Rakeem Cato’s late heroics leads Marshall to Conference USA title

4 Comments

A week after their big bowl dreams appeared to go up in flames with an offensive shootout and overtime loss at home to Western Kentucky, Marshall may still be in the mix.

Marshall (12-1, 7-1 Conference USA) needed its star quarterback to make a play, and Rakeem Cato delivered.  On second and goal from the Louisiana Tech (8-5, 7-1 Conference USA) five-yard line, Cato completed a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to Deon-Tay McManus for a go-ahead touchdown with just under two minutes to play. After securing its first lead of the afternoon, the defense went to work and Evan McKelvey picked off a pass from Cody Sokol on Louisiana Tech’s first play on the ensuing possession, thus wrapping up the win for the Conference USA championship. Marshall erased the pain of last year’s Conference USA championship game loss to Rice with a gutsy 26-23 victory in this year’s title game. Now, Marshall awaits its bowl fate.

It was far from a pretty performance by Marshall, playing at home, but the end result was all that truly mattered most. Cato was not particularly accurate at times, but he ended the day with 308 passing yards and two touchdowns to overcome a sluggish start and an interception. Offense tends to be the story for Marshall, but it was the defense that kept the game within reach for its offense and it was the defense that made some key plays. Marshall had four turnovers in the game, but the defense stood tall often enough.Louisiana Tech jumped out to a 17-7 lead midway through the second quarter, but the visiting Bulldogs scored just one other time in the game, late in the third quarter with

Louisiana Tech jumped out to a 17-7 lead midway through the second quarter, but the visiting Bulldogs scored just one other time in the game, late in the third quarter with Kenneth Dixon’s third touchdown of the game. Dixon was the only Louisiana Tech to contribute on offense, and he nearly carried the team to victory with 156 yards and three touchdowns. The rest of the team managed to add just 112 yards of offense against Marshall.

Marshall is now eligible for consideration in the College Football Playoff selection committee’s process to determine which Group of Five conference champion may be invited to a New Years Six Bowl. Boise State appears to be in the best position, and a win in the Mountain West Conference will likely wrap up that big bowl spot tonight. But if the Broncos stumble, the bowl invite could be there for 12-1 Marshall. Other teams in the running are Northern Illinois (won the MAC championship Friday night), Memphis, UCF and Cincinnati. The three AAC schools ended the year with a share of the conference title.

If Marshall is not chosen to play in the Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl or Peach Bowl, then it will be likely the Thundering Herd are sent to either the Bahamas Bowl or Boca Raton Bowl or the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl may also be an option. Louisiana Tech should also expect to play in one of those three bowl games as well. Bowl arrangements will be finalized on Sunday.

Tua Tagovailoa reportedly out for the season with dislocated hip

Getty Images
2 Comments

And the bad news keeps on coming for Alabama in general and its star quarterback in particular.

Tua Tagovailoa suffered a hip injury toward the end of the first half of the Mississippi State game, still in the game despite Alabama leading 35-7.  The junior quarterback, reportedly screaming in pain, was carted off the field and, after being examined inside Davis Wade Stadium, taken away via ambulance for further evaluation.

Tagovailoa was subsequently taken back to Birmingham via helicopter to undergo a series of CAT scans and MRIs to determine the exact extent and nature of the injury.  According to one report, the injury is serious and similar to the one that ended Bo Jackson‘s football career.

According to another, Tagiovailoa has been diagnosed with a dislocated hip and will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2019 season, including the postseason.

Should the report come to fruition, it would likely mark the end of Tagovailoa’s collegiate career as he’s widely expected to forego his final season of eligibility and make himself available for the 2020 NFL Draft.  At least, he was expected to prior to the injury.

Getting back to this season and if the injury is as serious as it seems, the Crimson Tide will turn over its playoff fate, at least under center, to Mac Jones.  The redshirt sophomore has completed just over 64 percent of his 67 passes this season for 595 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.  Coming into 2019, he had attempted 13 passes in his collegiate career.

Iowa State leading No. 19 Texas at the break

Getty Images
1 Comment

Iowa State holds a 10-7 lead over No. 19 Texas at the half in Ames, and the game has played out exactly as the score indicates.

The Cyclones zipped down the field on their first possession, moving 59 yards in eight breezy plays, as Brock Purdy found tight end Charlie Kolar wide open in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard score to open the scoring. The Cyclones then closed their half with a 35-yard Connor Assalley field goal with 47 ticks left before halftime.

In between, Iowa State went three-and-out twice, turned it over on downs at the Texas 31 and threw an interception.

Texas has simply not been able to get the ball going, and they’ve hardly tried to throw the ball down field. The ‘Horns went three-and-out on four of their first six possessions, and one of the other two ended in disaster. After D'Shawn Jamison intercepted Purdy at the Iowa State 39, Texas picked up one first down but could not get another. Facing a fourth-and-2 at ISU’s 21, Sam Ehlinger kept it and was stuffed for a loss of a yard. The Longhorns did not throw the ball on any of their six plays in the drive.

Ehlinger went 4-of-7 for 26 yards while Texas rushed a combined 17 times for just 33 yards over UT’s first six tries. After taking over at its own 25, down 10-0 with 47 seconds left in the first half, Ehlinger hit Devin Duvernay for 17 yards, Brennan Eagles for 33, Duvernay again for 11, Eagles again for a 14-yard touchdown.

After gaining just 59 yards on their first 24 snaps, Texas suddenly moved 75 yards in five plays to make it a game again.

Iowa State will receive to open the second half.

Report: Tua Tagovailoa’s injury serious, similar to one that ended Bo Jackson’s career

Getty Images
7 Comments

This isn’t good.  At all.

The biggest story of Week 12 by far is the health of Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a hip injury toward the end of the first half of the Mississippi State as Alabama was up 35-7.  The junior quarterback was carted off the field and, after being examined inside Davis Wade Stadium, was taken away via ambulance for further evaluation.

According to al.com, Tagovailoa is being taken back to Birmingham via helicopter to undergo a series of CAT scans and MRIs to determine the exact extent and nature of the injury.  One report from Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy, though, is ominous, to say the least.

For those unfamiliar, Jackson, a College Football Hall of Famer at Auburn, suffered a severe hip injury in an AFC playoff game in January of 1991 and never played another down of football.

It should be noted that there has been no official word on Tagovailoa’s status from the football program.  Thus far, UA has declined to go into any detail as they still await an update on the injury, which could come as early as later on today

No. 16 Notre Dame all over No. 21 Navy through one half

Getty Images
Leave a comment

When the Navy offense works, the clock bleeds, the ball ticks forward and life becomes living hell for the opponent. When it doesn’t, it can get ugly for the Midshipmen.

It’s been ugly through one half in South Bend.

No. 16 Notre Dame holds a 38-3 lead over No. 21 Navy at the half. The Fighting Irish scored all six times they touched the ball in the half, as Ian Book went a practice-like 11-of-14 for 209 yards with four touchdowns, three of them coming to Chase Claypool. Claypool caught six passes for 97 yards and scores of 47, seven and three yards.

Navy hasn’t been able to get the running game going — they run for just 131 yards on 33 carries — but three fumbles by quarterback Malcolm Perry have proven catastrophic, ending Navy scoring threats and leading directly to three Irish touchdowns. The Middies finally sustained a drive with a minute to play in the half, moving 72 yards in nine snaps to set up a 27-yard Bijan Nichols field goal as time expired.

Navy will receive to open the second half.