Fournette’s 2015 Heisman campaign deflated by Irish last-second FG for Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl win

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Notre Dame (8-5) celebrated a 31-28 victory over LSU (8-5) after kicker Kyle Brindza sent a game-winning, 32-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired Tuesday in the Franklin American Mortage Music City Bowl. Notre Dame had to battle to score the victory.

The second half got off to a fast start for the LSU Tigers. John Diarse caught a pass over the middle of the field after Notre Dame’s secondary got sucked in for what they thought would be a run by quarterback Anthony Jennings. Diarse ran down field for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half, which also tied the game at 21-21 after the Tigers were the victim of a controversial ending to the first half prevented LSU from scoring a touchdown.

Later in the third quarter, LSU’s star running back Leonard Fournette once again broke off a big play. This time the big play came courtesy of an 89-yard run, on the first play from scrimmage after Notre Dame punted away to the Tigers and downed the football at the 11-yard line. It took just 12 seconds for the long touchdown run. every time Fournette touched the football, something explosive was probable to happen. the freshman running back carried the football 11 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns, and he added a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first half.

This time, LSU took its first lead of the game with the score, but Notre Dame responded four plays later. C.J. Prosise broke off a 50-yard touchdown run and reached for the end zone down the right sideline to put the Irish on the board, tying the game at 28-28 with a little more than four minutes to play in the third quarter.

Heading into the 2015 season, LSU’s Fournette will very likely be one of the preseason Heisman Trophy hopefuls. He struck the Heisman pose early in the 2014 season, but next season he will be a legitimate Heisman contender, and he will carry the load for the Tigers after setting the freshman rushing record at the school.

Notre Dame’s offense should also be ready to grow with Malik Zaire under center. The sophomore will be a junior and will be the likely starting quarterback for the Irish. As long as he protects the football and avoids making poor decisions, as he showed in the Music City Bowl, then the Irish should have a decent offense ready to go. But will Brian Kelly be around?

The coaching carousel may have come to a stop at the college level, but with the NFL carousel just getting started there will likely be a rumor or two connecting Kelly to a possible NFL gig. As long as Kelly sticks in South Bend, a very realistic scenario, then the Irish will prepare for a challenging schedule that includes home games against Texas, USC, Georgia Tech and road games at Stanford and a neutral site game against Boston College.

This was the second straight bowl victory for Notre Dame, and the first loss suffered by the SEC in bowl play this year. LSU has now lost three of its last four bowl games. Notre Dame head coach Kelly is now 5-3 in bowl games, and 3-2 in bowl games at Notre Dame.

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.