No. 15 Georgia leaves inaugural South Bend trip with win over No. 24 Notre Dame

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It was a night to remember for Bulldogs young and old — no matter what the final score showed. Still, both groups are going home happy. In its first ever trip to Notre Dame — these programs have each played more than 1,200 games previously, but only once against each other — and the first ever start for true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm, No. 15 Georgia earned a tight 20-19 win over No. 24 Notre Dame.

After the teams traded field goals in the first quarter, Notre Dame (1-1) found pay dirt first on a 1-yard Brandon Wimbush scrambled at the 12:24 mark of the second quarter, which was set up after Jake Fromm fumbled at his own 34-yard line.

Georgia (2-0) immediately responded, moving 62 yards in 12 plays, a drive that culminated in a 5-yard toss from From to Terry Godwin that was originally ruled incomplete before it was overturned on review.

C.J. Sanders momentarily gave Notre Dame the lead back on what was ruled on the field as a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but review ruled his forearms down at the Notre Dame 36. The Irish moved to the Georgia 24, setting Justin Yoon up for a 42-yard field goal with 4:14 to go before the break.

Yoon pushed the lead to six with a 36-yarder with 6:22 to play in the third quarter, but Georgia grabbed its first lead of the night on a 75-yard drive punctuated by a 6-yard Sony Michel run on the ensuing possession.

Notre Dame put together its longest drive of the night to open the fourth quarter, slicing through the Georgia defense for 73 yards over 12 plays, but an 8-yard Wimbush run came one yard short of the sticks on 3rd-and-9, setting up another Yoon field goal to see-saw Notre Dame back in front at 19-17 with 10:21 remaining.

The Irish had a chance to take control after forcing Georgia into a three-and-out, taking the ball with the lead at their own 25, but Georgia forced a three-and-out of its own and then reclaimed the lead on a 30-yard Rodrigo Blankenship field goal with 3:34 to play.

After forcing three consecutive incompletions, Georgia had the chance to put the game away with a single first down, but a 3rd-and-2 handoff to fullback Christian Payne ended one yard short, giving Notre Dame the ball back for a last-gasp drive with 1:57 remaining. Wimbush moved the Irish 17 yards, but Davin Bellamy sacked Wimbush and forced a fumble, which Lorenzo Carter recovered for the Bulldogs. Georgia expired the final 1:14 to hold on for the win.

The end was emblematic for Wimbush, who hit 19-of-39 passes for 211 yards and spent much of his night running with nowhere to go. He was credited with 16 carries for one yard, and Notre Dame as a team managed only 55 yards on 37 rushes. Georgia rushed for 185 yards as a team, led by Michel’s 73 yards and Nick Chubb‘s 63, while Fromm hit 16-of-29 passes for a modest 141 yard with a touchdown and an interception.

NCAA cites Pat Narduzzi, Pitt football for violations

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The NCAA announced Thursday that they’ve hit Pitt with several penalties related to violations for both their football and men’s basketball programs.

While hoops is the primary focus of the case, head coach Pat Narduzzi and the folks on the gridiron were not left untouched. Though the Panthers were certainly not hammered, they did receive a little more than a slap on the wrist as a result of some minor violations.

At the heart of the matter? Some coaches who were coaching when they were not supposed to be:

According to the agreement, the head football coach instructed or was present at the practice facility when three former quality control staff members performed coaching duties, resulting in the program exceeding the allowable number of permissible coaches. The university conducted adequate spot checks of the program, but the agreement said the violations were undetected in part due to the program’s practice of playing music to indicate when outside parties were present at the practice facility. Football quality control staff members reported that they would make sure they were not near student-athletes when hearing the music.

We’re guessing the fact that they had a scheme sophisticated enough to be changing music when people came in to the building during practice is why there were Level II penalties in the case instead of something even more under the radar. 

As a result, Narduzzi was hit with a show-cause order that will see him miss two days of practices in during the team’s upcoming preseason camp in August. He also already missed one week of off-campus recruiting prior to the most recent signing day. 

The program is also being forced to cut the number of coaches they have for a few hours and days during the spring.

All in all, nothing that will hamper the upcoming 2020 campaign that much but still more than just sending the coaches to a compliance meeting as you often see in similar cases. Pitt holds their annual Blue-Gold spring game on April 11 and begins the season on Sept. 5 against Miami (OH) at Heinz Field.

USC ‘in final stages’ of canceling UC-Davis game, allowing them to rejoin Notre Dame, UCLA as only FBS teams to never play FCS school

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Fans of the USC football program, one source of pride has officially returned.

In July of last year, USC football angered a sizable portion of its fan base as well as former players by announcing that it had scheduled a 2021 game against UC-Davis.  The Trojans had been one of three FBS programs that had never scheduled a game against an FCS team.

Wednesday, however, new athletic director Mike Bohn confirmed that USC is on the verge of canceling that football game and replacing it with another.  Bohn revealed the development during a podcast appearance, as transcribed by 247Sports.com:

Well, I’m happy to tell you that we have informed UC Davis that we intended to cancel that game. We are in the final stages of formalizing an agreement with another FBS opponent to replace UC Davis, and I have to give our donors and fans a lot of the credit. When I arrived, I committed to listening and learning; and the feedback from our fans was clear. Preserving our history is critically important to us and to our fans, so we worked to make that happen.

Our fans didn’t like it and our fans recognize that we’re one of only three institutions to have never played a team at that level, and I think that says a lot about ‘SC and our commitment to wanting to make sure that our fans see viable games and ensure that they have a great experience watching those games. So, they were really clear about it and, to be honest with you, I think there were a lot of people on campus that encouraged us to ensure that we could fix that as well.

Unofficially, USC football rejoins Notre Dame and UCLA as the only FBS schools that have never played a game against an FCS team.

USC will reportedly be forced to pay UC-Davis for canceling the game.

Alabama OC Steve Sarkisian has reportedly interviewed for Colorado opening

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Very late in the churning of the 2019-20 coaching carousel, Nick Saban could find himself with a significant opening on his Alabama Crimson Tide football coaching staff.  Maybe.

When Mel Tucker left for the Michigan State head job earlier this month, it triggered an unexpected coaching search at Colorado.  Current Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator and former Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy was immediately considered the front-runner, although it’s now expected that he’ll stay in the NFL.  Air Force’s Troy Calhoun has now taken that front-runner mantle in some corners — he interviewed for the CU job this week — while former Arkansas and Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema is in the mix as well.

Steve Sarkisian‘s name has been connected to the Colorado opening as well.  It was reported by CBS Sports that the Alabama Crimson Tide football assistant interviewed for the job Wednesday, with ESPN.com confirming that development Thursday morning.

Sarkisian, of course, has experience as a head coach in the Pac-12.  His unceremonious exit from his last job in the conference, though, could make him a hard sell to the Buff faithful.

In mid-October of 2015, USC announced that Sarkisian had been dismissed as the Trojans’ head football coach, one day after he was given an indefinite leave of absence because of alleged and ongoing alcohol issues.  It was alleged that USC had instituted a zero-tolerance policy when it came to Sarkisian and alcohol use.  Leading up to his dismissal, Sarkisian allegedly showed up to meetings intoxicated.

From 2009-15, Sarkisian was a head coach in the Pac-12 — at Washington (2009-13) and USC (2014-15).  He went 46-35 during his time in that league.  He also spent two separate stints totaling seven seasons (2001-03, 2005-08) as an assistant at USC.

Following his ugly exit from USC, Sarkisian joined the Alabama Crimson Tide football program as an offensive analyst for the 2016 season. When Lane Kiffin took the head job at FAU prior to the national championship game that year, Sarkisian served as the play-caller in the loss to Clemson.

Expected to take over as the Crimson Tide’s coordinator, and after reports that his relationship with Saban had deteriorated surfaced, Sarkisian instead left a month after the title game for a job in the NFL as the coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons.  Sarkisian lasted two years in that job before he was fired in December of 2018.

A month later, he rejoined the Tide as offensive coordinator.

Florida State DB A.J. Lytton ‘has been removed from the team’

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Florida State football has seen its roster pared as we dive deeper into the offseason.

Wednesday, 247Sports.com reported that A.J. Lytton is no longer consider a member of the Seminoles program.  A Florida State football official confirmed that the defensive back “has been removed from the team.”

No specific reason, including whether it was voluntary or involuntary, was given for Lytton’s removal.

A four-star 2018 signee, Lytton was rated as the No. 3 recruit regardless of position in the state of Maryland.  He was also the No. 7 cornerback in the country.  Only one signee in FSU’s class that year, fellow defensive back Jaiden Woodbey, was rated higher than Lytton.

Over two seasons, Lytton played in a total of 22 games.  A dozen of those appearances came during the 2019 campaign.  He started one of those appearances, with that lone start coming this past season.

With two-year starter Stanford Samuels III leaving the Seminoles early for the NFL, Lytton had been expected to compete for a starting corner job.

Lytton’s departure continues the expected Florida State football roster churn since Willie Taggart‘s firing and Mike Norvell‘s hiring.  Norvell will be taking over a program that has gone 11-14 the past two seasons.  That two-year stretch is the worst for the school since they went 8-14 in 1975-76.