In honor of the Kentucky Derby being held today, here’s a little horse-related college football goodness to digest.
Staton Flurry, a stable owner in Arkansas, has a new steed taking on the namesake of LSU running back Derrius Guice. The name is more than appropriate given the LSU running back ended the 2016 season as the conference’s second-leading rusher and enters the 2017 season as one of the top running backs in the nation.
Flurry seems to enjoy naming horses after LSU running backs. Last summer, Flurry showed off another horse he owned named after former Tigers running back Leonard Fournette. While we won’t be seeing Guice at today’s running at the Kentucky Derby, Fournette did win a race at Belmont Park last summer. Also last summer, a video of Fournette in a scuffle was played off as just horseplay. No more horse puns. I promise.
As for the real Guice, he will also not be running at the Kentucky Derby today. That gives him more time to prepare to win a bet between he and Ohio State’s Mike Weber and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley.
Helmet sticker to Gridiron Now.
You have to admire the willingness of Ohio State running back Mike Weber for issuing a challenge to two of the best running backs in the nation coming into 2017. Sure, Weber will be among the best as well, but he is ready to drop the gloves in a friendly dinner bet with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley and LSU’s Derrius Guice.
Weber challenged Barkley and Guice to a little bet based on total rushing yards in the 2017 season. The premise is simple enough, with the player with the fewest rushing yards buying the other two a dinner at a time to be determined.
Weber took to Twitter to issue the challenge to Barkley and Guice…
Barkley replied with some confidence…
Guice also accepted the challenge…
Barkley finished the 2016 season with 1,496 rushing yards in 14 games, including the Big Ten championship game and Rose Bowl. Barkley actually finished the year second in rushing yards behind Northwestern’s Justin Jackson, so perhaps Jackson may want to see if he can get in on this fun. Weber was the Big Ten’s sixth-leading rusher with 1,096 yards in 13 games and 182 rushing attempts (Barkley had 272 attempts). Guice was the SEC’s leading rusher with 1,387 yards on 183 rushing attempts in 12 games. These stats did not go without mention by the running backs.
(As mentioned above, Guice actually had one more rushing attempt than Weber last season.)
The fun continued when the Buckeyes running back responded to Barkley with a reason
The challenge has been set. Let’s see how it all plays out (and if the NCAA comes cracking down on it as this is technically against the NCAA rules regarding gambling).
It was a long afternoon for Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and No. 13 Louisville (9-4) in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, as No. 20 LSU (8-4) used its signature defense to sack the Heisman quarterback eight times and limit the once College Football Playoff contenders to just nine points in a 29-9 victory.
Louisville was held to just 220 yards of offense and was an astounding 2-for-17 on third down conversion attempts. Jackson ended his 2016 Heisman season with just 10-of-27 passing for 153 yards without a score. Jackson rushed for a net-gain of 33 yards despite being taken down eight times. Tashawn Bower recorded three of those sacks, and Arden Kelly had two more. And check out how Jamal Adams tracked down Jackson on this play (look where Adams starts the play)…
LSU was playing without running back Leonard Fournette, but Derrius Guice was ready to lead the offense with 138 rushing yards and a touchdown. As a result, Guice ended the season as the SEC’s rushing leader, just nudging his way past Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. Guice will be back for the 2017 season, which means LSU should have one of the top running backs to utilize in its offense, and that is a very good thing.
LSU will now once again ride this wave of optimism and look to build on that in the offseason leading up to the start of the 2017 season. This is now Ed Orgeron‘s program and he will be adding one of the top offensive coordinators to the staff in Matt Canada, to go along with already having one of the top defensive coordinators in Dave Aranda. The addition of Canada should help solve some concerns with the LSU offense, although trusting the running game is a nice luxury to have in 2017. LSU will begin the 2017 season in Houston for a neutral-site game against BYU on Saturday, September 2, 2017. LSU will have a challenging SEC schedule next season with road games at Florida (thanks to the rescheduling development this season), Alabama and Tennessee.
As for Louisville, there is still plenty to be optimistic about with Jackson returning for a follow-up season to his Heisman Trophy season. The luster on the 2016 season will be dulled as a result of how this season ended for the Cardinals, but Louisville will get a terrific opportunity to get started on a fast track to lighting things up on offense next season. The Cardinals begin the 2017 season on September 2, 2017 in Indianapolis against Purdue (with new head coach Jeff Brohm at the helm), followed, potentially, by two ACC contests (the ACC schedule has yet to be confirmed). Louisville will also host Kent State and Murray State in non-conference play, which should be two relatively easy wins with opportunities to pile up big offensive stats. Louisville will get Clemson at home and Florida State on the road in ACC Atlantic play. And, just because it had become a bit of a story lately, Louisville travels to Wake Forest next season.
Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson will now have an opportunity to do something no quarterback has ever done. Jackson will attempt to become the first quarterback in the history of the Heisman Trophy to win the award a second time. And considering how weel his 2016 season started (despite sputtering in the end), the hype machine will be in full force in 2017 out of Louisville. History will not be on his side of course, as there has been just one two-time Heisman Trophy winner (Archie Griffin of Ohio State).
Recent quarterbacks who have come up short of winning a second Heisman Trophy have included Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel. Jackson should have some stiff competition to pose with the stiff-arm trophy in 2017, including at the quarterback position alone. For starters, 2016 Heisman Trophy finalist Baker Mayfield will be back at Oklahoma with a chance to pick up where he has left this season, and that will include a second crack against Ohio State (in Columbus).
Other quarterbacks that should be in the conversation will include USC’s Sam Darnold, Washington’s Jake Browning and perhaps UCLA’s Josh Rosen out of the Pac-12. Alabama’s Jalen Hurts will certainly garner some attention, as will Penn State’s Trace McSorley) and Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett if he returns in 2017. And with Tom Herman the QB Whisperer taking over the show in Austin, look for a big year from Texas quarterback Shane Buechele to catch some eyes.
Running backs have lost their edge in the Heisman Trophy game over the last 15 years, but Saquon Barkley of Penn State, Derrius Guice of LSU and Kamryn Pettway of Auburn may be worth watching closely. Ohio State’s biggest playmaker, Kurtis Samuel, should be in the conversation as well. And for those who insist on throwing a defensive player in the mix, Houston’s Ed Olliver will be the name to watch, although a defensive player from a Group of Five program likely has as minimal a chance to win the Heisman Trophy as there exists. USC’s Adoree’ Jackson isn’t shy about starting his own campaign either.
But the fun part about the Heisman Trophy conversation every season is seeing which player pops up out of nowhere to take the college football world by storm. That will likely be the case in the month of September, but it is anyone’s guess who it may be. Or maybe Jackson will have what it takes to make history.
The wait appeared to be worth it for No. 23 Florida (8-2, 6-2 SEC) as the Gators clinched the SEC East with a 13-10 victory on the road against No. 16 LSU (6-4, 4-3 SEC). The game, originally scheduled to be played in Gainesville earlier this year but was rescheduled due to a hurricane, was quite the physical one that saw the Gators fund an edge on the ground in the fourth quarter. A 26-yard field goal by Eddy Pineiro with 4:37 to play gave the Gators a lead and the special teams unit recovered a fumble by LSU on the ensuing kickoff to run some more clock. But it was a goal-line stand on the final play of the game that would put the game in the win column for the Gators.
Down 16-10, LSU had the football with a first-and-goal at the seven-yard line and got two plays from the one-yard line to punch it in for a game-tying touchdown and potential game-winning PAT, but the Gators thwarted the Tigers when Derrius Guice lept over the pile and was stopped short of the goal line on the final play of the game.
Jordan Scarlett rushed for 108 yards and freshman Lamical Perine showed he can carry a pile on a key late drive. The play of the game, however, came shortly after LSU botched a field goal try and had a desperation pass by holder Josh Growden fall incomplete to allow Florida to take over from their two-yard line. Austin Appleby unloaded for a deep ball down the right sideline to Tyrie Cleveland, who broke a tackle and raced his way the remaining distance of the field for a 98-yard game-changing play to finish off a 10-point swing. The 98-yard scoring play more than doubled Florida’s offensive output at that point in the third quarter (68 total offensive yards before the play).
LSU running back Leonard Fournette was not scheduled to play today but reportedly convinced Ed Orgeron to allow him to play after a pregame dustup lit a fire under the banged-up Fournette. Fournette carried the football 12 times for 40 yards.
With the win, Florida clinches its second-straight SEC East Division title, which means the Gators are heading to Atlanta for a repeat of last year’s SEC Championship Game against SEC West champion Alabama. Alabama clinched the West last week with a win and an Auburn loss. It will be the first repeat SEC Championship Game matchup since Alabama and Florida clashed in the 2008 and 2009 conference championship games, although both of those games were between the top two teams in the country those seasons. Alabama may be the top team this year, but Florida will likely be outside the top 10. The SEC East hasn’t had a representative in the top 10 for the title game since No. 5 Missouri in 2013. Alabama and Florida have also met in the SEC Championship Game eight times prior to this season. Each team has won four meetings.
Before the SEC Championship Game, Florida will play rival Florida State next week in Tallahassee. LSU will close out its regular season on the road against Texas A&M.