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Jalen Hurts shines as No. 1 Alabama pounds No. 9 Tennessee

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Five times in six weeks, Tennessee emerged from the grave. There would not be a sixth.

No. 1 Alabama jumped on No. 9 Tennessee early and kept the Vols pinned through the entire afternoon, cruising to a 49-10 drop-kicking in Knoxville. The win pushes Alabama’s streak to 10 straight victories over Tennessee — seven of them by 14 points or more — which stands just one shy of the Tide’s record streak of 11 in a series that dates back to 1901.

True freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts, playing once again like anything but a true freshman, a punishing offensive line and a relentless defense proved to be far too much against a spirited but depleted and exhausted Tennessee squad. The Tide out-rushed Tennessee 422-27, the most single-game rushing yards by an Alabama team since 1992, the last pre-Nick Saban Tide championship squad.

Tennessee spotted Alabama its customary 14-0 first-quarter lead behind a 29-yard ArDarius Stewart end around and a 58-yard pick-six by Ronnie Harrison — the 10th non-offensive touchdown of Alabama’s season, the seventh different Tide defender to score and enough to secure a non-offensive score in nine consecutive games. The Vols briefly climbed back in the game when Derek Barnett sacked and stripped Hurts deep in his own territory, allowing two Alvin Kamara rushes over an 11-yard drive to pull Big Orange back within 14-7 at the 9:41 mark of the second quarter.

But Alabama immediately answered, moving 65 yards in six plays, mostly on the ground, the last 45 coming on a Hurts keeper down the right sideline.

Any hope of a second half revival was snuffed out when another Hurts scoring dash, this one from two yards out, pushed the lead to 28-7 six minutes into the third quarter and, on his only extended drive of the day, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones essentially conceded the game by kicking a 37-yard field goal to inch the Vols back within 28-10 at the 4:03 mark of the third quarter. Alabama again responded with an 8-play, 75-yard drive capped by Hurts’s third rushing score of the game. He finished the game hitting 16-of-26 passes for 143 yards with an interception while rushing 12 times for a game-high 132 yards and three scores. Hurts is the first Alabama signal-caller in 15 years with two 100-yard rushing games in the same season — and it’s only mid-October — and the second consecutive opposing quarterback to drop three rushing scores on Tennessee.

Alabama notched its 11th non-offensive score of the season on the opening play of the fourth quarter when Eddie Jackson raced a punt 79 yards down the left sideline to push the lead to 42-10. Bo Scarborough added the exclamation point with an 85-yard scoring dash with 11:38 to play. In all, Alabama rushed the ball 49 times for 438 yards (8.9 a pop) and five touchdowns, while its defense limited Tennessee to 32 yards on as many carries. Josh Dobbs, fresh off a game where he did anything he wanted to Texas A&M, connected on 16-of-27 passes for 92 yards with an interception while losing 31 yards in the run game to sacks. Kamara, who a week ago bested the century mark in rushing and receiving, totaled 21 rushing yards and two catches for seven yards.

Tennessee (5-2, 2-2 SEC) eases into a much-needed bye next week while Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC) returns to Tuscaloosa for a showdown with unbeaten and sixth-ranked Texas A&M.

NCAA rule prevents Penn State football players from participating in THON activity

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This weekend is the annual THON dance marathon at Penn State, which has traditionally done wonders in racking up donations to help fight pediatric cancer. This year, however, the NCAA rulebook is getting in the way of one of the events members of Penn State’s football team typically participate in.

A message from Penn State informed media members there would be no media availability for football players at the THON event at the Lasch Building due to an NCAA rule regarding time restrictions in the offseason.

“We were informed this afternoon that due to the NCAA Time Management regulations, our current student-athletes are not permitted to participate in the THON event at the Lasch Building nor conduct media interviews [today] as it is a mandatory day off for the team,” a statement from Penn State Associate Director of Athletic Communications Kris Petersen said.

Members of Penn State’s football team have typically spent part of the day interacting with kids benefitting from THON’s mission, but that has tended to overlap with offseason days already scheduled through the athletics department for the football program. Because this was a scheduled day off for the football program, players are not permitted to take part in any organized activity while representing the football team. Although, one wonders just how far the NCAA would have been willing to challenge Penn State on this infraction in the event there was a conflict.

Players on the team can still participate and appear at the main event in the Bryce Jordan Center, and a couple already have along with head coach James Franklin.

Georgia football coaches all getting well-deserved raises

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File this one under stories that should have been expected from a mile away. The football staff at Georgia, following up on an SEC title and appearance in the College Football Playoff national championship game, are getting bumps in pay. As a whole, the assistant coaching staff under head coach Kirby Smart will be paid roughly $2 million more than the staff received a year ago, according to a report from Seth Emerson of Dawg Nation.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will see the biggest pay raise with of $900,000 to bump his total pay up to $1.5 million. That would make him one of the top assistant coaches in assistant coaching salaries. Based off last year’s USA Today salary database, Tucker would be the fifth highest-paid assistant coach, and that may even be higher now given some of the offseason changes in the assistant coaching pool. Last year, four assistant coaches received a total pay of at least $1.5 million, and three of them were in the SEC (LSU’s Dave Arranda and Matt Canada, and Texas A&M’s John Chavis; Clemson’s Brent Venables was the outlier).

Keeping in line with another growing trend when it comes to power conference programs and how much money is budgeted for the football staff, Georgia will give strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Sinclair a $150,000 raise from his previous contract of $300,000.

What has not been finalized, publicly at least, is what the future holds for the contract of Smart. After a wildly successful season, Smart is expected to receive a raise as well as Georgia continues to build something special under his leadership after just two seasons. Smart was paid a base salary of $3.75 million last year, according to USA Today’s salary database, which made him the 9th highest-paid coach in the SEC in 2017. That is fair, considering Smart was a first-time head coach and other coaches in the conference had more head coaching experience, but Smart has quickly proven himself among his peers in the conference and is likely to move up the SEC coaching salary ranking quite quickly. Nick Saban (Alabama) and now Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M) may still be on another playing field in terms of salary, but Smart should manage to move up closer to the high-end of the SEC salary spectrum.

Purdue raises $388,000 in beer and wine sales at football games

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Around the nation, college football attendance took a downward trend, but the Big Ten was the rare conference to see an increase in attendance. At Purdue, not only did more fans attend games in the first season under new head coach Jeff Brohm, but Purdue saw a revenue surplus fueled by the expanded sale of alcoholic beverages at football games.

According to The Journal & Courier, Purdue athletic department recorded $567,000 in gross revenue, of which $388,000 was generated from the sale of beer and wine last fall at football games in Ross-Ade Stadium. It was the first time alcohol sales had been expanded to the entire football stadium, as opposed to limited offerings in premium sections of the stadium.

“In general, it was very positive and it added to the game day experience. Fans responded to it,” athletic director Mike Bobinski said. “We’ve talked to our concessionaire group (Levy Restaurants) about how we can improve the operation so we don’t create bottlenecks and long lines that cause people to miss extended periods of the game. It was a really good start.”

The success of expanded alcoholic beverages at football games at Purdue continues a growing trend of alcoholic sales at athletic events around the country and will only help to encourage other schools to explore similar options if they have not already. Ten schools in the Big Ten already offer alcohol sales to fans at football games, but Purdue is just one of four to currently offer the sales throughout the majority of their football stadium.

The games that saw the most amount of money spent on alcohol at a Purdue home football game were the Michigan and Indiana games, with $88,341 and $98,223 spent on alcohol, respectively. Bottoms up, indeed.

The other chunk of revenue that helped pad Purdue’s budget sheet was a season-opening game in Indianapolis against Louisville. The game was played in Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts, and each school received a check for $805,267.

Alabama a potential landing spot for Rice grad transfer Preston Gordon

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Yet another Rice graduate transfer lineman is drawing interest from an SEC school.

Preston Gordon confirmed to al.com this week that he has had “some preliminary contact” with Alabama as a potential landing spot. Last month, the defensive tackle decided to take the graduate transfer route out of Rice.

As the Crimson Tide, which is also in play for a grad transfer quarterback, lost three linemen to the NFL and signed just two in the Class of 2018, a move to Tuscaloosa could make sense for both parties.

“If Alabama were interested, that’s a top-tier program and I would definitely be interested,” Gordon told the website. “As a D-lineman, that’s where it’s at, so it would definitely be high, high interest.”

Gordon has already received an offer from Texas Tech after visiting Lubbock, and has taken a trip to Kansas as well. The lineman also told the site that he has spoken with Syracuse, TCU, Tulane and UConn.

The last three seasons, Gordon started 28 games for the Owls, including all 12 in 2017. In 2016, Gordon tied for the team lead in sacks with 3.5, while his 6.5 tackles for loss led all interior linemen on the squad. This past season, he was third on the team in tackles for loss with 4.5.

Gordon’s former teammate and the Owls’ starting left tackle the past three seasons, Calvin Anderson, has drawn interest from Auburn as a graduate transfer and has already visited the Tigers. It’s believed that Michigan and Texas are the frontrunners, although Texas A&M has entered the mix for Anderson as well.