Friday the 13th lived up to its reputation for No. 2 Clemson.
The Tigers lost their starting quarterback due to a concussion, saw their defense inexplicably get turned around in a track meet, had one of the worst fake punts of the season and never led all night long. More ghastly though, Clemson saw Syracuse secure the biggest victory of the Dino Babers era as the Orange looked like the better side from kickoff to the final whistle in a massive 27-24 upset that will shake up both ACC and College Football Playoff races.
Quarterback Eric Dungey led the way for the home team at the Carrier Dome, throwing for 278 yards and three touchdowns despite facing one of the best defensive lines in the country on every snap. He also provided an incredible dimension with his legs in rushing for 61 yards — including the game-sealing first down with just over 90 seconds to go. The fast-paced offense racked up numerous multi-play drives as the marched up and down the field from the opening kickoff and seemed to have an answer just about every time.
The Tigers simply did not come to play on Friday night, looking sluggish from the get go. Not helping matters was the loss of starting quarterback Kelly Bryant, who didn’t look fully healthy while dealing with an ankle injury and then suffered a concussion on a scramble just before halftime. While the run game of Travis Etienne and Tavien Feaster both scored long touchdowns, there never was much of a rhythm to the offense as they stalled out on several drives.
Were it not for a Tanner Muse 63 yard scoop-and-score fumble return in the first half, things could have been even worse for the defending national champions.
If there is one silver lining for Dabo Swinney’s group it was that they were in a similar spot last season, losing to Pitt at home before eventually rallying to win the league and the national title. Things might be a little tougher this time around, but the path remains the same inside the division (and on the national stage) with games against a ranked N.C. State team and big name in Florida State still to come. Perhaps most crucially, a bye week awaits the team once they return back home and will provide some much needed rest after some significant injuries in the first half of the year.
Syracuse doesn’t really care about all that talk though, for there was nothing freaky on Friday for the Orange as they pulled off one of the memorable upsets of the season so far.
K.J. Carta-Samuels may have left Washington, but he’s not leaving the Pac-12.
Carta-Samuels brother, Austyn, revealed on his own personal Twitter account that K.J. will be transferring to UCLA. “Chip Kelly, you just got yourself a QB,” the recruiting coordinator at Missouri wrote.
The younger Carta-Samuels brother subsequently told CBSSports.com that Kelly is “a huge reason why” he chose to move on to the Bruins.
In early December, Carta-Samuels announced that he would be leaving Chris Petersen‘s Washington football program.
Carta-Samuels will be joining Kelly’s squad as a graduate transfer, which means he’ll be one of the players fighting for the right to replace three-year-starting quarterback Josh Rosen. Earlier this month, Rosen did the somewhat expected and left early for the NFL draft.
A four-star member of UW’s 2014 recruiting class, Carta-Samuels was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 24 player at any position in the state of California. Budda Baker, a second-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft, was the only signee in the Huskies’ class that year rated higher than Carta-Samuels.
Carta-Samuels played in 25 games over the past three seasons. He ended the Huskies portion of his collegiate playing career with 310 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in completing 27-of-47 passes.
This is certainly a surprising, if not extremely significant development.
Given his talent level and the position he plays, it’s been long thought that Bryce Love would be leaving Stanford early and declaring for the April draft. Instead, Love’s father confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle in a text early Tuesday morning that his son will be returning to the Cardinal for his senior season.
The Chronicle wrote that “[t]he junior tailback didn’t make his decision until the last possible minute Monday night, the deadline for entering the NFL draft.”
Despite battling through an ankle injury that lingered throughout the latter portion of the 2017 season, Love was second in the country in rushing with 2,118 yards and tied for fifth in rushing touchdowns with 19. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma.
With this decision, Love will very likely enter the 2018 season as the favorite to claim this year’s Heisman.
It wouldn’t take long to call the roll of head coaches who could get away with hiring Hugh Freeze at the moment, and Nick Saban is certainly at or near the top of that list. Based on word coming out of Tuscaloosa, a Saban-Freeze marriage could very well be on the horizon to test that theory.
According to the Tuscaloosa News, the disgraced former Ole Miss head coach was a visitor at Alabama’s football building on Monday. While the News didn’t detail the nature of the visit, FootballScoop.com writes that “Freeze was in the building today at Alabama to discuss the open offensive coordinator job.” Another national writer, however, downplayed the possibility of Freeze joining Saban’s staff.
Per the News, Saban has always held a healthy respect for Freeze given how much success, relatively speaking, the Rebels’ offense had going up against the Crimson Tide’s defense.
Saban is searching for a fourth offensive coordinator in less than 14 months after Brian Daboll left the team Sunday after one season to take the same job with the Buffalo Bills. Given Freeze’s credentials, he’d certainly warrant serious consideration to fill the opening; based on his exit from Oxford, he could be a tough sell in a lot of places.
Freeze “resigned” from Ole Miss after it was discovered he was using a school-issued cell phone to hook up with escort services on multiple occasions. Additionally, there were the Rebels’ NCAA issues while Freeze was in charge that left the coach with a team-game suspension to serve; that suspension would not have to be served if Freeze is a coordinator or position coach.
It was reported earlier this month that Les Miles was involved in Arizona’s search for a head coach and had an interest in bringing Freeze along as his coordinator if he landed the job. Not long after, after criticism came pouring in over the potential move, the earlier reports were walked back because of the stigma that still follows Freeze.
It appears Keyshawn Johnson Jr. will continue his collegiate playing career a little bit further west than where it began.
On the same day that Kevin Sumlin was hired as the head coach at Arizona, Nate Clouse of Rivals.com reported that Johnson will be enrolling at UA this week and play for the Wildcats. The son of former USC great Keyshawn Johnson will be eligible to play immediately for Sumlin in 2018.
In late June of last year, Johnson was cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Not long after, the wide receiver decided to take a leave of absence, with his famous father stating that his son needed some time to “mature” and would not play for the Cornhuskers in 2017.
At the time, the plan was for the junior Johnson to return to Lincoln and play his college football for Mike Riley. With his father’s college offensive coordinator dismissed at the end of the regular season, Johnson took to Twitter in mid-December to announce that he wouldn’t be returning to the Cornhuskers.
Johnson was a four-star member of the Cornhuskers’ 2017 recruiting class who was an early enrollee and participated in spring practice, but never played a down for NU. Before signing with Nebraska, he held offers from, among others, Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State and USC.