Cam Newton runs away with the Heisman

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Thanks to a sizable bloc of sanctimonious voters, it wasn’t a record-breaking night in New York City for Cam Newton, but it sure the hell was a runaway one.

As expected.  And deserved.

In one of the least surprising Heisman votes in the past (fill in number of years/decades here), the Auburn quarterback capped his brilliant on-the-field performance in 2010 by being named as the 76th winner of the Heisman Trophy.  The junior joins Bo Jackson and Pat Sullivan as the only players in school history to win the award.

“Thank you to the Auburn family,” Newton said in statements distributed by the school. “Thank you for all the support that you have given me during these trying times. I also want to give a special thanks to my teammates. Without those guys I wouldn’t be here right now getting the recognition.”

“There is no question that Cameron is highly deserving of the most prestigious honor in college football, and I am so proud of him,” said head coach Gene Chizik. “Not only has Cam been the best player in college football this year, he has also been an incredible leader for our football team. Winning the Heisman Trophy is also a tremendous honor for our entire football team, our coaches and our support staff. This is a special day for Cam and for Auburn University, and I feel blessed to be a small part of it.”

Newton’s domination in the voting matched his play in the first 13 games of the Tigers’ unbeaten season; he finished with 2263 points, 1,184 points ahead of the second-place finisher.

The fact that Newton lapped the field was far from a surprise; the only question, really, heading into the ceremony was whether or not he would break percentage records in categories like margin of victory and first-place votes.  That didn’t happen, thanks again to the 105 (out of 886) sanctimonious ones that didn’t include him on their ballots.  It was still an overwhelming win for Newton — 11th biggest margin of victory, and his point total was sixth highest — and an emotional one as well as he appeared on the verge of tears several times while making his acceptance speech.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was the order the other three finalists fell in behind Newton.  In somewhat of a mild upset, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck finished as the 2010 Heisman runner-up.  It’s the second straight year a Cardinal player finished second in the voting; running back Toby Gerhart finished No. 2 in 2009 to Alabama’s Mark Ingram in the closest vote in Heisman history.

Oregon running back LaMichael James, thought to be a near lock for No. 2, finished third in the voting, followed by Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore.

While they weren’t in New York City for the ceremony, Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, Michigan’s Denard Robinson, Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick, TCU’s Andy Dalton and Stanford’s Owen Marecic rounded out the top ten.

In the end, it wasn’t a record-breaking win for Newton, but the hardware ended up in the right set of hands.  Even all of the noise swirling around the NCAA’s investigation into his recruitment couldn’t drown out one of the most brilliant displays of football seen at the collegiate level in many a year.

Who knows whether he’ll get to keep the Heisman, but there’s little doubt that, based on the evidence available both on and off the field, he’s worthy in the here and now.

The Heisman voters got it right, but they didn’t get it as right as they could have.  Or should have.

UPDATED 10:39 p.m. ET: Here are the expanded vote totals for the top ten in this year’s Heisman race.

Iowa bar unlocks locker of free beer for Nebraska fans after first Huskers win

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Taking a page right out of the Cleveland Browns playbook, a bar in Iowa celebrated the first Nebraska win of the season by ceremoniously unlocking a case full of beer to distribute to Nebraska fans at no cost.

Barley’s, a bar in Council Bluffs, Iowa, handed out free Budweiser to Nebraska fans gathering to watch the game against the Minnesota Gophers on Saturday. The bar started the promotion in an effort to “being Iowa Nice,” as the bar is a common gathering point for Nebraska fans in the state of Iowa. Naturally, the case was full of Budweiser in bottles of red and white, Nebraska’s colors.

Bud Lite sponsored a promotion for Cleveland Browns fans that promised to hand out free beer to fans after the Browns won their first game of the season this year. Two years ago, a bar in Florida made good on a free beer promo during UCF’s dreadful 0-12 season. Leave it to Scott Frost to end one free beer promo and be a part of another.

With best start in program history, UAB is bowl-eligible for second straight year since return from being shutdown

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It was not so long ago that the UAB football program was seemingly shut down for good, but the Blazers have sure taken advantage of life after death. With their 29-21 victory over North Texas on Saturday, clinched bowl-eligibility for a second straight season after being brought back from their abbreviated hiatus.

Going further, UAB head coach Bill Clark is now three-for-three in putting together a bowl-eligible season at UAB. UAB went 6-6 in Clark’s first season on the job in 2014. UAB did not play in a bowl game, however, as the school announced the program was shutting down at the end of the regular season and no bowl trip would be taken by the program. Clark stuck with the university as it decided to bring the football program back beginning in 2017, and Clark coached the program to a record of 8-5 last season, ending with a loss in the Bahamas Bowl.

UAB is also 10-0 at home since being revived as a program. The 6-1 start is also the best start for the Blazers in program history.

UAB has never played in back-to-back bowl games in program history. The Blazers have only played in two bowl games since 1996, but they are primed to be playing in their third this bowl season.

UAB is now in first place in the Conference USA’s West Division and looking to lock down a division championship next for a chance to capture the Conference USA title for the first time in program history. Not too shabby for a program that was left on the curb just a few years ago.

Lining up first winning season since 2011, could Virginia play for ACC championship?

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In his third season at Virginia, Bronco Mendenhall has the Cavaliers surprisingly in position to play in the ACC Championship Game for the first time in program history. Considering the state of the program when he took over a few years ago, that is a solid achievement.

Virginia’s 28-14 win at Duke on Saturday improved Virginia to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the ACC. On top of that, Virginia owns head-to-head tiebreakers against Miami and Duke. The only team sitting in front of Virginia in the ACC Coastal Division is Virginia Tech. If Virginia continues to handle their business the next few weeks with home games against North Carolina and Pittsburgh, that could set the stage for a showdown in Blacksburg on the final weekend of the regular season with the Coastal Division on the line.

Virginia Tech is 3-0 in the ACC. The Hokies have a schedule that is back-loaded with home games in the second half of the year too, although that includes some potential stiff challenges from Boston College and Miami in Blacksburg on top of Virginia on the final weekend of the year. Virginia Tech must also travel to Pittsburgh, where the Panthers are a tough team to figure out on any given week. You never know what could happen against the Panthers.

The remaining schedule may look more difficult for Virginia Tech, but the benefit of only having to go on the road just once for the rest of the season could give the Hokies the advantage.

Mendenhall may still have some work to do with the Virginia program, but after going 2-10 in his first season in 2016 and 6-7 last year, Mendenhall has Virginia eyeing up its first winning season since 2011. Whether or not that includes a trip to the ACC Championship Game at the end of the year, the 2018 season is already turning out to be a step forward for the program under Mendenhall.

LSU AD Joe Alleva wants SEC to overturn targeting suspension to Devin White

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During LSU’s win over Mississippi State on Saturday, Devin White was ejected for targeting on Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. Because the ejection came in the second half of the game, White will be required to miss the first half of LSU’s next game. That next game comes up after LSU’s bye week, against Alabama. Now, LSU Athletics Director Joe Alleva is looking to get the SEC to overturn the targeting suspension to White, allowing him to play from the start of LSU’s home game against Alabama in two weeks.

According to The Advocate, Alleva contacted the SEC headquarters to discuss the suspension with league officials as early as Saturday night. Targeting penalties and ejections cannot be appealed by the league office, but that is not stopping Alleva from giving it his best shot.

Video of the play that led to the targeting penalty can be seen below. It definitely falls under the category of some of the weaker targeting calls seen in college football.

The official statement from the SEC regarding the targeting call, which of course was reviewed during the game and then upheld following the review, was “the QB on the play was defenseless at the time of the contact. By rule, all targeting calls are reviewed. The call was reviewed and confirmed.”

There is almost no shot Alleva will get his way with this call, but it will raise some worthwhile discussions about the targeting penalty as if there isn’t enough of that to go around. But don’t expect the SEC to overturn this call. Doing so would set a precedent the SEC and every other conference should look to avoid doing. At some point, college football has to live or die with its targeting rules and enforcement. But there should be an analysis done on these types of calls at the end of the year in an effort to enhance the way it is officiated throughout the country.