Penn State QB makes history in Croke Park Classic

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Not even Kerry Collins, Todd Blackledge or Michael Robinson did what Penn State’s sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg accomplished Saturday in the Croke Park Classic against the UCF Knights.

Hackenberg is the first quarterback in Penn State history to throw for 400 yards or more in a single game as he lead the Nittany Lions to a thrilling 26-24 victory over the Knights in Dublin, Ireland.

The sophomore finished 32-of-47 passing for 454 yards. The performance was highlighted by a game-winning drive. Hackenberg was 4-of-6 passing for 47 yards during the final 1:13 of the contest to set up the winning field goal by senior kicker Sam Ficken.

During the performance, pundits were drooling over the potential which Hackenberg represents. Hackenberg forced a couple of throws which resulted in interceptions, but those poor throws didn’t take away from the fact he was the best player on the field. This was simply a great performance to build upon a resume that may result in Hackenberg becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 or 2017 NFL draft.

And Penn State capitalized on the talent it has behind center.

Once the team couldn’t establish the run early in the game, the onus fell on Hackenberg to carry the team. He was clearly able to do so. The young signal caller was able to evade pressure in the pocket, make throws on the move and manipulate UCF’s secondary to complete a beautiful 79-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Geno Lewis to give the Nittany Lions a 20-10 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Lewis finished with 173 receiving yards. Redshirt freshman DaeSean Hamilton was nearly as good with 11 receptions for 165 yards.

For UCF, head coach George O’Leary waited far too long to make a crucial change at quarterback.

Redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo started the game and struggled mightly. DiNovo was a paltry 3-of-8 passing for 18 yards in the first half. O’Leary then inserted Justin Holman into the lineup during the third quarter, and the sophomore brought instant energy to the lineup. Holman led the Knights to 21 points in the second half with 204 passing yards. He added a pair of touchdowns, one passing and one running. Holman had his team in a position to win with 1:13 remaining, but the Knights’ defense simply couldn’t hold.

Despite the outcome, the two teams learned something equally important about their quarterbacks.

Penn State quickly came to the realization it must rely heavily on Hackenberg this season as the offensive line continues to gel and the running game struggles. UCF, meanwhile, will almost certainly move forward with Holman behind center, and the Knights will be a better team for it.

Kansas suspends starting corner Corione Harris following felony arrest

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Thanks to one Kansas Jayhawks football player, it’d be time to reset the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.  If it still existed, of course.

According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Corione Harris was arrested Sunday on a pair of felony charges.  The cornerback is facing one count each of delivery of controlled substance except 35 grams or less of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoid and unlawful use of a weapon.

The specifics of what led to the arrest and charges have not yet been released.

As a result of the off-field incident, Kansas Jayhawks football head coach Les Miles confirmed that the program is aware of the charges “and have suspended him indefinitely from all team-related activities.”

This is Harris’ second brush with the law the past three months.  In October, the defensive back was arrested for failure to appear after missing a July court appearance in connection to a March speeding ticket.

A four-star member of the Jayhawks’ 2018 recruiting class, Harris was rated as the No. 27 corner in the country.  He was also the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Louisiana.  The only player rated higher than Harris in KU’s class that year was running back Pooka Williams.  Williams himself has dealt with  serious off-field issues.

The past two seasons, Harris has started 15 games for the Jayhawks.  He started six of the first nine games in 2019 before missing the last three because of a hamstring injury.

LSU confirms six-year, $42 million contract extension for Ed Orgeron

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LSU has made certain that Ed Orgeron will be rewarded for the football program’s historic 2019 campaign.

Earlier Friday, it was reported that LSU and Ed Orgeron had reached an agreement on a new deal for the head coach.  A short time ago, the school confirmed that an extended deal with Orgeron is indeed in place.

Per the school, the new six-year agreement includes a base annual salary of $6 million. In addition, Orgeron will receive a $5 million split-dollar life insurance policy payable over the first two years of the agreement. In total, the agreement is worth more than $42 million, before bonuses.

This past season, his third full year at the school, Orgeron earned $4 million in total pay.  That was tied for 28th nationally — Chad Morris, fired by Arkansas, was one of them with whom Orgeron was tied — and tied for eighth in the SEC according to the USA Today coaching salary database.

“Coach O has set a new standard at LSU,” said LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement. “He has proven that he is not only a championship coach, but also a leader of a program committed to doing things the right way. He has represented our institution and our state with great pride, on and off the field of play. He is well-deserving of this new contract, which should make clear our commitment to Coach O and the direction of our football program.”

The new deal between LSU and Ed Orgeron is pending the approval of the school’s board of supervisors.

In three-plus seasons with the Bayou Bengals — he served as interim head coach after Les Miles was fired in September of 2016 — Orgeron has gone 40-9 overall and 23-7 in SEC play.  During the run to an undefeated 2019 campaign, LSU beat seven teams ranked in the Top 10 at the time the game was played.  That’s the first time in the history of college football that’s happened.

Along the way to that perfect 15-0 season, Orgeron collected a handful of honors, including being named the SEC (HERE), Home Depot (HERE), Associated Press, Eddie Robinson (HERE) and Walter Camp Coach of the Year (HERE).

“I’m very appreciative of Scott Woodward, the LSU Board of Supervisors and the state of Louisiana,” Orgeron said. “I’m happy to represent LSU and this great state. My family and I are very grateful, and I look forward to working as hard as possible to continue to win championships at LSU.”

Vanderbilt potential landing spot for Clemson transfer QB Chase Brice

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A high-profile transfer from the Clemson football team has kicked off in earnest the process of finding a new college football home.

Jan. 16, Chase Brice announced on Twitter that he has decided to transfer out of the Clemson football program.  Almost immediately, speculation turned to USF as a potential landing spot as Jeff Scott, the former Clemson football assistant, is now the head coach of the Bulls.  Georgia was also mentioned as a possibility because it’s his home state, although that would seem highly unlikely as UGA is the new home for Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman.

Thursday, however, the quarterback confirmed to SI.com that he has “been talking with Vanderbilt.” Just how far along the discussions are with the SEC school is unclear.

In a conversation with The State earlier this week, Brice stated that there are “about five, six, seven schools that have a great opportunity for me to go in.” The names of that handful of schools weren’t detailed.

The quarterback also delved into what he’s looking for in a new school.

“The right fit for me that fits my abilities and strengths. An offense that is QB friendly. Not really worried about where it’s at at this point. I’m looking everywhere,” Brice told the newspaper. “A good coaching staff. I’ve been around a great coaching staff for three years, and I want to have the opportunity to continue that. Coaches that will put you in the best position to win, love their jobs and love coaching, enjoy coaching quarterbacks. Someone that I can really learn from and take a lot away from the next two years.”

Brice was a three-star 2017 signee for Clemson football, rated as the No. 17 pro-style quarterback in the country. He was also the No. 40 player regardless of position in the state of Georgia.

The past two seasons, Brice went 75-of-124 for 896 yards with nine touchdowns against four interceptions while adding another 179 rushing yards. He memorably saved Clemson’s 2018 national championship run, stepping in for an injured Trevor Lawrence in the game immediately following Kelly Bryant‘s midseason departure, leading the Tigers from a 23-13 fourth-quarter deficit to a 27-23 win over Syracuse.

As he will play for his next school as a graduate transfer, Brice will have two seasons of eligibility to use wherever he lands.

Report: LSU, Ed Orgeron agree to six-year, $42 million contract extension

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For Ed Orgeron and LSU, especially the former, it pays to be king.

Earlier this month, Ed Orgeron and LSU capped off the greatest season in school history, punishing Clemson in the College Football Playoff title game to claim the 2019 national championship.  It marked the school’s first national title since 2007.

Along the way to a perfect 15-0 season, Orgeron collected a handful of honors, including being named the SEC (HERE), Home Depot (HERE), Associated Press, Eddie Robinson (HERE) and Walter Camp Coach of the Year (HERE).  Friday, Ed Orgeron has been rewarded in another way by LSU as Bruce Feldman of The Athletic is reporting that the two sides have reached an agreement on a six-year contract extension worth more than $42 million.

An official announcement from the school is expected in short order.

This past season, his third full year at the school, Orgeron earned $4 million in total pay.  That was tied for 28th nationally — Chad Morris, fired by Arkansas, was one of them with whom Orgeron was tied — tied for eighth in the SEC according to the USA Today coaching salary database.

In three-plus seasons with the Bayou Bengals — he served as interim head coach after Les Miles was fired in September of 2016 — Orgeron has gone 40-9 overall and 23-7 in SEC play.  During the run to an undefeated 2019 campaign, LSU beat seven teams ranked in the Top 10 at the time the game was played.  That’s the first time in the history of college football that’s happened.

While still basking in the glow of an unprecedented season, a repeat will be difficult if not impossible.  Assistant Joe Brady, widely credited with turning LSU’s 18th-century offense into a modern-day, record-setting powerhouse, left to become the offensive coordinator for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.  Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, considered one of the best in the sport, is now the head coach at Baylor.  On top of that coaching upheaval, LSU also lost nine players to early entry into the 2020 NFL Draft.  And Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow is out of eligibility as well.