No. 1 Florida State’s OT escape highlights a crazy Saturday

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Week 4 of the 2014 college football season offered 55 games, and exactly one of them featured a ranked team taking on a fellow ranked team. If you thought that guaranteed a dull day, well, you don’t know college football.

NO. 1 FLORIDA STATE SURVIVES CLEMSON IN OT

Florida State looked every bit like a team playing without the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, as Sean Maguire was sacked five times and threw two interceptions. The Clemson defensive line dominated, limiting the Seminoles to minus-12 rushing yards in regulation (key phrase: in regulation), as the Tigers’ own backup Deshaun Watson (296 total yards, one touchdown, no turnovers) guided the Tigers to a 17-10 fourth-quarter lead. Florida State tied it when Rashad Greene caught a 74-yard catch-and-stroll touchdown after a Clemson defender fell down, but Clemson appeared headed toward the upset after Maguire’s interception gave the Tigers the ball at the FSU 24. But Clemson fumbled on its second play, opened overtime by getting stuffed on a 4th-and-1 (did we mention kicker Ammon Lakip missed 2-of-3 field goals) and closed the night by letting Karlos Williams move the required 25 yards in two plays to give Florida State the season-saving 23-17 win.

Have fun sleeping tonight, Clemson.

BUT NO. 2 WASN’T MUCH BETTER

Marcus Mariota completed 21-of-25 passes for 329 yards and five touchdowns and added 58 rushing yards to lead No. 2 Oregon to a 38-31 win at Washington State. The rest of the Ducks’ offense? Fifteen touches for 15 yards. (All numbers approximate.) Oregon averaged an un-Duck-like 4.1 yards per carry, and allowed the Cougars to throw for 436 yards and rush for 63 more. And to top it off, it took the officials ruling this 3rd-and-13 pass  in Oregon territory on Washington State’s would-be tying drive as nothing but good, clean defense to clinch the win.

MISSISSIPPI STATE TAKES DOWN NO. 8 LSU

It’s not often you see a 34-29 decision described as a blowout, but that’s what this felt like. Mississippi State built a 34-10 lead over No. 8 LSU and outgained the Tigers by 140 yards – their 570 yards were the most LSU allowed an opponent since the pre-Nick Saban era – and generally whipped their hosts up front. But then LSU backup signal caller Brandon Harris caught fire, hitting 6-of-8 throws for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and all of a sudden a 24-point game saw LSU throwing into the end zone for a chance to win the game. It was intercepted, and Dan Mullen moved to 3-21 against ranked teams, snapping a 15-game losing streak, and Mississippi State became the first non-No. 1 ranked team to win a night game in Death Valley during the Les Miles era.

NO. 4 OKLAHOMA BEATS WEST VIRGINIA, FINDS A RUNNING BACK

America, meet freshman running back Samaje Perine. Playing for an injured Keith Ford, Perine carried 32 times for 242 yards and four touchdowns to power No. 4 Oklahoma past West Virginia, 45-33. His touchdowns pulled OU into a 17-17 tie, gave the Sooners a 31-24 lead, and then a 38-27 lead, and then put the game away at 45-27.

NO. 2 ALABAMA BLASTS FLORIDA, 42-21

You get the feeling that if Alabama didn’t turn the ball over four times, this would have had a 40-point final margin. Florida took a 14-7 lead in the middle of the first quarter thanks to two early turnovers by the Tide, but Alabama erupted from there, ending the game on a 35-7 run and absolutely blowing the Gators off the stat sheet. Blake Sims threw for 445 yards and four touchdowns, Amari Cooper caught 10 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns, and Derrick Henry added 111 rushing yards and a score, as Alabama outgained Florida 645-200. Yep, Cooper outgained the Fighting Muschamps by himself, and nearly outscored them, too.

MISSOURI LOSES TO INDIANA, UNDOES SEVEN YEARS OF SEC DOMINANCE

Missouri left the Big 12 North, and then promptly turned the SEC East into the Big 12 North. The 18th-ranked Tigers lost to Indiana at home on Saturday, 31-27, after blowing a 27-24 lead on a D’Angelo Roberts touchdown run with 22 seconds remaining. It’s never a good thing for your SEC championship chances when you allow Indiana to throw for 252 yards while also outrushing you by 69 yards, right?

SPURRIER RIPS NO. 14 SOUTH CAROLINA’S 48-34 WIN OVER VANDY

Vanderbilt – 37-7 losers to Temple earlier this year – held a 14-0 lead over No. 14 South Carolina in the first quarter, and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Steve Spurrier was quite pleased.

THINGS GET TESTY IN LINCOLN AS NO. 24 NEBRASKA WINS REUNION WITH MIAMI You have to really piss off the locals to get booed off the field in Lincoln. Or, be the Miami Hurricanes. Ameer Abdullah rushed 35 times for 229 yards and two touchdowns as the Cornhuskers rallied from a 14-7 first half deficit and never trailed in the second half, but nine Miami penalties and a general touchy-feely nature led to the ‘Canes getting booed out of the most welcoming house in college football as Nebraska won, 41-31.

OFFENDED BY MICHIGAN’S OFFENSE, MOTHER NATURE FLOODS THE BIG HOUSE It’s clear by now that Brady Hoke has no idea how to construct an offense without Denard Robinson, and it’s also abundantly clear by now that Mother Nature is tired of sitting around and waiting for the Wolverines to get it together. Michigan accumulated 4.4 yards per pass, 3.3 yards per rush and a grand total of three points in a 26-10 loss to Utah. And then this happened during the fourth quarter:

HOW’S THIS FOR A NIGHTCAP? ARIZONA BEATS CAL ON HAIL MARY California led Arizona 31-13 entering the fourth quarter. It wasn’t enough. The Wildcats launched a mad rally, but the Golden Bears’ lead appeared safe at 45-30 with five minutes remaining. The Wildcats notched two more touchdowns to pull within 45-43 after the Cal offense sputtered, but all they had to do to earn the first Pac-12 win of the Sonny Dykes era was stop a simple Hail Mary. Surely they could do that, right?

Pac-12 responds to football players threatening opt-outs

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The Pac-12 responded Monday to football players who have threaten to opt-out of the season because of concerns related to health and safety, racial injustice and economic rights with a letter touting the conference’s work in those areas and an invitation to meet later this week.

A letter from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, dated Aug. 3, was sent to 12 football players leading the #WeAreUnited movement. The letter was obtained by The Associated Press and first reported by Sports Illustrated.

The players say they have been communicating with more than 400 of their peers throughout the Pac-12. The group released a lengthy list of demands Sunday and said if they are not addressed they will not practice or play. The group said it reached out to the Pac-12 on Sunday to request a meeting. In the letter, Scott said he was eager to discuss their concerns.

“I will come back to you in the coming days following discussion with our members and student-athlete leaders to schedule a call for this week to discuss the matters that you have raised,” Scott wrote.

Also Monday night, Washington State coach Nick Rolovich said in a statemen t he regretted cautioning one of his players about being part of the #WeAreUnited movement. A recording of a conversation between Rolovich and receiver Kassidy Woods obtained by the Dallas Morning News revealed the coach seemingly warning the player that being involved with the group would hurt his standing with the team. Woods had called Rolovich to inform him he was opting out of the season for health reasons related to COVID-19.

“I spoke with Kassidy Woods in a private phone conversation last Saturday afternoon. This was before the #WeAreUnited group had released its letter of concerns,” said Rolovich, who is in his first season was Washington State coach. “Without knowing the concerns of the group, I regret that my words cautioning Kassidy have become construed as opposition. I’m proud of our players and all the Pac-12 student-athletes for using their platform, especially for matters they are passionate about. WSU football student-athletes who have expressed support for the #WeAreUnited group will continue to be welcome to all team-related activities, unless they choose to opt out for health and safety reasons.”

The #WeAreUnited players’ demands focused on four areas: health and safety protections, especially protocols related to COVID-19; guarding against the elimination of sports programs by schools during an economic downturn; ending racial injustice in college sports; and economic freedom and equity.

Scott addressed each area, highlighting the conference’s:

— Medical advisory committee working on COVID-19 protocols and webinars for student-athletes and their parents;

— Support for reforming NCAA rules regarding name, image and likeness compensation for college athletes;

— Recent initiatives to address racial inequities such as the formation of a social justice & anti-racism advisory group that includes student-athletes representatives.

Scott also listed 10 areas in which, he wrote, “The Pac-12 has been a leader in supporting student-athlete health and well-being …” Included were enhanced medical coverage post-eligibility; cost-of-attendance stipends added to the value of scholarship; mental health support; and the Pac-12′s support of reforming NCAA transfer rules to allow athletes more freedom to switch schools.

Pac-12 football teams are scheduled to begin preseason practices Aug. 17 and the league’s conference-only regular season is set to start Sept. 26.

Big 12 to allow teams to play 1 non-conference football game

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Two people involved with the decision say the Big 12 will permit its teams to play one nonconference football game this year to go along with their nine league contests as plans for the pandemic-altered season continued to fall into place.

The people spoke Monday night to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conference was still preparing an official announcement.

The Big 12 university presidents signed off on the conference’s scheduling model, which gives schools the ability to play one nonconference game at home. The conference’s championship game is scheduled for Dec. 5, but one of the people told AP that the conference is leaving open the possibility of bumping it back a week or two.

The 10-team Big 12 already plays a nine-game, round-robin conference schedule. Unlike other Power Five conference that have switched to either exclusively (Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) or mostly (ACC) league games this season, the Big 12 could not add more conference games without teams playing each other more than once.

Several Big 12 teams have already started preseason practice, with Kansas and Oklahoma slated to play FCS teams on Aug. 29.

As conferences take steps toward a football season that seems to be in precarious shape, the NCAA is expected to weigh in Tuesday on fall sports other than major-college football.

The association’s Board of Governors is scheduled to meet and whether to cancel or postpone NCAA championship events in fall sports such as soccer, volleyball and lower-division football is expected to be a topic.

Only the Pac-12 has a full football schedule with matchups and dates in place among Power Five conferences. The Pac-12 will begin Sept. 26, along with the Southeastern Conference, which is still working on its new 10-game slate.

The Atlantic Coast Conference has opponents set for its 10-game conference schedule and will start the weekend of Sept. 12, but no specific game dates. The ACC has also said it will permit its teams to play one nonconference game.

The Big Ten, first to announce intentions to go conference-only this season, has yet to release a new schedule, but that could come later this week.

Now that the Power Five has declared its intentions the Group of Five conferences can start making plans and filling holes on their schedules.

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco has said the AAC could stick with its eight-game conference schedule and let its members plays as many of their four nonconference games as they can salvage or replace.

The Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt conferences are likely to take similar approach.

Early Monday, Texas State from the Sun Belt announced it was moving a nonconference game against SMU up from Sept. 5 to Aug. 29.

Good morning and, in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening and good night! CFT, out…

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CFT is no more. At least, when it comes to NBC Sports.

The first of last month, I — this is John Taylor (pictured, catching the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XXIII) — began my 12th year with CFT and NBC Sports. This morning, I was informed that my position was being eliminated and I would not be completing that 12th year. Which, of course, meant I wouldn’t be eligible for the traditional 13th-anniversary gift of lace. Which really bummed me out. Because I really like lace.

The jarring phone call was both a slap in the face and a relief. Jarring because, well, it was completely unexpected. Out of the blue, even amidst the pandemic that is wreaking absolute and utter havoc across the country. A relief, on the other hand, because, every single day for the past four months, I woke up wondering if this would be the day I get that call.

Would this be the day? Would this be the day? A question played on an endless loop that just f***s with you mentally, emotionally, physically.

That’s no way to live.

Then again, being job-less is no way to live, either. But, here we are.

So many people I want to thank. First and foremost, Mike Florio and Larry Mazza. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Especially Mr. Mazza on the food front. Hopefully, lunch at Oliverio’s — best damn stuffed shells I have EVER had — can still be a thing, Larry.

And so many people that have worked for me. Not to single anyone out, but I’m going to single one out in Ben Kercheval. Ben, non-biological son of Hoppy, you were and continue to be the man. I appreciate you more than you know.  Rasheed Wallace may indeed be your biological father, but I will forever consider you my illegitimate Internet stepson.

Mike Miller is the best boss anyone could ever ask for.  Hire that man.  You can thank me later.

Kevin McGuire, Zach Barnett, Bryan Fischer, I will always treasure what we did, together, these last few years. Things were on the uptick, and it’s sad that we won’t be able to see it through. Together.  We should’ve — SHOULD’VE SHOULD’VE SHOULD’VE — been given that opportunity.  And it will forever piss me off that we weren’t.

Brent and Chris and JJ, much love to you all as well.

Shortly after I received the job call of death, I called my dad. Told him what was going on in his son’s life.  After I hung up the phone, he sent me a GIF in a text message a few minutes later.  I’ll link it here to end whatever this is, because it’s appropriate.  And old school.

And, well… bye.

via GIPHY

2018 FCS All-American RB commits to Virginia

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Virginia joined South Carolina over the weekend as Power Five football schools realizing a personnel benefit from a lower-level program’s loss.

Two weeks ago, the Colonial Athletic Association announced that it was canceling its 2020 college football season because of the coronavirus pandemic.  One member of that FCS conference is Towson.  Coincidentally or not, one standout member of the Tigers, Shane Simpson, took to Twitter last week to announce that he has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.

On that same social media service Sunday, the running back confirmed that he has committed to the Virginia football team.  Simpson had his transfer to-do list down to Virginia and Texas.

As Simpson was a fifth-year senior in 2019, it appears he has been granted a sixth season of eligibility.  Or, is fairly confident he will receive one.

Simpson would likely be eligible for that sixth season as he missed all but four games of his true freshman season in 2015 because of injury, then missed all but the first three games last season because of a serious knee injury.

In 2018, Simpson earned first-team All-American honors.  He finished second in all of FCS with 171.5 all-purpose yards per game, totaling 2,058 yards on the season.  That same season, the Pennsylvania product was the CAA’s Special Teams Player of the Year and earned three different all-conference honors: first-team at running back, second-team as a kick returner and third-team as a punt returner.

Simpson would be eligible to play immediately in 2020 at the FBS level.