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No. 22 Arkansas outlasts No. 12 Ole Miss in thriller

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The Arkansas defense has been bad this season. Really bad.

The Razorbacks entered Saturday night ranked No. 64 nationally in total defense, but No. 120 in yards per play allowed. But the 22nd-ranked Hogs (5-2, 1-2 SEC) made the plays they needed to fend off No. 12 Ole Miss 34-30 in a game that proved a worthy successor to last year’s 4th-and-25, season-changing affair.

After a furious run of offense that saw the teams combined to score six times in seven drives plus a 90-yard Ole Miss drive that needed only five snaps and 48 seconds to tie the game at 20-20 through one half, the defenses settled in to open the second half. In fact, an interception, a punt and a three-and-out allowed the Hogs to mount a 38-yard touchdown drive, punctuated by a Rawleigh Williams III two-yard reception, to reclaim its lead at 27-20 with 3:29 to go in the third quarter.

Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2 SEC) responded with a Gary Wunderlich field goal and, after a pressure led to an interception of Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen, a short touchdown drive going the other way. Chad Kelly‘s eight-yard scoring dash gave the Rebels their first (and only) lead at 30-27 with exactly nine minutes remaining.

The Hogs punted on their next possession, but their embattled defense forced three consecutive possessions to snuff out what could have been a game-clinching drive for the Rebels, allowing their offense to take over at their own 44 with 6:30 remaining. Arkansas methodically covered 56 yards in 10 plays and four-and-a-half minutes, culminating in a backfield hand-off to wide receiver Jared Cornelius for the go-ahead six-yard touchdown scamper with 2:20 remaining.

Presented with one final chance to mount another game-winning touchdown drive, Ole Miss forced an incompletion on first down, permitted a seven-yard catch on second, then sacked Kelly for an eight-yard loss on third down. Flushed from the pocket on fourth down, Kelly appeared headed toward first down yardage until a ferocious hit separated Kelly from the ball and effectively ended the game.

Kelly led the Rebels with 253 passing yards, 89 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. For Arkansas, Allen passed for 229 yards and three scores, while Williams carried 27 times for 180 yards and a touchdown catch.

Lott IMPACT Trophy announces semifinalists

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You know we are getting close to award season in college football because it seems this week has been filled with announcements about semifinalists for every award possible. Welcome to the party, Lott IMPACT Trophy. A total of nine semifinalists were announced by the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is awarded to the best defensive player with a focus on success on and off the field, integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity.

The nine semifinalists for this year’s Lott IMPACT Trophy are:

  • Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
  • Cole Christiansen, LB, Army
  • Jordan Fuller, DB, Ohio State
  • Brandon Jones, DB, Texas
  • Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
  • Chris Orr, LB, Wisconsin
  • Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
  • Curtis Weaver, DL, Boise State
  • Evan Weaver, LB, Cal

Linebacker remains a strong position for the Lott IMPACT Trophy this season, with five of the nine semifinalists playing a linebacker position.

This year’s recipient of the Lott IMPACT Trophy will be announced on Dec. 15 at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach. This list of nine semifinalists will be trimmed down to four finalists prior to the announcement.

Kentucky’s Josh Allen took home the award last season.

Class of 2019 four-star Baylor commit says he’s heading to Utah

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Former Baylor quarterback Peyton Powell has a new football home in the Pac-12. Powell announced on Thursday he is heading to Utah to join the Utes program.

“It’s time for me to clear the air and I WILL be doing that at THE University of Utah,” Powell said in a statement share don his Twitter account on Thursday afternoon.

Powell came to Baylor with the hopes of being able to compete and play quarterback for the Bears. That opportunity was one of the reasons Baylor ended up winning his commitment out of high school, while many schools hoping to sign the four-star athlete could find ways to use his athleticism at different positions. Powell, a member of the Baylor Class of 2019, has not played this season and will have four years of eligibility remaining. NCAA rules would force Powell to sit out the 2010 season before being ruled eligible to play, but he may be given a chance to play right away considering he did not play during his freshman year at Baylor.

Arizona continues shaking up coaching staff with reported firing of defensive line coach

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As a year of disappointing results comes down the final stretch for the Arizona Wildcats, changes are already in the air for Kevin Sumlin and the program. On Thursday, Arizona continued to go through the process of overhauling its defensive coaching staff with the firing of defensive line coach Iona Uiagalelei.

News of the coaching change was first reported by Jason Scheer of Wildcat Authority. According to that same report, defensive analyst Greg Patrick will be moved into the position of defensive line coach, at least for the remainder of the current season.

Arizona ranks 73rd nationally in rushing defense, 113th in sacks, and 119th in tackles for a loss. These are all stats most commonly used to evaluate the performance of the defensive line, and the results this late in the season just simply aren’t good any way you look at it.

A month ago, Arizona parted ways with defensive coordinator Marcel Yates and linebackers coach John Rushing. Uiagalelei is the third defensive coach to be removed from the staff during the 2019 season.

Jonathan Taylor, Chuba Hubbard among semifinalists for Doak Walker Award

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Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is attempting to do something that has only been done twice before by winning the Doak Walker Award in back-to-back seasons. Taylor was one of the 10 semifinalists revealed by the Doak Walker Award on Thursday, putting last year’s top running back one step closer to pulling off the rare feat on the college football award circuit.

Taylor will have some stiff competition for the award this season. Among the other semifinalists for the award include Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard, the nation’s rushing leader with 1,726 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns (Taylor has 1,463 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in the same number of games as Hubbard).

Darren McFadden of Arkansas is the most recent player to win the Doak  Walker Award in back-to-back seasons, doing so in 2006 and 2007. The only other player to win the award in consecutive seasons, and the only other two-time winner of the Doak Walker Award, is Ricky Williams of Texas. Williams won the award in 1997 and 1998. Taylor joined former Wisconsin running backs Melvin Gordon (2014), Montee Ball (2012) and Ron Dayne (1999) to move Wisconsin into first place for most all-time Doak Walker Award winners. Texas also has four awards won, but by three players (Ricky Williams twice, Cedric Benson in 2004 and D’Onta Foreman in 2016).

The other semi-finalists for the Doak Walker Award this year include LeVante Bellamy of Western Michigan (21 touchdowns leads the nation), AJ Dillon of Boston College, JK Dobbins of Ohio State, Clyde Edwards-Helaire of LSU, Travis Etienne of Clemson, Kenneth Gainwell of Memphis, Xavier Jones of SMU, Zack Moss of Utah.