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Tide rips Spartans, sets desert date with Tigers in title game

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ARLINGTON, Texas – For 22 minutes and 44 seconds, the 80th Cotton Bowl was the dullest New Year’s Eve party on the block.

The house guests, having made the trip from East Lansing, Mich. and Tuscaloosa, Ala., milled about AT&T Stadium seemingly waiting for a good song to start, playing through seven combined punts in as many drives.

Then Alabama QB Jake Coker, a senior playing in his first and only bowl game, played just the right track, jump starting the party with “50-yard Bomb to the Michigan State one-yard line” Feat. WR Calvin Ridley.

“He made a move on the safety and got vertical and got by him,” said Coker. “I just threw it up to him. And Calvin does what he does. He went up and made a play.”

Moments later, RB Derrick Henry scored the first touchdown of Alabama’s 38-0 romp over Michigan State, which let everyone know they’d be at the real party, the National Championship in Glendale, Ariz.

Henry, the second Alabama player to ever win the Heisman, wasn’t flashy in his first performance after celebrating in New York City. Henry had two touchdowns, which supported his 78 yards on 20 carries, his third lowest total of the season. At the end of the first half, with Alabama beginning to overwhelm the MSU party goers with its 10-0 lead, Henry only had 39 yards on 11 carries.

“Once we settled down, we hit some big plays on them, which was really important,” Saban said. “But we kind of knew going in those are run-pass options. So Jake reads what’s (in) the box? Can we block them? Do they have the numbers outside, and do we have the angles to be able to block the people on the bubbles and the smokes? I think he did a great job of reading it. And that was effective for us early in the game. Some of those plays, if the box was right, Derrick Henry would have got the ball.”

Henry’s output was more than seven combined rushers could do for MSU, which finished the night with 29 yards on 26 carries.

“The inability to run the football consistently obviously hurt us,” said MSU head coach Mark Dantonio. “First time
all year that that’s happened to us.”

MSU’s previous season low was against Michigan in Week 7 when it ran 33 times for 58 yards. But that day included two touchdowns. Thursday night, the Spartans became the first FBS team to be shut out in a game at AT&T Stadium.

“When that happens, you get behind the chains, you’re forced to throw,” Dantonio continued. “They (Alabama) pressure you. We’re four out of 16 on third down. So bad things start to happen when those things — when things tilt that way.”

The game fully tilted into Alabama’s favor when Cyrus Jones performed “Return to Sender,” taking a MSU punt out of its endzone and running 57 yards for the score. It was Jones’ fourth punt return for a score this season and in his career. He finished the night with five returns for 80 yards.

“We’ve had really good punt returns this year,” said Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who won his ninth career bowl game. “Unfortunately for us, about half of them have been called back because of penalties. But Cyrus has done a really good job all year, A, of fielding the ball which is the most important thing and being a tremendous
threat with a big play that we’ve had several of this year.”

Another big play came with 2:41 left in the third quarter. Coker and Ridley would lay down a remix to their first hit single, “50-yard Touchdown Pass to Go Up 24-0.” The play has been preceded 12 seconds earlier by the classic background vocals of “SEC! SEC!” chants ringing throughout the stadium.

Coker finished the night with 25-30 for 286 yards, surpassing his previous career high of 262 yards set against Arkansas. The Mobile, Ala. native who transferred from Florida State in 2014 guaranteed himself one more college game.

“(MSU) played a hard physical game,” Coker said. “We just got a lot of athletes on the outside. And Calvin did a great job of just getting up and making plays. And it makes things a lot easier on me, a lot easier than it
should be.”

Coker, who connected with Ridley eight times for 138 yards and 2 TD, had one party foul in a night where Michigan State owned most of them.

In the first quarter, the senior committed an unforced fumble while scrambling 13 yards back from MSU defenders. The ball went out of bounds and the Spartans were credited with their first of two sacks.

Meanwhile, Connor Cook, playing in his last game as a Spartan, cemented the first Cotton Bowl shutout since 1963 with his second interception of the night just over 30 seconds before the gun. The senior finished the night 19-39 for 210 yards.

Alabama, playing in and winning its first Cotton Bowl since the vacated 2006 victory over Texas Tech, finished out the night and the calendar year with “Victory Formation,” performed by all 11 offensive players.

Michigan QB Brandon Peters transferring to Illinois

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For the second time this week, Illinois is on the receiving end of a Power Five transfer.

Late last month, it was reported that Brandon Peters was set to visit Illinois as well take trips to a pair of MAC schools in Bowling Green and Miami of Ohio.  On Instagram Tuesday evening, the quarterback confirmed that he will be continuing his collegiate career with the Fighting Illini.

In early May, it was confirmed that Peters had signaled his intent to leave Michigan by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.

Peters will graduate from U-M later next month, which allows for immediate eligibility for the Indiana native.  He would also have another season of eligibility he can use the following year.

A four-star member of the Wolverines’ 2016 recruiting class, Peters was rated as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of Indiana; and the No. 61 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only two signees in Jim Harbaugh‘s first full class in Ann Arbor were rated higher than Peters.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Peters started four of the six games in which he played in 2017 and appeared to be the Wolverines’ quarterback of the future before Shea Patterson transferred into the program from Ole Miss.  With Patterson starting all of last year, Peters attempted just one pass in five appearances this past season.

Peters’ decision to transfer from the Wolverines came a few of months after Patterson opted to return to U-M for another season instead of leaping early in the 2019 NFL Draft.

USF debuts new, lightweight Adidas threads

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I’m not sure if you knew this, but it can get hot in Tampa in the early fall. Humid. Steamy. Muggy. Downright uncomfortable. Sweat is a part of life there, especially if you’re spending your Saturday afternoons running around in full pads and a helmet.

As such, South Florida figured it’d be to their advantage to wear lightweight, breathable uniforms, and Adidas has produced.

On Tuesday, USF debuted a brand new WVN A1 uniform, the German-based manufacturer’s lightest uniform. USF was certain to point out they will be the only team in the threads this season.

“We are very excited that in the second year of our partnership with adidas our football team will be the only one in the country wearing their lightest weight uniforms,” USF AD Michael Kelly said in a statement. “We look forward to the Bulls looking great and feeling great in the new lightweight, breathable material.”

The design itself is slightly different from what the Bulls wore previously, solid green or white with green shoulders, cresting into golden bull horns on each side, above a solid color pant. The metallic material that comprises the golden Bull horn on each shoulder was developed in Israel.

Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to uniforms, but in this set of eyes these kits are a massive step up from the chainmail-style Adidas template South Florida wore previously, shown above.

The new, lightweight uniforms will take the field for the first time on Friday, Aug. 30 vs. Wisconsin (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).

K-State WR Hunter Rison, formerly at Michigan State, reportedly pursuing second transfer

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Kansas State wide receiver Hunter Rison will pursue a second transfer in as many years, according to reports Tuesday from GoPowercat and the Wichita Eagle.

The son of Michigan State great Andre Rison, Hunter signed with his father’s alma mater in 2017 and caught 19 passes for 224 yards as a freshman before transferring to Kansas State. After sitting out the 2018 season, as per NCAA transfer rules, Rison shined in spring practice, but his career as a Wildcat was instantly derailed when he was arrested for domestic battery in April.

Rison was immediately suspended from the team, though he maintains his innocence. Charges have not been filed, and his first court appearance in the civil case related to the charge is scheduled for July 16.

“This will be my only response,” Rison wrote on Twitter at the time. “I will continue to be myself … A man of God, as well as a great student-athlete at this university. I have done nothing wrong.”

Report: Suspended Texas LB will not return to team

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Texas linebacker Demarco Boyd will continue to be a UT student but no longer a Longhorn football player, according to Anwar Richardson of Orangebloods.

Boyd, a linebacker out of Gilmer, Texas, was suspended last season after he was arrested for an alleged assault last July.

According to Richardson, Boyd will remain in school until his graduate transfer, when he will pursue a graduate transfer elsewhere. A 3-star member of UT’s 2016 class, Boyd redshirted his first year on campus and played sparingly in his one season on the active roster.

He is the younger brother of former Texas cornerback Kris Boyd, a 2019 seventh-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings.