AP

Jalen Hurts shines as No. 1 Alabama pounds No. 9 Tennessee

1 Comment

Five times in six weeks, Tennessee emerged from the grave. There would not be a sixth.

No. 1 Alabama jumped on No. 9 Tennessee early and kept the Vols pinned through the entire afternoon, cruising to a 49-10 drop-kicking in Knoxville. The win pushes Alabama’s streak to 10 straight victories over Tennessee — seven of them by 14 points or more — which stands just one shy of the Tide’s record streak of 11 in a series that dates back to 1901.

True freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts, playing once again like anything but a true freshman, a punishing offensive line and a relentless defense proved to be far too much against a spirited but depleted and exhausted Tennessee squad. The Tide out-rushed Tennessee 422-27, the most single-game rushing yards by an Alabama team since 1992, the last pre-Nick Saban Tide championship squad.

Tennessee spotted Alabama its customary 14-0 first-quarter lead behind a 29-yard ArDarius Stewart end around and a 58-yard pick-six by Ronnie Harrison — the 10th non-offensive touchdown of Alabama’s season, the seventh different Tide defender to score and enough to secure a non-offensive score in nine consecutive games. The Vols briefly climbed back in the game when Derek Barnett sacked and stripped Hurts deep in his own territory, allowing two Alvin Kamara rushes over an 11-yard drive to pull Big Orange back within 14-7 at the 9:41 mark of the second quarter.

But Alabama immediately answered, moving 65 yards in six plays, mostly on the ground, the last 45 coming on a Hurts keeper down the right sideline.

Any hope of a second half revival was snuffed out when another Hurts scoring dash, this one from two yards out, pushed the lead to 28-7 six minutes into the third quarter and, on his only extended drive of the day, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones essentially conceded the game by kicking a 37-yard field goal to inch the Vols back within 28-10 at the 4:03 mark of the third quarter. Alabama again responded with an 8-play, 75-yard drive capped by Hurts’s third rushing score of the game. He finished the game hitting 16-of-26 passes for 143 yards with an interception while rushing 12 times for a game-high 132 yards and three scores. Hurts is the first Alabama signal-caller in 15 years with two 100-yard rushing games in the same season — and it’s only mid-October — and the second consecutive opposing quarterback to drop three rushing scores on Tennessee.

Alabama notched its 11th non-offensive score of the season on the opening play of the fourth quarter when Eddie Jackson raced a punt 79 yards down the left sideline to push the lead to 42-10. Bo Scarborough added the exclamation point with an 85-yard scoring dash with 11:38 to play. In all, Alabama rushed the ball 49 times for 438 yards (8.9 a pop) and five touchdowns, while its defense limited Tennessee to 32 yards on as many carries. Josh Dobbs, fresh off a game where he did anything he wanted to Texas A&M, connected on 16-of-27 passes for 92 yards with an interception while losing 31 yards in the run game to sacks. Kamara, who a week ago bested the century mark in rushing and receiving, totaled 21 rushing yards and two catches for seven yards.

Tennessee (5-2, 2-2 SEC) eases into a much-needed bye next week while Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC) returns to Tuscaloosa for a showdown with unbeaten and sixth-ranked Texas A&M.

USC confirms JT Daniels is still Trojans’ starting QB

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The drama in the Land of Troy, such as it was, is officially over.

For most, there was a three-man battle for USC’s starting quarterback job throughout this offseason — incumbent JT Daniels, Matt Fink and Jack Sears.  Tuesday, the Trojans ended the competition charade by confirming that Daniels will indeed be the team’s starter when they open the 2019 season later this month.

Most intriguing, though, is the fact that true freshman Kedon Slovis, who has been mostly an afterthought in the competition, has been chosen as the true sophomore Daniels’ backup over Fink, a redshirt junior, and Sears, a redshirt sophomore.

Daniels started 11 games as a true freshman for the Trojans this past season, with Sears starting the other.  Fink seriously contemplated a transfer this offseason before opting to remain at USC.  Slovis, meanwhile, was a three-star 2019 signee who was rated as the No. 26 pro-style quarterback in the country.

In his first season as a starter, Daniels completed almost 60 percent of his 363 passes for 2,672 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Michigan transfer Brandon Peters wins starting QB job at Illinois

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Michigan transfer Brandon Peters has won the quarterback derby at Illinois, Lovie Smith announced Tuesday.

“We loved Brandon when we got a chance to know him during the recruiting process,” Smith said. “Now that we’ve seen him on the field, he has been everything we though he would be. He has really thrown the ball well and is a better runner than he’s given credit for. Most importantly, he has moved into a leadership role for us. We’re pumped up about Brandon leading us heading into the season.”

A former 4-star recruit, the Avon, Ind., native is a graduate transfer who still has two years of eligibility remaining.

At Michigan he appeared in 10 games with four starts, completing 53 percent of his 110 throws for 680 yards and four touchdowns.

Illinois opens its season Aug. 31 at home versus Akron.

Trevor Lawrence headlines Preseason AP All-American team

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Everyone and their blog now has an All-American team; so many are out there, in fact, that if we wrote about all of them we’d never write about anything else.

But there’s something different about being a Preseason AP All-American, and as such we’d be remiss if we didn’t add to our historical record here at CFT.

Most notably, Trevor Lawrence nudged out Tua Tagovailoa for the First Team quarterback job, where he’s joined by running back Travis Etienne and linebacker Isaiah Simmons on the First Team. Alabama also had three First Teamers — wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, defensive tackle Raekwon Davis and linebacker Dylan Moses.

The SEC led all conferences with eight First Team selections, followed by the Big Ten’s seven.

Without further ado, behold the 2019 Preseason AP All-America First Team:

OFFENSE
QB: Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
RB: Travis Etienne, Clemson; Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
WR: Jerry Jeudy, Alabama; Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
TE: Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
C: Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
OG: Ben Bredeson, Michigan; Shane Lemieux, Oregon
OT: Walker Little, Stanford; Andrew Thomas, Georgia
AP: Rondale Moore, Purdue
K: Andre Szmyt, Syracuse

DEFENSE
LB: Joe Bachie, Michigan State; Dylan Moses, Alabama; Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
S: Andre Cisco, Syracuse; Grant Delpit, LSU
CB: Paulson Abedo, Stanford; Bryce Hall, Virginia
DE: AJ Epenesa, Iowa; Chase Young, Ohio State
DT: Derrick Brown, Auburn; Raekwon Davis, Alabama
P: Braden Mann, Texas A&M

It’s grrrrreat! Tony the Tiger claims title sponsorship of Sun Bowl

Getty Images
3 Comments

The Sun Bowl has a new title sponsor and it’s, well, it’s great. The El Paso-based postseason college football game will now be sponsored by Tony the Tiger. Don’t be mistaken, it’s not sponsored by Kellogg’s brand or even Frosted Flakes cereal, but Tony the Tiger himself.

“For the last few months we’ve worked closely and collectively with the Sun Bowl association and it’s become clear how well the association understands the strength and resilience of this community and we are honored to be part of it,” Kellogg’s marketing director Bryant Wheaton told the El Paso Times.

The change has already been reflected on the Sun Bowl’s Twitter account — sort of. The name and avatar have been changed, but the handle, as of press time, still reflected the bowl’s previous sponsor, Hyundai.

The Sun Bowl, first played on Jan. 1, 1935 between the El Paso All-Stars and Ranger (Texas) High School, has now welcomed nine title sponsors. The game takes credit for bringing title sponsorship to the college football postseason.

“We were the very first bowl ever to have a title sponsor, back in 1986 when John Hancock saved the Sun Bowl from going extinct,” executive director Bernie Olivas told the El Paso Times. “We have had some great sponsors since then. Our past sponsor, who had been with us nine years, is the longest sponsor we’ve ever had.

“When we got the title sponsor in 1986, there were only 16 bowls. We were the first ones to have a title sponsor. The rest of the bowls shunned us, they said, ‘You sold out.’ Well how do you like us now?”

The 85th annual Sun Bowl will once again pit the ACC against the Pac-12 on Tuesday, Dec. 31 (2 p.m. ET, CBS). Stanford won the 2018 edition, topping Pitt, 14-13.