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No. 1 Clemson punches Playoff ticket with ACC title win over No. 10 UNC


With a 42-23 lead and 11:34 remaining, Clemson appeared cruising to the College Football Playoff. Ten minutes later, the Tigers had to recover an onside kick to survive a hard-charging North Carolina team. But survive they did, and a 45-37 win over the No. 10 Heels gives No. 1 Clemson its 15th ACC championship and sends the Tigers to their first College Football Playoff — likely as the No. 1 overall seed.

ACC Player of the Year Deshaun Watson made his case for a much larger award, hitting 26-of-42 passes for 289 yards with three touchdowns and one interception while rushing 24 times for 131 yards and two scores.

Clemson scored on three consecutive drives, marching 68, 97 and 36 yards, to turn a 16-14 second quarter deficit into a 35-16 third quarter lead.

Watson’s interception propelled North Carolina to its next score as Marquise Williams capped a 42-yard drive with a one-yard plunge, but the Tigers immediately responded with an 11-play, 80-yard drive, to seemingly put the game away with a 19-point advantage and 11 minutes to protect it.

But North Carolina scored 100 seconds later to pull within 42-30 and, after a Clemson field goal, slashed 49 yards in one minute to claw within 45-37 with 1:13 remaining and all three timeouts in their pocket. The Tar Heels recovered the ensuing onside kick but a phantom offsides call forced a re-kick. Clemson recovered the second kick after the ball touched a number of hands on both sides, and one more first down officially punched the Tigers’ ticket.

Clemson owned the line of scrimmage for the majority of the night, achieving 33 first downs and converting 9-of-18 third downs. The Tigers out-gained UNC 608-382 and held a 319-142 advantage on the ground. Wayne Gallman led all players with 187 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.

Williams completed 11-of-33 throws for 224 yards with three touchdowns and an interception while rushing 17 times for a team-high 81 yards with a touchdown and a fumble.

North Carolina opened the scoring with a field goal and grabbed a 9-7 first quarter lead on a 40-yard catch-and-run score from Williams to T.J. Logan.

Clemson led 14-9 in the second quarter when punter Andy Teasdall took off on a surprise fake punt on 4th-and-15 in his own territory. He was stopped 11 yards short, and Williams hit Ryan Switzer for a three-yard touchdown to put North Carolina back on top 16-14 with 3:52 remaining in the first half.

But Clemson drove 68 yards for a touchdown with just two seconds remaining in the first half, reclaiming a lead it would not relinquish.

Former four-star Clemson DB enters transfer portal

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A couple of weeks or so before kicking off summer camp, the defending national champion’s depth in the secondary has taken a bit of a hit.

Exiting spring practice, Kyler McMichael was listed as A.J. Terrell‘s back up at one of Clemson’s cornerback slots. However, as first reported by 247Sports.com, McMichael’s name is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.

It’s at this point in the program where we’re compelled to remind readers that McMichael can pull his name from the portal and remain with the Tigers, although entering is, more times than not, the first step toward a transfer. Taking a seat in the portal also affords other programs the opportunity to contact the defensive back without receiving permission from Clemson.

Should McMichael ultimately opt to leave the Tigers, it’s highly likely that he’d have to sit out the 2019 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules if he lands at another FBS program.

A four-star member of Clemson’s 2018 recruiting class, McMichael was rated as the No. 8 corner in the country; the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 56 prospect overall on 247Sports.com’s composite board. He was the highest-rated defensive back in the Tigers’ class that year.

McMichael picked Clemson over offers from, among others, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.

As a true freshman, McMichael played in 12 games. During that action, he was credited with a pair of tackles in just over 100 snaps.

Oh, SHI? Cue Clay Davis because Rutgers announces new football naming rights deal for what will now be known as SHI Stadium

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Cue Clay Davis because the birthplace of college football has a new name and fans probably can’t wait to make fun of it.

Rutgers announced on Friday that they have agreed to a new stadium naming rights deal with SHI International Corp. that will see the Scarlet Knights’ home rebranded over the next seven years into SHI Stadium. The venue was officially known as HighPoint.com Stadium last year but the naming rights deal with what most know as High Point Solutions expired this offseason.

“As the State University of New Jersey, we are thrilled to partner with SHI,” Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs said in a statement. “Headquartered right here in Somerset, SHI proudly embraces its strong Rutgers ties. As we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of college football here at the Birthplace, we are delighted to partner with a company that shares in our Relentless Pursuit of Excellence. This partnership will positively impact athletics, the university and the New Jersey community.”

Terms were not announced by the school but “a person familiar with the contract told NJ Advance Media it’s a 7-year deal starting at $1.25 million and increasing by $100,000 annually to $1.85 million in 2025-26.” At a total of nearly $10 million over the lifetime of the contract, that isn’t quite what other Power Five programs have fetched but a still significant bump over the previous $600,000 a year the school got.

The Scarlet Knights previously played at Rutgers Stadium up until 2011. The first football game at the newly renamed stadium will happen on Aug. 30 against UMass.

Rimington Trophy watch list is out for 2019 and it includes 80 FBS centers

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Are you a starting center for 2019? Good, because chances are high you made the Rimington Trophy watch list.

The Rimington Trophy Committee released their annual pre-season watch list for the award given to the nation’s best center and remarkably, 80 of the 130 FBS teams were represented on the list. While watch lists are always notable for their length and being sometimes too broad, it kind of feels like everybody who is in line to start was granted a place on this year’s edition.

Among the notable names were Clemson’s Sean Pollard, Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz, Michigan State’s Matt Allen, Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey, Notre Dame’s Jarrett Patterson, Stanford’s Drew Dalman, Washington’s Nick Harris and LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry III.

You can find the full list of centers nominated here.

The winner of the award will be announced in early December along with a host of other college football honors. The winner will then be recognized at the Rimington Trophy Presentation in Lincoln, Nebraska on January 18, 2020.

Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam, Oklahoma’s Grant Calcaterra lead off 2019 watch list for the Mackey Award

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Being a tight end in today’s version of college football means you’re a player wearing many hats.

While blocking is emphasized less than ever before, players at the position still need to do it in addition to splitting out wide, running reverses and lining up all over the field in a variety of offensive sets. This year’s annual watch list for the 2019 Mackey Award includes a host of players who can do it all and leave an impact between the lines that can make them a headache for opposing defensive coordinators.

While the entire list includes just about every starter at the position in the country, some of the headliners for the upcoming season include Washington’s Hunter BryantOklahoma’s Grant Calcaterra, Alabama’s Miller Forristall, Memphis’ Joey Magnifico, Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam, Stanford’s Colby Parkinson and Vandy’s Jared Pinkney.

The full list of players on the Mackey Award watch list can be found here.

Last year’s winner was Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson, who later became a top 10 draft pick for the Detroit Lions the following spring.