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Sparty wow! Mich. St. stuns Michigan with late TD


All offseason, No. 7 Michigan State had to bite its tongue and just listen as media far and wide talked incessantly about the addition of Jim Harbaugh to the Michigan football program.  Even into the season, even as the Spartans were undefeated, they had dropped in the polls as the Wolverines were rising, leading some to argue that “Big Brother” was the best the Big Ten had to offer.

After all of that off-field talk, Sparty was about to add to the narrative with an on-field loss in the rivalry game… before one of the most astounding game-ending plays you’ll ever see went down.

Up 23-21 with just 10 seconds left on the clock, all No. 13 Michigan had to do was handle the punt snap and get the kick off cleanly to secure the win.  The punter bobbled the snap, but still not a huge deal; just fall on the ball and force the Spartans to complete a Hail Mary to win from just shy of the 40-yard.

Instead, Blake O’Neill attempted to punt the ball and, well…

Unbelievably, the botched punt attempt was recovered by MSU’s Jalen Watts and returned for 38 yards for the walk-off touchdown.  Even more unbelievably, the Spartans’ first lead of the game came with no time left on the clock, which means they never led in a game for a full 60 minutes — and won.

The loss was arguably the most gut-wrenching for the Wolverines in the rivalry’s long history, and served as its third straight in the series.  Throughout most of the game, though, it appeared Harbaugh was ready to hoist his Wolverines onto the national stage in his first season in Ann Arbor.

Trailing 10-7 at halftime, the Spartans saw the Wolverines push their lead to their biggest of the game, with Sione Houma‘s second short touchdown run of the game pushing the score to 17-7. Over the next 15 minutes or so of play, MSU outscored UM 14-6 as a Connor Cook touchdown pass and L.J. Scott touchdown run — set-up by a beautiful 74-yard catch-and-run by fullback Trevon Pendleton —  cut the lead to 23-21 with 8:56 left in the fourth quarter.

Three three-and-outs, two by U-M, followed Scott’s touchdown run.  The Wolverines’ last punt gave the Spartans the ball at their own 28 with 4:54 remaining.  Six plays later, MSU was knocking at the door of a game-winning field goal attempt at the U-M 36-yard line.  A sack on first down and three subsequent Cook incompletions, however, ended any hopes for a come-from-behind win — or so everyone thought as O’Neill’s gaffe and Watts’ heroics rewrote a script that even Hollywood would pass on as unbelievable.

Missouri WR Khmari Thompson makes move to the transfer portal

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After a couple of additions from the transfer portal, Missouri football has seen attrition via the same personnel vehicle.

On Twitter Monday, Khmari Thompson confirmed that he is leaving the Missouri football program.  Or, at least, entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.  The wide receiver also ran track at Mizzou.

“It’s been a blessing to attend, play football and run track for the University of Missouri the last two years,” Thompson wrote. “I’ve made some friendships and family bonds that will last a [lifetime]. I love my teammates here at Mizzou and wish nothing but the best in the future to come.  I wanna thank both the current coaching staff of Coach Drinkwitz and Coach Hamdan and also the former staff of Coach Odom for allowing me to grow not only as a better player but as a man. …

“I’ve received nothing but love from the fans and locals from the state of Missouri. After many conversations with my family concerning my future as a student-athlete, I have decided to enters the transfer portal to seek out the best place to utilize my remaining eligibility and pursue my education.  God bless everyone and I pray that my decision is respected.”

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.

Thompson was a three-star member of the Missouri football Class of 2018.  The Georgia native didn’t catch a pass for the Tigers.

Barring an unexpected development, Thompson would have to sit out the 2020 season if he transfers to another FBS school.  He would then have two years of eligibility starting in 2021.

Alabama announces OC Steve Sarkisian underwent heart surgery, expected to make full recovery

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A member of the Alabama football coaching staff is recovering from a non-coronavirus-related health issue.

In a release Tuesday, Alabama revealed that football assistant Steve Sarkisian underwent an annual physical last week.  During the course of the procedure, “it was determined that he needed a procedure to correct a congenital cardiovascular anomaly before it became an issue.” The specific heart issue wasn’t detailed.

Surgery was performed last Thursday, the school stated.  The offensive coordinator is back at his residence in Tuscaloosa and is expected to make a full recovery.

The health hiccup is the continuation of what’s been a bumpy last few years for Sarkisian.

In mid-October of 2015, USC announced that Sarkisian had been dismissed as the Trojans’ head football coach, one day after he was given an indefinite leave of absence because of alleged and ongoing alcohol issues.  It was alleged that USC had instituted a zero-tolerance policy when it came to Sarkisian and alcohol use.  Leading up to his dismissal, Sarkisian allegedly showed up to meetings intoxicated.

From 2009-15, Sarkisian was a head coach in the Pac-12 — at Washington (2009-13) and USC (2014-15).  He went 46-35 during his time in that league.  He also spent two separate stints totaling seven seasons (2001-03, 2005-08) as an assistant at USC.

Following his ugly exit from USC, Sarkisian joined the Alabama Crimson Tide football program as an offensive analyst for the 2016 season. When Lane Kiffin took the head job at FAU prior to the national championship game that year, Sarkisian served as the play-caller in the loss to Clemson.

Expected to take over as the Crimson Tide’s coordinator, and after reports that his relationship with Saban had deteriorated surfaced, Sarkisian instead left a month after the title game for a job in the NFL as the coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons.  Sarkisian lasted two years in that job before he was fired in December of 2018.

A month later, he rejoined the Tide as offensive coordinator.

Utah State suspends unidentified football player over ‘inappropriate racial comments’

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Utah State is the latest college football program in the Beehive State dealing with a racially-charged issue.

Suspended over a 2013 text that contained racist language, Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley was allowed to keep his job but his salary was sliced in half.  Additionally, a verbal agreement to be the head coach-in-waiting for the Utes was rescinded last week.  A few days later, Utah State announced that one of its football players has been suspended because of inappropriate racial comments.

The name of the player was not divulged.  It’s also unclear as to just how the comments were delivered, whether via social media or otherwise.  There is, though, this from the Logan Herald Journal:

Several social media posts, including screenshots containing snippets of an exchange between the Aggie player in question and a former high school teammate, can be found on Twitter. The conversation revolved around the celebration of the 4th of July, with the former teammate commenting he would not be observing the holiday because of racial injustices involving the Founding Fathers.

Below is the statement from Utah State, attributed to head football coach Gary Andersen and athletic director John Hartwell.

We have been made aware of inappropriate racial comments made by a current student-athlete on our football team. This will not be tolerated and we have suspended the individual immediately, and pending an investigation will take appropriate action.

The Aggies are coming off a 7-6 record in their second first season under Andersen.  Anderson also served as the USU head coach from 2009-12.  In his final season in Logan during that first stint, Andersen led Utah State to a school-record 11 wins. That mark was matched six years later by Matt Wells.  That season helped Wells land the Texas Tech job.  And led Andersen back to USU.

State Fair of Texas canceled; both ADs hopeful Oklahoma-Texas game will be played

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Will the annual Oklahoma-Texas rivalry matchup go off this year? One data point would suggest it’s less likely today than yesterday.  The two schools, though, are still holding out hope.

Tuesday, the board of directors for the event announced that the State Fair of Texas will not be held this year.  The board stated it came to its decision “[a]fter extensive consideration of the current landscape related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the health and safety of all fairgoers, staff, business partners, and overall community.” This marks the first time since Worl War II that the fair has been has been nixed.

Of course, the highlight of the State Fair of Texas, at least for college football fans, is the annual Oklahoma-Texas rivalry tilt at the Cotton Bowl.  The cancellation of the fair will have no impact on the game; the fate of that matchup will be decided by local and state authorities.

The respective athletic directors on both sides of the rivalry — Joe Castiglione of Oklahoma, Chris Del Conte of Texas — issued statements addressing the development.  Castiglione expressed ‘hope” that the game will be played.  Del Conte, meanwhile, stated that the UT side “fully anticipate[s]” the Red River Shootout being played as scheduled.

Below are the ADs statements, in their entirety.

We understand and respect the decision made by the State Fair of Texas and acknowledge that it was an extremely difficult one. Our hope remains that we can play the OU-Texas game at the Cotton Bowl, but obviously every aspect of our season requires constant monitoring and planning.  The best thing all of can do at this time is closely follow CDC guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus.

Though we certainly respect and understand the decision of the folks on their cancellation of this year’s State Fair of Texas, we fully anticipate that our annual Red River Showdown with Oklahoma will be played in the Cotton Bowl and are continuing to prepare for that. We know the decision to cancel the fair was an extremely difficult one for everyone involved and that we are all dealing with a very fluid situation during these unprecedented times. But, as we’re doing with all of our fall season planning, we will continue to monitor the situation closely, work through contingencies and make the best possible decisions we can with the health, safety and well-being of everyone involved as a number one priority.

The Sooners have won the last two meetings and four of the last five, including a 34-27 win last season. This year’s game is scheduled for Oct. 10.