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Washington State outshines Miami in snowy Sun Bowl

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The Hyundai Sun Bowl didn’t live up to its titular name, but Washington State and Miami provided the back-and-forth thriller we thought we’d see. As snow pelted the El Paso turf throughout Saturday afternoon — played simultaneously as the balmy Heart of Dallas Bowl across state and the comfortable Pinstripe Bowl in New York City — that the Bizarro Sun Bowl would be decided by Washington State’s 93rd-ranked defense.

Clinging to a 20-14 lead with 5:14 remaining, Washington State briefly saw Miami take the lead as Brad Kaaya tossed a go-ahead touchdown screen pass. But Hurricanes wideout Herb Waters was called for an illegal block, wiping the points off the scoreboard, and two plays later Miami running back Mark Walton fumbled and Wazzu defender Marcellus Pippins hopped on the snowy pigskin to end the threat. The Cougars took over at their own 4 and punted three plays later, which Braxton Berrios returned 20 yards to the Washington State 28 with a practical eternity (two minutes, 58 seconds) with which to work.

But again the Washington State defense stiffened.

Running back Joseph Yearby‘s halfback pass was intercepted on Miami’s next snap, and the Cougars consumed the final 148 seconds to secure a 20-14 victory.

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Luke Falk led the Washington State attack with 29 completions on 53 attempts for 295 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. His 31-yarder to Jamal Marrow opened the scoring at the 12:41 mark of the first quarter, and his 25-yard strike to Gabe Marks gave the Cougars a 17-7 lead with 1:10 to play in the first half. A 25-yard Erik Powell field goal as time expired in the first half pushed the lead to 20-7 and provided Wazzu’s final points of the day.

Only Walton’s five-yard run with 13:10 left in the fourth quarter dented the scoreboard in the second half, played entirely under ever-increasing snow flurries.

Brad Kaaya threw for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and Berrios led the all rushers with 72 yards on three carries. Yearby added 14 rushes for 63 yards.

Jamal Morrow led Washington State’s ground efforts with 10 carries for 71 yards, and Marks concluded a stellar junior season by snaring five receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown.

The win was Washington State’s (9-4) first post-season victory since knocking off No. 5 Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl. Miami (8-5) closes the book on a lost 2015 season and rests knowing sunnier days are ahead — both in the arrival of new head coach Mark Richt and, you know, in the literal sense.

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.