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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.

Virginia Tech defends decision to put Michael Vick in Hokies Hall of Fame

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Athletically, there is no question Michael Vick belongs in Virginia Tech’s athletics hall of fame. Heck, the Hokies might as well name the thing after him.

In his two seasons on campus, Vick (pictured, left) threw for 3,299 yards and 21 touchdowns — averaging 9.6 yards per attempt on 56 percent completions, in an era where anything over 50 was considered above-average — while adding an electrifying 1,299 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. Vick led the Hokies to a 22-2 record, a Big East championship and appearance in the BCS national title game as a redshirt freshman in 1999, a campaign that saw him finish third in Heisman Trophy voting.

He was essentially a combination of Vince YoungJohnny Manziel and Allen Iverson, in a time when the I-formation and pocket passers still ruled college football.

But there is, of course, the non-football side of Vick’s life.

In the prime of his career — he came 26 passing yards short of a 2,500/1,000 season in 2007 — Vick’s NFL career essentially ended when he was convicted of running a dogfighting ring and served 21 months in federal prison. And all throughout that time, Virginia Tech was tangentially related to the biggest villain in sports.

Still, Virginia Tech announced earlier this month that Vick was a member of its 5-person 2017 Sports Hall of Fame class, to be inducted on Friday, Sept. 22. Vick’s inclusion generation a petition that has drawn more than 2,500 signatures protesting the decision.

“You know one of my friends volunteered to go down to his residence where all of this took place at the aftermath to help with the cleanup, if you want to put it that way,” Virginia Tech graduate and petition creator Jennifer Breeden told Collegiate Times. “It’s just kind of an embarrassment that (Virginia Tech) would want to honor someone like that.”

Arguing that Vick has paid his debt to society and shown remorse for his actions, Virginia Tech on Friday released the following statement saying that Vick will remain in the 2017 class.

Mr. Vick’s induction into the university’s sports hall of fame acknowledges his tremendous achievements as a student athlete—who some will say was the greatest in the history of the university.

We understand that there are those who do not and will never agree with this decision.

In considering Mr. Vick’s nomination to our sports hall of fame, the criminal activities in which he engaged, his subsequent conviction, and time he served for his crime were also considered.

And it was informed by the remorse he has shown since that conviction, the work he is currently engaged in to advance animal welfare issues, as well as his efforts to help our current student athletes, based on lessons he’s learned in his own life, make positive choices as they begin their adult lives.

This in no way condones the actions for which he was convicted.

The university remains dedicated to the protection of animal health and welfare and embodies great care and compassion for all living animals.

It’ll be interesting to see the reaction Vick gets at the Hokies’ Sept. 23 home game against Old Dominion.

Michigan pulls recruiting director away from former Michigan coach’s staff

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Michigan is set to add Arizona recruiting czar Matt Dudek as its new director of recruiting, according to a report from FootballScoop on Saturday.

CBS Sports’s Dennis Dodd confirmed the report, adding that Michigan is expected to formally announce the move at Big Ten media days on Monday.

The irony, of course, is that Dudek will leave the staff of former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez.

Dudek had been with Rodriguez shortly after his late 2011 hiring, first as on-campus recruiting coordinator and player personnel director before being named college football’s first general manager after the 2015 season. He helped the Wildcats win the 2014 Pac-12 South championship and was named a finalist for FootballScoop‘s Player Personnel Director of the Year award multiple times. (Disclaimer: I also write for FootballScoop.)

Prior to Arizona, Dudek worked as director of football branding and events at Rutgers and as assistant director of football operations and recruiting coordinator at Pittsburgh.

At Michigan, Dudek will join a staff that already recruits quite capably under head coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines have finished eighth and fifth nationally in 247Sports‘s composite team rankings in Harbaugh’s two full cycles as Michigan’s head coach.

Dudek’s departure will be viewed by some as an anti-show of faith in Rodriguez’s tenure at Arizona. Since that 10-4, top-20 season in 2014, the Wildcats have slipped to 7-6 in 2015 and 3-9 last fall.

WATCH: Mark Richt takes annual backflip off the high dive

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It’s been quite the summer for Mark Richt. His 2018 recruiting class is one of the best in the nation, he taught the nation the most efficient way to eat a sandwich, and on Friday he executed his annual high-dive backflip at a Hurricanes pool party.

(In case you haven’t seen the sandwich bit, watch it below. It’ll change your life.)

As SB Nation catalogues, Richt has made these backflips an annual thing since he was at Georgia in 2015. It was a skill he learned, he says, to impress the ladies after watching Greg Louganis (yes, that Greg Louganis) do it while they were students at Miami.

Richt and Louganis both enrolled at the University of Miami in 1978, and the future Hurricanes’ coach and his teammates would hang out at the university’s pool, where Louganis and the diving team would practice.

“We would watch him,” Richt said. “You’d go to the pool, because that’s where the girls were, right? So we’d watch the divers work out and say, that guy’s pretty good. Turns out he was the best in the world, like, ever. I had a lot of respect for him.”

Here’s this year’s effort.

Not bad for a guy pushing 60.

Nick Saban thinks skipping bowl games could lead to recruits doing same thing in high school

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Grand Poobah of college football and Alabama head coach Nick Saban has had some interesting ideas about the sport over the years that conflict with the general consensus of his peers. The latest subject to fit that mold? How players like Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey skipping their bowl games could filter down to the high school level with recruits.

“Same thing will happen in high school if they make the signing day before the season,” Saban told CBS Sports. “It will take a few years, then some kid will say, ‘Hey, I’m going to Notre Dame. I’m not playing my senior year.'”

The Crimson Tide coach is referencing not only the two tailbacks skipping bowl games but also the possibility that upcoming December signing date could be moved up on the calendar. Big 12 commissioner (and chairman of the Football Oversight Committee) Bob Bowlsby said at his conference media days that the date for signing could be changed or even extended to a longer signing period as part of ongoing discussions about the recruiting process.

Talk of players signing with a college prior to their senior season in high school has not been broadly talked about by coaches or administrators but it does seem like everything is on the table when it comes to NCAA reforms in this area. It remains to be seen if any recruit will actually go as far as sitting out a full year in order to protect himself from injury in order to play in college… just as it remains questionable as to whether Fournette and McCaffrey’s decisions will develop into a broader trend at the college level.

Coaches are no fans of dramatically altering the status quo and it seems Saban is among the group who want to stem the postseason defection of players before things turn into a regular occurrence at any level of football.