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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.

Alabama: Tua Tagovailoa to undergo hip surgery Monday in Houston

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There’s some additional clarity to what was the biggest college football storyline in Week 12 — or the entire 2019 season, for that matter.

After hours and hours worth of ofttimes ominous speculation, Alabama announced Saturday night that Tua Tagovailoa had been diagnosed with a dislocated right hip, an injury suffered in the first half of its rout of Mississippi State, and would miss the remainder of the 2019 season. At the time, the school stated that Tagovailoa “is undergoing further testing to determine the best course of treatment.”

Sunday night, the football program confirmed in a statement attributed to Dr. Lyle Cain, the team’s orthopedic surgeon, that the junior quarterback will undergo surgery on his injured hip in Houston Monday.

For the past 24 hours our medical team has consulted with multiple orthopedic experts across the country, who specialize in hip injuries and surgeries. Based on that research, Tua is being flown to Houston tonight to be evaluated and is scheduled to have hip surgery Monday. As previously stated, we anticipate a full recovery. The main focus has been, and will remain, on Tua, his family, and making sure we are providing them the best medical care possible.

It’s long been expected that Tagovailoa would forego his remaining year of collegiate eligibility and make himself available for the 2020 NFL Draft. At this point, it’s unclear how the injury will impact Tagovailoa’s decision.

Ed Orgeron did not stick to sports in Louisiana governor race

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There were two major events on Saturday in the state of Louisiana: LSU’s closer than expected win at Ole Miss and the hotly contested gubernatorial race that saw incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards win reelection.

And yes, those events are in order of importance to most.

It seems there’s quite the sports angle to the latter too and it not surprisingly involves the former. You can start on Wednesday where Edwards, calling himself ‘John B.’ from Amite, called into Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron’s weekly radio show ahead of the polls opening over the weekend.

“It is an easier state to govern when the Saints and LSU are winning,” Edwards also told the New York Times. “People are just in a better mood.”

While we will leave the political analysis of Edwards’ victory to others, it’s worth noting that the result was also a personal win for Orgeron, who endorsed the Democrat back in the spring and has enjoyed a good relationship with those in and around the statehouse ever since taking over the program as head coach.  It is pretty rare for a head coach to ever wander into political waters nowadays (especially in a non-presidential election cycle) it seems that’s not the case for the Louisiana-loving Cajun in charge of No. 1 LSU.

Also a quick kudos to the governor himself, who said earlier in the week on Orgeron’s radio show that the Tigers shouldn’t overlook the Rebels in Oxford. Given the fight that Matt Luke’s team put up, that was certainly spot on in big sandwich game after beating Alabama and taking on Texas A&M.

45,161 fans see Ithaca beat SUNY Cortland to set D3 attendance record at MetLife Stadium

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MetLife Stadium has been home to some awful NFL football this season but this past Saturday fans in the Tri-State region were at least treated to a far more interesting product on the field..

As we noted back in early October, this year’s Battle for the Cortaga Jug was going to be extra special because it was going to take place in the Meadowlands as Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland attempted to set a new Division III record for attendance. According to the Ithaca Journal, the pair did just that with 45,161 fans showed up to the game as the Bombers (that’s Ithaca) won their third straight Jug, 32-20.

“The electricity was unreal,” Cortland senior running back Zach Tripodi told the paper, “… When I scored, I don’t think I’ve ever felt something like that. You really felt the crowd.”

The final tally broke the previous D3 mark of 37,355 (from a 2017 matchup between St. Thomas and St. John’s at Minneapolis’ Target Field) by a considerable margin.

For what it’s worth, the D3 game at MetLife also had a bigger crowd than the ones that watched some of the FBS programs in New York, including the 16,286 down in Durham, N.C. that saw Syracuse thump Duke, the 8,450 that saw Buffalo lose at Kent State or the 25,747 in West Point that saw Army beat Virginia Military Institute.

Good football, it seems, is hard to come by in the Empire State but fans will come out for quality play no matter what level.

Louisville AD dons a bird mask, breaks out Pappy van Winkle to celebrate bowl berth

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For some teams, reaching a bowl game — even those obscure dot com-sponsored ones — is quite meaningful. Such is the case at Louisville as they have embarked on one of the better turnarounds in the country this season under new head coach Scott Satterfield. 

Following up a 2-10 disaster at the hands of Bobby Petrino last year, the new staff has revitalized the program and secured bowl eligibility on Saturday by beating N.C. State 34-20. That’s a cause worth celebrating around the city and Cardinals AD Vince Tyra certainly did not short himself on that front after the sixth victory of 2019 by donning a rather comical mask in the locker room and breaking out some very expensive whiskey to share with the head coach.

Tyra and Satterfield may indeed be the only ones to drink Pappy out of a Gatorade cup but it probably tasted even sweeter than it normally does given the accomplishment it’s celebrating. While some fans may scoff at reaching six wins in a season, the jubilation in Louisville is a good reminder that benchmarks like that have plenty of meaning for programs who sat at home in disarray last year.