Arkansas trips up, allows Texas A&M to rally for overtime win


It was the first play of the fourth quarter, Jonathan Williams laid two yards from the goal line, and No. 6 Texas A&M was cooked. Arkansas was on the brink of taking a 35-14 lead, an edge the Aggies’ offense did not look capable of overcoming. But Arkansas offensive lineman Dan Skipper was hit with a personal foul call for tripping, and nothing about this game was the same.

Arkansas punted, and two plays later Kenny Hill found Edward Pope for an 86-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Instead of the scoreboard reading 35-14, it was 28-21.

After a three-and-out, Arkansas intercepted Hill with 8:34 to go, putting the Hogs in prime position to allow their ground-and-pound offense to salt the game away. One rush and two passes later, Arkansas punted for the third time in the quarter. After forcing a Texas A&M punt, Arkansas again appeared in position to win the game with a 1st-and-10 at the Aggies’ 31 with two-and-a-half minutes remaining, but quarterback Brandon Allen dropped the snap, putting the Hogs a 2nd-and-12 situation it could not overcome. John Henson badly missed a 44-yard field goal try and, again, Hill found a receiver – this time Josh Reynolds – for a 59-yard touchdown.

Tie game.

After yet another three-and-out with two passes and one rush, Arkansas was suddenly in the unbelievable position of going from needing just one first down to win the game with 150 seconds to play, to giving Texas A&M the ball with a chance to tie and then notch the winning score in regulation.

The Hogs defense forced the game into overtime, but all they truly did was prolong the inevitable. Hill hit Malcome Kennedy for a touchdown pass on the first play of overtime, while Arkansas’ Alex Collins was stuffed on 4th-and-2 on the corresponding possession. On the same end of the field where it seemingly had a 35-14 lead in hand, Arkansas made its final mistake in a 35-28 loss.

The story of the game was the Texas A&M defense adjusting to the Arkansas ground game, or the Arkansas running attack stalling out in the second half for the second time this season. (Arkansas rushed for 151 yards in the first half of its 45-21 loss to Auburn on opening weekend, and two in the second half.) After having its way with the Aggies’ defense in the first half with 143 rushing yards on 21 carries (6.81 yards per carry) – and that’s not counting Sam Irwin-Hill’s 51-yard fake punt touchdown – Arkansas ran 25 times for 92 yards in the second half (3.68 yards per carry). Allen could not carry the Arkansas offense after Arkansas’ offense slowed down, hitting 11 of his final 23 for 134 yards and a 44-yard play-action touchdown to A.J. Derby that gave the Razorbacks their 14 point lead.

While Allen started fast and finished slow, his counterpart did the opposite. Hill exploited Arkansas’ cottage cheese secondary for 290 passing yards – and three touchdowns that accounted for 170 of those yards – in the second half.

Texas A&M, its 5-0 record and Top 10 ranking still intact, goes on the road next week for an undefeated showdown at No. 14 Mississippi State next week.

Arkansas, meanwhile, has an off week to ask itself how it lost this game. The Hogs had 14 sure points taken off the board, plus a turnover inside enemy territory, and a missed field goal, and a turnover on downs in overtime. This one will sting. And, coupled with Kentucky’s win over Vanderbilt today, Arkansas now has the ignominious distinction of holding the SEC’s longest conference losing streak at 14 games.

Temple WR Sean Ryan immediately eligible at West Virginia

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In his first season in Morgantown, Neal Brown will have a new offensive toy with which to play as West Virginia heads into the 2019 season.

Early on in the offseason, Sean Ryan opted to transfer from Temple and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere.  In April, the wide receiver settled on WVU as his next elsewhere, announcing on Twitter that he would be transferring to the Mountaineers.

With the start of a new campaign eight days away, it’s being reported that Ryan has been granted an immediate-eligibility waiver that will allow him to see the field in 2019 for the Big 12 school.

The granting of the waiver is very likely due to the fact that Temple went through some significant coaching upheaval following the end of the 2018 season.

As a true freshman this past season, Ryan played in 10 games.  In that extended action, the 6-4, 195-pound receiver from Brooklyn, NY, caught 12 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown for the Owls.

Illinois beats out Florida, Nebraska, Texas for Miami transfer Derrick Smith

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Some will say that this could be one of the Fighting Illini’s only Power Five wins in 2019, but you won’t hear that from us.

Aug.13, Derrick Smith tweeted that, “effective today, I would like to inform [Miami Nation], I am no longer on the University of Miami football team.” Over the weekend, Smith took to Twitter again to reveal that four schools are under consideration as a potential landing spot — Florida, Illinois, Nebraska and Texas. In the same tweet, the third-year junior defensive back indicated that a new school will be picked at some point this week.

Friday evening, Smith revealed that he will continue his collegiate playing career for Lovie Smith and the Illini.

It’s believed Smith will be ineligible to play immediately for his new team.  He would, though, have two years of eligibility he can use beginning with the 2020 season.

The Orange Park, Fla., native came to The U as a three-star member of the football program’s 2017 recruiting class. The past two seasons, Smith saw action in 25 of the Hurricanes’ 26 games and was credited with 24 tackles, 1½ of which were for a loss.

Prior to his decision to leave, Smith was expected to play an expanded role in the Hurricanes’ secondary this coming season.

Boise State down a few more freshmen as QB Kaiden Bennett and RB Keegan Duncan leave team

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Boise State’s once impressive Class of 2019 is dwindling much quicker than head coach Bryan Harsin would like just as the season arrives on the blue turf.

As per the Idaho Statesman, freshman quarterback Kaiden Bennett and tailback Keegan Duncan have both left the team. In addition to those names, as many as three other members from the most recent recruiting class could fail to suit up for the program this fall.

Bennett was one of several quarterbacks battling for the starting job to succeed Brett Rypien at Boise State so his likely transfer out seems like a clear indication that one of Chase Cord, Jaylon Henderson or even freshman Hank Bachmeier will be the starter when the team opens against Florida State in Jacksonville. While the three-star recruit from Folsom, California was considered a long shot in the race, his departure may just be the first of several after Harsin names a starter.

The loss of Duncan can’t be overlook either as he was considered to be one of the best recruits in the state of Idaho during his senior season and could have provided depth in a fairly young tailback room this season.

Fellow freshman D.K. Blaylock also left the team this month and two junior college transfers have not made it to campus yet according to the Statesman.

Boise State had signed the top class in the Mountain West in February according to 247Sports and a top 50 group nationally but it appears that highly touted group won’t be making quite the impact many expected after these most recent defections.

Penn State confirms Sean Clifford will be starter at quarterback

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James Franklin has his replacement for Trace McSorley at quarterback and it’s the guy everybody could have predicted for the past several months.

In the latest in a long line of QB decisions around college football this week, redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford will indeed be the Nittany Lions starter when the team opens their season against Idaho on Aug. 31.

Clifford was tabbed by many as McSorley’s replacement almost as soon as last year’s fellow backup, Tommy Stevens, announced his plans to transfer to Mississippi State. While the two were both expected to battle it out throughout August to become PSU’s starter, both will wind up taking the first snaps for their respective programs after Stevens was named QB1 for the Bulldogs on Thursday by ex-Nittany Lions OC Joe Moorhead.

As for Clifford, he beat out redshirt freshman Will Levis for the gig and will have a high bar to clear leading a team many consider as a dark horse to win the Big Ten. As McSorley’s backup in 2018, he threw just seven passes in mop-up duty but completed five for 165 yards and two touchdowns.

Those career numbers are about to make a significant jump in the coming weeks as Clifford starts a new chapter in State College.