Lane Kiffin wins return to Neyland Stadium, No. 4 Tide tops Tennessee 34-20

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No. 4 Alabama built a nearly insurmountable lead first half lead and coasted from there, turning a 27-0 early lead into a 34-20 victory over Tennessee Saturday night in Neyland Stadium.

Lane Kiffin‘s much-hyped return to Knoxville quieted the Tennessee crowd from the opening snap, as Alabama scored on its first play from scrimmage with an 80-yard pass from Blake Sims to Amari Cooper. The Tide followed that up with touchdown drives of 79 and 90 yards, grabbing a 20-0 lead. By the time Alabama got the ball with 1:30 remaining in the first quarter, Tennessee had punted four times and saw itself get out-gained 249-78.

After forcing a Joshua Dobbs fumble deep in Volunteer territory and turning it into a 28-yard Blake Sims touchdown run to push the lead to 27-0 three minutes into the second quarter it seemed the Tide was ready avalanche Tennessee the same way it did Texas A&M last week.

But then Tennessee rallied.

The Vols responded with a 10-play, 84-yard touchdown drive to get on the board, and closed the half with a long field goal drive to pull within 27-10 at the break.

Tennessee mounted another long touchdown drive in the third quarter to pull within 27-17, but Derrick Henry put the game away with a 28-yard touchdown jaunt with 13 seconds left in the third quarter.

In the end, Tennessee never pulled within closer than 10 points, but it didn’t pack up shop when things got tough. Tennessee is a program long on moral victories and impatient for actual victories, but the Vols got better tonight.

For one, Dobbs has the makings of being a solution at quarterback. He hit 19-of-32 passes for 192 yards for two touchdowns and one interceptions and led the club in rushing with 19 carries for 75 yards. Jalen Hurd and Marlin Lane combined for 107 yards on 19 carries, and Tennessee nearly matched Alabama yard-for-yard on the ground, 183 to 181.

Still, the combination of Sims to Cooper was too much for Tennessee. Sims was 14-of-24 for 286 yards and two touchdowns, and Cooper caught nine of those passes for 224 yards and both touchdowns. Only six players touched the ball for Alabama tonight: Sims, Cooper, Henry (16 carries, 78 yards and the touchdown), T.J. Yeldon (14 carries, 52 yards and a touchdown, one catch for three yards), DeAndrew White (four grabs for 59 yards, one rush for a loss of one) and Jaiston Fowler (two carries for 24 yards).

In all, Kiffin’s offense produced 34 points, 23 first downs, 469 yards of total offense and a cool 11-of-15 mark on third down.

Alabama (7-1, 4-1 SEC) will take next week off before preparing for a trip to No. 24 LSU on Nov. 8, which happens to be its final road game of the season. Tennessee, 3-5, winless in SEC play and weary from playing four Top 12 teams in eight games, will visit South Carolina next week and, deservedly, closes with four games against unranked opponents.

Colorado to retire Ralphie V after home finale vs. Washington

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Colorado has retired Ralphie V at the end of this season, AD Rick George announced Tuesday.

Actually, the retirement is already partially in effect because, as The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman pointed out on Twitter, she had become too powerful.

Ralphie turned 13 in October and is in great health; she receives regular veterinarian check-ups.  As the season progressed, she just wasn’t having the consistency she had displayed in prior years.  With past Ralphies, as they aged, their speed typically decreased; with Ralphie V, she has been so excited to run that she was actually running too fast, which created safety concerns for her and her handlers.  She also wasn’t consistently responding to cues from her handlers, and her temperament was such that she was held back from leading the team out for CU’s last two home games against USC and Stanford.

“Ralphie V has served the department and the university well,” George said.  “She has been a very special buffalo and has truly been adored by many.  We hope she lives for many years to come and look forward to finding her successor.”

Ralphie V, Colorado’s mascot since 2008, will make her last appearance Nov. 23 against Washington, where she will not lead the Buffaloes on to Folsom Field but will appear on the sidelines.

“Ralphie V was our first Ralphie to serve in the age of social media,” Ralphie Program Manager John Graves said.  “Thanks to her, we were able to incorporate an educational aspect to the Ralphie Program and hundreds of thousands of fans were able to meet her and learn more about her and buffalo in general, while countless more learned via social media.  As one of the biggest and fastest Ralphies, her love for running and power was showcased every home game during her career.  It’s almost like she knew she was the queen of campus and she loved to show that fact off when she ran onto the field and at her public appearances.”

Colorado officials are currently reviewing film and making recruiting trips to select Ralphie VI, who will make her debut in 2020.

Alabama sees title odds plunge off loss to LSU

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Coming off the loss to LSU this past Saturday, it wasn’t a matter of if but how far Alabama plunged in the eyes of wagering establishments.  Tuesday, we have that answer.

According to the odds released by one offshore sportsbook, Alabama is listed at 10/1 to win the 2019 College Football Playoff championship.  That’s down from 11/4 the week before the LSU loss.

As was the case a week ago, Ohio State, ranked No. 1 in the initial CFP Top 25, is the favorite at 2/1, shortened from 5/2.  LSU, which is expected to be the new No. 1 when the playoff rankings are released later on tonight, has moved up to 5/2 (9/2 last week) while Clemson is right behind at 3/1 (11/4).

Georgia (10/1) and Oklahoma (20/1) are next up with shorter odds at 9/1 and 16/1, respectively.

A pair of Pac-12 teams are further back in the wagering pack, with Oregon (16/1) posting longer odds at 15/1 and Utah putting up the same 40/1 they were at a week ago.  A pair of unbeatens are even further back — Minnesota at 50/1 (100/1 last week) and Baylor at the same 66/1.

The only Group of Five school listed is Cincinnati, with the Bearcats going from 250/1 seven days ago to 500/1 now.

Miami’s Evidence Njoku tweets decision to enter transfer portal

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Following a standout career at Miami, David Njoku was a first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft.  Njoku’s younger brother had hoped to follow in his footsteps at The U, but, as it turns out, that won’t be the case.

On his personal Twitter account Monday afternoon, Evidence Njoku announced that, “after Deep Thought And Discussion I Have Decided To Enter The Transfer Portal To Furthermore Continue My Athletic And Academic Career.” The tight end gave no specific reason for his decision.

“He’s a good young man,” Miami head coach Manny Diaz said. “We wish him well wherever he ends up.”

Njoku was a three-star member of the Hurricanes’ 2017 recruiting class who came to The U as a wide receiver before converting to tight end.  After playing in eight games as a redshirt freshman last season, he had played in just one game thus far in 2019.

The 6-6, 226-pound New Jersey native finishes the Hurricanes portion of his collegiate p[laying career with just one catch for 11 yards, with that coming in the last year’s regular-season finale against Pitt.

Florida announces future home-and-home with Arizona State

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With the 2019 regular season rapidly drawing to a close, Florida has dropped some future scheduling news on the masses.

Early Tuesday afternoon, Florida confirmed that it has agreed to a future home-and-home series with Arizona State.  The Gators will travel to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe in 2028, with the Sun Devils making the trek to The Swamp in Gainesville in 2031.

The 2028 game will be played on Sept. 16, while the backend of the series will be played either Sept. 6 or 13 of 2031.

That first matchup in 2028 will mark the first-ever meeting between the football programs.

Arizona State last played at the home of an SEC school in 2009, a 20-17 loss to Georgia in Athens.  Florida’s last trip to a Pac-12 school was a 1983 tie with USC.  The Gators last played host to a school from that conference the year before, with the Trojans serving as the opponent once again.