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Great American Upset: Navy torpedoes No. 6 Houston’s playoff hopes, 46-40

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Navy (4-1, 3-0 AAC) scored 17 points off three turnovers by No. 6 Houston (5-1, 2-1 AAC) and wore down the Cougars defense with their signature triple-option offense in a 46-40 upset that could be a game-changer in the Group of Five conversation. The result also likely sinks Houston’s playoff hopes.

Houston’s chance to potentially tie the game likely slipped out of the end zone just as the football being snapped to the punter got by him and out the back of the end zone, awarding Navy a free two points with just under six minutes to play. The safety gave Navy a 10-point lead. Special teams cost Houston on a fourth quarter touchdown when an extra point attempt was blocked, giving the Midshipmen an eight-point lead.

Navy seemed to take the upper hand in the third quarter, however, with a touchdown on their first possession of the half. Houston fumbled away the opening possession of the half when Greg Ward Jr. lost the ball while being sacked, setting Navy up at the Houston 41-yard line. Will Worth tossed a 17-yard touchdown to Daryll Bonner to give Navy a 27-20 lead. Houston’s next offensive series ended quickly when Josiah Powell intercepted a pass from Ward and ran 34 yards for another touchdown.

With a 14-point lead, Navy could set the pace for the remainder of the game, but they were not done scoring. Navy would score one more touchdown and then pick up the two points on the botched Houston punt. Houston came up with a tough fourth down stand with under six minutes to play, but could do nothing with the football before the punt team had their costly mistake.

Navy’s Worth rushed for 116 yards and a score and completed three of his five pass attempts for 76 yards and two more scores. Houston’s Ward ended his day with

It had been a long time since Navy won a game against a top 10 team at home in Annapolis. The last time it happened was November 17, 1984 when they stunned No. 2 South Carolina, 38-21.

Make no mistake about it. This loss is a tough pill to swallow for Houston if the goal was reaching the College Football Playoff. It may not necessarily be a knockout punch for the playoff, but it leaves Houston in need of quite a bit of help around the country in addition to the need to run the table the rest of the season (including a home date against Louisville). Each season has a different story play out, but if one loss can be enough to take a power conference team out of the playoff picture, it puts a Group of Five team further back in the rearview mirror. Even one as good as Houston. But what if Houston does run the table and does win the AAC? What if Oklahoma wins the Big 12 with a 10-2 record, which includes a loss to Houston? Well, maybe Houston isn’t quite out of the picture just yet. It may be a reach, but Houston is not quite buried just yet.

But for now, Houston will still need help just to play for the AAC championship, and Navy shows no reason to believe they may let up in conference play. The Midshipmen are now 3-0 in the AAC and own the crucial head-to-head tiebreaker with Houston. Navy still has some conference challenges ahead of them (vs. Memphis, @ USF, vs. Tulsa), but Navy is now has a stake in controlling how the AAC West plays out, along with Memphis and Tulsa. Houston does not.

In fact, Navy is now in position to start thinking how they can be the Group of Five team playing in the New Years Six. With San Diego State going down last week, Navy now climbs the ladder past Houston and arguably closer to undefeated Boise state.

Navy will look to keep this run going next week on the road against East Carolina. Meanwhile, Houston will look to take out their frustrations on Tulsa next Saturday evening at home.

Ken Sparks, fifth-winningest coach at any level in college football history, dies at age 73

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College football has lost a coaching legend of the sport that you may never have heard of.

Carson-Newman announced Wednesday morning that its legendary former head football coach, Ken Sparks, passed away earlier in the day at the age of 73.  Sparks had been battling prostate cancer since being diagnosed in 2012, but doctors stopped treating him in January of this year.

According to WBIR-TV, Sparks had been in hospice care for the last several weeks.

Sparks was the head coach at Carson-Newman from 1980 through November of 2016, when he stepped down because of health concerns. During his time at the Div. II program — the first baker’s dozen years they were an NAIA school — the Eagles went 338-99-2. Sparks laid claim to five NAIA national championships and qualified for the Div. II playoffs 15 times in 24 years, although they failed to win a title at that latter level.

The 338 wins for Sparks are the fifth-most at any level of college football, behind only John Gagliardi (489), Joe Paterno (409), Eddie Robinson (408) and Bobby Bowden (377).

Alabama won’t be rushing Bo Scarbrough back this spring

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Not surprisingly, Alabama is going to err on the side of caution when it comes to one the most productive horses in its backfield stable.

On a second-down carry late in the third quarter of the national championship game loss to Clemson, Bo Scarbrough went down with an injury that turned out to be a fractured bone in his lower right leg.  The rising sophomore running back has recovered enough to be a participant in the Crimson Tide’s spring practice during some drills, albeit in non-contact mode.

Following the fourth practice of the spring Tuesday, Nick Saban made it clear made it clear that, while Scarbrough is getting some work in, the football program won’t be pushing him.

“Bo is doing more and more every day,” the head coach said according to al.com. “He did quite a bit today in practice, non-contact stuff, but he’s sort of gaining confidence. Our goal for Bo is by the end of spring, he’s fully confident that he can do everything he needs to do. Whether he ever scrimmages or is really something that we’re not that concerned about.”

It’s expected Scarbrough, barring a setback between now and then, will be fully recovered well ahead of the start of summer camp in early August.

Scarbrough’s 812 yards rushing year was second amongst Tide backs, while his 11 rushing touchdowns were second on the team.  He ran for 180 of those yards and two of the touchdowns in the College Football Playoff semifinal win over Washington, then had 93 yards and two more touchdowns before going down with the injury in the title game.

Western Kentucky hoops star to give Hilltoppers football a try

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Coming off a season in which he was the best player on Western Kentucky’s men’s basketball team, Justin Johnson is going to try his hand at another sport.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Johnson will practice with the Hilltoppers football team for the remainder of spring practice. The 6-7 forward will, not surprisingly, spend his time at tight end.

At the end of practices this spring, a WKU official told CFT, both sides will determine what if any future Johnson has in the sport.

Johnson admitted in one interview earlier this basketball season that he grew up wanting to play linebacker for Ohio State, and he did play two years of football at his Kentucky high school. Despite the fact that both Kentucky and Louisville had interest in him as a tight end, he ended up signing with WKU’s hoops team in 2014.

That decision has worked out well for both parties as Johnson has led the team in scoring and rebounding each of the past two seasons. He led Conference USA in the latter category as well as double-doubles, and was named second-team all-conference after his junior season.

Victim of alleged WKU football attack plans to file charges

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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.”