Louisiana-Lafayette hangs on to beat Tulane in New Orleans Bowl

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Hunter Stover’s 27-yard field goal was the difference in Louisiana-Lafayette’s 24-21 wild victory over Tulane in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday night.

The Ragin’ Cajuns (9-4) got off to a great start and, for a while, looked like they were going to blow out the Green Wave (7-6). Quarterback Terrance Broadway and running backs Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris were sharp in the early going and, when Corey Trim turned a Nick Montana pass into an 82 yard interception for a touchdown early in the second quarter, ULL had a 21-0 lead.

But Tulane, playing in its first bowl game since 2002, didn’t give up.

Devin Powell relieved Montana and promptly led the Green Wave on two second-quarter touchdown drives (both finished off by short Orleans Darkwa scoring plunges) to cut the lead to seven. Tulane went into the half with momentum on its side.

Neither team got much going in the third quarter. Then Derrick Strozier picked off a Broadway pass and returned it to the ULL 17-yard line. After a false start, Darkwa went 22 yards for his third touchdown and the game was all tied up.

The game then turned into a field position battle. ULL gained the advantage by pinning Tulane on its own 3 yard line. Then Powell threw a horrible deep pass that was intercepted by Sean Thomas at the Green Wave 28 and returned to the 13-yard line. Tulane forced Stover’s field goal and the Rajin’ Cajuns regained the lead.

After the two teams traded punts, Tulane got the ball back on its own five-yard line with 1:35 to play. Powell made an extraordinary play on third down, avoiding the rush before hitting Justyn Shackleford for 34 yards and a first down on the Green Wave 39. A 27-yard pass to Ryan Grant set Tulane up at the ULL 34-yard line. With 2012 Groza Award winner Cairo Santos warming up, it looked like we’d be heading to overtime.

Santos lined up for a 48-yard field goal with 12 seconds to play. He reportedly made a 61-yarder in pre-game warmups, but he hooked this one slightly to the left and the Ragin’ Cajuns came away with the dramatic win.

It was a disappointing ending to Tulane’s season, but the Green Wave have to be excited about the direction of their program under first-year coach Curtis Johnson. A new on-campus stadium is in the works and, if they can keep Johnson around for a few years, bowls should become a regular occurrence.

The Rajin’ Cajuns now have three bowl victories in a row and their third-straight 9-4 season under coach Mark Hudspeth. With Broadway and the talented McGuire (48 rush yards, 91 receiving yards) coming back next season, this team is a candidate to finally hit that 10-win mark.

And so ends the first day of Bowl Season. If today is any indication, we’re in for a heckuva ride.

JUCO next step for LSU transfer Dominic Livingston

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When Dominic Livingston announced in mid-February that he would be transferring from LSU, the defensive tackle indicated that the move was being made so as to be closer to his home in Texas because of unspecified family issues.  Monday, Livingston followed through on that plan of attack.

Speaking to 247Sports.com, Livingston confirmed that his collegiate playing career will continue at Kilgore College.  A community college in Kilgore, Texas, Livingston’s new college football home is roughly 200 miles from his hometown of Houston; his old home of Baton Rouge is roughly 270 miles from that same hometown.

Not surprisingly, Kilgore told the same website that he “will play a semester at Kilgore and go from there,” an obvious indication that he expects to be back at the FBS level in 2020.

If that is indeed the case, Kilgore would have three years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2020 season.

A three-star member of the Tigers’ 2018 recruiting class, Livingston was rated as the No. 38 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 74 player at any position in the state of Texas.  As a true freshman, Livingston appeared in exactly one more game than I did.

Illini DE who suffered severe spinal injury speaking, eating and sitting up

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There is some positive news when it comes to a distressing situation that developed over the weekend.

Illinois true junior defensive end Bobby Roundtree sustained what was described as a severe spinal cord injury in a swimming accident Saturday and underwent surgery a day later.  According to the Associated Press, Roundtree is progressing well following the surgery and, while he remains hospitalized, is speaking, eating and sitting up.

Several members of the Illini football program, including Lovie Smith, traveled to Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, Fla., to be with the injured player.

“Bobby Roundtree is exactly what you want in a student-athlete,” a statement from the head coach began. “He is a hard worker, dependable, a dedicated student and a leader.

“This is devastating to his teammates, the entire Fighting Illini family and his family and friends. We will give Bobby all the support possible as he battles through his recovery. Please keep Bobby and his family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Roundtree, who played his high school football in Largo, Fla., has started 20 games the past two seasons since coming to the Illini as a three-star member of their 2017 recruiting class.  This past season, the 6-5, 245-pound end led the Illini in tackles for loss with 12.5 and pass breakups, and was second in sacks with 7.5 and quarterback hits with four.

For that, the media named Roundtree honorable mention All-Big Ten for the 2018 season.

Iowa State officially adds Arkansas’ leading receiver

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Matt Campbell has officially added an experienced and productive piece to his Iowa State passing attack.

La'Michael Pettway revealed via Twitter in mid-January that he would be transferring from Arkansas; nearly four months later, he used the same social media vehicle to deliver the message that he would be continuing his collegiate playing career at Iowa State.  Monday, it was confirmed by the football program that the wide receiver has officially enrolled in classes at the university.

As a graduate transfer, Pettway will be eligible to play immediately for the Cyclones in 2019.

“I think the biggest thing he brings is he gives a veteran presence to this receiver group,” the head coach said according to the Des Moines Register. “[T]he opportunity to get a guy that’s done it at a very high level against really high-end competition can just add some veteran-ness to a group where there’s a lot of youth.”

This past season, Pettway led the Razorbacks in receiving yards with 499 and receptions with 30.  His four receiving touchdowns were good for second on the team.

Prior to 2018, Pettway had totaled 102 yards and a touchdown on seven catches.

NFL Network to air 10 Conference USA games each fall

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The NFL Network and Conference USA struck a deal that will see the league air 10 C-USA games, starting this fall.

“While exploring new media options for football, NFL Network stood out as an excellent opportunity for national exposure,” C-USA commissioner Judy MacLeod said. “We look forward to showcasing our conference through their tremendous platform and reach.”

The contract runs for four years, and will see NFL Network air one game a week for 10 weeks.

“We are excited to showcase the next generation of NFL athletes to our fans on a weekly basis,” said Hans Schroeder, Chief Operating Officer of NFL Media. “Our fans crave live football, and partnering with Conference USA – a conference which boasts several Hall of Fame players – provides us with an excellent opportunity to do so.”

Specific game announcements will be named at a later date. It’s an important move for C-USA, who has seen more and more of its games moved off of TV and onto streaming platforms, such as ESPN Plus, Stadium and Facebook. The league also has a TV deal with CBS Sports Network.