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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.

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.”

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.

Nearly 15 years later, NCAA refusing to retroactively count bowl stats remains baffling

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San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey set the all-time career rushing record on Saturday by eclipsing Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne in a victory over Houston in the Las Vegas Bowl. Or did he?

Pumphrey ended his career with an all-time total of 6,405 rushing yards, cementing himself in first place on the all-time rushing leaders list. Dayne finished his college career with 6,397 rushing yards, but that total does not include Dayne’s rushing total from the bowl games he played. If you include Dayne’s postseason rushing totals, including three bowl games with 200+ rushing yards, Dayne finished his career with 7,125 rushing yards, a point the former Badgers Heisman Trophy winner was quick to note in a congratulatory tweet.

So why do we count Pumphrey’s postseason stats but not Dayne’s?

The simple answer is the NCAA is probably too lazy to do some research to go back in time and retroactively count bowl stats for teams and players.

In 2002, the NCAA made the decision to start counting bowl game stats with the official records for regular season performance. The decision was made to make college football record-keeping consistent with how records are held for other NCAA sports, where postseason results are counted on top of regular season stats.

“Each sport we compile statistics in, that’s the way it’s done,” Gary Johnson, senior assistant director of statistics at the NCAA, said in 2002. “We’re basically bringing football in line.”

The NCAA began tracking and officially recording stats in 1937. At the time, only a small handful of bowl games existed, so there was no need seen to keep track of bowl stats in the same fashion. As time went on and more teams were given opportunities to play in a postseason bowl game, it was determined that there was a new need to keep track of bowl stats since it affected more than just a small handful of programs. Some conferences, like the Big Ten, had already taken the initiative to keep bowl game stats on the record, but the NCAA was slow to adapt (surprise, surprise). The problem is the NCAA decided to not go back and make bowl game stats from before 2002 a part of the record books. Why?

That’s a good question, especially since in 2002 Purdue sports information director Tom Schott expressed his desire to see the NCAA choose to go back and do juts that at some point.

“I think it’s doable,” Schott said. “I can understand them not wanting to go back right now. I hope at some point they go back.”

Here we are in 2016, and approaching 2017, and no initiative has been made to dig into the archives to adjust the records accordingly. And because of the decision not to retroactively count bowl game stats before 2002, we have a new all-time rushing leader on the record books, much to the dismay of the Wisconsin faithful.

If altering the record books is a way to preserve the history of the game as it was seen and recorded for decades, that defeats the purpose of keeping track of history. Football stats may be trivial to most, but the NCAA is making a very simple decision not to preserve the history of the game as it actually occurred out of pure laziness. To suddenly change the way history is recorded when such an obvious option to better preserve it exists without taking the measure to do so is silly. To me, the solution is simple. Either count all the bowl game stats or none of them. Either way is fine, so long as it is consistent.

It’s time to have somebody at the NCAA correct this blatant inaccuracy with the official record books. Until they do, the NCAA is devaluing the significance of their own individual records.

AAC gets off to bumpy 0-2 start to the bowl season

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The American Athletic Conference may be, arguably, the strongest and deepest of the Group of Five conferences in college football, but the bowl season has not gotten off to a good start for the conference that sells itself is the sixth power conference. Houston and UCF both took losses in the two bowl games involving teams from the AAC on Saturday, getting the conference off to a disappointing 0-2 start to the season.

Houston suffered a blowout loss in the Las Vegas Bowl against Mountain West Conference champion San Diego State, with Donnel Pumphrey setting the new all-time NCAA rushing record in the process. The Cougars were a five-point favorite heading into the matchup with the Aztecs and returned home with a 24-point loss in the head coaching debut of Major Applewhite. For a team that knocked off top five opponents Oklahoma and Louisville in the regular season, ending the year with a 9-4 record and a Las Vegas Bowl loss (and a head coach to Texas) was a bitter ending to a promising season. UCF’s loss to Arkansas State was not quite as shocking of an upset, with the Knights coming into the Cure Bowl as a slight favorite against the Sun Belt co-champions.

The image problem for the AAC is it just suffered two losses to champions from two other Group of Five conferences right out of the gate. And it is not as though the AAC had a stellar postseason last year either. The AAC went just 2-6 in postseason bowl games a year ago, the worst overall record of any conference. The bowl record a year ago was overshadowed by Houston’s victory over Florida State in the Peach Bowl, but the AAC went winless against Conference USA (0-2), the MAC (0-1), and the Mountain West Conference (0-1) last bowl season. The American went 2-3 in bowl games in 2014 and 2013 too.

If the AAC is going to come together and support its case to be the top Group of Five conference, it will have its work cut out for them the rest of the bowl season, although there may be some favorable matchups to come.

Tulsa will take on Central Michigan in the Miami Beach Bowl, and the Golden Hurricane should be a decent favorite in the game. But one should never count out the Chippewas this time of year. Memphis gets a tough draw against Conference USA champion Western Kentucky, although the Hilltoppers are going through a coaching change that could impact the team in the Boca Raton Bowl. Navy’s matchup with Louisiana Tech could be a challenge given recent depth concerns for the Midshipmen from their last two games played against Temple and Army.

Two AAC teams, Temple and USF, will take on power conference opponents, Wake Forest and South Carolina, respectively. Both the Owls and Bulls should stand a good chance to boost the AAC’s record and to do so against the ACC and SEC would be a good finish for the conference. But if the AAC comes up with another losing record and tacks on more losses against Group of Five conference opponents, the talk about the AAC’s pedigree among non-power conferences will be tarnished for an entire offseason.