Georgia (10-3) once led Penn State (7-6) 24-3 in the TaxSlayer Bowl but a furious rally by the Nittany Lions with a backup quarterback fell just shy. Georgia’s 24-17 victory was made official when a Hail Mary attempt from Trace McSorely fell incomplete at the goal line.
Georgia’s defense knocked out Penn State starting quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the first half of the game. He returned on the sideline in the second half in street clothes, giving way to backup McSorely for his first serious playing time at Penn State. It was a rough adjustment once he entered the game but McSorely and Penn State eventually got in a groove and established some momentum through the air. McSorely passed for 142 yards and two touchdowns to lead the second half rally, but Georgia had done enough to grab the win.
Georgia running back Sony Michel and Keith Marshall played a key role on the ground for the Bulldogs. Neither had a big performance, but Michel’s 85 yards and touchdown and Marshall’s 62 rushing yards came at key moments to move the first down markers in the fourth quarter and keep the clock running. Georgia’s Greyson Lambert completed just 10 of his 20 pass attempts for 115 yards, but they also seemed to be picked up at key moments when needed. Malcolm Mitchell hauled in 114 receiving yards and a touchdown, but it was receiver Terry Godwin who caught Penn State’s defense off guard for the touchdown play to Mitchell in the first half.
Georgia’s defense did more than knock Hackenberg out of the game. The run defense was well prepared for Penn State freshman running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley was limited to 69 yards on 17 carries and the Georgia defense always seemed to have a presence in the backfield to shut down any play attempting to develop laterally. Penn State’s offense did gain some juice in the second half though, and the Nittany Lions rolled up 401 yards of offense to Georgia’s 327. Penalties proved costly for Penn State though, with six penalties totaling just 39 yards, but that included a crucial 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct call on Austin Johnson on Georgia’s final offensive possession of the game to move the ball into Penn State territory.
With the win by Georgia, the SEC improves to 7-2 in bowl games this bowl season. The SEC still has a handful of games to be played, including Alabama’s national championship appearance against Clemson. The Big Ten closes out the postseason with a 5-5 record in bowl games, including a 1-3 mark against the SEC. Georgia interim head coach Bryan McClendon earned his first career bowl victory as a result of the game as well. Penn State’s James Franklin dropped to 3-2 in bowl games in his first loss since his bowl debut in 2011 with Vanderbilt.
Georgia will now turn the page as a program by ushering in the Kirby Smart era, just as soon as Smart is done with Alabama’s championship run in Tuscaloosa. Smart was on hand for the game to check out his new program. Penn State may also be turning a page depending on what happens with Hackenberg. If Hackenberg is on the move, Penn State got a glimpse of what may come in 2016 by seeing McSorely get some playing time and find himself in the offense. The two-minute drill with no timeouts left plenty of room for improvement, but McSorely was thrown into the fire for the first time for any extending playing time. If Hackenberg turns pro, McSorely will likely be the starting quarterback in 2016 for the Nittany Lions.
Georgia will open the 2016 season in Atlanta against North Carolina from the ACC in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Penn State’s 2016 season kicks off against Kent State at home in Beaver Stadium before taking to the road to renew an in-state rivalry with Pittsburgh.
I guess that’s what happens when the school to which you moved has produced back-to-back Heisman winners at the position you play, eh?
In mid-January, as he was in the midst of transferring from Alabama, Jalen Hurts was listed by BetOnline.ag as a 9/1 shot to stake his claim as the winner of the 2019 Heisman Trophy. Very shortly thereafter, Hurts’ move to Oklahoma was confirmed; a month later, in the latest odds released by the same online sportsbook, Hurts now sits at 13/2 to win this year’s version of the most storied trophy in college sports.
As was the case a month ago, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the way-too-early 2019 Heisman favorite at 7/2, although those odds have lengthened a bit from the initial 3/1. The quarterback whose play on the field pushed Hurts out in Tuscaloosa, 2018 Heisman runnerup Tua Tagovailoa, also saw his odds lengthen a smidge from 4/1 to 5/1.
Most of the other odds remained relatively steady from that initial release, although USC quarterback JT Daniels and Clemson-to-Missouri transfer Kelly Bryant did both make a move from off the board to part of a mini-pack at 25/1.
For perspective given the fact that we’re still nearly seven months from the 2019 season kicking off, the 2018 Heisman winner, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, wasn’t among the two dozen or so college football players listed wagering-wise as potential winners around this time a year ago. The top three Heisman odds at this time last year? Stanford running back Bryce Love, Wisconsin running back Johnathan Taylor and Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, none of whom were finalists for the trophy won by Murray.
Never mind, I guess.
Earlier this month, Derek Green, a member of Oklahoma’s 2019 recruiting class, revealed that he would be pursuing a career in the military instead of a career in college football.
“I don’t want to waste anybody’s time,” Green said at the time, “because Oklahoma has a great group of guys on that defense that’s there and coming in and I want them to be successful and they can spend more time developing them while I try to serve my country.”
Green also confirmed at the time that he would be placing his name into the NCAA transfer database, although “that’s just in case I want to go back to it later, but as of right now I’m going to serve my country.”
Fast-forward a few days, and Green announced via Twitter that he will be putting his military career on hold and transferring to a football program other than the one with which he signed back in December.
Green was a consensus three-star signee for the Sooners who enrolled in classes at the university earlier this month. He was the only signee listed as a defensive tackle in OU’s class this year.
For the third time this offseason, first-year head coach Mike Locksley has pulled in a Power Five transfer to his Maryland program.
On his personal Twitter account Monday night, Josh Jackson announced that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career for Locksley at Maryland. Nearly four weeks ago, it was confirmed that Jackson would be leaving Virginia Tech as the quarterback had placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.
As Jackson is expected to graduate from Tech in May, he would be eligible to play for Maryland this coming season. Not only that, but he will have another year of eligibility he can use in College Park in 2020 as well.
After going through a tumultuous offseason, Jackson began 2018 as the Hokies’ starting quarterback only to suffer a season-ending injury in mid-September.
As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Jackson started all 13 games for the 9-4 Hokies. He passed for 2,991 yards and ran for another 324 yards while accounting for 26 touchdowns — 20 passing, six rushing. The passing yards were the most for an FBS freshman that season, while the touchdowns passes were the second-most at this level.
Given the fact that he’ll be immediately eligible, Jackson will head into summer camp as the favorite to lay claim to the Terrapins’ starting job under center.
In addition to Jackson, Maryland has landed transfers from wide receiver Sean Savoy and linebacker Keandre Jones. The former comes to College Park from Virginia Tech, the latter from Ohio State.
Not long after declaring he was looking to transfer, ex-Arizona State linebacker Jalen Bates has found his landing spot. Bates is heading to Colorado State.
On Monday, Bates announced to his Twitter followers he is a Ram. The message was posted with a Photoshopped image showing him in a Colorado State football uniform. Bates started 10 games for Arizona State last season, and he has appeared in 18 games during his college career with the Sun Devils. That’s a nice addition for the Rams.
Having already earned his degree from Arizona State, Bates will be eligible to p[lay right away for the Rams this fall.