NC State was too much for Vanderbilt on Monday night. More specifically, the pitch-and-catch combination of Ryan Finley-to-Jaylen Samuels was too much for Vanderbilt, as the Wolfpack raced to a 41-17 Independence Bowl victory in Shreveport, La.
Finley and Samuels hooked up six times for 104 yards and three decisive touchdowns on the night. The first came at the 9:08 mark of the second quarter, a 9-yard strike to put NC State on top 7-3, handing the club a lead it would not relinquish. The second connection came nearly eight minutes later, a 55-yard snatch-and-dash that all but put the game out of reach at 14-3.
After a 5-yard scoring rush by Reggie Gallaspy II pushed the lead to 21-3, Finley’s third and final strike to Samuels, a 17-yard connection, put the game out of reach with 5:34 still to play in the third quarter.
Vanderbilt briefly climbed back in the game when Ralph Webb posted a 30-yard touchdown run and Khari Blasingame bulled in from the 1-yard line to pull the Commodores within 28-17 with 10:37 left in the game, but NC State (7-6) immediately ended any comeback hopes when Nyheim Hines raced the ensuing kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown.
Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmer provided NC State its final score of the night when Niles Clark returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown as time expired. Shurmur finished the night hitting 19-of-46 passes for 158 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Vanderbilt (6-7) managed 156 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 4.5 yards per carry.
Finley closed his season connecting on 19-of-30 passes for 235 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Matthew Dayes led the Pack on the ground with nine carries for 47 yards.
The win pushed the ACC to 2-0 in bowl games pitting 6-6 teams and clinched at least a .500 record for the conference against the SEC in 2016. The ACC is now 7-3 against its southeastern rival with three games and the possibility of a Clemson-Alabama CFP national championship still remaining.
Already battered by injuries on defense, USC may have avoided what would’ve potentially been a significant loss on that side of the ball.
Uchenna Nwosu suffered a sprained MCL in his knee during USC’s double-overtime win over Texas in Week 3. After being held out in the early part of the week, the linebacker, armed — or kneed as the case may be — with a brace, returned to practice Wednesday.
Afterward, head coach Clay Helton seemed optimistic about Nwosu’s availability for the Week 4 game against Cal, their first road trip of the season.
Nwosu is currently second on the team in tackles with 20, while his seven pass breakups rank second nationally. He’s started the first three games of the season for the Trojans after starting every game in 2016.
That brings us to the end of the positive injury news portion of the program as fellow linebacker Porter Gustin is very unlikely to play against the Golden Bears. Gustin, who leads the Trojans in sacks with three, has been dealing with a surgically-repaired big toe. While it didn’t keep him out of the Texas game as expected, he was sidelined again at practice Wednesday.
Additionally, defensive end Rasheem Green (ankle) and slot cornerback Ajene Harris (knee) are questionable for the road trip to Berkeley after sitting out practice yet again.
In the end, there could be an injury silver lining for Tennessee after all.
In the aftermath of the deflating last-second loss to rival Florida, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones announced that Cortez McDowell would miss the remainder of the 2017 season. The linebacker sustained an injury to his wrist that, at the time, was deemed serious enough to shelve him for the rest of the year.
The key here is “at the time” as, a couple of days later, the prognosis has brightened slightly as Jones allowed Wednesday that McDowell could return at some point this season. Whether it’s late in the regular season or even for a bowl game, the coach at least left the door open for the senior to play again in 2017.
Obviously, any availability would be determined in the coming weeks by the program’s medical staff.
McDowell would be eligible for a medical hardship waiver if he shut it down for the remainder of the season, which would give the fourth-year senior another year of eligibility to use in 2018. At least at this point in time, that’s not the tack that either the player or the football program is taking.
After starting four of 12 games last season, McDowell started the first three games this season prior to his injury.
So there you have it.
Late in the third quarter of Saturday’s 37-7 loss to Mississippi State, Derrius Guice sustained an injury to his left knee. While Ed Orgeron downplayed the severity of the injury in the ensuing days, he allowed during his turn on the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday that his star running back is “very questionable right now” for the Week 4 game against Syracuse.
Later that night, on the head coach’s radio show, the very questionable morphed into completely out.
Through three games, Guice leads the Tigers with 300 yards rushing and is tied for tops on the team with four rushing touchdowns. His rushing yards are currently fourth in the SEC; last season, his 1,387 yards were tops in the conference.
With Guice unable to go, Darrel Williams (28-159-4) will likely be next in line to shoulder the brunt of the running-game load.
Mason Rudolph is looking at the rest of the season as an opportunity to continue pushing his way into the Heisman discussion and his team deeper into the College Football Playoff picture. His younger brother, on the other hand, is looking at rehab.
Wednesday night, Clemson announced that Logan Rudolph will miss the remainder of the 2017 season because of a shoulder injury. The defensive end sustained the injury during a Tuesday practice, and will undergo surgery at some point in the future to repair the damage. Rudolph dealt with a shoulder issue late in his high school career, and it’s believed this is related to that.
A four-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Rudolph was rated as the No. 23 weakside defensive end in the country and the No. 4 player at any position in the state of South Carolina. After enrolling early and participating in spring practice, the true freshman played in two games as a backup behind starter Austin Bryant. In that limited action, he was credited with three tackles and one tackle for loss.
Because of how few games he’s played, Rudolph would be eligible for a medical redshirt. That would allow the lineman to extend his eligibility out through the 2021 season if he so desires.
Getting back to the famous name-drop in the lede, Rudolph’s older brother, of course, is the starting quarterback for No. 6 Oklahoma State.