Cal, Utah throw pastry party as turnovers reign in battle of unbeatens

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The stage on which unbeaten Cal and undefeated Utah found themselves Saturday night was an unfamiliar one.  ESPN’s College GameDay show pulled into Salt Lake City for the first time in years.  The Golden Bears are looking to go 6-0 to start a season for the first time since 1950, the Utes looking to go 5-0 for the first time since 2010.  Add in Pac-12 and College Football Playoff implications, and this is a huge game given any metric you can utilize.

Given what’s at stake, you’d expect some nerves.  And nerves, and turnovers, are exactly what a national television audience received.

First and foremost, Utah was able to overcome their missteps and take a 24-17 lead into halftime.  As has been intimated, though, turnovers were the overriding theme of the first two quarters.

All told, the two teams combined for seven turnovers.  The decided “advantage” in that category, much to their chagrin, went to the Bears as they were responsible for five of them, which included four Jared Goff first-half interceptions.

The final two Goff picks were particularly penalizing for Cal as Utah turned them into a pair of touchdowns.  A 54-yard touchdown pass from Travis Wilson, responsible for two interceptions himself, snapped a 10-10 tie late in the second quarter coming off the third pick, with the fourth pick on the ensuing possession leading to a Devontae Booker four-yard touchdown run with 1:47 remaining to push that lead out to 24-10.

Goff was able to shake off the most picks thrown by an FBS quarterback in a half this season as he directed the Bears on a late scoring drive to pull his team right back into the game.  In 1:21 of game time, Goff orchestrated a seven-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown pass that shaved the deficit to 24-17.

Utah, incidentally, will get the ball first to start the second half.

 

Pair of Oregon State assistants given additional titles

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It’s Oregon State football “Additional Title Week” in Corvallis.

Earlier this week, Jonathan Smith announced a pair of on-field assistants have been given additional duties.  Linebackers coach Trent Bray has assumed the title of assistant head coach.  Additionally, running backs coach Michael Pitre will assume the role of recruiting coordinator.

Obviously, both assistants will continue on in their on-field roles.

“Working with Coach Bray for over two years, I recognize the value in his wealth of experience makes him a great resource for me to bounce ideas off,” the Oregon State football head coach said in a statement. “I love his passion and the perspective he brings to our conversations. …

“Coach Pitre is a tremendous recruiter and his influence on our recruiting staff will provide great vision, direction, and growth.  He is exceptional and connecting with people and building relationships with coaches and young men.”

This past cycle, the Beavers pulled in the No. 9 recruiting class in the Pac-12 in 2020.  Prior to that, they were 10th in 2019 and 12th in 2018.

Pitre has been part of the Oregon State football coaching staff since 2018.  This was his first on-field job at the FBS level.  He did, though, begin his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant at Colorado.

Pitre, who played his college football at UCLA, was the running backs coach at FCS Montana State (2014-17) prior to joining the Oregon State football program.

Bray, who played for Oregon State football, has also been at his alma mater since Smith took over in 2018.  This was his second stint with the Beavers as held the same job coaching linebackers from 2012-14.  In between those two Corvallis stops, he was at Nebraska from 2015-17.  From 2009-11, he was at Arizona State.

Taking over a one-win program, Smith won two games in 2018 and five in 2019.  That was the program’s most wins since hitting that same number in 2014.

Last month, it was reported that OSU is working on a contract extension for Smith.

LSU confirms promotion of Tiger great Kevin Faulk as RBs coach

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An LSU football legend officially has an on-field role at his alma mater.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Kevin Faulk would be promoted from his current position as LSU football director of player development.  Thursday, the Tigers confirmed that Faulk has been promoted by Ed Orgeron to running backs coach.

Faulk replaces Tommie Robinson, who left to take the same job at SEC West rival Texas A&M.

“We would like to thank Tommie (Robinson) for being a part of our national championship program and wish him the best in his future,” the LSU football head coach said in a statement. “Kevin is a great teacher and mentor and someone that has earned the respect and love of our players. We are honored to have one of the greatest players in LSU history as part of our coaching staff. This is a home run hire.”

Faulk played collegiately for LSU football from 1995-98.  He is still the school’s all-time leader in rushing yards (4,557) and rushing TDs (46).

Faulk was then a second-round draft pick of the New England Patriots in 1999.  He spent 13 years in the NFL, joining his high school alma mater’s football coaching staff upon his retirement following the 2011 season.

In 2018, Faulk rejoined the LSU football program in an off-field role.  This will be his field on-field role at any level of college football.

“The day I graduated high school I knew I wanted to be a coach,” the 43-year-old Faulk said. “The coaches I had growing up meant so much to me and the community, and I knew I wanted to be that guy. To coach at my alma mater is the best thing I could ever hope for. I wear the purple and gold with pride every day, and I am ready to get going to help win another national championship.”

Ford Field to host even more MACtion in 2020

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The MAC title game isn’t the only bit of #MACtion that Ford Field will see in 2020.

The conference recently released their annual football schedule on Wednesday and among the notable league games is the rivalry contest between Central Michigan and Western Michigan. While this one figures to have division implications on Oct. 17, things are going to be slightly different this year.

Namely that it won’t be on either campus and will instead be played at Ford Field.

“Ford Field has been the location of many great experiences for CMU Football, and this is an opportunity to create another iconic experience for our program and our university,” athletic director Michael Alford said in a release. “CMU’s continued success means out-of-the-box thinking. Bringing this game — and the events surrounding it — to Detroit allows our athletics program to help engage thousands of people who are passionate about CMU.”

It’s an interesting move that will push CMU to over a decade without a win over their directional rivals in Mt. Pleasant. Still, the larger venue and the opportunity to make things an even bigger event in the state’s largest city seem to have won out.

The Detroit News reported on Tuesday that the Chips wanted to do a multi-year deal at the home of the NFL’s Lions but that WMU said no thanks.

The Broncos have won seven of the last nine meetings, including last year’s 31-15 win in Kalamazoo. Despite that head-to-head victory though, Jim McElwain’s squad got the last laugh by winning the MAC West in one of the biggest turnaround stories of the 2019 season.

They wound up playing at Ford Field in the conference title game where they eventually lost to Miami (OH) 26-21. The venue has been the home of the MAC championship since 2004 and will have the next edition played on either Friday, Dec. 4 or Saturday Dec. 5.

Georgia Tech adds 2023 game against Bowling Green, makes slight change to 2021 schedule

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Georgia Tech is loving itself some #MACtion.

The school announced a pair of future schedule moves against teams from the eponymous league on Wednesday. Among the most immediate actions for the Yellow Jackets is that their 2021 contest against Northern Illinois will be shifted to become the season-opener at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sept. 4.

GT will then play FCS Kennesaw State at home and conclude the early non-conference slate with a trip to Notre Dame on Nov. 20, 2021. Their annual rivalry contest against Georgia will conclude the regular season the final weekend of November as usual.

Tech also added Bowling Green to their upcoming docket. The Falcons will head to Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sept. 30, 2023. A trip to Ole Miss and the in-state rival Bulldogs coming to Atlanta will round out the Jackets’ non-conference schedule with one more opening still to be signed (likely against an FCS opponent).

Head coach Geoff Collins’ 2020 squad will have their attention on a conference opponent to open the upcoming season as they take on ACC opponent Clemson at home on Thursday, Sept. 3. The two programs will also meet again in city for the 2022 season opener at nearby Mercedes-Benz Stadium as well.

While those big name opponents will get more attention from fans in the region, don’t discount a bit of that #MACtion heading South either.