No. 1 Clemson clinches ACC Atlantic Division with 23-13 over No. 16 FSU

17 Comments

The No. 1 Clemson Tigers (9-0, 6-0 ACC) took one giant step closer to a possible spot in the College Football Playoff. The path to the playoff will have to take a quick stop in Charlotte, because Clemson will stopping there to play in the ACC Championship Game at the end of the season regardless of what happens in the next three weeks. Clemson wrapped up possession of the ACC Atlantic Division with a 23-13 victory Saturday over nemesis and rival Florida State.

Clemson took its second lead of the game midway through the fourth quarter when Greg Huegel kicked his third field goal of the game, this latest one from 34 yards out for a 16-13 lead. The only touchdown of the game for Clemson came in the third quarter, with Deon Cain taking a short pass from Deshaun Watson 38 yards to the house for a 13-10 lead on the first drive of the second half. The defense then was asked to come up with a huge stop after a good special teams return by Florida State’s Kermit Whitfield gave the Seminoles possession at the Clemson 49-yard line. Clemson’s defense answered the call, stuffing Florida State’s Dalvin Cook for no gain on fourth down at the Clemson 40-yard line, one years shy of the first down marker. That set up Clemson for the knockout blow, which was delivered by Wayne Gallman by way of a 25-yard rushing touchdown up the middle of the field on Florida State’s defense. The touchdown run came one play after Watson completed a seven-yard pass to Charone Peake to pick up a third down conversion. The final nail in the coffin for the Seminoles came on the ensuing possession when Ben Boulware forced the ball out of the hands of Travis Rudolph, which Clemson recovered.

Clemson had to battle back to get the win, as the Tigers got off to a sluggish start against Florida State. The Seminoles took an early lead on the second play fo the game when Cook rattled off a 75-yard touchdown run, and eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the second possession of the game just minutes later. But Clemson managed to tighten up as the game played out, and Cook was without a big run for most of the night after the first five minutes of the game. Cook ended his day with 194 yards and the one touchdown.

This was the first time Clemson won a football game as the number one team in the country since the 1981 season. That season the Tigers were ranked number one in the AP top 25 after playing the final game of the regular season and defeated Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl. That makes this the first time Clemson won a game in the regular season as the top-ranked team in program history.

Florida State has one remaining ACC contest to play before closing out the regular season with two non-conference games. Next week the Seminoles host North Carolina State. Clemson will hit the road next week to visit Syracuse. The Tigers wrap up ACC regular season play the next week at home against Wake Forest.

Georgia third string QB Stetson Bennett considering transfer

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Georgia lost quarterback Jacob Eason to a transfer, but gained a younger, more highly-regarded signal caller in Justin Fields with the 2018 recruiting class. With Fields on the roster and Jake Fromm not going anywhere, another Bulldog quarterback is considering leaving as well.

Stetson Bennett IV — who, outside of the current U.S. Attorney General, sports the best Southern name in circulation — has told Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart he might rather leave than spend his career as the No. 3 man in Athens.

“He’s looking at some different options,” Smart told the Macon Telegraph. “Stetson has done a tremendous job for us. We’re really excited what he has done for us. We’re exhausting every option to try to keep Stetson with us. We think he’s a very talented young man. I’ve spoke on behalf of that multiple times. We hope we keep him here. He has not made that decision yet.”

Listed at an even 6-foot-nothing and 172 pounds, Bennett was a successful quarterback at Pierce County High School and listed as a 2-star recruit before choosing to walk-on at Georgia rather than take scholarship offers from Group of 5 and FCS programs. Bennett redshirted as a freshman in 2017, sharing Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year honors with three other players.

Should Bennett transfer, his stature and walk-on status would draw easy comparisons to Baker Mayfield, which is ironic considering Bennett was tasked with mimicking the 2017 Heisman winner ahead of Georgia’s Rose Bowl win over Oklahoma.

Both of Bennett’s parents are Georgia graduates, so leaving would be a tough decision for the redshirt freshman.

“We need to keep Stetson there and help us,” Smart told the Telegraph. “We don’t really have many other guys to be honest. We have two young quarterbacks who will be walk-ons, who we think are good players. But we’ve invested a lot in Stetson with the development he took this spring, and with what he did in bowl practices. I’m excited to see what he can do. We’re encouraging him to stay so he gets that opportunity. I certainly respect what he has done this far for the University of Georgia and he’s a really good student as well. We’re selling him on the University of Georgia education.”

Tulane extends Willie Fritz through 2023

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Major news on the Kansas football front came down the pike Tuesday when Tulane announced it has extended head coach Willie Fritz through 2023.

Wait, what? Let’s back up a bit.

Kansas fired AD Sheahon Zenger on Monday, citing that a “change in leadership is necessary” because “progress in key areas has been elusive.” While Kansas chancellor Douglas Girod did not come out and say this move was related to football, he did feel the need to mention head coach David Beaty in his release announcing Zenger’s firing. “In addition, earlier today I spoke with Coach Beaty and shared my expectation that he will continue recruiting hard and getting his team ready for the season,” Girod said.

It doesn’t take Leonardo DiCaprio to read Girod’s thoughts here. Beaty is 3-33 in three seasons as KU’s head coach, including a 1-26 mark in Big 12 play. Coaches that average a win a year don’t typically last until Year 5. Just last year, Nebraska cleared out its AD so the new AD could fire the existing football coach and hire a new one, and it appears Kansas is headed down the same path later this year.

With Beaty apparently on his way out, I tweeted on Monday where Kansas should direct its incoming search.

Fritz-to-Kansas makes sense on a number of levels. Fritz is a proven program builder, a more-with-less guy that won at Blinn Junior College, Central Missouri, Sam Houston State, Georgia Southern and, now, Tulane. Overall, Fritz is 202-89-1 with two junior college national titles and conference championships in three separate leagues — all at places that have no business posting a collective .693 winning percentage. Simply put, Kansas is the rebuild job of the century, and there is not a more proven general contractor than Fritz.

And even better for Kansas, Fritz seems likely to take the job. He’s a Sunflower State native and at an age — 58 — where he’d likely take any Power 5 job offer that came his way, lest it be the last one.

All that said, it did not seem a coincidence that Tulane announced an extension for Fritz on Tuesday, who is 9-15 in two seasons with the Green Wave.

“I couldn’t be more excited with the direction in which our football program is headed,” Fritz said in a statement. “It is an absolute joy to coach at this institution. We have total buy-in from everyone on our staff to our administration, and I know we have a bright future.”

With Tulane being a private school, financial terms were not disclosed, but the key number will be the buyout.

Of course, Fritz could also pass on a potential Kansas offer. Or he may not get an offer. Or the job may not open at all. But even the prospect of an offer has already turned into a win for him.

DB Craig Watts leaves USF, lands at Div. II school

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With transfer season in full swing, South Florida is the latest to see its roster sustain a bit of attrition.

Craig Watts took to his personal Twitter account Monday to reveal that he will be transferring from Charlie Strong‘s USF program.  The defensive back also posted a photo of him signing paperwork for Valdosta State, indicating a move to the Division II school.

As he’s dropping down a couple of levels, Watts, who’ll be a redshirt sophomore in 2018, will be eligible to play immediately this coming season.

After coming to the Bulls as a three-star recruit on 247Sports.com‘s composite board, Watts took a redshirt as a true freshman.  He played in 12 games last season and was credited with five tackles.

Nevada’s Devin Porter arrested for failure to appear

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After a dozen days, it’s time to, once again, flip the switch on a “Days Without An Arrest” reset.

The latest to do the off-field deed is Devin Porter, with the Reno Gazette Journal reporting that the Nevada linebacker was arrested over the weekend for failure to appear.  The redshirt junior had been scheduled to appear in court for a traffic citation.

From the Gazette Journal‘s report:

The charge is a misdemeanor. If a defendant skips a court date, a judge can issue a bench warrant for their arrest. If 30 days pass before a defendant surrenders himself, an additional charge for “failure to appear” can be issued. The maximum sentence for such issue includes four years in prison and/or $5,000 in fines, although both are rare.

Porter was issued a $415 bail, which he posted and was released.

Porter is a walk-on to the Wolf Pack football program who has yet to see any game action for the Mountain West Conference school.  According to the newspaper, “[h]is brother, Cliff, was a starter at left guard for Nevada as a sophomore last season before graduating early and giving up the rest of his eligibility.”

(Tip O’ the Cap: ArrestNation.com)