Arkansas lets No. 7 Alabama off the hook, 14-13

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With a sellout crowd inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and the 1964 national championship team in the house, Arkansas appeared primed to end its 14-game SEC losing streak in a big way after taking a 13-7 lead on a 54-yard catch-and-run from Brandon Allen to A.J. Derby with 4:43 to go in the third quarter.

The Razorbacks touched the ball five times after that. Its play distribution? Three combined carries for its workhorse running backs – one Jonathan Williams rush for two yards, two Alex Collins carries for five yards – and 15 touches for Allen. In those 15 touches, Allen rushed once for 14 yards, was sacked three times for a loss of 18 yards, and completed 3-of-11 passes for 27 yards with a game-ending interception. That’s 23 total yards – 1.53 yards per play – with a turnover, while neither of its backs touched the ball in the final 11 minutes of the game.

Not surprisingly, Arkansas didn’t score again, and Alabama took home a 14-13 win.

Mistakes were the name of the game for Arkansas. The Hogs should have opened the scoring after Allen hit Kody Walker for what should have been an easy five-yard touchdown pass, but Trey DePriest punched the ball out of his arms and through the back of the end zone for a touchback. Arkansas also had a first quarter field goal try that could have opened the scoring, but holder Matt Emrich couldn’t handle the snap.

With the game still scoreless midway through the second quarter, Arkansas safety Alan Turner let a Blake Sims pass hit off his chest and fall incomplete. Two plays later, Sims hit T.J. Yeldon for a 22-yard touchdown to give Alabama a 7-0 lead.

Arkanas immediately responded by marching 81 yards in 10 plays for a three-yard Williams plunge, but John Henson‘s extra point was tipped and sailed wide left. That would prove to be the difference in the game.

After Arkansas took a 13-7 lead, Sims tossed the winning score to DeAndrew White from six yards out with 12:36 remaining. Sims connected on 11-of-21 passes for 161 yards and those two scores with no interceptions. Arkansas bottled up the Crimson Tide ground attack, playing without center Ryan Kelly, to the tune of 66 yards on 32 carries.

Allen hit 21-of-40 passes for 245 yards with a touchdown and a back-breaking, across-the-field interception to Landon Collins late in the fourth quarter that sealed Alabama’s win. Williams led all rushers with 83 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, while Collins added 13 yards on a half-dozen attempts.

In the end, Arkansas managed to lose a game where it won the turnover battle (3-2), achieved eight more first downs (18-10), and out-gained Alabama by 107 yards (334-227). That’s a tough way to suffer your 15th straight conference loss.

The Hogs will move on to face likely SEC East champion Georgia in Little Rock, while Alabama returns home to face Texas A&M.

WR Weston Bridges is fourth Michigan State player to enter portal

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In the offseason, Weston Bridges changed positions.  Midway through the 2019 season, it appears Bridges is now set to change schools.

On his personal Twitter account Monday afternoon, Bridges indicated that he has decided to take his leave of Michigan State and transfer to an undetermined elsewhere.  It has subsequently been confirmed that the wide receiver is headed into the NCAA transfer database.

A three-star member of the Spartans’ 2017 recruiting class, Bridges was rated as the No. 31 running back in the country and the No. 24 player at any position in the state of Ohio.  During the spring this year, Bridges moved from running back to receiver.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Bridges carried the ball 16 times for 53 yards last season.  He was suspended for a late-September game because of unspecified violations of team rules.

Bridges is the fourth MSU football player to enter the portal since the 2019 season kicked off, joining linebacker Brandon Bouyer-Randle (HERE) as well as a pair of running backs in Connor Heyward (HERE) and La’Darius Jefferson (HERE).

Louisville’s season-opening QB starter to undergo year-ending surgery

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Jawon Pass began the 2019 season as Louisville’s starter under center.  After a couple of weeks of uncertainty, the redshirt junior will end it on the sidelines.

Pass suffered what turned out to be diagnosed as a case of turf toe in the season-opening loss to Notre Dame.  It wasn’t severe enough, however, to keep the starting quarterback out of the Week 2 win over Eastern Kentucky.

The past four games, though, Pass has been sidelined because of the injury.  Tuesday, it was confirmed by the football program that, as some have speculated, Pass will undergo surgery and, as a result, miss the remainder of the 2019 season.

With Pass sidelined, Malik Cunningham had started all four games in his place.  The redshirt sophomore, though, has been dealing with his own injuries, including a knee issue, that at least temporarily knocked him out of a pair of games.

True freshman Evan Conley replaced Cunningham both times, and was even named as the ACC’s Quarterback and Rookie of the Week for his performance in the upset of Wake Forest this past weekend.

For the season, Cunningham has completed 44-of-66 passes (66.7 percent) for 820 yards, seven touchdowns, one interception.  Conley is at a 64.9 completion percentage on his 37 attempts, throwing for 422 yards, four touchdowns and a pick.  Cunningham is the Cardinals third-leading rusher with 226 yards, while Conley is fifth with 84.

As of today, head coach Scott Satterfield has not named a starter for this weekend’s game against No. 3 Clemson.

USC’s leading rusher set for knee surgery

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Vavae Malepeai tolerated the pain as long as he could, until he couldn’t.

A knee injury sidelined Malepeai for most of USC’s summer camp.  Even as he had played — and played well — in all six games, the issue lingered on into the regular season; this weekend, the pause button was hit on Malepeai’s year as Clay Helton confirmed that the running back will undergo surgery to repair the damage to his knee.

No timetable for a return was given.

“Vavae is a warrior,” the head coach said according to the Los Angeles Times. “[He was] dealing with a sore knee and really fighting through it for his team. It’s just gotten to the point where it’s gotten too sore, so we’re going to go ahead and take care of it now.”

Malepeai’s 406 yards rushing and four touchdowns currently lead the Trojans.

With Malepeai out for the foreseeable future, Markese Stepp and Stephen Carr will see their opportunities in the running game increase.  Stepp is second on the team with 241 yards rushing, Carr third at 233.  Both players have a pair of touchdowns each on the ground.

Mike Leach banned Wazzu players from social media

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With this development, just how Washington’s State’s “fat, dumb, happy and entitled” football players will communicate with their “fat little girlfriends” is the great unknown.

After starting the 2019 season 3-0, dropped two straight games heading into the bye — the first an embarrassing collapse against UCLA and then a 25-point beating on the road against then-No. 19 Utah.  Following the loss to the Utes, Tracy Claeys stepped down as Wazzu’s defensive coordinator.

Leading into this past weekend’s game against Arizona State, the Pac-12 Network confirmed, Mike Leach banned his players from using social media late last month because of the distractions such activities bring.

“I think we entertain too many distractions,” the head coach explained to the network, by way of the Yakima Herald, “and if I had it to do over again, I would’ve done it when we started camp. But no, I think we entertain too many distractions. I think we’re a little too distracted right now, but I think there is a team-wide determination to be less distracted.”

The social media ban wasn’t an immediate elixir for what ails Wazzu, however, as they fell to No. 18 Arizona State 38-34 in Week 7.  The Cougars jumped out to a 10-0 lead and held leads of 31-24 (early in the fourth quarter) and 34-31 (late in the fourth quarter) before allowing the game-winning touchdown with less than 40 seconds left on the clock.

With the loss, Wazzu now sits at 0-3 in Pac-12 play.