With Hundley sidelined, Jerry Neuheisel squeezes No. 12 UCLA past Texas


There was a moment when Charlie Strong seemed prime for his first statement at Texas. That was about how long it felt – a moment.

After taking a 17-13 lead on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Tyrone Swoopes to John Harris, Texas had the ball and the lead with four minutes remaining when Steve Edmond punctured the ball from Jordon James’ grasp and Longhorns defensive tackle Paul Boyette gathered the loose piece of pigskin. Malcolm Brown rushed for five yards on the ensuing play, but UCLA blew up the second down run, putting Brown right back where he started and setting up a low-percentage third-and-10. Swoopes threw incomplete to Harris on third down, and then Josh Turner was hit with a false start penalty, making William Russ punt from his own six yard-line.

Russ punted the ball 58 yards, and Ishmael Adams returned it 45, giving UCLA a first-and-10 two yards from the exact spot where James fumbled, and with ample time to work. The Bruins wouldn’t need it, though, as Jerry Neuheisel hit Jordan Payton for a 33-yard touchdown on the next snap, giving UCLA a 20-17 lead with three minutes to play.

Texas gained three yards in the next four plays, and that was that. Final score: No. 12 UCLA 20, Texas 17.

UCLA relied on the golden locks and famous name of Neuheisel after star quarterback Brett Hundley injured his left elbow in the first quarter. Hundley completed all four of his passes for 48 yards and added nine rushing yards before leaving the game; he did not return but was active on the sideline with his left arm in a wrap. In his absence, Neuheisel connected on 23-of-30 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns, the first two of his career. In the second half, the sophomore was 15-of-18 for 132 yards and those two scores, the first of which, to Nate Iese, quickly pulled the Bruins into a tie after a lackadaisical 10-3 first half, and then the winning score to Payton.

Swoopes played well in his second start, showing marked improvement from a week ago. He completed 24-of-34 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers. The duo of Brown and Johnathan Gray combined for 21 carries and 118 yards.

The most frustrating aspect for Strong and company, other than the late-game meltdown, was the rush defense allowing UCLA 217 yards on 47 carries. Paul Perkins raced 58 yards on the first half, erasing any momentum Texas had taken away from the locker room after grabbing a 10-3 halftime lead. Perkins finished the game with 124 yards on 26 carries.

UCLA, 3-0 with an average margin of victory of six points, is still alive as everyone’s College Football Playoff dark horse. The Bruins take next Saturday off before visiting No. 16 Arizona State on Sept. 25. Texas (1-2) takes next week off as well before opening Big 12 play at Kansas on Sept. 27.

Because of neck injury, Texas A&M RB Vernon Jackson ‘will probably never play again’

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The tumult Texas A&M has experienced in its backfield the past several months has taken yet another negative twist.

In April, Texas A&M’s Vernon Jackson posted on social media that he had “suffered a neck injury in practice… [that] could keep me from ever playing again.” Three months later, A&M would only confirm that the running back would be sidelined for the entire 2019 season because of the injury.

Wednesday night on his weekly radio show, Jimbo Fisher acknowledged that, because of the injury, “Vernon will probably never play again.” The specific nature of the neck issue has never been divulged.

According to the head coach, Jackson will remain on a medical scholarship and serve as a student coach with the football program.

“He wanted to be in coaching,” Fisher said according to the Dallas Morning News. “He’s a tremendous human being. We wanted him to be a part of our team. He’s become a student coach and learning all the things you got to be to do that.”

Jackson was a four-star member of the Aggies’ 2018 recruiting class.  As a true freshman, he appeared in 12 games, carrying the ball seven times for 49 yards.

The situation around Jackson, as well as a couple of other developments, has left the Aggies with just three healthy running backs heading into Week 4.

Starter Jashaun Corbin, who posted his first career 100-yard game in the 2019 opener, is out for the season after suffering a hamstring injury in the Week 2 loss to Clemson.  This week, Deneric Prince opted to place his name into the NCAA transfer database.

Isaiah Spiller‘s 246 yards (on just 28 carries) currently leads the Aggies.  His 8.8 yards per carry is seventh nationally among all players with at least 25 rushing attempts.

Braylon Edwards: Michigan ‘light years behind Ohio State’ right now

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There is some breaking news, y’all.

To say that Ohio State has owned the greatest rivalry in all of sports of late would be an understatement of mammoth proportions, with Michigan losing each of the last seven editions of The Game.  Taking it back further, the Buckeyes have won 14 of the last 15 and 16 of the last 18.

Throughout the offseason, and as OSU is in its first year of the post-Urban Meyer era, there’s has been many a discussion that this is the season that, finally, the Wolverines get over that Buckeye hump.  Michigan, though, has hardly looked the part thus far — they nearly lost to Army in the Big House in double overtime — while Ohio State has outscored its opponents 138-31 in starting 3-0 and still looks like the class of the Big Ten.

Enter Braylon Edwards, the former U-M receiving great who has never in the past been shy about criticizing his alma mater when he feels it’s warranted.  During a radio appearance this week, Edwards laid out his unvarnished opinion on how the Wolverines stand in comparison to their hated rivals.

“Falling [behind OSU]? We fell,” Edwards said by way of USA Today. “It’s past tense. We’re light years behind Ohio State right now.”

Edwards also had stern words for how the Wolverines approach The Game compared to the Buckeyes.

My biggest concern, if I’m being honest. Three-hundred-sixty-five days a year, [OSU is] breathing, living, hating – they can’t even say our name. They hate us so much. When they go into that game, that’s that old-school, 1960s football, Friday Night Lights in Texas – that’s the atmosphere. That’s what they bring to the table when they play us. You can feel it on them. You can almost smell the hate when you play against them.

… You approach certain teams differently. We got to start approaching that game from the standpoint that they do. I feel like when we go into that game, you’re looking at two different preparation systems.

The latest edition of The Game will be played Nov. 30 in Ann Arbor.  If U-M were to lose that game, the heat underneath Jim Harbaugh‘s seat, regardless of the record the first 11 games, will be cranked up exponentially.

Nick Saban says Alabama’s highest-rated 2019 signee has ‘basically quit’ the team

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I guess it’s time to close the books on this little mini-soap opera, at least for now.

Antonio Alfano was suspended for unspecified reasons and didn’t dress for Alabama’s Week 2 home opener against New Mexico State.  Last week, Nick Saban added a bit of mystery to Alfano’s status when he stated that the highly-touted defensive lineman has “kind of disappeared a little bit” before launching into an oral dissertation about failing to confront and learn from one’s mistakes.

On Twitter nearly a week ago, Alfano’s parents stated that, in large part because of an ailing grandmother, their son “has not attended classes or practices” for an unspecified period of time.  Against their wishes, the parents also confirmed that Alfano has entered the NCAA transfer database.

Wednesday, Saban offered up an update in which the head coach, very bluntly, stated that the defensive lineman has basically quit the team as he hasn’t shown up for football-related activities, classes or counseling for unspecified issues.  The player isn’t responding to attempts by the team to contact him, either, Saban added.

With his name in the transfer database, other schools can contact Alfano without receiving permission from Alabama.  The true freshman also, as the parents alluded to in their social media posts last week, can pull his name from the portal and remain with the Crimson Tide.

During summer camp, Alfano missed a couple of practices for what were described as personal reasons but ultimately returned to the team.  Even before the suspension, the lineman didn’t play in the season opener against Duke.

A five-star 2019 signee, Alfano was rated as the No. 1 strongside defensive end in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of New Jersey; and the No. 5 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  He was the highest-rated Crimson Tide signee during this most recent cycle.

Oklahoma State’s Blake Barron opts to enter transfer database

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Another morning, another portal post to start the day.

The latest to see a personnel loss is Oklahoma State, with Blake Barron announcing on Twitter earlier this week that he has decided to leave the OSU football program.  Said Barron, “This has been the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my life.”

“I am forever grateful for the [life-changing] opportunity that the OSU football program has provided for me,” Barron wrote, adding, “Thank you Oklahoma State for everything, I wish the university and football program nothing but the best.”

The redshirt freshman linebacker gave no specific reason for his departure, saying only that he feels it’s in his “best interest.”

While OSU has yet to publicly address Barron’s departure, his bio is no longer available of the program’s official website.

The Rockwall, Tex., native was a three-star member of the Cowboys’ 2018 recruiting class.  A knee injury Barron sustained prior to the 2018 season kicking off sidelined for the entire year.  This season, a healthy Barron hadn’t seen the field at all.