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Nick Saban, on anthem protests: ‘whether I agree or disagree, I think they have a right to do that’


Earlier this week, Washington State head coach Mike Leach, when asked about national anthem protests that had swept across NFL games over the weekend, stated “I’m proud of this country and would stand for the anthem and respect the flag.”  His contemporary at Alabama has made a very powerful statement in the opposite direction.

On his radio call-in show Thursday night, Nick Saban was asked by a retired military veteran for the head coach’s take on the anthem protests and if he’d allow former Crimson Tide players who took part in the protests to return to his sidelines.  The most poignant portion of Saban’s response?

“I have my opinion in terms of what I would do and how I would do it,” Saban said. “I’m not one to ever disrespect the symbols that represent the values of our country. I also respect individual differences that other people have and I think they have the right to express those — whether it’s our players or somebody else, whether I agree or disagree, I think they have a right to do that.”

That response was very much in line with what Saban had said earlier in the week on the subject.

“To me, some of the things that we do in our country when I grew up, they were unifying events and it’s a little painful to see that those things are not so right now,” Saban was quoted by as saying Monday. “But I also respect everyone’s rights not to censored in terms of the way they express their beliefs. I’m just a coach. I don’t have the answers to all the questions.”

Slumbering offenses awaken as Marshall takes halftime lead on Colorado State in New Mexico Bowl

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If you’re a fan of defensive football, you were loving the Gildan New Mexico Bowl — until the second quarter happened.

After a first quarter completely dominated by both defenses, the two combatants traded offensive jabs in the second as Marshall (7-5) took a 21-14 lead on Colorado State (7-5) into the halftime locker room.  And what a second quarter it was as the two teams combined for three lead changes and a pair of ties.

Very early in the period, Thundering Herd quarterback Chase Litton threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Tyre Brady to account for the first score of the half.  On the ensuing possession, a Detrich Clark five-yard touchdown catch from Nick Stevens capped 15-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game at 7-all.  The possession after that, Litton tossed his second touchdown pass, hitting Ryan Yurachek from 15 yards out for MU’s second lead of the contest.  The possession after that, Stevens called his own number and scored on a nine-yard run to knot the score once again. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before but, on the possession after that, Keion Davis rumbled 68 yards yards for a touchdown to hand the lad back to the Herd.

Litton finished the half with 185 yards passing, 136 of which went to Brady.  Stevens, meanwhile, passed for 128 yards.

On the running side of the ledger, Davis had 85 yards on the ground on just six carries.

Thanks to special teams, the Herd, looking to win its sixth straight bowl game, could’ve taken a two-touchdown lead into halftime as Hyleck Foster returned a punt 83 yards for a score early in the first quarter.  However, he was penalized for an illegal fair-catch signal and the touchdown was taken off the board.

While the Herd is looking to extend a winning streak, the Rams are looking to snap its three-game bowl losing streak.  Their last postseason win? The 2013 New Mexico Bowl

Colorado State will get the ball on offense to start the second half.

Georgia State wins first bowl game in school history

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Georgia State (7-5) won the first bowl game in school history on Saturday with a 27-17 victory over Western Kentucky (6-7) in the Autonation Cure Bowl in Orlando, Florida.

Conner Manning passed for 276 yards and a score and the Panthers racked up 419 yards of offense to overcome a big day through the air for Western Kentucky quarterback Mike White (251 yards, 2 TD). The Panthers pulled into the bag of tricks for an exclamation point touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Hilltoppers also had three turnovers in the game, making it difficult to scratch together a win.

The seven wins in the 2017 season set a new school record for most wins in a single season, eclipsing the six games won in the 2015 season. That season ended with a loss in the Cure Bowl. For Panthers head coach Shawn Elliott, it has been quite a ride in his brief head coaching career. Two years ago, Elliott was mired in a 1-5 run as the head coach at South Carolina after replacing Steve Spurrier. Now, in his first season as the head coach at Georgia State, he has delivered a bowl victory for the first time in program history.

This marks the first postseason bowl loss for Western Kentucky since joining Conference USA in 2014. The Hilltoppers had been riding a three-game winning streak in bowl games entering this season.

Western Kentucky’s 2018 season will kickoff on August 31 at Wisconsin. The Hilltoppers will also play a road game against Louisville on September 15. Georgia State will begin their season on August 30 at home against FCS opponent Kennesaw State.

Boise State dominating but two defensive touchdowns keeping Oregon in Vegas Bowl

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The first half of Mario Cristobal‘s Oregon debut has been one to forget. A Ducks offense that averaged north of 50 points a game with starting quarterback Justin Hebert running point has been held scoreless as No. 25 Boise State holds a most unconventional 24-14 lead at the break at the Las Vegas Bowl.

The Broncos opened a three-and-out to open the game, then rolled down the field, going 67 yards in 13 plays and concluding with a nifty 1-yard Ryan Wolpin run.

Boise State forced another three-and-out on Oregon’s next possession and again moved into scoring territory when the Ducks scored their best play of the game, as cornerback Arrion Springs baited Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien into throwing an end zone interception.

It didn’t matter, though, because Oregon running back Tony Brooks-James was forced into a fumble by the Broncos’ Leighton Vander Esch, and Rypien erased his mistake with a 26-yard scoring strike to Cedrick Wilson

The first quarter closed with another minus-territory fumble, as this time Hebert lost the ball as he was being sacked at his own 21 but Boise State could not capitalize when Haden Hoggarth missed a 42-yard field goal.

After another Oregon punt, Hoggarth pushed Boise’s lead to 17-0 by converting a 39-yard field goal at the 8:59 mark of the second quarter.

Hebert followed up his fumble with two consecutive interceptions, with the second pick being returned 53 yards for a touchdown by Kekaula Kaniho, pushing the lead to 24-0 with 5:11 left in the first half.

Boise State had a chance to close the half with a 31-0 lead, but instead let Oregon back in the game with two disastrous plays inside the final minute. First, a Statue of Liberty play backfired when Rypien’s exchange bounced off Alexander Mattison‘s face mask and Oregon’s Troy Dye picked it up and raced 86 yards for the Ducks’ first touchdown with 37 ticks left in the half. Then, after a 67-yard completion to Wilson, Rypien’s pass into the end zone was intercepted and returned for a 100-yard touchdown by Oregon’s Tyree Robinson with seven seconds left, giving Oregon 14 defensive points in a 30-second span.

And now both teams reconcile with a 24-14 halftime score despite Oregon not running a single play in Boise State territory. The Broncos hold a 295-77 edge in total yardage, a 17-4 advantage in first downs and forced four Oregon turnovers.

Rypien hit 12-of-24 passes for 222 yards with a touchdown and two picks, Wolpin led all runners with 10 carries for 34 yards and a touchdown, and Wilson has been the best player on the field with six grabs for 133 yards and a touchdown. Hebert completed 10-of-15 passes for only 43 yards and two interceptions, and the Ducks mustered just 34 yards on 16 rushes.

Notre Dame will be without second-leading receiver for Citrus Bowl

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When Notre Dame’s offense takes the field this postseason, its receiving corps will be down an important contributor.

Brian Kelly confirmed Saturday afternoon that Chase Claypool will not play in the New Year’s Day Citrus Bowl matchup with LSU because of an injury to his right shoulder.  The wide receiver suffered the injury during practice this past Tuesday.

Next Tuesday, Claypool will undergo surgery to repair the damage.

A true sophomore, Claypool is currently second on the Fighting Irish in receptions (29) and receiving yards (402).  He also has a pair of touchdown catches.

Equanimeous Brown leads the team in both catches with 31 and yards with 468.