Houston stuns Pitt with 29-point fourth quarter


For the better part of 54 minutes of game time, this was my thought.  And my original lede:

That’s three hours of my life I’ll never get back.  Wait, did I just type that out loud?

Then the last six minutes of the game happened… and it totally redeemed itself.

In a game that at one point some could’ve use as the argument for there being too many bowl games, but will instead be viewed as the little brother of yesterday’s Michigan State-Baylor classic, Houston (7-6) roared back from a significant fourth-quarter deficit to rip a 35-34 win away from Pittsburgh in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

The thing for Pitt, playing under an interim head coach, is that Houston, also with an interim coach, trailed 31-6 with just under 14 minutes remaining in the game.  And then, eight minutes later, all hell broke loose.

The Cougars, who looked as dead as the Spartans did in yesterday’s Cotton Bowl, mounted a furious comeback after going down 34-13 with just over six minutes remaining in the fourth on a Pitt field goal.  An eight-yard Greg Ward touchdown pass with 3:41 remaining cut the lead to 34-20.  After a successful onsides kick, another Ward touchdown pass, this one from 29 yards out, cut the lead to 34-27.

Unbelievably, a second consecutive onsides kick was successful, with another Ward touchdown pass subsequently pulling the Cougars to within one at 34-33 with :59 remaining.  Instead of going for the tie, UH went for two… and converted, with Ward hitting Deontay Greenberry to give themselves a 35-34 lead.

Pitt’s final, last-gasp drive stalled at the 50-yard line, handing UH the improbable victory.

After starting off with just 37 first-half passing yards, Ward finished the game 272 yards and the three touchdowns.  He had 92 yards rushing as well, and was named as the Player of the Game.

For the game, the Cougars had 487 yards of offense; incredibly, 294 of those yards came in that wild fourth quarter.

Quarterback Chad Voytik passed for 214 yards and a touchdown in a losing effort, and added 40 yards rushing for good measure.  James Conner, the nation’s fifth-leading rusher, ended the game with 90 yards on the ground after being bottled up the first half.

With Pitt’s loss, the ACC dropped to 4-7 this postseason.  That will be their final record as that conference’s bowl season is complete.  It’s also the second-worst Power Five mark, ahead of only the Big 12’s 1-4.

The AAC, meanwhile, evened out its mark at 2-2.  East Carolina will face Florida in the Birmingham Bowl Saturday, the conference’s lone remaining opportunity to improve on that mark.

Former four-star Clemson DB enters transfer portal

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A couple of weeks or so before kicking off summer camp, the defending national champion’s depth in the secondary has taken a bit of a hit.

Exiting spring practice, Kyler McMichael was listed as A.J. Terrell‘s back up at one of Clemson’s cornerback slots. However, as first reported by 247Sports.com, McMichael’s name is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.

It’s at this point in the program where we’re compelled to remind readers that McMichael can pull his name from the portal and remain with the Tigers, although entering is, more times than not, the first step toward a transfer. Taking a seat in the portal also affords other programs the opportunity to contact the defensive back without receiving permission from Clemson.

Should McMichael ultimately opt to leave the Tigers, it’s highly likely that he’d have to sit out the 2019 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules if he lands at another FBS program.

A four-star member of Clemson’s 2018 recruiting class, McMichael was rated as the No. 8 corner in the country; the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 56 prospect overall on 247Sports.com’s composite board. He was the highest-rated defensive back in the Tigers’ class that year.

McMichael picked Clemson over offers from, among others, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.

As a true freshman, McMichael played in 12 games. During that action, he was credited with a pair of tackles in just over 100 snaps.

Oh, SHI? Cue Clay Davis because Rutgers announces new football naming rights deal for what will now be known as SHI Stadium

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Cue Clay Davis because the birthplace of college football has a new name and fans probably can’t wait to make fun of it.

Rutgers announced on Friday that they have agreed to a new stadium naming rights deal with SHI International Corp. that will see the Scarlet Knights’ home rebranded over the next seven years into SHI Stadium. The venue was officially known as HighPoint.com Stadium last year but the naming rights deal with what most know as High Point Solutions expired this offseason.

“As the State University of New Jersey, we are thrilled to partner with SHI,” Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs said in a statement. “Headquartered right here in Somerset, SHI proudly embraces its strong Rutgers ties. As we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of college football here at the Birthplace, we are delighted to partner with a company that shares in our Relentless Pursuit of Excellence. This partnership will positively impact athletics, the university and the New Jersey community.”

Terms were not announced by the school but “a person familiar with the contract told NJ Advance Media it’s a 7-year deal starting at $1.25 million and increasing by $100,000 annually to $1.85 million in 2025-26.” At a total of nearly $10 million over the lifetime of the contract, that isn’t quite what other Power Five programs have fetched but a still significant bump over the previous $600,000 a year the school got.

The Scarlet Knights previously played at Rutgers Stadium up until 2011. The first football game at the newly renamed stadium will happen on Aug. 30 against UMass.

Rimington Trophy watch list is out for 2019 and it includes 80 FBS centers

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Are you a starting center for 2019? Good, because chances are high you made the Rimington Trophy watch list.

The Rimington Trophy Committee released their annual pre-season watch list for the award given to the nation’s best center and remarkably, 80 of the 130 FBS teams were represented on the list. While watch lists are always notable for their length and being sometimes too broad, it kind of feels like everybody who is in line to start was granted a place on this year’s edition.

Among the notable names were Clemson’s Sean Pollard, Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz, Michigan State’s Matt Allen, Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey, Notre Dame’s Jarrett Patterson, Stanford’s Drew Dalman, Washington’s Nick Harris and LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry III.

You can find the full list of centers nominated here.

The winner of the award will be announced in early December along with a host of other college football honors. The winner will then be recognized at the Rimington Trophy Presentation in Lincoln, Nebraska on January 18, 2020.

Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam, Oklahoma’s Grant Calcaterra lead off 2019 watch list for the Mackey Award

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Being a tight end in today’s version of college football means you’re a player wearing many hats.

While blocking is emphasized less than ever before, players at the position still need to do it in addition to splitting out wide, running reverses and lining up all over the field in a variety of offensive sets. This year’s annual watch list for the 2019 Mackey Award includes a host of players who can do it all and leave an impact between the lines that can make them a headache for opposing defensive coordinators.

While the entire list includes just about every starter at the position in the country, some of the headliners for the upcoming season include Washington’s Hunter BryantOklahoma’s Grant Calcaterra, Alabama’s Miller Forristall, Memphis’ Joey Magnifico, Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam, Stanford’s Colby Parkinson and Vandy’s Jared Pinkney.

The full list of players on the Mackey Award watch list can be found here.

Last year’s winner was Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson, who later became a top 10 draft pick for the Detroit Lions the following spring.