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Memphis weathers early storm, scores 24 straight to lead No. 13 Ole Miss

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Early on it looked like Memphis didn’t belong in the same zip code of the big stage, let alone on it.  After weathering that early flurry from No. 13 Ole Miss, the team with the third-longest winning streak in the country got up, punched back and buckled the knees of its Top-15 opponent.

Winners of 12 straight coming in, the U of M was able to shake of an early 14-0 deficit and head into the locker room down with a stunning 24-14 lead.  With just over five minutes gone in the first quarter, a trick play on the second play from scrimmage — wide receiver Laquon Treadwell was the thrower — resulted in a 68-yard touchdown pass and a Chad Kelly 23-yard touchdown pass had the Tigers on the ropes.

Add in a U of M touchdown pass off trickeration that was called back in between, and the home-standing Tigers were reeling.

A Paxton Lynch touchdown pass with 2:12 left in the first helped steady the Tigers and cut the deficit in half at 14-7.  A defensive stand for the normally offensive-minded Tigers early in the second quarter seemed to swing the momentum violently back toward the home team, with the U of M stiffening on three straight short-yardage plays at their own 10 to get the ball back on downs.

Still trailing 14-7 with under four minutes remaining, a quick 17-point burst gave the Tigers not only their first lead of the game but also complete control of it.  A field goal with 3:49 remaining was quickly followed by a Kelly interception that, three plays later, the Tigers turned into a four-yard Sam Craft touchdown run for a 17-14 lead.

On the ensuing possession, and with around two minutes remaining in the half, Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze inexplicably went for it on fourth-and-one from his own 34-yard line.  Kelly was stuffed for no gain, handing the ball back to the Tigers with plenty of time remaining.

That decision came back to bite Freeze in his backside as, after a third-and-13 conversion, the Tigers capitalized with another Lynch touchdown pass with :34 left in the half.

The Rebels have thrown for 233 yards as a team, with Kelly responsible for 165 of those.  Lynch has 191 of his own, although he did throw his first interception this season in 172 attempts.  Neither team has done much in the running game, with the Rebels averaging 1.3 yards per carry and the Tigers 3.2.

The Rebels are in even bigger danger of digging an even deeper hole early in the third quarter as the Tigers will get the ball on offense to start the second half.  That offense, incidentally, scored 17 points on its last three possessions.

Coincidentally or not, all of that damage came after star Rebel defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche sustained a head injury as a ball carrier on the Tigers’ red-zone stand early in the second quarter. His return in the second half is questionable.

Central Michigan loses one of its highest-rated 2018 signees to the transfer portal

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One of the highest-rated signees for Central Michigan football a couple of years ago is leaving the MAC program.  Or, at least, he is exploring the option of doing as much.

According to, George Pearson is listed in the NCAA transfer database.  That would be the first step in the redshirt sophomore quarterback’s potential departure from the Central Michigan football team.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Pearson was a three-star member of the Central Michigan football Class of 2018.  Only one offensive signee in that cycle for CMU, wide receiver Keonta Nixon, was rated higher than the New Jersey product.  As a true freshman, Pearson completed 12 of his 24 passes for 94 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Pearson didn’t play a down for the Chips in 2019.

In 2018, Central Michigan lost a school-record 11 games.  In Jim McElwain‘s first season in 2019, CMU won went 8-6.  Included in the losses was a New Mexico Bowl beatdown at the hands of San Diego State.

Ole Miss pulls in second transfer from a university in Canada

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From Oh Canada to Ole Miss football?  I’m thinking one recruit might be in for a little culture shock.  Actually, make that two.

Last month, a Canadian college football player, the University of Guelph’s Tavius Robinson, committed to Ole Miss football.  On Twitter Wednesday, Deane Leonard did the same. The cornerback comes to the SEC school from the University of Calgary.

“First off I’d like to thank my friends, family, and coaches that have supported me through this process,” Leonard wrote. “I can’t thank each and every one of you enough for all that you’ve done for me over the years. Love you guys!

“With the cancellation of the USports season I’ve decided it’s in my best interest to look at my options down south.

“With that being said, I’ll be transferring to Ole Miss to complete my collegiate career.”

During his time at That Country Up North, Leonard appeared in 23 games.  In that action, the defensive back was credited with 47 tackles, 19 passes defensed, six interceptions, two forced fumbles, one tackle for loss, one sack and one block.  He also returned five kicks for 124 yards (24.8 average) and 19 punts for 195 yards (10.3 avg.).  One of those punts was returned for a touchdown.

Both Leonard and Robinson are expected to be immediately eligible for new head coach Lane Kiffin and the Rebels.

SEC commish issues statement in wake of Big Ten’s seismic announcement

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It didn’t take long for the most powerful man in SEC football country to respond to what the B1G wrought.

As you may have heard, the Big Ten confirmed Thursday afternoon that it will be going with a conference-only football schedule for the 2020 season.  That was the first significant Power Five domino to tip, but it certainly won’t be the last.  In the coming days, or perhaps next week, the ACC and Pac-12 are expected to make a similar announcement.  The Big 12 and SEC, though, are widely expected to kick that football scheduling can down the road a bit longer, perhaps as late as the end of July.

Not long after the B1G announcement, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement addressing just where his conference is at decison-wise.

The Southeastern Conference will continue to meet regularly with our campus leaders in the coming weeks, guided by medical advisors, to make the important decisions necessary to determine the best path forward related to SE Fall sports.  We recognize the challenges ahead and know the well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans must remain at the forefront of those decisions.

Again, it’s expected that the SEC will make a decision on the football path it will take later this month.  Barring unforeseen circumstances pushing up that timeline, of course.

Big Ten commish, Ohio State AD decidedly pessimistic on B1G having a 2020 college football season

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The Big Ten toppled the first significant domino earlier in the day.  Now, two of the most powerful men in the conference are expounding on the development.  And, if you’re a fan of the sport, you might want to close your eyes when reading the next few paragraphs.  Or take several shots of an adult beverage before proceeding.

Thursday afternoon, the Big Ten confirmed reports that it will be going with a conference-only football schedule for the 2020 season.  All other fall sports are impacted in the same way.

In television appearances following the announcement, the B1G’s commissioner didn’t put a positive spin on football’s immediate future.

“One thing we have to realize is that this is not a fait accompli that we’re going to have sports in the fall,” Kevin Warren flatly stated. “We may not have sports in the fall, we may not have a college football season in the Big Ten. …

“We made a vow early on that, first and foremost, we would put the health, the safety and the wellness of our student-athletes at the center of all of our decisions.

Gene Smith was equally pessimistic.

“I can’t reiterate enough the fact that we might not play,” the Ohio State athletic director said in discussing football in 2020. “We just might not, and I think people need to understand that.”

It’s expected that other Power Five conferences will follow the lead of the Big Ten.  In the coming days, both the ACC and Pac-12 will most likely announce a conference-only football schedule.  The lone exception will be the ACC including Notre Dame, which already has six games against the conference on its 2020 slate, in any revamped schedule.

The Big 12 and SEC are widely expected to kick the scheduling can down the road a bit longer, perhaps as late as the end of July.  In the end, however, both of those Power Fives are likely to come to the same scheduling conclusion.