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NC State quarterback Ryan Finley announces return for 2018 season

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NC State quarterback Ryan Finley has opted not to join a draft class that includes Josh RosenSam DarnoldBaker MayfieldMason RudolphLamar JacksonJosh Allen and others, instead choosing to return to school for his senior season.

NC State made the announcement Saturday.

“I’m looking forward to building on the success we had this season,” Finley said in a statement. “My goal when I came to NC State was to win an ACC Championship and with so many starters returning on offense next season, I feel that we could achieve that.

“I love Raleigh and the special brotherhood that we have on this team. I will be proud to finish what we’ve started, earn a master’s degree from NC State and play another season in front of the greatest fans in the nation.”

Finley is the ACC’s top returning passer, ranking third in the conference in passing efficiency behind Wake Forest senior John Wolford and the early-entrant Jackson. He completed 65.1 percent of his 479 passes for 3,518 yards (7.3 per attempt) with 17 touchdowns against six interceptions. A Phoenix native, Finley stood tall against Clemson this season, throwing for 338 yards (in 50 attempts) and three touchdowns (with two picks) in a 38-31 loss to the 3-time defending ACC champions. He closed his season with one of the best games of his career, nailing 24-of-29 passes for 318 yards with a touchdown and no picks in a 52-31 drubbing of Arizona State in the Sun Bowl.

NC State went 9-4 in 2017, the program’s best mark since 2010.

“I’m proud of Ryan for how he’s handled this process,” said head coach Dave Doeren. “I’m excited to watch him finish his career as one of the top quarterbacks in the country and take his place in the long line of great quarterbacks who played for NC State.”

NC State will open its 2018 season against FCS runner-up James Madison and also host West Virginia and its fellow returning senior quarterback Will Grier in non-conference play.

Arizona State, Mississippi State ink home-and-home

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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

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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

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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

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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.