Kizer, Prosise lead No. 14 Notre Dame past USC for shootout win

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The backfield battery of DeShone Kizer and C.J. Prosise isn’t what Brian Kelly had in mind two months ago. In fact, if you told him then what you know now, he’d probably shudder and curse under his breath. But, unbeknownst to him, to you, and probably to Kizer and Prosise themselves, the unlikely duo carried Notre Dame to another win in what’s proving to be a successful season in spite of some tremendous odds.

Kizer, the previously untested freshman, hit 15-of-24 passes for 227 yards (plus 47 rushing yards) and two touchdowns and no interceptions and Prosise, the former wide receiver, continued his hey-don’t-you-forget-me Heisman campaign by rushing 19 times for 143 yards and two more scores to lead No. 14 Notre Dame to a 41-31 win over USC on Saturday night in South Bend.

The game was a back-and-forth affair that was essentially three blowouts rolled into one: Notre Dame jumped out to a 24-10 lead through the six minute mark of the second quarter, followed by USC boasting a 21-0 run through the end of the second quarter and the completion of the third, only to see Notre Dame wrestle back control with a 17-0 fourth quarter.

USC opened the scoring with a three-yard run by Cody Kessler, only to see Notre Dame tie the game one play later on a 75-yard throw from Kizer to Will Fuller. Prosise put Notre Dame on top 14-10 with a 25-yard scoring dash, and Amir Carlisle added to the lead by returning a blocked punt five yards for a touchdown at the 5:04 mark of the first quarter.

Typical of a Notre Dame defense the week after facing Navy, the Irish were susceptible to allowing big plays, and that showed in the second quarter as Jalen Greene nailed JuJu Smith-Schuster on a 75-yard double pass for a touchdown, and Adoree’ Jackson scored from 83 yards out on a pass from Kessler.

Kessler (365 yards on 30-of-46 passing) hit tight end Taylor McNamara for a four-yard score at the 9:40 mark of the third quarter to give USC a 31-24 lead, but Brian VanGorder‘s unit closed the door from there.

Prosise tied the game with a six-yard run 40 seconds into the fourth quarter, and Kizer gave the Irish the lead for good when he found Corey Robinson for a diving touchdown catch with 9:06 remaining.

Justin Yoon put the game away with a 32-yard field goal with 5:39 to play.

USC played its first game under interim head coach Clay Helton following Steve Sarkisian‘s firing on Monday. USC athletics director Pat Haden collapsed on the sideline before the game, but reports indicated he was in good health.

USC outgained Notre Dame 590-476 on the evening.

After losing eight in a row from 2002-09, Notre Dame has now won four of the past six and three of the last four. The Irish hold the all-time lead 46-35-5 in a series that dates back to 1926.

USC (3-3) has now lost two in a row and three of its past four – and returns to Los Angeles to face No. 4 Utah on Saturday. Notre Dame (6-1) kept its Playoff hopes alive for another two weeks; the Irish will take next week off before a suddenly important trip to undefeated Temple on Oct. 31.

 

Florida to host Florida Atlantic in 2021

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Florida will host Florida Atlantic in 2021, FAU announced Tuesday. The game will take place on Sept. 4 and serve as the season-opener for both schools.

The schools have met three times previously, all of them in Gainesville. Florida won 59-20 on Nov. 17, 2007, 41-3 on Sept. 3, 2011, and 20-14 on Nov. 21, 2015.

The game will round out both schools’ non-conference schedules.

Florida will visit USF on Sept. 11, host Florida State on Nov. 27 and has a TBD home game against Samford, most likely on Nov. 20.

Today’s news means Florida has a future game on the schedule with every FBS program in the Sunshine State except UCF and Florida International. Florida beat Miami in Orlando to open this season and will play a home-and-home with the ‘Canes in 2024-25.

Florida Atlantic will follow its Gainesville trip with an excursion to Colorado Springs to play Air Force. After that, the Owls will host Fordham and Georgia Southern to round out September.

 

With Husky mascot retiring in 2021, Northern Illinois to introduce successor on Tuesday

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Northern Illinois’ husky mascot, Mission, is retiring in 2021, and on Tuesday the school will introduce his successor.

Mission II, born on July 6 and weighing a tender 14.5 ounces, will replace Mission two years from now, and the puppy will begin his official duties as NIU’s next official mascot on Tuesday.

“We have long been searching for the heir apparent to Mission, and there is no question that we have found the right Huskie,” NIU Alumni Association Executive Director Reggie Bustinza said. “Mission has set very high expectations, but there is no doubt in my mind that Mission II cannot only meet those demands, but surpass them.

“We are happy that Mission will have plenty of years to enjoy his retirement.”

Mission will turn 10 years old in 2021, and by that time Mission II will be fully versed in all the expectations placed upon the Official Northern Illinois Husky.

Mission II, a Siberian husky born in southern Wisconsin, will accompany Mission “to all eligible events for experiential learning and proofing,” which begins at a tasting for an NIU-branded beer on Tuesday evening in DeKalb.

The school has not revealed when Mission II will make his debut at a Husky football game, and in the meantime he’ll continue training with Lisa Boland while also attending daily puppy classes.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing Mission and Mission II do the job together during the training period,” Boland said. “It will be wonderful to watch ‘Mini-Mish’ learn from Mission, and see them work as a team. Mission has set a very high bar in mascotting, and Mission II will be working very hard to follow in his footsteps. I am so proud of Mission and the work that he’s done as the official NIU mascot.

“I am thrilled to have the privilege of guiding his successor to best represent Huskie Nation.”

Troy loses RB B.J. Smith, SBC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, to season-ending injury

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This one will certainly leave a lasting mark.

Over the summer, Troy’s B.J. Smith was named as the Sun Belt Conference’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.  Two months later, the football program confirmed, the running back will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2019 season because of an injury sustained in the Week 3 loss to Southern Miss.

While the specific nature of the injury wasn’t divulged by the school, it’s believed Smith injured his knee midway through the second quarter of last Saturday’s game.

Last season, Smith led the Trojans with 1,186 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.  This season, the fourth-year senior had rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries in two games.

Because of the timing of the injury, Smith can take a redshirt for the 2019 season and return to the Trojans next season.

Texas LB Caleb Johnson enters transfer portal

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Sitting at the quarter-pole of the 2019 regular season, and Texas is the latest FBS program to feel the pain of the portal.

Joe Cook of InsideTexas.com was the first to report that Caleb Johnson has placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.  247Sports.com subsequently confirmed the initial report, writing that the junior linebacker “feels he has not fit in well since he arrived at Texas.”

247Sports provided further details as to the events leading up to Johnson’s decision.

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Johnson met with the staff Monday morning to inform them of his intentions to enter the transfer portal. While the staff requested he think more about his decision, Johnson decided to enter his name into he NCAA Transfer Portal, and is listed in the portal as of Tuesday morning.

Johnson joined the Longhorns from the junior college level, enrolling early and taking part in spring practice this past offseason.  He was a three-star 2019 signee who was rated as the No. 3 JUCO outside linebacker in this past year’s class.

Through three games, Johnson hadn’t yet taken the field for the Big 12 program.