Mississippi running back Akeem Judd (21) breaks a shoestring tackle by Alabama defensive back Ronnie Harrison (15) on his way to a 23-yard touchdown run in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 in Oxford, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
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Another upset brewing? No. 19 Ole Miss leads No. 1 Bama at halftime

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No. 19 Ole Miss built a 21-point lead only to see it reduced to seven almost instantly, but still the 19th-ranked Rebels have taken a 24-17 lead over No. 1 Alabama to the half in Oxford.

Ole Miss opened the game by accepting the ball and promptly moving 75 yards in seven plays, and 63 yards in the final three snaps of the drive — a 25-yard Chad Kelly strike to Evan Engram, a 15-yard connection to Quincy Adeboyejo and, finally, a 23-yard scoring dash by Akeem Judd.

Alabama responded with a typical Alabama drive, chewing up 17 plays and 7:13, but settling for a field goal when Jalen Hurts overshot a wide open Hale Hentges for what would have been an easy 14-yard touchdown.

It was that kind of half for Alabama’s offense, though. Their next possession concluded with an Adam Griffith field goal that sailed wide left, and the Tide’s next three touches concluded in punts.

But when Alabama’s offense went to sleep, Ole Miss’s awakened. After two three-and-outs of its own, the Rebels moved 50 yards to set up a Gary Wunderlich field goal, then found pay dirt again when Kelly, one play after a roughing the passer that negated a would-be 3rd-and-8 situation, nailed a wide open Engram for a 63-yard snatch-and-dash touchdown.

Alabama was seemingly aided by a 15-yard penalty by Ole Miss on its next possession — pass interference, this time — but a Breeland Speaks sack of Hurts tuned into an Ole Miss touchdown.

Speaks on the play got away with an apparent targeting hit and, inexplicably, an excessive hit that occurred before John Youngblood crossed the goal line, yet the score was allowed to stand.

The Tide, though, answered. Oh, did they answer.

Aided by the 15-yard flag on Speaks and a kickoff out of bounds, moving 50 yards in three plays and just 37 seconds, when Calvin Ridley took the snap on a jet sweep and raced in from six yards out with 2:10 to play in the first half.

After forcing a three-and-out by Ole Miss, Eddie Jackson raced the ensuing punt 85 yards for a touchdown, and the Rebels’ 21-point lead was cut to seven in just one minute and five seconds.

Even with the late touchdowns, Alabama’s offense has looked like a unit with trouble running the ball and helmed by a true freshman quarterback. Which it is, of course. Hurts has thrown for just 89 yards on 23 attempts — 3.9 per pop — and leads the club with nine carries for 52 yards, plus a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Damien Harris has pounded out just 29 yards on six carries, and Joshua Jacobs leads the Tide’s running backs with 33 yards on three carries, though 25 came on one attempt.

Kelly led Ole Miss by hitting 9-of-14 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown while rushing a team-high six times for 38 yards. Judd carried eight times for 36 yards.

Alabama will receive to open the second half.

 

Cal hires Marques Tuiasasopo to coach quarterbacks

BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 28:  Noah Westerfield #33 of the California Golden Bears runs onto the field prior to the start of an NCAA football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at California Memorial Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Former Washington quarterback great Marques Tuiasasopo is making his rounds through the entire Pac-12.

On Monday, California announced the hiring of the former Husky to coach the Bears’ quarterbacks and serve as the team’s passing game coordinator. Tuiasasopo served in the same capacity for UCLA last season, and previously worked alongside Golden Bears head coach Justin Wilcox at USC and his alma mater.

“It is important that the coaches on our staff have strong connections on the West Coast and Marques certainly has been a fixture in the football world on this side of the country for a long time,” Wilcox said in a statement. “The connections he has made over the years along with his familiarity with the Pac-12 will pay tremendous dividends for us in recruiting. Also, having been a former player he understands the game from the players’ perspective quite well and is enthusiastic on imparting the knowledge he has gained as both a player and young assistant coach to our players.”

Tuisasopo jumped into coaching as a strength and conditioning assistant at Washington in 2009, then moved on-the-field as an intern and later tight ends coach at UCLA.

“I’m really excited to be joining the Cal football family and to be coaching with Justin Wildox again,” Tuiasosopo said. “Justin is a great coach and an even better person. I look forward to working with the new coaching staff that is being put together at Cal and tapping into the program’s rich football history, building off that and bringing championship football back to this great University.”

Tuiasasopo spent four years as a quarterback at Washington, ending his run with an eighth-place finish in the 2000 Heisman Trophy voting, a Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year award and a Rose Bowl MVP trophy, leading the Huskies to the No. 3 final AP ranking, which still stands as the program’s highest year-end ranking since their 1991 national championship. He left school as the Huskies’ all-time leader in total offense and become the first college quarterback ever to throw for 300 yards and rush for 200 in the same game.

 

Cal reportedly hires former Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter to head defense

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 03: Head coach Tim DeRuyter of the Fresno State Bulldogs watches action against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Fresno State 43-10.  (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
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California will hire former Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter to serve as its defensive coordinator, according to multiple reports out Monday.

DeRuyter, of course, was the Bulldogs’ head coach through mid-October, where he was let go after starting with a 1-7 record. Prior to that, he led Fresno State to the 2013 Mountain West championship and shares of the MW West Division crown in 2012 and ’14. (And then Derek Carr graduated.)

A longtime defensive coordinator, DeRuyter previously served in that same post at Ohio, Navy, Nevada, Air Force and Texas A&M.

Gorley writes DeRuyter will be asked to transition the Bears from a 4-3 to a 3-4 alignment, a task he’s successfully completed in the past. He would take over a defense that finished last season ranking 122nd in yards per play allowed and second-to-last in scoring.

 

Michigan football going to Rome this spring

ROME, ITALY - APRIL 06:  A view of the Colosseum and Roman Forum during the Way Of The Cross procession held by Pope Benedict XVI on Good Friday April 6, 2012 in Rome, Italy.  The traditional Catholic procession on Good Friday recalls the crucifixion of Jesus Christ ahead of Sunday's Easter holiday. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
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The NCAA is going to shut down the ability to take a football team off campus during spring break starting in August, so Jim Harbaugh is making sure his program gets one more trip squeezed in. This one is going to require a passport.

This April, Harbaugh is taking the Wolverines to Rome for a “week of education and spring drills.” This is a direct response to criticisms Michigan faced when moving spring football practices to Bradenton, Florida last spring, nestled right in ACC and SEC recruiting grounds. The practices at the home of AS Roma, an Italian soccer club. What’s different about this one is the trip will come at the end of the semester instead of over spring break. Harbaugh just found a loophole.

“We were looking to provide our student-athletes with a great educational, cultural and international football experience,” Harbaugh said in a released statement. “I am excited that our student-athletes will be able to take advantage of this amazing educational opportunity, be exposed to another culture, and be ambassadors for the United States and the University of Michigan during our visit to Rome.”

Last week, the NCAA’s Division 1 Council voted to ban off-campus trips over scheduled off days from the academic calendar. But because this trip is not taking place over a spring break, the trip can, in theory, be used every year.

Just think, if Michigan had just gone to Rome last year instead of Florida, perhaps the feathers from the ACC and SEC would not have been so ruffled.

Harbaugh in Rome. This should be fun to follow.

New MLS stadium in San Diego could have plenty of perks for San Diego State football

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 01: A general view of the San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs en route to Chiefs 37-27 win over the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on January 1, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
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San Diego State is already locked in to continue playing games in Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego through the 2020 season, which may be perfect timing. A move to build a brand new Major League Soccer stadium is projected to open its doors in 2020, and the plan is to have room for San Diego State to share the stadium as well.

As detailed by a report from The San Diego Union-Tribune, FS Investors is an investment group that owns the rights to apply for a MLS franchise in San Diego. While still working out the finer details of their bid, but the company is reportedly planning to purchase the land containing Qualcomm Stadium, demolish the existing stadium and use that land to develop a new venue that could seat between 20,000 and 30,000 fans. At the same time, other land would be set aside in order to reserve for a potential NFL stadium in the event the city makes a bid to lure the National Football League back to the city after the Chargers packed up and left for Los Angeles.

The firm also hopes it can attract developers to add housing and commercial options that will target San Diego State students, and perhaps add to the environment around a soccer and college football stadium for a more enjoyable game day experience for both.

An application for an MLS franchise is due January 31 and the firm hopes to receive approval from City Council without having to rely on a public vote.