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

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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.

Joe Burrow reportedly passing on Senior Bowl

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow will not attend the 2020 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, according to a report.
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LSU quarterback Joe Burrow will reportedly be passing on the opportunity to play in next week’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Ben Baby, who covers the Cincinnati Bengals for ESPN, reported the Burrow Senior Bowl news, via Twitter, Saturday morning.

The Senior Bowl is the highest-regarded college football all-star game and is the last major offseason event on the NFL Draft schedule before the annual scouting combine. Many of the nation’s top seniors will arrive in Mobile, Alabama next week to begin a week of workouts instructed by coaches from the NFL. This year’s Senior Bowl teams will be coached by the staffs from the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions.

The Bengals own the top draft pick in this year’s NFL Draft, and they just so happen to be a team many believe might draft Burrow to inject some life into the Bengals offense. The Lions own the No. 3 overall pick. The Senior Bowl is attended by scouts and coaches from around the NFL, and with the top tier of seniors typically at the Senior Bowl, the whole week is a terrific opportunity for seniors to impress their future employers.

Of course, Burrow not playing in the Senior Bowl will be made out by some to be a negative on his draft profile, but that should not be the case. Burrow admitted to playing the national championship game against Clemson with a rib injury. Coming off a historic season that saw Burrow break the NCAA record for most passing touchdowns in a single season (and doing so in the SEC), missing out on the Senior Bowl shouldn’t be a concern. The Heisman Trophy winner has done more than enough to raise his draft stock for 2020 off the wild successes of the 2019 season. Burrow will still get a chance to focus on the scouting combine and decide what’s best for him in Indianapolis.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.