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San Diego State tops No. 19 Stanford despite stadium lights going out

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Head coaches always love to say they played lights out after a tough Saturday of college football. In the case of No. 19 Stanford and San Diego State they mean it quite literally.

With just under four minutes left in the fourth quarter, the banks of lighting at decrepit old Qualcomm Stadium simply went out in a close, tense four point game. The inexplicable timeout was reminiscent of Super Bowl XLVII’s outage — only with slightly less on the line for either side. That brief moment of darkness turned out to be a moment of clarity for the Aztecs however, and allowed them to game plan an 11 play, 75 yard go-ahead scoring drive that sealed a 20-17 victory and made the team an immediate Group of Five bid contender.

The outage overshadowed the much anticipated duel between star tailbacks Bryce Love and Rashaad Pennywho both lived up to the hype as they carried their respective teams offensively deep into the night. Given the conservative nature of both head coaches, there was little issue with running the ball often and playing stout defense between two good teams but it certainly made for a rather unexciting contest when all was said and done.

Cardinal quarterback Keller Chryst was largely ineffective and had his worst outing as a starter, finishing with just eight completions for an unremarkable 56 yards and the game-sealing interception with 48 seconds left. If not for Love running behind that bruising offensive line (184 yards and two scores), things could have been even worse for the one-time title dark horse.

As good as Love was though, his counterpart for the Aztecs was just as good in a second consecutive Pac-12 win. Penny wound up with 206 all-purpose yards and one touchdown, the bulk coming on 175 ground-churning rushing yards. Quarterback Christian Chapman was efficient to bring balance to the offense — 187 yards and the game-winning touchdown toss — and put SDSU firmly in the mix for the Group of Five bid at the end of the year with a pair of major victories.

Alabama leading Colorado State at the half

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Alabama threatened to run away and hide, but Colorado State fought back to make the game competitive as the Crimson Tide holds a 24-10 lead at the break in Tuscaloosa.

The Tide seemed to put the game in blowout mode early by grabbing a 14-0 lead before the midpoint of the first quarter. Alabama accepted the ball to open the game and immediately moved 75 yards, the last 27 coming on a Jalen Hurts rush. After forcing a three-and-out, Alabama moved 95 yards in four plays, the final 78 coming on a bomb from Hurts to Calvin Ridley at the 8:56 mark of the first quarter.

But Colorado State stiffened, briefly, after that, forcing a 46-yard Andy Pappanastos field goal on Alabama’s next possession, then a missed 52-yard J.K. Scott field goal, and then a three-and-out.

As Alabama stopped scoring, Colorado State started. The Rams put together a 55-yard field goal drive to get on the board, then an 11-play, 86-yard march keyed by a 36-yard connection from Nick Stephens to Michael Gallup to get Colorado State out of the shadow of its own goalpost and a 4-yard toss to Warren Jackson to complete the drive.

Alabama responded, though, knifing 76 yards in five snaps. Hurts hit Robert Foster for a 52-yard slash-and-dash touchdown on 3rd-and-9 with a minute left before the half. The sophomore connected on 8-of-11 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns while leading all rushers with six carries for 64 yards and another score. Damien Harris and Bo Scarborough combined for 47 yards on 11 carries.

Stephens completed the half hitting 10-of-14 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown while leading Colorado State with four carries for 21 yards.

Colorado State will receive to open the second half.

No charges filed against NC State players accused of sexual assault

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Serious allegations won’t linger for three current and two former North Carolina State football players, at least legally.

Friday, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman announced that her office will not pursue charges against Antoine Thompson, Kevince Brown, Isaiah Moore, Erin Collins and Xavier Lyas in connection to allegations of sexual assault stemming from an on-campus party in July. Three women who were at the party claimed that they were sexually assaulted in one way or another, including one who alleged she may have been raped by 7-10 unnamed men.

“Our office has undertaken a detailed review of the information provided from the investigation conducted by North Carolina State University police,” Freeman said. “The evidence does not support moving forward with a criminal prosecution. …

“Under North Carolina law, a conviction for second-degree rape or sexual battery requires a finding that force was used in the commission of the assault and that the assault was against the will of the victim, or that the victim was mentally incapacitated, mentally disabled or physically helpless at the time of the assault.

“Can we say that this is a situation that warrants a criminal prosecution where we can meet that threshold of beyond a reasonable doubt? In this case, we simply are not there.”

According to Freeman, her office reviewed statements made on both sides of the allegations as well as the statements of other witnesses, university security video footage, messages between the parties involved, and consultations with toxicology experts in deciding not to proceed with charges. Warrants to search the cars, rooms and phones of football players, and the information the executed warrants brought forth, were used in the decision-making process as well.

All five players were subject to disciplinary measures because of violations of State’s Student-Athlete Code of Conduct, not because of the allegations of sexual assault but, officially, for attending a party where alcohol and marijuana were present.

Thompson, a linebacker, and Brown, a defensive end, were dismissed from Dave Doeren‘s football team as a result of the off-field incident. Moore, a linebacker, and the two defensive linemen, Collins and Lyas, were indefinitely suspended. Despite the legal resolution, that trio will remain suspended until a Title IX investigation, which has already commenced, is completed.

“I continue to respect due process and these student-athletes remain suspended from competition until the conclusion of the University’s investigation,” the Wolfpack head coach in a statement. “As I said previously, I will be firm, but fair when it comes to discipline. We have a team full of young men committed to representing the University with integrity and respect.”

“We appreciate the hard work of University Police and the consultation of the District Attorney’s office,” said NCSU chancellor Randy Woodson. “The university’s student conduct review continues, and appropriate action will be taken if violations are found.”

Colorado State opens new stadium in style by rolling over Oregon State 58-27

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Oregon State may have scored the first touchdown of the 2017 FBS season but Colorado State wound up taking home the thing that mattered on Saturday: the first win.

The Rams opened their sparkling new on-campus stadium in style by putting on an offensive showcase against the Beavers to score a 58-27 win in the very first game of ‘Week 0’ in college football.

Senior quarterback Nick Stevens led the way for CSU, throwing for 334 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.  While his arm played a big part in jumping out to a multi-score lead over the second and third quarters, the ground game behind Dalyn Dawkins (67 yards, one touchdown), Marvin Kinsey (34 yards and a touchdown) and Izzy Matthews (one score, 28 yards) helped salt away the game late.

OSU kept things close for the most part until turnovers help doom them in during the second half. As expected, new strong-armed starting quarterback Jake Luton was a bit of a mixed bag: throwing for 304 yards and two scores but also turning the ball over three times via interceptions. Beavers’ star tailback Ryan Nall was effective early on but had to take a back seat in the offense as things got a bit lopsided on the scoreboard, finishing with just 115 yards and a touchdown.

The loss kept Oregon State winless on the road under head coach Gary Andersen.

The flip-side of scoreline could be a nice little buzz for the Rams as a potential team that could snap up that ‘Group of Five’ bid to a New Year’s Six bowl. The team already dispatched one Pac-12 opponent and can do so again next Friday when they take on in-state rival Colorado what will formally be Week 1. Most of the talk in the Mountain West has centered on Boise State and San Diego State but the debut win in Fort Collins was enough of a statement that a third team will certainly be in the mix.

North Carolina State dismisses two freshmen, suspends three others

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North Carolina State is the latest to feel the wrath of off-field tumult just ahead of the start of the 2017 season.

The football program announced Tuesday afternoon that two freshmen, wide receiver Antoine Thompson and defensive end Kevince Brown, have been dismissed from Dave Doeren‘s football program.  Additionally, a trio of additional freshmen, linebacker Isaiah Moore, defensive lineman Erin Collins and defensive lineman Xavier Lyas, have been indefinitely suspended by Doeren.  It’s believed those three will miss at least one game apiece.

The disciplinary measures stem from what were described as “violations of the Student Athlete Code of Conduct.”

The discipline also comes a month or so after an investigation into allegations of three separate sexual assaults at one on-campus party was launched.  According to the school, however, the dismissals and suspensions “are not regarding allegations of sexual assault.”

From WNCN-TV in Raleigh:

The five freshman football players were at the on-campus party in a student’s room at Wolf Village where alcohol and marijuana were present, the school said.

Investigators executed search warrants where they looked at cell phones, the residence and reviewed video from campus security cameras.

“We had five freshmen, two of whom have been dismissed, who made poor decisions that don’t align with the values of our program and each has been handled accordingly,” Doeren said in a statement. “Although I’ve disciplined these players for violations of the Student Athlete Code of Conduct, I want to make it clear that I respect due process in the University and legal proceedings. Our players understand that I’m going be firm, but fair when it comes to discipline.”

“The football players who violated the Student Athlete Code of Conduct and Football Team Rules have been disciplined by Coach Doeren, with my full support,” athletic director Debbie Yow said in hers. “Coach Doeren continues to responsibly manage difficult circumstances in an appropriate and forthcoming manner, which is greatly appreciated. Two have been dismissed from the team and are no longer enrolled at NC State, and three others have received suspensions from competition, as well as other discipline. These actions are not regarding allegations of sexual assault. We reserve the right to impose additional sanctions if new violations are discovered.”

All five players were three-star members of NCSU’s 2017 recruiting class.  Only three members of that class were rated higher than Thompson.