Missed PAT costs Texas as California outduels Horns, 45-44

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We noted at halftime that a plethora of mistakes was the only thing keeping California from holding a substantial lead over Texas. But it was one crucial mistake that cost Texas, as a Nick Rose missed PAT prematurely ended a three-touchdown rally and allowed California to hold on for a 45-44 win in Austin.

First, how they got there. Thanks to an offside penalty that cost them a fresh possession deep inside Texas territory, a fumble at the Longhorns goal line and another one near their own and, finally, a procedure penalty that led to a missed field goal, Cal – a touchdown favorite in most books – found itself down 24-14 with 1:32 to go in the first half after Johnathan Gray charged in for a six-yard touchdown run, his second of the half. But the Bears immediately marched 75 yards in four plays, capped by a one-yard Vic Enwere run, to pull within 24-21, and Jalen Jefferson stepped in front of a Jerrod Heard and raced it back to the Texas 30, leading to a 34-yard Matt Anderson field goal that knotted the game at 24-24 at the half.

Cal opened the second half by scoring touchdowns on all three of its third quarter possessions: a 42-yard march punctuated by another one-yard Enwere plunge, a three-yard Jared Goff pass to Kenny Lawler, and a 74-yard Khalfani Muhammad dash, to grab a 45-24 lead.

It was a 21-0 quarter and, in total, a 31-0 run dating back to the end of the first half that put the game completely out of reach… until it wasn’t.

Texas rallied in the fourth quarter, getting a 13-yard Heard run to pull within two scores with 13:24 to go, then a 27-yard D’Onta Foreman dash to pull within one touchdown at the three minute mark. Facing a potential game-ending 3rd-and-7 at the Texas 44, a Goff pass was dropped deep in Texas territory and the Longhorns stayed alive. Heard moved the Longhorns 81 yards in six plays, dashing 45 yards for his third score of the day, seemingly tying the game with 1:11 to go. And then Rose missed the extra point.

California recovered the onside kick and, with Texas out of timeouts, that was that. The Bears (3-0) held on for an important non-conference win, and Texas (1-2) found another way to lose a game in a half-decade full of them.

Goff completed 27-of-37 passes for 268 yards with three touchdowns and one fumble, hitting nine different receivers on the night. Lawler was his top target on the night, snaring six passes for 79 yards and two scores. The Bears rushed for a combined 280 yards and three scores; Muhammad racked up 164 yards on 10 carries, and Enwere notched 73 yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts.

In just his second start, Heard flummoxed California on the air and the ground. The redshirt freshman connected on 20-of-31 passes for 364 yards with one interception and rushed 24 times for 163 yards and three scores with one fumble. Two weeks after Texas posted 163 yards – total – in a blowout loss at Notre Dame, Heard racked up 527 by himself. Daje Johnson grabbed five receptions for 145 yards, and Gray posted four grabs for 71 yards to go with 11 carries for 46 yards and two touchdowns.

In all, Texas outgained Cal 650-548 and held a 28-26 first downs advantage.

California visits Washington next week, while Texas hosts No. 25 Oklahoma State.

Dad of former Northwestern QB donated a real, stuffed wildcat to ‘Cats new facility

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Northwestern’s state-of-the-art football facility, literally on the shore of Lake Michigan, is now fully operational, at a low, low cost of $260 million.

The facility has everything — including an actual wild cat.

According to a story by Yahoo‘s Eric Edholm, a stuffed cat was donated to the program by Walter Siemian, the father of former Wildcat quarterback Trevor Siemian. The plan was to originally sell it and use the proceeds to benefit the program, but apparently Pat Fitzgerald saw the cat and fell in love.

Walter Siemian took down the predator — legally, of course — last November, sent the cat of prey in question to a taxidermist and then donated it to the program.

The initial understanding was that it would be sold, with the proceeds benefitting the program. After all, these things draw some serious coin. (One current listing here for a mountain lion, which this mammal appears to be, is going for more than $12,000.) But once Fitzgerald saw it, the story goes, there was no way he was letting it leave.

The cat was staying put. That’s also easy to see why. And it’s now the first thing you see when you enter the coaches’ meeting rooms.

The hope with facilities like these is that the enhanced investment into football will lead to the Northwestern coaching staff singing a different class of recruit, which will in turn allow the program to pair their stuffed mascot with some Big Ten championship trophies.

That’s the hope, at least.

Illinois lands former USC WR Josh Imatorbhebhe

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The Los Angeles-to-Champaign pipeline is alive and well.

After landing wide receiver Trevon Sidney and defensive end Oluwole Betiku, Jr., the Fighting Illini have added wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, he announced Monday.

“Transitions are never easy, but the support has definitely helped lighten the load,” Imatorbhebhe, No. 17 above, wrote in an iPhone note posted to his Twitter account. “Without further ado I’m pleased to announce my commitment to…

THE University of Illinois; with a plan to get my Masters (sic) in Strategic Brand Communications.”

A former 4-star recruit in the class of 2016 out of Suwanee, Ga., Imatorbehbhe redshirted in his first year on campus, then caught just two passes in his two seasons on the active roster, with his 2018 season slowed by an ankle injury.

Imatorbehbhe will have two seasons to play immediately for the Illini.

Trevor Lawrence once again says he has no desire to skip bowl games to protect NFL stock

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The trend of college football players with the NFL coming into view has become a growing one the last few seasons, but Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence says you won’t have to worry about missing him in a postseason bowl game.

“Sitting out bowl games and stuff, that’ll never be me,” Lawrence said in an interview with ESPN. “You won’t have to worry about writing those stories.”

This quote is nothing new from Lawrence. In March, Lawrence stressed a similar stance with regard to sitting out of college football bowl games to protect NFL draft stock.

From The Athletic‘s Grace Raynor in March:

Asked specifically if he would consider sitting out in an effort to protect his health for an NFL future, the Georgia native answered with two resounding “No’s.” That’s not in the cards, he says.

“Everyone’s talking about that, but I don’t really care about that,” Lawrence said Monday evening in his first public interview since the College Football Playoff.

“It’s definitely not coming from me, all that stuff, so (I’ll) just kind of ignore it. Just keep working.

Of course, there is something that needs to be pointed out here. A large majority of the players choosing to skip bowl games aren’t playing in the College Football Playoff and a national championship. While New Years Six bowl games are high in prestige even if not in the playoff rotation, they simply are not the same as playing in the playoff with a national title in sight.

Lawrence has played for and won the national championship in his freshman season and probably has two more seasons that could see Clemson continue to compete for a playoff spot. If Clemson is in the playoff the next two (or three years), the chances Lawrence skips a bowl game are reduced significantly.

Maybe Lawrence is just confident in Clemson’s ability to make the playoff the next couple of seasons. He’s not wrong though, right?

Syracuse seeing spike in football season ticket sales

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Dino Babers had Syracuse enjoying a 10-win season for the first time since 2001 last season. Fans of the Orange have had their enthusiasm for the football program rejuvenated and it shows in the season ticket sales this offseason.

According to a report from Syracuse.com, Syracuse has recorded 4,500 more season ticket sales this year than the school saw all of last year. To date, as of Friday, Syracuse has sold 6,800 season tickets for the 2019 season as the total inches closer and closet to a possible school record (8,000).

On top of the increased season ticket sales, Syracuse is also seeing a great retention rate through season ticket renewals. Syracuse has seen over 90 percent of season ticket holders renew their ticket packages for the 2019 season.

Syracuse ended the 2018 season ranked No. 15 in the final AP poll. IT is the highest Syracuse has ended a season in the AP Top 25 since the 2001 season (No. 14). Babers also ended Syracuse’s bowl drought in style by coaching Syracuse to a Camping World Victory in Syracuse’s first bowl game since 2013.

Syracuse opens the 2019 season on the road at Liberty on Aug. 31.