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No. 14 Auburn overpowers Texas A&M to remain a viable threat in SEC title (and playoff) picture

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The odds are pretty good that No. 14 Auburn (7-2, 4-1 SEC) is not going to find a way into the College Football Playoff, but after a dominating performance on the road against Texas A&M (5-4, 3-3 SEC), one should not sleep on the Tigers potentially giving Georgia and Alabama a fight in the regular season later this month. Kerryon Johnson stepped up in the running game and Jarrett Stidham passed for three touchdowns in a 42-27 victory over the Aggies in Kyle Field on Saturday afternoon.

Texas A&M pulled a quarterback switch along the way. With Kellen Mond struggling (5/11, 16 yards), Nick Starkel got a chance to relieve him and try to rejuvenate the offense, and he did to a degree. Starkel completed 11 of 22 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns. But it was too little too late as the Aggies were already down too much and unable to slow down Auburn on offense.

After a sluggish start, Auburn came alive in the second quarter with three touchdowns to take a 21-13 lead into the halftime break. The Tigers continued to push forward with an overpowering offense with two more touchdowns in the third quarter to create some separation with the Aggies. The win by Auburn keeps a bizarre trend alive in this series. Since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012, the road team has won six straight games in this series.

November has not been kind to Texas A&M in recent years, and it would appear things are once again in danger of trending in the wrong direction in November with this loss. And because of that, the discussion about the job security for Kevin Sumlin will once again come into question. The Aggies have now lost back-to-back games by double-digit margins to Mississippi State and Auburn. And the way things are going in Gainesville, you will not win many points for a 19-17 victory over Florida. It was not so long ago that Texas A&M was 4-1, marred by an ugly collapse on the road against UCLA in the season opener. Sumlin needs a strong finish with the Aggies to put some of the hot seat talk to rest.

Next up for Auburn is a big one. The Tigers will host No. 1 Georgia next Saturday, November 11. For Auburn to play in the SEC Championship Game, beating Alabama will be essential as the Tigers trail their in-state rivals by one game in the loss column already with two games to play. But before any scenarios with Alabama can be explored, Auburn must find a way to take down the Bulldogs next week. It is certainly no easy task for any team needing wins against Georgia and Alabama this season, but the Tigers playing at home in each makes for an interesting final three weeks in the SEC.

Texas A&M will play their final home game of the season next week against UNLV. After that, the schedule wraps up with back-to-back SEC road games against Ole Miss and LSU. The way things have been going, next week’s game against the Rebels may be a must-win game for Texas A&M to get to the postseason.

Bryce Love returning to Stanford for senior season

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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.

Report: Hugh Freeze visited Alabama’s football building Monday

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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.

Ex-Nebraska WR Keyshawn Johnson Jr. reportedly lands at Arizona

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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.

Minnesota CB Zo Craighton tweets he’s transferring

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Roster attrition across college football continues unabated, with Minnesota the latest to lose one its football players.

Zo Craighton revealed on his Twitter account Monday that, “[a]fter prayers and considerations,” he has decided to transfer out of P.J. Fleck‘s football program. “There will always be a place in my heart for Minnesota,” the redshirt sophomore cornerback wrote in his social media missive. “I made friends for life and I appreciate the fan base for all the support.”

Craighton played in 11 games the past two seasons, missing the final nine of the 2017 season because of injury. Coming out of high school in Louisiana, the defensive back was a three-star member of the Gophers’ 2015 recruiting class.