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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.

Texas A&M defensive tackle reportedly enters transfer portal

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Conference media days popping up around the country is typically a reminder that the football season is just about upon us and fall camp will be here before you know it. Despite where we are on the calendar though, it seems like a few players still want to dabble with transferring out of town.

As first reported by 247Sports, Texas A&M defensive tackle Mohamed Diallo has entered the NCAA Transfer Portal and is exploring an exit from College Station prior to what should be his junior season.

Diallo appeared in just one game for the Aggies in 2018, preserving his redshirt season. Originally from Canada, he got his first taste of college football at the Juco level by spending two seasons at Arizona Western and emerged as a three-star prospect.

“The transfer portal, I think the biggest thing we are getting to whether you transfer, whether you’re in a portal, or transfer, however it goes, the thing about it is I think you have to get consistency on how you rule things and when guys are eligible or not eligible and all that,” head coach Jimbo Fisher remarked on Tuesday at SEC Media Days when asked about transfers, not specifically referring to his defensive tackle. “Guys transfer all of the time. There’s no disrespect or anything in transfers because guys’ situations change and all of that happens, but you have to have a set of rules for this, and I think that’s what we’re getting to, and it will enhance it that much more.”

Diallo held offers from Oregon, Arizona, Ole Miss and a host of others as recruit. It’s possible he could be looking to go North and head a bit closer to home but he might also stay put and try to duke it out at A&M as part of a fairly deep rotation at defensive tackle in College Station.

Ex-FSU assistant reportedly joining rival Florida staff

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It’s not uncommon for a coach to go from one side of a fierce rivalry to another and the latest example of that comes from the Sunshine State this week.

According to 247Sports’ Josh Newberg, ex-Florida State offensive line coach Greg Frey has decided to head up the road to Gainesville and join Dan Mullen’s staff in what is likely an off-the-field role:

Frey was part of Willie Taggart’s initial staff in Tallahassee, a hire widely lauded after his work in the trenches during previous stops at Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia, and USF. Things didn’t click with the Seminoles however, as he was unable to work any magic with the team’s woeful line and was released in February.

FSU since moved on to OC Kendal Briles’ pal Randy Clements as Frey’s replacement.

The Gators do have a bit of a rebuilding situation going on up front with just one offensive line starter returning but between Frey and on-field coach John Hevesy, they should at least have the coaching in place to overcome things. It will also make for a very interesting visit from the Seminoles in the Swamp with a former assistant on hand in rival colors this November.

Clemson OL: Notre Dame, not Alabama, was best team Tigers played

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Alabama-Clemson IV was historic in many ways back in January. Not only did the sport’s ruling elite meet in the College Football Playoff for the fourth straight season (and for a third time in the title game), it was also the first time two 14-0 teams had ever met in the modern era of the sport.

We all know what happened at Levi’s Stadium too, a 44-16 shellacking by Dabo Swinney’s group that was the worst loss Nick Saban had suffered with the Crimson Tide and extra painful given the big stage. Predictably, that outcome was a big topic at both SEC and ACC media days on Wednesday as both programs took to the podium in Hoover and Charlotte respectively.

The day got off to a very eyebrow-raising start when Alabama blamed the lopsided loss on lack of preparation and focus (for a title game, it should be pointed out). Most folks probably just shook their head at such excuses out of Tuscaloosa but it was what it was.

Now enter Clemson for the follow up a little later on in the day. Offensive lineman John Simpson was asked about the above comments and, well, he seemed to go a different direction than most expected in his retort:

The Tigers topped the Irish 30-3 in the Cotton Bowl-hosted semifinal in what was a meeting of two teams who went undefeated in the regular season. While just about everybody considered Alabama on a different level from Notre Dame start-to-finish in 2018, obviously one offensive lineman at Clemson (and Irish AD Jack Swarbrick) did not.

No matter where your opinion might lie on this subject, you at least have to respect Simpson for giving Paul Finebaum‘s SEC-centric radio/TV show a month’s worth of talking points and angry phone calls from just one quote. And here we were lamenting that the senior guard was being brought to the ACC’s annual kickoff event instead of star quarterback Trevor Lawrence when nothing could have been further from the truth after a comment like that.

Something says that if Alabama-Clemson V winds up being a thing in this year’s edition of the Playoff, that line will be brought up a time or two by Saban as his team enters 2019 looking for a bit of revenge.

SWAC moving conference title game ‘permanently’ on-campus after issues last season

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The Birmingham, Alabama area may be more well known for hosting SEC Media Days this week but the city was also the epicenter of another kickoff event in the SWAC’s annual media day on Tuesday.

And in contrast to their FBS friends down the road in Hoover, the SWAC actually had a bit of pertinent news to discuss in announcing that the league’s annual conference title game in football is moving away from a neutral site going forward.

“The permanent home of the SWAC championship will be on the campus of the higher seed,” commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland said, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate.

McClelland reportedly said several cities bid on hosting the game in the future but the lessons of 2018 had to be a big factor in the league sticking with the home-hosted model adopted by just about everybody outside of the FBS Power Five conferences. Last year the SWAC was forced to move their game on-campus from Legion Field after UAB won their CUSA division and had a chance to host their respective league title game.

Legion Field and the Blazers didn’t wind up actually hosting the CUSA title game but the simple threat of it happening pushed the SWAC out after the league had made a big deal about returning to Birmingham for the game after five years away.

The SWAC and its member schools will still have to worry about last minute location changes for their Dec. 7 title tilt but at least now it will be of their own making and not somebody else’s.