THE ACC STINKS

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It’s too early to make any real conclusions about this college football season, but here’s one thing we can say for sure: The ACC stinks.I thought this summer that Clemson was the favorite in the ACC, and I still think that — but only because there’s no one else to pick. Clemson was thrashed by Alabama on Saturday, and I think Alabama is maybe the fifth best team in the SEC. At least half the teams in the SEC would be favored to win the ACC right now.The ACC’s performances also included Virginia Tech being upset by East Carolina, Virginia falling 52-7 at home to USC and North Carolina State getting absolutely humiliated by South Carolina — on a day when Steve Spurrier’s offense looked mediocre.Yes, the ACC went 7-4 this weekend. But some of those seven wins are more embarrassing than losing 52-7 at home to USC. Maryland only beats Delaware by a touchdown at home? North Carolina only beats McNeese State by a touchdown at home? Boston College doesn’t really put away Kent State until the fourth quarter? Come on.Ron Green of the Charlotte Observer notes just how pitiful ACC football is looking and writes, “if you look hard enough, you can see basketball season in the distance.” We all know the ACC is really a basketball conference. But you’d hope that on September 1, the focus would be on football. Not this year.

Chad Morris falls to 2-12 vs. FBS schools as Arkansas’ head coach

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To say that Chad Morris‘ time in Fayetteville hasn’t gone as planned would be an understatement of mammoth proportions.

Hired away from SMU in December of 2017, Morris went 2-10 in his first season as the head coach at Arkansas.  At that point, there were already grumblings that UA had made a hiring gaffe and should cut bait after one year.

That didn’t happen, of course, and Morris “rewarded” that confidence with a 2-1 start to the 2019 campaign.  Unfortunately, those feel-good vibes are a thing of the past as San Jose State, a three-touchdown underdog coming in, looked every bit the part of the better team in every phase of the game as the Spartans got past the Razorbacks 31-24 Saturday night.

In Fayetteville, no less.

Along with the embarrassing 44-17 loss to North Texas last season, Arkansas has now suffered losses to Group of Five schools in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1995-96.

As if that weren’t distressing enough for Hog Nation, Morris is now 4-12 overall at Arkansas.  Even worse?  Two of those wins have come against FCS programs, meaning Morris sports a 2-12 record against FBS competition.

Moving forward, as Morris attempts to salvage something out of this season as well as hold onto his job, he’ll likely have a decision to make at quarterback.

Ben Hicks, a graduate transfer from SMU, began the season as Arkansas’ starter before being benched in favor of Nick Starkel, a graduate transfer from Texas A&M.  Saturday night, Starkel tossed five interceptions to help aid greatly in the losing cause.

To add current insult to future potential injury, Arkansas has the following games left on its 2019 schedule:

  • vs. No. 17 Texas A&M
  • at Kentucky
  • vs. No. 8 Auburn
  • at No. 2 Alabama
  • vs. Mississippi State
  • vs. Western Kentucky
  • at No. 4 LSU
  • vs. Missouri

Good luck making it to Year 3, Coach Morris.

Laviska Shenault Jr. injured but Colorado still locked in a close one with No. 24 Arizona State at half

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Colorado’s best player appears done for the night with an injury but that’s not stopping the Buffs from playing well on the road in a little Saturday night #Pac12AfterDark action, holding tight with a lead against freshly ranked No. 24 Arizona State 24-21 heading into halftime.

CU wideout Laviska Shenault Jr. played in the first series and part of a second one before leaving the field, not returning to action with an undisclosed injury to the superstar receiver who has been the focal point of the team’s offense ever since he stepped on campus. Steven Montez surprisingly didn’t seem phased by the absence however, throwing for 196 yards and two touchdowns as the Buffs were stopped only by a fumble in the first half. The run game didn’t have a ton of sustained success but did wind up with 73 on the ground behind Alex Fontenot’s hard running and short trip to the end zone.

While the defense appeared to be an issue for Herm Edwards‘ Sun Devils, the offense seemed to move the ball a lot better than they did last week at Michigan State (not exactly shocking given the Spartans stellar play defensively). Young QB Jayden Daniels wasn’t super accurate but did put up 202 yards and a touchdown on just 13 completions, the majority of which all went to speedster Brandon Aiyuk (five catches, 97 yards and a score). Eno Benjamin was fairly quiet (29 yards rushing) but did score twice on two short runs, one of which saw him leap toward the corner to sneak it in past the pylon.

While it will be a big storyline to monitor regarding Shenault’s return (or lack thereof), this one is shaping up to be a fun one out in the desert with key Pac-12 South implications for both sides in what is proving to be a wild weekend in the league out West.

No. 3 Georgia holds off No. 7 Notre Dame for 23-17 win

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Before the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in Sanford Stadium, No. 3 Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC) took time wearing down No. 7 Notre Dame (2-1) for a 23-17 victory Saturday night. Despite a handful of injuries before and during the game, Georgia managed to overcome an early special teams mistake and shut down the Irish in the second half. Georgia outscored Notre Dame 13-0 after halftime.

Georgia running back D’Andre Swift led all players with 81 rushing yards and scored Georgia’s first touchdown in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7. Jake Fromm gave Georgia a cushion in the fourth quarter with a 15-yard pass to Lawrence Cager. The touchdown lifted Georgia to a 20-10 lead at the end of an 82-yard drive after Notre Dame had gone three-and-out.

Notre Dame’s second-half drive summary was not good, to put it kindly. After halftime, Notre Dame fumbled on the third play of their first offensive series, which led to a Georgia field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship to tie the game at 10-10. The Irish then went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, leading to another field goal by Blankenship to give Georgia their first lead of the night late in the third quarter. Another punt after losing two yards in three plays led to the Georgia touchdown drive, and Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book was picked off by J.R. Reed on the following possession at the Georgia 33-yard line. That was Notre Dame’s last chance to make things interesting because the Bulldogs began to work the clock. Keeping things on the ground, for the most part, Georgia killed nearly four minutes off the clock before one more field goal by Blankenship to extend the lead to 23-10.

If the atmosphere was a factor, it showed. Notre Dame was called for seven false start penalties in the game. A record crowd at Sanford Stadium of 93,246 was crammed in to watch the events unfold in person. Most of them ended up going home with a smile on their face.

Georgia did suffer some notable injuries in the game. Starting offensive linemen Isaiah Wilson (didn’t play; ankle) and Solomon Kindley (left game; left leg injury) were among the injured Bulldogs, and cornerback Eric Stokes left the game after injuring his knee on the second play of the game.

This all sets Georgia up for a playoff run. With a win against a top 10 opponent under their belts and a favorable schedule the rest of the season, Georgia should be a near-lock for a spot in the SEC Championship Game with a possible 12-0 record. A road trip to Auburn late in the year could be the biggest hurdle remaining, and that could be a nice boost to a playoff profile if things fall just right for Kirby Smart and his program.

While it would be premature to suggest Notre Dame has been eliminated in the playoff discussion, it is a safe bet to say they have a much tougher path back into the playoff mix with a loss. With no conference championship game to fall back on and Michigan getting steamrolled earlier in the day to take some of the luster off their late October showdown in Ann Arbor (note: just some luster), Notre Dame is already in a likely position where they will need to take care of their own schedule the rest fo the way to go 11-1 and then hope for a little help from around the country. The good news for Notre Dame is they likely won’t fall back too far in the polls and there will be teams that take losses the next few months. But it will be tougher on the Irish now.

Georgia will get next week off before jumping into SEC play in October. The Bulldogs will play on the road against a Tennessee program that continues to struggle. The Vols were blown out on the road at Florida earlier in the day. For Georgia, all eyes may be looking ahead to November 2 when Georgia meets Florida in Jacksonville. That game is expected to decide the fate of the SEC East Division, but Georgia must get past Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky first. Those three teams are a combined 4-8.

there will be no bye week for Notre Dame until mid-October, so the Irish will be back at it next week with a home game against No. 21 Virginia. The Cavaliers avoided a home upset to Old Dominion on Saturday. Notre Dame will play their next three games at home with Bowling Green and USC each visiting after Virginia before Notre Dame reaches their next bye week.

No. 12 Texas opens Big 12 play by halting home losing streak to Oklahoma State

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In a game that was both as close as the final score and not, No. 12 Texas survived a game effort from Oklahoma State, 36-30.

Sam Ehlinger picked up a battered defense, completing 20-of-28 passes for 281 yards with four touchdowns and an interception while rushing 10 times for 70 yards. Keontay Ingram complimented his quarterback by carrying a season-high 21 times for 114 yards.

Texas (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) snapped a 5-game home losing streak to Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1 Big 12), a Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium opponent record. However, the Cowboys showed flashes of a team that will compete in the Big 12 this year, as Spencer Sanders threw for 268 yards and rushed for 109 yards and a score.

Both teams put up near 500-yard efforts (498 for Texas, 494 for OSU) and were at times their own worst enemies. Oklahoma State kicked two short field goals and came up empty on two deep trips inside Texas territory, while the Longhorns muffed two different punts, both of which turned into Cowboy touchdowns.

Oklahoma State accepted the ball to open the game and, after converting an opening 3rd-and-11 on a 20-yard completion to Tylan Wallace, moved 78 yards to the Texas 1, but two Chuba Hubbard runs were turned away and the Cowboys settled for a 20-yard Matt Ammendola field goal.

Texas moved 35 yards over nine snaps on its first chance, but Texas punted from the Oklahoma State 40. After its defense forced a three-and-out, the Longhorn offense moved the ball again, this time going 66 yards in nine plays to take the lead on a 6-yard toss from Ehlinger to Devin Duvernay on the opening play of the second quarter.

Texas then seized control of the game when safety Montrell Estell caught a Sanders overthrow and returned it 37 yards to the Oklahoma State 28, and two plays later Ehlinger hit freshman Jake Smith for a 17-yard touchdown to put UT up 14-3 with 12:42 left in the first half.

Sanders moved past the interception by finding Wallace for a 35-yard gain to the Texas 38, but the Oklahoma State drive stalled when the Pokes ran Hubbard for a loss of four on 3rd-and-8 from the UT 26, leading to another Ammendola field goal.

Texas looked to increase its lead on its next touch, a 36-yard drive, but Roschon Johnson was stuffed for a loss of one on a 4th-and-3 from the OSU 28. Now trailing 14-6, Sanders hit Braydon Johnston for a 55-yard bomb to the Texas 3, then after two backwards runs, ran it in himself on third-and-goal to pull the Cowboys within 14-13 with 3:07 left in the first half.

That margin wouldn’t last, though, as Ehlinger hit Brennan Eagles for a 73-yard catch-and-run touchdown, pushing the Texas lead to 21-13 with 2:09 left in the first half. The ‘Horns forced an Oklahoma State punt and appeared in position to sit on the ball until halftime, but Smith muffed the Tom Hutton punt at his own 15, which Oklahoma State recovered. Hubbard charged in a 1-yard run with 11 seconds to go to put the score at 21-20 at halftime.

Oklahoma State forced another plus-territory punt to open the second half, then swiftly drove 74 yards. After Sanders was stopped for a 2-yard run a 3rd-and-4 from the Texas 11, Mike Gundy played it safe and called for another short Ammendola field goal, giving Oklahoma State its second lead of the game at 23-21.

It wouldn’t last. Texas moved 75 yards in seven plays, scoring on a 25-yard fake reverse throwback from Ehlinger to tight end Cade Brewer, putting Texas up 28-23 with 5:30 left in the third quarter.

Oklahoma State once again drove into the Texas red zone, but this time they came up empty. Sanders ran for 10 yards on a 3rd-and-11 from the Longhorns’ 13, a spot that seemed favorable to Texas and replay could not overturn. Gundy rolled the dice this time and paid for it when Hubbard was stuffed for a loss of a yard.

Texas quickly moved the ball out of the shadow of its own goal post, but on a 3rd-and-7 from his own 33 Ehlinger’s pass was tipped and intercepted by safety Kolby Harvell-Peel, who returned the ball 22 yards to the Texas 31. Given another chance to take the lead, Oklahoma State again came up empty. This time, after Sanders fired incomplete with room to run on 2nd-and-1 and Hubbard was again stuffed on 3rd-and-1, and the Pokes had been flagged for delay of game, Gundy tried a fake field goal which turned into a fumble that Texas’s Malcolm Roach recovered.

Given a second chance to step on the gas, this time Texas capitalized. A pair of Oklahoma State penalties and a 26-yard Ingram catch-and-run put Texas to the Cowboy 2, and converted quarterback Roschon Johnson punched in the score and then a 2-point conversion, putting Texas up 36-23 with 11:44 to play. The Longhorns had a real chance to put the game in a choke hold when safety Chris Brown caught a tipped interception on Oklahoma State’s next drive and returned it to the Oklahoma State 47, but the Cowboys’ defense forced a three-and-out, stuffing Ehlinger for a loss of a yard on a 3rd-and-1 keeper.

Gundy seemed to wave the white flag by punting with 3:44 remaining, but Texas muffed another punt, this time safety Brandon Jones. Hubbard, on his 37th carry of the night, streaked in for a 13-yard touchdown with 1:37 to go, and all of a sudden Oklahoma State was onside kicking with a chance to win the game. On a 3rd-and-9 with 1:24 to go, Ehlinger clinched the game with a 29-yard run, giving Texas its first win over Oklahoma State since 2008.