The best 2014 turnaround you haven’t noticed: Louisiana Tech


A year ago at this time, Louisiana Tech was 3-5 en route to a 4-8 finish under first-year head coach Skip Holtz. The Bulldogs beat Lamar, UTEP, Florida International and Southern Miss (combined FBS wins: four) and closed the season by losing 52-14 to Rice, 24-14 to Tulsa and 30-10 to UTSA.

Fast forward to today, and Louisiana Tech is 6-3 and 5-0 in Conference USA play – two wins away from clinching the Conference USA West Division championship in their second year in the league. Take away payday losses to Oklahoma and Auburn and Holtz’s Bulldogs are 6-1 in games they have a realistic chances of winning, the one loss an utterly inexplicable one to FCS Northwestern State.

Manny Diaz has proven to be a smart hire as defensive coordinator, boosting Louisiana Tech from ninth to first in scoring defense in Conference USA games, dropping the average from 26.6 to 14.8 points per game. In conference play only, the Bulldogs lead the league in total defense, yards per play allowed and pass efficiency defense while ranking second in rushing defense.

On the opposite side of the ball, Cody Sokol has proven to be an upgrade over Ryan Higgins at quarterback, flipping his predecessor’s touchdown-to-interception ratio from 6-to-13 to 22-to-9. La Tech trails only Marshall in scoring at 42.8 points per game in conference outings, more than double from a dreadful 20.4 scoring average last season.

Finally, Louisiana Tech has flipped its fate in terms of turnovers, jumping from turnover neutral (21 takeaways, 20 giveaways) to leading the pack (18 takeaways, nine giveaways, a league-best plus-1.8 per game) in five conference games this year.

Add it all up and you get a four-game winning streak in which Louisiana Tech has out-scored the competition by a combined 172-53, punctuated by Saturday’s 59-10 thumping of Western Kentucky where the Bulldogs held WKU 29 points and 103 yards below their next-worst outputs this season. This was the same team that had dropped 66 points and 601 yards on Old Dominion just a week earlier.

Two more wins (remaining schedule: at UAB, at Old Dominion, vs. Rice) guarantees a spot in the Conference USA championship, though the folks in Ruston aren’t the only ones hopping Holtz’s bunch finishes 9-3. A win over undefeated-in-conference-play Louisiana Tech may be Marshall’s only hope at securing a spot in a College Football Playoff access bowl, but the Thundering Herd should be careful what it wishes for. A team playing this good on both sides of the ball and turning the ball over at this rate may just sneak up and win the whole thing.

Maryland TE Tyler Devera says he has entered transfer portal

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It seems the transfer portal season never really ends. On Wednesday, one of the newest addition to the transfer portal was Maryland tight end Tyler Devera. Devera announced his entry to the portal on his Twitter account.

Devera was a three-star recruit in Maryland’s Class of 2019 and has yet to appear in a game for the Terrapins.

Entering the transfer portal allows Devera to have contact with any other college football program looking to recruit him. It is worth noting Devera had committed to Rutgers before ending up heading to Maryland. Devera decommitted from the Scarlet Knights after his older brother, Brendan Devera, was dismissed by (now former ) Rutgers head coach Chris Ash. Whether or not Rutgers is back in play given the program will (eventually) have a new head coach remains to be seen.

Even though Devera has not played a game this season, he would have to sit out the 2020 season if he transfers to another FBS program, per NCAA transfer rules and barring any potential waiver that receives approval for immediate eligibility. When Devera is eligible again in 2021, he will still have three years of eligibility after using 2019 or 2020 as a redshirt season.

Uniform updates: Rutgers wearing long sleeved jerseys, Texas Tech throwing it back to 1976

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The Texas Longhorns won’t be the only school wearing a throwback style this weekend. Add Texas Tech and Rutgers to the mix of teams adopting a look that pays tribute to a certain era in program history.

Rutgers, the birthplace of college football, will be doing neer before seen in the modern era of college football. The Scarlet Knights will wear long-sleeve jerseys. The long sleeves mimic the style of uniform worn by the earliest college football players, although these uniforms will be made of a much more athletic material compared to the gear worn by those in 1869. The red long sleeve jerseys will be topped by a white helmet with a classic “R” logo. From head to toe, it is quite a unique look for the Scarlet Knights.

Texas Tech won’t be wearing long sleeves, but they will be wearing a look similar to the one worn during the bicentennial. The retro uniforms to be worn by Texas Tech this weekend take a page from the 1976 Red Raiders with a white helmet and red double-T logo, complete with red stars. Texas Tech claimed a Southwest Conference title in 1976, so the design choice is appropriate for the Red Raiders.

Not to be forgotten, Boston College has been teasing its own throwback look for this weekend too. I’m just guessing it will be one Doug Flutie would appreciate.

Teams suiting up in uniforms designed to pay tribute to a previous generation of program history has been a thing for a while now, but it is great to see so many schools getting in on the fun in the 150th anniversary season of college football. Every team should make it happen.

But wait, there’s more! Boise State is going to wear a uniform similar to the one they wore during their Fiesta Bowl victory over Arizona in 2014.

C’mon Boise State. If you’re going to do a Fiesta Bowl throwback look, it is required by law that it must be the uniform worn in the win against Oklahoma.

Alabama removes Class of 2019 five-star defensive lineman Alfano from roster

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The writing may have been on the wall for much of the season, but Alabama freshman defensive lineman Antonio Alfano appears to no longer be a part of the Alabama football program. Alfano’s name went missing from the team’s online roster, as noted by on Wednesday.

Alfano was among the prized recruits in Alabama’s Class of 2019, but a suspension led to head coach Nick Saban eventually saying Alfano “basically quit” the team. Rumors of his pending entrance to the NCAA transfer portal were ignited following quotes from his family, but BamaOnline reports Alfano has yet to formally have his name added to the portal.

So, uh, what gives?

It’s hard to say for now. Alfano was suspended for unknown reasons early in the season and had yet to play a game for Alabama. His removal from the team’s online roster suggests he will not be making a return to the Crimson Tide. That would suggest an entry to the transfer portal is imminent, especially since his parents previously stated Alfano was doing just that (and publicly saying he should stay at Alabama).

Whatever the future holds for Alfano, there will likely be a number of programs willing to take a look and see if he’s ready to get back on the field in a new environment. If he does transfer, he would have to sit out the 2020 season before being ruled eligible to play again in 2021 with three years of eligibility remaining.

Wayne Gretzky voices support for Oklahoma State RB Chuba Hubbard Heisman Trophy campaign

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The Heisman Trophy campaign for Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard is officially on, and it already has the support of The Great One. Hall of Fame hockey icon Wayne Gretzky was featured in a video shared by the Edmonton Oilers lending his support for Canada’s own Hubbard.

“I just want to pass on our congratulations from everyone in Edmonton,” Gretzky said in a short video clip shared by the Edmonton Oilers. “We’re all really proud of you. Keep going.”

Hubbard, a native of Edmonton, was appreciative of the message and words of encouragement from an Edmonton sports hero.

Hubbard is a native of Edmonton. Hubbard rushed for 6,880 yards and 82 touchdowns in high school. Hubbard currently leads the nation in rushing with 182.33 yards per game. As of today, Hubbard is the only running back with 1,000 rushing yards midway through the season. The next closest to Hubbard in rushing yards is Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins (826 yards) and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor (825 yards).

Hubbard is hoping to become the second Heisman Trophy winner in Oklahoma State program history. Barry Sanders won the Heisman Trophy in 1988.