Florida pushed around by Louisville in Sugar Bowl

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With a 14.5 point spread, the Sugar Bowl between Florida and Louisville wasn’t projected to be all that competitive. That turned out to pretty much be the case, but it was the Cardinals, not the Gators, dominating in shocking fashion.

From the first play from scrimmage — literally, a pick-six by Louisvlle’s Terell Floyd — the Cardinals had Florida out of its comfort zone and trying to play catch-up. That’s not exactly what the Gators are designed to do and No. 22 Louisville handed a 33-23 loss to No. 4 Florida for the biggest win in program history and one of the biggest upsets in a BCS game.

The loss drops the SEC to 3-3 this bowl season with Alabama, Texas A&M and Mississippi still left to play. None of the three should be considered massive favorites to win their bowls, either.

The Gators have been known for its top-10 defense all season. It’s what’s saved them a time or four in close games. But Florida was mostly unable to stop Teddy Bridgewater, who threw for 266 yards and a pair of scores. That’s the most yardage a Florida defense has given up since Nov. 5 of last year.

Leading up to the Sugar Bowl, Florida safety Matt Elam (pictured) said Bridgewater was the best quarterback his team would face this season. Better than Georgia’s Aaron Murray. Better than Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M.  That’s high praise, but Bridgewater didn’t do anything to suggest Elam wasn’t right.

It helps that he usually had all day to throw. Louisville’s offensive line didn’t always run block well — the Cardinals continued to struggle in the run game with just 70 yards — but did they ever pass protect, and in crucial spots too. Louisville was 9-of-14 on third down conversions against the mighty Gator defense and punted just once all night. When Louisville didn’t score, it was because the Cardinals stopped themselves with a missed field goal or interception.

While Louisville and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson deserve all the credit for a solid offensive showing, Florida’s defense deserves at least a little of the blame for being off. Florida was college football’s only defense from a BCS conference that hadn’t allowed a touchdown pass of 15 yards or longer all season, yet Bridgewater’s scores were from 15 and 19 yards.

But Will Muschamp failed to put the defense in better situations. The offense, which has been a liability all year, had three turnovers and couldn’t do much outside of picking apart a prevent defense. A failed onside kick with two personal foul penalties tacked on gave Louisville the ball at the Gators 19-yard line to start the second half. Bridgewater tossed a touchdown pass to Damian Copeland on the next play.

Speaking of penalties, Florida had a lot of ’em — nine for 98 yards to be exact. It was an all around bad night for a team that had the most impressive body of work this season. To end it a sour note against a team that will be getting a lot of preseason hype in 2013 will have Muschamp looking for answers this spring, especially on offense.

A&M AD Scott Woodward officially named to same post at LSU

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The beloved Ed Orgeron notwithstanding, you can officially fire up the Jimbo-back-to-the-bayou rumor mill.

Wednesday evening, LSU confirmed that Joe Alleva would be “transitioning” from his role as athletic director to that of special assistant to the president for donor relations.  Almost immediately, speculation centered on Texas A&M’s Scott Woodward as a potential, or even likely, replacement; Thursday morning, the university announced that Woodward would indeed succeed Alleva as athletic director.

“We are happy to welcome a fellow Tiger back home,” said LSU president F. King Alexander in a statement. “Scott brings a strong track record of winning championships, graduating student-athletes and building an infrastructure for future achievement. His leadership will take us into a new era for Tiger Athletics.”

Woodward graduated from LSU and served as director of external affairs at his alma mater from 2000-04, a tenure that in part coincided with Jimbo Fisher‘s seven-year run as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the football Tigers.  In December of 2017, Woodward hired Fisher as the Aggies’ head football coach.

The most interesting aspect fo the Woodward-Fisher dynamic? Fisher’s contract with A&M contains no buyout, which means he could leave College Station for another job and not owe a single copper Lincoln to the university.

Woodward, who spent the past four years at A&M, will be formally introduced at a press conference next Tuesday.

“Returning home to the LSU family to lead the department of athletics is incredibly humbling and exciting,” Woodward said. “The state university has been a part of my life for more than five decades, and I know – and I embrace – the high expectations of Tiger Nation. We will win championships and we will do it the right way, representing LSU with pride and dignity every step of the way. I want to thank President Alexander for the opportunity of a lifetime and I cannot wait to get started. Geaux Tigers!”

 

Texas Tech adds two more grad transfers

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It’s been a busy last few days, both incoming and outgoing, for Texas Tech and new head football coach Matt Wells on the transfer front.

Tuesday, quarterback McLane Carter announced that he has decided to take his leave of Lubbock and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere.  The same day, however, Tech confirmed the addition of Penn State graduate transfer defensive back Zech McPhearson.

A day later, the roster Christmas continued for Wells as Tech announced that they have added two more graduate transfers — linebacker Evan Rambo of Cal and running back Armand Shyne of Utah.  As is the case with McPhearson, Rambo and Shyne will be eligible to play immediately in 2019.

McPhearson will have two years of eligibility remaining counting this season, Shyne one.  If Rambo’s appeal to the NCAA for a sixth season is successful — he missed all but four games in 2016 because of a season-ending injury before missing all of 2017 with an injury sustained in the spring — he’ll have two as well.

This past season, Shyne’s 513 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the ground were both second on the Utes.  Shyne will finish his time in Salt Lake City with 885 yards and nine touchdowns on 198 carries.

Rambo played in 22 games during his stint with the Golden Bears, starting five of those contests.

WR Brandon Benson tweets decision to transfer from SMU

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Back in January, it was reported that Brandon Benson had become one of the myriad players to place their names into the NCAA transfer database this offseason, signaling a potential move on from SMU. A couple of months later, the wide receiver has made the divorce official.

Utilizing his personal Twitter account, Benson announced in a tweet that, “after praying and talking to my family, I have decided to transfer from SMU to continue my football and academic careers.”

A three-star 2016 signee, only two members of the Mustangs’ class that year were rated higher than Benson. Despite that pedigree, Benson played in just 10 games (one start) in his three seasons with the AAC school, catching one pass for 72 yards and a touchdown. That scoring play came as a redshirt freshman in 2017 against FCS Stephen F. Austin.

Syracuse and Pitt add future home-and-home games with Western Michigan

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Any time a MAC program can land a home-and-home deal with a program from a power conference is considered a nice victory. To be able to land two is even better.

Western Michigan has done just that with the addition of two home-and-home series with ACC members Syracuse and Pittsburgh. The addition of two games with Syracuse is a continuation of a current arrangement between the two schools while the games with Pitt are new to the schedule.

Western Michigan will host Syracuse on September 26, 2020 and the Broncos will pay a visit to the Orange on September 9, 2023. Pittsburgh will host the MAC program on September 18, 2021 and the Panthers will visit Western Michigan on September 17, 2022.

As members of the ACC, both Syracuse and Pittsburgh are required to schedule at least one non-conference game against another power conference opponent. Western Michigan does not satisfy that scheduling requirement but each school has the requirement satisfied in the years with their Western Michigan games. Pitt is scheduled to play at Tennessee in 2021 and will host West Virginia and Tennessee in 2022. Syracuse is set to play at Rutgers in 2020 and will play at Purdue in 2023.

Western Michigan has plenty of power conference opponents on the future schedules in addition to the home-and-home deals with Syracuse and Pittsburgh, but the other games currently scheduled are all road games. Western Michigan will play at Michigan State this year (they also play at Syracuse in their original scheduling agreement). Future road games against power conference opponents include Notre Dame (2020), Michigan (2021), Michigan State (2022, 2025), Iowa (2023), Illinois (2025), and Wisconsin (2026).