Stanford looks for revenge against Notre Dame

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Whatever shot Stanford had to make the 2012 BCS title game ended on the goal line at Notre Dame Stadium in mid-October of last fall.

The Irish defensive line stuffed Stanford on four-straight run plays from inside the four-yard line — the last one thanks to a controversial call by the refs — to secure a 20-13 overtime victory. Notre Dame would go on to an undefeated regular season and a berth in the BCS title game against Alabama.

The No. 8 Cardinal (9-2) have a chance to avenge that loss on Saturday when it hosts the No. 25 Irish (8-3) at Stanford Stadium.

This year’s game should look a lot like last year’s: Two physical teams playing smash mouth football and doing just enough in the air to keep the other honest. But this year the overall edge has to go to the Cardinal. Sophomore quarterback Kevin Hogan has had a solid season with 2,057 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions and the Stanford run game has been tough to stop thanks to Tyler Gaffney’s 1,304 yards and 16 scores. Stanford doesn’t do anything fancy. It lines up its massive offensive line — sometimes using two or three extra linemen — and runs right at you. The Cardinal defense is among the best in the country, so Notre Dame’s offense is going to be challenged.

For the Irish to win, they’ll need a big game from senior quarterback Tommy Reese, who has 25 touchdown passes and 2,739 passing yards so far this season. The Notre Dame ground game has been inconsistent but Cam McDaniel (607 yards) is coming off a 117-yard effort against BYU. It will be up to the Irish defense to come up with another stout effort. They’ll have to do it without the services of massive nose guard Louis Nix, who is out for the rest of the season after having knee surgery last week.

Notre Dame has already beaten USC and Arizona State this year. It can complete its Pac-12 trifecta with an upset of Stanford. Regardless, the Irish are probably headed to the Pinstripe Bowl.

As for Stanford, it is slated for the Pac-12 title game and losing to the Irish won’t affect that. But that aforementioned revenge factor from last year still exists for a large group of Stanford seniors who will be playing their last regular season game. Plus, the Cardinal can notch its fourth-straight season of 10 wins or more with a victory over Notre Dame.

So there’s still plenty to play for.

Les Koenning is Les Miles’ second OC hire at Kansas

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For the second time this offseason, a Koenning has been added to a new Power Five coaching staff.  And, for the second time since taking over in Lawrence two months ago, Les Miles has hired an offensive coordinator.

Jan. 10, Troy announced that Chip Lindsey, hired by Miles as Kansas’ offensive coordinator the month before, would take over as the Sun Belt program’s head football coach and replace Neal Brown, who left to take the head job at West Virginia.  Two weeks after Lindsay’s departure, KU confirmed Tuesday that Les Koenning will take over for Lindsey as the Jayhawks’ coordinator.

Koenning, whose cousin, Vic Koenning, was named as WVU’s defensive coordinator by Brown earlier this month, spent the 2018 season as the running backs coach at Southern Miss.

“We are so excited to add an offensive coordinator with the experience of Les Koenning,” said Miles in a statement. “He has proven to be an innovative offensive mind who has great success recruiting and developing offensive skill players, particularly at the quarterback position.”

Koenning has served as the coordinator at six stops at the FBS level — UAB (2016-17), Mississippi State (2009-13), Texas A&M (2003-07), Alabama (2001-02), Houston (1999) and Duke (1998).

QB Nick Starkel taking a grad transfer out of Texas A&M

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You can add yet another name to the burgeoning free-agent quarterback pool.

Tuesday night, Nick Starkel used a tweet to announce that he has decided to transfer from Texas A&M and “will explore finishing my final two years of eligibility at another program.” Starkel will graduate from A&M this June, which would make him eligible to use the first of those two years of eligibility immediately in 2019.

Starkel was the Aggies’ starter to open the 2017 season, but suffered a broken ankle in that game that sidelined him for nearly two months.  It turned out to not be a season-ending injury as Starkel returned to start the last four games of Kevin Sumlin‘s final season in College Station, a late-season stint that included a career-high 499-yard effort in a Belk Bowl loss to Wake Forest.

Entering the 2018 offseason as the incumbent, but with a new head coach in Jimbo Fisher in place, Starkel lost the starting job to Kellen Mond and played in just five games this past season — the first four of 2018 plus the bowl game.  In those appearances, the redshirt sophomore completed 15-of-22 passes for a touchdown.

The A&M portion of his playing career will end with the Texas native having totaled 1,962 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions on 138–of-227 passing.

Deion Sanders’ son, a three-star 2019 recruit, commits to South Carolina

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Barring a change of heart in the next couple of weeks, there won’t be a Primetime legacy in Tallahassee this coming season.

In October of last year, Shilo Sanders, the son of former Florida State great and College Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, received a scholarship offer from his father’s alma mater.  three months later, the elder Sanders, a 2019 prospect, announced via video that he has committed to playing his college football at South Carolina.

The defensive back’s decision to commit to the Gamecocks came not long after a second visit to Columbia.

While holding an offer from FSU, Sanders chose USC over a group of schools that included Colorado State, Nebraska and Tennessee.  He was also offered by, among others, Georgia, Oregon, Oregon State and UCF.

CSU was the only other school to which he took an official visit.

The elder Sanders is the offensive coordinator at his son Shilo’s school, Cedar Hill (Tex.) Trinity Christian High School.  Shilo’s younger brother, 2021 prospect Shedeur Sanders, is a wide receiver at the school as well.

Shilo Sanders is rated as a three-star recruit on 247Sports.com’s composite board for the 2019 cycle.

Mississippi State officially adds UConn RBs coach

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Not long after losing a position coach to an SEC West rival, Joe Moorhead turned to an area of the country familiar to him to fill his Mississippi State staff void.

Tuesday, MSU announced that Terry Richardson has been hired by Moorhead to serve as the Bulldogs’ running backs coach.  Additionally, Richardson will hold the title of assistant head coach.

Richardson will replace Charles Huff, who’s expected to move on to a job on Nick Saban‘s Alabama coaching staff.  That move has yet to be confirmed by the Crimson Tide.

“Terry has coached running backs for nearly 20 years at both the college and NFL levels,” Moorhead said in a statement. “He has a firm grasp of our offense and will maximize the potential we have in our running backs room. Having played and coached in the NFL, he understands what it takes to develop players for the next level. Terry is also a dynamic recruiter with proven experience in the South, especially in the state of Florida. We are excited to welcome someone of Terry’s caliber to the Mississippi State family.”

The past two seasons, Richardson was the running backs coach at UConn.  He’s also spent time in that position on staffs at Maryland (2015), Miami (2011-12) and again at UConn (1999-2010).  During that first stint with the Huskies, Moorhead was that team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

From 2013-14, he was the running backs for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

“This is a great opportunity to work with great people at an outstanding university in the best conference in America,” Richardson said. “I am excited to reconnect with Coach Moorhead and work with him again. He is a tremendous football coach and an even better person. We will be well-versed on all five phases of running back play, and our group will maximize our opportunities to make a major impact in winning football games.”