Mich. St. stuns Baylor with B1G 4th-quarter comeback, wins Cotton Bowl

59 Comments

For the first 10 minutes or so of the game, it looked like Michigan State had a chance against Baylor.  Over the next 35 minutes, they looked like they never really stood much of a chance.  The last 15 minutes?  Sparty Hell Yes!

In an unbelievable turn of events, No. 8 Michigan State (11-2) overcame a 20-point deficit entering the fourth to stun No. 5 Baylor (11-2) 42-41 in the 79th annual Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic that was just that: a classic.  What improbably was the game-winner came with just 11 ticks left on the clock to complete the stunning fourth-quarter turnaround.

Connor Cook was hit and miss all afternoon, completing 24-of-42 passes for 324 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.  He gutted it out, though, right until the dramatic end after entering the final 15 minutes on the wrong end of a 41-21 score.

The second of Cook’s picks was actually returned for a touchdown that would’ve given the Bears a 48-28 lead with just over 11 minutes remaining and seemingly sealed a blowout win for BU, but was instead called back because of a block in the back.  That would prove to be the first significant turning point in the comeback as, six plays later, the Bears gave the ball back to the Spartans on downs, and MSU promptly drove down the field and scored a touchdown to cut the lead to 41-35 with 4:55 remaining.

A blocked field goal attempt and return to the MSU 45 with just over a minute remaining — after a lengthy Bear reception had originally given them the ball inside the five but was pushed back because of an offensive face mask penalty — gave Sparty one final shot.  A Cook 28-yard completion got the Spartans to the 27-yard line and then, on fourth down, a 17-yard completion left the offense with a first and goal with 30 or so seconds remaining.  Then, with :11 remaining, Cook hit Keith Mumphery on a 10-yard touchdown pass for what proved to be the game-winning score.

Baylor had one last slim chance, but a Bryce Petty interception officially sealed the stunning loss for the Bears, which was the beneficiary of its own huge fourth-quarter comeback against TCU earlier this season.

Petty, though, was a significant part of the reason the Bears were in the College Football Playoff discussion all season long, and was the majority reason for what was looking early on like a win today.  Petty, a senior playing in his last game at the collegiate level, passed for a Cotton Bowl-record 557 yards and three touchdowns.  It was the last of that trio of touchdowns, though, that was the play of the game from my perspective as it went to 390-pound Laquan McGowan.  Again, a man who weighs 390 pounds — and that’s a listed weight that seems to err on the side of caution as his official bio calls him an “[e]normous fourth-year junior offensive lineman — scored on a touchdown reception.

That’s beautiful.  I wept.

All told, the Bears totaled 583 yards of offense, and did that despite the fact that they ran for minus-20 yards on 22 rush attempts.  Their 602 yards passing as a team set a school record.  BU had a pair of receivers catch more than 100 yards in passes as KD Cannon, a freshman who will be one of the favorites for the Biletnikoff Award in 2015, had 197 yards on eight receptions and Corey Coleman went seven for 150.

Jeremy Langford was also a significant bright spot for MSU as he ran for 162 yards and three touchdowns.  This was Langford’s 10th straight 100-yards game after failing to break that plateau in the season’s first three games.

MSU’s two losses this season, incidentally, came to teams that are currently ranked second (Oregon, 46-27) and fourth (Ohio State, 49-37).

After losing its first three games of the postseason, the Big 12 is now 1-4 in bowl games in 2014-15.  Including an overtime win by Wisconsin and loss by Minnesota New Year’s Day — both against SEC squads — the Big Ten is suddenly very respectable 4-4 mark.  The latter conference still has a significant shot at further redemption for the league as No. 4 Ohio State takes on top-ranked Alabama in a Sugar Bowl matchup that doubles as the last of two College Football Playoff semifinals.

Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t add this:

Ohio State 49, Michigan State 37.
Baylor 61, TCU 58.
Michigan State 42, Baylor 41.

Therefore, Ohio State > Michigan State > Baylor > TCU.  Do with that what you will.

ACC, Pitt headline Bednarik Award preseason watch list

Bednarik Award watch list
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Bednarik Award is the first major honor to release its watch list for the upcoming season.  But it certainly won’t be the last.  Far from it, actually.

In a release Monday, the Bednarik Award announced a 90-player strong watch list that represents every FBS conference in the country.  The Bednarik Award has been presented annually since 1996 to the nation’s top player on the defensive side of the ball.

The ACC leads all conferences with 18 watch listers, with the Pac- 12 (13), SEC (11) and Big 12 (10) the only others in double digits.  The Big Ten, the remaining Power Five, placed nine players.

Wit eight, Conference USA led all Group of Five leagues.  Next up was the AAC’s six, followed by the Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference with five each and four for the MAC.

School-wise, reigning national champion LSU, Pitt and USC placed three players apiece.  A handful of other schools put two players each on the watch list:

  • Alabama
  • Appalachian State
  • Cal
  • Duke
  • Florida State
  • Georgia
  • Miami
  • Michigan
  • Notre Dame
  • Oregon
  • San Diego State
  • TCU
  • Texas
  • UAB
  • Virginia
  • Virginia Tech
  • Washington

No finalists from a year ago remain as both the winner (Ohio State’s Chase Young) and the two runners-up (Auburn’s Derrick Brown, Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons) have since moved on to the NFL.  There are, though, three semifinalists for last year’s award that are back this season — Penn State’s Micah Parson, LSU’s Derek Stingley and Florida State’s Marvin Wilson.

For the complete Bednarik Award watch list, click HERE.

Four-star 2021 QB son of Deion Sanders commits to FAU

FAU football
Getty Images
1 Comment

FAU football is building up quite the surname legacy within its program. Even as a couple have recently departed.

Last month, Miami transfer tight end Michael Irvin II, the son of former Hurricanes legend Michael Irvin, announced that he was committing to the FAU football program.  A little over a month later, Shedeur Sanders (pictured, left) announced on Twitter that he too has committed to FAU football.

The touted 2021 prospect is one of the football-playing sons of former Florida State All-American Deion Sanders.

Sanders is a four-star 2021 prospect coming out of high school in Cedar Hill, Texas.  On the 247Sports.com composite, the 6-1, 198-pound Sanders is the No. 14 pro-style quarterback in the country.  he also held offers from, among others, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Oregon and Tennessee.

Sanders’ older brother, Shiloh, will be a redshirt freshman defensive back at South Carolina this season.

While the Sanders and Irvin surnames are in the Owls fold, a couple of famous ones have recently left.  The wide receiver son of Ray Lewis left FAU football earlier this month.  Originally committed to FAU, the running back son of Frank Gore ultimately signed with Southern Miss earlier this offseason.

FAU is coming off a 2019 football campaign in which the Owls tied a school record with 11 wins.  Included in that was a first-ever win in the Conference USA championship game.  And the program’s fourth straight win in a bowl game, a streak that stretches back to 2007.

Almost immediately after the win in the Boca Raton BowlLane Kiffin left to take over as the head coach at Ole Miss.  Kiffin was replaced shortly thereafter by former Florida State and Oregon head coach Willie Taggart.

Les Miles, Kansas ‘heartbroken’ over passing of student manager Jack Roche, who died over the weekend after being hit by a car

Kansas football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The extended Kansas football family is mourning the loss of one it’s own over the weekend.

According to the Lawrence Journal-World, and citing multiple people close to the Kansas football program, Jack Roche died in his hometown of Chicago late Saturday night after being hit by a car.  Roche had just turned 21 in May.  He was also scheduled to graduate from the university the same month next year.

Roche had spent the past couple of years as a student manager for the Jayhawks.  Les Miles just completed his first season as the Kansas football head coach, and mourned the young man’s passing in a tweet Sunday night.

“The KU football family is heartbroken to hear of the passing of Jack Roche,” the coach wrote. “Jack was a tremendous, hard-working young man who embodied what our program is all about. We will remember Jack and he will forever be a part of our family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Roches.”

Roche was beloved by players past and present as well.

“He always had a smile on his face and was genuinely one of the best people in the entire program,” ex-Jayhawk quarterback Carter Stanley said according to the Journal-World. “We’d talk every day, but I’d go in earlier than usual on Mondays and we’d share the results of our fantasy football teams from the day before, which usually gave me a chance to give him a hard time for being a Bears fan.”

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Roche’s way-too-soon passing.

SEC reiterates no decision on football until late July

SEC football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

As expected, the SEC is going to wait as long as possible until making its next decision when it comes to the fate of football.

Last week, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey warned that “we are running out of time” when it comes to the 2020 college football season.  That said, Sankey reiterated Monday that his conference will still wait to make any type of decision until the end of this month.

Below is Sankey’s statement on the current state of affairs, which came after an expected face-to-face meeting of the conference’s 14 athletic directors.  The biggest takeaway? Sankey allowed that the current trend of COVID-19 positives across the country must begin trending downward in order for there to be a college football season in 2020.

We had a productive meeting on Monday and engaged in discussions on a number of important issues that will contribute to critical decisions to be made in the weeks ahead. The ability to personally interact over the course of an entire day contributed to the productivity of the meeting.

It is clear that current circumstances related to COVID-19 must improve and we will continue to closely monitor developments around the virus on a daily basis. In the coming weeks we will continue to meet regularly with campus leaders via videoconferences and gather relevant information while guided by medical advisors. We believe that late July will provide the best clarity for making the important decisions ahead of us.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 have already announced they are going to a conference-only schedule for football.  The ACC is in line with the SEC in making such a determination at the end of July.  It’s expected the Big 12 will announce its next move around the same time as well.