Louisville wins Keg of Nails, sends UCF to the BCS

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If this is the last Keg of Nails game for a long stretch of time, at least it is going out in style. No. 19 Louisville (11-1, 7-1 AAC) and Cincinnati (9-3, 6-2 AAC) exchanged scores in the fourth quarter, and the two rivals needed to settle the score in overtime. Louisville scored first in overtime and then held Cincinnati out of the end zone for a 31-24 victory. With the result, UCF clinched a spot in a BCS bowl game. Louisville has already accepted a spot in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando.

Louisville saw an early 10-0 lead slip away midway through the third quarter when Cincinnati quarterback Brendon Kay pushed forward just enough to pick up a short touchdown run, his second of the game, to give Cincinnati a 14-10 lead. That lead would hold in to the fourth quarter. Midway through the fourth quarter the fun got started. Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, one play after being taken down shy of a first down, worked some magic to escape would-be-tacklers to extend a 4th and 12 play for a first down and later tossed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Damian Copeland to cap a 13-play, 86-yard drive to regain the lead, 17-14. The play was a thing of beauty with Bridgewater again avoiding defenders to keep a play alive before heaving a rainbow to the right corner of the end zone for Copeland. Cincinnati wasted little time in striking back.

Kay completed a 57-yard pass to Mekale McKay to quickly enter the red zone, and one play later Ralph Abernathy rushed right up the middle for a 15-yard touchdown to take a 21-17 lead. As was the theme for the fourth quarter, this was not the end of the scoring. Bridgewater again drove Louisville’s offense down field, and he put Louisville back in front with a short touchdown pass to DeVante Parker on a play that appeared to have pass interference on both sides with no call. Up 24-21, Louisville could not hold on to the lead, with Cincinnati stretching the field in similar fashion to the way UCF defeated Louisville with a late score. This time Louisville managed to hold Cincinnati to a field goal, which led the game in to overtime tied at 24-24.

Louisville running back Dominique Brown scored a short touchdown run in the first overtime possession for a 31-24 lead, and Cincinnati’s final attempt on a fourth and long attempt fell incomplete to seal the fate of the game, and for UCF’s bowl plans.

UCF is now guaranteed the top spot in the American this season. No matter what happens at SMU on Saturday, UCF can do no worse than tie with Louisville for the conference crown. Thanks to an earlier head-to-head victory over the Cardinals, UCF wins the tiebreaker for the conference’s automatic BCS berth. UCF will play in their first BCS bowl game in bowl history.

Louisville finishes the regular season with a respectable 11-1 record but will not be in the BCS at-large conversation considering all of the teams still in front of them and the likelihood of Northern Illinois advancing to a BCS bowl game. Still, the success of the Cardinals this season will provide some momentum as they begin to shift conference affiliations from the AAC to the ACC next year. The big question left to answer for now is whether or not Bridgewater will be there or playing Sundays.

Bridgewater’s final game of the 2013 season may not have been overly impressive just by looking at the numbers, but he had his moments that make you say “wow.” Considering the shallow depth of the NFL’s quarterback class of 2014, Bridgewater could be a certain high draft pick.

Cincinnati had their shot to win a share of the conference championship, but the 10 wins achieved this season suggest this program will remain one of the top teams in the American in 2014.

Joe Burrow wins Associated Press Player of the Year in a landslide

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Come Saturday evening, when the results coming out of New York City are made official, I suspect this won’t be the first time we string the words “Joe Burrow” and “wins in a landslide” in the same sentence.

The Associated Press Thursday announced its College Football Player of the Year and, to the surprise of no one, Burrow claimed yet another piece of postseason hardware.  There were 53 media members who voted for the AP award; 50 of them cast first-place votes for Burrow, helping give the LSU quarterback a total of 156 points.

The senior, who is now viewed by some as the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, currently leads the nation in passing touchdowns with 48 and completion percentage at 77.9 percent; right now, the completion percentage would be an FBS record, surpassing the 76.7 percent put up by Texas’ Colt McCoy in 2008.  The Ohio State transfer is also second in the nation in passing yards (4,715) and passing efficiency (201.5).

Speaking of Ohio State, a pair of Buckeyes, defensive end Chase Young and quarterback Justin Fields, finished well behind Burrow in the voting.  Young, who was the only other player to receive first-place votes, totaled 29 points while Fields totaled 43.  Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts was fourth in the voting.

All four of those players mentioned, incidentally, were named as Heisman Trophy finalists earlier this week.

New USF HC Jeff Scott lands commitment from ex-South Carolina RB

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After a season away, Lavonte Valentine is back at the FBS level.

By way of his personal Twitter account Wednesday, Valentine announced that he has decided to transfer to South Florida and continue his collegiate playing career with the Bulls.  As Valentine, whose transfer from South Carolina was confirmed in August of this year, comes to USF from the NAIA level, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.

The move comes a couple of days after Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott was named as the football program’s next head coach.

Coming out of high school in Melbourne, Fla., Valentine was a three-star member of South Carolina’s 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 18 all-purpose running back in the country.  In part because of a torn ACL suffered his senior season of high school that caused him to miss spring practice and fall behind on the depth chart, Valentine took a redshirt for his true freshman season.

Valentine did, though, run track for USC this past spring, and he told The State that he will run track and play football at USF.

Eli Drinkwitz adds Charlie Harbison to first Mizzou staff

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Not surprisingly, Eli Drinkwitz‘s first coaching staff in Columbia is taking on a bit of a Boone feel to it.

Although it has yet to be confirmed, Drinkwitz is expected to add Appalachian State special teams coordinator Erik Link in the same capacity at Missouri.  What has been confirmed, though, is that Drinkwitz has brought Charlie Harbison along with him to the Tigers, a release from the football program announced.

Right now, Harbison will carry the official title of Associate Head Coach/Defense; his specific duties will be spelled out later.

“Charlie brings a wealth of experience with him to the defensive side of the football, having coached at the highest levels including the SEC and the NFL,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “He’s an outstanding man of character who knows what it means to mentor players both in football and in life.”

Harbison spent one season with Drinkwitz at App State, where he served as the Mountaineers’ cornerbacks coach.  He was also the Sun Belt school’s associated head coach.

Previously, Harbison has spent time as the defensive coordinator or co-defensive coordinator at three Power Five programs — Auburn (2013-14), Clemson (2009-12) and Mississippi State (2008).  He’s also was the cornerbacks coach at Alabama from 1998-2000.

In addition to bringing in coaches that worked on his staff at App State, he’s expected to retain at least three of Barry Odom‘s former assistants, including defensive coordinator/safeties coach Ryan Walters, defensive line coach Brick Haley, and defensive backs coach David Gibbs. Those retentions have yet to be officially announced.

Willie Taggart’s new job will offset the money Florida State owes him as part of his buyout, but not by much

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Every little bit helps, right?

Florida State’s decision to fire Willie Taggart less than two years into his contract came with a steep financial cost, with the deposed head coach being owed in the very ritzy neighborhood of $18 million. That buyout, though, would be offset by any money Taggart would make in his next job(s).

Wednesday evening, Florida Atlantic announced that Taggart had been hired as its next head football coach. As of this posting, FAU has yet to release the financial particulars of Taggart’s deal with the university.

At least a portion of that info, though, has now been made public.

 

For perspective, the man Taggart is replacing, new Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin, was paid $1.432 million in guaranteed compensation for 2019.

So, if Berkowitz’s numbers are accurate — and they normally very much are — FSU’s future obligation to Taggart would drop to just under $14 million.  So they have that going for them.  Which is nice.