Deshaun Watson spent most of the second half in an unfamiliar place: on the sidelines.
Lamar Jackson was also in a strange position: on the field in the fourth quarter.
No matter how strange things were for the two Heisman Trophy caliber quarterbacks however, few could have predicted the wild swings of a classic heavyweight battle that No. 5 Clemson survived with a 42-36 victory.
Jackson did his best in the hostile environment to keep Louisville’s perfect season alive by throwing for 295 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 162 more and two scores.
While Jackson was a big part in a rally that turned a 10 point deficit into a 12 point lead, Todd Grantham’s defense played a role too. Clemson came out of the locker room and turned the ball over three times — once in the red zone — and went three-and-out on another possession in the second half to stunt most of their momentum. Louisville responded with a 19-0 run on four consecutive scoring drives to storm back and take the lead.
Desperately needing something, Artavis Scott busted out a 77 yard return for the Tigers to get the crowd back into it at Memorial Stadium. Clemson scored just two plays later to cut it to a two point game.
That’s when Watson finally looked like the quarterback everybody was expecting coming into 2016. He helped mount an eight play, 85 yard drive with just over three minutes left before finding Jordan Leggett over the middle for the game-winning score.
Jackson responded by marching the Cards right down the field in the final minutes but receiver James Quick couldn’t quite make it to the first down marker or the end zone on fourth down to complete the second half comeback.
The win by the Tigers all but gives them the ACC Atlantic title and punches their ticket to the league title game. Clemson owns the head-to-head win over Louisville and is already two games up on Florida State ahead of their meeting in Tallahassee at the end of the month. Despite a lackluster first month of the season, the victory also helped show the nation that a return trip to the final four at the end of the year is just as realistic as it was in August.
The close loss doesn’t knock Louisville completely out of the ACC race nor does it eliminate them from a potential College Football Playoff bid but certainly takes a little wind out of their sails the rest of the season. They’ll need help to win the division but a dream season is certainly not over after Saturday’s thriller in which they came up just a little short.
A former Western Kentucky fraternity member says he was attacked by a group of Hilltoppers football players and plans to file charges.
Jerald Armfield, an alum of WKU’s Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, told WBKO-TV he was caught in an ongoing feud between the fraternity and the football team:
“I went to the house in the best interest of the fraternity and Western as a whole to prevent any type of violence from occurring. We got up there and realized they were all hiding behind garbage cans, trees, and buildings.”
“I never in my wildest dreams thought they would attack me in the manner that they did. They all started surrounding me. One of them threw a rock at me. It was within a few seconds that one of them punched me in the face.”
“I fell down. I was kicked several times. The whole time they were beating me, I was begging them to stop, telling them I wasn’t here the night before, I had nothing to to do with it, like please stop, please stop, and they didn’t.”
Armfield said between nine and 10 people ultimately attacked him; it isn’t known for sure how many of that group are on the football team, though the program’s involvement in the incident is being investigated.
“We are aware of the allegations involving a few members of our football team,” the program said in the statement when word of the altercation broke three weeks ago. “We are cooperating fully with the authorities. However, at this time, we have not received a police report and cannot provide further comment.”
While the status of the investigation is currently unknown, Armfield told WBKO he would like it to end with multiple charges. “I made it very clear that night when the police arrived on the scene that I wanted charges pressed,” he said. “As far as I know a detective from Bowling Green Police Department has it. As it stands right now, I still want charges pressed. They need to be held accountable for what they did not only as citizens but as students at Western.”
Baylor has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit claiming 31 football players committed 52 rapes over a 3-year period from 2011-14. The school is citing the expiration of the statute of limitations and that the allegations do not meet the level of “deliberate indifference,” according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.
The suit was initially filed in late January who anonymously claimed she was raped by then-Bears football players Tre'Von Armstead and Shaymichael Chatman in 2013. Armstead and Chatman have both been indicted for that incident. Armstead was arrested earlier this month in Las Vegas in charges of resisting arrest in addition to the 2013 case.
Baylor also challenged the suit’s claim of a widespread culture of sexual violence, including claims the Baylor Bruins hostess program was encouraged to sleep with recruits in order to entice them to Baylor.
“Baylor does not agree with or concede the accuracy of plaintiff’s 146-paragraph complaint and its immaterial and inflammatory assertions,” the motion states.
Former offensive coordinator Kendal Briles told a recruit, according to the suit, “Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players.”
Mark Dantonio broke his silence Tuesday to talk about all the things he couldn’t talk about.
Speaking publicly for the first time since National Signing Day, Dantonio said more players have been suspended in addition to the three players and one staff member already suspended in connection with an ongoing sexual assault investigation. There are actually three investigations ongoing — a criminal probe, a Title IX investigation and an outside evaluation of the football program.
How many additional players were suspended in conjunction with the investigations? Dantonio couldn’t say.
When were they suspended? Dantonio couldn’t say.
When were the original three players suspended? Dantonio couldn’t say.
How, one may wonder, has Michigan State managed to keep the suspended players’ identities secret despite spring practice now being a full month old? Easy: the Spartans have essentially shielded a black cloak around the entire program. The media hasn’t been allowed to watch practice. No depth charts or rosters have been released. No photos or videos have been produced. The content on @MSU_Football has vaguely referred to the ongoing spring practices by referencing the April 1 spring game, but all other tweets have centered around Michigan State’s involvement in the NFL Draft or the basketball Spartans’ NCAA Tournament berth. The program didn’t even comment on two players’ announced transfers throughout the offseason.
Dantonio even deemed it “trivial” to discuss Michigan State’s quarterback derby. The one piece of actual Spartans football news Dantonio revealed? Linebacker Drake Martinez, he of the one tackle in two appearances last season, has transferred.
The state of Arkansas has passed a law that allows concealed-carry handguns on publicly-owned property, which would include college sporting events.
Since it was realized immediately upon the bill’s announcement what a terrible, horrendous idea allowing lubed-up sports fans to bring handguns with them to the game would be, the law was quickly amended to exclude college sporting events.
But on Tuesday, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement arguing for Razorbacks events to be exempted from the law.
To date, Arkansas AD Jeff Long and head football coach Bret Bielema have yet to comment on the law, and Sankey’s statement today is likely coordinated with that — pushing the buck upwards while not crossing those in the Natural State that may be in favor of the bill.