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Memphis grabs G5 pole position with program-defining win over Ole Miss

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Coming into its Week 7 matchup with No. 13 Ole Miss, Memphis was looking to send a message to not only the rest of its Group of Five compatriots but to the college football world as a whole.  Exiting the weekend, consider the message resoundingly sent.

On the strength of strong-armed sophomore quarterback Paxton Lynch and a surprisingly stout defense, the Tigers fought back from an early hole then held on for a 37-24 win over the Rebels.  It was U of M’s 13th straight win, a streak that’s the third-longest in the country and extends back to October of last year.

The Rebels jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead after just five minutes of play in the first quarter, only to see the home-standing Tigers rip off 31 straight points.  That run began late in the first quarter on a Lynch touchdown pass and ended the same way after the first drive of the third quarter.

The Rebels then went on another run of their own, with a 10-point mini-spree late in the third quarter — a Chad Kelly-to-Laquon Treadwell touchdown hookup and 24-yard field goal — cutting the lead to one score at 31-24.

A 42-yard Jake Elliott field goal with 9:44 remaining in the game pushed the lead back out to two scores at 34-24.  And then came the backbreaker for the Rebels: a 16-play, 70-yard drive that began at the Tigers’ 21-yard line and ended with another Elliott field goal.  It wasn’t the points that mattered, although it stretched the lead to 13 at 37-24; rather it was the time off the clock — 7:57 to be exact — that left the Rebels with just :55 to find a way to score a pair of touchdowns.  That, of course, didn’t happen.

Lynch ended the game with 384 yards passing, his fifth consecutive effort of 300-plus. Given the opponent it came against, you’ll likely hear Lynch’s name dropped into the Heisman discussion moving forward.

The combination of Memphis’ resounding win over a ranked SEC team and Boise State’s thumping at the hands of Utah State Friday night leaves the Tigers as the clear front-runners for the G5’s slot in a New Year’s Six bowl.  Yes, there are plenty of games to play, with Memphis still having to traverse a couple of unbeaten obstacles on the road in Temple and Houston.  Still, in the here and now, Memphis is the best the G5s have to offer.

Whether they can keep Justin Fuente beyond this year is another matter entirely.

USC transfer QB Jack Sears appears headed to San Diego State

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Jack Sears may have left USC, but it doesn’t appear he’ll end up leaving the state of California.

After finding himself fourth on the quarterbacking depth chart, Sears announced on his personal Twitter account in late August that he had decided to enter the NCAA transfer database.  A little over three months later, and after a flirtation with Oregon State, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that “Sears has committed to San Diego State as a graduate transfer who would enroll during the spring semester.”

As a graduate transfer, Sears would be eligible to play for the Aztecs in 2020.  He would also have another season of eligibility he could use in 2021 as well.

As of yet, the Mountain West Conference school hasn’t confirmed Sears’ intentions.

Sears was a four-star member of the Trojans’ 2017 recruiting class, rated as the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the country.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Sears completed 20-of-28 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown the following season.

LSU QB Joe Burrow wins Heisman Trophy for 2019

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LSU quarterback Joe Burrow has won the Heisman Trophy for the 2019 college football season. Burrow was officially named this year’s Heisman Trophy winner at a ceremony in New York City Saturday night.

The quarterback of the LSU Tigers has had a monster season. While leading LSU to a No. 1 ranking and seed in the College Football Playoff with an unblemished 13-0 record that includes a victory in the SEC Championship Game, Burrow passed for 4,715 yards and 48 touchdowns. Both numbers easily led the SEC as Burrow rewrote a handful of LSU and SEC passing records as the season unfolded. No other passer in the SEC threw for more than 2,850 yards, and the next closest in passing touchdowns was Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa with 33 touchdowns in nine games. Burrow also led the nation in completion percentage (77.9). That is currently on pace to be the highest season-long completion percentage since at least 2009, according to CFBStats.com (the college football stats website only goes back as far as 2009). Colt McCoy of Texas came close in 2008 with a 76.7 completion percentage.

Burrow is the second Heisman Trophy winner in LSU history. The only other Heisman Trophy winner for the Tigers was Billy Cannon in 1959. Burrow has already collected a good amount fo hardware this week as the winner of the Walter Camp Player of the Year, Maxwell Award, AP Player of the Year, and the Davey O’Brien Award.

Burrow beat out three other finalists for the award; Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Chase Young, and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts. The final vote count showed Burrow won this one in a landslide.

A quarterback has won the Heisman Trophy in each of the last four seasons with Lamar Jackson of Louisville, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray of Oklahoma. A quarterback has won the Heisman Trophy in 16 of the 19 seasons it has been awarded since 2000. Burrow is the first quarterback from the SEC to win the Heisman Trophy since Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M won the award in 2012. He is joined by Auburn’s Cam Newton and Florida’s Tim Tebow as the only quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy since 1997, a year after Florida’s Danny Wuerffel ended the SEC QB Heisman drought since Auburn’s Pat Sullivan won the award in 1971.

UNC gives Mack Brown one-year extension on contract

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It appears North Carolina was satisfied with the return of the Mack. Mack Brown and UNC have agreed on a one-year contract extension, the school announced Saturday evening.

Brown is now under contract with UNC through the 2024 season as a result of this contract extension.

“Mack’s return has had an outstanding impact — not just in Kenan Stadium, but throughout the Carolina community,” UNC AD Bubba Cunningham said in a released statement. “Our students are winning on the field and doing well in the classroom, our fan base is energized, and we are all excited about building on the great successes of this season.”

“I want to thank the Board of Trustees, Chancellor Guskiewicz, Bubba and the athletics department for their great support,” Brown said. “You could really see things come together. Our fans have stepped up filling the stadium each week. I love what we’ve been able to do with our facilities and the excitement around the program has given us the opportunity to have one of the top recruiting classes in the country. North Carolina is a wonderful place and everyone can tell we’re building something special here. I’m having a great time.”

Brown coached UNC to a record of 6-6 this season, his first back on the sidelines since last coaching at Texas in 2013 and his first season back at UNC since 1997. Brown’s Tar Heels were the only team to give Clemson much of a battle this season as well, and UNC is heading to the Military Bowl to face the Temple Owls later this month. UNC has now won a bowl game since the 2013 season. Brown’s last bowl victory with the program came in the 1996 season with a win in the Gator Bowl (UNC played in the Gator Bowl game the following season but Brown left the program prior to the bowl game to take over at Texas).

 

Malcolm Perry powers No. 23 Navy past Army in Army-Navy Game

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After three consecutive years of having to endure the agony of singing its alma mater first, No. 23 Navy (10-2, 7-1 AAC) once again beamed with joy and the thrill of victory over rival Army (5-8). Malcolm Perry carried the Midshipmen to a 31-7 victory on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Perry, the game’s MVP, had big runs all game long for Navy as he broke record after record in the Army-Navy Game. Perry set a school record for most rushing yards in a single Army-Navy Game and set the new all-time Navy record for most career rushing yards in the Army-Navy Game after going off for 304 yards and two touchdowns. Perry’s first touchdown run of 55 yards tied the game at 7-7 in the second quarter, and it was all Navy from there.

Army had a 78-yard touchdown drive led by first-time starter Christian Anderson (who became the first Army quarterback to make his first career start in the Army-Navy Game), but Navy out-gained Army from that point 388-70. For the first time in a number of years, Navy looked like the bigger, stronger, and faster team compared to Army, which was a big part of the reason Navy turned a 3-10 season last year into a 10-2 season this year going into the bowl season.

Navy had just one passing yard in the game. It was thrown by wide receiver Chance Warren to fullback Jamale Carothers for a touchdown. Only in the Army-Navy Game does that stuff happen.

The win by Navy also awards the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy to the program, seizing control of the three-team trophy (between Army, Navy and Air Force) from Army for the first time since  2015.

Navy will now enter bowl mode as they prepare for their upcoming bowl game. The Midshipmen will take on Kansas State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31 in Memphis, TN. Navy is 5-4 all-time in bowl games under head coach Ken Niumatallo. No head coach has won more bowl games at Navy.

Army will begin its 2020 season on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020 at home against Bucknell.