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Another upset brewing? No. 19 Ole Miss leads No. 1 Bama at halftime

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No. 19 Ole Miss built a 21-point lead only to see it reduced to seven almost instantly, but still the 19th-ranked Rebels have taken a 24-17 lead over No. 1 Alabama to the half in Oxford.

Ole Miss opened the game by accepting the ball and promptly moving 75 yards in seven plays, and 63 yards in the final three snaps of the drive — a 25-yard Chad Kelly strike to Evan Engram, a 15-yard connection to Quincy Adeboyejo and, finally, a 23-yard scoring dash by Akeem Judd.

Alabama responded with a typical Alabama drive, chewing up 17 plays and 7:13, but settling for a field goal when Jalen Hurts overshot a wide open Hale Hentges for what would have been an easy 14-yard touchdown.

It was that kind of half for Alabama’s offense, though. Their next possession concluded with an Adam Griffith field goal that sailed wide left, and the Tide’s next three touches concluded in punts.

But when Alabama’s offense went to sleep, Ole Miss’s awakened. After two three-and-outs of its own, the Rebels moved 50 yards to set up a Gary Wunderlich field goal, then found pay dirt again when Kelly, one play after a roughing the passer that negated a would-be 3rd-and-8 situation, nailed a wide open Engram for a 63-yard snatch-and-dash touchdown.

Alabama was seemingly aided by a 15-yard penalty by Ole Miss on its next possession — pass interference, this time — but a Breeland Speaks sack of Hurts tuned into an Ole Miss touchdown.

Speaks on the play got away with an apparent targeting hit and, inexplicably, an excessive hit that occurred before John Youngblood crossed the goal line, yet the score was allowed to stand.

The Tide, though, answered. Oh, did they answer.

Aided by the 15-yard flag on Speaks and a kickoff out of bounds, moving 50 yards in three plays and just 37 seconds, when Calvin Ridley took the snap on a jet sweep and raced in from six yards out with 2:10 to play in the first half.

After forcing a three-and-out by Ole Miss, Eddie Jackson raced the ensuing punt 85 yards for a touchdown, and the Rebels’ 21-point lead was cut to seven in just one minute and five seconds.

Even with the late touchdowns, Alabama’s offense has looked like a unit with trouble running the ball and helmed by a true freshman quarterback. Which it is, of course. Hurts has thrown for just 89 yards on 23 attempts — 3.9 per pop — and leads the club with nine carries for 52 yards, plus a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Damien Harris has pounded out just 29 yards on six carries, and Joshua Jacobs leads the Tide’s running backs with 33 yards on three carries, though 25 came on one attempt.

Kelly led Ole Miss by hitting 9-of-14 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown while rushing a team-high six times for 38 yards. Judd carried eight times for 36 yards.

Alabama will receive to open the second half.

 

Iowa places longtime strength coach Chris Doyle on administrative leave after allegations from former Hawkeyes flood social media

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Iowa is the latest football program caught up in the maelstrom of needed, necessary change.

Saturday, Iowa announced that longtime strength & conditioning coach Chris Doyle has been placed on administrative leave.  Additionally, an independent review will be conducted into allegations that Doyle directly contributed to “racial disparities in the Iowa football program.”

The development came after former Hawkeye football players took to social media en masse in the past couple of days to accuse Doyle of creating a hostile environment. Specifically, as it pertained to black Iowa football players. One former player spoke of Doyle mocking black football players that “made you walk around the football facility on eggshells … and caused anxiety that could be unbearable at times with your dreams and career on the line.”

“There are too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program,” former starting offensive lineman James Daniels wrote in a tweet. “Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long.”

In a video statement, Kirk Ferentz described the past 24 or so hours as “a defining moment” for his program.

“I appreciate the former players’ candor and have been reaching out to many of them individually to hear more about their experiences in our program,” the longtime coach stated. “I am planning on talking to all of them in the coming days. This is a process that will take some time, but change begins by listening first.

“Many of the discussions have centered around our Strength and Conditioning program and Coach Chris Doyle. I have spoken with him about the allegations posted on social media. They are troubling and have created a lasting impact on those players. Therefore, Coach Doyle has been placed on administrative leave immediately while there is an independent review. He and I agree that all parties will have their voices heard and then a decision about how to move forward will be made.”

Doyle has been the strength coach at Iowa since 1999. Last year, he was the highest-paid at his position in the country.

Missouri adds 2026 game against Troy in Columbia

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For the second time in a week, Troy has added a Power Five opponent to its future football slates.

Late last month, it was Iowa added to the 2024 schedule.  This week, Troy announced a future football game against Missouri.  That one-off matchup will take place Nov. 21, 2026.

Obviously, the game will take place at Missouri’s Memorial Stadium.

Troy and Mizzou have played four times previously, the first in 2002 and the most recent this past season.  Mizzou won three of those matchups, with the Trojans knocking off a 14th-ranked Tigers squad in 2004 at Troy.  All three of the Missouri wins came in Columbia.

The game against Missouri will actually be the second in 2026 for Troy football against an SEC school.  Troy had previously announced a home-and-home series with Mississippi State that starts that season.  In 2027, the Bulldogs will travel to the Trojans.

Since becoming an FBS program in 2001, Troy has played 25 games against members of the SEC.  The Trojans are 3-22 in those matchups.  The other two wins came against Mississippi State in 2001 and LSU in 2017.

After winning 10-plus games in three straight seasons from 2016-18, Troy tumbled to a 5-7 record in 2019.  That was the Trojans’ first season under Chip Lindsey.  Lindsey replaced Neal Brown, who left to take the head job at West Virginia.

Ole Miss’ Charles Wiley enters transfer portal

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For the first time in a couple of a few months, an Ole Miss football player has hit the transfer portal.

In February, it was cornerback Deantre Prince hitting the transfer database.  Four months later, former Ole Miss football teammate Charles Wiley has done the same.  The Jackson Clarion Ledger was the first to report the move.

Wiley will be leaving the SEC as a graduate transfer.  That will allow the linebacker/edge rusher to play immediately in 2020.  The upcoming season will serve as his final year of eligibility.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Wiley was a four-star member of the Ole Miss football Class of 2016.  The Stockbridge, Ga., native was the No. 23 player regardless of position in the Peach State.  He was also the No. 17 weakside defensive end in the country.

Wiley took a redshirt as a true freshman.  The next three seasons, he played in a combined 33 games.  The 6-2, 244-pound defender started three of those contests, with all three coming in 2018.

All told, Wiley has been credited with 57 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 5½ sacks.  He set career-highs in tackles for loss (six) in 2018 and sacks (three) this past season.

Highest-rated signee in Duke’s 2018 recruiting class transfers to FCS Eastern Kentucky

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A touted member of a Duke football recruiting class a couple of years ago has found a new home.  And at a lower rung on the collegiate ladder.

In May, it was confirmed that Tahj Rice took the first step in leaving Duke football by entering the NCAA transfer database.  On Twitter this past week, Rice announced that he has committed to Eastern Kentucky.  And he’s changing his surname for good measure.

“Thank you Duke for the moments and memories it won’t be forgotten,” the defensive tackle wrote. “I’m excited to say I’ve transferred to @ekusports and I’ve decided to change my last name to Mcclung because it’s LONG [overdue].”

According to his official Duke bio, Rice is the son of Iana and Marcus McClung.

As Eastern Kentucky plays at the FCS level, Rice/McClung will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.  He’ll have another seaosn he can use in 2021 as well.

Rice was a four-star member of the Duke football Class of 2018.  The Louisville product was rated as the No. 15 strongside defensive end in the country.  He was also the No. 3 recruit regardless of position in the state of Kentucky.

Most notably, Rice was the highest-rated signee in the Blue Devils’ class that year.  In fact, he was the only four-star signee for Duke that cycle.

Rice played in 24 games the past two seasons.  He would’ve played in a 25th, but an appendectomy cost him an appearance in the 2018 Independence Bowl.

During his time with the Blue Devils, he was credited with 16 tackles, 2½ tackles for loss and 1½ sacks.

Rice is one of at least five Duke football players ( the others are HEREHEREHEREHEREHERE) who have left the Blue Devils since the calendar flipped from 2019 to 2020.