Associated Press

Kizer dazzles as No. 9 Notre Dame outlasts No. 21 Temple

20 Comments

In the City That Birthed Rocky Balboa, No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 21 Temple staged a back-and-forth slugfest that made Philadelphia proud. But it was the visiting Irish that punched last, ending he feisty Owls’ unbeaten run with a 24-20 win.

Freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer spent the night see-sawing between saving and ending Notre Dame’s chances. On one hand, he tossed two interceptions – both of them in the red zone – the first of which immediately sparked a 94-yard touchdown drive to give Temple a 10-7 lead in the second quarter. His second pick forced Notre Dame to settle for a 14-10 halftime lead instead of hitting the break with a possible seven or 10-point advantage.

But outside of those two throws, the redshirt freshman was fantastic. He opened the game guiding Notre Dame on a 12-play, 74-yard, six-minute touchdown drive, finishing the charge off with a four-yard touchdown spurt. Then, after his pick allowed Temple to take its first lead of the night, he immediately responded with a 79-yard touchdown run to put Notre Dame back on top.

Justin Yoon knocked in a 23-yard field goal to give Notre Dame a 17-10 lead entering the fourth quarter, but Temple grabbed the lead, this time on a one-yard Jahad Thomas run and a 36-yard Austin Jones field goal with 4:45 remaining.

And again Kizer answered.

This time he moved the Irish 75 yards in six snaps, hitting Philadelphia native Will Fuller for the game-winning 17-yard touchdown pass.

For the game, Kizer hit 23-of-35 throws for 299 yards with a touchdown and two picks while rushing 17 times for a game-high 143 yards and two scores.

Temple took the ball at its own 24 and 2:09 remaining needing a touchdown to win the game, but Notre Dame’s KeiVarae Russell intercepted a P.J. Walker heave at the Irish 35. Walker completed 13-of-30 passes for 188 yards with a touchdown and an interception to go with 38 yards on six carries, while Thomas rushed 21 times for 82 yards and a score.

The loss drops Temple to 7-1 on the year, but the Owls (3-0 AAC) remain in the driver’s seat to meet Memphis, Houston or Navy in the AAC championship game and a New Year’s Six berth regardless of tonight’s loss.

Notre Dame improves to 7-1 on the year and remains in the College Football Playoff hunt, needing wins at Pittsburgh next week, home against Wake Forest, then against Boston College at Fenway Park and, finally, at Stanford to reach the final four.

LSU opens as double-digit favorites on Oklahoma; Ohio State slight underdog to Clemson

Getty Images
8 Comments

While definitely subject to change, the initial wagering odds for the degenerates in the reading audience are out.

Earlier Sunday, and in a surprise to absolutely no one, the four semifinalists for the 2019 College Football Playoff were released.  LSU was given the No. 1 seed by the selection committee and will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl.  No. 2 Ohio State, which came into Championship Saturday ranked first in the country, will square off with No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, LSU is a 7/5 favorite to win the 2019 national championship.  Clemson is next at 2/1, while Ohio State sits at 3/1.  Oklahoma, which won its way into the playoffs at the expense of Georgia, is a decided underdog at 16/1.

Speaking of underdogs, the SEC Tigers are currently listed as a 12½-point favorite in their matchup with the Sooners.  Despite being the higher seed, the Buckeyes have opened as a two-point underdog to the ACC Tigers.

The over/under for Ohio State-Clemson opened at 63; for LSU-Oklahoma, it’s at 75.

LSU and Oklahoma have squared off just twice previously, with the most recent matchup coming in 2004.  Clemson and Ohio State have met three times in their collective histories, the most recent meeting coming in the 2016 College Football Playoff — a 31-0 win for the Tigers.

Arkansas confirms hiring of Georgia OL coach Sam Pittman as head coach

Getty Images
9 Comments

When it came to replacing the fired Chad Morris, Arkansas, as it turned out, didn’t have to look outside of the SEC.

Sunday, with one of its top targets, Lane Kiffin, already having been locked up by SEC West rival Ole Miss, Arkansas reportedly pivoted its attention to Georgia’s Sam Pittman.  A few hours later, the Razorbacks confirmed that Pittman has been hired as the school’s next head football coach.

“Sam Pittman has been an integral part of successful teams that have competed at the highest levels, including for SEC and NCAA Championships,” UA athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “As one of the nation’s premier offensive line coaches, he has built a remarkable body of work thanks to his tremendous passion for his student-athletes, including teaching the fundamentals and developing his players on and off the field. Sam instills in his players the motivation, grit and determination required to compete and win. Throughout this process, I heard from many of his former players about the tremendous influence he had on them as a player and as a man.

“Sam knows the Southeastern Conference inside and out and is one of the nation’s best recruiters. His connections throughout football will enable him to build a quality coaching staff. In his previous tenure, Sam and his wife Jamie fell in love with the state of Arkansas and with Razorback fans. They know what a special place this is and are excited for the opportunity to come back to the Home of the Razorbacks.”

The hiring marks a return to Fayetteville for Pittman as he was a member of Bret Bielema‘s first coaching staff in 2013. In 2016, he left for Georgia, where he spent the past four seasons as the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach.  He also served as Kirby Smart‘s associate head coach.

The 58-year-old Pittman will be officially introduced as the Razorbacks’ 34th head coach Monday afternoon.

Mizzou zeroing in on Eli Drinkwitz as next head coach

Getty Images
3 Comments

Once again, it appears a Power Five program will pilfer a Group of Five school for its next head football coach.

Sunday afternoon, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported that Applachian State’s Eli Drinkwitz “has emerged as a strong candidate” for the vacancy at Missouri.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Drinkwitz has reached an agreement to become Missouri’s next head football coach and a deal is being finalized.”

An official announcement of Drinkwitz becoming the permanent replacement for Barry Odom, who was fired late last month after four seasons at his alma mater, is expected no later than Monday.

The 36-year-old Drinkwitz is in his first season as the head coach of the Mountaineers, his first head-coaching job at any level of football.  App State stands at 12-1 on the season after claiming its second-straight Sun Belt Conference championship Saturday with a win over Louisiana.

Dec. 21, App State will face UAB in the New Orleans Bowl.

Georgia WR Dominick Blaylock reportedly suffered ACL tear in SEC title game loss

Getty Images
1 Comment

A rough weekend for Georgia was underscored on Sunday as reports surfaced saying one of their key young players is done for the rest of this year and likely part of the next one.

As per Rivals’ Radi Nabulsi and a host of other beat writers in Athens, Bulldogs receiver Dominick Blaylock suffered a torn ACL in the loss against LSU in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.

The freshman from Marietta, Ga. had to be carted off the field in the first quarter after making a short catch and planting his knee awkwardly. The team’s top receiver, Lawrence Cager, was already out after undergoing knee surgery on Nov. 29.

Blaylock had made 18 catches for 310 yards and five touchdowns at UGA this season.