First-half domination of Mizzou leaves Bama 30 minutes from SEC title

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If Alabama’s defense plays in the second half the way it did in the first, you can go ahead and stick a fork in the game; it’s done.

Through two quarters of play in the 2014 SEC championship game, ‘Bama has limited Missouri’s offense to just 108 total yards in taking a 21-3 lead into the halftime locker room.  Mizzou was limited to just three first downs, the first of which didn’t come until late in the first quarter on its third possession, and didn’t cross midfield until there were less than 10 minutes left in the second quarter.

58 of the Tigers’ yards came on a pair pass plays in which quarterback Maty Mauk was flushed out of the pocket.  The running game was nonexistent as the Tide held the Tigers to 21 yards on 10 carries.

The Tide, meanwhile, rolled to 248 yards of offense against a very good Tiger defense.  A one-yard T.J. Yeldon touchdown run on the game’s opening possession put UA up early, a lead that they then extended on a 58-yard touchdown pass from Blake Sims to DeAndrew White early in the second quarter.  Another Yeldon run late in the second quarter, this one from two yards out, pushed the lead to 21-3.

Sims was nearly flawless in the passing game the first 30 minutes, completing 15-of-17 passes 160 yards and the touchdown.  The first-year starter wasn’t perfect, though, as he fumbled twice in  a span of three plays.  Fortunately for all UA parties involved, both of those fumbles were recovered by the Tide.

All-American Amari Cooper caught 10 first-half passes, just two shy of breaking Florida wide receiver Reidel Anthony‘s SEC championship game record of 11 set in 1996.  Those 10 receptions, though, went for just 61 yards as the passes to the receiver essentially served as extended handoffs.  Cooper did set a first-half record: single-season receptions.  The junior now has 113 catches in 2014, breaking the mark of 112 by Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews last season.

Adding further insult to scoreboard injury, Mizzou will be without one of the best defensive ends in the country for the remainder of the game.  With 11:48 remaining in the second quarter, Shane Ray was — correctly, mind you — called for targeting on a hit to Sims’s chin well after he connected with White on the long touchdown pass.  Ray came into the game tied for fourth in the country in sacks (13.5) and tied for third in tackles for loss (20.5).

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.