Jarrett Stidham

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No. 14 Auburn overpowers Texas A&M to remain a viable threat in SEC title (and playoff) picture

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The odds are pretty good that No. 14 Auburn (7-2, 4-1 SEC) is not going to find a way into the College Football Playoff, but after a dominating performance on the road against Texas A&M (5-4, 3-3 SEC), one should not sleep on the Tigers potentially giving Georgia and Alabama a fight in the regular season later this month. Kerryon Johnson stepped up in the running game and Jarrett Stidham passed for three touchdowns in a 42-27 victory over the Aggies in Kyle Field on Saturday afternoon.

Texas A&M pulled a quarterback switch along the way. With Kellen Mond struggling (5/11, 16 yards), Nick Starkel got a chance to relieve him and try to rejuvenate the offense, and he did to a degree. Starkel completed 11 of 22 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns. But it was too little too late as the Aggies were already down too much and unable to slow down Auburn on offense.

After a sluggish start, Auburn came alive in the second quarter with three touchdowns to take a 21-13 lead into the halftime break. The Tigers continued to push forward with an overpowering offense with two more touchdowns in the third quarter to create some separation with the Aggies. The win by Auburn keeps a bizarre trend alive in this series. Since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012, the road team has won six straight games in this series.

November has not been kind to Texas A&M in recent years, and it would appear things are once again in danger of trending in the wrong direction in November with this loss. And because of that, the discussion about the job security for Kevin Sumlin will once again come into question. The Aggies have now lost back-to-back games by double-digit margins to Mississippi State and Auburn. And the way things are going in Gainesville, you will not win many points for a 19-17 victory over Florida. It was not so long ago that Texas A&M was 4-1, marred by an ugly collapse on the road against UCLA in the season opener. Sumlin needs a strong finish with the Aggies to put some of the hot seat talk to rest.

Next up for Auburn is a big one. The Tigers will host No. 1 Georgia next Saturday, November 11. For Auburn to play in the SEC Championship Game, beating Alabama will be essential as the Tigers trail their in-state rivals by one game in the loss column already with two games to play. But before any scenarios with Alabama can be explored, Auburn must find a way to take down the Bulldogs next week. It is certainly no easy task for any team needing wins against Georgia and Alabama this season, but the Tigers playing at home in each makes for an interesting final three weeks in the SEC.

Texas A&M will play their final home game of the season next week against UNLV. After that, the schedule wraps up with back-to-back SEC road games against Ole Miss and LSU. The way things have been going, next week’s game against the Rebels may be a must-win game for Texas A&M to get to the postseason.

Auburn names Jarrett Stidham as starting QB

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What had long been expected has become the reality today at Auburn. Former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham has officially been named the starting quarterback at Auburn.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn made the official announcement Monday. Sean White will be Auburn’s backup quarterback heading into the 2017 season. The quarterback battle had been one of the biggest topics of conversation for Auburn this summer, with Stidham expected to give White a good run to be the starter in the fall.

Stidham announced a transfer to Auburn from Baylor in December after initially announcing his decision to transfer out of the Baylor program in July 2016 amid controversy at the program. Stidham was granted a release from his scholarship by Baylor but was blocked from transferring to another Big 12 program. In addition to Auburn, other SEC schools that were reportedly jumping in the recruiting mix for his services included Florida and Texas A&M.

At Auburn, Stidham steps into a role that could play vital to Auburn’s chances and hopes of giving Alabama a push for the SEC West Division. Stidham will share the same backfield as one of the top running backs in the SEC, Kamryn Pettway. Auburn’s offense likely upgraded at the quarterback position by a significant margin.

Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham confirms commitment to program

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Continuing a trend we have witnessed at Baylor over the past week, incoming and future players are looking elsewhere while players already in the program are preparing to stay put. In the past 24 hours, a lot has happened with the program with the resignation of athletics director Ian McCaw following the hiring of head coach Jim Grobe. While the school still works to gain control of the situation, Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham announced he intends to stand by the program.

“Can’t wait to get back on that grind [Tuesday] with my brothers,” Stidham said in an update posted on his Instagram account on Monday. “This year is going to be different than the rest in many ways, but either way we will make a statement to everyone. Excited for the opportunity God has presented this team with to overcome adversity and become even closer as a family. Stick with us Baylor nation, we got this.”

Stidham was a major addition to Baylor’s recruiting class in 2015. After initially pledging his commitment to Texas Tech, Stidham later flipped his commitment to Baylor. Although Baylor appears set to have a healthy Seth Russell (who also has been making statements on Instagram) leading the offense this fall, all signs point to Stidham being the starting quarterback in 2017 (if not sooner).

Baylor has managed to keep all current players on the roster in Waco, which is not too surprising. Unless the NCAA chimes in later and drops a hammer of the weight it slammed on Penn State four summers ago (which is perhaps not all that likely to happen for a number of reasons, and they have no comment at this time), there is likely no reason to expect a mass exodus from the current roster. The recruiting game, however, is a different story.

Some key pieces of Baylor’s Class of 2016 — including running back Kameron Martin, offensive lineman Patrick Hudson and offensive tackle J.P. Urquidez  — made the late decision not to enroll in summer courses this week, which means they may still land elsewhere before the start of the fall football season. The Class of 2017 has quickly been dismantled and reduced to just a small handful of players for now as well.

How much Grobe can keep the recruiting ship afloat will be fascinating to watch, especially if he is simply on a one-year deal with no real chance to be the long-term head coach.

Baylor WR Corey Coleman to undergo surgery for sports hernia; will miss bowl game

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Baylor’s Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver Corey Coleman will miss the Russell Athletic Bowl against North Carolina. Coleman will be undergoing a surgical procedure to address a sports hernia, Baylor head coach Art Briles announced Saturday.Briles also confirmed running back Shock Linwood (knee) and quarterback Jarrett Stidham (ankle) will be out for the bowl game.

Briles said Coleman was injured before Baylor’s game against Oklahoma on November 14. That would help explain why Coleman’s production took a nosedive in the final month of the season, although Baylor’s quarterback situation exploded as well. After putting together 216 receiving yards and two touchdowns against Kansas State, Coleman failed to catch more than five passes in a game or accumulate more than 77 yards in a game. He has not scored a touchdown since that Nov. 5 Kansas State game.

The loss of Stidham for the bowl game was not a surprise, as Briles previously commented that Chris Johnson will be expected to start the bowl game anyway and he was not optimistic about Stidham being read due to an ankle injury. Briles did say the 2015 season-opening starter, Seth Russell, should be good to go for spring football at Baylor, which is very encouraging news.

QB Chris Johnson to start for Baylor in Russell Athletic Bowl

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Baylor’s quarterback position has been hit hard this season, but at least it will get to end the year with an actual quarterback playing the position in the bowl game. Baylor head coach Art Briles has confirmed Chris Johnson will be expected to start for the Bears in the Russell Athletic Bowl against North Carolina. According to The Orlando Sentinel, Briles said quarterback Jarrett Stidham will not be ready to play in the game as he works his way back from an ankle injury.

“It doesn’t look like he’s going to be ready,” Briles said of Stidham, who himself replaced Seth Russell as a starter once he went down with a season-ending neck injury midway through the season.

“Play for everybody out there on the field except for yourself and be a great leader and a great competitor,” Briles said of Johnson. “He’s done an admirable job. He’s made some mistakes, which are understandable, but we sure feel like we can go out and win with him.”

Johnson has appeared in eight games, in which he has completed 39.5 percent of his pass attempts for 220 yards and three touchdowns with a pair of interceptions thrown. The extra time to prepare Johnson to run the Baylor offense will come in handy, rather than throwing him right into the fire in games against Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas with a Big 12 championship on the line.