Donnie Corley

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USC QB Sam Darnold, Houston DL Ed Oliver headline FWAA Freshman All-America Team

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USC quarterback Sam Darnold and Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver were the stars of the FWAA’s Freshman All-America Team for the 2016 season, and Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente and USC head coach Clay Helton shared the award for First Year Coach of the Year.

The FWAA’s Freshman All-America Team, announced today, includes 20 true freshmen including Oliver, Ohio State running back Mike Weber, Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill and Florida State defensive lineman Brian Burns.

Fuente is coming off his first season as the head coach at Virginia Tech after a successful stint as head coach at Memphis, with an ACC Coastal Division championship and appearance in the ACC Championship Game. Helton overcame a rough start to coach USC into a top 10 finish and a Rose Bowl victory over Big Ten champion Penn State. Both have been head coaches before, of course, but the FWAA First Year Coach of the Year is open to any coach in his first full season as a head coach at his current school.

OFFENSE

  • QB Sam Darnold, USC
  • RB Mike Weber, Ohio State
  • RB Benny Snell, Kentucky
  • RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
  • WR Ammon Richards, Miami
  • WR Demetris Robinson, California
  • WR Ty Lee, Middle Tennessee
  • TE Isaac Nautta, Georgia
  • OL Michael Jordan, Ohio State
  • OL Jawaan Taylor, Florida
  • OL Ryan Bates, Penn State
  • OL Thomas Shoaf, BYU
  • OL Ben Bredeson, Michigan
  • AP Donnie Corley, Michigan State

DEFENSE

  • DL Ed Oliver, Houston
  • DL Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
  • DL Brian Burns, Florida State
  • DL Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State
  • DL Reggie Walker, Kansas State
  • LB Logan Wilson, Wyoming
  • LB Troy Dye, Oregon
  • LB Leo Lewis, Mississippi State
  • LB Josiah Tauaefa, UTSA
  • LB David Reese, Florida
  • DB Xavier Crawford, Oregon State
  • DB Javon Hagan, Ohio
  • DB Taylor Rapp, Washington
  • DB Jessie Bates, Wake Forest
  • DB Clifton Duck, Appalachian State

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia
  • P Tom Sheldon, North Carolina
  • KR Tony Pollard, Memphis
  • PR Malik McGue, Army

Michigan State survives late Notre Dame rally to win 36-28 in another classic

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College football is often a game of runs. No game was a better example on Saturday night than the latest classic between Michigan State and Notre Dame.

The Irish opened scoring with a nice quarterback scramble from DeShone Kizer to go up 7-0 in the first quarter but watched rather helplessly as the team found all sorts of ways to allow the Spartans to take control of the game.

During a 36 point run by Michigan State, just about every wild thing that could go wrong did for Notre Dame. There was a muffed punt recovered in the second quarter that was followed quickly by quarterback Tyler O’Conner lofting a pass into the end zone that receiver Donnie Corley simply snatched away from the hands of a defensive back.

As if that play was bad enough, the Spartans converted a two-point conversion out of a swinging gate formation, recovered another fumble and picked off Kizer to help fuel the run. It was an impressive swing of momentum that seemed to signal a runaway in South Bend.

The Irish had other ideas however.

Kizer eventually started to make things happen and helped swing momentum back in favor of the home team by finding Equanimeous St. Brown, who made a circus catch in the corner of the end zone to kick off a 21 point run.

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Notre Dame cut Michigan State’s lead to just one score with over six minutes left when Kizer found Durham Smythe for yet another touchdown pass and it was the Spartans who suddenly found themselves in a second half drought.

Kizer eventually got the ball back with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter but was sacked on third down to end stop a streak of three straight touchdown drives. With 3:37 left, Brian Kelly curiously opted to trust his defense and called a timeout to punt the ball instead of going for it on fourth and seven.

The decision would end up costing the Irish head coach as Michigan State salted the game away behind a clutch O’Conner throw and some quality runs Gerald Holmes.

The win gives the Big Ten another big non-conference victory early in the season and should vault MSU even higher in the polls as a potential conference title contender.

As for Notre Dame, it could be a long season for Kelly and his staff with such a young and inexperienced defense. The Irish still have a few remaining marquee games left but dropping two of their first three all but knocks them out of the College Football Playoff race and could signal some potential changes coming on the team as soon as next week.

Big plays help Michigan State take a 15-7 lead over Notre Dame at halftime

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Any time Notre Dame and Michigan State get together, a hard-fought and close game with a few wild bounces is likely to emerge.

That was certainly the case on Saturday night from South Bend as the Spartans used a crazy second quarter push to take a 15-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Irish were in control for most of the first quarter, mounting a nine play, 91 yard drive for the first score of the game on a DeShone Kizer quarterback scramble from 14 yards out. The signal-caller continued his strong play to begin the season with 6-of-9 passing for 103 yards in the first half but only had a handful of opportunities to show what he could do thanks to several miscues by his teammates.

A wild sequence of events in the second quarter was able to shift the momentum for the Spartans however. After getting stopped on third-and-six, Michigan State punted the ball away, only to recover it when it glanced off a Notre Dame blocker’s leg. Set up at the Irish 38 yard line, quarterback Tyler O’Conner lofted a pass into the end zone that receiver Donnie Corley simply snatched away from the hands of a defensive back.

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The team converted a two-point conversion out of a swinging gate formation on the next snap to take an 8-7 lead. That would have been plenty to keep momentum on their side had the Spartans not recovered a fumble on the very next Notre Dame offensive snap and then later mounted a 92 yard scoring drive in the final minute of the half thanks to an R.J. Shelton catch and run touchdown.

If there was one first half highlight for the Irish, it was likely in the form of a Tyler Newsome 71 yard punt — the longest in nearly two decades for the Irish.

Given what we’ve seen in the first half and in prior outings between these two teams, the final two quarters should be plenty of fun on NBC  tonight.