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Seven TOs doom No. 9 Tennessee’s comeback effort in loss to No. 8 Texas A&M

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Texas A&M built a 28-7 third quarter lead over Tennessee thanks to six turnovers from the Volunteers. They needed a seventh to finally put the undead Vols away. Armani Watts‘ interception of Josh Dobbs on the first play of Tennessee’s possession in double overtime gave the No. 8 Aggies a 45-38 victory over the No. 9 Vols.

Texas A&M led 21-7 after one — and at the break — thanks to three lost fumbles that either led directly to Aggies touchdowns or prevented what would have been a first-and-goal situation for the Vols. The trend continued in the second half when a botched exchange set up Texas A&M for a seven-play, 61-yard touchdown drive punctuated by a seven-yard walk-in score for Trayveon Williams to stake the Aggies to a 28-7 lead at the 10:40 mark of the third quarter.

The 21-point deficit created a dual effect of easing the Aggies to sleep while injecting a syringe of Red Bull into Tennessee’s veins. The Vols raced 67 yards in eight plays to set Alvin Kamara up for a 15-yard scoring jaunt then, after enduring another fumble and an interception that was bobbled in the arms of Aggie defender Justin Evans, pulled within 28-21 after John Kelly punctuated an 85-yard drive with a four-yard plunge at the 6:58 mark of the fourth quarter.

While Tennessee was climbing back in the game, Texas A&M mounted no resistance offensively with a Trevor Knight interception and four consecutive punts — the Aggies punted 10 times on the day — while their advantage dwindled from 28-7 to 28-21. But, with the Vols in striking distance for the first time since the first quarter, A&M moved from its own 20 to the 38 when, facing a 3rd-and-5, Knight broke through the Volunteer defense and raced 62 yards for a touchdown, inching the lead to 35-21 with 3:22 remaining.

By this point, though, Tennessee’s offense was in full roar. The Vols sliced 65 yards in six plays, and another Kamara (a Christian McCaffrey-like 127 rushing yards, 161 receiving yards and three total touchdowns) rush again pulled the score within seven with 2:07 remaining.

Needing only to kill the clock and finish off the undead Vols for good, Texas A&M handed to Williams (28 carries for 217 yards and a touchdown), who busted down the left sideline toward the end zone, only to have Tennessee defender Darrell Taylor race from behind to punch the ball through the end zone. Tennessee again punctured a tired A&M defense, neeeding only six snaps to move 80 yards for an 18-yard scoring strike from Dobbs (398 passing yards, 89 rushing, three scores) to — guess who? — Kamara and, after trailing 28-7 in the third quarter and 35-21 two minutes prior, Tennessee tied the game.

Williams once again moved Texas A&M in position to put the game away once more, but a 38-yard Daniel LaCamera field goal with 10 seconds left in regulation sailed approximately 38 yards left of the goal posts.

Tennessee was held a yard shy of a first down at the top of the first overtime, forcing a 34-yard Aaron Medley field goal to give the Vols their first lead of the game. The Aggies forced a second overtime, though, when LaCamera knocked his 35-yard redemption try straight down the pipe, and pushed ahead after Knight (239 passing yards, 110 rushing, five total touchdowns) found Christian Kirk for a 24-yard completion and then beat Tennessee to the pylon for a touchdown.

A play later, Texas A&M secured its seventh and final turnover when Watts dove to catch Dobbs’ errant pass near the goal line.

The win pushes Texas A&M to 6-0 (4-0 SEC) for the first time since 1994 and into a bye week with two weeks to prepare for a trip to No. 1 Alabama. Tennessee (5-1, 2-1 SEC), meanwhile, heads home to face the Tide with mounting injuries and the knowledge that a loss to the Tide vaults hated Florida back into first place in the SEC East.

Chip Kelly won’t make QB change despite UCLA offensive woes

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Chip Kelly revolutionized college football back when he was at Oregon, becoming so successful that not one but three NFL teams tried or succeeded in hiring him.

Kelly’s return to the sidelines in the college game however… could be going better. UCLA was blown out of the water on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl by No. 5 Oklahoma and the Bruins offense is actually among the worst in all of FBS.

They’re dead last in yards per play, second to last in total offense and No. 127 in scoring offense. Oh and sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is No. 99 nationally in passer rating.

Despite those numbers, it appears Kelly isn’t contemplating a new face behind center as the team moves into Pac-12 play.

“We didn’t,” Kelly said when asked by the LA Times whether he thought of making a change at quarterback on Saturday. “…we felt confident in Dorian.”

To be fair, Thompson-Robinson did seem a little improved against the Sooners than he did in his first two starts of 2019 against Cincinnati and San Diego State. But those numbers speak for themselves with road trips to Washington State and Arizona coming up for the 0-3 side from Westwood.

Pony Up! SMU off to best start since 1984 at 3-0

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TCU may have moved into the top 25 of the AP Poll this week after dispatching Purdue on Saturday but upcoming opponent SMU is off to an equally hot start coming into Week 4 after topping Texas State.

In fact, it’s a historic one down in Dallas.

As the school noted recently, the 3-0 start to the 2019 campaign is the Mustangs’ best since… 1984. That’s just after the Pony Express days on the Hilltop and right before the program got hammered by the NCAA for major violations.

Sonny Dykes’ tenure got off to a rough start after going 5-7 last season but the team looks much improved thanks in part to the play of Texas transfer QB Shane Buechele.

We’ll see if the two can keep things rolling against the rival Horned Frogs but the AAC might just have another intriguing team in the mix after such a hot start by SMU.

Schools reportedly spent an average of $8,200 on hotel rooms before home games last season

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College football coaches love controlling every element that they can in the lead up to a game in order to minimize distractions. As a result, it’s become common place for nearly every football team in the country to spend the night at a hotel before home games.

Now most folks might think it’s strange to have teams shack up in rooms when they can spend the hours before a game at home but that’s not what schools do. And those hotel bills add up to quite a pretty penny in most cases as an investigation into the practice by Gatehouse Media shows.

In 2018 alone, public schools spend a median of $44,000 on hotels and nearly $5 million total across some 109 programs according to the report. That included low spenders like Coastal Carolina (just $2,800 per game) to those rolling in cash like Texas A&M ($278,000 total, or nearly $40k per home game).

Remarkably the Aggies spent so much because the hotel they stay at requires a two-night minimum and they leave the rooms unoccupied for one of those nights.

“We believe we would be breaking sleep routine if we did not stay in a hotel before a football game,” said OSU Associate Athletics Director Jerry Emig told the site after the Buckeyes spent nearly six figures on hotels for home games. “Ohio State has stayed in a hotel the night before every road game and every home game for more than 50 years.”

There’s some interesting sortable data in the full report, which includes noting that the SEC spends the most rooms on average and the Big Ten the least.

So next time you see the buses pull up to your favorite team’s stadium on a Saturday in college football, just remember it cost a decent chunk of change for the school to house those kids in a hotel prior to the game.

Florida drops in latest Super 16 poll, UCF moves in, UGA-Notre Dame battle set to be a top seven affair

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Uncertainty over Florida’s future without starting quarterback Feliepe Franks is already causing voters to drop the Gators in national polls following the team’s escape at Kentucky over the weekend.

Dan Mullen’s squad dropped two spots to 11th despite winning to move to 3-0 on the season, a good indication that a forthcoming slide might happen in the AP and Coaches Polls as well. They weren’t the only ones to drop however, as Michigan slid from No. 10 to No. 12, Texas A&M dropped out altogether and Oregon moved down a spot to No. 16.

The SEC once again occupies slots 2-4 in the poll and have five of the top 16 teams overall. There was a slight change however as some voters apparently forgot about LSU’s win over new No. 9 Texas and flipped the Tigers with Georgia in the 3/4 spots. That makes the upcoming battle in Athens between the Bulldogs and No. 7 Notre Dame a top seven affair with huge College Football Playoff implications.

It should be noted that three writers (Kevin McGuire, Zach Barnett and Bryan Fischer) here at CFTalk have weekly votes in the Super 16 poll. Without further ado, here’s the full rankings heading into Week 4:

  1. Clemson (34 first place votes)
  2. Alabama (8)
  3. Georgia (1)
  4. LSU (3)
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Ohio State
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Auburn
  9. Texas
  10. Utah
  11. Florida
  12. Michigan
  13. Wisconsin
  14. Penn State
  15. UCF
  16. Oregon

Also notable were the debut of UCF in the poll, the highest ranked Group of Five team as a result of their thumping of Stanford down in Orlando.