ACC Coastal slightly less complicated with Duke’s double OT win at Pitt

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Whatever you do next year when Duke and Pittsburgh together, you might want to take the over. For the second striaght season, Duke and Pittsburgh traded blows on the scoreboard with high frequency. Pittsburgh had the last laugh in 2013, but this season saw Duke come out on top. It would take double overtime to do so, but it was worth the extra effort for the Blue Devils. No. 24/24 Duke (7-1, 3-1 ACC) celebrated a 51-48 victory over Pittsburgh (4-5, 2-3 ACC) after backup quarterback Thomas Sirk scored his second touchdown of the game.

Pittsburgh had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but a 26-yard field goal try by Chris Blewitt sailed wide of the goal. Duke used two timeouts to attempt to freeze Blewitt, and it worked. The missed field goal try sent the game to overtime, where the offenses continued to trade scores.

The teams traded touchdown runs in the first overtime, with Duke starting quarterback Anthony Boone running 12 yards on the first possession and Pittsburgh’s James Conner running 14 yards for the tying score. Conner had a monster performance on the ground with 263 yards and three touchdowns, but it was not enough. For Pittsburgh, neither was holding the football for over 40 minutes in regulation. This week the Panthers held on to the football (zero turnovers after an awful job holding the football last week) and outgained Duke 594-438 in total offensive yards. After Blewitt connected on a field goal to give Pitt a 48-45 lead in the second overtime, Duke pushed forward to give Sirk a chance to score the game-winning touchdown. Earlier in the game Sirk had pushed one in from the goal line. He did the same here.

Two of the ACC’s best wide receivers also went over 100 yards in this game. Pittsburgh receiver Tyler Boyd turned in 140 yards on seven receptions, but it was Duke’s Jamison Crowder who led all players with 165 yards and two touchdowns on nine receptions.

So, for now, Duke sits alone in first place in the ACC Coastal Division. At 3-1 in ACC play, the Blue Devils have a one game lead in the loss column over Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Miami and Virginia. Duke also owns head-to-head victories over Georgia Tech, Virginia and now Pittsburgh. Miami owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with Duke. Duke will have four more games to play, including three home games to end the season in Durham against Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Wake Forest. As long as Duke can avoid a loss at Syracuse next week, Duke could be sitting ina  good shot at returning to the ACC Championship Game once again.

Of course, just when you think you have the ACC Coastal Division figured out it can be flipped around the next week.

Pittsburgh will have to win two more game sin their final three (@ UNC, Syracuse, @ Miami) in order to become bowl eligible this season.

Nine from ’19: TE Thaddeus Moss joins LSU exodus for NFL Draft

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Thaddeus Moss is officially a one-and-done at LSU after declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft.

The star LSU tight end became the ninth underclassman for the national champions to leave campus for the pros this week. He made the announcement on social media in a letter thanking the fan base:

Moss played a pivotal role in the team’s record-setting offense in 2019. He caught 47 passes for 570 yards and had three of his four touchdowns come in the College Football Playoffs. That included a pair of scores in the title game, one of which doubled as the one that allowed QB Joe Burrow to set the FBS record for TD passes in a season.

The one-time North Carolina State transfer is no stranger to the pros either way. He’s the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss and will be part of an intriguing class of players at tight end this spring.

While it’s possible there will be an additional name or two that surfaces, Friday’s deadline for underclassmen to declare means Moss’ departure could be the last for LSU for the time being. Still, that’s a lot of talent to lose as Ed Orgeron embarks on an offseason full of changes right after reaching the top of the sport.

Travis Etienne skipping draft, will stay at Clemson for 2020

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It’s not often you get a shocking announcement for a player returning for his senior year but this might qualify.

In an announcement posted on Twitter Friday afternoon, Clemson’s star tailback Travis Etienne surprised pretty much everybody by saying he would skip the 2020 NFL Draft and remain on campus for his senior season.

Etienne was a Heisman Trophy candidate for much of 2019 and has been a key cog in the Tigers’ incredible record the past few years. He’s rushed for over 1,600 yards each of the past two seasons and continued to become a threat as a pass catcher out of the backfield as well.

While many expected the junior to turn pro and join a deep class of running backs, apparently the taste left in his mouth by Monday’s national title game was just the extra push he needed to stay on campus to aim for another championship.

Though Dabo Swinney has to deal with a handful of departures from the two-deep this offseason, the return of Etienne should only further cement Clemson as the preseason No. 1 team for 2020. The tailback and quarterback Trevor Lawrence both figure to be high draft picks the following spring but for now they will be aiming for another ring with a team that just won 29 games in a row.

Report: Ex-Houston QB D’Eriq King to visit Maryland after Miami trip

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Last year, everybody wanted to know where Jalen Hurts would transfer to. This year? D’Eriq King might take that mantle.

The Houston quarterback entered the NCAA Transfer Portal shortly before the national title game on Monday and is already moving on to lining up visits. One of the first stops on King’s transfer tour? We already know that a trip to Miami to check out the Hurricanes on the docket but that’s not all on a busy weekend. According to the Baltimore Sun, Maryland is on deck for the signal-caller this Saturday.

The Terps turning to a graduate transfer is nothing new. Head coach Mike Locksley brought in Josh Jackson to mixed success in 2019 after the latter left Virginia Tech. King, however, would represent a much more dynamic option behind center for the team.

King set numerous records with the Cougars and scored 50 touchdowns (36 passing and 14 rushing) in 2018 alone. The prolific numbers also came despite the fact that he missed two games due to a knee injury. While UH had long maintained that King’s surprising redshirt decision this past season was part of a plan that would see him return to the team for 2020, things have played out pretty much as expected in him looking elsewhere.

Whether he lands in College Park remains to be seen but it’s no surprise Locksley is dipping into the market. Tyrrell Pigrome is a senior but isn’t quite up to Big Ten passing standards and depth behind him is limited. That’s always an issue at Maryland given the injury history at the position too.

Landing somebody like King would be quite a coup for the Terps but it’s pretty clear they’ll be just one of several programs in hot pursuit of the Texas native’s services.

K’Lavon Chaisson makes it eight LSU underclassmen headed to the NFL

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Last one left in Baton Rouge, please turn out the lights.

In an announcement posted to social media on Friday morning, LSU linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson became the eighth underclassman off the Tigers’ national championship team to announce he was skipping his final year and declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft.

The move ensures that the Tigers will have to replace their entire starting linebacking corps from this past season following Patrick Queen’s earlier departure. That’s in addition to a host of other big names and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda as well.

Chaisson arrived in Baton Rouge as a top recruit from Texas but injuries over the years prevented him from becoming the kind of player many thought he would blossom into. Nevertheless, he had a memorable 2019 and was a terror down the stretch run with several big games — including being named Peach Bowl MVP in the semifinal against Oklahoma.

The 6-foot-4, 250 pounder was originally a defensive end but has been effective as a rusher after developing quite nicely as an outside linebacker. Though he really only had one lengthy season as a starter after an ACL tear as a sophomore, Chaisson is still considered a potential Day 1 or 2 pick in a few months time at the draft.

While head coach Ed Orgeron has to still be soaking up the glory of being the champions, the LSU head coach will have little time to waste over the coming weeks dealing with all these departures from both the coaching staff and the two-deep. Defections after winning a title are nothing new but Chaisson’s announcement only added to the difficulty the program will have in trying to make it back-to-back in 2020.