Wimbush scores three TD’s as No. 8 Notre Dame holds off Navy

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A week after getting embarrassed on the big stage by Miami, No. 8 Notre Dame (9-2) responded by holding off an upset bid from rival Navy (6-4). Notre Dame had to gut this one out, as we have come to expect from these two teams over the years. An incomplete pass on fourth down by Navy turned the ball over to the Irish in the final minutes and Notre Dame escaped with the win.

The play was a running back pass, and Navy appeared to have the play they were hoping for. But the pass intended for Tyler Carmona from Darryl Bonner was probably a split second late and just off the mark as it fell to the ground with the game on the line.

Navy took a 17-10 lead on the Irish in the third quarter after working a nearly eight-minute drive while running 15 plays to travel 72 yards. The drive ended with a touchdown pass from Zach Abey to Craig Scott from 12 yards out on third-and-goal. The lead did not last for very long, however, as Notre Dame answered with a much quicker offensive series. Brandon Wimbush completed a 30-yard touchdown to Kevin Stepherson to tie the game just five plays later.

The Wimbush-to-Stepherson struck again for the go-ahead touchdown on their next offensive series, after Navy missed a field goal.

Wimbush ended his day with 164 passing yards and two touchdowns with 41 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Running back Josh Adams moved into fifth place in the school record book for the most all-time rushing yards as he rushed for 106 yards on 18 carries. Adams still appears to be on the Heisman Trophy’s radar. Notre Dame’s ability to make big plays helped to overcome a draining day for the Navy offense. Navy held the football for 42:42 in the game, leaving Notre Dame the football for fewer than 18 minutes. Navy quarterback Zach Abey led Navy with 87 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown (Anthony Gargiulo also had 87 rushing yards, but no touchdowns) as the Irish gave up 277 rushing yards.

Notre Dame will wrap up the regular season on the road next week against Stanford. After that, the Irish will wait to hear their bowl fate. Notre Dame is still in firm position to be selected for a New Years Six bowl game, although a shot at playing in the playoff appears to still be an incredibly long shot with little time to spare.

Navy will also be on the road next week for one more conference game. The Midshipmen take on Houston on Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving. Navy will not play for the conference championship game, but they will play one more game before the bowl season with the annual Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia on Dec. 9.

Nation’s leading receivers named among 10 Biletnikoff Award semifinalists

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The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation has trimmed down the list of the nation’s top receivers to 10 semifinalists for this year’s Biletnikoff Award. The award doesn’t necessarily have to go to a wide receiver, but this year’s award will maintain that tradition with 10 semifinalists all playing the wide receiver position.

Among the semifinalists are the nation’s leading receiver, Colorado State’s Michael Gallup (1,298 yards), the nation’s leader in receiving touchdowns, West Virginia’s David Sills V (18 touchdowns), and the nation’s leader in receptions per game, SMU’s Trey Quinn (9.6 receptions per game). The semifinalist list also includes key players on conference contenders like Deontay Burnett of USC and James Washington of Oklahoma State.

A Big 12 receiver has won the award each of the past two seasons, so that may be good news for one of the three semifinalists from the Big 12 this season. Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook won the award a year ago, preceded by Baylor’s Corey Coleman in 2015.A Big 12 player has won the award a total of six times since 2007, with Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree and Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon each winning the award twice.

2017 Biletnikoff Semifinalists

  • Darren Andrews, UCLA
  • A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
  • Deontay Burnett, USC
  • Keke Coutee, Texas Tech
  • Michael Gallup, Colorado State
  • Steve Ishmael, Syracuse
  • Anthony Miller, Memphis
  • Trey Quinn, SMU
  • David Sills, West Virginia
  • James Washington, Oklahoma State

Wild third quarter helps Temple beat Cincinnati to remain in the hunt for a bowl game

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It’s the first day of the college basketball season and for one half of play it sure seemed like the Temple and Cincinnati football teams would rather be watching hoops given their effort through the first of two extremely boring quarters of football. Luckily the pair seemed to snap out of things at halftime as things got a little crazy in the third quarter before the Owls eventually pulled away with a 35-24 win on Friday night.

The two sides traded touchdowns coming out of the locker room at the break to inject quite a bit of life into an otherwise sloppy game between teams that are fighting to remain above water on the season. As part of four trips to the end zone in the third quarter, there was also a dropped punt snap that resulted in a turnover on downs, a two point conversion off a reverse pass and an Isaiah Wright 98-yard kick return for an Owls score.

Redshirt junior Frank Nutile continued to rack up big plays for Temple with both his arm and his legs. Making just his third start behind center, the quarterback threw for 224 yards and a touchdown (one interception) while also rushing for 28 yards and a score. He formed a pretty good combo in the backfield with tailback David Hood, who ran for 89 yards and a touchdown as the Owls racked up over 400 yards of offense.

The picture was quite as so rosy on the home sideline as the Bearcats were shutout in the first half and turned the ball over on a fumble. Hayden Moore threw for 217 yards on 20-of-36 passing (two TD’s) despite the shaky effort to start the game at quarterback. Mike Boone was all over the field for the offense in the second half, winding up with 58 yards and a touchdown rushing while also throwing a pass and catching a touchdown. It just wasn’t enough to keep pace with their opponent in a loss that knocks the team out of the running to make it in to the postseason.

The flip side is the outcome was good enough to keep Temple in the hunt for a bowl game and move them to .500 on the year. They still have to play undefeated UCF among their final two games but it certainly seems like a squad hitting their stride with Nutile at quarterback and a defense that knows how to limit big plays.

Houston ends No. 17 USF’s unbeaten season on late TD

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And then there was one.

No. 17 South Florida entered Week Nine as one of two undefeated Group of Five teams.  Thanks to Houston’s last-minute 28-24 win Saturday evening, UCF is now the lone remaining G5 unbeaten.

Tied at 14-all at the start of the fourth quarter, the two teams traded a pair of touchdowns as the game remained tied midway through the final period.  An Emilio Nadelman 30-yard field goal with 1:46 remaining gave the Bulls the lead.

However, the ensuing nine-play, 46-yard drive by the Cougars, set up by Brandon McDowell‘s 50-yard kickoff return, was capped by D'Eriq King‘s 20-yard scoring run that served as the game-winning touchdown.

With the win, UH moves to 3-2 in AAC play, tied with Navy for third in the West behind Memphis (4-1) and SMU (3-1).  USF (4-1) and UCF (4-0) remain the class of the East — UConn is third at 2-3 — and are still on track for a regular-season finale that will likely determine that division’s representative in the conference championship game.

Dislocated elbow likely to sideline Houston’s second-leading rusher for rest of regular season

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Houston’s one-two running back combo has been cut in half.

Monday, Major Applewhite revealed that Dillon Birden would be sidelined “for a while” because of an elbow injury sustained in the third quarter of Houston’s Week 8 loss to Memphis.  Wednesday, the head coach further clarified that the back is likely out for the remainder of the regular season with a dislocated elbow.

Left unstated is whether Birden would be able to play in a bowl game.

Birden is currently second on the team with 333 yards rushing and four rushing touchdowns.  Duke Catalon leads the Cougars in both categories — 496 in the former, seven in the latter.