James Franklin was on the hot seat with many Penn State fans earlier this season. After Saturday night, he might be getting a contract extension.
The Nittany Lions gave their head coach his first signature win in State College in front of a White-Out crowd in Happy Valley as they upset No. 2 Ohio State 24-21 with a wild fourth quarter and some clutch plays down the stretch.
Penn State hung around most of the game and came up with a timely score just about every moment when it looked like they were going to lose control to their highly ranked division rivals. Case in point was right before halftime when quarterback Trace McSorley (who completed just eight passes on the night) led a 74 yard touchdown drive in just 65 seconds to pull to within 12-7.
Nothing caused the crowd to erupt quite like what the defense did in the fourth quarter however. Ohio State appeared to be driving to all but wrap up another tough road win with just over four minutes left in the game when they ran the field goal unit onto the field to attempt a 45-yarder.
The kick came off a little low though and junior safety Marcus Allen entered PSU lore by getting just enough of the ball to block it. Grant Haley found himself in the right place, at the right time, and promptly scooped and scored from 60 yards out to cause pandemonium among the Nittany Lion fan base.
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett didn’t quite get going like he did last week against Wisconsin but was solid as the only reliable source of offense for the Buckeyes. The quarterback finished with 245 yards passing and a touchdown but was sacked five times in the second half as he failed to rally the team many expected to roll through the rest of the season undefeated.
The loss snaps a 20 game road winning streak for Ohio State and throws all sorts of postseason scenarios out the window. To start with, rival Michigan should ascend to No. 2 in the polls come Sunday and instantly become the favorites in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes can still win their division, and even make it back into the running for a College Football Playoff semifinal, but the night belonged to what Penn State did in a marquee win for their head coach and their program on Saturday night.
Akron came into Week 13 needing to either win or rely on someone else to lose. In the end, the Zips decided to just go ahead and punch their own ticket to the Motor City, thank you very much.
Jumping out to a 24-7 halftime lead Tuesday night, that margin proved to be more than enough for Akron as they easily cruised past rival Kent State in a 24-14 win. Kent actually outgained its hosts 246-191, but a fumble return for a touchdown with less than 20 seconds left in the second quarter essentially sealed the win for Akron.
Both Akron and Ohio entered this week tied atop the MAC East at 5-2. However, the Zips beat the Bobcats in Week 12, meaning Akron is the first MAC team to claim a spot in the conference championship game at Detroit’s Ford Field next weekend.
This will mark the Zips’s second-ever title-game appearance, with the first coming in 2005. That season, Akron beat Northern Illinois 31-30 for its first-ever conference championship.
Akron will play either NIU (6-1) or Toledo (6-1) in this year’s title game, although it’s trending heavily toward the Rockets as they own the head-to-head with the Huskies. So, the possibilities?
Toledo wins the West with either a win over Western Michigan OR an NIU loss. Northern Illinois needs to beat Central Michigan AND have Toledo lose to WMU at home to win the division.
Florida’s search for a new head coach could very shortly be ready to take another twist.
Despite a certain former Head Ball Coach saying UF’s new head coach would be a current one, speculation on Jim McElwain‘s replacement has seemingly centered on Chip Kelly over the last few days. In fact, a group of UF officials headed by athletic director Scott Stricklin and president Kent Fuchs visited with Kelly in New Hampshire over the weekend to discuss the job.
While it walks, talks and smells like the university has targeted Kelly as its top choice, it appears they want an answer, one way or the other, from the former Oregon head coach sooner rather than later. From Yahoo! Sports‘ Pat Forde:
But with other potential candidates becoming available for discussion this weekend, Florida officials appear to be ready to move on shortly after Thanksgiving if a deal has not been struck with Kelly.
Potentially mucking up the works in Gainesville is UCLA, which fired Jim Mora Sunday and is also said to be targeting Kelly as a replacement. In fact, it’s being reported that the Bruins’ search contingent has already met with Kelly.
UCF’s Scott Frost, who is believed to be Nebraska’s top choice when/when it moves on from Mike Riley, and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen are thought to be likely targets should either Kelly snub the Gators or they move on.
One very likely reason for UF’s reported urgency for a decision from Kelly is the revamped recruiting calendar. This year marks the first time that there’s an early signing period in football, with Class of 2018 recruits given a 72-hour window from Dec. 20-22 to sign their National Letters of Intent.
The sooner UF can wrap up its search, the sooner its new coach and his staff can try to hold together some semblance of a first recruiting class with the program – especially with two SEC programs, Tennessee and Ole Miss, already looking for a head coach while a couple of others (Arkansas, Texas A&M) could be on the hunt as early as this coming weekend as well.
The third-to-last edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, and the only changes in the top 12 came at spot No. 2, where Miami jumped Clemson ahead of the pair’s ACC title clash on Dec. 2.
USC remained the highest-ranked Pac-12 team at No. 11, dimming any hopes the Pac-12 could back-door its way into the top four should chaos reign elsewhere. The Trojans were one spot ahead of TCU and two spots ahead of the Pac-12’s second-highest ranked team in Washington State. Central Florida again led all Group of 5 teams at No. 15.
Virginia Tech re-joined the rankings at No. 25, one spot behind the debut rankings for South Carolina.
The top 25:
8. Notre Dame
9. Ohio State
10. Penn State
13. Washington State
14. Mississippi State
15. Central Florida
16. Michigan State
19. Oklahoma State
23. Boise State
24. South Carolina
25. Virginia Tech
Kevin Sumlin said Tuesday afternoon he expects to be Texas A&M’s head coach in 2018. A report Tuesday night says otherwise.
Sumlin will be fired in the day or days following Saturday’s game with No. 20 LSU, win or lose, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle. The Aggies are 0-5 against LSU under Sumlin and double-digit underdogs for Saturday’s game in Baton Rouge. The Chronicle‘s report is not the first to proclaim Sumlin’s future firing, but it is the most definitive.
Sumlin is 7-4 (4-3 SEC) this season and 51-25 overall, a mark that ranks in the top-third of the SEC since joining the league in 2012 — but Sumlin is not paid to deliver top-third results. His program failed to live up to the standard set in that debut campaign, with an 11-2 mark, a win in Tuscaloosa, a Cotton Bowl blowout of Oklahoma and a Heisman Trophy for Johnny Manziel.
The Chronicle reported that Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher will be A&M’s top target to replace Sumlin.