Getty Images

Record-setting day for Rashaad Penny not enough for San Diego State as Army wins a wild Armed Forces Bowl

Leave a comment

Army’s triple option isn’t exactly a two-minute offense. But give them five and they’re golden.

The Black Knights gutted out a game-winning touchdown in the final few seconds and grabbed a late defensive score for good measure to spoil a record-setting day for San Diego State tailback Rashaad Penny and claim victory in the Armed Forces Bowl 42-35.

Penny, who led FBS in rushing yards and all-purpose yardage, once again showed why he should have been invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony earlier in the month. He tied a FBS record with 200+ yards rushing for a fifth straight game — and needed only 10 carries to hit the mark to boot. All told the senior finished with 221 yards on just 14 carries while recording four touchdowns on the day, including the first points of the game on his second carry as he scampered 81 yards untouched to the end zone.

The star running back also set the Aztecs’ single-season school rushing record when he scored a 31 yard touchdown early in the second quarter, breaking the mark set by last season’s leading rusher and his good friend, Donnel Pumphrey.

Even with Penny’s heroics the game was a close, hard-fought game as you would expect between two teams that each won at least nine games in the regular season. The Black Knights’ held the ball for an even 46 (!!) minutes in the game as that option offense churned out yards and long drives a plenty. Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, somewhat surprisingly, completed a pass for six yards but did most of his damage on the ground to the tune of 180 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. Crucially, he had several huge pitches to his running backs as Darnell Woolfolk and Andy Davidson combined for 168 yards and three scores of their own.

While Kell Walker may not have had the stats of his teammates (five carries, 37 yards), he did find the end zone on the most important carry of the day when the team went for two to give them a one point margin with just 18 seconds left on the clock. While SDSU did have a shot at the very end, Elijah Riley ended all hopes of that by emphatically securing the win when he grabbed a lateral on the final play and ran it back 29 yards for the final margin.

The victory gives Army a 10 win season for the first time since 1996 and caps a remarkable turnaround run under head coach Jeff Monken. While he probably would have preferred a few defensive stops of Penny to make things more comfortable, gutting out a win in that fashion is just as satisfying as the Black Knights head into the offseason with plenty of momentum.

Arizona State, Mississippi State ink home-and-home

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arizona State and Mississippi State on Tuesday announced a home-and-home series to be played in 2024-25. Arizona State will host the first game in Tempe on Sept. 7, 2024, and the clubs will meet in Starkville on Sept. 6, 2025.

The Sun Devils and Bulldogs have never met previously.

The Arizona State trip is not Mississippi State’s only upcoming trek from the Deep South to the Southwest. The Bulldogs also lined up a visit to Arizona in 2020 and Texas Tech in 2029. Mississippi State will open the 2024 season against Eastern Kentucky and visit Southern Miss the week after its Arizona State visit, on Sept. 14. The Bulldogs have no other games lined up in 2025 as of yet, according to FBSchedules.

Likewise, Mississippi State is not the Sun Devils’ lone upcoming SEC opponent. Arizona State has a home-and-home with LSU on the docket for 2026-28, per FBSchedules. The Mississippi State games complete both of the Sun Devils’ non-conference schedules for these respective seasons. Arizona State opens with Wyoming and visits Texas State in 2024, and hosts Northern Arizona and Texas State in 2025.

UCLA lands Texas Tech graduate transfer OL Justin Murphy

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Help is on the way for Chip Kelly‘s offensive line. One graduate transfer offensive lineman has the Bruins on his list, but another has already pulled the trigger for UCLA.

Texas Tech graduate transfer Justin Murphy on Tuesday committed to UCLA in a post on his Twitter account.

A native of Belton, Texas, Murphy signed with Texas Tech in 2014 and made four starts at right guard as a redshirt freshman. He again started four games at right guard in ’15 before moving out to tackle, where he started another four games. But after battling a series of knee injuries, Murphy announced in the middle of the 2016 season he had medically retired from the game.

After sitting out 2017, Murphy announced in March he planned to make a comeback.

UCLA remarkably started the same offensive linemen in all 13 games last season, but tackle Kolton Miller entered the NFL draft, guard Najoee Toran and center Scott Quessenberry graduated.

Toledo posts, then deletes, tweet offering to change mascot to Shrek

Getty Images
Leave a comment

There are plenty of annoying trends on Twitter, but perhaps the worst is the “I’ll do X if this gets retweeted X-thousand amount of times.” I blame Wendy’s.

But blanket policies are never a good way to go through life, and an exception was made on Tuesday when Toledo offered to change its mascot from a rocket to Shrek with 500,000 retweets.

Sadly, some dreams are simply too beautiful to live in this fallen world, and the tweet was outed to be a hoax. “We are definitely not changing the school mascot to Shrek,” Toledo media relations specialist Christine Billau told USA Today. “The tweet was meant to be fun, but it caused too much of a distraction.”

Meanwhile, Bowling Green gleefully hopped on the dog pile with both elbows pointed out.

UMass grad transfer lineman narrows choices to Auburn, UCLA, USC

UMass athletics
Leave a comment

It’s not yet known to where Jack Driscoll will transfer, but the field has been significantly narrowed.

Earlier this offseason, Driscoll decided to transfer from UMass.  Tuesday, the offensive tackle confirmed to Rivals.com that he’s down to three schools as a potential landing spot — Auburn, UCLA and USC.

Neither football program will have to wait long for a decision as Driscoll expects to make an announcement Wednesday.  Driscoll had taken an official visit to all three of the campuses prior to whittling down his transfer to-do list.

“It will come down to one of those three schools,” the lineman told AuburnSports.com. “I feel like all three of the schools would be a good fit.”

Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 at whichever program he selects.  The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.

After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017.  All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.