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Johnny Unitas Award makes midseason cut to 20 QBs

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And then there were 20.

Tuesday, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award announced that its 47-player preseason watch list has been whittled down to 20. The award has been given annually since 1987 to the to the top quarterback in the country who is either a senior or fourth-year junior for his accomplishments both on and off the field.

“The Golden Arm Award considers character, citizenship, integrity, leadership, and honor – characteristics that were displayed by my father – to be every bit as important as the quarterback’s completion rate or number of touchdowns scored,” John C. Unitas, Jr., president of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation and son of the quarterbacking legend in whose honor the award is named. “Despite my Dad’s outstanding accomplishments, he never forgot his humble beginnings and that won him a permanent place in the hearts of everyone who ever knew him.”

Last year’s winner was Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. Below is the complete list of the 20 players to survive the latest cut:

J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
David Blough, Purdue
Jesse Ertz, Kansas State
Luke Falk, Washington State
Riley Ferguson, Memphis
Ryan Finley, NC State
Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi St.
Quinton Flowers, South Florida
Justice Hansen, Arkansas St.
Kenny Hill, TCU
Stephen Johnson, Kentucky
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Trace McSorley, Penn St.
Josh Rosen, UCLA
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Brandon Silvers, Troy
Nick Stevens, Colorado St.
Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
Mike White, Western Ky.
Logan Woodside, Toledo

Troy snaps No. 25 LSU’s 49-game home non-conference winning streak

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It had to end at some point, but it wasn’t supposed to end like this.

The Mighty Trojans of Troy entered Tiger Stadium as 20-point underdogs and beat No. 25 LSU, 24-21.

Troy opened the game by forcing a Nick Brossette fumble on LSU’s first play, then taking a 7-0 lead five plays later on a 1-yard Brandon Silvers plunge. The score remained there until the final play of the first half, when Evan Leggassey punched in a 37-yard field goal to give the Trojans a 10-0 lead at the break — a kick that came only after a replay review discovered two seconds remaining in the half, after both teams had already headed to their respective locker rooms.

The lead expanded to 17-0 on the opening drive of the second half as Troy moved 75 yards in six plays, culminating in a man-up 1-yard Jordan Chunn plunge on fourth-and-goal. Troy had a chance to completely close the door on LSU when it recovered an LSU fumble deep inside its own territory, but the Trojans immediately gave the ball back with a fumble of their own inside the 10-yard line, and LSU notched its first touchdown of the game two plays later.

No matter, Marcus Jones intercepted a Myles Brennan pass (he briefly replaced an injured Danny Etling, who later returned) and the Troy offense moved 64 yards, ending in the Trojans’ third rushing touchdown of the night, a 7-yard Josh Anderson burst to give Troy a 24-7 lead with 8:14 left in the fourth quarter.

It was at that point that those who assembled at Tiger Stadium decided to bail.

LSU scored quickly in response, finding pay dirt on a 34-yard strike from Etling to Russell Gage, pulling the Tigers within 10 with 7:41 to play.

Troy appeared ready to put the game away with another touchdown, but Chunn fumbled at the LSU 15-yard line, and LSU answered by moving 92 yards in 13 plays, pulling within 24-21 on a 20-yard strike from Etling to Foster Moreau with 1:59 to play. Troy expired all but the final 18 seconds off the clock after recovering an onside kick, but Etling’s last-gasp pass was intercepted at the Troy 37-yard line with five seconds left.

The loss is LSU’s first non-conference loss in Tiger Stadium since falling 13-10 to UAB on Sept. 23, 2000, Nick Saban‘s first season in Baton Rouge. It was Troy’s first win over an SEC opponent since toppling Mississippi State 21-9 on Oct. 13, 2001, ending an 18-game losing streak, and its first win over a ranked team since upending then-No. 17 Missouri on Sept. 9, 2004. But they weren’t in the SEC (at least not then). And while Troy is a solid team at 4-1, this is a team that beat Akron by five points at home a week ago — and LSU just lost to them.

Simply put, it’s the type of loss that would have gotten Les Miles fired — except that happened a year ago, and it would cost LSU $12 million to do the same to Ed Orgeron.

Seven 2016 finalists headline Manning Award preseason watch list

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This is the last preseason watch list you’ll have to endure this year. I promise. I think.

Wednesday, the Manning Award released its list of the top 30 quarterbacks in the country, although a player not on this initial list is not necessarily precluded from winning the award. This is the only major award, it should be noted, that is handed out after the bowls, and is named in honor of the quarterbacking triumvirate of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning.

Highlighting this year’s list are seven of the 10 finalists from a year ago: J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), Jake Browning (Washington), Sam Darnold (USC), Luke Falk (Washington State), Jalen Hurts (Alabama), Lamar Jackson (Louisville) and Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma).

All FBS conferences are represented, led by the ACC and SEC with five watch listers apiece. The Big Ten, Mountain West, Pac-12 and Sun Belt are next with three each, with two apiece for all of the AAC, Big 12, Conference USA and MAC. Class-wise, there are 13 seniors, 12 juniors and five sophomores.

 

“We once again have a great group of quarterbacks returning to college football this fall,” said Archie Manning said in a statement. “While this Watch List has many of the best returning players, we look forward to making midseason additions as teams settle on definite starters and as young players step up and make names for themselves. I’m really looking forward to getting the season rolling to see which guys will rise to the top and become Manning Award finalists.”

Deshaun Watson was the 2016 winner of the award.

Below is the complete 2017 Manning Award preseason watch list.

In advance of FBS move, Liberty announces 13 future match-ups

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Liberty doesn’t have a conference home, but the Flames aren’t letting a little logistical hurdle like that stop them from manifesting their destiny.

The school is moving up to FBS in 2018 whether FBS wants them or not, and the Flames on Wednesday took a major step forward by announcing 13 future games, primarily filling out schedules for the early years of the next decade.

“The announcement of these additional football series give Flames Nation a taste of our future football schedules,” Liberty AD Ian McCaw said in a statement. “We are close to completing schedules for our first five seasons of FBS football. I appreciate Mickey Guridy‘s diligent efforts is securing these agreements.”

The future games break out as follows:

Bowling Green
Oct. 3, 2020 — at Bowling Green
Sept. 2, 2023 — at Liberty

Marshall
Oct. 14, 2023 — at Marshall
Oct. 5, 2024 — at Liberty

Massachusetts
Nov. 2, 2019 — at UMass
Nov. 28, 2020 — at Liberty
Nov. 6, 2021 — at Liberty

NC State
Nov. 21, 2020 — at NC State

Troy
Sept. 11, 2021 — at Troy

UAB
Oct. 2, 2021 — at UAB
Sept. 10, 2022 — at Liberty

Liberty opens this season at Baylor, and will face 10 FBS foes in 2018, including trips to Virginia and Auburn.

Doak Walker Award watch list highlighted by 2016 semifinalists Barkley and Pettway

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A watch list of the top running backs in the nation has been released by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum on Thursday. The Doak Walker Award watch list is full of great players, including 2016 Doak Walker Award semifinalists Saquon Barkley (Penn State) and Kamryn Pettway (Auburn).

Among those included on this year’s initial Doak Walker Award watch list (more players can be added at any time) are LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, LJ Scott of Michigan State, Mike Weber of Ohio State, and Bo Scarbrough of Alabama, Washington’s Myles Gaskin, and Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin.

D’Onta Foreman of Texas beat out both Barkley and Pettway last season for the award. The Doak Walker Award has been presented to the nation’s top running back annually since 1990. Among the winners over the years have included Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush, and Montee Ball.

To be included on this watch list, the university athletic department must submit a nomination.

2017 Doak Walker Award Watch List

Josh Adams, Notre Dame
Ryquell Armstead, Temple
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Alex Barnes, Kansas State
Jamauri Bogan, Western Michigan
D’Angelo Brewer, Tulsa
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Jordan Chunn, Troy
Justin Crawford, West Virginia
Damarea Crockett, Missouri
Rico Dowdle, South Carolina
D’Andre Ferby, WKU
Kendrick Foster, Illinois
Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
Myles Gaskin, Washington
James Gilbert, Ball State
Derrius Guice, LSU
Damien Harris, Alabama
Kyle Hicks, TCU
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Jon Hilliman, Boston College
Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Chris James, Wisconsin
Ty Johnson, Maryland
Ronald Jones II, USC
Ray Lawry, Old Dominion
Phillip Lindsay, Colorado
Tonny Lindsey Jr., Utah State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Sony Michel, Georgia
Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech
David Montgomery, Iowa State
Jamal Morrow, Washington State
Ryan Nall, Oregon State
Jacques Patrick, Florida State
Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
Demario Richard, Arizona State
Diocemy Saint Juste, Hawaii
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
Jordan Scarlett, Florida
LJ Scott, Michigan State
Bradrick Shaw, Wisconsin
Armand Shyne, Utah
Justin Silmon, Kansas State
Ito Smith, Southern Miss
Rodney Smith, Minnesota
Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky
Terry Swanson, Toledo
Shaq Vann, Eastern Michigan
Akrum Wadley, Iowa
Mark Walton, Miami
Warren Wand, Arkansas State
Tre Watson, California
Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
Mike Weber, Ohio State
Braeden West, SMU
Devwah Whaley, Arkansas
Aeris Williams, Mississippi State
Shaun Wilson, Duke
Marquis Young, Massachusetts