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Hokies keep hopes for one last BeamerBall bowl very much alive

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With Frank Beamer announcing earlier this month that 2015 would be his last as Virginia Tech’s head coach, much was made of this being the long-time Hokie boss’ final Thursday night game.  In the end, the Hokies turned it into a night to remember for the departing coach.

Trailing by two touchdowns early on, VT was able to come back late in the first half, then again late in the second to secure a 23-21 win over Georgia Tech.  The win improved the Hokies to 5-5 on the season, meaning Tech needs to win one of its last two (North Carolina, at Virginia) to ensure Beamer will be going bowling one last time in his storied career and the Hokies won’t be home for the postseason for the first time in more than two decades.

VT had appeared in 22 straight bowl games — all under Beamer — entering the 2015 season, the second-longest streak in the country behind Florida State’s 33 in a row that will be extended to 34* this season.  GT, meanwhile, tumbled to 3-7, meaning their streak of 18 straight bowl appearances has officially come to an end.  That streak had been tied for third nationally with in-state rival Georgia.

The Yellow Jackets jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, only to see the Hokies score two unanswered touchdowns in the last six minutes of the second to knot the score at 14-all entering the half.  A Brant Mitchell pick-six off a Michael Brewer pass a minute into the third quarter gave GT a seven-point lead at 21-14, with a Joey Slye field goal from 27 yards out slicing the Hokie deficit to four a little less than five minutes later.

Scoreless through the rest of the third and the first third of the final quarter, a Broderick Snoddy fumble was recovered by the Hokies at their own 32-yard line with 10:41 remaining. A three-and-out gave the ball right back to the Yellow Jackets at their own 20-yard line… only to see GT generously hand the ball right back to VT on a fumble of their own on their first play following the punt. Aided by a third-down pass interference call, Travon McMillian‘s four-yard touchdown run, coupled with a missed extra point, gave the Hokies a 23-21 lead, its first of the night, with less than seven minutes left.

That missed PAT didn’t prove costly for the Hokies, however, as the Yellow Jackets failed to get into field goal range on either of their last two drives.

The Hokies outgained by the Yellow Jackets 343-258, and won the turnover battle 3-2 as well.  McMillian led all rushers with 135 yards on the ground, throwing in a pair of touchdowns for good measure.

Tonight’s game was the Yellow Jackets’ 31st on ESPN’s Thursday night package, the most of any FBS program.  The second-most?  Their opponents, the Hokies, with 30.

(*I refuse to comply with this FSU nonsense. The Seminoles’ streak is at 34 straight.)

Akron earns second-ever spot in MAC championship game

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Akron came into Week 13 needing to either win or rely on someone else to lose.  In the end, the Zips decided to just go ahead and punch their own ticket to the Motor City, thank you very much.

Jumping out to a 24-7 halftime lead Tuesday night, that margin proved to be more than enough for Akron as they easily cruised past rival Kent State in a 24-14 win.  Kent actually outgained its hosts 246-191, but a fumble return for a touchdown with less than 20 seconds left in the second quarter essentially sealed the win for Akron.

Both Akron and Ohio entered this week tied atop the MAC East at 5-2.  However, the Zips beat the Bobcats in Week 12, meaning Akron is the first MAC team to claim a spot in the conference championship game at Detroit’s Ford Field next weekend.

This will mark the Zips’s second-ever title-game appearance, with the first coming in 2005.  That season, Akron beat Northern Illinois 31-30 for its first-ever conference championship.

Akron will play either NIU (6-1) or Toledo (6-1) in this year’s title game, although it’s trending heavily toward the Rockets as they own the head-to-head with the Huskies.  So, the possibilities?

Toledo wins the West with either a win over Western Michigan OR an NIU loss. Northern Illinois needs to beat Central Michigan AND have Toledo lose to WMU at home to win the division.

Report: Florida appears ready to move on from Chip Kelly pursuit if deal isn’t consummated soon

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Florida’s search for a new head coach could very shortly be ready to take another twist.

Despite a certain former Head Ball Coach saying UF’s new head coach would be a current one, speculation on Jim McElwain‘s replacement has seemingly centered on Chip Kelly over the last few days. In fact, a group of UF officials headed by athletic director Scott Stricklin and president Kent Fuchs visited with Kelly in New Hampshire over the weekend to discuss the job.

While it walks, talks and smells like the university has targeted Kelly as its top choice, it appears they want an answer, one way or the other, from the former Oregon head coach sooner rather than later. From Yahoo! SportsPat Forde:

But with other potential candidates becoming available for discussion this weekend, Florida officials appear to be ready to move on shortly after Thanksgiving if a deal has not been struck with Kelly.

Potentially mucking up the works in Gainesville is UCLA, which fired Jim Mora Sunday and is also said to be targeting Kelly as a replacement.  In fact, it’s being reported that the Bruins’ search contingent has already met with Kelly.

UCF’s Scott Frost, who is believed to be Nebraska’s top choice when/when it moves on from Mike Riley, and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen are thought to be likely targets should either Kelly snub the Gators or they move on.

One very likely reason for UF’s reported urgency for a decision from Kelly is the revamped recruiting calendar. This year marks the first time that there’s an early signing period in football, with Class of 2018 recruits given a 72-hour window from Dec. 20-22 to sign their National Letters of Intent.

The sooner UF can wrap up its search, the sooner its new coach and his staff can try to hold together some semblance of a first recruiting class with the program – especially with two SEC programs, Tennessee and Ole Miss, already looking for a head coach while a couple of others (Arkansas, Texas A&M) could be on the hunt as early as this coming weekend as well.

Miami jumps Clemson, Wisconsin remains No. 5 in latest CFP rankings

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The third-to-last edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, and the only changes in the top 12 came at spot No. 2, where Miami jumped Clemson ahead of the pair’s ACC title clash on Dec. 2.

USC remained the highest-ranked Pac-12 team at No. 11, dimming any hopes the Pac-12 could back-door its way into the top four should chaos reign elsewhere. The Trojans were one spot ahead of TCU and two spots ahead of the Pac-12’s second-highest ranked team in Washington State. Central Florida again led all Group of 5 teams at No. 15.

Virginia Tech re-joined the rankings at No. 25, one spot behind the debut rankings for South Carolina.

The top 25:

1. Alabama
2. Miami
3. Clemson
4. Oklahoma
5. Wisconsin
6. Auburn
7. Georgia
8. Notre Dame
9. Ohio State
10. Penn State
11. USC
12. TCU
13. Washington State
14. Mississippi State
15. Central Florida
16. Michigan State
17. Washington
18. LSU
19. Oklahoma State
20. Memphis
21. Stanford
22. Northwestern
23. Boise State
24. South Carolina
25. Virginia Tech

Report: LSU victory would not save Kevin Sumlin’s job

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Kevin Sumlin said Tuesday afternoon he expects to be Texas A&M’s head coach in 2018. A report Tuesday night says otherwise.

Sumlin will be fired in the day or days following Saturday’s game with No. 20 LSU, win or lose, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle. The Aggies are 0-5 against LSU under Sumlin and double-digit underdogs for Saturday’s game in Baton Rouge. The Chronicle‘s report is not the first to proclaim Sumlin’s future firing, but it is the most definitive.

Sumlin is 7-4 (4-3 SEC) this season and 51-25 overall, a mark that ranks in the top-third of the SEC since joining the league in 2012 — but Sumlin is not paid to deliver top-third results. His program failed to live up to the standard set in that debut campaign, with an 11-2 mark, a win in Tuscaloosa, a Cotton Bowl blowout of Oklahoma and a Heisman Trophy for Johnny Manziel.

The Chronicle reported that Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher will be A&M’s top target to replace Sumlin.