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Postma Delivers: Backup QB rallies No. 24 Houston from 20 down to stun No. 21 Memphis

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It’s almost like this exact scenario has played out before. Tom Herman inserted a backup quarterback and found instant success, as Kyle Postma led No. 24 Houston from 20 down to beat No. 21 Memphis 35-34 Saturday night in Houston.

Memphis grabbed a 3-0 lead after one – it was just the third time Houston had been blanked in a quarter this season, and first time outside of a fourth quarter blowout – and pushed the lead to 20-0 with a pair of Paxton Lynch touchdown passes when Herman replaced a gimpy, ineffective Greg Ward, Jr., with the little-used Postma on the Cougars’ final drive before the half. Postma immediately delivered, hitting four of his first five throws, including a 30-yard scoring strike to Linell Bonner to put Houston on the board.

Houston continued its momentum by opening the second half with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by a seven-yard Kenneth Farrow scoring jaunt.

But Memphis responded, pushing the lead back to 20 by moving 68 and then 66 yards on its next two touches for a pair of rushing touchdowns.

Trailing 34-14 entering the fourth quarter, Houston raced 75 yards in six plays, punctuated by another Farrow touchdown run, then seemingly was in business after recovering a Doroland Dorceus fumble at the Memphis 20. The Cougars, though, had a touchdown taken off the board at the 10:06 mark of the fourth when tight end Tyler McCloskey was ruled an ineligible receiver downfield after hauling in an apparent Postma touchdown pass. They would later turn the ball over on downs.

Houston’s defense again responded as Elandon Roberts intercepted Lynch and returned the ball to the Memphis 39. Houston scored seven snaps later – consuming a precious 2:19 – when Javin Webb pushed in from one yard out.

With the score 34-28, Houston’s defense forced an immediate three-and-out, and the Cougars prowled 77 yards in nine plays – all but two coming on Postma’s arm or leg, including a seven-yard dash that gave the Cougars their first lead of the game at the 1:27 mark of the fourth quarter.

Memphis mounted one final drive for the win, but Jake Elliott‘s 48-yard field goal sailed wide right.

Postma, a sophomore that entered the night with six attempts on the entire season, completed 21-of-33 passes for 236 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions while rushing six times for a team-leading 49 yards and a touchdown. He essentially replaced the production Houston expected out of Ward, who notched only 60 passing yards on 5-of-11 passing and was sacked five times before exiting with a banged up ankle. Farrow and Webb combined to rush 14 times for 69 yards and three scores.

Lynch hit 20-of-31 passes for 278 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, plus 43 rushing yards. Dorceus carried 26 times for 116 yards with a score and a fumble.

The win pushes Houston (10-0, 6-0 AAC) one game closer to a winner-take-all date with No. 20 Navy for the American West. All that separates the Cougars from that Black Friday affair in Houston is a trip to Connecticut next week.

Memphis (8-2, 4-2 AAC) saw its CFP party-crasher hopes evaporate with its loss to Navy last week, and now sees any realistic hope of a conference title and Group of Five bowl berth go out the window as well.

Gary Pinkel undergoing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for a second time

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Former Missouri and Toledo head coach Gary Pinkel revealed in a TV interview on Sunday night that he is once again undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“I’m doing good. I had to get treatment again for the first time in four years. My cancer came out of remission, and so I had treatment last month. I’m doing fine,” Pinkel told KMIZ. “With my type of lymphoma, you’ll never be healed. But that’s kind of why I retired when I did – I just wanted to not go back and regret working 85 hours a week, 35 weeks out of the year when I could be doing other things with my family and my eight grandkids.”

Pinkel was originally diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May of 2015 and stepped down after that season. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer that begins in the lymph nodes and then spreads throughout the body.

“You keep battling it. I’m going to battle it, Pinkel said. “I’ve got a very positive approach to it, and I’m around a lot of good people that are helping me. There’s a lot of people out there with a lot worse cancers than Gary Pinkel has, and so prayers to all of them.”

Since retiring, Pinkel has used his time as a fundraiser for Missouri and also running the GP M.A.D.E. Foundation, which supports children with cancer and also provides mentoring for at-need kids.

Pinkel, 63, was 191-110-3 as a head coach at two schools over 25 seasons.

 

Former Bengals offensive coordinator reportedly joining Florida support staff

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Former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese is joining Florida’s staff as an analyst, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Benoit.

Zampese spent the 2016-17 seasons as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator after serving 13 seasons as Marvin Lewis‘s quarterbacks coach. Cincinnati went 13-18-1 in Zampese’s two seasons running the offense, which is why he spent 2018 as the Cleveland Browns’ quarterbacks coach and the first part of 2019 as the offensive coordinator for the AAF’s Atlanta Legends.

He is the son of former Chargers, Rams, Cowboys and Patriots offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese.

It is not immediately known what the younger Zampese’s role will be with the Gators, but his experience indicates he’ll work with Dan Mullen and coordinators John Hevesy and Billy Gonzales to develop Florida’s offensive plan and help Brian Johnson tutor the quarterbacks, or perhaps use his coordinator experience to self-scout Florida’s offense and scout Florida’s future opponents.

Arizona launched hostile workplace probe following sexual harassment claims against Wildcat football players

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Arizona launched a hostile workplace investigation into its football program following multiple claims of sexual assault and sexual harassment made by multiple female equipment managers against multiple former Wildcat football players, the program confirmed to the Tucson Daily Star.

Lawyers representing the university did not say when the probe took place, but did say it was sparked by two complaints made by female equipment mangers. From the paper:

In 2014, two UA students who worked as equipment managers separately reported incidents involving nonconsensual sex with football players. In August of that year, police were told that a 21-year-old woman working for the athletic department had sex at least twice with three UA football players while the she was heavily intoxicated. One of the players recorded at least one of the encounters and showed it to other students, the report said.

The woman told police that she lost her job after the recording was released, according to the report.

….

While investigating the woman’s claim, UA’s Title IX office approached former manager Jacquelyn Hinek, who had quit her job months before, citing pervasive sexual harassment. After speaking to UA investigators, Hinek told Tucson police that she had been sexually assaulted in April 2013 by several men associated with the football team while at an off-campus party. She said the incident was recorded on a cell phone and later shown to other students. 

“The Office of Institutional Equity conducted a thorough review of the football equipment manager program and there were no findings of sex discrimination as a result of that investigation,” UA spokesman Chris Sigurdson told the paper via email.

The probe was one of three major investigations into the football program.

Arizona is currently being sued for Title IX violations by an alleged victim of former Wildcats running back Orlando Bradford, whom the victim says hit, choked and imprisoned her over a 2-day period in September 2016. Bradford is currently serving a 5-year prison sentence, but the Title IX suit seeks to depose a number of key figures within the football program, including former head coach Rich Rodriguez, who himself was the subject of a hostile workplace investigation in 2017. Allegations of sexual harassment made by his former assistant led to his dismissal last January. Rodriguez has denied any sexual harassment claims, arguing instead they were an extortion attempt against him.

In total, Arizona said it investigated 27 athletes or athletic department employees for sexual harassment, sexual assault or domestic violence from 2012 through ’17 (the period coinciding with Rodriguez’s hiring and firing), eight of them involving the football program.

UConn reportedly looking to keep football program in FBS, not FCS

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All the reporting that came out since the bombshell reports saying Connecticut is looking to leave the American Athletic Conference to rejoin the non-football Big East have confirmed that, yes, this is really happening, likely in time for the 2020-21 athletic year. The reporting has also said that UConn’s soon-to-be-homeless football program will not drop down to FCS, but instead join a different conference or try to make it as an FBS independent.

On Saturday, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy tweeted that UConn has determined it will not return to FCS, where the program competed for most of its history before joining the then-power conference Big East in 2004.

On Sunday morning, NCAA.com’s Andy Katz followed with a note saying it looked like the Huskies will try to make a go of it as an independent, writing that UConn will attempt to schedule neighbors like UMass (a fellow independent), Boston College, Syracuse and Rutgers while honoring existing contracts for home-and-homes with Duke, Illinois, NC State and others.

For a check in with someone who might actually know something, let’s see what Huskies head coach Randy Edsall has to say.

Oh, well.

Either way, it sounds like the train is moving and we could hear something official sooner rather than later.