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ACC leads Bednarik Award watch list with 18 out of 85 players

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If you needed one more sign that summer is transitioning to college football season on top of the start of SEC media days, the Maxwell Football Club is here for you. Today, the Maxwell Football Club unveiled the watch lists for their two highest individual player awards; the Maxwell Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award. The Bednarik Award is presented to the nation’s top defensive player in the country and has been awarded annually since the 1995 season when current Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald won the inaugural award.

This year’s preseason watch list is certainly not lacking for players to keep an eye on. A total of 85 players landed on the watch list, with the ACC leading the way with 18 players. The Big Ten followed in the order with 15, and the SEC had 14 players named to the watch list. The Pac-12 had 13 and the Big 12 had 10. The American Athletic Conference led the Group of Five with six players named to the watch list.

Alabama’s Jonathan Allen won the 2016 Bednarik Award, becoming the first player in school history to win the defensive award. Penn State has the most Bednarik Awards in the history of the award, with three players (LaVar Arrington, Paul Posluszny, Dan Connor) winning four awards.

This year’s watch list for the Bednarik Award is below.

CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville
S Marcus Allen, Penn State
DE Dorance Armstrong Jr., Kansas
S Dravon Askew-Henry, West Virginia
LB Jerome Baker, Ohio State
S Quin Blanding, Virginia
DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
LB Jason Cabinda, Penn State
LB Jermaine Carter, Maryland
S Sean Chandler, Temple
DE Bradley Chubb, N.C. State
LB Jack Cichy, Wisconsin
LB Koron Crump, Arizona State
CB Duke Dawson, Florida
LB Troy Dye, Oregon
LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
DE Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest
DE Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech
DE Kylie Fitts, Utah
DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
DE Marcell Frazier, Missouri
DE Rashan Gary, Michigan
LB Shaquem Griffin, UCF
LB Porter Gustin, USC
CB Heath Harding CB Miami (Ohio)
DE Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss
LB Travin Howard, TCU
LB Ben Humphreys, Duke
DT Maurice Hurst, Michigan
S Godwin Igwebuike, Northwestern
S Derwin James, Florida State
DE Cece Jefferson, Florida
LB Malik Jefferson, Texas
LB Josey Jewell, Iowa
LB Jordan Jones, Kentucky
DE Arden Key, LSU
LB Micah Kiser, Virginia
DE Harold Landry, Boston College
DE Justin Lawler, SMU
DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
DE Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State
DT Lowell Lotulelei, Utah
CB Iman Marshall, USC
DE Hercules Mata’afa, Washington State
S Tray Matthews, Auburn
CB Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State
NT David Moa, Boise State
LB Skai Moore, South Carolina
LB Nyles Morgan, Notre Dame
CB Deatrick Nichols, USF
DT Derrick Nnadi, Florida State
DT Kendrick Norton, Miami
LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma
DT Ed Oliver, Houston
NG Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
DT Harrison Phillips, Stanford
LB Shaq Quarterman, Miami
CB D.J. Reed, Kansas State
DE Malik Reed, Nevada
S Justin Reid, Stanford
DT Steve Richardson, Minnesota
DE Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, Arkansas State
LB Tegray Scales, Indiana
DT Conor Sheehy, Wisconsin
DE KJ Smith, Baylor
LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
LB Cameron Smith, USC
CB M.J. Stewart, North Carolina
LB Ty Summers, TCU
LB Jahlani Tavai, Hawaii
LB Matthew Thomas, Florida State
LB Micah Thomas, Navy
CB Jordan Thomas, Oklahoma
DT Trenton Thompson, Georgia
CB Kevin Toliver, LSU
DT Vita Vea, Washington
LB Azeem Victor, Washington
CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
LB Fred Warner, BYU
S Armani Watts, Texas A&M
S Kyzir White, West Virginia
S Jordan Whitehead, Pitt
DE Christian Wilkins, Clemson
S Andrew Wingard, Wyoming
LB Kenny Young, UCLA

WATCH: Iowa State honors slain Cyclones golfer prior to Akron game

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A senseless act of random violence stole one of their own earlier this week, and Iowa State paid tribute to the victim’s memory Saturday afternoon.

The body of 22-year-old Celia Barquín Arozamena, a former three-time All-Big 12 female golfer at ISU, was found Tuesday in a pond at a golf course near the university’s campus. The football Cyclones had previously announced that they would honor Arozamena’s memory prior to the Week 4 game against Akron as well as during the game via “CBA” helmet stickers.

Saturday afternoon, the team did just that as did their fans, who wore yellow in Arozamena’s honor — a nod to both one of the school’s primary colors as well as her home country of Spain — as well as golf shirts.  ISU head football coach Matt Campbell is also wearing a Cyclones golf hat and a “CBA” patch on his golf shirt, while the university’s marching band spelled out the late golfer’s initials as a video tribute played on the Jack Trice Stadium’s big board.

A 22-year-old homeless man with a history of violence was arrested shortly after Arozamena’s body was found. He’s being held in lieu of a $5 million bond and could face life in prison if convicted.

USC’s Porter Gustin got away with obvious targeting against Washington State

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The targeting rule is one that routinely creates some confusion and ignites outrage over how it is officiated around college football, but sometimes there is a clear textbook example of the call that cannot be disputed. Late Friday night, one of those textbook examples was on full display, and it was completely ignored.

Late in USC’s 39-36 victory over Washington State, Porter Gustin launched himself into Cougars quarterback Gardner Minshew and made helmet-to-helmet contact. At the very least, the action should have been called for a late hit on the quarterback, but everything about this particular play was a clear targeting penalty that should have resulted in a 15-yard penalty and an automatic ejection from the game and the first half of USC’s next game.

As noted by Greg McElroy on the ESPN broadcast, Gustin missed the first half of last night’s game for a targeting foul the previous week at Texas, and yes, he should have been tossed from this game as well. No penalty flag was thrown on the play, which should be reviewed and addressed by the Pac-12 offices in the coming days.

It is impossible to suggest this missed call cost Washington State the game, but it did hurt their chances of winning. Had the call been correctly made, the Cougars would have moved the ball to the USC 10-yard line in the final minutes of the game. Instead, Washington State later resorted to trying a game-tying field goal from the 21-yard line, which was blocked. USC then ran out the clock after picking up a first down.

Jimbo Fisher the latest to try to snap Nick Saban’s unbeaten streak over his former assistants

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To say that this particular teacher gotten over on his former students would be a significant understatement.

Nick Saban‘s Alabama Crimson Tide will square off with Jimbo Fisher‘s Texas A&M Aggies Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa. Saban and Fisher, of course, are very familiar with each other as not only are they both natives of the state of West Virginia but the latter was the former’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at LSU for five seasons from 2000-04.

The two have faced each other once as head coaches, with Alabama knocking off Florida State 24-7 in the 2017 season opener. That game marked the 11th time Saban had squared off against a former assistant; the College Football Playoff championship game win over Kirby Smart‘s Georgia Bulldogs was the 12th.

In those dozen games, Saban’s teams are a perfect 12-0.

Saban’s first win over one of his former assistants came in 2010 as Alabama dropped rival Tennessee and its head coach, Derek Dooley, by 31 points. Saban would go on to beat Dooley two more times, with each of those coming by 31-point margins as well.

Aside from Smart in the national championship game (26-23 in overtime), the closest a former assistant has come to beating Saban was in 2015 when Jim McElwain and Florida fell 29-15 in the SEC championship game. That was one of McElwain’s three losses to his former boss — two at Florida, one at Colorado State.

Saban is also 2-0 against Mark Dantonio (Michigan State) and 2-0 against Will Muschamp (then at Florida).

All told, Saban’s teams have outscored his former assistant’s teams by a combined score of 479-157 in the 12 meetings. For those not so mathematically inclined, that’s an average score of 40-13.

If Fisher can’t end the streak in Week 4, one of Saban’s former defensive coordinators, Jeremy Pruitt, will get the opportunity do it as the first-year head coach at Tennessee will play host to Alabama in Week 8 in Knoxville.

Penn State scores 63 points in back-to-back games for first time since 1917

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For roughly 35 minutes, it appeared as though No. 10 Penn State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) was going to be in for a struggle until the final whistle in a Friday night Big Ten opener at Illinois (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten). But the final score showed just how explosive Penn State is capable of being at any given moment. Penn State pulled scored 42 unanswered points in a 63-24 victory over Illinois, improving to 4-0 overall and setting half of the stage of a big game next week in Happy Valley against Ohio State.

A week after putting up 63 points against Kent State, the Nittany Lions accomplished something the program has not done in over a century. For just the second time in school history, Penn State scored 63 points in consecutive games. The last time that happened was in 1917. The last time it happened, the Nittany Lions took advantage of a couple of non-major programs in the most lopsided of fashions.

  • October 6, 1917: Penn State 80, Gettysburg 0
  • October 13, 1917: Penn State 99, St. Bonaventure 0

According to College Football Reference, Penn State lost the next game, 7-0, at Washington & Jefferson. Guess they should have saved some of those points, huh?

Adding to the somewhat historical start Penn State is on, this marks the first time in program history the Nittany Lions have scored at least 50 points in three consecutive games.

Trace McSorley completed 12 of 19 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns with one interception in the Penn State win. The quarterback also rushed for 92 yards. Running back Miles Sanders was the star of the game with 200 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Penn State out-scored Illinois 35-0 in the fourth quarter.

Next week, Penn State hosts Ohio State in primetime. As Friday night showed, Penn State will have to tighten up the run defense against the Buckeyes if they are going to avoid their first loss of the year.