Bama clinches SEC title, playoff spot after pulling away from Mizzou


After wobbling a bit in the third quarter, Alabama regained its balance.  And, in doing so, claimed yet another conference title and a spot at the first-ever playoff table in one fell swoop.

Leading 21-3 at halftime, Alabama watched as Missouri cut the lead 21-13 late in the third quarter before Bama pulled away and claimed a 42-13 win in the 2014 SEC championship game.  The Tide has now won two of the last three SEC championship games and five total (in nine appearances) since the conference went to this format for the 1992 season.  Overall, the Tide claims 28 league titles (24 SEC, four Southern Conference).

This was Mizzou’s second consecutive loss in the conference championship game.  In those games, the Tigers have been outscored 94-55.

Blake Sims was superb, completing 23-of-27 passes for 262 yards and touchdowns.  Most importantly, perhaps, is that the senior tossed zero interceptions.  Senior’s 85.2 completion percentage broke the SEC title-game record of 77.1 set by Auburn’s Jason Campbell in 2004.

Amari Cooper caught 12 of those passes, an SEC title-game record.  Derrick Henry led the Tide with 141 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while T.J. Yeldon chipped in a pair of rushing touchdowns.

The Tide’s defense certainly played a role i the win, limiting the Tigers to an average of 1.8 yards on their 23 carries; Mizzou came in averaging 4.5 ypc.

Were it not for some playground football, the final margin could’ve been a lot worse.

Of Mizzou’s 313 yards of offense, 158 of them on what could be best described as four prayers offered up by Maty Mauk‘s right arm.  Two of those in third quarter — one 63 yards, the other 47 — helped lead to 10 Tiger points and, at least temporarily, closing the gap.

A 14-0 run to close out the game, though, ended any upset hopes the Tigers entertained.

All of the sudden, and after entering Week 15 with many thinking chaos could/would reign, it appears that three of the four playoff spots have been claimed.  Alabama and Oregon, Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings, have most certainly locked up two of the spots as they are, by a comfortable margin, the two best teams in college football.  More than likely, the Tide will play in the Sugar Bowl semifinal while the Ducks will get the Rose Bowl semifinal.

No. 3 TCU obliterated 2-10 Iowa State earlier today, leading most to assume that they’ll hold serve and earn the third spot.  Of course, the Kansas State-Baylor game — the Bears beat the Horned Frogs earlier this year — could prompt the committee to reconsider.  Another factor to consider: No. 20 Oklahoma’s overtime loss to Oklahoma State will very likely rob both TCU and Baylor of a win vs. a ranked team, weakening both of their résumés.  That could bode well for two teams right on the heels of TCU.

As for the fourth spot?  You would think that, with a win over Georgia Tech in the ACC title game, unbeaten and fourth-ranked Florida State would claim it.  An FSU loss, however, would bring No. 5 Ohio State (if it beats Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game) and No. 6 Baylor (if it handles K-State) into the equation and the ACC would likely be shutout out of a playoff berth.

Temple WR Sean Ryan immediately eligible at West Virginia

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In his first season in Morgantown, Neal Brown will have a new offensive toy with which to play as West Virginia heads into the 2019 season.

Early on in the offseason, Sean Ryan opted to transfer from Temple and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere.  In April, the wide receiver settled on WVU as his next elsewhere, announcing on Twitter that he would be transferring to the Mountaineers.

With the start of a new campaign eight days away, it’s being reported that Ryan has been granted an immediate-eligibility waiver that will allow him to see the field in 2019 for the Big 12 school.

The granting of the waiver is very likely due to the fact that Temple went through some significant coaching upheaval following the end of the 2018 season.

As a true freshman this past season, Ryan played in 10 games.  In that extended action, the 6-4, 195-pound receiver from Brooklyn, NY, caught 12 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown for the Owls.

Illinois beats out Florida, Nebraska, Texas for Miami transfer Derrick Smith

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Some will say that this could be one of the Fighting Illini’s only Power Five wins in 2019, but you won’t hear that from us.

Aug.13, Derrick Smith tweeted that, “effective today, I would like to inform [Miami Nation], I am no longer on the University of Miami football team.” Over the weekend, Smith took to Twitter again to reveal that four schools are under consideration as a potential landing spot — Florida, Illinois, Nebraska and Texas. In the same tweet, the third-year junior defensive back indicated that a new school will be picked at some point this week.

Friday evening, Smith revealed that he will continue his collegiate playing career for Lovie Smith and the Illini.

It’s believed Smith will be ineligible to play immediately for his new team.  He would, though, have two years of eligibility he can use beginning with the 2020 season.

The Orange Park, Fla., native came to The U as a three-star member of the football program’s 2017 recruiting class. The past two seasons, Smith saw action in 25 of the Hurricanes’ 26 games and was credited with 24 tackles, 1½ of which were for a loss.

Prior to his decision to leave, Smith was expected to play an expanded role in the Hurricanes’ secondary this coming season.

Boise State down a few more freshmen as QB Kaiden Bennett and RB Keegan Duncan leave team

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Boise State’s once impressive Class of 2019 is dwindling much quicker than head coach Bryan Harsin would like just as the season arrives on the blue turf.

As per the Idaho Statesman, freshman quarterback Kaiden Bennett and tailback Keegan Duncan have both left the team. In addition to those names, as many as three other members from the most recent recruiting class could fail to suit up for the program this fall.

Bennett was one of several quarterbacks battling for the starting job to succeed Brett Rypien at Boise State so his likely transfer out seems like a clear indication that one of Chase Cord, Jaylon Henderson or even freshman Hank Bachmeier will be the starter when the team opens against Florida State in Jacksonville. While the three-star recruit from Folsom, California was considered a long shot in the race, his departure may just be the first of several after Harsin names a starter.

The loss of Duncan can’t be overlook either as he was considered to be one of the best recruits in the state of Idaho during his senior season and could have provided depth in a fairly young tailback room this season.

Fellow freshman D.K. Blaylock also left the team this month and two junior college transfers have not made it to campus yet according to the Statesman.

Boise State had signed the top class in the Mountain West in February according to 247Sports and a top 50 group nationally but it appears that highly touted group won’t be making quite the impact many expected after these most recent defections.

Penn State confirms Sean Clifford will be starter at quarterback

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James Franklin has his replacement for Trace McSorley at quarterback and it’s the guy everybody could have predicted for the past several months.

In the latest in a long line of QB decisions around college football this week, redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford will indeed be the Nittany Lions starter when the team opens their season against Idaho on Aug. 31.

Clifford was tabbed by many as McSorley’s replacement almost as soon as last year’s fellow backup, Tommy Stevens, announced his plans to transfer to Mississippi State. While the two were both expected to battle it out throughout August to become PSU’s starter, both will wind up taking the first snaps for their respective programs after Stevens was named QB1 for the Bulldogs on Thursday by ex-Nittany Lions OC Joe Moorhead.

As for Clifford, he beat out redshirt freshman Will Levis for the gig and will have a high bar to clear leading a team many consider as a dark horse to win the Big Ten. As McSorley’s backup in 2018, he threw just seven passes in mop-up duty but completed five for 165 yards and two touchdowns.

Those career numbers are about to make a significant jump in the coming weeks as Clifford starts a new chapter in State College.