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Maryland spoils Tom Herman debut with 51-41 upset of No. 23 Texas

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This did not go according to plan for Tom Herman. In his coaching debut in Austin, Herman was unable to clean up enough mistakes and shaky play from his team as No. 23 Texas (0-1) dug a big hole early at home against Maryland (1-0). Despite a wild second half, Texas just could not get past Maryland as the Terrapins answered every threat from Texas down the stretch and delivered a knockout blow midway through the fourth quarter in the form of a Kasim Hill touchown. Hill’s fourth-quarter touchdown pushed Maryland’s lead to 44-34, which would end up being the final score. Maryland, who entered the game as an 18-point underdog, celebrated a 51-41 victory.

Hill scored the late touchdown, but the Terps were strong on the ground with Ty Johnson leading the charge with 127 yards and a score, averaging 11.5 yards per rush on the Texas defense, which may not have been as solid as anticipated at the start of the season. Maryland quarterback Tyrell Pigrome also got involved running the ball with 64 yards and a score to go with his 175 passing yards and two touchdowns through the air. It was more the kind of performance you would expect from a quarterback coached by Herman. Longhorns quarterback Shane Buechele had a productive afternoon with 300 passing yards and a touchdown and 21 rushing yards and a score, but too many poor passes soaring high or behind receivers led to near-interceptions and stalled any progress late in the game for a possible comeback.

Special teams gaffes and a defense unable to seize momentum were crippling for Texas (Maryland recovered a kickoff fumble and returned a blocked field goal for a score — although, so did Texas), but the offense was the most disappointing part of the Texas effort on Saturday. The Longhorns scored just 13 offensive points. Holton Hill gave the Longhorns a lead just three plays in the game with a 31-yard interception return for a score, and Hill returned a blocked field goal for another score later on. Reggie Hemphill-Mapps brought the Longhorns within three points in the third quarter with a 91-yard punt return for a score, but the teams traded blows from there to keep Maryland out in front the rest of the way. Texas hurt itself with over 100 yards in penalties as well.

So the Tom Herman run in Austin has some work to do. Transforming Texas into a Big 12 contender was not going to happen overnight anyway, and there are still 11 more games to play. Odds are we will still see a good number of positive developments from Texas moving forward, but a loss at home to Maryland is still a sour way to get things started. One thing you can say about a game like this from Texas is you have a laundry list of items you now know can be addressed. Let’s see how much of that laundry gets cleaned up in the next few weeks.

Maryland, however, showed some more reasons to be optimistic about the season than many probably thought possible. Wide receiver D.J. Moore (133 receiving yards) showed why he is one of the top receivers in the Big Ten, and Pigrome ran the offense well to keep things mixed up. This is a team that is still not on the same level as Ohio State or Penn State or Michigan, but it could end up being a team that could cause a few problems for any of those three at the top of the Big Ten East. This was a solid victory for D.J. Durkin.

Texas will host San Jose State next week before preparing for a major road test in Week 3 at USC. Maryland will be home next week for a home opener against in-state FCS opponent Towson.

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

Boston College holds off Maryland to win first bowl game since 2007

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Boston College (7-6) held off Maryland (6-7) in the Quick Lane Bowl by batting down pass after pass and not letting the Terrapins into the end zone despite multiple first-and-goal opportunities in the fourth quarter. Boston College secured its first bowl victory in nine years by winning in Detroit on Monday, 36-30.

Boston College sacked Maryland quarterback Perry Hills eight times, which tied the school record for most sacks in a game. the Eagles also forced four turnovers in the game and held Maryland to converting just four of 15 third-down plays. Maryland was also 0-for-2 on fourth down in the game, which also saw 11 penalties called on Maryland (and six more on Boston College). Maryland had a great chance to carve into the Boston College lead late in the game, but was unable to crack the end zone when it needed to the most.

Boston College quarterback Patrick Towles completed just 10 of his 22 pass attempts for 151 yards and two touchdowns, and he also caught a 20-yard touchdown pass. Jon Hilliman led the Boston College running game with 79 yards and a touchdown. Maryland quarterback Hills passed for 229 yards and two touchdowns when his passes were not being batted down at the line of scrimmage. Deep passes were the keys to the Maryland offense, with Teldrick Morgan taking one play 63 yards and Levern Jacobs going for 52 yards on touchdown plays. Boston College jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the first half but Maryland chipped away before stalling in the fourth quarter.

The ACC is now 1-0 in the bowl season, while the Big Ten opens up its postseason with a loss. Boston College won its first bowl game since 2007, while Maryland will continue to look for its first bowl victory since firing Ralph Friedgen (2010) when it takes the field in 2017.

Maryland will begin the 2017 season on the road on September 2, 2017 against Texas, which will serve as the Longhorns coaching debut of Tom Herman in Austin. Boston College will also start the 2017 season on the road with a September 1 game at Northern Illinois.

Boston College uses big plays to score 29 points in first half of Quick Lane Bowl. Yes, THAT Boston College

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Things may have gotten off to a rusty start in the Quick Lane Bowl, but Maryland and Boston College started heating things up a bit in the second quarter to set the stage for what could be an entertaining second half in Detroit. Boston College’s defense has set the tone and allowed the Eagles from the ACC to get a good lead on the Terrapins from the Big Ten, but big plays on the ground have allowed Maryland to chip away. At halftime in the Quick Lane Bowl, Boston College leads Maryland, 29-13. Boston College has not scored 29 points in a game against a Power Five opponent since 2014, and they just did it in the first half of this afternoon’s Quick Lane Bowl.

Boston College running back Jon Hilliman punched in a touchdown from the goal line in the first quarter, but Boston College missed the extra point attempt. The Eagles extended their lead to 16-0 in the second quarter with a touchdown pass from Patrick Towles to a wide open Tommy Sweeney and a field goal. Until that point, Maryland could do almost nothing on offense against Boston College’s stingy defense. Maryland running back Ty Johnson finally found a path to break a long touchdown run to get the Terrapins on the board, running 62 yards to the house to cut the Boston College lead to 16-7. Boston College responded with some big plays of its own, including a reverse that saw Jeff Smith toss a touchdown pass to quarterback Patrick Towles to regain the 16-point advantage.

On Maryland’s ensuing possession, Johnson struck gold once more with a 30-yard run up the middle of the defense, trimming the Boston College lead to 10. Then, rather than kick the extra point, Boston College chose to chase the points and run a two-point conversion play that was pretty horrible in execution, not to mention the timing.

We’ll see if that one point comes back to haunt Maryland in the second half. They’ll have a lot of work to do in order to make that relevant.

Towles went deep to Michael Walker for a 49-yard touchdown in the final minute, taking advantage of a late offensive possession. The Eagles got the ball off a Maryland punt at their 30-yard line and two plays later were boosting their lead to 29-13 (missing the extra point for a second time).

The 10 best and 10 worst bowl matchups, as ranked by F/+

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2016’s most even bowl matchup will happen in El Paso, Texas, while the most lopsided game will take place in Boise, Idaho.

Those on-paper analyses are based on the end-of-the-season F/+ rankings, which are explained here on Football Outsiders. Personally, they’re a go-to for getting a rough idea of how good a certain team is, so why not use them to preview the best and worst bowl matchups?

Here are the 10 best games based on how close the two participants’ F/+ rankings are:

Sun Bowl (+1): No. 25 Stanford vs. No. 26 UNC
Fiesta Bowl (+2): No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Clemson
Rose Bowl (+2): No. 7 USC vs. No. 9 Penn State
Sugar Bowl (+2): No. 8 Auburn vs. No. 10 Oklahoma
Armed Forces Bowl (+2): No. 51 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 53 Navy

Peach Bowl (+4): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 5 Washington
Quick Lane Bowl (+4): No. 93 Boston College vs. No. 97 Maryland
New Mexico Bowl (+5): No. 81 New Mexico vs. No. 86 UT-San Antonio
Citrus Bowl (+6): No. 5 LSU vs. No. 11 Louisville
Cotton Bowl (+10): No. 12 Wisconsin vs. No. 22 Western Michigan

Obviously, the two College Football Playoff games (Ohio State-Clemson, Alabama-Washington) are among the closest, but it’s good to see three of the four other New Year’s Six bowls in here as well. The Orange Bowl (No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 13 Florida State) just barely missed the cut.

As for the 10 biggest mismatches:

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (+71): No. 29 Colorado State vs. No. 100 Idaho
Birmingham Bowl (+61): No. 33 South Florida vs. No. 94 South Carolina
Military Bowl (+54): No. 18 Temple vs. No. 72 Wake Forest
Cactus Bowl (+52): No. 14 Boise State vs. No. 66 Baylor
Miami Beach Bowl (+45): No. 44 Tulsa vs. No. 89 Central Michigan

Arizona Bowl (+38): No. 49 Air Force vs. No. 87 South Alabama
Las Vegas Bowl (+30): No. 20 Houston vs. No. 50 San Diego State
Poinsettia Bowl (+27): No. 30 BYU vs. No. 57 Wyoming
Heart of Dallas Bowl (+26): No. 85 Army vs. No. 111 North Texas
Russell Athletic Bowl (+25): No. 15 Miami vs. No. 40 West Virginia

It’s not surprising three of these games involve top-level Group of Five teams (South Florida, Temple, Boise State) playing 6-6 Power Five teams (South Carolina, Wake Forest, Baylor), given that’s where a lot of bowl mismatches can take place. It was a little surprising to see the gulf between Houston and San Diego State be so significant, though.

But while these matchups may either be close or lopsided, always remember the ironclad rule of bowl season: Weird stuff is gonna happen. One team may not care while the other does, one team may not deal with the elements (especially in the northern bowls) as well as the other, or one team may come in with something to prove while the other team doesn’t. The best-case scenario for us college football fans is that every game is interesting and worth watching, no matter what the on-paper numbers may say.