Whew Pig Sooie! Arkansas tops Auburn in fourth overtime, 54-46

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It looked as though Arkansas (3-4, 2-2 SEC) had a win over Auburn (4-3, 1-3 SEC) all but locked up, but a late Tigers field goal led to the teams having to settle the score in overtime. Four overtimes, in fact. After matching touchdown for touchdown through the first three overtime sessions, Arkansas took a 54-46 lead on a Brandon Allen touchdown pass to Drew Morgan on the first play of the fourth overtime. After a successful two-point conversion, Auburn’s offense finally ran out of luck and came up empty to go home with a loss.

Auburn’s final overtime possession saw the Tigers try for the end zone on two straight plays on second and third down despite needing nine yards for a first down. A fourth down pass fell incomplete over the middle.

Arkansas took a 14-0 lead in the first half, but Auburn put together a late 95-yard touchdown drive capped by a short run by Peyton Barber to get on the scoreboard. Auburn then tied the game up on the opening possession of the second half when Jason Smith ran for a nine-yard score at the end of a 75-yard drive. Momentum was officially in the hands of Auburn, but there was still a lot of football to be played.

Arkansas regained the lead later in the third quarter, but not without some concern for a teammate. Rawleigh Williams was carted off the field and taken to a nearby hospital for medical attention after taking a big hit to his upper body. Doctors appeared to be focusing on the neck of Williams, but he was conscious and had mobility in his appendages on the sideline as he was taken out of the stadium. After a pause in gameplay, Arkansas handed the ball to Alex Collins, who finished off the drive with a go-ahead touchdown, his first score of the game to give the Razorbacks a 21-14 lead.

In the fourth quarter Auburn once again put together a masterful scoring drive, this one starting from their seven-yard line. A mix of runs by Barber and passes from Sean White moved the Tigers to the Arkansas seven-yard line, but the Razorbacks stood firm at the one-yard line on a third down run by Barber. Still with plenty of time to play, Gus Malzahn took a calculated risk knowing Arkansas can run the clock as well as any team can. Going for a touchdown on the one-yard line was a must, and it paid off. Jeremy Johnson got the call and he pushed across the goal line for a game-tying score.

With the win, Arkansas manages to keep some slim postseason hopes alive. A loss would have meant Arkansas would have to win four of the final five games of the year. Still on the schedule for Arkansas are games with Ole Miss, LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri. Picking up three wins in that stretch would be difficult (Arkansas also hosts University of Tennessee-Martin, which should be an assumed win). Arkansas still faces an uphill climb, but it is a bit more manageable now than it would have been with a loss.

Auburn continues to slide and is starting to lose its margin for error to get to the postseason. Auburn must still win two games but has games against Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia, Idaho and Alabama remaining. That could be a brutal stretch to end the season, but picking up two wins along the way is still very much attainable for the Tigers.

Rutgers hires search firm to help find new football coach

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Rutgers has officially been in the market for a new head football coach for over a week, and now the school is going to get some help from a search firm.

Rutgers announced a new partnership with Ventura Partners on Monday. The firm will help Rutgers in searching for a new head football coach and may assist in helping to hire other new leaders in the future as Rutgers looks to revitalize their entire athletics department.

“We are excited to be working with Ventura Partners,” Rutgers Director of Athletics Pat Hobbs said in a released statement on Monday. “They provide a unique range of services, including talent acquisition and development. We will begin working together immediately to ensure excellent leadership for our football program. They will also be working with us throughout the engagement on strengthening our human resources and providing market data and intelligence.”

Rutgers fired Chris Ash as head coach on Sept. 29, which is a costly move thanks to a previous contract extension. The Scarlet Knights have since been dealing with a handful of players redshirting the remainder of the season and an abysmal performance on the road against Indiana in which the team gained just 75 yards of offense while giving up over 500 yards to the Hoosiers.

Mike Aresco expects to hear update on AAC championship game waiver “in the next month”

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With the upcoming departure of UConn from the American Athletic Conference, the staus of the AAC Championship Game is officially in question. Without 12 football-playing members, the AAC does not satisfy the NCAA requirement to play an official conference championship game without a waiver. Not wanting to give up the title game just a few short years after implementing it (and accepting the extra revenue generated in the TV contract), AAC commissioner Mike Aresco is hoping to get some positive word on a waiver request sometime soon.

How soon?

It looks like we may have an update on this situation within the month. The sooner, the better.

UConn is leaving the AAC after this current football season, and Aresco has made it clear the conference still wants to continue playing its conference title game. The current plan is for the AAC to scrap the two-division format entirely and pit the two best teams in a conference championship game at the end of the regular season (an idea that would work well in almost every conference, by the way). The AAC reportedly field a formal waiver to allow for the championship game to live on back in August.

The Big 12 currently only has 10 members and has been granted permission to field a conference championship game on top of the round-robin schedule played during the season. If the Big 12 can have a conference title game without 12 members, then the AAC should be getting confirmation their conference championship game will continue too. But waiting for the official word is needed before the conference can start making plans for 2020 and beyond.

At this point, there remains no sign the conference is looking to add a 12th member for football, which would negate the need for a waiver. But if the waiver is denied, for some reason, then expect the AAC expansion rumors to start flying once again.

Michigan Class of 2018 four-star TE Mustapha Muhammad enters NCAA transfer portal

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The NCAA transfer portal has been busy this Monday. Add Michigan tight end Mustapha Muhammad as one of the latest entrants into the transfer portal. Muhammad made the transfer portal news himself with an announcement on his Twitter account Monday afternoon.

Muhammad is a redshirt freshman. He will have to sit out the 2020 season if he lands at another FBS program, and he will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning 2021. By entering the transfer portal, Muhammad is free to have contact with any other football program looking to recruit him out of Ann Arbor. The Texas native signed with Michigan over offers from Ohio State, Alabama, and Clemson, among others. Unfortunately, the highly rated recruit hasn’t been able to establish a key role in the Michigan offense early on, even with the Wolverines offense looking for playmakers.

Michigan’s tight end position appears to be settled with Nick Eubanks and Sean McKeon reaching the midway point of the season as Michigan’s leading tight ends when it comes to receiving yards. Eubanks is fifth on the team overall with 128 receiving yards and a touchdown. McKeon has added 96 yards and two touchdowns. Both players are seniors, however, but Michigan also has redshirt freshman Luke Schoonmaker as an option at the tight end position moving forward.

Oregon DB Kahlef Halassie steps into transfer portal

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Oregon defensive back Kahlef Hailassie is now officially on the market. Hailassie announced on his Twitter account on Monday afternoon he has officially entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal.

A sophomore and a member of Oregon’s Class of 2018, Hailassie is now eligible to have contact with any other college football program that may be interested in recruiting him to their program. when he committed to the Ducks out of high school, Hailassie chose Oregon over offers from Colorado and Washington State, among others. Hailassie had previously committed to Colorado during his recruiting process, only to de-commit shortly after an official visit to Boulder.

Hailassie played in just three games this season before being sidelined with an injury. Because he has played in fewer than four games, Hailassie can use the 2019 season as a redshirt year. Hailassie played in all 13 games for Oregon as a true freshman in 2018, recording one tackle as a reserve player and a special teams player. Hailassie will have to sit out the 2020 season if he ends up at another FBS program, which would make him eligible to return to the field with two full years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2021.