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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.

 

Report: North Texas adds FCS running back transfer

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North Texas is adding running back Loren Easly to the roster, according to a message posted to his Twitter account Saturday.

Easly spent the past two seasons at Stephen F. Austin, a member of the FCS Southland Conference. A Houston native, he appeared in 20 games over two seasons as a Lumberjack, carrying 213 times for 1,256 yards with 11 touchdowns while adding 17 catches for 139 yards.

Denton Record-Chronicle reporter Brett Vito confirmed the transfer on his Twitter account.

As an interdivisional transfer, Easly will be able to play immediately with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

He would join a backfield led by rising senior Jeffrey Wilson, who paced the Mean Green with 936 yards and 14 touchdowns on 169 carries in 2016.

Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger signs extension, vows to fix football

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Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger has signed an extension to remain on the job through the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced Sunday.

Zenger has been on the job since 2011, meaning the new deal will take him past the decade mark in Lawrence.

“Since Sheahon’s arrival in Jan. 2011, Kansas Athletics has enjoyed success on and off the field,” Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement. “I am confident that under Sheahon’s leadership Athletics will experience even more success in the coming years.”

Zenger did not hire Bill Self, but he did hire Charlie Weis, which cost KU more than $5.6 million in buyout money after he was fired for going 6-22 leading the Jayhawks from 2012-14.

David Beaty was since hired to run the program, who has infused an outlook brighter than his 2-22 record would suggest.

Zenger said the new contract will allow him to fix football. Via the Kansas City Star:

Under Zenger’s watch, KU has most notably added numerous construction projects, including Rock Chalk Park and the DeBruce Center, which houses the original rules of basketball. He has spoken previously about completing those ventures to “clear the deck” financially so focus could be placed on football and Memorial Stadium renovations — two things he now says are “really the top priorities for me in the next four years.”

“We want it to be a place that people just love to come to,” Zenger said of Memorial Stadium. “We have such history there. I think it’s the greatest setting in the nation for college football. We just need to get it to the point where it’s a place that’s just revered.”

The extension includes a raise from a base salary of $619,000 to $700,000.

Alleged victim of Tennessee WR Josh Smith threatens $3 million civil suit

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Earlier this month, Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith was charged with domestic assault following an incident at an off-campus house with his roommate. Now, the roommate is seeking damages of $875,000. If that sum is not paid, then the alleged victim may bring a $3 million civil suit to the court.

According to Jimmy Hyams of WNML, Kennedy Foster suffered a broken nose, broken teeth and damage to his eyes and right ear in the incident earlier this month that led to the charges filed against Smith. Foster sent a settlement demand letter to the attorney representing Smith.

“I’m not accusing him (Foster) of extortion, but that’s what it looks like,’’ Smith’s attorney, Keith Stewart said according to Hyams. “Given my understanding that Mr. Foster’s attempts to press charges against Malcolm Stokes were unsuccessful, it seems his motives are clear.’’

“I think when the truth comes out, Josh will be exonerated,” Stewart said of his client.

The deadline for paying the settlement demand is set for May 30 (tomorrow) by 5:00 p.m. and is to be delivered in the form of a cashier’s check along with a letter of apology for the incident. If the Smith family does not pay the requested sum, the legal team for Foster will move forward with a $1.5 million lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and a $1.5 million lawsuit for punitive damages. How either will hold up in court remains to be seen.

How some college football teams are recognizing Memorial Day on Twitter

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It’s not Memorial Day until the social media teams at college football programs start pumping out branded Memorial Day messages on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. As expected, teams and conferences are busy at pumping out the social media content for their followers today. Here is a sampling of what has been seen so far.

If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to read John’s annual Memorial Day post.