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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.

Autopsy results inconclusive in determining cause of death of Georgia Tech football player

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As the Georgia Tech football community continues to mourn the passing of Brandon Adams, who passed away on Saturday, the search for answers continues. According to a local report in Atlanta, the autopsy of the body of Adams failed to draw any definitive conclusions on what caused the young man’s death.

According to a report from WSB-TV in Atlanta, the results from an autopsy conducted by the Georgia Bureaus of Investigation were inconclusive. As a result, more tests will be conducted as medical examiners attempt to determine what caused the sudden passing of the 21-year old defensive tackle.

Georgia Tech will reportedly move forward by starting up spring football practices as scheduled on Tuesday. It will be the first spring practice under new head coach Geoff Collins.

“Our entire Georgia Tech football family is heartbroken by the news of Brandon’s passing,” Collins said in a released statement on Sunday. “In the short time that I have had the privilege and honor of knowing Brandon, I admired and respected him, first and foremost as a terrific human being, but also as an outstanding teammate and leader. Jennifer and I offer our thoughts, prayers and unconditional support to his parents, Lisa and Reginald, his sister, Rian, and all of his family and friends, especially his brothers in our football program.”

Here’s hoping there is some closure on this unfortunate situation for the sake of those around Adams and the Georgia Tech community.

Ohio State receiver suffers serious knee injury

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The college football season is still months away from getting started, but Ohio State wide receiver Kamryn Babb is already questionable to play a single down in the fall. As first reported by Lettermen Row on Monday, Babb suffered a serious knee injury in a non-contact mishap. His status for the upcoming season is now officially in jeopardy as a result.

A serious knee injury is always a reason for concern for any player. This is even more the case when that player has experienced a previous knee injury. Babb is no stranger to a torn ACL or knee injury, as he has suffered two torn ACL injuries the past two years, and his fourth potentially season-ending injury since playing high school football.

Babb was considered one of the players to watch as he worked his way back from injury last season to be a possible contributor to Ohio State’s passing game as a target for transfer quarterback Justin Fields. Now, the focus will once again be on rehabbing and working on a timeline for a possible return to action.

Babb was a four-star member of Ohio State’s Class of 2018 from St. Louis, Missouri.

Pac-12 reportedly turned down offer from ESPN to distribute Pac-12 Network

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Given a chance to let ESPN take care of the distribution of the Pac-12 Network alongside the ESPN family of networks that includes the SEC Network and will soon include the ACC Network, the Pac-12 opted to pass. According to a report from Sports Business Daily reporters John Ourand and Michael Smith, ESPN approached the Pac-12 about working out a deal that would extend the media rights package deal between ESPN and the Pac-12 for the better part of the next two decades, but the Pac-12 rejected the offer in hopes of securing a more rewarding media rights deal in the next round of rights negotiations.

The Pac-12 has constantly struggled with getting the Pac-12 Network in as many homes as they likely hoped when the network launched in 2012. Unlike other conference-branded networks, the Pac-12 has retained total ownership of the network, which seemed like a good idea at one point in time. But considering the massive windfall of cash that schools from the Big Ten and SEC get with their conference-branded networks as partnerships with FOX Sports (Big Ten Network) and ESPN (SEC Network) while the Pac-12 continues to have issues getting some carriers to get on board with the Pac-12 Network, perhaps total ownership and decision-making with regard to operating and distribution should be on the table for discussion for the Pac-12.

The Pac-12’s current media rights agreement with ESPN and FOX will expire in 2024, and a consultant has already been hired to help out with the negotiations to come. What exactly the media landscape will look like at that point remains difficult to predict. As more and more consumers are choosing to cut the cord, the oversaturation of streaming platforms leaves plenty of possibilities for what the future holds, including a brand new announcement from Apple today about their future Apple TV plans. The Pac-12  holding off and taking their shot in the next few years appears to be a gamble, but it may work out in their favor anyway. Even though the Pac-12 backed away from secure financial and distribution stability that would surely come with the helping hands of ESPN, the media rights numbers continue to increase every year.

The Pac-12 is still going to make out a pretty rewarding deal, but it will be compared against what the schools in other conferences receive from their various media rights deals. Some within the Pac-12 have grumbled about the payout the Pac-12 Network has yielded thus far, so this is a pretty interesting decision by the conference to not take the ESPN money now and run. This is the same conference that is hoping to get investors to shell out some cash to be a part of the conference as well.

The biggest question may be whether or not Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott will be around to see the new media rights deal be settled.

Syracuse to add grad transfer offensive lineman Ryan Alexander from South Alabama

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Syracuse is adding graduate transfer offensive lineman Ryan Alexander to the roster, providing a nice boost to the depth on the line for the ORange heading into the 2019 season. As reported by Cuse Nation the other day, Alexander has decided to transfer to Syracuse over offers from Big Ten programs Rutgers and Purdue.

Alexander will transfer to Syracuse from South Alabama, and he brings a good amount of playing experience with him. Alexander has started 24 games for South Alabama the last two seasons. He will have one final year of eligibility to use this fall at Syracuse, where he will hope to provide some stability on the line that loses a couple starters from last year’s improved unit.

As a graduate transfer, Alexander will be eligible to play this fall for Syracuse. He is expected to slide right into a starting role given the state of the line that loses two starters from last season and his own experience he brings with him to the Orange. After the Syracuse offense took off as Dino Babers continues to improve the offensive identity of the Orange, Syracuse hopes to keep things moving forward after coming off a 10-win season.