FCS-to-Ducks transfer one of 30 QBs on Unitas Award watch list

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Even as one high-profile FCS transfer has yet to be officially added to his new Power Five program’s roster, he’s still highly thought of by at least one major award.

Tuesday, the fine folks at the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award released its preseason watch list, with the annual award given to the best college senior or fourth-year junior quarterback recognizing 30 players who meet the qualifications.  And, again, those qualifications are that they are, one, a quarterback and, two, are a college senior or fourth-year junior.

Included in that group of 30 is Vernon Adams, one of the most decorated players in the Football Championship Series who announced in February of this year that he would be transferring from Eastern Washington to Oregon for his final season of collegiate eligibility.  In early July it was reported that Adams had been admitted to UO and ruled eligible to enroll in classes at the university.  However, Adams will likely miss at least the first three days of the Ducks’ summer camp that begins Aug. 10 as he cleans up one final class that will allow him formal admission and his inclusion on his new squad’s roster.

There’s also one current FCS quarterback in the group: North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.

In addition to Adams and Wentz, 2014 Unitas finalists Cody Kessler of USC and Dak Prescott of Mississippi State are included in the initial watch list.   Last year’s winner was the man Adams will attempt to replace, Marcus Mariota.

Below is the complete list of preseason Unitas Award watch listers.  And, again, those eligible are college senior or fourth-year junior quarterbacks.

Vernon Adams, Oregon
Brandon Allen, Arkansas
Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska
Mike Bercovici, Arizona State
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Blake Frohnapfel, UMass
Everett Golson, Florida State
Taysom Hill, BYU
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Driphus Jackson, Rice
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
Cody Kessler, USC
Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati
Fredi Knighten, Arkansas State
Joe Licata, Buffalo
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Maty Mauk, Missouri
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Zach Terrell, Western Michigan
Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
Chad Voytik, Pittsburgh
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah

No. 5 LSU handles No. 22 Mississippi State, advances to showdown vs. No. 1 Alabama

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LSU came into Saturday knowing if No. 22 Mississippi State was going to beat them, Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald would have to do it by himself.

Fitzgerald managed to run the ball 23 times for 131 hard, effective yards, but the Bulldogs’ passing game was simply atrocious. He finished 8-of-24 for 59 yards with four interceptions, allowing No. 5 LSU to coax out just enough offense for a 19-3 win in Baton Rouge.

The first of Fitzgerald’s two picks proved to be the backbreaker. On his second pass of the day, Fitzgerald hit LSU’s Michael Divinity, Jr., who returned the ball 30 yards to the Mississippi State 3. Nick Brossette punched in a 1-yard rush on 3rd-and-goal to put the Tigers up 7-0.

Mississippi State answered with a 73-yard drive, but Fitzgerald’s 3rd-and-one plunge from the 2 was stuffed, forcing a 19-yard Jace Christmann field goal.

The Tigers’ next seven possessions covered 22 yards in 15 plays, ending in six three-and-outs and one interception, but it didn’t matter. Mississippi State (4-3, 1-3 SEC) could not puncture the scoreboard again, and a 38-yard Cole Tracy field goal pushed the lead to 10-3 at the break.

That theme continued in the second half, as Tracy added second half field goals of 38, 29 and 40 yards.

Joe Burrow finished 16-of-28 for 129 yards with an interception, while the Tigers’ ground game mustered 111 yards on 43 carries.

While it was enough for LSU (7-1, 4-1 SEC) to beat this week’s opponent, it won’t be enough to beat the next. After a mutual bye week, LSU next takes the field against No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 3 in Baton Rouge. 

And a major development in that game occurred at the end of this one. LSU linebacker Devin White was ejected in the fourth quarter for a targeting hit on Fitzgerald, meaning the Bayou Bengals will be without their best defensive player for the first half against Alabama.

Mark Dantonio calls ‘BS’ on Jim Harbaugh’s ‘bush league’ claims

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Things were chippy prior to the annual Michigan-Michigan State rivalry game Saturday afternoon… they stayed chippy throughout the Wolverines’ huge win in East Lansing… and the coaches from both sides continued chirping on into their respective postgame press conferences.

Jim Harbaugh ripped the Spartans’ “bush league” pregame tactics as the U-M head coach claimed that MSU players “clotheslined a couple of our guys” and ripped off the headphones of another player. Harbaugh also specifically mentioned his counterpart on the opposing sideline, and it wasn’t an especially flattering mention.

“Total bush league and apparently Coach [Mark] Dantonio was five yards behind it all smiling,” Harbaugh said. “I think it’s bush league, that’s my impression of it.”

The MSU head coach’s response to being described as bush league? From the Detroit Free Press:

That’s BS,” Dantonio said. “You guys get your cameras out. I’m not gonna go to that. Go ahead, next question.”

A few seconds later, Dantonio said, unprompted: “Bush league? Mmmhmm.

Dantonio is now 8-4 all-time against the Wolverines, while Harbaugh evened his record at 2-2 against the Spartans.

Purdue tricks Ohio State with fake field goal and capitalizes with touchdown before halftime

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Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm knows his team cannot afford to settle for field goals if the Boilermakers are going to upset No. 2 Ohio State tonight. So with a 7-3 lead late in the first half and a fourth down from the Ohio State 13-yard line, Brohm opted to try a fake field goal in an attempt to tack on a few more points just before halftime. Fortunately for Brohm, that worked out to perfection, and now Purdue holds a 14-3 lead on the Buckeyes at halftime as result.

Holder Joe Schopper took the snap and promptly got up and ran to the left side of the field, needing four yards to pick up a first down for Purdue. Schopper had the room but needed to throw his body into a defender just enough to make sure he picked up the first down. Against Ohio State’s special teams unit, he did just that.

Had Purdue gone into halftime with a 10-3 lead, there may not be a Boilermaker fan in the state of Indiana that would have passed up on that scenario if it was an option before the game started. And the possibility of still having to settle for a field goal could still have become a reality if not for the first-and-goal pass from David Blough to Rondale Moore, who scooted into the end zone to cushion the Purdue lead.

Purdue’s late-half touchdown drive came immediately after Ohio State kicker Blake Haubeil missed on a 35-yard field goal to try cutting Purdue’s lead to one. So go ahead and consider this a 10-point swing that Brohm was not content to let slip by him.

We’ll see if Brohm has to dig into a bag of tricks in the second half.

No. 25 Wazzu up big against No. 12 Oregon heading to halftime

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Gardner Minshew threw an interception on No. 25 Washington State’s first drive of the game against No. 12 Oregon, leading many in the frenzied crowd at Martin Stadium to wonder if the team had Coug’d it before they even could get going. As it turns out, there was nowhere to go but up on a wild day-turned-night on the Palouse.

Wazzu wound up getting back on track in a big way, bouncing back to the tune of a 27-0 lead at halftime and a growing national profile in the process as they look to take control of the Pac-12 North.

Minshew, the mustache-sporting grad transfer behind center, finished the half with 231 yards and three touchdowns on 36 attempts — one of which was a dime to Easop Winston just before the end of the second quarter that officially signaled upset alert. As is typical of Mike Leach’s Air Raid, the ball was spread around quite a bit to the tune of nine different receivers with a catch, including two tailbacks in James Williams and Max Borghi with six apiece.

The Cougars even got the ground game going, with Williams managing to break out of at least six tackles for a 24 yard scamper to the end zone that included him tight rope-walking along the sideline before diving past the pylon.

As a result of all that, Oregon QB Justin Herbert hardly looked like the guy many were touting as the top draft pick in the spring as he failed to develop much consistency on any of the team’s drives and finished just 4-of-11 for 36 yards in the half. Running back CJ Verdell did have 17 yards rushing but it was other wise four straight three-and-outs for the offense to open the game and go into the locker room in search of answers.

This game is far from other when you factor in both #Pac12AfterDark vibes and Leach’s penchant for throwing the ball at all costs so there’s still plenty of intrigue going on in Pullman. After a rough start though, the Cougars have to be feeling good about the direction the team is taking as their Pac-12 rivals suddenly find themselves in a deep hole with quite the fight on their hands.