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Louisiana Tech destroys SMU in the Frisco Bowl to spoil start of the Sonny Dykes era

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Sonny Dykes began Wednesday full of optimism thanks to the early National Signing Day and the initial crop of recruits in his first SMU recruiting class. The new head coach on the Hilltop ended Wednesday night full of despair however, as his old team of Louisiana Tech laid an absolute beatdown on his new one in the Frisco Bowl by a 51-10 margin that really didn’t indicate how lopsided the game was.

All told, the Mustangs turned the ball over six times in the game — five in the first half, including two pick-sixes and a fumble on the very first play. It was a theme that was repeated early and often and probably a reminder that there’s a reason that new head coaches don’t coach their new team in a bowl game after a week on campus for good reason.

About the only thing that didn’t go the way of the Bulldogs came on their first drive as they squandered the opening fumble by shanking a field goal attempt in the red zone. That didn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things as quarterback J’Mar Smith played nearly perfectly on all those short drives, throwing for 216 yards and a trio of touchdowns while also running one in on a fourth down sneak. Not a bad little performance with a school legend like Terry Bradshaw looking on from the sidelines.

Wideout Teddy Veal was the top target in the passing game and recorded five catches for 118 yards and a pair of scores as he got behind the defense numerous times. He formed a pretty hefty one-two punch with running back Boston Scott, who added another 110 yards on the ground to round out the offensive attack that simply took what SMU gave them up-and-down the field.

Skip Holtz’ defense was the real star of the show though, looking a good two steps faster than their opponents despite limping in with a .500 record as a team. Amik Robertson hauled in a 45 yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter while teammate Darryl Lewis followed things up with a 23 yard pick-six of his own in the second quarter as the Tech defense would have nearly won the game on their own even without their offense putting up points a plenty.

On the flip side, it appeared that SMU starter Ben Hicks spent too much of the bowl prep explaining the offense to his new head coach and not enough time getting ready for the game itself. The quarterback would up with three interceptions on the night (after tossing just nine all year) and needed several late drives to finish with 127 yards and a score. His inability to throw the ball to the right team hampered the send off of star wideout Courtland Sutton before he left for the NFL, though the latter did manage 68 yards on the night against some pretty tight coverage.

Louisiana native Trey Quinn also caught eight passes for 45 yards and a touchdown while Xavier Jones ran for 56 yards to lead the team on the ground in a very forgettable postseason return.

It wasn’t how any of them imagined things unfolding just up the road in the Dallas suburb of Frisco on Wednesday night though. Instead, just about everything went the way of Louisiana Tech as they gave their old coach from just a few years ago a rude introduction to his SMU tenure after a wild day of emotions for many in college football.

Turnovers help Louisiana Tech to big halftime lead in the Frisco Bowl over SMU

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The first play of the Sonny Dykes era at SMU? A fumble. The Mustangs then followed that up with an interceptions on their next drive… and then another that turned into a pick-six after that. They would throw another to open the second quarter for good measure.

Safe to say that is not how the team and their new head coach envisioned things going at the Frisco Bowl on Wednesday night, as the team just down the Dallas Tollway from the stadium where the game takes place trailed 42-10 at halftime thanks to five turnovers to Louisiana Tech.

The Bulldogs managed to take a three-score lead after the first quarter thanks in part to those turnovers — and would have made it a full three touchdown margin had they not shanked a short field goal on the first drive. Either way, quarterback J’Mar Smith finished the half with 131 yards passing and three touchdowns through the air while also punching it in on a fourth and inches at the goal line as well. His and running back Boston Scott’s numbers were far from gaudy in terms of yardage but they certainly did the trick given the short fields and easy chances to score against a defense that missed several tackles early on and couldn’t cover anybody in the secondary.

While Skip Holtz’ side was having a grand ol’ time in the game as they seek their seventh win of the year, the same could not be said for the Mustangs as they play their first game with a somewhat makeshift staff that took over just eight days ago. Signal-caller Ben Hicks might want to burn the tape of this game after throwing three interceptions in the first half (two that went for touchdowns… to LaTech) and 105 yards. Top wideouts Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn combined for 10 receptions and a score, while Xavier Jones ran for 56 yards but it didn’t make much of a dint in the scoreboard thanks to a whopping five turnovers.

To make matters even worse the Bulldogs get the ball to start the third quarter.

If SMU winds up coming back to win this one, it might be one of the biggest comebacks ever given how they started this game. More likely, however, is that they can start engraving Louisiana Tech’s name into the Frisco Bowl trophy and nobody will think twice about doing so.

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

It’s early, but Texas high school QBs are dominating the total offense charts

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We’re just three weeks into this marathon 2015 college football season, but one definite trend has emerged – or, perhaps more accurately, continued: if you want to move the ball in a big way, get a quarterback from a Texas high school.

Former Texas high school gun slingers occupy five of the top six total offense spots thus far, and the other – Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson – runs an offense under the tutelage of Dino Babers, who copied his playbook from Texas high school legend Art Briles during his time as a Baylor assistant.

Here’s the list:

  1. Matt Johnson (Bowling Green/Harrisburg, Pa.): 1,416 total yards, 472 yards per game
  2. Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma/Austin, Texas): 1,201 total yards, 400.3 yards per game
  3. Seth Russell (Baylor/Garland, Texas): 782 total yards/391 yards per game
  4. Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech/Whitehouse, Texas): 1,158 total yards/386 yards per game
  5. Dane Evans (Tulsa/Sanger, Texas): 1,153 total yards/384.3 yards per game
  6. Trevone Boykin (TCU/Mesquite, Texas): 1,133 total yards/377.7 yards per game

Furthermore, Lone Star State signal callers Greg Ward, Jr. (Houston/Tyler, Texas) and Skyler Howard (West Virginia/Fort Worth, Texas) rank ninth and 11th, respectively, Matt Davis (SMU/Houston) stands at 17th, and Jerrod Heard (Texas/Denton, Texas) racked up a school-record 527 yards of total offense in Saturday night’s loss to California.

This is not a new trend. After all, we all remember the 2008 season when Colt McCoyGraham HarrellRobert Griffin III, Chase Daniel and Todd Reesing lit up the midwestern skies. But it does confirm that when coaches go quarterback shopping, they should start in Texas and look outward from there.

The Fifth Quarter: Week 1 Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

WACK-12
The Pac-12 came into the 2015 season looking to challenge the SEC for conference football supremacy.  While that may end up still being the case, it was a rough Week 1 in myriad regards for the Left Coast league, particularly its northern division.

First and foremost, No. 21 Stanford went into Evanston as heavy favorites only to be upended and upset by Northwestern.  And it wasn’t just that one of the preseason favorites in the North was beaten, it was that they were roughed up by the Wildcats and seemed to play timid on both sides of the ball.  More embarrassingly, a couple of hours later Washington State lost to FCS Portland State, which came into the game a 30-point underdog.

The South contributed to the first-week malaise as No. 15 Arizona State, viewed by some as a darkhorse playoff candidate (sheepishly raises hand), capped off the night with a 20-point loss to unranked Texas A&M.  At least that, though, was a loss to a Power Five school, and one from the stacked SEC West no less, in what was essentially a home game for the Aggies.

Add in Washington’s loss to Boise State — no shame in that — and Colorado’s loss to Hawaii Thursday night — a whole hell of a lot of shame in that — and it turned into a horrific lost weekend for the conference.  That said, remember how many were writing the Big Ten off a year ago at this time?  Yeah, it wouldn’t be wise to repeat that history.

WEAK 1?
If you thought that the Week 1 schedule, especially Saturday, was especially lacking when it came to compelling on-paper matchups, you’re not alone.  In fact, the raw data is sitting right along side you.

Opening weekend, and including the two still remaining, there were/are 87 games involving FBS teams.  Of that, 11 pitted Power Five vs. Power Five (for this exercise, I’m considering BYU a P5); another 47 — more than half — featured FBS teams playing an FCS team.  There were 22 Power Five teams that opened their season against an FCS team, with the ACC far and away leading the cupcake way with seven.  The Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 had four apiece, while the pastry alley that is the late-season SEC lagged behind with three.

There were also 23 games played between Power Five and Group of Five teams.  The SEC accounted for eight of those games, while the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 saw four each.  The FCS-heavy ACC had three such games.

It wasn’t just the Power Fives feeding on the FCS, though, as 25 Group of Five teams opened against the former Div. 1-AA.  The remaining six games saw Group of Five squads squaring off against each other.

While most of the FBS feasted on their FCS cupcakes, a handful choked on them.  Two that lost to FCS teams were Power Five members in the aforementioned Wazzu and Kansas (South Dakota State, more on that below) and two were Group of Five teams in Army (Fordham) and Wyoming (North Dakota).

BAD BLOOD CHEAP SHOT?
Vernon Adams transferred from Eastern Washington to Oregon earlier this offseason and ultimately earned the Ducks’ starting quarterback job.  As luck would have it, Adams’ current and former teams squared off in the season opener in Autzen Saturday night, and there was one interesting development in UO’s 61-42 win.

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