James Franklin was on the hot seat with many Penn State fans earlier this season. After Saturday night, he might be getting a contract extension.
The Nittany Lions gave their head coach his first signature win in State College in front of a White-Out crowd in Happy Valley as they upset No. 2 Ohio State 24-21 with a wild fourth quarter and some clutch plays down the stretch.
Penn State hung around most of the game and came up with a timely score just about every moment when it looked like they were going to lose control to their highly ranked division rivals. Case in point was right before halftime when quarterback Trace McSorley (who completed just eight passes on the night) led a 74 yard touchdown drive in just 65 seconds to pull to within 12-7.
Nothing caused the crowd to erupt quite like what the defense did in the fourth quarter however. Ohio State appeared to be driving to all but wrap up another tough road win with just over four minutes left in the game when they ran the field goal unit onto the field to attempt a 45-yarder.
The kick came off a little low though and junior safety Marcus Allen entered PSU lore by getting just enough of the ball to block it. Grant Haley found himself in the right place, at the right time, and promptly scooped and scored from 60 yards out to cause pandemonium among the Nittany Lion fan base.
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett didn’t quite get going like he did last week against Wisconsin but was solid as the only reliable source of offense for the Buckeyes. The quarterback finished with 245 yards passing and a touchdown but was sacked five times in the second half as he failed to rally the team many expected to roll through the rest of the season undefeated.
The loss snaps a 20 game road winning streak for Ohio State and throws all sorts of postseason scenarios out the window. To start with, rival Michigan should ascend to No. 2 in the polls come Sunday and instantly become the favorites in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes can still win their division, and even make it back into the running for a College Football Playoff semifinal, but the night belonged to what Penn State did in a marquee win for their head coach and their program on Saturday night.
There’s good news and bad news on the early-entry front for Mississippi State.
The bad? As expected, Kylin Hill announced via Twitter Thursday that, “after much prayer and discussion with my family… I will be forgoing my final season of eligibility and entering my name in the 2020 NFL Draft.”
The good? Hill confirmed that he will be playing in the Music City Bowl matchup versus Louisville Dec. 30.
Hill led the Bulldogs and the SEC this past season with 1,347 yards rushing and 10 rushing touchdowns on 235 carries. He added 17 catches for 174 yards and another touchdown coming out of the backfield.
For his career, Hill totaled 2,474 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground, and another 473 and five through the air.
Come Saturday evening, when the results coming out of New York City are made official, I suspect this won’t be the first time we string the words “Joe Burrow” and “wins in a landslide” in the same sentence.
The Associated Press Thursday announced its College Football Player of the Year and, to the surprise of no one, Burrow claimed yet another piece of postseason hardware. There were 53 media members who voted for the AP award; 50 of them cast first-place votes for Burrow, helping give the LSU quarterback a total of 156 points.
The senior, who is now viewed by some as the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, currently leads the nation in passing touchdowns with 48 and completion percentage at 77.9 percent; right now, the completion percentage would be an FBS record, surpassing the 76.7 percent put up by Texas’ Colt McCoy in 2008. The Ohio State transfer is also second in the nation in passing yards (4,715) and passing efficiency (201.5).
Speaking of Ohio State, a pair of Buckeyes, defensive end Chase Young and quarterback Justin Fields, finished well behind Burrow in the voting. Young, who was the only other player to receive first-place votes, totaled 29 points while Fields totaled 43. Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts was fourth in the voting.
All four of those players mentioned, incidentally, were named as Heisman Trophy finalists earlier this week.
After a season away, Lavonte Valentine is back at the FBS level.
By way of his personal Twitter account Wednesday, Valentine announced that he has decided to transfer to South Florida and continue his collegiate playing career with the Bulls. As Valentine, whose transfer from South Carolina was confirmed in August of this year, comes to USF from the NAIA level, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.
The move comes a couple of days after Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott was named as the football program’s next head coach.
Coming out of high school in Melbourne, Fla., Valentine was a three-star member of South Carolina’s 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 18 all-purpose running back in the country. In part because of a torn ACL suffered his senior season of high school that caused him to miss spring practice and fall behind on the depth chart, Valentine took a redshirt for his true freshman season.
Valentine did, though, run track for USC this past spring, and he told The State that he will run track and play football at USF.
Not surprisingly, Eli Drinkwitz‘s first coaching staff in Columbia is taking on a bit of a Boone feel to it.
Although it has yet to be confirmed, Drinkwitz is expected to add Appalachian State special teams coordinator Erik Link in the same capacity at Missouri. What has been confirmed, though, is that Drinkwitz has brought Charlie Harbison along with him to the Tigers, a release from the football program announced.
Right now, Harbison will carry the official title of Associate Head Coach/Defense; his specific duties will be spelled out later.
“Charlie brings a wealth of experience with him to the defensive side of the football, having coached at the highest levels including the SEC and the NFL,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “He’s an outstanding man of character who knows what it means to mentor players both in football and in life.”
Harbison spent one season with Drinkwitz at App State, where he served as the Mountaineers’ cornerbacks coach. He was also the Sun Belt school’s associated head coach.
Previously, Harbison has spent time as the defensive coordinator or co-defensive coordinator at three Power Five programs — Auburn (2013-14), Clemson (2009-12) and Mississippi State (2008). He’s also was the cornerbacks coach at Alabama from 1998-2000.
In addition to bringing in coaches that worked on his staff at App State, he’s expected to retain at least three of Barry Odom‘s former assistants, including defensive coordinator/safeties coach Ryan Walters, defensive line coach Brick Haley, and defensive backs coach David Gibbs. Those retentions have yet to be officially announced.