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Fournette’s five touchdowns power No. 20 LSU past Texas Tech in Texas Bowl

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LSU’s ferocious and unforgiving defensive front and Leonard Fournette being, well, Leonard Fournette was too much for a game Texas Tech squad as the 20th-ranked Tigers pulled away from the Red Raiders, 56-27 in the Texas Bowl Tuesday night.

Fournette opened the scoring with a two-yard touchdown plunge on LSU’s first possession. Texas Tech seemingly pulled even when Patrick Mahomes hit Jakeem Grant on a beautiful 46-yard lob on 3rd-and-10, but the Red Raiders’ ensuing two-point try failed. The one-point difference lasted all of 24 seconds when D.J. Chark, on his touch catch of the season, took a pitch and raced 79 yards for a touchdown.

The Bayou Bengals pushed the lead to 21-6 when Brandon Harris found Fournette for a 44-yard catch-and-dash score at the 6:41 mark of the second quarter.

The next seven possessions saw Texas Tech grab a handful of momentum and severely outplay LSU, much to the delight of the red and black Houston crowd. After Fournette’s touchdown, the Red Raiders marched 90 yards in nine plays, capped by a three-yard toss from Mahomes to Grant. Texas Tech forced a three-and-out on LSU’s next possession, and then another on the opening possession of the second half.

Texas Tech punted on its first touch of the third quarter, but Dakota Allen stepped in front of a Harris pass on LSU’s following possession, giving the Red Raiders three straight stops (not including an end-of-half possession). Mahomes capitalized with another third down touchdown pass, this one a 31-yarder to Reginald Davis at the 10:28 mark of the third quarter, pulling Texas Tech to within 21-20.

Unfortunately for Texas Tech and head coach Kliff Kingsbury, their Texas Bowl experience peaked at that moment.

LSU raced 75 yards in four plays, the last 43 on another Fournette touchdown run, then intercepted Mahomes off a deflection inside the Tigers’ red zone. Fournette scored again on the next possession, punctuating a four-play, 78-yard drive. After a three-and-out in which Texas Tech lost 13 yards, Harris capped a four-play, 64-yard drive with a 26-yard scoring dash, turning a 21-20 thriller into a 42-20 blowout in the span of 10 minutes.

The clubs traded scores to open the fourth quarter — another Mahomes-to-Grant pass for Texas Tech, another Fournette plunge for LSU — and LSU capped the scoring with a six-play, 65-yard drive ended by a two-yard Darrel Williams run.

LSU, who entered the night ranked 51st in total offense and 54th in scoring, ended the night with 638 yards of total offense on 10.3 yards per play with touchdowns on its last five full possessions. Fournette, of course, starred, rushing 29 times for a Texas Bowl record 212 yards and four touchdowns, plus a 44-yard touchdown reception. Harris hit 13-of-24 throws for 254 yards with a touchdown and a pick, and as a team the Tigers rushed 40 times for 384 yards and seven touchdowns.

Mahomes completed 28-of-56 throws for 370 yards with four touchdowns and one interception but, if possible, his performance out-shined his numbers. LSU virtually eliminated Texas Tech’s running game and sacked Mahomes six times, while forcing him to run for his life on the majority of his completions. Grant caught 10 passes for 125 yards and three touchdowns, and DeAndre Washington closed a stellar career with 11 carries for 37 yards and seven grabs for 81 yards.

LSU closed the season at 9-3, comforted in knowing the bulk of the roster — starting with Fournette — returns next season, which figures to make the Tigers a popular preseason top-5 pick for 2016. Texas Tech finishes at 7-6, comforted in knowing Mahomes returns to campus and the 2015 defense does not.

Lincoln Riley suggests there is a competition for QB that nobody should believe

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It’s a standard procedure for a head coach to suggest there is an open competition for any number of positions on a football team, but nobody seems to be buying the idea there is a competition at Oklahoma to replace Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. And when one of the players supposedly in the running for the job has a lucrative baseball career on the table, the idea is a little more comical.

Kyler Murray was drafted by the Oakland A’s with the No. 9 overall pick in the recent amateur MLB amateur draft. His contract with the A’s guarantees him $5 million and still allows for him to play one more year of football, which Murray has stated is his plan at Oklahoma. Still, Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley addressed the quarterback situation at Big 12 media days on Monday and suggested Murray will have to win the job against redshirt sophomore Austin Kendall.

“Kyler’s not the quarterback yet,” Riley said when asked how the offense will change with Riley at the position following the departure of No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Mayfield to Cleveland. “There’s a really good competition going on and Kyler’s gonna have to fight like crazy to win this job.”

Sure. OK. Whatever you say, Riley.

It is worth noting Murray appeared in seven games for the Sooners last season with 18-of-21 for 359 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in backup duty for Mayfield. Kendall redshirted last season and was named one of the team’s Offensive Scout Team Players of the Year. Kendall did make appearances in two games in 2016 in a back-up role. While Kendall may have a bright future in Norman, few are willing to accept Oklahoma is welcoming back Murray to potentially be a back-up quarterback when he could jump right into his pro baseball career right now.

But this could just be nothing more than the latest example of a coach simply setting the tone for the offseason and holding the bar high for even the most talented of players on the roster. Riley may be blowing smoke, but it could also pay off in the long run of the 2018 season.

Tennessee DL Ryan Thaxton suspended, charged with domestic assault

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Tennessee defensive lineman Ryan Thaxton has been suspended by the football program after being arrested and charged for an alleged domestic assault of his girlfriend. The incident leading to the arrest and charge occurred over the weekend.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Thaxton was arrested Sunday night and charged with domestic assault and false imprisonment. According to police records, Thaxton is accused of pushing his girlfriend to his dorm room while she refused to follow him. It is reported Thaxton than carried the unidentified woman to his dorm room and blocked the door so she could not leave as an argument continued inside the room.

“We are aware of the incident,” a statement from Tennessee read. “The student-athlete has been suspended from all team activities while law enforcement and the university investigates.”

Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt is scheduled to address the media at SEC Media Days on Wednesday.

SEC Media Days will return to Hoover, AL in 2019, could explore new options in 2020

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After years of holding its annual media day extravaganza in Hoover, Alabama, the SEC set up shop in Atlanta at the College Football Hall of Fame this week for the 2018 media day event. The SEC will head back to Alabama next year, however, and the conference may evaluate moving the media day fun around the region in the years after that.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey announced the plan is to hold the SEC Media Day event in Hoover, Alabama next summer. After that is anybody’s guess. Tony Barnhart of SEC Network suggested there will be a “serious discussion” about where to hold the event after that.

The SEC certainly has plenty of worthy options to consider if the conference seriously considers moving the event around a bit. Atlanta figures to be a popular destination option, of course. But the SEC could also capitalize on other locations around the SEC with desirable options in Florida, Tennessee, and Texas just for starters. SEC Media Days in Nashville? Memphis? Houston?

New Orleans?

The possibilities are quite interesting and moving the event to different locations could allow for more fans to get a taste of the media day fun, which this year included a fan fest the day prior to the official start of the media day schedule.

SEC Network making its way to more viewers in… New York?

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One of the main attractions the Big Ten saw in adding Rutgers as a member during its most recent expansion was the ability to bring the Big Ten Network to more viewers in the New York metropolitan area. Now, the SEC is looking to get a slice of the Big Apple pie.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey announced on Monday at SEC media day the SEC Network will be coming to cable provider Altice in the New York metro viewing area. That is a nice addition for the SEC Network, as it will make its way to more than 3 million potential viewers. According to subscriber data from Statista, Altice had 3.38 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2018. Of course, as many cable providers have come to realize, the subscriber total has been on the decline since 2016.

What makes this even more significant of a development for the SEC is the addition of Altice to the distribution map will bring the SEC Network to every major television provider in the United States. (Take THAT, Pac-12 Network).

The SEC Network first went on the air in 2014 and it has quickly paid dividends for the entire conference. This may also be encouraging news for ACC fans, as the conference inches closer to launching its own conference-branded network with the assistance of ESPN. The ACC Network figures to take advantage of many of the same distribution plans as the SEC NEtwork, especially on the east coast as it initially goes on the air. With more of a footprint in the northeast, the future also looks optimistic for the ACC Network.