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Miami overcomes week of heartache, turmoil to stun Duke

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To say it’s been a rough week for the Miami football program on and off the field would be a sizable understatement.

Exactly a week ago, the Hurricanes sustained the worst loss in the history of the Hurricanes, leading to the firing of head coach Al Golden the following day. Starting quarterback Brad Kaaya sustained a concussion in the loss and was ruled out of today’s game against No. 22 Duke, while defensive tackle Michael Wyche was charged in a domestic violence incident. Most tragically, the much-beloved mother of defensive back Artie Burns suffered a heart attack Monday and passed away the next day.

With all of that tumult and heartbreak thundering around them, The U proved once again what kind of sanctuary a football field can be as they went into Durham and stunned the Blue Devils 30-27 on one of the most wild endings in the history of any sport.  Duke had scored a touchdown with just six seconds left on the clock to take a 27-24 lead.  The Blue Devils squibbed the ensuing kickoff and, eight laterals, 46 seconds of real time, 75 yards of statistical movement, a couple of hundred yards of actual motion and a seemingly eternal officiating review, Miami-Duke told Stanford-Cal to go have a seat, son.

We’ll now await word from the ACC as to if or, even worse, why the block in the back that was initially called on that play was reversed under review when such a penalty is not reviewable.  Or how the knee of a Miami player that was seemingly down during the course of one of the laterals wasn’t picked up during the nearly 10-minute review.  Or how Miami players had begun to stream on the field before the touchdown was scored.  That said…

The Hurricanes played like an inspired bunch the entire night, and it’s not hard to understand why as Burns, showing the depth of character that the coaching staff loves about him, not only made the trip with his teammates but played four days after his mom’s death.  The stunning finish culminated a game that was dedicated to the courageous young man, and one that had taken on the look of a romp at least partway through.

Following a scoreless first quarter, Miami jumped out to a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter and took a 14-3 lead into halftime.  A rejuvenated Blue Devils squad scored a touchdown in the first three minutes of the third quarter when, combined with a safety late in the same period, cut the lead to 14-12.  10 points in the first nine minutes of the fourth quarter stretched Miami’s lead out to 12 at 24-12 with 5:54 remaining.

A Thomas Sirk touchdown pass to Johnell Barnes from 13 yards out sliced the lead to 24-19 with 2:40 left in the game.  An ensuing onsides kick was recovered by the ‘Canes; the Blue Devils got the ball one last time with just under two minutes remaining, setting the stage for the crazy ending.

Playing for an injured Kaaya and making his first career start, Malik Rosier was, for the most part, superb. While he did have an interception, he nonetheless managed the game extremely well as he completed 19-of-28 passes for 265 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

One final statistical note: Miami was flagged a whopping 23 times for 194 yards, Duke five times for 41 yards.  Say what you want about reversing the penalty on the final play or the possibility a Miami player’s knee was down on the same play, I’ll just label it an officiating market correction — anyone see Duke’s final drive and the three somewhat questionable flags on the ‘Canes? — and move on from a shoddily officiated game on both sides.

The loss for Duke when it comes to the ACC Coastal race is a potentially significant one, but also one from which they can bounce back quickly. At 3-1 in ACC play, Duke finds themselves one game behind 4-0 North Carolina; next Saturday, the Blue Devils will travel to Chapel Hill for a critical matchup with the Tar Heels. Pittsburgh, which was dealt its first ACC loss by UNC Thursday night, is 4-1 and idle in conference play until a Nov. 14 date with Duke.

Depending on the outcome of the Duke-UNC game next weekend, that Pitt-Duke game the following week could end up being a play-in game to the ACC championship game.

Kyler Murray is third straight ex-Texas high schooler to go No. 1 overall in NFL draft

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The Lonestar State in general and the flagship school of the state directly to its north made some player selection history Thursday night in Nashville.

Following months worth of speculation and smokescreens, the Arizona Cardinals officially selected Kyler Murray as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.  The Oklahoma quarterback is the second straight signal-caller from the Sooners to be the top overall pick (Baker Mayfield to the Cleveland Browns in 2018), marking the first time since 1968-69 (USC’s Ron Yary, O.J. Simpson) that one school has locked down back-to-back No. 1 overall selections.

It also marks the first time two Heisman Trophy winners from the same school have been selected with the top pick in the draft in consecutive years.  On top of that, this is the first time that quarterbacks from the same school have been selected in the top spot of the draft in back-to-back years.

Both Murray, who is the first athlete ever drafted in the first rounds of both the NFL and MLB drafts, and Mayfield played their high school football in the state of Texas.  When you add Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett (Arlington Martin High School to No. 1 overall for the Browns in 2017) to the equation, the Lonestar State can now lay claim to being the only state to ever produce three straight No. 1 overalls.

(Sidebar: Mayfield and Garrett are NFL teammates with the Browns, and will face Murray’s Cardinals this season.  And Arizona’s head coach? Kliff Kingsbury, whose fractured relationship with Mayfield that included a scholarship brouhaha led to the future Heisman Trophy winner’s transfer from Texas Tech to Big 12 rival Oklahoma.  Now, back to our regularly-scheduled programming, already in progress…)

In the history of an NFL draft that dates back to 1939, high schools in the state of Texas have produced 14 No. 1 overalls, the most of any state.  With 11, California is the only other state in double-digits.

Perhaps the most astonishing finding in all of this research?  High schools in the state of Florida, easily one of the most fertile football recruiting grounds in the country, have produced exactly one No. 1 overall: Auburn running back Tucker Fredrickson in 1965.

That’s a bar bet waiting to happen.  And you’re welcome.

Oklahoma-Houston season opener moves to Sunday primetime slot on Labor Day weekend

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Oklahoma’s season opener is going under the lights on Labor Day weekend.

The Sooners announced on Thursday that their 2019 debut against Houston is shifting from its scheduled Saturday date during Week 1 to a primetime slot on ABC at 7:30 pm ET on Sept. 1st.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us,” AD Joe Castiglione said in a statement. “It gives us great visibility at the very outset of the 2019 season. It is equally appealing to me that we get to play the game in the best conditions for student-athletes and fans. By making this move, we ensured that this game would be played in the evening, thus avoiding the heat we’ve dealt with in each of the last two seasons.”

OU makes note that this is the first time the school will play a regular season game on Sunday and just the fourth time ever they’ll play on a day normally reserved for NFL games (all three of the previous times were in bowl games).

The 2019 game is the latest in a long line of high profile matchups to get moved to the Sunday before Labor Day in recent years, including last year’s LSU-Miami tilt at AT&T Stadium.

While nobody is saying that Sooners-Cougars would have gotten overlooked on the first college football Saturday of Week 1, the move a day later will provide the spotlight all on its own to catch one of the more interesting non-conference games around with Dana Holgorsen’s debut leading Houston and the likely first start of former Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts at OU.

Notre Dame grad transfer Micah Dew-Treadway granted another year of eligibility at Minnesota

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Minnesota received an unexpected bit of good news on Thursday.

The school confirmed several reports that surfaced regarding recent Notre Dame graduate transfer Micah Dew-Treadway, who joined the Gophers this offseason and will now have two seasons to play in the Twin Cities after being granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.

Dew-Treadway spent four years in South Bend but mostly in a reserve role, recording two tackles while playing in 21 total games with the Irish. At the heart of the hardship waiver he and Minnesota applied for was the 2016 campaign that saw him miss the entire season with a broken foot.

The additional year is big for Minnesota as the transfer appeared to leave a good impression and is in line to start this fall. The program is having to replace mainstay defensive lineman Gary Moore in 2019 and will certainly be counting on Dew-Treadway and JUCO addition Keonte Schad to provide push up the middle.

The Gophers open their season against South Dakota State on Aug. 29.

Clemson football brought up at college basketball federal corruption trial

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The national champs are back in the spotlight during the offseason for a reason Dabo Swinney wants nothing to do with.

In federal court on Thursday in New York City, prosecutors in the college basketball corruption scandal played an FBI video wiretap involving Clemson hoops assistant Steve Smith. While much of the conversation is centered on top prospects in basketball like Zion Williamson and what the Tigers could do to lure them to campus, somewhat surprisingly the topic of football came up.

Via CBSSports.com’s Matt Norlander: 

The Blazer in question above is Marty Blazer, a financial advisor from Pittsburgh who was on the stand. He’s the same witness who claimed a few days ago that he paid football players from Alabama, Notre Dame, Penn State and several other schools.

“We are aware of the developments in federal court today involving one of our men’s basketball assistant coaches,” Clemson said in a statement issued later on Thursday. “We take this matter seriously and will immediately conduct a review.”

While only a handful of folks can claim to be surprised that the federal hoops trial spilled over into football, it certainly raises further questions about the Tigers that they will have to deal with over the coming weeks. These are just the words of one witness and one assistant on a wiretap but something says the folks in Indianapolis are already wondering whether or not they need to expand a potential infractions probe that much wider in the wake of the testimony.