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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.

Clemson QB Lawrence says he’s completely committed to 2020 season

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Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence said he considered opting out of this season when he was unsure what college football would look like going forward amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Lawrence said Friday once he understood he’d play an 11-game season with a chance for an Atlantic Coast Conference and national championships, he decided to play his junior season.

The Heisman Trophy hopeful said he’s completely committed to this season and confident in Clemson’s ability to keep himself and his teammates safe.

Lawrence, who is the likely No. 1 overall pick in the next NFL draft should he leave college early, was 25-0 as a starter until he and Clemson fell to LSU in the national title game last January. The 6-foot-6 junior, had perhaps his poorest performance in college in the 42-25 loss to LSU. He joked how after his freshman year when he led Clemson to a championship he heard how amazing he was and since the LSU defeat, he heard how much work he has to do improve.

Pac-12 responds to football players threatening opt-outs

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The Pac-12 responded Monday to football players who have threatened to opt-out of the season because of concerns related to health and safety, racial injustice and economic rights with a letter touting the conference’s work in those areas and an invitation to meet later this week.

A letter from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, dated Aug. 3, was sent to 12 football players leading the #WeAreUnited movement. The letter was obtained by The Associated Press and first reported by Sports Illustrated.

The players say they have been communicating with more than 400 of their peers throughout the Pac-12. The group released a lengthy list of demands Sunday and said if they are not addressed they will not practice or play. The group said it reached out to the Pac-12 on Sunday to request a meeting. In the letter, Scott said he was eager to discuss their concerns.

“I will come back to you in the coming days following discussion with our members and student-athlete leaders to schedule a call for this week to discuss the matters that you have raised,” Scott wrote.

Also Monday night, Washington State coach Nick Rolovich said in a statemen t he regretted cautioning one of his players about being part of the #WeAreUnited movement. A recording of a conversation between Rolovich and receiver Kassidy Woods obtained by the Dallas Morning News revealed the coach seemingly warning the player that being involved with the group would hurt his standing with the team. Woods had called Rolovich to inform him he was opting out of the season for health reasons related to COVID-19.

“I spoke with Kassidy Woods in a private phone conversation last Saturday afternoon. This was before the #WeAreUnited group had released its letter of concerns,” said Rolovich, who is in his first season was Washington State coach. “Without knowing the concerns of the group, I regret that my words cautioning Kassidy have become construed as opposition. I’m proud of our players and all the Pac-12 student-athletes for using their platform, especially for matters they are passionate about. WSU football student-athletes who have expressed support for the #WeAreUnited group will continue to be welcome to all team-related activities, unless they choose to opt out for health and safety reasons.”

The #WeAreUnited players’ demands focused on four areas: health and safety protections, especially protocols related to COVID-19; guarding against the elimination of sports programs by schools during an economic downturn; ending racial injustice in college sports; and economic freedom and equity.

Scott addressed each area, highlighting the conference’s:

— Medical advisory committee working on COVID-19 protocols and webinars for student-athletes and their parents;

— Support for reforming NCAA rules regarding name, image and likeness compensation for college athletes;

— Recent initiatives to address racial inequities such as the formation of a social justice & anti-racism advisory group that includes student-athletes representatives.

Scott also listed 10 areas in which, he wrote, “The Pac-12 has been a leader in supporting student-athlete health and well-being …” Included were enhanced medical coverage post-eligibility; cost-of-attendance stipends added to the value of scholarship; mental health support; and the Pac-12′s support of reforming NCAA transfer rules to allow athletes more freedom to switch schools.

Pac-12 football teams are scheduled to begin preseason practices Aug. 17 and the league’s conference-only regular season is set to start Sept. 26.

Big 12 to allow teams to play 1 non-conference football game

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Two people involved with the decision say the Big 12 will permit its teams to play one nonconference football game this year to go along with their nine league contests as plans for the pandemic-altered season continued to fall into place.

The people spoke Monday night to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conference was still preparing an official announcement.

The Big 12 university presidents signed off on the conference’s scheduling model, which gives schools the ability to play one nonconference game at home. The conference’s championship game is scheduled for Dec. 5, but one of the people told AP that the conference is leaving open the possibility of bumping it back a week or two.

The 10-team Big 12 already plays a nine-game, round-robin conference schedule. Unlike other Power Five conference that have switched to either exclusively (Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) or mostly (ACC) league games this season, the Big 12 could not add more conference games without teams playing each other more than once.

Several Big 12 teams have already started preseason practice, with Kansas and Oklahoma slated to play FCS teams on Aug. 29.

As conferences take steps toward a football season that seems to be in precarious shape, the NCAA is expected to weigh in Tuesday on fall sports other than major-college football.

The association’s Board of Governors is scheduled to meet and whether to cancel or postpone NCAA championship events in fall sports such as soccer, volleyball and lower-division football is expected to be a topic.

Only the Pac-12 has a full football schedule with matchups and dates in place among Power Five conferences. The Pac-12 will begin Sept. 26, along with the Southeastern Conference, which is still working on its new 10-game slate.

The Atlantic Coast Conference has opponents set for its 10-game conference schedule and will start the weekend of Sept. 12, but no specific game dates. The ACC has also said it will permit its teams to play one nonconference game.

The Big Ten, first to announce intentions to go conference-only this season, has yet to release a new schedule, but that could come later this week.

Now that the Power Five has declared its intentions the Group of Five conferences can start making plans and filling holes on their schedules.

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco has said the AAC could stick with its eight-game conference schedule and let its members plays as many of their four nonconference games as they can salvage or replace.

The Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt conferences are likely to take similar approach.

Early Monday, Texas State from the Sun Belt announced it was moving a nonconference game against SMU up from Sept. 5 to Aug. 29.

Good morning and, in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening and good night! CFT, out…

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CFT is no more. At least, when it comes to NBC Sports.

The first of last month, I — this is John Taylor (pictured, catching the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XXIII) — began my 12th year with CFT and NBC Sports. This morning, I was informed that my position was being eliminated and I would not be completing that 12th year. Which, of course, meant I wouldn’t be eligible for the traditional 13th-anniversary gift of lace. Which really bummed me out. Because I really like lace.

The jarring phone call was both a slap in the face and a relief. Jarring because, well, it was completely unexpected. Out of the blue, even amidst the pandemic that is wreaking absolute and utter havoc across the country. A relief, on the other hand, because, every single day for the past four months, I woke up wondering if this would be the day I get that call.

Would this be the day? Would this be the day? A question played on an endless loop that just f***s with you mentally, emotionally, physically.

That’s no way to live.

Then again, being job-less is no way to live, either. But, here we are.

So many people I want to thank. First and foremost, Mike Florio and Larry Mazza. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Especially Mr. Mazza on the food front. Hopefully, lunch at Oliverio’s — best damn stuffed shells I have EVER had — can still be a thing, Larry.

And so many people that have worked for me. Not to single anyone out, but I’m going to single one out in Ben Kercheval. Ben, non-biological son of Hoppy, you were and continue to be the man. I appreciate you more than you know.  Rasheed Wallace may indeed be your biological father, but I will forever consider you my illegitimate Internet stepson.

Mike Miller is the best boss anyone could ever ask for.  Hire that man.  You can thank me later.

Kevin McGuire, Zach Barnett, Bryan Fischer, I will always treasure what we did, together, these last few years. Things were on the uptick, and it’s sad that we won’t be able to see it through. Together.  We should’ve — SHOULD’VE SHOULD’VE SHOULD’VE — been given that opportunity.  And it will forever piss me off that we weren’t.

Brent and Chris and JJ, much love to you all as well.

Shortly after I received the job call of death, I called my dad. Told him what was going on in his son’s life.  After I hung up the phone, he sent me a GIF in a text message a few minutes later.  I’ll link it here to end whatever this is, because it’s appropriate.  And old school.

And, well… bye.

via GIPHY