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Controversial missed field goal gives Duke first bowl win since 1961

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It only makes sense that a football game between two storied basketball schools — played on a hallowed baseball ground — would come down to a three-pointer. A 36-yard Ross Martin field goal gave Duke a 44-41 lead at the top of the first overtime, and Griffin Oakes’ 38-yard miss in the bottom of the first handed the Blue Devils a win over Indiana in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl Saturday night at Yankee Stadium.

Oakes’ miss, however, was not as cut-and-dry as the box score could portray.

The win, controversial as it was, gave Duke (8-5) its first bowl victory since a 7-6 triumph over Arkansas in the 1961 Cotton Bowl. Indiana (6-7) snapped a seven-year postseason drought with Saturday’s appearance, but the Hooisers are in still in search of their first bowl win since 1991.

The teams got to overtime after a back-and-forth 60 minutes that saw both teams claim multiple leads but neither separated from the other by more than 10 points. Duke led 10-0 after one quarter thanks to an 85-yard Shaun Wilson run, then Indiana grabbed a 14-10 lead thanks to two quick scoring drives late in the second quarter. That lead lasted all of 25 seconds after Thomas Sirk darted 73 yards to put the Blue Devils back on top 17-14 with a minute left in the first half.

Oakes tied the game at 17-17 with a 45-yard field goal with just three seconds left in the first half.

Martin opened the third quarter with a 34-yard boot to put Duke back on top 20-17, and the edge see-sawed from there. Nate Sudfeld‘s three-yard pass to Nick Westbrook gave Indiana the advantage, and Sirk’s 10-yard strike to Braxton Deaver gave it back to Duke.

A 10-yard Alex Rodriguez run and another Oakes field goal gave Indiana a 34-27 lead with 11:12 to play in the fourth quarter, but Wilson immediately knotted the score again with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Sudfeld found Mitchell Paige alone in the end zone for a 25-yard score with 4:03 to play to again provide the Hooisers a touchdown advantage, but Duke once again responded when Sirk plunged in for a five-yard touchdown with 41 seconds remaining.

Given another chance to punch in a long-distance buzzer-beater, Oakes’ 56-yard field goal as time expired was no good.

Oakes’ next try and miss would hand the win over to Duke.

Each team raced up and down the field, reminiscent of a hardwood affair filled with fast breaks and turnovers. Sirk led the Blue Devils by completing 17-of-37 throws for 163 yards with a touchdown and two interception while also rushing 20 times for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Jela Duncan rushed 19 times for 103 yards, and Wilson added nine carries for 103 yards and a touchdown — plus his 98-yard kickoff return score.

Sirk was attended to by trainers after taking a hard hit on Duke’s second play of overtime, but he managed to finish the series.

For Indiana, Sudfeld hit 28-of-51 throws for 389 yards with three touchdowns and two picks, and Devine Redding accumulated 35 carries for 227 yards and one touchdown.

Seventeen separate players combined to catch the teams’ 45 completed passes.

Indiana out-gained Duke 667-536 while converting 10-of-20 third downs and holding a 33-23 first downs edge. Those yards were not enough, however, to pull out the win.

 

Illinois adds longtime NFL assistant; DC Hardy Nickerson given beefed-up title

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There was some movement on the coaching staff front for Lovie Smith Friday.

Illinois announced earlier today that Gill Byrd has been hired by Smith as the Fighting Illini’s safeties coach.  Byrd will also hold the title of passing-game coordinator.

“I’m very pleased to have Gill Byrd join the Illini coaching staff,” said Smith in a statement. “We’ve spent several seasons together in the NFL and I envision Gill bringing a great combination of knowledge and enthusiasm to our program. He will be a terrific influence on the young men he coaches, and, as good a coach as he is, he is probably an even better person.”

Byrd, who played his college football at San Jose State, has spent the past 19 seasons at the NFL level, coaching defensive backs during stops with the St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, most recently, with the Buffalo Bills last season.  This will mark Byrd’s first-ever job at any level of college football.

In addition to the hiring of Byrd, the football program also confirmed that Hardy Nickerson has been given the additional title of assistant head coach.  Nickerson has served as the Illini’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for each of the past two seasons.

Texas to give Todd Orlando raise to $1.7 million per year

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Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the raises.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the University of Texas System Board of Regents are set to approve several athletics-related contracts next week, headlined by athletic director Chris Del Conte’s multi-million dollar six-year deal and a hefty raise for Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

Orlando, who joined Tom Herman when he came over from Houston prior to last season, was already one of 15 assistants who were making over $1 million in 2017. He was courted by several programs this offseason however and the cost to retain him on the 40 Acres didn’t come cheap as his amended contract is set to pay him a reported $1.7 million as part of a new four-year deal.

Also on tap for the board? The Statesman notes that new offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand has a three-year contract awaiting approval worth nearly $640,000 annually.

While all those new contracts do add up for the Longhorns, it’s not like the burnt orange can’t afford it all as one of a handful of programs who topped $200 million in revenue last year.

Texas A&M athletic director: ‘Resource issues in ACC vs. SEC’

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CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd recently stopped in College Station to do a deep dive on one of college football’s biggest storylinesJimbo Fisher’s $75 million move from Florida State to Texas A&M.

While the money — some $90 million for the Aggies when all is said and done — is one of the more eye-catching parts of the story that are broken down, the comments from some at the school probably won’t go unnoticed by those in Fisher’s former conference.

“I’m not going to put words in Jimbo’s mouth, but there are resource issues in the ACC versus the SEC,” Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward told CBS Sports, answering part of the question as to why the national title-winning head coach made the move from one of the sport’s blue-bloods to one of the oft-labeled “sleeping giants.”

We’re guessing those in ACC territory will not take kindly to those comments and note that some schools in the league have no problem raising cash, such as Clemson when it comes to their new football facility that has everything from mini-golf to sleep specialists. They also would probably point out that the conference has just as many national titles in the past five years as the SEC does too.

Still, when you look at the larger picture, there’s little question that the SEC is ahead of the ACC when it comes to revenues as a whole and the slow pace of facilities upgrades in Tallahassee was one of the many public grumbles that Fisher made known about before leaving FSU.

Something says all those ACC-SEC football games in 2018 will see Woodward’s comments brought up again — especially when Clemson heads to College Station to play Texas A&M in Week 2.

UCF’s Shaquem Griffin wins inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award

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UCF has won another trophy for last season and this is one they can very proudly display in the school trophy case.

That’s because recent Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin was named the winner of the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award during a ceremony in the Dallas area on Thursday night. Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph were also finalists for the new award.

Griffin was one of the best players in college football for UCF despite the fact that his left hand was amputated when he was younger because of a congenital condition called amniotic band syndrome. A tenacious pass rusher, he was the AAC’s defensive player of the year in 2016 and was recently named the defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl as his team capped off a perfect season.

The award honors “exemplary leadership” on and off the field from a Division I college football player and was presented by Witten’s foundation. The former Tennessee star and All-Pro tight end with the Dallas Cowboys started the award last year and serves somewhat as the college version of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.