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Derrick Henry, Kyle Allen push No. 10 Alabama past No. 9 Texas A&M

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It’s pretty tough to beat Alabama when Derrick Henry rumbles for two touchdowns. It’s nay impossible when your own quarterback pitches in three more. Henry’s pair of scores and Kyle Allen‘s three pick-sixes doomed No. 9 Texas A&M in a 41-23 loss to No. 10 Alabama Saturday afternoon in College Station.

After a pair of punts to open the game, Allen opened the scoring for Alabama when Minkah Fitzpatrick snagged a misfire and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown at the 7:53 mark of the first quarter. Henry raced in untouched from 55 yards out two-and-a-half minutes later to give the Tide a 14-0 lead, and a 73-0 run over the Aggies dating back to last season’s 59-0 demolition.

Taylor Bertolet put A&M on the scoreboard with a 54-yard field goal late in the first quarter, but Henry scored again to open the second quarter, this time a six-yard plunge, to push the lead to 21-3. After another Bertolet field goal, Texas A&M threatened to pull within one score, driving deep into Alabama territory, but Allen again misfired, and Tide safety Eddie Jackson capitalized on the mistake with a 93-yard race back, turning a potential 21-13 deficit to a 28-6 hole with 6:28 to go.

But from there, the Aggies’ defense stiffened – helped greatly by Alabama standout center Ryan Kelly leaving the game with an apparent concussion – and the Tide special teams took over for the A&M offense as the unit that couldn’t get out of its own way.

It started when Christian Kirk raced a punt back 68 yards for a touchdown to close the scoring in the first half, and continued into the second when Alabama return man Cyrus Jones fumbled at his own 47. Allen hit Ricky Seals-Jones for a 44-yard gain, then again for a three-yard toss, and suddenly 28-6 turned into 28-20.

But where Alabama capitalized on its chances, Texas A&M did not. After Myles Garrett blocked a J.K. Scott punt immediately after the Seals-Jones touchdown, allowing Texas A&M to take over just 29 yards away from a potential game-tying touchdown, the Aggies moved backward. Allen took a five-yard sack on 3rd-and-10 and Bertolet’s ensuing 52-yard field goal try was five yards short. And just as soon as A&M was back in the game, the Aggies were out of it.

Alabama added two Adam Griffith field goals to push the lead to 34-20 and, with the score at 34-23 with 5:18 remaining, Fitzpatrick again intercepted Allen and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown, giving Alabama its final score at 41-23.

For the game, Allen was 20-of-40 for 263 yards with a touchdown and three pick-sixes. Freshman Kyler Murray played sparingly, completing 2-of-4 passes for 21 yards and tossing in another interception. Texas A&M never established the run, credited with only 32 yards on the day. Tra Carson led the Aggies’ ground efforts with 13 carries for 46 yards.

Henry, meanwhile, totaled 32 carries for 236 yards and two touchdowns. It was the second-most rushing yards ever for an Alabama running back since Nick Saban‘s arrival and the most allowed by a Texas A&M defense since Texas’s Cedric Benson rumbled for 283 yards in 2003. Each member of the Aggie defensive line – primarily Garrett and defensive tackles Zaycoven Henderson and Daylon Mack – had their moments, but Henry still got his yards when Alabama needed them. Jake Coker added an economical 19-of-25 passing for 138 yards plus 13 rushing yards.

But, when Henry rumbles for 200-plus and the opposing quarterback throws more touchdowns for your team than his own, 150 yards is all you really need, isn’t it?

LSU opens as double-digit favorites on Oklahoma; Ohio State slight underdog to Clemson

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While definitely subject to change, the initial wagering odds for the degenerates in the reading audience are out.

Earlier Sunday, and in a surprise to absolutely no one, the four semifinalists for the 2019 College Football Playoff were released.  LSU was given the No. 1 seed by the selection committee and will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl.  No. 2 Ohio State, which came into Championship Saturday ranked first in the country, will square off with No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, LSU is a 7/5 favorite to win the 2019 national championship.  Clemson is next at 2/1, while Ohio State sits at 3/1.  Oklahoma, which won its way into the playoffs at the expense of Georgia, is a decided underdog at 16/1.

Speaking of underdogs, the SEC Tigers are currently listed as a 12½-point favorite in their matchup with the Sooners.  Despite being the higher seed, the Buckeyes have opened as a two-point underdog to the ACC Tigers.

The over/under for Ohio State-Clemson opened at 63; for LSU-Oklahoma, it’s at 75.

LSU and Oklahoma have squared off just twice previously, with the most recent matchup coming in 2004.  Clemson and Ohio State have met three times in their collective histories, the most recent meeting coming in the 2016 College Football Playoff — a 31-0 win for the Tigers.

Arkansas confirms hiring of Georgia OL coach Sam Pittman as head coach

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When it came to replacing the fired Chad Morris, Arkansas, as it turned out, didn’t have to look outside of the SEC.

Sunday, with one of its top targets, Lane Kiffin, already having been locked up by SEC West rival Ole Miss, Arkansas reportedly pivoted its attention to Georgia’s Sam Pittman.  A few hours later, the Razorbacks confirmed that Pittman has been hired as the school’s next head football coach.

“Sam Pittman has been an integral part of successful teams that have competed at the highest levels, including for SEC and NCAA Championships,” UA athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “As one of the nation’s premier offensive line coaches, he has built a remarkable body of work thanks to his tremendous passion for his student-athletes, including teaching the fundamentals and developing his players on and off the field. Sam instills in his players the motivation, grit and determination required to compete and win. Throughout this process, I heard from many of his former players about the tremendous influence he had on them as a player and as a man.

“Sam knows the Southeastern Conference inside and out and is one of the nation’s best recruiters. His connections throughout football will enable him to build a quality coaching staff. In his previous tenure, Sam and his wife Jamie fell in love with the state of Arkansas and with Razorback fans. They know what a special place this is and are excited for the opportunity to come back to the Home of the Razorbacks.”

The hiring marks a return to Fayetteville for Pittman as he was a member of Bret Bielema‘s first coaching staff in 2013. In 2016, he left for Georgia, where he spent the past four seasons as the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach.  He also served as Kirby Smart‘s associate head coach.

The 58-year-old Pittman will be officially introduced as the Razorbacks’ 34th head coach Monday afternoon.

Mizzou zeroing in on Eli Drinkwitz as next head coach

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Once again, it appears a Power Five program will pilfer a Group of Five school for its next head football coach.

Sunday afternoon, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported that Applachian State’s Eli Drinkwitz “has emerged as a strong candidate” for the vacancy at Missouri.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Drinkwitz has reached an agreement to become Missouri’s next head football coach and a deal is being finalized.”

An official announcement of Drinkwitz becoming the permanent replacement for Barry Odom, who was fired late last month after four seasons at his alma mater, is expected no later than Monday.

The 36-year-old Drinkwitz is in his first season as the head coach of the Mountaineers, his first head-coaching job at any level of football.  App State stands at 12-1 on the season after claiming its second-straight Sun Belt Conference championship Saturday with a win over Louisiana.

Dec. 21, App State will face UAB in the New Orleans Bowl.

Georgia WR Dominick Blaylock reportedly suffered ACL tear in SEC title game loss

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A rough weekend for Georgia was underscored on Sunday as reports surfaced saying one of their key young players is done for the rest of this year and likely part of the next one.

As per Rivals’ Radi Nabulsi and a host of other beat writers in Athens, Bulldogs receiver Dominick Blaylock suffered a torn ACL in the loss against LSU in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.

The freshman from Marietta, Ga. had to be carted off the field in the first quarter after making a short catch and planting his knee awkwardly. The team’s top receiver, Lawrence Cager, was already out after undergoing knee surgery on Nov. 29.

Blaylock had made 18 catches for 310 yards and five touchdowns at UGA this season.