CMU’s furious rally falls short as WKU claims first bowl win

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Entering the fourth quarter with a seemingly comfortable 49-14 lead, Western Kentucky appeared to be on the verge of winning the football program’s first-ever bowl game.  15 minutes of game time later?  Wow.  Just, wow.

Central Michigan scored a whopping five touchdowns in the final frame, including a multiple-lateral one with no time remaining on the clock, to pull to within one point.  An extra point would’ve improbably sent the game into overtime; much to head coach Dan Enos‘ credit, he got his full Tom Osborne on and eschewed the PAT in favor of a two-point conversion.

The Cooper Rush pass into the end zone was knocked away, however, giving the Hilltoppers a thrilling 49-48 win in the inaugural Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.  But that touchdown leading up to the to the failed two-point try, the Hail Mary Hook-And-Lateralis one for the postseason history books.

 

While that was the play of the young bowl season thus far, and while Rush set an all-time bowl record with seven touchdown passes, breaking the mark of six previously held by Washington State’s Connor Halliday (2013 New Mexico Bowl), West Virginia’s Geno Smith (2012 Orange Bowl) and Iowa’s Chuck Long (1984 Freedom Bowl), it was Brandon Doughty who was named the Player of the Game.

The nation’s leading passer entering the game, Doughty passed for 486 yards and five touchdowns.  350 of those yards and all five scoring tosses came in the first half as the high-powered WKU offense hit the snooze button in the second half.

This game marks the fourth times this season Doughty has passed for 400-plus yards.  The fifth-year senior passed for 300 or more yards in 10 of WKU’s 13 games this season, and will finish 2014 with 4,830 passing yards.  Over the past three games, Doughty has thrown 18 touchdown passes, including eight in the regular-season finale against eventual Conference USA champion Marshall.

In that frenetic fourth quarter, though, Doughty and the Hilltopper offense went stagnant as they punted three times and fumbled once.  At the same time, CMU scored touchdowns on all five of its fourth-quarter possessions.

Star WR Michael Pittman confirms he’ll play in USC’s bowl game

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(Pardon us as we’ve been catching up on a few things due to some very significant technical difficulties.)

USC fans can assuage their anguish somewhat over the retention of Clay Helton with the knowledge that one of their school’s most explosive weapons on offense will be available during the postseason. There, feel better?

After some uncertainty and speculation, Michael Pittman announced on Twitter this week that he will be playing in the Trojans’ bowl game. USC will face Iowa in Holiday Bowl Dec. 27, the first meeting between the football programs since 2002.

Pittman led the Trojans this season in receptions (95), receiving yards (1,222) and receiving touchdowns (11). The catches and yards led the Pac-12, while the scores were second.

The fourth-year senior was named first-team all-conference and is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award.

FAU makes hiring of Willie Taggart as Lane Kiffin’s replacement official

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A week ago, it was reported that Willie Taggartbadly wants a second act” at USF.  While that job ultimately went to a Clemson coordinator, Taggart still ended up landing yet another gig in the Sunshine State.

With rumors swirling throughout the day, Florida Atlantic confirmed Wednesday evening that Taggart has been named as the Owls’ new head football coach.  Taggart replaces Lane Kiffin, who left shortly after FAU won the Conference USA championship game Saturday for the Ole Miss job.

“I’m grateful to Brian White and President Kelly for their belief in me to lead the football program at Florida Atlantic University,” a statement from Taggart began. “I’m looking forward to long-term success here. I think our players and the university deserve that commitment. Family is extremely important to me. I couldn’t do what I do without their love and support and all of us are looking forward to being here in Paradise for the foreseeable future.”

After four years as the head coach at South Florida, Taggart left USF for Oregon — for one season as it turned out as he pulled up stakes from the Pac-12 school for the Florida State job in December of 2017.  Less than two full seasons later, though, Taggart was shown the door by the Seminoles in early November.

Taggart is a native of Bradenton, Fla. and has deep, extensive recruiting ties in the state, which will only aid him in taking over a football program that has won two conference championships the past three years.

Taggart has never won a conference crown during his 10 seasons as a head coach, although he did claim a division title at South Florida in 2016.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Coach Taggart on board to lead our football program,” FAU athletic director Brian White said in his statement. “Coach Taggart is a proven program builder who will develop strong relationships with our student-athletes and develop them as future leaders. His deep relationships around the state of Florida and the nation will be vital in recruiting as well. The traits he brings to the table will allow us to continue building upon our recent success.”

FAU’s Harrison Bryant named Mackey Award winner as nation’s best TE

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In a change of pace, we come to an award that doesn’t involve either Joe Burrow or Chase Young.

The John Mackey Award winner was announced earlier in the day Wednesday, with Florida Atlantic’s Harrison Bryant claiming this year’s honor.  The Mackey is handed out annually to the nation’s top tight end.

Established in 2000, the 2018 winner was Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson.

This past season, Bryant caught 65 passes for 1,0004 yards and seven touchdowns.  Bryant led all FBS tight ends in both catches and receiving yards.

Bryant beat out seven other tight ends for the 2019 Mackey.

  • Hunter Bryant, Washington
  • Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
  • Brevin Jordan, Miami
  • Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
  • Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
  • Colby Parkinson, Stanford
  • Giovanni Ricci, Western Michigan

Ole Miss announces future home-and-home with Oregon State

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With the 2019 regular season put to bed, there is some future scheduling news on which to hit — and some very rare news at that.

Wednesday afternoon, Ole Miss announced that it had reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series with Oregon State.  The Beavers will travel to Oxford Sept. 18, 2027, with the Rebels making the trek to Corvallis on Aug. 31, 2030.

The 2027 game will mark the first-ever between the football programs.

According to Ole Miss, they have played a current member of the Pac-12 just twice, with both of those games coming against Cal.  Those games, incidentally, came in the last three years, including this season.

Oregon State last played a team from the SEC in 1987 when they traveled to Georgia.  A team from that conference has never played in Corvallis.