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Purdue leads Arizona as Foster Farms Bowl shootout reaches halftime

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Any game matching up Rich Rodriguez and Jeff Brohm figured to turn into a bit of a shootout and that’s exactly what transpired at the Foster Farms Bowl on Wednesday night as Purdue took a 31-14 lead over Arizona into halftime at Levi’s Stadium. The two sides combined for nearly 500 yards of total offense after just two quarters and both averaged over six yards per play in a game where moving the ball came a lot easier than stopping it.

Elijah Sindelar may not have the ability to threaten with his legs like his counterpart on the other team but he turned in a masterful performance with his arm and threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Tailback Markell Jones recorded 60 yards rushing but it was the speedy D.J. Knox who managed the only score on the ground for the offense and pulled off an incredible trick play.

Still, the story of the game so far was the top Purdue wideouts seemingly finding open space on every play. Anthony Mahoungou kicked the scoring off when he raced up the sideline 31 yards to the end zone after making a defender miss, finishing the half with a trio of catches for a grand total of 70 yards. That would be impressive if not for his teammate Gregory Phillips, who already topped the century mark with 107 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns. The first of the two scores out of the senior was a 42 bomb that he hauled in before twisting and diving into the end zone for six, following that up with a 22 yarder that was much easier in terms of difficulty.

Arizona’s offense wasn’t quite as prolific as we’ve seen this season but they still had plenty of moments in the half. Star QB Khalil Tate threw for 145 yards and a pair of touchdowns — one a beautiful over the shoulder pass to Tony Ellison — but was bottled up pretty well when it came to rushing the ball. The noted dual-threat had only 37 yards on the ground and never came close to breaking off the big run that he’s been known to rip off if given a sliver of daylight.

Nick Wilson added 16 yards rushing for a rushing attack that should receive plenty of halftime adjustments.

The Foster Farms Bowl has had its share of rather sleepy affairs in front of sparse crowds at Levi’s Stadium in the Bay Area and while that latter point still holds for this game, there’s nothing sleepy about this edition between Arizona and Purdue. That should make for a fun second half — even if the Wildcats do need to put in a little extra work to get back into things against a hungry group of Boilermakers.

Chip Kelly and UCLA land ex-Washington QB K.J. Carta-Samuels

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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.

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.