No. 9 Arizona State flashes Playoff potential in 55-31 beat down of No. 10 Notre Dame

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In the first half you wondered, How in the world did this Arizona State team possibly allow 62 points and 10 yards a play to UCLA?

And in the second half you realized, Oh yeah, that’s how.

The Sun Devils looked every bit like one of the four best teams in the country in building a 34-3 second quarter lead over the visiting Fighting Irish, and then looked so much like the other Arizona State teams that habitually blew big games at home in allowing Notre Dame to pull within 34-31 with 6:37 to go in the fourth quarter.

First, how Arizona State built its lead. Irish quarterback Everett Golson committed three first-half turnovers, all of which led directly to Arizona State touchdowns – including a 59-yard Damarious Randall interception return for a touchdown. In the span 17 minutes of game action, the Sun Devils ripped off 31 unanswered points.

And then it was Notre Dame’s turn.

Golson hit William Fuller for a nine-yard score with 11 seconds remaining before the half, and notched the only score of the third quarter in the form of a Cam McDaniel one-yard plunge. McDaniel added another one-yard score with 9:12 to go in the fourth quarter, and then the Irish used a two-play, 59-yard drive, capped by a 25-yard scoring toss from Golson to a wide open Amir Carlisle to put Notre Dame within 34-31.

After notching as many turnovers as points allowed over its first seven drives, Arizona State allowed touchdown drives of 68, 56, 50 and 59 yards, aided by a Taylor Kelly interception.

Facing its most important drive of the season and the prospect of an epic desert melt down, Arizona State regrouped and marched 75 yards in five plays to post its first points of the second half, a four-yard pass from Kelly to Demario Richard to push the lead to 41-31 with 3:41 to go.

Arizona State put the game away with – guess what? – another turnover, this time a Golson pass that bounced off Corey Robinson‘s hands and into the arms of Arizona State defender Lloyd Carrington, who took it 58 yards to the house.

A turnover on downs allowed Kelly to add a cosmetic touchdown, his fourth of the day, on a two-yard run.

Goslon hit a number of big plays, stretching his 22 completions on 41 out over 446 yards and two touchdowns, but made just as many big plays for the opponent with a whopping five turnovers. Kelly was a much more controlled 17-of-28 for 224 yards with three scoring strikes and a pick.

In addition to winning the turnovers in a TKO, Arizona State also won the trenches, out-rushing Notre Dame 188-41.

The win will continue to push Arizona State’s stock sky high in the eyes of the committee, moving surely ahead of Auburn and tonight’s TCU-Kansas State loser at a minimum – and possibly higher if LSU knocks off Alabama and/or Ohio State downs Michigan State. Todd Graham‘s crew still has games with at No. 19 Arizona and a presumptive date with No. 4 Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship on the fist weekend of December. This is a team that is very much in control of its destiny. They’ll visit Oregon State next week.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, falls to 7-2 and out of the Playoff picture. They’ll return home to face Northwestern next week.

 

LSU confirms promotion of Tiger great Kevin Faulk as RBs coach

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An LSU football legend officially has an on-field role at his alma mater.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Kevin Faulk would be promoted from his current position as LSU football director of player development.  Thursday, the Tigers confirmed that Faulk has been promoted by Ed Orgeron to running backs coach.

Faulk replaces Tommie Robinson, who left to take the same job at SEC West rival Texas A&M.

“We would like to thank Tommie (Robinson) for being a part of our national championship program and wish him the best in his future,” the LSU football head coach said in a statement. “Kevin is a great teacher and mentor and someone that has earned the respect and love of our players. We are honored to have one of the greatest players in LSU history as part of our coaching staff. This is a home run hire.”

Faulk played collegiately for LSU football from 1995-98.  He is still the school’s all-time leader in rushing yards (4,557) and rushing TDs (46).

Faulk was then a second-round draft pick of the New England Patriots in 1999.  He spent 13 years in the NFL, joining his high school alma mater’s football coaching staff upon his retirement following the 2011 season.

In 2018, Faulk rejoined the LSU football program in an off-field role.  This will be his field on-field role at any level of college football.

“The day I graduated high school I knew I wanted to be a coach,” the 43-year-old Faulk said. “The coaches I had growing up meant so much to me and the community, and I knew I wanted to be that guy. To coach at my alma mater is the best thing I could ever hope for. I wear the purple and gold with pride every day, and I am ready to get going to help win another national championship.”

Ford Field to host even more MACtion in 2020

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The MAC title game isn’t the only bit of #MACtion that Ford Field will see in 2020.

The conference recently released their annual football schedule on Wednesday and among the notable league games is the rivalry contest between Central Michigan and Western Michigan. While this one figures to have division implications on Oct. 17, things are going to be slightly different this year.

Namely that it won’t be on either campus and will instead be played at Ford Field.

“Ford Field has been the location of many great experiences for CMU Football, and this is an opportunity to create another iconic experience for our program and our university,” athletic director Michael Alford said in a release. “CMU’s continued success means out-of-the-box thinking. Bringing this game — and the events surrounding it — to Detroit allows our athletics program to help engage thousands of people who are passionate about CMU.”

It’s an interesting move that will push CMU to over a decade without a win over their directional rivals in Mt. Pleasant. Still, the larger venue and the opportunity to make things an even bigger event in the state’s largest city seem to have won out.

The Detroit News reported on Tuesday that the Chips wanted to do a multi-year deal at the home of the NFL’s Lions but that WMU said no thanks.

The Broncos have won seven of the last nine meetings, including last year’s 31-15 win in Kalamazoo. Despite that head-to-head victory though, Jim McElwain’s squad got the last laugh by winning the MAC West in one of the biggest turnaround stories of the 2019 season.

They wound up playing at Ford Field in the conference title game where they eventually lost to Miami (OH) 26-21. The venue has been the home of the MAC championship since 2004 and will have the next edition played on either Friday, Dec. 4 or Saturday Dec. 5.

Georgia Tech adds 2023 game against Bowling Green, makes slight change to 2021 schedule

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Georgia Tech is loving itself some #MACtion.

The school announced a pair of future schedule moves against teams from the eponymous league on Wednesday. Among the most immediate actions for the Yellow Jackets is that their 2021 contest against Northern Illinois will be shifted to become the season-opener at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sept. 4.

GT will then play FCS Kennesaw State at home and conclude the early non-conference slate with a trip to Notre Dame on Nov. 20, 2021. Their annual rivalry contest against Georgia will conclude the regular season the final weekend of November as usual.

Tech also added Bowling Green to their upcoming docket. The Falcons will head to Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sept. 30, 2023. A trip to Ole Miss and the in-state rival Bulldogs coming to Atlanta will round out the Jackets’ non-conference schedule with one more opening still to be signed (likely against an FCS opponent).

Head coach Geoff Collins’ 2020 squad will have their attention on a conference opponent to open the upcoming season as they take on ACC opponent Clemson at home on Thursday, Sept. 3. The two programs will also meet again in city for the 2022 season opener at nearby Mercedes-Benz Stadium as well.

While those big name opponents will get more attention from fans in the region, don’t discount a bit of that #MACtion heading South either.

Waiting to cancel game with FCS opponent cost USC an extra $500,000

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Keeping Clay Helton around wasn’t the only decision last year that upset USC fans. Now the school backtracking on a choice it just made has cost the program a pretty penny.

For those not in the know, cardinal and gold supporters up in arms last year when it was announced the program had agreed to a non-conference game with UC Davis for the 2021 season. Such a contest typically doesn’t draw much attention but it did in Los Angeles as it was the first FCS opponent the Trojans were to play in their illustrious history.

That would have left rivals UCLA and Notre Dame as the only two FBS programs not to play an FCS team.

Then things changed. The athletic director responsible for the deal, Lynn Swann, was shown the door. His replacement Mike Bohn has gone about trying to make amends and recently announced that USC had eventually backed out of the game against the Aggies.

In their place on the docket at the Coliseum that season is another Bay Area team, San Jose State. We already recounted how the Spartans made out quite nicely on the balance sheet as a result of this (and subsequent buyout from Georgia) swap. As it turns out though, they weren’t the only Northern California team to do so.

According to the Davis Enterprise, the buyout UCD was owed was only supposed to be $225,000. However terms called for that to jump to $725,000 after the start of the new year. Because the Trojans waited around they then had to pony up that extra half million for doing something they had been considering since the new administration came in.

“It’s pretty funny. We had every intention of playing that game,” Aggies senior associate athletics director Josh Flushman told the paper. “We just wanted to make sure (if there were) buyouts we were going to get the money.

“In December, (AD Kevin Blue) and I joking said, ‘Don’t take any phone calls from L.A. numbers until after the first.’”

The call didn’t come until February and the school is that much richer for it. On top of that they added a $400,000 guarantee game from Tulsa to replace Southern Cal on the schedule to boot.

Waiting may be the hardest part for some but it resulted in a nice seven-figure gain at UC Davis.