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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.

 

2019 finalist Justin Fields highlights preseason Davey O’Brien watch list

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The Davey O’Brien Award is next up as watch list season is in fall swing.

The Bednarik Award opened the proceedings Monday.  A day later, the Davey O’Brien Award released a preseason watch list that includes 30 of the top quarterbacks in the country.  And, according to the award’s press release, “new transfers were eligible to be included for the first time in the award’s history.”

Justin Fields of Ohio State, a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award in 2019, is among the players on the watch list. Fields is joined by seven semifinalists from last year: Baylor’s Charlie Brewer, Shane Buechele of SMU, Texas’ Sam Ehlinger, Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan, Brock Purdy of Iowa State and Memphis’ Brady White.

The Big 12 and SEC both landed five watch listers, the most of any single conference.  Both the ACC and Big Ten placed four apiece in the group, while the Pac-12 has two.  With three, the AAC leads all Group of Five leagues.

Fourteen seniors, eight juniors and eight sophomores combine to make up the list.

Below are all 30 members of this year’s watch list.

Hank Bachmeier, Boise State, So., 6-1, 200, Murrieta, Calif.
Ian Book, Notre Dame, Sr., 6-0, 206, El Dorado Hills, Calif.
Alan Bowman, Texas Tech, So., 6-3, 210, Grapevine, Texas
Charlie Brewer, Baylor, Sr., 6-1, 206, Austin, Texas
Shane Buechele, SMU, Sr., 6-1, 207, Arlington, Texas
Jack Coan, Wisconsin, Sr., 6-3, 221, Sayville, N.Y.
Sean Clifford, Penn State, Jr., 6-2, 219, Cincinnati, Ohio
Dustin Crum, Kent State, Sr., 6-3, 201, Grafton, Ohio
Micale Cunningham, Louisville, Jr., 6-1, 200, Montgomery, Ala.
Jayden Daniels, Arizona State, So., 6-3, 175, San Bernardino, Calif.
Sam Ehlinger, Texas, Sr., 6-3, 230, Austin, Texas
Justin Fields, Ohio State, Jr., 6-3, 228, Kennesaw, Ga.
Dillon Gabriel, UCF, So., 6-0, 186, Mililani, Hawai
Donald Hammond III, Air Force, Sr., 6-2, 220, Hampton, Ga.
Sam Howell, North Carolina, So., 6-1 1/4, 225, Indian Trail, N.C.
Mac Jones, Alabama, Jr., 6-2, 205, Jacksonville, Fla.
D’Eriq King, Miami, Sr., 5-11, 195, Manvel, Texas
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson, Jr., 6-6, 220, Cartersville, Ga.
Levi Lewis, Louisiana, Sr., 5-10, 190, Baton Rouge, La.
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M, Sr., 6-3, 217, San Antonio, Texas
Tanner Morgan, Minnesota, Jr., 6-2, 215, Union, Ky.
Jamie Newman, Georgia, Sr., 6-4, 230, Graham, N.C.
Bo Nix, Auburn, So., 6-2, 207, Pinson, Ala.
Brock Purdy, Iowa State, Jr., 6-1, 212, Gilbert, Ariz.
Chris Robison, Florida Atlantic, Jr., 6-1, 200, Mesquite, Texas
Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State, So., 6-1, 199, Denton, Texas
Kedon Slovis, USC, So., 6-2, 200, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Zac Thomas, Appalachian State, Sr., 6-1, 210, Trussville, Ala.
Kyle Trask, Florida, Sr., 6-5, 239, Manvel, Texas
Brady White, Memphis, Sr., 6-3, 215, Santa Clarita, Calif.

Tommy Tuberville defeats Jeff Sessions, is the Republican nominee from Alabama for a seat in the United States Senate

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For the first time in a while, Tommy Tuberville is front and center in the headlines in the great state of Alabama.  This time, though, it’s for a different sport.

In April of 2019, Tommy Tuberville announced that he would be running for one of the Alabama seats in the United States Senate.  The seat Tuberville was running for is currently held by Democrat Doug Jones, who won an extremely close (and contentious) special election back in 2017.

Before facing Jones, however, Tuberville would need to win the Republican runoff.  Against Jeff Sessions, the former U.S. Senator from the state of Alabama with deep ties to the Yellowhammer State.  Sessions, though, had his issues, you could say, with President Donald Trump, who, even amidst some football gaffes, wholeheartedly endorsed Tuberville.

Tuesday night, that endorsement likely paid off as the 65-year-old Tuberville claimed the Republican nomination in a resounding win.  Tuberville will now face Jones in the November general election.  Given the fact that the state of Alabama skews heavily toward the right, a Tuberville win is expected.

Not surprisingly, the current POTUS basked in the glow of Tuberville’s win.

Tuberville spent 10 seasons as the head coach at Auburn, famously guiding the Tigers to a six-game winning streak over the rival Alabama Crimson Tide during his tenure. “If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have Nick Saban,” Tuberville said in a radio interview when asked why Alabama football fans should vote for him.

A head coach most of the past two decades, Tuberville had a 159-99 record in stops that included Ole Miss (1995-98), Texas Tech (2010-12) and Cincinnati (2013-16) in addition to his time on The Plains.

UTSA confirms signing of highest-rated signee in Houston’s 2018 recruiting class

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UTSA has officially bolstered its football roster via the transfer portal.  Again.

In late June, Julon Williams committed to the UTSA football program.  The Houston wide receiver had entered the NCAA transfer database earlier that same month. Monday, the Roadrunners confirmed Williams’ addition to the football team.

Williams won’t be coming to UT-San Antonio football as a graduate transfer.  As a result, he’ll have to sit out the 2020 season for the Roadrunners.  Barring an unlikely waiver, of course.  That will leave the receiver two years of eligibility starting in 2021.

Williams was a three-star member of the Houston football Class of 2018.  He was also the highest-rated signee for the Cougars that cycle.

The production on the field, however, failed to match that recruiting pedigree.  In two seasons, the Converse, Texas, native played in just two games.  Both of those appearances came as a true freshman.

In that limited action, Williams caught three passes for 61 yards.

As noted in its release, Williams is the younger brother of Jarveon Williams, UTSA’s career rushing leader who played in 2013-16.  The elder Williams brother is also currently a graduate assistant at UTSA.

UTSA is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  That led to Frank Wilson being fired in December and Jeff Traylor being hired a week later.

Texas football will officially play at Campbell-Williams Field at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

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It’s a Lone Star State-sized mouthful, but Texas football will officially step onto a newly-named field if/when the 2020 season kicks off.

Myriad Texas student-athletes, including football players, requested last month that several issues be addressed.  Monday, UT confirmed that it had initiated several changes on the athletic and academic side of the university, many of which addressed the concerns of the student-athletes.  One that didn’t?  The “Eyes of Texas” will remain the school song.

The school did note, though, that, “[a]t the suggestion of the Jamail family, [the university would] rename Joe Jamail Field at the stadium in honor of Texas’ two great Heisman Trophy winners, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams, two Longhorn legends with a record of commitment to the university.”

Tuesday, the university confirmed that, moving forward, the home for Texas football will officially be known as Campbell-Williams Field at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

In 1977, Campbell became the first-ever Texas football player to win the Heisman Trophy.  Two decades later, Williams became the second in 1998.  Those two running backs remain the only Longhorns to ever claim the most prestigious individual trophy in the sport.

“This is such a great tribute and so well deserved,” former Texas and current North Carolina head coach Mack Brown told the Austin American-Statesman via email. “And what an awesome tribute it is to Joe Jamail, and an amazing gesture by his family that they wanted to do this for Ricky and Earl. But that’s who the Jamail family is. Joe loved Ricky, Earl and all of the players.

“This is such a fitting way for the family to honor Joe and to say thank you to all of the players and the university they care for so deeply.”

Joe Jamail, a renowned attorney, passed away in 2015.  His name has been on the field since 1997, shortly after he gave yet another multi-million gift to the football program.  The first game played on Joe Jamail Field, Texas lost to UCLA 66-3.  Jamail’s response?

“How much f***ing money does it take to get my name off the field?”