Dalvin Cook and Florida State taking on Jabrill Peppers and Michigan in the Orange Bowl was pegged early on as one of the best matchups of the season and a bowl that might be better than one of the two College Football Playoff semifinal games.
While we didn’t get to see Peppers due to a hamstring injury, we did see plenty of Cook and the Wolverines battling back and forth in a thrilling game that the Seminoles ultimately ended up winning 33-32 after a pair of wild fourth quarter comebacks.
FSU led for most of the contest and used a couple of big plays in the passing game to control the first half. But the Wolverines came clawing back as momentum shifted between both squads in the second half like a game of hot potato. Cook wound up rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown (adding another 62 on three receptions) as he likely closed out his career in garnet and gold not far from where he grew up.
Quarterback Deondre Francois (222 yards, two scores) began the game by leading Florida State on a 75 yard opening drive that ended in the end zone, but his play trailed off in the third quarter and tossed an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Mike McCray.
That pick-six was the spark Michigan needed after coming so close to breaking out some big plays to cut into the lead. After allowing Francois to find the end zone on the next drive to make up for his mistake, the Wolverines rallied behind a balanced attack that busted open several big plays on a tired defense.
Quarterback Wilton Speight found Khalid Hill in the end zone to finish off a quick drive in the final quarter and then Chris Evans rumbled 30 yards run to cap off 15 point outburst in under four minutes to take the lead for the first time all night.
A huge kick return allowed Florida State to get right back into things and snatch momentum back in a flash, finishing a crazy stretch when Francois found Nyqwan Murray in the end zone for what proved to be the game-winning points. The extra point was blocked and returned for a defensive score, giving Michigan another slim opening to capture the win.
Eventually the talented ‘Noles defense came up with a huge stop on fourth down to seal the victory and cap off one of the best Orange Bowls in a long, long time.
LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.
According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.
So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.
The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.
While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.
The transfer portal has claimed another name.
As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.
Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.
The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.
Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.
Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.
The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.
Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.
Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.
Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.
A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.
In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’
“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”
The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.
Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.
The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.