Auburn picks up where it left off, cruises past Arkansas

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The last time Auburn took the pristine field at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Chris Davis carried the ball 109 yards, past the Alabama field goal unit and into the pages of history. Nine months later, Gus Malzahn and the No. 6 Auburn Tigers picked up right where they left off, cruising past Arkansas 45-21.

Jeremy Johnson earned the start for a double-secret suspended Nick Marshall and could not have started hotter, guiding Auburn on touchdown drives of 75, 75 and 98 to open the game. The sophomore hit his first eight throws for 204 yards and two touchdowns, the first of which came on the same extended play-action that tied the Alabama game, carrying Melvin Ray 49 yards into the same end zone where Ricardo Louis stunned Georgia and where the Tigers scored the tying and winning touchdowns against Alabama. Johnson played the entire first half and did all of his damage through the air, hitting 13-of-17 passes for 243 yards and those two scores.

Marshall played the second half and got the familiar Malzahn-patented running game going. In addition to his own 19-yard scoring dash to open the second half, Marshall’s presence gave Auburn’s running backs space to do their best Tre Mason impressions. Cameron Artis-Payne rushed 26 for 178 yards and one touchdown, and Corey Grant added 10 carries for 87 yards and another score.

Arkansas matched Auburn score for score early. With an offensive line that the SEC Network broadcast noted as the fourth-largest in all of football, the Razorbacks pummeled the Auburn front for 151 yards on seven yards a pop in forging a 21-21 halftime deadlock, but defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson’s unit dominated the second half. Every second half Arkansas possession traveled 20 yards or less and ended in a punt, except for the one Jermaine Whitehead ended with a 33-yard pick six that effectively shut down any chance of an upset.

After rushing for those 151 first-half yards, Arkansas was nearly doubled up on the ground, 302-153. That means Arkansas rushed for two yards in the second half.

The second half was fractured by a one hour, 28 minute weather delay. And, in the ultimate act of vengeance by the football gods, after years debate over the hurry-up no-huddle and debates about “what we want football to be” that saw Bret Bielema and Malzahn taking polar opposite sides, the Jordan-Hare Stadium clocks were inoperable for the entire first half.

Mizzou’s Tre Williams still facing felony domestic violence charge

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Over the weekend, Missouri’s Tre Williams was arrested at his off-campus apartment for suspicion of second-degree domestic assault following an incident involving a woman with whom he was having “an intimate relationship.”  Tuesday, the assistant prosecuting attorney of Boone County (MO), Susan Boresi, told multiple media outlets that the charge, a Class D felony, would not be filed against the defensive lineman.

“Additional information came forward that made it impossible to prosecute the case,” Boresi was quoted as saying.

Wednesday night, however, Boresi’s boss, Boone County prosecuting attorney Dan Knight, confirmed in a statement that Williams is still facing a felony domestic violence charge.

“The case involving Tre Williams has not been dismissed,” Knight said. “Because this is a pending case, no further comment will be made by this office at this time. Please refer to (Case.Net) for any updates. A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch offered up the details of the events leading up to Williams’ arrest:

Williams, 21, was arrested after a verbal argument turned physical early Sunday morning, Columbia Police Department spokesman Jeff Pitts said. Around 1:45 a.m., officers responded to a report of a physical altercation along South Providence Road. The alleged victim, described as an ex-girlfriend by Williams’ mother, Teresa Crews, told police there was a verbal argument with Williams while the victim was driving. Williams became physically aggressive with her in the vehicle, Pitts said. Officers observed physical evidence that supported the claim that the victim gave.

According to the police’s probable cause statement… Williams grabbed the woman’s steering wheel while she was driving to get her to pull over. He also hit her with his forearm and elbow and slapped her on the chest, according to the statement. The woman threw Williams’ phone out the window and when Williams later exited the car, he reached into the driver’s open window and choked the woman with both hands. She then rolled up the window and drove off.

Because Williams was arrested on a felony charge, he was automatically suspended by the football program.

A redshirt sophomore, Williams began the 2018 season as a starting defensive end for the Tigers before losing the job over the last half of the year. Williams’ 2½ sacks are still good for third on the team.

Four-star 2015 lineman Richie Petitbon to transfer from Alabama

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Regardless of the number of stars attached to a name or the recruiting pedigree, sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to.

Case in point: Richie Petitbon.  The touted offensive lineman came to Alabama as a four-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2015 recruiting class.  Three years later, al.com is reporting, and 247Sports.com is confirming, that the offensive lineman has decided to transfer from Nick Saban‘s football program.

Petitbon is on schedule to graduate from UA this coming May.  If that projected course holds, Petitbon would be able to use his final season of eligibility at another FBS school in 2019.

Coming out of high school in Washington D.C., Petitbon was rated as the No. 5 guard in the country and the No. 62 player overall on 247Sports.com’s composite board.  Only one offensive lineman, fellow guard Lester Cotton, was rated higher than Petitbon in a Tide recruiting class that was the top-ranked class in that cycle.

Injuries cost Petitbon early as, after redshirting his true freshman season, he suffered a torn ACL that kept him out of all but one game in 2016.  He played in three games the following season and then six this year.  His appearances in 2017 came at guard, the ones in 2018 at offensive tackle.

Marquise Brown’s status for Oklahoma-Alabama? ‘Not a definite no, not a definite yes’

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If Oklahoma is to knock off top-ranked and heavily favored Alabama, they’ll need all healthy hands on deck.  Whether that will be the case on the offensive side of the ball remains to be seen.

Marquise Brown went down with an unspecified injury to his lower left leg in the Big 12 championship game win over Texas that pushed OU into the College Football Playoff semifinals. The fourth-quarter injury sidelined Brown for the remainder of the game and saw him leaving the stadium wearing a walking boot.

With a date against the Crimson Tide in the Orange Bowl looming in just over two weeks, the wide receiver’s availability for the Sooners is officially up in the air.

“Still too early,” head coach Lincoln Riley said Wednesday when asked about Brown’s status for the game. “Working through it. It’s not a definite no, not a definite yes. We’re hopeful, but he hasn’t done much to this point.”

Brown currently leads the Sooners in receptions (75) and receiving yards (1,318).  His 10 receiving touchdowns are tied for the team lead.

It’s widely assumed by most that Brown will leave his remaining eligibility on the table and make himself available for the 2019 NFL Draft whenever the Sooners’ season ends.

Despite retiring, K-State giving Bill Snyder his $3 million ‘buyout’

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This is, well, interesting.

In August of this year, Bill Snyder and Kansas State reached agreement on a contract extension that would’ve kept the 78-year-old head coach in Manhattan through the 2022 season.  That new deal called for Snyder to be paid $3 million in the form of a buyout should he be fired without cause.

Fast-forward four months and, for the second time, Snyder announced his retirement from the Wildcats earlier in December.  Wednesday night, K-State athletic director Gene Taylor confirmed to the Wichita Eagle‘s Kellis Robinett that the university will pay Snyder the entire $3 million even as the coach was not contractually obligated to receive it as he retired and wasn’t fired.

The $3 million, to which Snyder agreed to accept, will be paid out over the course of the next three years.

“The buyout is just something I wanted to do,” Taylor told Robinett. “I think he deserved it for everything he has done. …

“[H]e deserves every penny for what he has done for this program. I am happy to do it.”

Taylor is certainly correct when it comes to all that Snyder has done for the football program.

Of K-State’s 21 bowl appearances in its 123-year history, 19 have come with Snyder as head coach. In the 27 seasons in which Snyder served as head coach, the Wildcats won 215 games; in the other 96 seasons, the Wildcats have won 316. Or, put another way:

  • Winning percentage with Snyder: .647
  • Winning percentage without Snyder: .379

In addition to the $3 million buyout that Taylor said “really isn’t a buyout,” Snyder will also be paid, as detailed in the August contract extension, $225,000 annually as a special ambassador to the university.

“We don’t know yet exactly what his ambassador role to the university will be,” Taylor said. “It is probably going to be a little bit in athletics and a lot in his leadership studies and then anything else from a donor perspective.”