Georgia Tech fends off Kentucky for TaxSlayer Bowl victory

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Georgia Tech (9-4) held off a late rally attempt by Kentucky (7-6) and pulled out a well-timed pass play to lead to a cushion-padding touchdown to win the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, 33-18. Dedrick Mills rushed for 169 yards and a touchdown for Georgia Tech and Justin Thomas passed for 105 yards and ran for 42 more yards and a touchdown in the win over the Wildcats.

Georgia Tech got things started early with the defense putting the first points on the scoreboard. P.J. Davis picked up a loose ball fumbled away by Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson on a third down play on the game’s third play of the game. Davis returned the recovered fumble for a touchdown, which was later followed by a Georgia Tech field goal on the first offensive series for the Yellow Jackets in the first quarter. After Kentucky put a dent on the scoreboard with a field goal early in the second quarter, Georgia Tech padded its lead with 10 more points before halftime. Quarterback Justin Thomas took off running for a 21-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Georgia Tech continued to pad its decisive lead with a pair of second-half field goals, while Kentucky finally got a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Johnson completed a pass to Dorian Baker from 20 yards out, which needed a video review to confirm. The Wildcats needed 12 plays to cover 75 yards for the score, but Georgia Tech responded by putting together a time-consuming drive over 12 plays resulting in a field goal to create a 16-point advantage with 6:16 left to play.

The win by Georgia Tech helps improve the ACC 7-3 in the bowl season (Louisville lost in the Citrus Bowl at the time this game was played). The ACC will end the bowl season with a winning record against the SEC, even if Clemson should happen to lose to Alabama in the national championship game. Georgia Tech now has three bowl victories under head coach Paul Johnson and ends the season with its second-highest win total under Johnson (Johnson won 11 games twice at Georgia Tech).

Georgia Tech’s 2017 season will begin with another game against an SEC East opponent. The Yellow Jackets are scheduled to face Tennessee on Monday, September 4, 2017 in the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as one half of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff, with Alabama and Florida State playing in the spotlight game of the opening weekend two days prior. For Georgia Tech, this will mark three straight games against SEC East opponents with a regular season finale against rival Georgia, this bowl game against Kentucky and the 2017 opener against Tennessee.

Kentucky will start the 2017 season on the road against Southern Miss on Saturday, September 2, 2017. Kentucky avoids the toughest of crossover opponents from the SEC West next season by getting Ole Miss at home and Mississippi State on the road. Kentucky will not face Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Arkansas or Texas A&M. Kentucky will also host rival Louisville in Lexington at the end of the 2017 season. The Wildcats will hope to back a second-straight postseason bowl trip for the first time since going to five straight bowl games from 2006 through 2010.

Florida QB Luke Del Rio will miss time as SEC East race gets weirder

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Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury, throwing another wrench into an SEC East battle that’s become a grinding war of attrition.

Del Rio injured his shoulder during Florida’s 31-10 loss to Arkansas on Saturday and couldn’t lift his duffle bag, according to coach Jim McElwain. Purdue transfer Austin Appleby will take over at quarterback for the Gators as they head into a strangely pivotal game against South Carolina and former coach Will Muschamp.

Florida is 4-2 in SEC play but still has that makeup game against LSU looming. If Florida loses to South Carolina and LSU, and Kentucky beats Tennessee, Mark Stoops’ Wildcats would play in the SEC Championship game with a 5-3 conference record.

If Florida were to lose out, Kentucky and Tennessee (if it beats Kentucky, Mizzou and Vanderbilt) would be the only teams in the SEC East with a shot at winning five conference games.

South Carolina’s chances of winning the SEC East are slim, but not zero. Josh Kendall of TheState.com laid out the scenario here.

The way things have gone in the SEC East this year, it’s almost fair to expect something weird and improbable to happen. Maybe that means South Carolina or Kentucky wind up playing Alabama in the SEC Championship. Or maybe it’s more mundane than that and Florida beats South Carolina, earning its second consecutive trip to Atlanta. But this is one of those chaotically-intriguing conference races that features far more intrigue than good football.

Army to wear memorial helmet decal to honor Brandon Jackson

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The Army Black Knights won an emotional game over the weekend to improve to 3-0. The win was overshadowed by the continued mourning of the death of cornerback Brandon Jackson. Now, for the remainder of the 2016 college football season, Army’s football players will wear a memorial sticker on their football helmets.

Jackson, a starting cornerback for the Black Knights, was killed in a car accident in the early morning hours on September 11. Early police reports suggested Jackson’s car hit a guard rail and flipped over. Jackson was pronounced dead on the scene as first responders arrived on the scene.

“We will honor his life as we mourn the untimely death of a young man who had a promising future as a leader in service to our nation.” said Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., West Point superintendent in a statement. “Brandon internalized our watch words, Duty, Honor, Country.”

In addition to the sticker on the football helmets, coaches will also have Jackson’s No. 28 stitched into their hats on the sideline.

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Army cornerback Brandon Jackson dies in car accident

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Army sophomore cornerback Brandon Jackson died in a car accident Sunday, according to the Times Herald-Record’s Sal Interdonato.

Jackson, a native of Queens, N.Y. and a starter who picked off three passes in his career, made three tackles and broke up a pass in Army’s 31-14 win over Rice on Saturday. Army is off to its best start in 20 years after beating Temple and Rice to begin the season.

“Words cannot describe the grief that our team is feeling over the loss of our brother and friend, Brandon,” Army head coach Jeff Monken said in a statement. “He was a beloved teammate and our hearts are with his family at this time of tragedy.”

According to News 12, police believe Jackson’s car hit a guardrail and flipped over in the crash.

“We will honor his life as we mourn the untimely death of a young man who had a promising future as a leader in service to our nation.” said Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., West Point superintendent in a statement, via the Times Herald-Record. “Brandon internalized our watch words, Duty, Honor, Country.”

Player attendees for SEC Media Days revealed

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Yet another sign that a new season is quickly coming up on the horizon?  Media days attendees get full-blown attention.

The first Power Five conference up on the Media Days circuit in 2016 is the SEC, so that conference also becomes the first to reveal which players each of its 14 teams will send to the July 11-14 event in Hoover, Ala.  A total of 42 players, along with their head coaches, will be made available to the media throughout the four-day football kickoff.

In what may tell you something about the state of the quarterback position in the conference, just three signal-callers — Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs, Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly, Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight — will attend.  Conversely, five tight ends will be a part of the festivities.

Being invited by your team is considered an honor and thus leans heavily toward seniors, and such is the case this year as 29 players listed as being part of that class will take part.  There are 12 juniors in the group, meaning there’s only one non-upperclassman — South Carolina sophomore wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

Alabama
Jonathan Allen, Sr., DL
O.J. Howard, Sr., TE
Eddie Jackson, Sr., DB

Arkansas
Brooks Ellis, Sr., LB
Jeremy Sprinkle, Sr., TE
Deatrich Wise Jr., Sr., DL

Auburn
Montravius Adams, Sr., DL
Marcus Davis, Sr., WR
Carl Lawson, Jr., DL

Florida
Jarrad Davis, Sr., LB
Marcus Maye, Sr., DB
David Sharpe, Jr., OL

Georgia
Jeb Blazevich, Jr., TE
Brandon Kublanow, Sr., C/OG
Dominick Sanders, Jr., SS

Kentucky
Jojo Kemp, Sr., RB
Courtney Love, Jr., LB
Jon Toth, Sr., C

LSU
Leonard Fournette, Jr., RB
Ethan Pocic, Sr., C
Tre’Davious White, Sr., DB

Ole Miss
Evan Engram, Sr., TE
D.J. Jones, Sr., DT
Chad Kelly, Sr., QB

Mississippi State
Richie Brown, Sr., LB
A.J. Jefferson, Sr., DL
Fred Ross, Sr., WR

Missouri
Sean Culkin, Sr., TE
Charles Harris, Jr., DE
Michael Scherer, Sr., LB

South Carolina
Marquavius Lewis, Sr., DL
Deebo Samuel, So., WR
Mason Zandi, Sr., OL

Tennessee
Joshua Dobbs, Sr., QB
Jalen Reeves‐Maybin, Sr., LB
Cameron Sutton, Sr., DB

Texas A&M
Myles Garrett, Jr., DL
Trevor Knight, Sr., QB
Ricky Seals‐Jones, Jr., WR

Vanderbilt
Oren Burks, Jr., LB
Zach Cunningham, Jr., LB
Ralph Webb, Jr., RB