No. 12 Michigan survives road trip to Penn State to keep B1G dreams alive

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Year one of the Jim Harbaugh Era in Ann arbor will see Michigan playing for the Big Ten East Division next week in Michigan Stadium. That is the situation after No. 12 Michigan (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) took to the road and left Penn State (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) with a 28-16 win.

On fourth and goal from the two-yard line, Penn State elected to kick a field goal while down 21-13 with roughly eight minutes to play. Michigan made them pay for that decision. After the short field goal was blocked but still managed to sneak in for three points, Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff to the Penn State 4-0-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Jehu Chesson swung to the left side of the field and ran down the left sideline for a 20-yard gain to put the Wolverines in the red zone in the blink of an eye. De'Veon Smith capped the drive with a short touchdown run by leaping and extending the ball over a pile for a decisive touchdown. Penn State went four-and-out on their next, and final, possession and Michigan ran the clock out for the final three minutes and change because Penn State used its final timeout with over five minutes to play in the game.

It was a long afternoon for Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who completed just 13 of his 31 pass attempts and was roughed up from start to finish, especially in the second half. Penn State converted just three of 14 third-down situations (Michigan converted seven of 14) and the offense ended with just 207 yards of offense. Freshman running back Saquon Barkley had 68 rushing yards, but 56 came on a long run on the game’s opening drive. Too many times Penn State went for a big pass and hoped to come down with the football, and Michigan would have taken that strategy all day long. Michigan was rarely burned by a big play.

Michigan’s quarterback, Jake Rudock, was much more efficient and effective, completing 25 of 38 pass attempts for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Michigan also had to overcome discipline issues as well. Michigan was flagged for 13 penalties amounting for 117 yards. Michigan also had two turnovers in the game.

Michigan remains in position to win the Big Ten East Division, but it still needs to beat Ohio State next week and hope Michigan State takes a loss thanks to an earlier head-to-head going the way of the Spartans earlier this season. Ohio State hosts Michigan State today, and Michigan State will host Penn State next week. Odds are Michigan fans will actually be pulling for the Buckeyes here, which has to feel a bit weird.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.