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Pumphrey breaks record, San Diego State breaks Houston’s offense in Las Vegas Bowl

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Donnel Pumphrey became the FBS all-time leading rusher and San Diego State earned a 34-10 triumph over Houston in a Las Vegas Bowl that will be remembered as one of the best wins in Aztec football history.

Though the Aztecs eventually ran away for the win, the first quarter played completely differently. Like a Houston rout, to be exact. Thanks to a Ty Cummings field goal and a Greg Ward, Jr., touchdown plunge, the Cougars jumped out to a 10-0 lead, limiting the Aztecs’ offense to four punts and three three-and-outs to open the game. Houston finished the frame with a 102-5 yardage advantage, limiting Pumphrey’s first seven carries to minus-1 yard.

The game after that, though. John Baron II chipped in two short field goals to get the Aztecs on the board, while the San Diego State defense limited Houston to just five total yards in the second quarter.

That domination continued in the third quarter as three consecutive Houston drives ended in Ward interceptions. The Cougars forced a punt after the first pick, but Pumphrey cashed in on the second with a 32-yard touchdown jaunt to put San Diego State on top 13-10 at the 3:14 mark of the third quarter, and Ron Smith stepped in front of a wide receiver screen and raced it 54 yards for a touchdown to push the lead to 20-10 with 56 seconds left in the frame. Ward finished the day completing 25-of-34 passes for 229 yards with four interceptions while netting zero yards on 14 rushes and eight sacks. He was sacked three times on Houston’s next-to-last possession alone, including a fourth down that the Coogs’ coaches for some reason felt necessary to go for despite being deep in their own territory and trailing by 17 with just over three minutes remaining.

Pumphrey topped Ron Dayne‘s all-time record early in the fourth quarter, racing 15 yards around right tackle to become the first player in FBS history to top the 6,400 yard mark. Pumphrey finished the day with 19 carries for 115 yards and one touchdown, officially closing his record-breaking career with 1,059 carries for 6,405 yards and 62 touchdowns spread over 53 games. He also became the only player in FBS history to record three consecutive seasons of 2,000 rushing/receiving yards. Dayne, as far as the NCAA is concerned, carried for 6,397 yards on 1,149 carries in 47 countable games. (Dayne, however, rushed for 7,125 yards when including three non-countable bowl games.)

After San Diego State turned away a desperation 4th-and-1 Ward rush at the Houston 31-yard line, the Aztecs put the game away with 8:58 to play as Christian Chapman (10-of-14 passing for 128 yards) hit Curtis Anderson III over the top for a 28-yard play-action touchdown pass, nudging the score to an out-of-reach 27-10. Juwan Washington punched in the capper on a 13-yard carry with 1:11 left to play. In the only downer of the day for the club, Rashaad Penny totaled only 10 yards on nine carries, leaving him five yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark to go with Pumphrey’s 2,133 yards this season.

The win pushed San Diego State to 11-3 on the year, the second consecutive season the Aztecs have won 11 games and the Mountain West championship, cementing SDSU’s status as the nation’s most underrated program. Houston’s loss dropped the Cougars to 9-4 on the year and 0-1 in the Major Applewhite era.

West Virginia QB Will Grier announces return in 2018

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West Virginia quarterback Will Grier will be back for another season of football in Morgantown. Grier announced today he will be back in the blue and gold in 2018, his senior season.

Citing a desire to see his team accomplish more next season, Grier said he is “completely focused and looking forward to building off the success” experienced in 2017.

“West Virginia is my home, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future here,” Grier said in his released statement.

Grier’s return to West Virginia will be a boost for the offense next season. In his first year back playing college football after parting ways with Florida amid a drug-related suspension, Grier played in 11 games and passed for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns for the Mountaineers. He was one of three quarterbacks in the Big 12 to average more than 300 passing yards in a game, with the other two being Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph. With Mayfield and Rudolph moving on to the NFL next year, Grier will be one of the top offensive players returning to play football in the Big 12 in 2018.

UCF RB Adrian Killins: SEC football doesn’t have a lot of speed

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UCF has won all 12 games they have played this season because they have a distinct advantage with the talent on the roster. At 12-0 with an American Athletic Conference championship, the Knights are heading to the Peach Bowl to take on SEC West Division champion Auburn. When the two collide, UCF running back Adrian Killins will hope to back up his words with his performance on the field.

Speaking to the media this week, Killins said Auburn has not seen speed like the kind UCF will bring to the game in Atlanta on January 1. Defying the popular narrative over the years about how much speed the SEC has, Killins does not seem to be too impressed.

“SEC football, they don’t have a lot of speed, honestly,” Killins told The Orlando Sentinel. “So, Auburn hasn’t seen any speed like we have here.”

It’s worth noting that Auburn has faced Clemson this season. Just to throw that out there. But that said, is the SEC speed narrative a thing of the past? Killins suggests the SEC is more about being physical and not so much looking to strike quickly. But the SEC has had some fast-moving offenses, including this season with Missouri and, of course, Auburn. But in terms of raw speed from the players, maybe that is where UCF will look to create an advantage against the Tigers.

“I will say they’re in for a rude awakening, because UCF football, we’re UCF fast and UCF fierce,” Killins said.

And with that, Killins has just given Auburn’s defense some good bulletin board material ahead of the Peach Bowl.

DA: No charges will be pursued against Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson

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The attorney for Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson labeled the allegations against his client “patently false.” A few days later, the Sooners football player has been vindicated.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Cleveland County (Okla.) District Attorney Greg Mashburn announced that his office would not pursue charges against Anderson.  The decision came after the prosecutor met with a Norman Police Department detective Tuesday afternoon and again Thursday morning.

Earlier this month, a woman filed for an emergency order of protection against Anderson; additional details subsequently emerged, with the woman describing the player in a written statement to the court as the “alleged rapist” and herself as the “victim of rape.” A hearing on the protective order had been scheduled for Dec. 18.

The alleged assault occurred Nov. 16, with the alleged victim claiming that she began recalling details of the alleged attack the weekend of Dec. 2 as she was speaking to a friend.

Late last week, it was reported that Anderson passed a three-hour lie detector test administered to him this past week by a retired FBI polygraph examiner. Bill Brown, the retired FBI investigator who has reportedly performed in excess of 3,500 such polygraph exams, was hired by Derek Chance, Anderson’s attorney, to administer the test.  That attorney claimed that the accuser only went to the authorities with her claims after Anderson had rejected several of her advances.

Anderson currently leads the Sooners with 960 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns on the ground.  He’s also caught 16 passes for 283 yards and another five touchdowns coming out of the backfield.

No. 2 Oklahoma is set to face No. 3 Georgia in the Rose Bowl New Year’s Day, with the winner facing the Clemson-Alabama winner for the right to play for the 2017 College Football Playoff championship.

Scott Frost bests three playoff coaches for Eddie Robinson Award

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For the second time since the regular season ended, Scott Frost is on the receiving end of some coaching hardware.

For his work at UCF, the Football Writers Association of America announced Thursday that Frost has been named as the recipient of the 2017 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.  Frost, who was named as the new head coach at Nebraska upon the completion of the regular season, was also honored as the Home Depot Coach of the Year last week.

“Scott Frost is one of the up-and-coming coaches in college football,” said FWAA president Dave Jones in a statement. “What he did at UCF was nothing short of remarkable in just two seasons.”

Taking over a team that went 0-12 in 2015, Frost coached UCF to a 6-7 record last season.  This season, Frost has the 12th-ranked Knights sitting at 12-0 after winning the football program’s second outright AAC championship and earning the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl bid.

After some initial uncertainty, it was confirmed earlier this week that Frost will coach UCF in its Peach Bowl matchup with Auburn.

There were seven other finalists for this year’s Robinson Award, including Bill Clark, UAB; Lane Kiffin, FAU; Jeff Monken, Army; Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma; Kirby Smart, Georgia; Dabo Swinney, Clemson; and Jeff Tedford, Fresno State.  Riley, Smart and Swinney all led their respective teams to this year’s College Football Playoff.