West Virginia beats down Clemson on way to the Big 12 (maybe)

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We’re assuming that latter portion of the headline holds up the way West Virginia admins are insisting it will.

The first half, though, held true and No. 23 West Virginia shattered just about every Orange Bowl and BCS record that has ever existed as part of their 70-33 beat down of No. 14 Clemson.

Geno Smith‘s 6 passing touchdowns — four of which were little flips on fly sweeps that count as passes — and 401 passing yards broke Orange Bowl records. Smith’s six TD’s also tied an all-bowl record. Tavon Austin‘s four receiving touchdowns — again, three of which were those little direct flips from Smith — were also an Orange Bowl record.

West Virginia’s 70 points were an all-bowl record, beating out Baylor’s Alamo Bowl win just last week.

Not bad for a team many didn’t think should have been in the BCS — myself included.

But the Mountaineers didn’t make it look that easy at first. WVU fell behind early when Clemson running back Andre Ellington ripped off 68-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead. WVU and Clemson exchanged scores in what looked like another bowl shootout until the second quarter.

But it wasn’t until WVU safety Darwin Cook took an Ellington fumble 99 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter that the Mountaineers began to take over.

Oh yeah, that fumble recovery for a touchdown was a record too.

Then, quarterback Tajh Boyd committed two lethal turnovers deep in his team’s own territory that led to two more WVU touchdowns. The Mountaineers scored 35 second-quarter touchdowns and took a 49-20 lead into the half.  But it was that Cook fumble recovery for a touchdown that set the tone; the Mountaineers outscored Clemson (10-4) 42-17 after that moment.

WVU didn’t cut the Tigers any slack in the second half and rolled into Year 2 of the Dana Holgorsen era — and the Big 12, barring legal holdups — with style.

I’d say Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas is happy right now.

The Mountaineers will have Smith and a solid group of receivers back next year. Combine that with a 10-win season and a spanking of a Top 15 opponent on national TV, and WVU has a one-way ticket to a ton of preseaon kudos in 2012.

Shoot, they may not need a defensive coordinator like Jeff Casteel, who, it should be noted, did as good of a job of slowing  All-Americans Sammy Watkins and Dwayne Allen as anybody this season.

It could be a matter of days before Casteel moves on to Arizona with former WVU coach Rich Rodriguez as he’s been rumored to do. If he does, WVU has lost one of the best DC’s in the business.

Not that defense is much of priority in the Big 12 anyway.

If WVU does begin Big 12 play next season like they think they will, they’ll take with them the resume as one of only a handful of college football programs to win the Sugar, Fiesta and Orange Bowls.

Dino Babers signs ‘long-term’ extension at Syracuse

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Dino Babers has inked a contract extension that will keep him at Syracuse “well into the future.”

“A little over three years ago, I arrived at Syracuse University inspired by the great opportunity to coach at an institution with such a rich football legacy, hungry student-athletes, good facilities and a storied tradition of academic distinction,” Babers said in a statement. “It was a true honor to have accepted the head coach position then and I consider it a privilege today to be able to extend my time coaching at Syracuse. I am grateful to have the support, faith and trust of University leaders, the Orange community, our student-athletes and our fans. I am excited about what the future holds for Syracuse Football and look forward to our continued improvement and growth.”

As a private school, Syracuse is not obligated to share the terms of the contract — or, more importantly, the buyout.

Babers made $2.4 million in 2018 according to the USA Today coaching salary database, which ranked 55th nationally.

After going 4-8 in each of his two seasons, Babers bounced upward to 9-3 in 2018. The No. 20 Orange will face No. 16 West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl on Dec. 28. A win there gives Syracuse its first 10-win season since 2001.

In seven seasons as a head coach, Babers carries an overall record of 54-35. He went 19-7 in two seasons at Eastern Illinois and 18-9 in two seasons at Bowling Green. ‘

“Dino has led an exhilarating resurgence of the football tradition at Syracuse University,” AD John Wildhack said. “On the field and off the field, Dino has demonstrated his deep commitment to our football program, our student-athletes, our communities and our fans. Not only is he an incredible leader, coach and mentor with great integrity and heart, he is also a tremendous ambassador for Syracuse University and the broader Central New York community.”

Ohio State fires back at Michigan DE Chase Winovich for calling 62-39 loss a ‘mirage’

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If Chase Winovich and Breckyn Hager happen to run into each other at any point during the 2019 NFL Draft process, the two will have a lot to talk about. Both players are defensive ends. Both are known for the long blond locks that flow out of the backs of their helmets. Both are not afraid to run their mouths, and because of those last two items, both are players their rivals love to hate.

Hager, who famously refused to cut his hair until Texas won a Big 12 championship, famously proclaimed that Oklahoma “sucks” and “has no defense” before being forced to apologize by the Big 12. Squaring off against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game with a chance to cut his hair in the face of a bitter rival, Hager recorded one solo tackle in a 39-27 loss. He since deleted his Twitter account.

That brings us to Winovich.

The Michigan defensive end famously proclaimed the Wolverines were on a revenge tour and called Michigan State “little brother” after the maize and blue beat the green and white for the third time in 11 years in October.

Heading into the ultimate game on Michigan’s revenge tour, the Wolverines… flopped. Ohio State rolled up 567 yards on Michigan’s top-ranked defense in a 62-39 blowout.

Winovich’s response to that loss? Rather than follow the lead of his doppleganger, he went in the other direction.

“I would say to any recruit or any potential guy who sees what happened in the Ohio State game and is persuaded against coming to Michigan because of that, I would say that alone is a mirage,” Winovich said following Michigan’s team awards ceremony on Sunday, via the Detroit Free Press. “And you should not be fooled. What we’ve built here and what we’ll continue to build is a powerhouse. That’s the Michigan I’m leaving. A Michigan that’s competitive in its trajectory.

“The sky’s the limit.”

Much like Hager, Winovich believes in himself and his team, sometimes too much. Like when he gives Ohio State the fodder to create this.

Aren’t rivalries healthy and constructive?

Report: Manny Diaz in line to be Temple head coach

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The four men that revived and then carried Temple football through this decade have all been first-time head coaches. It seems like we’re close to making it five-for-five.

Yahoo‘s Pete Thamel reported on Tuesday that Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is close to becoming the next head coach with Temple. His report was since followed with confirmations from a number of other outlets.

In his third season with the Hurricanes, Diaz has successfully revived his stock after he was fired mid-season at Texas in 2013. Amid a disappointing 7-5 season that began with a top-10 ranking, Diaz’s defense ranks No. 2 nationally in total defense and in or around the top 15 in every major statistical category. Prior to this season, Diaz’s defense led the way as Miami won its first 10 games and rose to No. 2 in the College Football Playoff poll in November.

In addition to Miami and Texas, the 44-year-old has also coordinated defenses for Mississippi State, Middle Tennessee and Louisiana Tech.

The Temple job has become an attractive one for coaches, as first-timers have proven they can go to Philadelphia, win for a couple years and then move on to a Power 5 job. That’s what Al Golden did (to Miami). And Steve Addazio (Boston College), Matt Rhule (Baylor) and Geoff Collins, who got the Georgia Tech job after going 15-10 in two seasons.

In fact, one has to wonder if the Machiavellian play for Diaz, a Miami native and the son of a former Miami mayor of the same name, is to take the Temple job, watch the Mark Richt regime implode from afar without him around to run the defense, and then return as head coach in 2020 or 2021.

Devin Singletary motors from FAU into NFL draft pool

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For the second time today, a highly-productive running back has decided to ply his wares in the NFL.

Via Twitter, Devin Singletary announced that, as expected, he will be leaving Florida Atlantic early in order to enter his name into the 2019 NFL Draft pool. “I hope I left a lasting impression on The University, football program, and the entire community,” Singletary wrote.

Singletary has rushed for 1,000-plus yards in each of the last three seasons, including a career-high 1,920 in 2017.  He’s also been an absolute scoring machine, totaling 66 rushing touchdowns in his career.

Those touchdowns, 54 of which came the past two years, put Singletary sixth on the NCAA’s all-time list in that category.