Navy (6-2) clinched bowl eligibility at the same time Notre Dame (3-6) was put on the brink of bowl elimination in Jacksonville. A Will Worth pass completion on fourth and six to Jamir Tillman allowed the Midshipmen to run out the clock on the final possession of the game. Navy held the football for the final seven minutes and 28 seconds to hang on to a 28-27 victory.
With just over seven and a half minutes to play, Brian Kelly was faced with a decision on fourth and four. Kick a field goal and cut Navy’s lead down to one and hope the defense can get the ball back, or go for a first down and keep a drive alive. Kelly opted for a 31-yard field goal. Notre Dame’s offense never stepped back on the field until the postgame handshakes and alma mater performances. It was a critical coaching decision that appeared to backfire in a big way, although whatever happened on the drive it was pretty clear Notre Dame’s defense would need to make a stop either way. It did not, allowing two fourth-down conversions and committing a costly pass interference penalty on a third down on Navy’s final possession.
Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer passed for 223 yards and three touchdowns, but it was all for nothing as the Irish defense was unable to make a stop. Navy scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions, not counting the final possession that ran out the clock in the second half.
Kelly has now lost to Navy twice (a dubious feat also accomplished by his predecessor, Charlie Weis), while Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo has picked up his third win against the Irish since becoming Navy’s head coach. Navy can now refocus its sights on competing for the American Athletic Conference title, while Notre Dame simply looks to find any reason for optimism.
Navy returns to American Athletic Conference play next week back home in Annapolis against Tulsa. the game will have high stake sin the division on the line. A Navy win will keep the Midshipmen atop the division with two conference games to play. Navy would have a minimum one-game lead in the division with a win against the Golden Hurricane, but Tulsa could take over first place in the division with a win and a head-to-head tiebreaker with Navy. Tulsa plays at home against East Carolina later tonight.
Notre Dame has one more service academy to play next week. Notre Dame will face Army in San Antonio next Saturday. The Irish are now on the brink of being ineligible for postseason play, unless 5-7 teams start getting invites to fill vacancies. Even then, Notre Dame may have a difficult road to travel to a bowl game. Notre Dame must win their final three games of the season just to hit the typical win minimum for bowl eligibility (six wins), or two of the final three to jump in the 5-7 mix. With games still to play against Virginia Tech and USC, Notre Dame could very well be staying home this bowl season.
USC linebacker Porter Gustin saw his 2018 season come to a close with a season-ending ankle injury suffered in the final minutes of USC’s Saturday night victory over Colorado. Gustin will undergo surgery this week and begin his rehab process.
“We are all kind of numb right now, to be honest with you,” USC head coach Clay Helton said Sunday night, per the Los Angeles Times. “He’s a force of nature, and you think of him as a superhero, as Thor, as we say, and to know that he’s not going to be with us for the remaining part of the season is obviously something that hurts us all.”
Unfortunately for Gustin, he has spent a bunch of time rehabbing from injuries during his time at USC. Gustin missed the start of this season due to an injury, and he may have missed some more playing time if the Pac-12 correctly called an obvious targeting call on him in a game against Washington State.
The loss of Gustin, one of USC’s top defensive players, could never come at a good time, but the injury comes at a critical time for the Trojans. Now in the position to take firm control of the Pac-12 South Division after a head-to-head win against Colorado, USC is heading on the road this week to play Utah. A win for USC will put the Trojans in the best spot in the division, while a loss leaves the door open for Utah to make their own run to the division crown.
Gustin was a watch list player for the Bednarik Award, Butkus Award, and Lott Trophy. Now, the injured senior will likely think about preparing for what comes next after this season, the NFL Draft.
Colorado lost for the first time late Saturday on the road at USC. The result was not entirely puzzling given Colorado may have been due for a loss and USC can be difficult to top in Los Angeles, but a decision to go for a two-point conversion after a late Colorado touchdown cut into the USC lead left many watching scratching their heads. After the game, Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre explained the rationale behind the two-point conversion attempt, and it was rather simple.
MacIntyre didn’t know Colorado scored a touchdown and thought it was a first-and-goal situation.
The two-point conversion attempt came following a Steven Montez 19-yard touchdown run with 3:23 to play. The touchdown cut the USC lead to 31-20. A successful two-point conversion would have made it a nine-point game whereas an extra point would have created a 10-point deficit for Colorado. You could argue Colorado still needed two scores in the final minutes anyway and a two-point try would allow for the possibility of a win. The conventional logic, however, suggests there is a better win probability if you only need a touchdown and a field goal. Not that Colorado had a great chance either way to come back and win (which of course, they did not), but the decision to go for two points was a bizarre one. And now we know why.
So, was MacIntyre given incorrect information on the field? Shouldn’t somebody on Colorado have known the team just scored a touchdown, be it an official, a staffer, or one of the players on the field? Who is to blame for this messy situation? The fault should fall on the shoulders of the head coach here. It may not have ultimately altered the outcome of the game, since Colorado did recover the onside kick after all fo this but failed to pick up a first down.
Miami head coach Mark Richt is going to be busy on Miami’s bye week taking a good hard look at his football program. After following up a wild come-from-behind victory against rival Florida State, Miami went on the road and took a difficult loss at Virginia. Just like that, Miami followed up an opportunity to take steps forward as a program by taking a step back. In his third season at Miami, Richt does not want to waste much time attempting to steer things back in the right direction.
“But maybe that’s exactly what we need, to assess everything top to bottom,” Richt said after Miami’s 16-13 loss at Virginia, according to The Miami Herald. “If there is a time in the season to make certain changes you can do them, whether it’s just scheme or maybe personnel or whatever it may be.
“Certainly there will be a couple sleepless night for me, I know.’’
Miami has a number of issues they are trying to overcome. Recent history against teams from power conference programs and simply playing on the road. The frustrations came to the table at the end of the 2017 season when Miami finished the regular season by being upset on the road at Pittsburgh and was followed by a loss in the ACC Championship Game against Clemson. Miami’s 2017 season ended in their home stadium for the Orange Bowl, but with a loss to Big Ten championship runner-up Wisconsin.
This season looked to get started on the right foot for Miami but the Hurricanes fell in Arlington, Texas against LSU. Now, with the most recent road loss to Virginia and ahead of a road trip to Boston College after the bye week, Richt has no area of the program that cannot benefit from a bit of self-assessment and reflection. Miami still has a good shot to return to the ACC championship game but that won’t happen if Richt and the Hurricanes don’t fix a few problems in the coming weeks.
The first head coaching change of the 2018 season has been made. Bowling Green announced on Sunday it has removed Mike Jinks from the position of head coach of the Falcons. Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini will take on the role of interim head coach for Bowling Green for the remainder of the season.
“I want to thank Coach Jinks for all of his efforts with our football program and in the BG community,” Bowling Green Director of Athletics Bob Moosbrugger said in a released statement. “However, we felt it was time to make a change in leadership. These are not easy decisions and we do not take this lightly. This affects 11 coaching families, 112 student-athletes and numerous support staff. We wish Mike and his family the best in their future endeavors.”
Jinks took on the role of head coach of Bowling Green after the 2015 season after serving as an assistant running back coach at Texas Tech from 2013 through 2015. Jinks replaced Dino Babers, who was hired away by Syracuse, and the hope was he would be able to continue the offensive momentum Babers had established following Dave Clawson. That just never materialized.
The last two and a half years have been tough for the program. Bowling Green went 4-8 in the first season under Jinks and followed that last season by going 2-10. Bowling Green dropped to 1-6 after a 42-35 loss at home against Western Michigan on Saturday. The only win of the 2018 season came against Eastern Kentucky, a 42-35 victory in Week 3.
Bowling Green will be on the road this week to play Ohio as Pelini steps into the head coaching role for the first time since being the head coach of Florida Atlantic in 2012 and 2013.