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No. 23 Tennessee sets stage for 2016 by pasting No. 13 Northwestern in Outback Bowl

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Do you hear that? Off in the distance? That faint “whoo!” you hear is the sound of Tennessee’s hype train, chugging hard toward the next season.

The 23rd-ranked Vols kicked off what they hope will be a big 2016 by whipping No. 13 Northwestern 45-6 in the Outback Bowl Friday afternoon in Tampa. The 39-point margin was the largest in Outback Bowl history.

Tennessee started slowly, not denting the scoreboard until the 14 second mark of the first quarter on a 14-yard Joshua Dobbs run. Aaron Medley nudged the lead to 10-0 with a 35-yard field goal at the 10:47 mark of the second quarter, and Northwestern showed its only sign of life for the entire afternoon when Justin Jackson capped a 75-yard, five-minute touchdown drive with a five-yard dash, pulling the Wildcats to within 10-6 (Jack Mitchell‘s PAT try failed).

The Vols immediately answered by racing 75 yards in nine plays, culminating in an 11-yard Alvin Kamara run, effectively putting the game out of Northwestern’s reach at 17-6 with 2:18 left in the first half.

Jalen Hurd added a three-yard run in the third quarter, and Dobbs and John Kelly added scoring dashes of their own in the fourth quarter. Evan Berry put the exclamation point on the Vols’ day by returning an interception 99 yards for a touchdown with eight seconds left in the game.

The interception capped an abysmal day for the Northwestern (10-3) offense. Zack Oliver and Clayton Thornson combined to complete 14-of-33 throws for 129 yards with no scores and four interceptions. The ground attack was out-gained 226-130, and the Wildcats converted only four of 15 third-down tries.

Tennessee (9-4) closed the year with wins in their final five games and losses to national finalist Alabama by five, national semifinalist Oklahoma in double overtime, to Florida by one and to Arkansas by four. Though perhaps we should ask the 2014 Tennessee Volunteers what a major bowl victory does for next season. That Tennessee team closed with four wins in five tries and a shellacking of Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl — only to start this season 3-4, while Iowa plays in the Rose Bowl later today.

But with Dobbs (166 passing yards, 48 rushing yards, two touchdowns) and Hurd (24 carries for 130 yards and a touchdown) returning, the Vols will be heavy favorites to reach Atlanta for the SEC Championship game, and perhaps even return to Tampa for the 2016 national championship game. With eight months to speculate, there’s no telling how high expectations could rise for Butch Jones and company.

When that train is barreling upon you in July and August, don’t say you didn’t hear it coming.

LB Jaden Hunter was second Georgia player arrested in March

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A member of the Georgia football program was arrested Wednesday night. Linebacker Jaden Hunter was arrested and charged with driving with a suspended or revoked license. He was also charged with stopping, standing, or parking in a prohibited area.

Hunter spent just two hours in jail after being released on bond late Wednesday night.

The charges are misdemeanors and his status with the Bulldogs has not been confirmed with regard to any possible suspensions or other forms of discipline by head coach Kirby Smart. Given the nature of the charges, it would seem this would be far from calling for removal from the program or any significant form of discipline unless there is more to the story behind the scenes.

Hunter did become the second Georgia football player to be arrested in the month of March. Earlier in the month, redshirt freshman Latavious Brini was arrested on one count of simple battery.

William & Mary football player killed in shooting incident

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The William & Mary football family is mourning the death of Nate Evans. Evans, 19, was the victim of a shooting Thursday night, according to a report from The Virginian-Pilot on Friday.

“Nate’s is a loss we are feeling deeply within our program,” William & Mary head coach Mike London said in a released statement. “Faith and family are the foundations of our program. We value relationships first.

“Our team has gathered together to support each other as we deal with the grief that comes from this tragedy. Additionally, we will do all we can to support and comfort Nate’s family and loved ones through this difficult time.”

Police in Norfolk responded to a call about gunshots late Thursday night. The running back was declared dead at the scene of the call. What led to the shooting remains unknown. No arrests have been made at this time as an investigation continues.

Ohio State receiver to transfer from Buckeyes, per reports

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Ohio State seems to be losing a wide receiver from the program. Multiple reports from around the Ohio State football program have suggested wide receiver L'Christian Smith will leave the program as a transfer at the end of the spring semester.

Smith was a four-star recruit in Ohio State’s Class of 2018. Smith redshirted the 2018 season and still has four years of eligibility remaining. Smith played in three games, allowing him to preserve a year of eligibility under the NCAA’s modified redshirt rules last season.

Of course, barring any potential waiver request, Smith will have to sit out the 2019 season due to NCAA transfer rules (that continue to be more flexible than ever before) if he transfers to another FBS program.

Ohio State should still be in pretty good shape as far as the wide receivers are concerned after the potential loss of Smith. And with Justin Fields eligible to play right away at the quarterback position, the Buckeyes should still have good firepower in the passing game working for them next fall.

Former USC kicker Matt Boermeester sues school over controversial expulsion

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USC is dealing with many negative stories on a number of fronts and now you can add one more to the Trojans’ docket.

As detailed by ESPN, former cardinal and gold kicker Matt Boermeester has filed a lawsuit against the university in district court over his controversial expulsion in 2017:

The lawsuit includes seven causes of action, including selective Title IX enforcement, breach of contract, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and represents the latest step in Boermeester’s ongoing legal battle with the school. In 2017, Boermeester, who remains two classes shy of graduation, sued for his expulsion to be overturned in superior court, but the attempt was unsuccessful.

“What happened to Matt Boermeester at USC should terrify anyone who believes in the right to due process and innocent-until-proven-guilty,” attorney Andrew T. Miltenberg said in a statement to the site. “Based on nothing more than a third-party report by a nonwitness — essentially a rumor that was easily and repeatedly disputed — a star athlete lost his education and his future career in the NFL.

Boermeester was kicked out of the school not long after he delivered one of the highlights of the Clay Helton era at USC with a game-winning kick to secure the Rose Bowl back in January of 2017. The issue started back when a member of the school’s tennis team reported an incident allegedly involving the kicker putting his hands on his girlfriend, which prompted a school investigation into the matter. That eventually led to Boermeester’s expulsion despite the woman in question (who is still with Boermeester, according to ESPN) denying what happened and blasting the school for their handling of the matter.

USC’s Title IX coordinator was also named to the suit, which comes after legal wrangling between the parties last year in Los Angeles Superior Court.