Bonkers on the Brazos: No. 5 Baylor’s comeback stuns No. 9 TCU, 61-58

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On the 216th and final snap, No. 5 Baylor notched the 21st and final score of a four-and-half hour game to take its first and final lead, a 28-yard Chris Callahan field goal as time expired to give the Bears a 61-58 win over a stunned No. 9 TCU squad.

Before we talk about how Baylor won the game, we first must talk about how they nearly lost it. TCU stormed out of the gate by forcing a turnover on downs on Baylor’s first possession, immediately responding with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Trevone Boykin to Kolby Listenbee, then forcing a Shock Linwood fumble, and capitalizing on the turnover with a 3-yard B.J. Catalon scoring dash to take an early 14-0 lead.

Baylor spent the rest of the evening playing catchup, pulling to a 24-24 tie only to immediately allow a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Catalon, then pulling within four at 31-27 and 34-30 only to watch the Horned Frogs take control of the game with a 24-7 run over a seven-and-a-half minute span in the late third and early fourth quarters. Marcus Mallet gave TCU a 58-37 lead with 11:38 to play by stepping in front of a Bryce Petty pass and taking it 49 yards for a touchdown.

From that moment forward, the Baylor offense never left the field without a score, and its TCU counterparts seemingly loaded the bus for Fort Worth.

The comeback started one minute later as the Bears scored in only four plays, punctuated by a seven-yard Devin Chafin touchdown run. Exactly four minutes later, Petty hit Antwan Goodley for his second touchdown of the game, this one from 28 yards out and pulling the Bears to within 58-51 with 6:39 remaining.

After a TCU three-and-out (with two passes), Baylor raced 91 yards in five plays, with Petty hitting Corey Coleman from 25 yards out to tie the game with 4:42 to go.

Memo to future opponents: all Baylor needed to erase a 21-point deficit was 14 plays and three minutes and 21 seconds of all possession (and, of course, a willing accomplice in the TCU offense.)

With the game tied at 58-58, TCU moved to midfield but was forced to punt when faced with a 4th-and-8. Then the Bears were flagged for having 12 men on the field, and after two timeouts and what felt like 15 minutes of real time, Gary Patterson elected to go for it on a 4th-and-3 from the Baylor 45. Boykin’s pass to Josh Doctson.

Baylor then took over at its own 45 with 1:11 to play and, after moving to the TCU 43, was seemingly faced with its own 4th down decision after a Petty pass fell incomplete, but Corry O’Meally was flagged for pass interference on a strikingly similar play to the one on TCU’s final possession that did not draw a flag.

Five plays later, Callahan knocked in a 29-yarder and thousands of green and gold faithful rushed the field.

No 61-58 game is without controversy, and Patterson’s decision to eschew the punt on 4th-and-3 and the no-call/call pass interference decisions will live in Baylor-TCU infamy, a series that now stretches 110 games and saw Baylor take a 52-51-7 lead.

Petty simultaneously trashed and resurrected his Heisman Trophy campaign after completing 28-of-55 passes for 510 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions while adding 10 rushes for 23 yards. Linwood rushed 29 times for 178 yards, and Bears receivers Goodley, Coleman and K.D. Cannon combined for 22 receptions for 426 yards and five touchdowns.

Boykin hit 21-of-45 passes for 287 yards with a touchdown with 45 rushing yards, but Catalon was the Frogs’ standout with 48 rushing yards and two touchdowns, 71 receiving yards and the 94-yard kickoff return touchdown.

The win undoubtedly puts Baylor in the drivers’ seat for the Big 12 title and a College Football Playoff berth, but also sets up another possible three-way tie scenario with TCU beating Oklahoma, Baylor beating TCU and Oklahoma beating Baylor in Norman on Nov. 8, but that’s a worry for another day. The Bears first must focus on their trip to West Virginia on Saturday.

TCU, meanwhile, will look to pick up the pieces of 85 shattered hearts before No. 16 Oklahoma State comes to Fort Worth on Saturday.

Michigan State RB Connor Heyward reverses course, pulls name from transfer portal

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Mel Tucker appears to have picked up his second personnel win as the Michigan State football head coach.

In September of last year, running back Connor Heyward took the first step in leaving the Michigan State football team by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.  A little over four months later, after Mark Dantonio‘s abrupt retirement, Tucker took over in East Lansing.

On Twitter a week after Tucker came back to the Spartans, Heyward announced in a tweet that he has reversed course and will pull his name from the portal.  And, in his social-media missive, the running back credited Tucker for the personal reversal.

“After talking with [athletic director Bill] Beekman and Coach Tucker, I have decided to take my name out of the transfer portal and return to Michigan State University,” Heyward wrote. “It has been a long process, but I know this is home in my heart.

“I’m looking forward to what the future holds.  I can’t wait to get back to work with my brothers.

“Go Green!”

A three-star member of Michigan State’s 2017 recruiting class, Heyward was rated as the No. 72 player regardless of position in the state of Georgia.  In 2018, Heyward led MSU in rushing yards (529), rushing touchdowns (five), carries (118), all-purpose yards (1,065) and kick returns (13 for 287 yards; 22.1 avg.).  That year, he was named as a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the nation’s most versatile player.

This past season, Heyward ran for 79 yards on 24 carries.

All told, Heyward has ran for 618 yards and five touchdowns on 145 carries.  He’s also caught 43 passes for another 314 yards and two touchdowns.

Because he played in just four games in 2019, Heyward will be permitted to take a redshirt for last year.  That would make him a redshirt junior for the 2020 campaign and leave him with two years of eligibility to use.

USC officially replaces FCS school with San Jose State for 2021 game

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USC football has officially returned itself to elite scheduling company.

In July of last year, USC football angered a sizable portion of its fan base as well as former players by announcing that it had scheduled a 2021 game against UC-Davis.  The Trojans had been one of three FBS programs that had never scheduled a game against an FCS team.

Wednesday, however, new athletic director Mike Bohn confirmed that the Trojans are on the verge of canceling that football game and replacing it with another.  Thursday night, USC football made it official as both they and San Jose State confirmed a Sept. 4, 2021, game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

San Jose State had originally been scheduled to face Georgia on that date.  Last week, however, UGA canceled the game in order to play Clemson in that season’s opener.  For that cancellation, San Jose State will receive $1.8 million from UGA.

“Facing USC in Los Angeles is a great opportunity for our student-athletes and fans,” SJSU athletic director Marie Tuite said in a statement. “Southern California is an important footprint for us in recruiting and we’re very excited to add this game to our 2021 football schedule.”

Tuite was also very complimentary of her UGA counterpart for his transparency throughout the process.

“I’d like to thank Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity for being transparent with us during the process,” said the AD. “I’ve experienced the atmosphere in Athens on gameday and it’s a special place. Maybe one day in the future the Spartans will make the trip.”

As for USC football, they officially rejoin Notre Dame and UCLA as the only FBS schools that have never played a game against an FCS team.  They are, however, in denial about never having scheduled an FCS school.

Be that as it may, USC will pay UC-Davis $750,000 for the game-that-was-never-scheduled-but-actually-was.

USC and San Jose State have met four times previously, with the Trojans winning all four of those matchups.  The two schools are also scheduled to play in 2024.

Clemson, Georgia paying seven-figures to make 2021 opener happen

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Clemson and Georgia are both spending money to make money.

In the wake of the two schools announcing a highly anticipated 2021 season opener in Charlotte, news has now surfaced at just how badly the two programs wanted to play each other.

The total tab: roughly $2.9 million.

That’s the combined amount the Tigers and Bulldogs will be paying to get out of their previously scheduled Group of Five games set for the same date.

Per the Greenville News, Clemson is ponying $1.1 million to cancel their contract with Wyoming. The Athletic reports Georgia is cutting a $1.8 million check to San Jose State.

“This is another great opportunity to schedule a national non-conference game with a top-level opponent,” UGA head coach Kirby Smart said in a release announcing the game. “Playing a regular-season game in Charlotte will give our fans the opportunity for a completely new experience in a great city and top-level stadium. I know our coaches and players will be excited for the challenge to kick off the season in this kind of environment.”

Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. will host the regional rivals on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021.

Georgia and Clemson have met 64 times over the years, most recently in 2014. The 2021 date is a one-off but the programs are still scheduled to meet five more times between 2021 and 2033. This includes the 2024 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and a pair of home-and-home series scheduled for 2029/2033 (in Death Valley) and 2030/2032 (between the hedges).

The Tigers will also take on fellow SEC program South Carolina in those years and will host UConn and FCS South Carolina State to round out their 2021 non-conference slate. The Bulldogs have their annual game against Georgia Tech plus UAB and Charleston Southern in 2021 as well.

Tennessee AD Phillip Fulmer says he could have coached Vols again but it ‘didn’t appeal’ to him

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Could Tennessee have had Phillip Fulmer back on the sidelines at Neyland Stadium coaching again?

There was speculation that he could have done just that from the moment he took over as athletic director at the school. Actually having it happen in Knoxville though? It apparently was not on the table due more to the necessity of Jimmy and Joe’s as opposed to X’s and O’s.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Tennessean about his on-going tenure as AD, Fulmer was asked if he ever considered putting the whistle back on for the team he led to the national title over two decades ago. Though it crossed the minds of many at the school, it didn’t for the man himself thanks largely to the rigors of the profession changing from 2008 to now.

“No. I mean, that energy level that it takes to do that. Could have coached and wanted to coach, that’s two different things, right?” Fulmer told the paper. “I certainly could have come coached the team or whatever, but the recruiting and the staffing and all those things, I’ve done my time, and I had a great run. That didn’t appeal to me, nor did I ever lose confidence that Jeremy (Pruitt) was going to do it.”

While that latter line is notable for the team’s current head coach after a historically bad start to the 2019 season, don’t gloss over his earlier comments. In fact, it says plenty about the situation on Rocky Top in recent years that Fulmer directly confirms that he “could have” come down from the AD box to the sidelines.

The only thing that stopped him? Not optics, but just the time a head coach has to devote to things like recruiting. While there’s no doubt that is pretty much a 24/7 operation nowadays at SEC schools like Tennessee, it’s interesting that was one of the few things preventing a move many in orange and white clamored (or at least expected) to see at some point.

Instead, Fulmer will have to make do with his 152–52 overall record at the school and a national title in the 1998 season. That forever cemented his status in Knoxville as one of the program’s greats and it appears he’s content to let things end there despite not having the ending he wanted back in the day.