Associated Press

South Carolina uses goal-line stand to survive NC State

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South Carolina returned a kickoff for a touchdown and turned two fumbles into touchdowns and still needed a deflection inside its own end zone to survive NC State, holding on for a 35-28 win in Charlotte.

Deebo Samuel started the year for the Gamecocks as well as he possibly could, taking the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. The game turned into a shootout for there.

NC State answered Samuel’s touchdown with a 14-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 6-yard Ryan Finley scoring run. South Carolina answered that answer when Jake Bentley found Rico Dowdle for a 34-yard score at the 3:53 mark of the first quarter.

And NC State again responded, this time on a 2-yard Nyheim Hines run to close the first quarter in a 14-14 tie.

South Carolina’s Chris Lammons forced a fumble by NC State receiver Stephon Lewis inside NC State territory, and South Carolina capitalized on a 6-yard toss from Bentley to Samuel at the 10:02 mark of the second quarter.

NC State tied the game again with its third lengthy drive of the half — 79 yards in 10 plays — closing on a 4-yard strike from Finely to Jakobi Meyers.

South Carolina opened the second half with two straight scores. The first came on a 39-yard strike from Bentley (17-of-29 for 215 yards and three touchdowns with one interception)

to Samuel on the ‘Cocks opening touch of the second half, and the third came two plays after another Wolfpack fumble inside its own territory; Dowdle staked South Carolina to a 35-21 lead on a 7-yard dash at the 9:08 mark of the third quarter.

That would be the last output from South Carolina’s offense, while its defense had to survive an onslaught of plays from NC State. The Wolfpack ran 99 plays, 64 of them passes from Finley.

A 4th-and-goal completion from Finely to Jaylen Samuels (15 catches for 85 yards) pulled NC State within seven at the 12:21 mark of the fourth quarter, but the pair could not hook up again after NC State moved to a 1st-and-goal from the South Carolina 8-yard line with 24 seconds remaining. Finley (45-of-64 for 415 yards for two touchdowns with no interceptions) fired three incomplete passes surrounded by one sack, allowing South Carolina to escape with the win.

The victory pushed South Carolina to 1-0 for the 17th time in 18 tries since the turn of the century and 3-0 in Charlotte openers. The Gamecocks also beat East Carolina at Bank of America Stadium to open the 2011 season and toppled North Carolina to begin the ’15 campaign. NC State (0-1) fell to 26-28-4 against South Carolina all-time and 0-3 since the turn of the century.

Former Oregon QB Braxton Burmeister lands at Virginia Tech

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Former Oregon quarterback Braxton Burmeister has signed with Virginia Tech, the Hokies announced on Saturday.

Burmeister signed with Oregon out of La Jolla Country Day High School in the San Diego area and made five starts as a true freshman in 2017 while stepping in for the injured Justin Herbert. His results were… that of a true freshman who had been trained to play only in mop-up duty, if at all. In 77 passes, Burmeister completed 57.1 percent of his throws for just 4.3 yards per attempt with two touchdowns against six interceptions.

Herbert returned to health in 2018, and as a result Burmeister returned to the bench. He threw just 10 passes in four appearances last fall.

Herbert elected to return for his senior season, and as a result Burmeister elected to enter the transfer portal. Even considering Herbert’s return, Burmeister’s decision to leave is a curious one, assuming he was still in good standing in Eugene. According to the Roanoke Times, Virginia Tech isn’t sure when he’ll enroll or his eligibility status, but the school does know he won’t arrive as a graduate transfer. Since he played in just four games last season, he could count 2018 as a redshirt year, but he’d need a waiver to play in 2019. Absent that waiver, the earliest he’d see the field for Virginia Tech would be as a junior in 2020… which is also when he’d be in line to succeed Herbert as Oregon’s starter.

Virginia Tech’s quarterback room has become the epicenter of sorts of college football’s free agency era. Former Hokies starter Josh Jackson has left for Maryland, and just this week fellow Hokie quarterback Hendon Hooker announced he’ll return to Blacksburg after dipping his toes in the transfer portal.

Ryan Willis started for Virginia Tech as a junior in 2019, but the Hokie derby appears on for 2020 and beyond.

Nevada, New Mexico State reportedly set for home-and-home in 2021-22

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Nevada and New Mexico State will play a home-and-home series in 2021-22, according to documents obtained by FBSchedules.

The Wolf Pack and Aggies will revive their series on Oct. 9, 2021 in Reno, with a return trip set for Sept. 17, 2022 in Las Cruces.

The pair have played 15 times previously, first in 1992 and most recently in 2011. Nevada holds a 13-2 edge and has won the last three; both of New Mexico State’s wins came in Reno. The pair were both members of the WAC from 2005 through 2011.

Nevada still has one free space remaining in its 2021 non-conference schedule, most likely a home game against an FCS opponent. The Wolf Pack are already slated to visit California (Sept. 4) and Kansas State (Sept. 18) during that season. The 2022 trip to New Mexico State is the only game on that season’s schedule as of yet.

New Mexico State is clinging to life as an FBS independent after getting the boot from the Sun Belt in 2017. In addition to their trip to Reno, the Aggies have road games against San Diego State, New Mexico, San Jose State and Alabama lined up for 2021, while UTEP, Hawaii, Utah State and Massachusetts are set to trek to Las Cruces. Three games are still yet to be scheduled. In 2022, New Mexico State will face San Jose State and New Mexico at home while making visits to Minnesota, UTEP, Akron, Massachusetts, Missouri and Liberty with three dates still open.

After handing out multi-year deals, Texas puts assistants back on one-year contracts

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The 2018 season was unquestionably a breakthrough year for Texas. While the Longhorns dropped four games and came short of the program’s first Big 12 championship since 2009, the team won 10 games and finished in the AP top-10 for the first time since ’09 and won a New Year’s Six bowl game for the first time since 2008. Coupled with the program’s first back-to-back top-3 recruiting classes ever, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, one might think Tom Herman‘s staff would enjoy a modicum of job security in the nomadic business of college football coaching.

One would be wrong.

As first reported by Orangebloods and later confirmed by the school to the Austin American-Statesman, Herman and AD Chris Del Conte have ended the practice of handing out multi-year contracts to assistant coaches.

The practice began at Texas in 2014 when former AD Steve Patterson hired Charlie Strong away from Louisville. Strong brought his full Cardinals staff and Patterson handed them all multi-year deals, which was part of an industry-wide movement as the competition for top coaching talent became even more intense. The practice continued when Texas hired Herman away from Houston in the winter of 2017, as Herman himself got a 5-year deal, coordinators Todd Orlando and Tim Beck got 3-year contracts and the rest of the staff received 2-year deals.

But now, heading into Year 3 of the Herman era, the position coaches’ contracts have expired and the coordinators are heading into the final year of their deals. And Herman and Del Conte like it that way.

In a statement to the American-Statesman, Del Conte said he and Herman aren’t unhappy with the assistant coaching staff, they just want to keep the carrot in front of their noses.

“We are absolutely ecstatic with the job coach Tom Herman and our coaching staff is doing for the University of Texas,” Del Conte told the paper. “This appointment letter is just a continuation of that effort.”

Herman has retained all nine of his assistants from his original staff — and seven of them were with him at Houston, with Beck and running backs coach Stan Drayton coming in from the outside — while hiring offensive line coach Herb Hand away from Auburn as his 10th assistant.

Texas A&M students overwhelmingly vote to reinstate Texas rivalry

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Texas A&M students on Friday overwhelmingly voted to revive the school’s dormant rivalry with Texas.

The referendum passed with 88.71 percent of the vote. A similar vote among the UT student body is planned for later this spring.

“The reason we’re doing this is because we feel responsible for the tradition and the spirit of A&M,” Chipper Adams, co-director of the A&M student group Reinstate the Rivalry, told A&M’s student paper The Battalion.

The issue momentarily gained momentum when both school presidents went on the record with the Austin American-Statesman last month saying they’d like to see the Longhorns and Aggies play again. However, A&M president Michael Young‘s true thoughts were revealed earlier this week when email correspondence with Aggie fans, irate over his on-the-record desire to play their arch-rivals, showed Young said the game’s revival was “unlikely.”

The UT-A&M series was the third-oldest FBS rivalry game during life, with 118 meetings between 1894 and 2011, but it has since been passed by Cincinnati-Miami (Ohio), Virginia-North Carolina, Auburn-Georgia, Oregon-Oregon State, Indiana-Purdue, Cal-Stanford and Army-Navy. If the two sides were to reach agreement to revive the game, it could not happen on an annual basis again until 2030 unless one or both schools are willing to cancel on-the-books games with the likes of Alabama, Ohio State (both future Texas opponents), Notre Dame and Miami (A&M).

In the meantime, there are two ways to view the 88.71 percent of the vote that the game’s rebirth drew. On the one hand, it’s impressive that the game drew that much support among a student body that was in elementary school the last time their school played Texas. On the other, a similar vote in the fall of 2017 drew 97 percent of the vote.

One has to figure the number of revivalists will only continue to shrink as one of college football’s oldest rivalries is now a stone sinking deeper and deeper in the river of time.