Friday the 13th lived up to its reputation for No. 2 Clemson.
The Tigers lost their starting quarterback due to a concussion, saw their defense inexplicably get turned around in a track meet, had one of the worst fake punts of the season and never led all night long. More ghastly though, Clemson saw Syracuse secure the biggest victory of the Dino Babers era as the Orange looked like the better side from kickoff to the final whistle in a massive 27-24 upset that will shake up both ACC and College Football Playoff races.
Quarterback Eric Dungey led the way for the home team at the Carrier Dome, throwing for 278 yards and three touchdowns despite facing one of the best defensive lines in the country on every snap. He also provided an incredible dimension with his legs in rushing for 61 yards — including the game-sealing first down with just over 90 seconds to go. The fast-paced offense racked up numerous multi-play drives as the marched up and down the field from the opening kickoff and seemed to have an answer just about every time.
The Tigers simply did not come to play on Friday night, looking sluggish from the get go. Not helping matters was the loss of starting quarterback Kelly Bryant, who didn’t look fully healthy while dealing with an ankle injury and then suffered a concussion on a scramble just before halftime. While the run game of Travis Etienne and Tavien Feaster both scored long touchdowns, there never was much of a rhythm to the offense as they stalled out on several drives.
Were it not for a Tanner Muse 63 yard scoop-and-score fumble return in the first half, things could have been even worse for the defending national champions.
If there is one silver lining for Dabo Swinney’s group it was that they were in a similar spot last season, losing to Pitt at home before eventually rallying to win the league and the national title. Things might be a little tougher this time around, but the path remains the same inside the division (and on the national stage) with games against a ranked N.C. State team and big name in Florida State still to come. Perhaps most crucially, a bye week awaits the team once they return back home and will provide some much needed rest after some significant injuries in the first half of the year.
Syracuse doesn’t really care about all that talk though, for there was nothing freaky on Friday for the Orange as they pulled off one of the memorable upsets of the season so far.
It appears Josh Ball‘s playing career at Florida State has come to an end.
In November of last year, reports surfaced that Sandra Sellers, an FSU student who dated Seminoles football player Josh Ball for a year and a half, had accused the offensive lineman of dating violence, including allegations that he physically attacked her on at least three occasions. In mid-May, in connection to those allegations, Ball was suspended by the university after a ruling by the school’s judicial panel and led him to play at the junior college level in 2018.
While there was speculation earlier this month that Ball would attempt to rejoin the Seminoles football team, the lineman posted on Twitter Thursday evening that his time in Tallahassee is over. Ball did, though, state that he is leaving the university “in good standing.”
“I have made the determination to stay closer to family and not return to Florida State even though I have been cleared and [am] in good standing to do so by the Florida State administration,” Ball wrote.
Ball started the last nine games of the 2017 season at left tackle for the Seminoles. Exiting spring practice this year, and with last year’s starter Rick Leonard no longer around due to expired eligibility, the redshirt sophomore was penciled in as FSU’s starting right tackle.
A Fredericksburg, Va., native, the 6-8, 335-pound Ball spent the 2018 football season at a Kansas junior college.
In November of last year, not even all the way through his first season with the Golden Gophers, P.J. Fleck was given a contract extension. A year and a month later, it’s lather, rinse and repeat on the contractual front.
Early Friday afternoon, Minnesota announced that the university and its head football coach had agreed to another contract extension. The extended deal was formally approved by the university’s Board of Regents earlier in the day.
With the tweaked contract, Fleck, whose original five-year contract was agreed to in January of 2017, is now signed through the 2023 season and on into 2024. Fleck made $3.35 million in 2018; there was no word on what if any financial adjustments were included in the extension.
“It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to lead this team and represent the University of Minnesota and our great state,” a statement from Fleck began. “Our family loves living in Minnesota, and I look forward to leading our football program into the future. Through the academic, athletic, social and spiritual development of our student-athletes, and through recruiting, we are building a championship culture that our fans can be proud of.
“Heather and I are so thankful to our staff, [athletic director] Mark Coyle, President Kaler and the Board of Regents for seeing the vision we have for our football program. We are so excited and humbled with the contract extension!”
Taking over a program that won nine games in 2016, Fleck has guided the Gophers to records of 5-7 and 6-6 his first two seasons at the school. This year, Minnesota beat rival Wisconsin for the first time since 2003 and, in the process, became bowl-eligible for the first time under Fleck.
The extended Pitt football family is mourning the loss of one of the greatest Panthers ever.
Following a battle with cancer, Bill Fralic passed away Thursday, the football program announced in a press release Friday. The former Pitt All-American was 56 years old.
“Bill is truly one of the iconic figures in the history of Pitt Athletics,” athletic director Heather Lyke said in a statement. “He set a tremendous standard for our current generation of student-athletes, not only as an athlete but also for what he went on to accomplish once his playing days concluded. Bill’s reputation for giving back might even transcend his Hall of Fame football career. He was a passionate supporter of Pitt and Penn Hills. Our deepest sympathies to his wife, Susan, and his many loved ones and friends.
Fralic, whose No. 79 jersey was retired more than three decades ago, was a three-time first-team All-American at Pitt, earning unanimous honors his last two seasons with the Panthers. Twice Fralic finished in the Top 10 of the Heisman Trophy voting, the first-ever offensive lineman to do so.
Fralic’s prowess on the gridiron also led to a word that’s still a part of the football lexicon.
Fralic’s collegiate career led to the phrase “Pancake Block” being added to the football lexicon. Pitt publicists used “Pancakes” as a statistical barometer for each time Fralic put an opposing defensive lineman on his back.
The passing of Fralic comes less than a week after he paid for the hotel rooms for all of the players and coaches at Penn Hills High School, his alma mater which played for the PIAA Class 5A championship last Friday night.
Kingston Davis‘ downward spiral has hit yet another new low.
According to al.com, Davis was arrested Thursday morning on one count of domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation in connection to a late-September incident while he was still a member of the UAB football program. Details of what led to the arrest and charge have not yet been released.
The arrest comes nearly three weeks after a tweet surfaced that contained videos allegedly showing “Davis brandishing a gun in one video and threatening violence in another.” That tweet has since been deleted.
Around that same time, Davis’s name had been removed from UAB’s online roster. In late September, Davis was indefinitely suspended from the Blazers football team for what was described as an unspecified student-conduct issue.
In three games this season prior to the original suspension, Davis rushed for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 22 carries. The two rushing touchdowns were tied for the team lead at the time.
In mid-December of last year, Davis announced that he would be transferring from a Kansas junior college — hello “Last Chance U” — to UAB after being dismissed by the JUCO. In March of that same year, Davis had decided to transfer from Michigan.
A three-star member of the Wolverines’ 2016 recruiting class, Davis was rated as the No. 1 fullback in the country. As a true freshman in Ann Arbor, the 6-1, 245-pound back carried the ball twice for 17 yards.