South Carolina special teams block Florida’s chance to become bowl eligible

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Florida (5-4, 4-4 SEC) looked to have this game as close to being in the bag as either team may have been able to do on Saturday afternoon. After digging a 10-0 hole in the first quarter, Florida rallied with 17 straight points and held a 17-10 lead in the fourth quarter. But the South Carolina (5-5, 3-5 SEC) special teams pulled through with two huge blocks to give the Gamecocks enough life to tie things up late and force overtime. Then, in the overtime, South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson took it himself for a four-yard touchdown run for a 23-20 victory.

Florida had its chances to put this game away in the fourth quarter despite having another sluggish afternoon on offense, but the Gators could not finish things off in the fourth quarter. Florida’s fourth quarter possessions resulted in a three-and-out, a blocked field goal and a blocked punt. The Gators drove to the South Carolina 15-yard line but ended the drive with the Gamecocks blocking a 32-yard field goal try by Francisco Velez. South Carolina took over at their 41-yard line as a result but were unable to score points off the drive. Florida’s next possession was another three-and-out, this time with a punt blocked at the Florida 38-yard line.

Following the blocked punt, Thompson went straight to the air for a 27-yard gain to Mike Davis and a few plays later Davis was in the end zone, in part because Florida had been called for a pass interference in the end zone.

Florida had to settle for a field goal on the first possession of overtime, and South Carolina opted to simply keep things on the ground with Davis. It worked effectively with four straight runs to the Florida 11-yard line. South Carolina was on the four-yard line two plays later with a first and goal, at which time Thompson took care of things himself by running into the end zone for the win.

Florida ended the day with just three of 14 third-down conversions and 278 yards of offense. Gators quarterback Treon Haris attempted just 11 passes all afternoon, completing five for 60 yards and a touchdown late in the first half. Haris also led the Gators with 111 rushing yards. South Carolina was only marginally better on offense. South Carolina converted eight of 17 third downs for first downs but managed just 301 yards of offense and went 0-for-3 on fourth down attempts.

Florida will host Eastern Kentucky, an FCS program, next weekend in Gainesville for the final home game of the season. The following week Florida will wrap up the regular season on the road against Florida State. Florida is now done with SEC play, with a conference record of 4-4 this season, highlighted by a win over Georgia. After letting this game slip away, the talks about making a coaching change from Will Muschamp could heat up again after it looked as though he would manage to silence that idea for at least one more year. It has reached a point where even a win against Florida State might not be enough.

Florida can still play in a bowl game though. If the Gators win next weekend against Eastern Kentucky (and they should, although Eastern Kentucky is 8-2 after winning today against Murray State, so who knows), Florida will be eligible for postseason play. The last thing Florida will want is to have to clinch bowl eligibility against Florida State.

South Carolina also wrapped up SEC play this afternoon. The Gamecocks ended their season with a record in SEC play of just 3-5, a far cry from preseason expectations. South Carolina did record wins against Georgia and Florida, and that is usually a very good sign but other pieces just never fell into place for the Gamecocks, starting with a week one loss at home to Texas A&M. Next week South Carolina will host South Alabama from the Sun Belt Conference for the regular season home finale. The following week South Carolina travels to Clemson for the annual rivalry game against their instate ACC rival. South Carolina must win one of the next two games left on the schedule in order to become eligible to play in a bowl game. South Carolina has played in a bowl game every season since 2008 under Steve Spurrier.

Central Michigan loses one of its highest-rated 2018 signees to the transfer portal

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One of the highest-rated signees for Central Michigan football a couple of years ago is leaving the MAC program.  Or, at least, he is exploring the option of doing as much.

According to 247Sports.com, George Pearson is listed in the NCAA transfer database.  That would be the first step in the redshirt sophomore quarterback’s potential departure from the Central Michigan football team.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Pearson was a three-star member of the Central Michigan football Class of 2018.  Only one offensive signee in that cycle for CMU, wide receiver Keonta Nixon, was rated higher than the New Jersey product.  As a true freshman, Pearson completed 12 of his 24 passes for 94 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Pearson didn’t play a down for the Chips in 2019.

In 2018, Central Michigan lost a school-record 11 games.  In Jim McElwain‘s first season in 2019, CMU won went 8-6.  Included in the losses was a New Mexico Bowl beatdown at the hands of San Diego State.

Ole Miss pulls in second transfer from a university in Canada

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From Oh Canada to Ole Miss football?  I’m thinking one recruit might be in for a little culture shock.  Actually, make that two.

Last month, a Canadian college football player, the University of Guelph’s Tavius Robinson, committed to Ole Miss football.  On Twitter Wednesday, Deane Leonard did the same. The cornerback comes to the SEC school from the University of Calgary.

“First off I’d like to thank my friends, family, and coaches that have supported me through this process,” Leonard wrote. “I can’t thank each and every one of you enough for all that you’ve done for me over the years. Love you guys!

“With the cancellation of the USports season I’ve decided it’s in my best interest to look at my options down south.

“With that being said, I’ll be transferring to Ole Miss to complete my collegiate career.”

During his time at That Country Up North, Leonard appeared in 23 games.  In that action, the defensive back was credited with 47 tackles, 19 passes defensed, six interceptions, two forced fumbles, one tackle for loss, one sack and one block.  He also returned five kicks for 124 yards (24.8 average) and 19 punts for 195 yards (10.3 avg.).  One of those punts was returned for a touchdown.

Both Leonard and Robinson are expected to be immediately eligible for new head coach Lane Kiffin and the Rebels.

SEC commish issues statement in wake of Big Ten’s seismic announcement

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It didn’t take long for the most powerful man in SEC football country to respond to what the B1G wrought.

As you may have heard, the Big Ten confirmed Thursday afternoon that it will be going with a conference-only football schedule for the 2020 season.  That was the first significant Power Five domino to tip, but it certainly won’t be the last.  In the coming days, or perhaps next week, the ACC and Pac-12 are expected to make a similar announcement.  The Big 12 and SEC, though, are widely expected to kick that football scheduling can down the road a bit longer, perhaps as late as the end of July.

Not long after the B1G announcement, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement addressing just where his conference is at decison-wise.

The Southeastern Conference will continue to meet regularly with our campus leaders in the coming weeks, guided by medical advisors, to make the important decisions necessary to determine the best path forward related to SE Fall sports.  We recognize the challenges ahead and know the well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans must remain at the forefront of those decisions.

Again, it’s expected that the SEC will make a decision on the football path it will take later this month.  Barring unforeseen circumstances pushing up that timeline, of course.

Big Ten commish, Ohio State AD decidedly pessimistic on B1G having a 2020 college football season

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The Big Ten toppled the first significant domino earlier in the day.  Now, two of the most powerful men in the conference are expounding on the development.  And, if you’re a fan of the sport, you might want to close your eyes when reading the next few paragraphs.  Or take several shots of an adult beverage before proceeding.

Thursday afternoon, the Big Ten confirmed reports that it will be going with a conference-only football schedule for the 2020 season.  All other fall sports are impacted in the same way.

In television appearances following the announcement, the B1G’s commissioner didn’t put a positive spin on football’s immediate future.

“One thing we have to realize is that this is not a fait accompli that we’re going to have sports in the fall,” Kevin Warren flatly stated. “We may not have sports in the fall, we may not have a college football season in the Big Ten. …

“We made a vow early on that, first and foremost, we would put the health, the safety and the wellness of our student-athletes at the center of all of our decisions.

Gene Smith was equally pessimistic.

“I can’t reiterate enough the fact that we might not play,” the Ohio State athletic director said in discussing football in 2020. “We just might not, and I think people need to understand that.”

It’s expected that other Power Five conferences will follow the lead of the Big Ten.  In the coming days, both the ACC and Pac-12 will most likely announce a conference-only football schedule.  The lone exception will be the ACC including Notre Dame, which already has six games against the conference on its 2020 slate, in any revamped schedule.

The Big 12 and SEC are widely expected to kick the scheduling can down the road a bit longer, perhaps as late as the end of July.  In the end, however, both of those Power Fives are likely to come to the same scheduling conclusion.