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

7 Comments

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.

Central Michigan loses one of its highest-rated 2018 signees to the transfer portal

Central Michigan football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

One of the highest-rated signees for Central Michigan football a couple of years ago is leaving the MAC program.  Or, at least, he is exploring the option of doing as much.

According to 247Sports.com, George Pearson is listed in the NCAA transfer database.  That would be the first step in the redshirt sophomore quarterback’s potential departure from the Central Michigan football team.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Pearson was a three-star member of the Central Michigan football Class of 2018.  Only one offensive signee in that cycle for CMU, wide receiver Keonta Nixon, was rated higher than the New Jersey product.  As a true freshman, Pearson completed 12 of his 24 passes for 94 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Pearson didn’t play a down for the Chips in 2019.

In 2018, Central Michigan lost a school-record 11 games.  In Jim McElwain‘s first season in 2019, CMU won went 8-6.  Included in the losses was a New Mexico Bowl beatdown at the hands of San Diego State.

Ole Miss pulls in second transfer from a university in Canada

Ole Miss football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

From Oh Canada to Ole Miss football?  I’m thinking one recruit might be in for a little culture shock.  Actually, make that two.

Last month, a Canadian college football player, the University of Guelph’s Tavius Robinson, committed to Ole Miss football.  On Twitter Wednesday, Deane Leonard did the same. The cornerback comes to the SEC school from the University of Calgary.

“First off I’d like to thank my friends, family, and coaches that have supported me through this process,” Leonard wrote. “I can’t thank each and every one of you enough for all that you’ve done for me over the years. Love you guys!

“With the cancellation of the USports season I’ve decided it’s in my best interest to look at my options down south.

“With that being said, I’ll be transferring to Ole Miss to complete my collegiate career.”

During his time at That Country Up North, Leonard appeared in 23 games.  In that action, the defensive back was credited with 47 tackles, 19 passes defensed, six interceptions, two forced fumbles, one tackle for loss, one sack and one block.  He also returned five kicks for 124 yards (24.8 average) and 19 punts for 195 yards (10.3 avg.).  One of those punts was returned for a touchdown.

Both Leonard and Robinson are expected to be immediately eligible for new head coach Lane Kiffin and the Rebels.

SEC commish issues statement in wake of Big Ten’s seismic announcement

SEC football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

It didn’t take long for the most powerful man in SEC football country to respond to what the B1G wrought.

As you may have heard, the Big Ten confirmed Thursday afternoon that it will be going with a conference-only football schedule for the 2020 season.  That was the first significant Power Five domino to tip, but it certainly won’t be the last.  In the coming days, or perhaps next week, the ACC and Pac-12 are expected to make a similar announcement.  The Big 12 and SEC, though, are widely expected to kick that football scheduling can down the road a bit longer, perhaps as late as the end of July.

Not long after the B1G announcement, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement addressing just where his conference is at decison-wise.

The Southeastern Conference will continue to meet regularly with our campus leaders in the coming weeks, guided by medical advisors, to make the important decisions necessary to determine the best path forward related to SE Fall sports.  We recognize the challenges ahead and know the well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans must remain at the forefront of those decisions.

Again, it’s expected that the SEC will make a decision on the football path it will take later this month.  Barring unforeseen circumstances pushing up that timeline, of course.

Big Ten commish, Ohio State AD decidedly pessimistic on B1G having a 2020 college football season

Big Ten
Getty Images
5 Comments

The Big Ten toppled the first significant domino earlier in the day.  Now, two of the most powerful men in the conference are expounding on the development.  And, if you’re a fan of the sport, you might want to close your eyes when reading the next few paragraphs.  Or take several shots of an adult beverage before proceeding.

Thursday afternoon, the Big Ten confirmed reports that it will be going with a conference-only football schedule for the 2020 season.  All other fall sports are impacted in the same way.

In television appearances following the announcement, the B1G’s commissioner didn’t put a positive spin on football’s immediate future.

“One thing we have to realize is that this is not a fait accompli that we’re going to have sports in the fall,” Kevin Warren flatly stated. “We may not have sports in the fall, we may not have a college football season in the Big Ten. …

“We made a vow early on that, first and foremost, we would put the health, the safety and the wellness of our student-athletes at the center of all of our decisions.

Gene Smith was equally pessimistic.

“I can’t reiterate enough the fact that we might not play,” the Ohio State athletic director said in discussing football in 2020. “We just might not, and I think people need to understand that.”

It’s expected that other Power Five conferences will follow the lead of the Big Ten.  In the coming days, both the ACC and Pac-12 will most likely announce a conference-only football schedule.  The lone exception will be the ACC including Notre Dame, which already has six games against the conference on its 2020 slate, in any revamped schedule.

The Big 12 and SEC are widely expected to kick the scheduling can down the road a bit longer, perhaps as late as the end of July.  In the end, however, both of those Power Fives are likely to come to the same scheduling conclusion.