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Late interception gives Wisconsin its first win over USC

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Rafael Gaglianone field goal with 2:29 remaining lifted Wisconsin to a 23-21 win over No. 25 USC in the Holiday Bowl Wednesday night in San Diego, giving the Badgers their first win over the Trojans in now seven tries. Wednesday night’s game was the pair’s first meeting since 1966.

The Badgers actually appeared to take the lead one drive earlier, as Tanner McEvoy took a direct snap and ran around the right side. Officials ruled he stepped out of bounds but replays show he did stay in bounds. What would have been a long touchdown run was taken off the board in controversial fashion.

Joel Stave‘s nose was stepped on by a cleat on the play, forcing him to give way to back-up quarterback Bart Houston, who fired two incomplete passes and led to a Badgers punt from the USC 41.

Wisconsin forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, then drove 42 yards to set Rafael Gaglianone up for a go-ahead 29-yard field goal.

Though Gaglianone knocked in the winning score, it was outside linebacker Jack Cichy that was the star of the game for the Badgers. Cichy ended the drive following the go-ahead field goal by forcing Cody Kessler into his first interception since Nov. 13 into the waiting arms of Sojourn Shelton — it was Wisconsin’s first interception by a cornerback since the 2013 season — at the USC 46 with 1:44 left to play. The Badgers managed to kill 65 of the remaining 104 seconds, leaving USC a scant 36 seconds to try a game-winning field goal. Their last-gasp drive moved 40 yards before turning the ball over on downs at midfield with three seconds left on the clock.

Prior to forcing the interception, Cichy single-handedly killed a USC possession by sacking Kessler on three consecutive plays.

The former walk-on, suspended for the first half for a targeting hit in the Badgers’ season finale against Minnesota, entered the Holiday Bowl with two sacks on the entire season.

After a scoreless first quarter, Wisconsin jumped to a 10-0 lead thanks to a 28-yard Gaglianone boot and a six-yard Corey Clement touchdown run. USC answered with a three-and-a-half minute drive that culminated in a one-yard Justin Davis plunge, but Wisconsin closed the first half with another short field goal, then opened the second half with a four-yard scoring strike from Stave to Austin Traylor, giving the Badgers a 20-7 lead at the 7:49 mark of the third quarter.

USC used another Davis run and a seven-yard toss from Kessler to Darreus Rogers to take a 21-20 lead with 10:19 left to play, but the Trojans were unable to protect the lead.

Kessler closed his college career by hitting 18-of-32 passes for 221 yards with a touchdown, an interception and, oddly, a seven-yard out on the decisive 4th-and-10 with the game in its dying moments. Ronald Jones led the Trojans’ ground efforts with eight carries for 47 yards, and JuJu Smith-Schuster caught four passes for 65 yards.

The loss dropped USC to 8-6 on the season, and pushed Clay Helton to 0-2 as the Trojans’ full-time head coach.

Stave led the Badgers by connecting on 18-of-27 throws for 217 yards with a touchdown and no picks, and Clement charged for 66 yards and one score on 19 carries. Alex Erickson grabbed a game-high five passes for 54 yards.

The win allowed Wisconsin to close the year and Paul Chryst‘s first season as the head Badger at 10-3, giving the program double-digit victories in two straight and five of the last seven seasons.

 

Appalachian State confirms no interim tag for Shawn Clark, ex-Mountaineers OL gets five year deal to be head coach

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Eli Drinkwitz surprise departure from Boone after just one season has led to a rather expected move to fill his shoes with somebody who definitely won’t be bolting the school that soon.

Confirming reports from earlier in the week, Appalachian State has officially removed any sort of interim tag from Shawn Clark and give him the permanent position with a five year deal as head coach.

“It’s a great day to be a Mountaineer,” Director of Athletics Doug Gillin said in a statement. “We are thrilled to announce Shawn Clark as our new head coach. He’s been a great leader for us since the day he returned to his alma mater. He has experience at both Power Five and Group of Five schools and is highly respected among his peers, his players, on campus and in the community. His experience as a leader, play-caller and recruiter will help us to continue to raise our football program to new heights.”

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime to be named the head football coach at my alma mater, the school that I love so much,” Clark added. “I would like to thank Chancellor Everts, the Board of Trustees and Doug Gillin for entrusting me with this great responsibility. I am excited to keep pushing our players to greatness on and off the field and to work with a great coaching staff to win championships. My family and I are grateful to stay in Boone and keep pushing this program to new heights.”

Clark has been the offensive line coach at his alma mater the past four years under both Drinkwitz and Scott Sartterfield before both moved onto Power Five gigs.

The 44-year-old Clark was part of staffs at Louisville, Eastern Kentucky, Purdue and Kent State as well before returning to Boone, where he was an offensive lineman on some of the program’s powerhouse teams back in the mid-1990’s.

Clark’s first game fully in charge will come on Dec. 21 in the New Orleans Bowl against UAB — a spot he’s pretty familiar with having served as the interim offensive coordinator for the team’s game at the Superdome in 2018. That resulted in a blowout win that no doubt played a role in him getting the full time gig just a year later and AppState fans have to hope for similar results as Clark takes the field this time around as head coach.

Reports: Barry Odom isn’t leaving the SEC — nor the Ozarks — for next coaching gig

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Recently fired Missouri head coach Barry Odom was expected to find work quickly after being dumped by his alma mater and thus was rumored to be up for just about every defensive coordinator gig at Power Five schools all over the country.

As it turns out, Odom does not appear to be leaving the SEC — nor even the Ozarks — for his next stop. According to both FootballScoop and The Athletic, Arkansas is zeroing in on hiring him as Sam Pittman’s first defensive coordinator.

Odom was the head coach of the Tigers for four seasons after being elevated from being their DC to take over for longtime stalwart Gary Pinkel in 2016. He spent three seasons as Memphis’ coordinator under Justin Fuente as well and served a number of different off the field roles in Columbia prior to that. The Oklahoma native knows the region quite well and was widely associated with helping turn around Mizzou when he was a linebacker and team captain in the late 1990’s.

He takes over for John Chavis, who was one of Chad Morris’ first big hires when he first took over in Fayetteville. The ‘Chief’ as he is known, was paid a hefty salary after coming over from a stint at Texas A&M but failed to produce the kind of turnaround that could have kept Morris around as head coach, with the Razorbacks ranking No. 124 this past season in scoring defense — statistically the worst Power Five unit in the country.

With Morris now serving as Auburn’s new offensive coordinator, it’s pretty clear that in the SEC, there’s plenty of soft landings available for coaches who get the axe at the end of the year — and we’re not even getting into the buyout life either.

San Jose State, Brent Brennan set to formally announce new contract

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Brent Brennan has yet to reach the .500 mark at San Jose State, but his bosses have seen enough to reward the 47-year-old head coach.

A press conference has been called for Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET that will feature Brennan and a pair of SJSU leaders, athletic director Marie Tuite and president Mary A. Papazian.  According to the school, the presser has been called to announce a contract extension for Brennan.

Brennan’s current deal is scheduled to run through the 2021 season; details pertaining to the extension are not yet available.

During his first two seasons with the Spartans, Brennan went 3-22.  This past season, SJSU improved to 5-7, the football program’s most wins since the six they put up in its last bowl appearance in 2015.  Those five wins in 2019 included SJSU’s first victory over rival Fresno State since 2016.

According to the USA Today coaches salary database, Brennan was paid $599,000 in guaranteed compensation in 2019.  That number was 10th among the 11 Mountain West Conferences coaches listed in the database.

WR Tarik Black looking to transfer from Michigan

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Another hour, another player has popped up in the portal.

The latest football program to face a potential personnel loss is Michigan, with ESPN.com‘s Tom VanHaaren the first to report that Tarik Black is now in the NCAA transfer database.  Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic subsequently confirmed the initial report.

A four-star member of U-M’s 2017 recruiting class, Black was rated as the No. 15 receiver in the country and the No. 1 player at any position in the state of Connecticut.

This past season, Black was fourth on the Wolverines in receptions with 25 and receiving yards with 323.  It appears he’ll finish his time in Ann Arbor with 507 yards and two touchdowns on 40 catches.