At one point Saturday night, Kentucky led No. 1 Alabama 3-0.
Then reality returned to Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Tide scored 34 in a row as they overwhelmed the Wildcats in just about every way on their way to a 34-6 victory that was one of the most expected results of the season.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts was 20-of-33 for 262 yards and two touchdowns. The outing wasn’t the sharpest for the Alabama signal-caller but he was able to hit several quality throws down field in the second half before turning things over to new backup Cooper Bateman.
Receiver Calvin Ridley (11 catches, 174 yards and two scores) busted out with another All-American caliber performance against a secondary that was supposed to be a strong point for the Kentucky defense. In a big of a surprise however, freshman Joshua Jacobs was the Tide’s most productive back and hit the century mark on the ground on 6.3 yards per carry while finding the end zone once.
The offense having just a so-so outing was one reason why the score was only as lopsided as it was and not worse. The Tide’s defense was swarming in limiting the Wildcats to 161 yards and collected their seventh non-offensive touchdown of the season in the second quarter thanks to a scoop and score 55-yard fumble return by Ronnie Harrison.
Not everything was rosy for the defense however. Alabama linebacker Tim Williams did miss the first half due to a suspension after being arrested on Thursday for carrying a weapon without a permit. On the very first third down of the second half, he made his return felt thanks to a quarterback pressure that helped force a punt.
There wasn’t a ton of positives for Kentucky to take away but the defense flashed occasionally despite being overmatched and quarterback Stephen Johnson was able to scramble out a few near sacks.
The win for the Tide does setup an interesting game at Arkansas next week. The Razorbacks have given Alabama all they can handle recently and it could be a good road test for the top team in the country ahead of their annual rivalry game against Tennessee on the third Saturday of October.
The strange journey of Cordarrian Richardson has taken yet another twist.
The running back confirmed to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal late this past week that he has decided to leave UCF and transfer to Texas A&M. The true freshman will have to sit out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, but will have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2019.
Last season, Richardson ran for 161 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 47 carries for the unbeaten Knights.
On National Signing Day in 2017, Richardson announced via a weather balloon in outer space that he would be signing with Maryland. A day later, however, Richardson faxed in a signed NLI… to a school that wasn’t even in his final four — UCF. Maryland, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Ole Miss, were the top four teams that appeared in his original “commitment” video.
Richardson was also heavily recruited by Florida State, which at the time was coached by new A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher.
A four-star 2017 signee, Richardson was rated as the No. 9 back in the country; the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Tennessee; and the No. 157 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. He was far and away the highest-rated signee in the Knights’ class that year.
And you can pardon the whole of the state of Arkansas if they let out a collective “thank goodness.”
Citing multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, Brett Vito of the Denton Record-Chronicle is reporting that Cole Hedlund is transferring to North Texas. After redshirting as a true freshman in 2014 at Arkansas, Hedlund spent the next three seasons as a placekicker for the Razorbacks.
The Argyle, Tex., native opted to transfer from UA for his final season of eligibility. He’s the youngest son of UNT women’s soccer coach John Hedlund.
For his career with the Razorbacks, Hedlund hit on 14 of his 24 field goal attempts. He also connected on all 91 extra point attempts. His best season came in 2015 when he led the team in scoring with 85 points.
The past season, however, was a rough one. After missing both field goal attempts in a Sept. 9 loss to TCU — the misses came from 20 and 23 yards out — Hedlund never attempted another kick for the Razorbacks the rest of the season.
“It was basically a PAT, and it was a perfect protection and a perfect snap. It’s inexcusable,” then-head coach Bret Bielema said at the time.
A constant on BYU’s defensive staff for nearly two decades has taken himself out of the football program’s equation.
The Cougars announced Friday that Steve Kaufusi has stepped down from his post as linebackers coach. Per the school, Kaufusi’s departure was triggered by his desire to pursue other unspecified interests.
Kaufusi, whose wife Michelle is the mayor of Provo and has two sons who will play for the Cougars this season, had spent the past 16 seasons with BYU. From 2002-16, he coached the defensive line; he took over linebackers in 2017 and spent one season overseeing that position.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to coach at BYU for the past 16 seasons,” Kaufusi said. “I’m honored to have had the opportunity to represent the University and everything it stands for. I will always be a Cougar and look forward to watching my sons play at BYU.”
“Anyone who knows Steve knows he is an exceptional coach and mentor to young men, which you can see in the players he has coached over the years and also in his own family,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “I wish Steve nothing but the best for his future.”
In tandem with the Kaufusi announcement, the program also confirmed that Preston Hadley has been hired. Hadley, who played defensive back for the Cougars and coached at Weber State the past two seasons, will coach safeties in his return.
Ed Lamb, who was responsible for safeties, will take over Kaufusi’s linebackers. All other coaches on the defensive side of the ball will maintain their current positions.
Mark Dantonio looked inside and out of his football program to fill some holes in his Michigan State staff.
Nearly two weeks ago, Harlon Barnett left as MSU’s co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach to take a job at Florida State. That left Dantonio with two openings, one of which the head coach closed Friday by promoting Mike Tressel to defensive coordinator.
Tressel and Barnett had served as co-coordinators the past three seasons; the nephew of former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel will now serve as the Spartans’ solo coordinator moving forward.
“Mike has done a tremendous job working with the defense,” said Dantonio in a statement. “He’s been deeply involved with everything with the defense since we first arrived here, and has helped coach some championship defenses that have been ranked consistently among the best in the nation, year in and year out. He did a great job as co-coordinator the past three years. He’s certainly earned this opportunity and I think he’ll do an outstanding job.”
To replace Barnett as defensive backs coach, Dantonio turned to Paul Haynes. The past five years, Haynes was the head coach at Kent State before being dismissed at the end of the 2017 regular season.
This serves as a homecoming of sorts for Haynes as well. From 2003-04, he was the defensive backs coach for the Spartans under John Smith.
The 48-year-old Haynes has also been a secondary coach at Arkansas (2012), Ohio State (2005-10), Louisville (2002) and Kent State (1999).
“We’re very, very excited about Paul,” said Dantonio. “He’s coached here before so he’s got a Spartan background. He was secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State, so he’s coached on the highest level with the secondary. He was a defensive coordinator at Arkansas as well. He’s been a head coach at Kent State, so I think that gives him a big picture feel. I think he’s an excellent recruiter. He’s a dynamic person as well, so we’re excited to have him on campus.”