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North Dakota State tops defending champ James Madison to claim sixth FCS crown in seven years

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Once again, North Dakota State is the champion of the Football Championship Subdivision. And this time, the Bison had to beat the defending champions to do it. After their 5-year run of FCS national championships was ended by James Madison in a stunning 27-17 FCS semifinals defeat in the Fargodome last year, North Dakota State took its revenge with a 17-13 win over the Dukes on Saturday in Frisco, Texas.

North Dakota State (14-1) led this one throughout. After forcing a three-and-out to open the game, the Bison migrated down the field, moving 66 yards in 11 plays and six and a half minutes before scoring on a 3-yard Bruce Anderson run, grabbing a lead North Dakota State would not relinquish.

Trailing 7-3, James Madison had a golden chance to take a first quarter lead after recovering a fumble by NDSU quarterback Eason Stick at the Bison 28, but JMU quarterback Bryan Schor gave the ball right back with an interception. North Dakota State took a 14-3 lead on a 50-yard strike from Stick to Darrius Shepherd with 4:14 left in the second quarter, then carried a 17-6 lead into halftime.

The Dukes pulled within 17-13 thanks to a 33-yard punt return by D’Angelo Amos and then a 33-yard touchdown drive, culminating in a 1-yard Marcus Marshall run that cut the deficit to four with 9:26 to play in the third.

James Madison would climb no closer, though it wasn’t for a lack of chances. The Dukes committed a season-high three turnovers, failed to protect Schor (he was sacked four times) despite facing 4-man rushes, gagged away numerous drops (including one that would have given JMU a 1st-and-10 at the NDSU 30 with under 10 minutes to play) and also missed a field goal.

Even still, James Madison (14-1) had a chance to win at the end. Facing a 4th-and-9 at his own 47 with 3:06 to play and all three timeouts in his pocket, Dukes head coach Mike Houston appeared to elect to punt and trust his defense rather than go for it; instead, he chose neither, as punter Harry O’Kelly scampered down the left side for a 24-yard gain to the NDSU 29. James Madison would eventually reached the North Dakota State 18 but only went backward from there. Schor threw for a loss of two yards on 2nd-and-9, he was harassed into a hurried incompletion on 3rd-and-11 and, after a false start, could not complete a blind Hail Mary heave on 4th-and-16 with 1:10 to play.

North Dakota State took over on downs and expired the final 58 seconds to complete its march to a sixth national championship.

The win pulls North Dakota State into a tie with Georgia Southern — now a member of the FBS Sun Belt Conference — for the most FCS titles; however, the Eagles won their six in eight tries, while the Bison are a perfect 6-for-6. Georgia Southern also racked up its six titles in a 16-season stretch, while North Dakota State has done so in just seven.

And in only one of those six trips to Frisco has North Dakota State surrendered more than 13 points.

For James Madison, the loss denies the Dukes a chance to tie Appalachian State for fourth all-time with three FCS titles.

For a game that pitted two of the top three defenses nationally, this one was played as expected. Both teams combined to gain 31 first downs, the defenses won 20 of the 31 third down attempts, and neither hit 270 yards of total offense. North Dakota State won the ground game, 134-93, and Stick completed 13-of-22 passes for 130 yards with a touchdown while Schor hit just 14-of-32 for 148 yards with two interceptions. Despite snapping the ball just eight more times, North Dakota State managed a 15-minute advantage in time of possession, chewing up 37:41 in its 70 snaps compared to just 22:19 in 62 plays for James Madison.

Clemson DT Christian Wilkins on substitute teaching: I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Kindergarten Cop’

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Those of a certain age may look back on going to grade school and think fondly on those rare days where the regular teacher was out and a substitute filled in. For many around the country, that often meant watching a movie or two for class instead of doing, well… actual work.

If you happen to be a kindergarten student at James M. Brown Elementary School in Walhalla, South Carolina though, having a substitute teacher for class has been taking on a whole different meaning the past few weeks. That’s because 300-pound Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins has been moonlighting as a sub and trying to corral little kids on a much gentler scale than he corrals quarterbacks on Saturdays in the fall.

“It was fun, but took a lot out of me,” Wilkins told ESPN earlier this week. “I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Kindergarten Cop’ with all those little kids. Talk about energy, but it was a real cool experience.”

Perhaps the most accurate line from Chris Low’s excellent story on Wilkins’ substitute duties came by one young pupil who muttered, ‘That’s one big mister.’ The senior All-American is only getting $80 for a day’s worth of work with the kids but seeing the massive defensive tackle walk into a room is probably as priceless for Wilkins as it is for those at the school.

UCF claims undefeated season was worth $200+ million in exposure for football program

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How much is an undefeated season worth for a program? If you ask the most recent team to accomplish the feat, the answer is a lot of dough. Like nine figures worth.

According to a release by UCF, the school commissioned a report compiled by Joyce Julius & Associates on just how much value they got from their football team’s perfect season that was capped off with an AAC conference title and a Peach Bowl victory over Auburn:

When combining national television game broadcasts, television news coverage, print media, Internet news and social media, the value of the exposure for UCF Football from Nov. 17, 2017-Jan. 31, 2018 was $171,079,417.47. Combined, the entirety of the 2017 UCF Football season’s exposure was valued at well over $200 million.

Further more, the study found roughly 160,000 total social media posts “generated nearly 655 million impressions with an estimated exposure value of $17,696,403.81. Of the 160,792 posts the study found, over 138,000 of them were on Twitter.” No word how many of those tweets were fans ridiculing the school for claiming a national title or just angry Alabama supporters yelling back about the sport’s true champion last season.

There’s no doubt that the Knights’ story and resulting publicity from claiming to be “national champions” was worth plenty to the school, but it seems like a bit of fuzzy math to claim all of $200 million worth of exposure even with new state license plates and trips to Disney World. One wonders if UCF can claim low nine figures from a “championship” run you’ve got to think Nick Saban’s actual title-winning Alabama team might be able lay claim to more than double that amount for winning the College Football Playoff after all.

Louisville signee Jairus Brents caught speeding, arrested for outstanding shoplifting warrant

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It’s never good for a head coach to get a call that one of his players was arrested and equally bad when the player in question hasn’t even arrived on campus. Such is the case for Louisville coach Bobby Petrino as one of his recent signees was arrested by police on Wednesday.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that four-star cornerback Jairus Brents was cited for speeding by local police and then was arrested due to an outstanding warrant that was the result of a shoplifting citation from shortly before National Signing Day. He was reportedly going 86 mph in a 55 mph zone and was also cited by police for reckless driving and driving without a license.

While that’s not great to say the least, here’s what the Courier-Journal says about the reason for Brents’ actual arrest:

He was arrested because of a warrant stemming from an alleged incident on Jan. 26. According to police, Brents and an “unknown (co-defendant)” took five tank-top shirts and four boxer briefs from the JCPenney store at St. Matthews Mall. Brents’ court date was set for March 5, but court records show that he was not present.

Louisville has not released a statement about the matter yet but Brents is still expected to remain a member of the Cardinals’ recruiting class. In addition to being rated as a four-star defensive back by 247Sports, the local star was also listed as the state’s No. 2 prospect in the class of 2018.

Either way, not the way one wants to begin a career in college football… before it really even begins.

With offensive line coach recovering from a broken hip, Baylor turns to former QB to fill in as coach during spring practice

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Spring practice has arrived in Waco and things are probably not off to the smooth start that Baylor head coach Matt Rhule was hoping for after a turbulent 2017 campaign.

In addition to suspending two players amidst sexual assault allegations, the program is dealing with being a coach short on the field for the next several weeks. That’s because offensive line coach George DeLeone is recovering from a broken hip and the ensuing surgery, resulting in former Bears quarterback Shawn Bell stepping into his spot to coach the big boys up front.


“And it’s because of his character and because of his patience and never really questioning anything,” Rhule told the school’s website of the change. “Luckily, there’s no egos with anybody there. I think George kind of hand-picked Shawn, saying he’s the right guy.”

Bell is currently an offensive analyst for the program and was hired when Rhule first arrived in Waco after several years as a head coach in the high school ranks in the state of Texas.