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Utah survives six turnovers to top BYU in the Holy War

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The first play of the Holy War’s return to the regular season after a multi-year absence turned out to be indicative of the rest of the game.

BYU quarterback Taysom Hill had his pass tipped by a receiver on the Cougars’ first snap, with the ball promptly plucked out the air by linebacker Sunia Tauteoli and returned 41 yards for a pick-six. The tone for the night set right off the bat, both teams seemed to go back-and-forth trying to out do each other in the turnover department.

Utah ended up surviving six giveaways on Saturday night in a wild game that had a little of everything at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Ultimately it resulted in a 20-19 Utes win that was their sixth straight (and perhaps most incredible) in the series from BYU.

Not to be outdone, the Cougars also threw two more interceptions to give the game a remarkable nine turnovers… before the end of the 3rd quarter. Hill finished the night 21-of-39 for 176 yards passing in his final meeting with the team’s in-state rival but couldn’t quite muster a second game-winning drive in as many weeks.

Utah quarterback Troy Williams also threw three interceptions in his first taste of the series but managed to come out on top in the end despite a shaky effort most of the game through the air. The offense pounded away at BYU’s defensive front to the tune of 169 yards on 42 carries but costly fumbles from multiple players hampered the team’s rhythm most of the night.

The wackiness of the game came to a crescendo in late in the 3rd quarter. Cougars safety Kai Nacua, who already had two interceptions on the night, was called for a controversial targeting penalty on a play in which he appeared to turn his shoulder on a hit that was eventually ruled incomplete. On the very next play, BYU picked Williams off and Nacua’s backup, Austin McChesney, was also called for targeting and ejected.

Both players will miss the first half of the team’s game against UCLA next week.

The entire sequence would have been the wacky highlight of the night had the Cougars not gone down in an equally wild ending. Utah kicked a short field goal that proved to be the deciding points late in the 4th quarter but Hill got the ball back wth 2:29 left on the clock. He eventually marched the Cougars down the field in a 13 play, 75 yard drive that would have tied the ball game up had new head coach Kalani Sitake opted to go for two and the win instead of gambling on overtime.

It was a decision he would probably want back as the stingy Utes defense swallowed up Hill on a quarterback draw that sealed the fate of their rivals to the south.

The final sequence was also emblematic of the latest interest (to neutrals, at least) chapter of the Holy War that continues to be one of the best rivalries in the West. Hopefully ball security is taken a little more seriously next year though.

Arkansas WR Jordon Curtis recovering after being hit by car

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A potentially serious, or even deadly, situation involving one member of the Arkansas football team has turned out okay for all involved.

According to multiple media outlets in the area, defensive back Jordon Curtis was hit by a car after leaving practice Sunday night. Curtis was walking in a crosswalk near the Razorbacks’ practice facility when he was struck.

From the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

According to UAPD, officers were dispatched to the scene at 5:26 p.m. Sunday. The officer reported that Curtis was bleeding from a wound above his right eye, but was able to answer cognitive questions about his date of birth and hometown. An ambulance transported Curtis to Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville.

The driver of a blue 2007 Hyundai Veracruz was issued two citations for failure to yield to a pedestrian at a crosswalk and for speeding too fast for conditions. The report states that four witnesses observed the driver never hit his brakes, but the driver stated he tried to stop but was unable to avoid hitting Curtis.

Thankfully for all involved, Cutis was treated and released from the hospital not long after the incident.

“We’re very fortunate, and our thoughts and prayers will be with him and his recovery,” head coach Chad Morris said Monday. “He will not be around this week, but is doing good. We’re very, very, very fortunate. Again, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

A redshirt freshman, Curtis played in the 2018 season opener but hasn’t seen any game action since.

Reports: Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant scraps planned Miami visit

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We don’t know yet to where Kelly Bryant will transfer.  Based on the most recent intel, though, we can divine one destination that has been taken out of play.

It was reported last week that, after rumored interest, the former Clemson quarterback would be visiting Miami on Nov. 24, with a decision on a future college football home coming on Dec. 4.  While the decision date is still the same, the visit to the Hurricanes reportedly won’t take place.

Miami was supposed to be the fifth of five official visits the graduate transfer can take.  Instead, that fifth visit will go to Auburn at some point next week.  Bryant has already taken an unofficial visit to Auburn earlier this month.

Officially, Bryant has taken visits to North Carolina (HERE), Missouri (HERE), Arkansas (HERE) and Mississippi State (HERE).

As a graduate transfer, Bryant will be eligible to play in 2019 regardless of where he ultimately lands.  Next season would be his final year of eligibility.

Bryant had started 18 games in a row at quarterback for the Tigers, winning 16 of those contests, before he was benched in favor of five-star 2018 signee Trevor Lawrence in September.  Bryant labeled Dabo Swinney‘s decision to bench him as “a slap in the face.”

That perceived slap triggered the much-discussed decision to transfer on Sept. 26.

Kyler Murray gains ground on Tua Tagovailoa in Bovada Heisman odds

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The 2018 Heisman Trophy was all but handed to Tua Tagovailoa earlier this month, but, if he’s going to ultimately go down, Kyler Murray and his Heisman website are not going down without a fight.

In the latest set of odds to be released by Bovada.lv, Tagovailoa is still listed as the prohibitive favorite to claim this year’s stiff-armed trophy, although his odds have lengthened a bit from 2/9 a week ago to 1/4. Murray, meanwhile, has seen his odds shorten from 5/1 to 9/2.

This is actually the second week in a row that Murray has pecked away at Tagovailoa’s wagering lead. On Nov. 5, the Alabama quarterback was at 1/10 while the Oklahoma signal-caller sat at 6/1.

Another pair of quarterbacks, Washington State’s Gardner Minshew and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, saw their odds shrink significantly over the last seven days, with the former going from 50/1 to 30/1 and the latter moving from 100/1 to 50/1. West Virginia’s Will Grier went from 7/1 a week ago to 12/1 this week.

Just four other players remain on Bovada‘s board, although they are distant underdogs to the two frontrunners:

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence (25/1 a week ago, 50/1 this week)
UCF QB McKenzie Milton (100/1, 50/1)
Clemson RB Travis Etienne (25/1, 60/1)
Michigan QB Shea Patterson (20/1, 100/1)

Texas’ Breckyn Hager publicly apologizes for ‘OU still sucks’ blast

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Necessary or not, you knew this was coming.

Following Texas’ huge win over Iowa State Saturday night, eccentric UT defensive end Breckyn Hager punctuated a postgame meeting with the media with an “OU still sucks” blast directed at bitter rival Oklahoma. Monday, the Big 12 publicly reprimanded Hager for his words and stated that it expected a public apology from the player.

Monday night, that apology came from a contrite Hager.

I consider sportsmanship to be an essential part of the game I so truly love. I spoke with our athletics director Chris Del Conte and Coach Herman about what I said after Saturday’s game and understand why it reflected poorly on me and my team. I had no ill intentions when I made my comments about Oklahoma, which included a phrase that’s used by fans, but I have to realize that it’s different coming from me. My thought process was that it would put a fun and light-hearted charge into the greatest rivalry in college football that my family has been involved in playing in for many years, but I can see now that was not the way to do it.

I have the utmost respect for the University of Oklahoma and their football program and know a number of players on their team, and I want to apologize to them. I want to represent myself, my family, my football program, my university and the Big 12 Conference in the best possible way. I’m truly sorry for the comments I made, will learn from this and will keep working to improve my ability to think about the ramifications of what I say before I say it.

If Texas beats Kansas and Oklahoma beats West Virginia this Saturday, the two Red River Shootout rivals will meet the following weekend in the Big 12 championship game.