NC State was too much for Vanderbilt on Monday night. More specifically, the pitch-and-catch combination of Ryan Finley-to-Jaylen Samuels was too much for Vanderbilt, as the Wolfpack raced to a 41-17 Independence Bowl victory in Shreveport, La.
Finley and Samuels hooked up six times for 104 yards and three decisive touchdowns on the night. The first came at the 9:08 mark of the second quarter, a 9-yard strike to put NC State on top 7-3, handing the club a lead it would not relinquish. The second connection came nearly eight minutes later, a 55-yard snatch-and-dash that all but put the game out of reach at 14-3.
After a 5-yard scoring rush by Reggie Gallaspy II pushed the lead to 21-3, Finley’s third and final strike to Samuels, a 17-yard connection, put the game out of reach with 5:34 still to play in the third quarter.
Vanderbilt briefly climbed back in the game when Ralph Webb posted a 30-yard touchdown run and Khari Blasingame bulled in from the 1-yard line to pull the Commodores within 28-17 with 10:37 left in the game, but NC State (7-6) immediately ended any comeback hopes when Nyheim Hines raced the ensuing kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown.
Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmer provided NC State its final score of the night when Niles Clark returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown as time expired. Shurmur finished the night hitting 19-of-46 passes for 158 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Vanderbilt (6-7) managed 156 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 4.5 yards per carry.
Finley closed his season connecting on 19-of-30 passes for 235 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Matthew Dayes led the Pack on the ground with nine carries for 47 yards.
The win pushed the ACC to 2-0 in bowl games pitting 6-6 teams and clinched at least a .500 record for the conference against the SEC in 2016. The ACC is now 7-3 against its southeastern rival with three games and the possibility of a Clemson-Alabama CFP national championship still remaining.
The Bobby Petrino Era, y’all!
Last week, it was reported that Russ Yeast had decided to leave the Louisville football program and transfer to an undetermined elsewhere. Sunday, the university announced that Petrino has been fired as the Cardinals’ head football coach.
Those two stories are intertwined as, in the wake of Petrino’s dismissal, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Yeast has reversed course on his transfer and will remain with the team.
In fact, the Courier-Journal wrote, “the sophomore cornerback was back with the Cards for team meetings on Sunday night and is expected to practice this week.”
Yeast, the son of former Kentucky wide receiver Craig Yeast, started seven games in 2017 due to injuries ahead of him on the depth chart. He had played in nine games this season, with zero starts, prior to what turned out to be a brief sabbatical.
A three-star member of the Cardinals’ 2017 recruiting class, Yeast was rated as the No. 33 cornerback in the country and the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Indiana. Only two signees in the U of L’s class that year (safety CJ Avery, running back Colin Wilson) were rated higher.
Another day, another college football player has seen the wrong end of his head coach’s boot.
On that front, Oklahoma confirmed Tuesday that Tramonda Moore has been dismissed from Lincoln Riley‘s football program. The only reason given was the standard unspecified violations of team rules.
Moore had originally signed with Bedlam rival Oklahoma State in 2016 but didn’t qualify academically with the school and was forced to go the junior college route. After a couple of years at Independent Community College in Kansas, the offensive lineman transferred to OU over the summer.
Through 10 games, Moore hadn’t played a down for the Sooners.
Moore was a four-star recruit coming out of high school in Oklahoma City and was rated as the No. 1 player at any position in the state of Oklahoma in 2016. He was a four-star JUCO prospect as well, rated by 247Sports.com on its composite board as the No. 4 recruit overall at that level in 2018.
At least this week there won’t be any pre-kickoff drama.
Because of an injury suffered to his right knee in the Week 8 win over Navy, Ed Oliver has missed the past three games as he works through the issue. With a key AAC West matchup with Tulane looming Thursday night, head coach Major Applewhite confirmed Tuesday that the standout defensive lineman will be sidelined for the Green Wave game because of the same injury issue.
Double-teamed most times — and even triple-teamed on occasion — Oliver was held sack-less through the first six games of this season. The last two in which he played, however, he was credited with three — two against East Carolina, one against Navy.
In March of this year, Oliver announced that the 2018 season would be his last at the collegiate level as he will leave the Cougars early and make himself available for the 2019 NFL draft, where he is widely projected to be a Top Five selection at worst.
After a consensus Freshman All-American season that saw him land on numerous first-team All-American squads, Oliver was a consensus All-American in a 2017 season that saw him become the first underclassman to win the Outland Trophy in the 70-year history of the award.
In his first two seasons with the Cougars, the 6-3, 290-pound Oliver had totaled 39.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. In addition to the three sacks, Oliver has 13.5 tackles for loss this season; his 1.9 tackles for loss were tied for third nationally prior to his injury.
At 4-2, Houston is currently tied for first place in the AAC West with SMU and Tulane. Houston has already lost to SMU this season, while they’ll face Memphis in the regular-season finale. Whether Oliver will (or should) play in that game, or any other for the Cougars for that matter, remains to be seen.
Brian Lewerke or Rocky Lombardi? Stay tuned to find out.
Lewerke, the starter for most of the last two seasons, has been working his way through an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder. His streak of 20 straight starts was snapped last month because of the injury as Lombardi took over in the win over Purdue, although Lewerke returned to start the last two games.
In that last game, a loss to Ohio State, Lewerke struggled mightily (again), leading to questions as to just who will get the starting nod this Saturday against Nebraska. Posed that very question, Mark Dantonio declined to give any indication as to which direction he may be leaning.
“We make decisions and as we go forward those decisions become complicated at times, but we do the very best we can and everybody’s involved,” the head coach said by way of mlive.com. “I don’t really think it’s in this team’s best interest to air those decisions prior to football games. I think that’s something that needs to be kept in-house for everybody’s best benefits.”
Prior to suffering the injury in the Oct. 13 win over Penn State, Lewerke was completing 60 percent of his passes. Since then, he’s completing just 35 percent.
In his lone start, Lombardi went 26-of-46 for 318 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.