No. 7 LSU playing like SEC’s best playoff contender

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Nobody should be foolish enough to ignore Alabama, Ole Miss, Texas A&M or Florida, but it No. 7 LSU (5-0, 3-0) is currently playing like the team with the best chance to represent the SEC in the College Football Playoff. Playing a transplanted road game at home in Baton Rouge, LSU pulled away from South Carolina (2-4, 0-4 SEC) to win 45-24 to remain undefeated with plenty of key games still to play.

Leonard Fournette did not rush for his weekly 200 yards, as he has done the last couple of weeks, but he did go for 158 yards and a touchdown, an 87-yard touchdown run on the second play of the second half to give LSU a 24-10 lead. That lead would grow to 31-10 before South Carolina started to chip away a bit. The damage had been done though and LSU was able to give Fournette a bit of a rest later in the half. That gave Derrius Guice a chance to shine, with 109 rushing yards and a touchdown.

LSU even got a productive afternoon from the quarterback, Brandon Harris. Harris completed 17 of 29 pass attempts for 229 yards, a new career high, and two touchdowns. Harris did not throw an interception either, showing there is potential for LSU’s passing game to get the job done as well. LSU should stick to the running game first and use the passing game as a compliment to whatever Fournette does. Then it falls on the LSU defense, which only allowed 17 points to South Carolina (Gamecocks had one special teams TD) and allowed just 12 first downs. LSU’s defense may not be quite up to the bar we have seen past LSU defensive units, but this Tigers team can still make somethings happen and that makes them as dangerous as any team in the SEC.

Between having a Heisman Trophy candidate running back, a potentially serviceable passing game and a well-rounded defense, what’s not to like about LSU? It might be the schedule.

Next week LSU hosts a rising Florida Gators squad that could be undefeated (Florida visiting Missouri tonight) and the Tigers later will make road trips to Alabama and Ole Miss. Both key SEC West road tests will be key, not to mention the regular season finale at home against Texas A&M. Consistency will be the key to LSU’s SEC and potential playoff success. Right now, LSU is playing like one fo the best teams in the conference, but can they keep it going?

South Carolina, meanwhile, is in danger of falling out of postseason bowl contention. Now at 2-4, South Carolina must win four of their final six games this season. The second half of the schedule includes games against Texas A&M, Florida and Clemson and a road game at Tennessee. South Carolina has not missed the postseason since 2007. This is also the first time Steve Spurrier has started 0-4 in SEC play in his career.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.