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Bo Scarbrough powers No. 1 Alabama back to championship game after Peach Bowl win over No. 4 Washington

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Faced with a 3rd and nine from their own three-yard line and Washington making a push to generate enough momentum to put a scare in Alabama, the Crimson Tide handed the ball to Bo Scarbrough. Scarbrough moved right up the middle of the field for a 12-yard gain. At that exact moment in the fourth quarter, that may have been nothing more than a sigh of relief for Alabama, having picked up a first down to get out of their own end zone, but Scarbrough was not done yet. A few plays later, Scarbrough once again broke tackles by Washington’s solid defense, and in the process of working his way 68-yards down the field for a cherry-on-top touchdown, broke the hearts of Washington faithful in Atlanta and on the west coast. Alabama, who had the upper hand for nearly the entire game, pulled away for a College Football Playoff semifinal victory in the Peach Bowl for a 24-7 victory that was fueled by capitalizing on Washington’s mistakes.

Two Washington turnover sin the first half led to 10 points for the SEC champion Crimson Tide. Jake Browning, who set the new Pac-12 single-season passing touchdown record in the first quarter, was picked off by Ryan Anderson late in the first half, and Anderson returned the interception for a touchdown. In a game in which Washington could not afford mistakes like this, the pick-six was a critical blow. The Huskies had a very good night on defense, but the offense was unable to do anything against a superior Alabama defense loaded with some of the top talent in the country, like Jonathan Allen (who recovered a fumble and was tough to get by once again). That was to be expected, but the Huskies looked like they may have found a good situation after Browning stepped back from the line of scrimmage on a fourth down play around midfield to drop a punt on the Tide. The punt pinned Alabama deep in their end, and Washington forced a third-and-nine that will likely haunt them for some time.

Moments later, Alabama was out to the 30-yard line, when Bo struck once more to get the party started a little early for the Crimson Tide fans.

Scarbrough ended his night with 180 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Washington had a total of 194 yards in the entire game.

Alabama will now await to find out their next challenger, which will be decided in the Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State and Clemson will play in the other College Football Playoff semifinal to determine Alabama’s next opponent in the national championship game. Alabama has faced each in the last two years of the College Football Playoff. Ohio State, with Ezekiel Elliott, upset the Crimson Tide en route to a national championship run two seasons ago, and Alabama outlasted Deshaun Watson and Clemson in last year’s championship game. Whoever plays Alabama should make for a very entertaining championship game.

The national championship game will be played on Monday, January 9, 2017 in Tampa. Alabama will look to become the first repeat winner in the infancy of the College Football Playoff era and clinch its fifth national championship since 2009.

The season is now over for Washington. At 12-2, there is still more than enough to be happy about this season for the Huskies under head coach Chris Petersen, and still much to look forward to moving forward as the program continues to take strides forward. Washington’s next game will be September 1, 2017 at Rutgers. The Huskies should be able to get off to a good start once again next year with nonconference games against Montana and Fresno State before opening Pac-12 play.

A&M the landing spot for UCF RB Cordarrian Richardson

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The strange journey of Cordarrian Richardson has taken yet another twist.

The running back confirmed to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal late this past week that he has decided to leave UCF and transfer to Texas A&M.  The true freshman will have to sit out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, but will have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2019.

Last season, Richardson ran for 161 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 47 carries for the unbeaten Knights.

On National Signing Day in 2017, Richardson announced via a weather balloon in outer space that he would be signing with Maryland.  A day later, however, Richardson faxed in a signed NLI… to a school that wasn’t even in his final four — UCF.  Maryland, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Ole Miss, were the top four teams that appeared in his original “commitment” video.

Richardson was also heavily recruited by Florida State, which at the time was coached by new A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher.

A four-star 2017 signee, Richardson was rated as the No. 9 back in the country; the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Tennessee; and the No. 157 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  He was far and away the highest-rated signee in the Knights’ class that year.

Arkansas kicker Cole Hedlund reportedly transfers to North Texas

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And you can pardon the whole of the state of Arkansas if they let out a collective “thank goodness.”

Citing multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, Brett Vito of the Denton Record-Chronicle is reporting that Cole Hedlund is transferring to North Texas.  After redshirting as a true freshman in 2014 at Arkansas, Hedlund spent the next three seasons as a placekicker for the Razorbacks.

The Argyle, Tex., native opted to transfer from UA for his final season of eligibility.  He’s the youngest son of UNT women’s soccer coach John Hedlund.

For his career with the Razorbacks, Hedlund hit on 14 of his 24 field goal attempts.  He also connected on all 91 extra point attempts.  His best season came in 2015 when he led the team in scoring with 85 points.

The past season, however, was a rough one.  After missing both field goal attempts in a Sept. 9 loss to TCU — the misses came from 20 and 23 yards out — Hedlund never attempted another kick for the Razorbacks the rest of the season.

“It was basically a PAT, and it was a perfect protection and a perfect snap. It’s inexcusable,” then-head coach Bret Bielema said at the time.

Longtime BYU defensive assistant Steve Kaufusi steps down

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A constant on BYU’s defensive staff for nearly two decades has taken himself out of the football program’s equation.

The Cougars announced Friday that Steve Kaufusi has stepped down from his post as linebackers coach.  Per the school, Kaufusi’s departure was triggered by his desire to pursue other unspecified interests.

Kaufusi, whose wife Michelle is the mayor of Provo and has two sons who will play for the Cougars this season, had spent the past 16 seasons with BYU.  From 2002-16, he coached the defensive line; he took over linebackers in 2017 and spent one season overseeing that position.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to coach at BYU for the past 16 seasons,” Kaufusi said. “I’m honored to have had the opportunity to represent the University and everything it stands for. I will always be a Cougar and look forward to watching my sons play at BYU.”

“Anyone who knows Steve knows he is an exceptional coach and mentor to young men, which you can see in the players he has coached over the years and also in his own family,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “I wish Steve nothing but the best for his future.”

In tandem with the Kaufusi announcement, the program also confirmed that Preston Hadley has been hired.  Hadley, who played defensive back for the Cougars and coached at Weber State the past two seasons, will coach safeties in his return.

Ed Lamb, who was responsible for safeties, will take over Kaufusi’s linebackers.  All other coaches on the defensive side of the ball will maintain their current positions.

Michigan State promotes Mike Tressel to DC, adds ex-Kent State HC as DBs coach

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Mark Dantonio looked inside and out of his football program to fill some holes in his Michigan State staff.

Nearly two weeks ago, Harlon Barnett left as MSU’s co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach to take a job at Florida State.  That left Dantonio with two openings, one of which the head coach closed Friday by promoting Mike Tressel to defensive coordinator.

Tressel and Barnett had served as co-coordinators the past three seasons; the nephew of former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel will now serve as the Spartans’ solo coordinator moving forward.

“Mike has done a tremendous job working with the defense,” said Dantonio in a statement. “He’s been deeply involved with everything with the defense since we first arrived here, and has helped coach some championship defenses that have been ranked consistently among the best in the nation, year in and year out. He did a great job as co-coordinator the past three years. He’s certainly earned this opportunity and I think he’ll do an outstanding job.”

To replace Barnett as defensive backs coach, Dantonio turned to Paul Haynes.  The past five years, Haynes was the head coach at Kent State before being dismissed at the end of the 2017 regular season.

This serves as a homecoming of sorts for Haynes as well.  From 2003-04, he was the defensive backs coach for the Spartans under John Smith.

The 48-year-old Haynes has also been a secondary coach at Arkansas (2012), Ohio State (2005-10), Louisville (2002) and Kent State (1999).

“We’re very, very excited about Paul,” said Dantonio. “He’s coached here before so he’s got a Spartan background. He was secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State, so he’s coached on the highest level with the secondary. He was a defensive coordinator at Arkansas as well. He’s been a head coach at Kent State, so I think that gives him a big picture feel. I think he’s an excellent recruiter. He’s a dynamic person as well, so we’re excited to have him on campus.”