophy in one of the biggest landslides in the award’s history.

Report: QB Shea Patterson will be eligible for Michigan this fall

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The Michigan Wolverines may have their new starting quarterback. Shea Patterson, after a drawn-out battle for eligibility this season, will be eligible to play for the Wolverines this fall. According to a report from The Detroit News, Patterson has been granted a transfer waiver from the NCAA after the NCAA, Michigan and Ole Miss came to terms on an agreement to allow for Patterson to become eligible.

From The Detroit News report;

An agreement has been reached among the NCAA, Michigan and Ole Miss, according to the source, and with the completion of some paperwork, Patterson will be eligible to play this fall.

The source requested anonymity because an official announcement has not been made, but that announcement is expected soon.

A Michigan official said Thursday night the athletic department has “no new information on a final decision from the NCAA.”

Ole Miss had been holding up the transfer process for Patterson because the school did not accept Patterson’s reason for wanting to transfer from the Rebels to Michigan. Frustrated with the process, Patterson ripped Ole Miss and former head coach Hugh Freeze. With Ole Miss blocking the transfer for Patterson, the former Ole Miss quarterback had been hanging in limbo with Michigan with no idea if he would be cleared to play this fall for the Wolverines or if he would have to sit out a season due to typical NCAA transfer rules.

Because Ole Miss was placed on probation amid scandal, Patterson sought a transfer after feeling he had been misled and lied to by Freeze and Ole Miss. Now at Michigan, Patterson can immediately begin focusing on competing for the starting job at quarterback for Jim Harbaugh and Michigan. Given how much Michigan could stand to improve at the position, Patterson could give the Wolverines a much-needed boost this fall.

A formal announcement on Patterson’s status at Michigan is expected to be made once the legal paperwork is completed between the NCAA, Michigan, and Ole Miss.