Heading into Saturday’s showdown with No. 3 Notre Dame, there were still plenty of questions about whether No. 7 Miami was a bona fide College Football Playoff contender. By the time the night was over, it’s safe to say there were no more doubts.
The Hurricanes brought back plenty of memories of those title contenders from yesteryear — and created several more over four quarters — after a nostalgia-filled rout of the Irish at Hard Rock Stadium, delivering a 41-8 Biscayne Beatdown that will reverberate well beyond South Florida and could allow the team to move into the top two of the polls by next week.
As much as the night was about the offense looking sharp, it was the swarming Miami defense that ruled supreme with their best effort of the year coming in the biggest game of the season. The team racked up five sacks and nine tackles for loss, combining with four ‘turnover chain’ appearances to utterly shutdown the previously prolific Notre Dame attack. That helped lead to 24 points the other way, seven of which came off Trajan Bandy’s first career interception that he returned 65 yards for an eardrum-shattering pick-six.
That was off the arm of backup quarterback Ian Book, who entered briefly in the second quarter to replace an ineffective Brandon Wimbush (119 yards passing, one touchdown, two INTs). Star tailback Josh Adams spent most of the second half on the exercise bike after appearing to suffer an undisclosed injury and recorded only 40 yards on the ground as the Irish put up points with only seconds left in the third quarter to avoid a shutout.
Though things slowed down after halftime, it was another efficient effort on the other side for head coach Mark Richt’s offense to build upon what they’ve been doing the past few weeks. Quarterback Malik Rosier was solid throwing the football even if the stats weren’t eye-popping (137 yards, 1 TD) and also managed a rushing score that broke things open early on. He teamed up with Travis Homer (146 yards) and DeeJay Dallas (53 yards, two scores) to form quite the deadly combo in the backfield.
The end result of all that carnage in South Florida? Given No. 1 Georgia’s loss to No. 10 Auburn earlier in the day, it’s possible that Richt’s current team could pass his old one in the standings on both Sunday (AP/Coaches Polls) and Tuesday (selection committee). They’ve already clinched their first ever ACC Coastal Division title and will play Clemson for the conference title in what sure seems like a quarterfinal game up in Charlotte in a few weeks.
As for Brian Kelly’s side, their second loss of the year should end any hopes of reaching the playoff after that kind of lopsided result. The Irish still figure to be in a New Year’s Six bowl if they win out and could remain in the top 10 but it’s pretty clear that any hopes of aiming higher need to be reset after that kind of game against a potential playoff team in Miami.
Over the past several days, it appeared that Florida had zeroed in on Chip Kelly as its next head coach. On Black Friday, that appears to no longer be the case.
Earlier this afternoon, FootballScoop.com reported that coaches they’ve spoken to expect Kelly to choose UCLA as his destination for a return to college football. Not long after, Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports reported that “Florida has moved on from Kelly” as its potential head coach and will move on to other, unnamed candidates. Forde adds that “UCLA is the increasingly likely new destination for the former coach of the Oregon Ducks.”
Whether Florida moved on because Kelly informed them he was headed to UCLA or because they simply couldn’t reach an agreement is unknown at this time.
These reports come a couple of days after it was reported that UF was prepared to move on from Kelly if he didn’t make a decision in short order.
With Kelly apparently out of the picture in Gainesville, the Gators will very likely turn their attention to UCF’s Scott Frost and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen.
If Frost is the target, UF will likely have some competition in the form of Frost’s alma mater Nebraska, which is expected to part ways with Mike Riley after the Cornhuskers’ regular-season finale. MSU, meanwhile, is prepared to “go all in” to retain Mullen.
The rumor mill is set to make yet another coach a much richer man. Again.
While it appears that, at least for the moment, Florida is focused on Chip Kelly as its next head football coach, Dan Mullen‘s name has been mentioned as another realistic possibility to replace the dismissed Jim McElwain. The connection makes sense as Mullen spent four seasons as UF’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Urban Meyer before leaving for Mississippi State, where he’s spent the past nine seasons as head coach. Also, UF’s athletic director, Scott Stricklin, served in the same role in Starkville during a portion of Mullen’s time with the Bulldogs.
In addition to Florida, Tennessee is believed to maintain an interest in prying Mullen away as well.
In that vein, Bruce Feldman of SI.com is reporting that MSU is prepared to “go all in” in an attempt to keep Mullen. How all in is the university? “The 45-year-old Mullen is already getting paid $4.5 million, but word is the school is willing to bump him up to around $6 million and also making an even stronger financial commitment to his staff,” Feldman wrote.
In his nine seasons, Mullen has guided the Bulldogs to a record of 69-46 overall and 33-39 in SEC play. With the exception of 2014 (second), they’ve finished either fourth (2009, 2012) or fifth (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016) in the SEC West the last eight seasons; at 4-4, the best they’ll finish this season is tied for fourth.
Feldman’s report comes less than 24 hours after MSU, thanks in very large part to a gruesome first-half injury to its starting quarterback, lost its annual Egg Bowl matchup to Ole Miss. That loss dropped Mullen’s record in that rivalry game to 5-4. Prior to Mullen’s arrival in 2009, though, the Rebels had won five of the previous seven meetings in the series.
For Miami, it’s deja vu all over again.
For the first quarter and half Black Friday afternoon, it was looking as if unbeaten and second-ranked Miami would be facing its fifth halftime deficit of the season as 4-7 Pitt was leading the Hurricanes 3-0 midway through the second quarter. However, a 23-yard touchdown pass from Malik Rosier to Ahmmon Richards, which featured some nifty footwork from the latter to get into the end zone, gave the ‘Canes their first lead of the game with just over eight minutes remaining in the half.
However, a late Pitt touchdown at the end of freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett‘s six-yard scamper gave the Panthers a 10-7 lead heading into the halftime locker room. Four times previously, UM has trailed at the half — Toledo (16-10), Florida State (3-0), Georgia Tech 14-13) and Virginia (21-14); each time, the Hurricanes came from behind to win.
As the score hints at, neither offense could muster much production, with the Panthers holding a 175-108 edge in yards. The U’s much-discussed and mega-hyped turnover chain made a pair of appearances, but the Hurricanes couldn’t convert either turnover into points; in fact, the Pitt defense forced three-and-outs on each occasion.
If the Hurricanes can come from behind yet again, they will finish off a perfect 12-0 regular season for the first time since 2002. That team made it to the BCS title game but lost to Ohio State.
Miami will get the ball to start the second half.
The Thanksgiving holiday wasn’t an especially positive one for one member of the Iowa State football program.
According to the Des Moines Register, Brian Peavy was arrested Thursday evening on one count of fourth-degree criminal mischief. The starting cornerback was subsequently released from the county jail a short time later after posting an unspecified bond.
From the Register‘s report:
Ames Police Department Sgt. Christine Crippen said police responded to a call around 5:06 p.m. regarding possible vandalism taking place in a skate park in Ames.
Police discovered Peavy and another male spray-painting underneath a bridge near the park. Peavy and the other male ran when approached by police. Peavy was caught while the other male escaped.
WHO-TV reports that an ISU spokesperson confirmed that Peavy remains in good standing with the team and will play in Saturday’s game against Kansas State. ISU heads into the weekend with an outside shot at clinching a berth in the Big 12 championship game, pending the result of today’s Baylor-TCU game.
Peavy currently leads the Cyclones in pass breakups with seven; is tied for second in interceptions with two, and is third in tackles with 75. The redshirt junior has been an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection each of the past two seasons.