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Late interception gives Wisconsin its first win over USC

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Rafael Gaglianone field goal with 2:29 remaining lifted Wisconsin to a 23-21 win over No. 25 USC in the Holiday Bowl Wednesday night in San Diego, giving the Badgers their first win over the Trojans in now seven tries. Wednesday night’s game was the pair’s first meeting since 1966.

The Badgers actually appeared to take the lead one drive earlier, as Tanner McEvoy took a direct snap and ran around the right side. Officials ruled he stepped out of bounds but replays show he did stay in bounds. What would have been a long touchdown run was taken off the board in controversial fashion.

Joel Stave‘s nose was stepped on by a cleat on the play, forcing him to give way to back-up quarterback Bart Houston, who fired two incomplete passes and led to a Badgers punt from the USC 41.

Wisconsin forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, then drove 42 yards to set Rafael Gaglianone up for a go-ahead 29-yard field goal.

Though Gaglianone knocked in the winning score, it was outside linebacker Jack Cichy that was the star of the game for the Badgers. Cichy ended the drive following the go-ahead field goal by forcing Cody Kessler into his first interception since Nov. 13 into the waiting arms of Sojourn Shelton — it was Wisconsin’s first interception by a cornerback since the 2013 season — at the USC 46 with 1:44 left to play. The Badgers managed to kill 65 of the remaining 104 seconds, leaving USC a scant 36 seconds to try a game-winning field goal. Their last-gasp drive moved 40 yards before turning the ball over on downs at midfield with three seconds left on the clock.

Prior to forcing the interception, Cichy single-handedly killed a USC possession by sacking Kessler on three consecutive plays.

The former walk-on, suspended for the first half for a targeting hit in the Badgers’ season finale against Minnesota, entered the Holiday Bowl with two sacks on the entire season.

After a scoreless first quarter, Wisconsin jumped to a 10-0 lead thanks to a 28-yard Gaglianone boot and a six-yard Corey Clement touchdown run. USC answered with a three-and-a-half minute drive that culminated in a one-yard Justin Davis plunge, but Wisconsin closed the first half with another short field goal, then opened the second half with a four-yard scoring strike from Stave to Austin Traylor, giving the Badgers a 20-7 lead at the 7:49 mark of the third quarter.

USC used another Davis run and a seven-yard toss from Kessler to Darreus Rogers to take a 21-20 lead with 10:19 left to play, but the Trojans were unable to protect the lead.

Kessler closed his college career by hitting 18-of-32 passes for 221 yards with a touchdown, an interception and, oddly, a seven-yard out on the decisive 4th-and-10 with the game in its dying moments. Ronald Jones led the Trojans’ ground efforts with eight carries for 47 yards, and JuJu Smith-Schuster caught four passes for 65 yards.

The loss dropped USC to 8-6 on the season, and pushed Clay Helton to 0-2 as the Trojans’ full-time head coach.

Stave led the Badgers by connecting on 18-of-27 throws for 217 yards with a touchdown and no picks, and Clement charged for 66 yards and one score on 19 carries. Alex Erickson grabbed a game-high five passes for 54 yards.

The win allowed Wisconsin to close the year and Paul Chryst‘s first season as the head Badger at 10-3, giving the program double-digit victories in two straight and five of the last seven seasons.

 

Missouri corner Christian Holmes dives into transfer portal

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Thanks to a potential departure from the Missouri Tigers football roster, we have our first, but certainly not last, portal post of the day.

Matt Zenitz of al.com was the first to report that cornerback Christian Holmes is heading toward the NCAA transfer database. A Missouri Tigers football official subsequently confirmed that Holmes has entered his name into the portal.

Normally standard operating procedures for football players in such situations, Holmes hasn’t yet addressed his impending departure on his personal Twitter account.

Holmes was a three-star member of Mizzou’s 2016 recruiting class. He was the highest-rated corner in the Tigers’ class that year.

During his time in Columbia, the Georgia product played in 35 games. He started a dozen of those appearances, including eight this past season.

The past two years, Holmes totaled 19 passes defensed, four tackles for loss and two interceptions. He returned one of those passes for a touchdown in 2018.

An injury sidelined Holmes for the entire 2017 season.

Missouri Tigers football is coming off a 6-6 season that led to the firing of head coach Barry Odom. Less than two weeks later, Appalachian State’s Eli Drinkwitz was hired as Odom’s replacement.

Odom, incidentally, landed on his feet as Arkansas’ defensive coordinator.

Purdue turns to Air Force for new D-line coach

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For the second time this week, Jeff Brohm has a new addition to his Purdue football coaching staff.

Tuesday, Marty Biagi was hired as special teams coordinator. Two days later, Terrance Jamison was hired as defensive line coach.

Jamison will replace Reggie Johnson, who wasn’t brought back for the 2020 season after three years with the Big Ten school.

“Terrance is a talented coach with a great background in defensive line technique and skill development,” the Purdue football head coach said in a statement. “He is an outstanding addition to our staff.”

Jamison spent the past two seasons as the defensive line coach at Air Force.

From Purdue’s release on Jamison’s hiring:

Jamison worked with an Air Force unit that finished in the top 20 in all of the Football Bowl Subdivision in a number of categories, including rushing defense (7th, 100.5), defensive touchdowns (12th, 3), total defense (17th, 319.6) and scoring defense (20th, 19.8).

Jamison has also spent time as line coach at Texas Tech (2017-18) and Florida Atlantic (2014-16). He’s also served as a defensive staffer at Wisconsin and Cal. With the Badgers, Jamison combined to serve four seasons as a student assistant (2008-09), quality control assistant (2011) and a graduate assistant (2012). With the Golden Bears in 2013, he was a quality control coach.

Minnesota’s Phillip Howard shifts gears, pulls name from portal

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For the third time in two days, this time to the benefit of the Minnesota Gophers football program, a player has reversed course on his portal intentions.

First, linebacker Andrew Pryts opted to return to Stanford. Then, it was wide receiver Kobay White shifting gears and making his way back to Boston College. Now, it’s Phillip Howard’s turn to pull his name out of the transfer database as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has reported that the cornerback will remain a part of the Minnesota Gophers football team.

Howard had first entered the portal earlier this month. On his Instagram account Wednesday, Howard seemed to intimate a change of heart by posting a picture of himself in a Gophers uniform.

 

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Trials and tribulations… My story different ⏳

A post shared by Phillip Howard (@_philllyyy) on Jan 22, 2020 at 3:37pm PST

Howard was a three-star member of Minnesota’s 2016 recruiting class. He took a redshirt his true freshman season.

As a wide receiver, Howard started seven of the 11 games in which he played in 2017. That season, he caught 11 passes for 132 yards. The following season, he caught two passes for five yards.

In between the 2018 and 2019 seasons, however, Howard moved to the defensive secondary. This past season, Howard played in 11 games as a cornerback. He had one interception and one forced fumble.

On social media, QB Jarren Williams confirms intent to transfer from Miami

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For Jarren Williams, his move on from Miami is unofficially official.

Late Thursday afternoon, it was reported that Jarren Williams had signaled his intention to leave Miami by putting his name into the NCAA transfer database.  The news surfaced three days after Houston transfer D’Eriq King, now the overwhelming favorite to win The U’s starting job heading into the offseason, transferred to Miami.

Thursday evening on his Instagram account, Jarren Williams confirmed in a statement that his intent is indeed to transfer from Miami.

First, I want to start by saying that these decisions are never easy. But, after prayer and counsel, I have decided to enter my name into the transfer portal.

“I want to thank all of my teammates for that everlasting brotherhood, the coaching staff for giving me an opportunity and the diehard fans for their support for UM. I cam here with dreams of winning National Championships and my only regret is that I will not be able to achieve that goal.

“Life is a journey and in this world you will be confronted with a fork in the road. I am at that fork and sometimes you can’t look back. I am looking forward to what God has in store for me next. With that being said, I wish UM all the best and a Championship year! #GoCanes

History would suggest there’s the slightest of possibilities that Jarren Williams could return to Miami. In December of 2018, the true freshman quarterback was set to transfer before being talked out of it by then-head coach Mark Richt.

It was the first of many ups and downs for Williams at the school.

Following a much-discussed quarterback competition, Williams began the 2019 season as Miami’s starting quarterback.  After starting the first five games, a shoulder injury knocked the redshirt freshman out for the next two; a non-football issue sidelined him for another.

Williams regained the job in the week leading into the Florida State game, helping the Hurricanes to its most lopsided win over its rival since 2001 and triggering the firing of FSU’s head football coach.  A week later, Williams led Miami, 2-3 at one point in the season, to its third straight win and fourth in five games as The U overwhelmed Louisville 52-27.

It was a historic performance for Williams personally in the win over the UofL as he threw six touchdown passes in just 21 attempts.  The half-dozen scoring tosses set the football program’s single-game record.

For the season, Williams threw for 2,187 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions.  The Hurricanes went 4-6 in games he started.

With Williams’ departure, Miami could head into spring practice with five quarterbacks on the roster: King, rising redshirt junior N’Kosi Perry, rising redshirt junior Tate Martell, rising redshirt freshman Peyton Matocha and true freshman Tyler Van DykeEspecially when it comes to Martell, that sinal-calling roster is most certainly subject to change.