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Great American Upset: Navy torpedoes No. 6 Houston’s playoff hopes, 46-40

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Navy (4-1, 3-0 AAC) scored 17 points off three turnovers by No. 6 Houston (5-1, 2-1 AAC) and wore down the Cougars defense with their signature triple-option offense in a 46-40 upset that could be a game-changer in the Group of Five conversation. The result also likely sinks Houston’s playoff hopes.

Houston’s chance to potentially tie the game likely slipped out of the end zone just as the football being snapped to the punter got by him and out the back of the end zone, awarding Navy a free two points with just under six minutes to play. The safety gave Navy a 10-point lead. Special teams cost Houston on a fourth quarter touchdown when an extra point attempt was blocked, giving the Midshipmen an eight-point lead.

Navy seemed to take the upper hand in the third quarter, however, with a touchdown on their first possession of the half. Houston fumbled away the opening possession of the half when Greg Ward Jr. lost the ball while being sacked, setting Navy up at the Houston 41-yard line. Will Worth tossed a 17-yard touchdown to Daryll Bonner to give Navy a 27-20 lead. Houston’s next offensive series ended quickly when Josiah Powell intercepted a pass from Ward and ran 34 yards for another touchdown.

With a 14-point lead, Navy could set the pace for the remainder of the game, but they were not done scoring. Navy would score one more touchdown and then pick up the two points on the botched Houston punt. Houston came up with a tough fourth down stand with under six minutes to play, but could do nothing with the football before the punt team had their costly mistake.

Navy’s Worth rushed for 116 yards and a score and completed three of his five pass attempts for 76 yards and two more scores. Houston’s Ward ended his day with

It had been a long time since Navy won a game against a top 10 team at home in Annapolis. The last time it happened was November 17, 1984 when they stunned No. 2 South Carolina, 38-21.

Make no mistake about it. This loss is a tough pill to swallow for Houston if the goal was reaching the College Football Playoff. It may not necessarily be a knockout punch for the playoff, but it leaves Houston in need of quite a bit of help around the country in addition to the need to run the table the rest of the season (including a home date against Louisville). Each season has a different story play out, but if one loss can be enough to take a power conference team out of the playoff picture, it puts a Group of Five team further back in the rearview mirror. Even one as good as Houston. But what if Houston does run the table and does win the AAC? What if Oklahoma wins the Big 12 with a 10-2 record, which includes a loss to Houston? Well, maybe Houston isn’t quite out of the picture just yet. It may be a reach, but Houston is not quite buried just yet.

But for now, Houston will still need help just to play for the AAC championship, and Navy shows no reason to believe they may let up in conference play. The Midshipmen are now 3-0 in the AAC and own the crucial head-to-head tiebreaker with Houston. Navy still has some conference challenges ahead of them (vs. Memphis, @ USF, vs. Tulsa), but Navy is now has a stake in controlling how the AAC West plays out, along with Memphis and Tulsa. Houston does not.

In fact, Navy is now in position to start thinking how they can be the Group of Five team playing in the New Years Six. With San Diego State going down last week, Navy now climbs the ladder past Houston and arguably closer to undefeated Boise state.

Navy will look to keep this run going next week on the road against East Carolina. Meanwhile, Houston will look to take out their frustrations on Tulsa next Saturday evening at home.

This weekend, a Notre Dame home game won’t be sold out for first time since 1973

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All good things, streaks in this particular case, must come to an end.

Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Notre Dame will play host to Navy in the 93rd renewal of their football rivalry.  And, according to the South Bend Tribune, the game won’t be played in front of a sellout crowd at Notre Dame Stadium (capacity: 77,622), which is actually a startling development.

This weekend, you see, will mark the first time since Thanksgiving Day 1973 (vs. Air Force) that the Fighting Irish haven’t sold out a home football game, snapping a streak of 273 straight sellouts.  Ahead of that streak being snapped, the Irish’s athletic director for the past dozen years, Jack Swarbrick, attempted to downplay the development.

From the Tribune:

It was never sort of important to me to keep it alive, but I understand why other people thought so. It’s a point of distinction to a lot of people and our fans.

“For me it’s always been: What’s the stadium environment like? Are we creating a great environment for our team and for our student-athletes? That you can say it’s also sold out is sort of a byproduct of that.

“But if my choice is (77,622) people in an environment that’s not really good versus 75,000 in a raucous environment, I’ll take the latter every time.

Notre Dame’s 237-game streak had been the second-longest active streak in college football behind Nebraska’s 373, which will move to 374 when Big Red hosts Wisconsin this weekend. The last time the Cornhuskers failed to sellout Memorial Stadium was during the 1962 season.

Four finalists named for 2019 Paul Hornung Award

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The field for the award that fetes the nation’s most versatile college football player has been whittled down significantly.

Earlier Thursday, the Louisville Sports Commission announced the four finalists for the 2019 Paul Hornung Award that have been chosen by the 17-member selection committee.  And (surprise!), all four of the finalists come from Power Five conferences: Lynn Bowden Jr. (Kentucky), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU), Joe Reed (Virginia) and Wan’Dale Robinson (Nebraska).

All four of the finalists come from the offensive side of the ball and have spent time as return specialists as well.  Because of injuries at the position, Bowden, listed as a wide receiver to start the season, has started the last three games at quarterback for UK, with the Wildcats going 2-1 in that span.

Reed is primarily a wide receiver and Edwards-Helaire a running back, while Robinson has split his time between both positions.

The 2018 winner of the Hornung Award was Purdue’s Rondale Moore, who likely would’ve been given serious finalist consideration again this year if not for his season essentially being derailed by a lingering hamstring injury.

For all of the statistical particulars for each candidate, click HERE the award’s press release:

 

Texas’ Jalen Green apologizes for vicious hit that angered K-State

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It appears Kansas State will have to settle for a mea culpa.

In the second half of last Saturday’s game, Texas cornerback Jalen Green (pictured) leveled K-State wide receiver Wykeen Gill (not pictured) on a play away from the ball and was ejected from the contest after (eventually) being flagged for targeting.  The play will cost Green the first half of UT’s game this Saturday against Iowa State per NCAA targeting rules, but will likely cost Gill at least one full game as he will be sidelined for the Week 12 matchup with West Virginia as the receiver is currently in concussion protocol.

That disparity didn’t sit well with K-State’s head coach.

“It’s unfortunate because it was away from the play, didn’t have anything to do with the play, and Wykeen is probably going to miss a game,” Chris Klieman stated at his weekly press conference Tuesday. “When you have a hit like that and somebody only misses a half, I don’t think that’s very fair.”

Wednesday afternoon, Green issued an apology in which he stated, in part, that he “realize[s] how it may have looked” but “I do want everyone to know I was not trying to take a cheap shot.”

As for “not trying to take a cheap shot,” you be the judge.

Heisman favorite Joe Burrow headlines Davey O’Brien Award semifinalists

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When it comes to the semifinalists for one of the most prestigious quarterbacking awards in college football, they are who you thought they’d be (for the most part).

Wednesday afternoon, the Davey O’Brien Award released its list of 16 semifinalists for a trophy named in honor of the former TCU College Football Hall of Famer.  Headlining this year’s group is LSU’s Joe Burrow, who enters Week 12 of the regular season as the overwhelming favorite to win the 2019 Heisman Trophy.

One finalist from a year ago, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, is a semifinalist this year as well.  Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts is the only two-time semifinalist again in the mix, although this is his first time as a Sooner as the first two came while he was a member of the Crimson Tide.

Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence are also former semifinalists who are up for this year’s award.

The Big 12 leads all conferences with four semifinalists, followed by three apiece from the AAC, Pac-12 and SEC.  The Big Ten accounted for two while the ACC had one.

The 2018 winner of the Davey O’Brien Award was Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray.  Below is the complete list of semifinalists for the 2019 award.

  • Charlie Brewer (Baylor)
  • Shane Buechele (SMU)
  • Joe Burrow (LSU)
  • Sam Ehlinger (Texas)
  • Justin Fields (Ohio State)
  • Jake Fromm (Georgia)
  • Anthony Gordon (Washington State)
  • Justin Herbert (Oregon)
  • Tyler Huntley (Utah)
  • Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma)
  • Trevor Lawrence (Clemson)
  • Tanner Morgan (Minnesota)
  • Malcolm Perry (Navy)
  • Brock Purdy (Iowa State)
  • Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama)
  • Brady White (Memphis)