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No. 13 Notre Dame rolling early to take big halftime lead over turnover-prone USC

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There are bad starts, and there are starts like what No. 11 USC had in the first half of their rivalry game against No. 13 Notre Dame.

Fumble on the first drive? Check. Shank a short field goal? Yep. Muff a punt? Indeed. Throw an interception. Thumbs up.

As a result, the Irish fed off an electric atmosphere in South Bend to jump out to a hot start against their intersectional rival and went to the locker room up 28-0 at halftime in a game that seems over given the way the two sides are playing at the moment.

Proving that a few weeks off were indeed plenty to get back to 100 percent, quarterback Brandon Wimbush looked sharp in taking advantage of all those USC miscues. He finished the half with two touchdown passes (one to Kevin Stepherson, the other to Equanimeous St. Brown) and ran for 76 yards and another score despite that balky foot injury that kept him out for several weeks.

Running back Josh Adams didn’t get a ton of work given all the quick end zone trips (just 14 carries), but also gave a boost to his low-key Heisman campaign by running for 68 yards and a touchdown.

As many positives as you could come up with for Notre Dame in the half, you could just about double it and come up with the number of negatives for USC. Sam Darnold had one of his worst halves in cardinal and gold, fumbling on the opening drive and throwing an interception late in the second quarter. He wound up with 107 yards as the only source of offense for the Trojans after Ronald Jones was bottled up to the tune of just five yards on seven carries.

USC has authored several second half comebacks already this year but, based on the way they played so far in Notre Dame Stadium, they’re going to need a comeback just to avoid getting blown out. The flip side is another strong showing like that and all the College Football Playoff talk surrounding the Irish will start to become very, very real come Sunday.

Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson takes leave of absence as wife fights cancer

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With his wife fighting cancer, Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson is stepping away from the football part of his life temporarily to be with his family. Arkansas State announced the news Monday evening. Defensive coordinator David Duggan will take over as the interim head coach until Anderson is ready to return to the team.

“Coach Anderson has decided to take a leave of absence during this difficult time to be with his wife, Wendy, and his family,” a statement from Arkansas State Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Terry Mohajir said in a released statement. “We will continue to pray for peace for his family and provide assistance any way we can.”

Anderson has been dividing his time between football and being with his wife, but there comes a time when you have to realize there is much more to focus on than football. This is certainly one of those times, and good for Arkansas State to allow their head coach to do what he needs to do during this troubling time for his family.

Cancer sucks, plain and simple.

Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list includes 2018 finalist Shea Patterson, Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert and more

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And now for a quarterback award watch list that won’t include a certain starting quarterback form Clemson or Alabama. The Johnny Unitas Foundation has released the watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to college football’s top senior or fourth-year quarterback. This year’s watch list includes some recognizable names such as Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.

Former Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew was named the winner of the award in 2018. Just one finalist for the 2018 award is on the watch list this season. Michigan’s Shea Patterson is that player (UCF’s McKenzie Milton was a finalist last year but is not expected to play this season despite still being at UCF as he recovers from his season-ending injury from late in 2018).

Other past winners include Deshaun Watson (2016), Marcus Mariota (2014), Andrew Luck (2011), Matt Ryan (2007), Eli Manning (2003), Carson Palmer (2002) and Peyton Manning (1997).

2019 Golden Arm Award Watch List Presented by A. O. Smith

  • Jack Abraham, Southern Mississippi
  • Blake Barnett, University of South Florida
  • Woody Barrett, Kent State
  • Jake Bentley, University of South Carolina
  • Anthony Brown, Boston College
  • Kelly Bryant, Missouri
  • Joe Burrow, LSU
  • Stephen Buckshot Calvert, Liberty
  • Marcus Childers, Northern Illinois
  • K.J. Costello, Stanford Unversity
  • Jacob Eason, Washington University
  • Caleb Evans, University of Louisiana Monroe
  • Mason Fine, North Texas
  • Feleipe Franks, University of Florida
  • Mitchell Guadagni, Toledo
  • Jarrett Guarantano, University of Tennessee
  • Gage Gubrud, Washington State University
  • Quentin Harris, Duke University
  • Justin Herbert, University of Oregon
  • Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., Army
  • Tyler Huntley, University of Utah
  • Jalen Hurts, University of Oklahoma
  • Josh Jackson, University of Maryland
  • D’Eriq King, Houston
  • Brian Lewerke, Michigan State University
  • Jordan Love, Utah State University
  • Jake Luton, Oregon State University
  • Cole McDonald, University of Hawaii
  • Justin McMillan, Tulane
  • Steven Montez, University of Colorado
  • James Morgan, FIU
  • Riley Neal, Vanderbilt University
  • Kato Nelson, Akron
  • Shea Patterson, University of Michigan
  • Bryce Perkins, University of Virginia
  • Malcolm Perry, Navy
  • Peyton Ramsey, Indiana University
  • Armani Rogers, UNLV
  • Nathan Rourke, Ohio
  • Anthony Russo, Temple University
  • J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech
  • Nate Stanley, University of Iowa
  • Dillon Sterling-Cole, Arizona State University
  • Khalil Tate, University of Arizona
  • Zac Thomas, Appalachian State University
  • Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
  • Brady White, University of Memphis
  • Ryan Willis, Virginia Tech
  • Brandon Wimbush, University of Central Florida

Western Kentucky gives two players the boot after weekend “shots fired” incident

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Western Kentucky has dismissed running back Quinton Baker and offensive lineman Preston Mixon from the program following a pair of weekend incidents involving police responding to “shots-fired” calls. According to the Bowling Green Daily News, police investigating the incidents confirmed at least one WKU football player was connected to each incident.

Whether the incidents are connected or separate was not confirmed. No arrests have been made at this time, but a team spokesperson confirmed the two have been removed from the roster with confirmation it was these two players who were tied to the weekend investigation.

This is the second time in as many years Baker has been removed from the program. In May, WKU head coach Tyson Helton welcomed Baker back after he had been previously dismissed by former Hilltopper coach Mike Sanford. He was later confirmed to be eligible to play immediately this fall for WKU. Baker had played in two games for FCS Portland State in 2018 after his dismissal in 2018. Baker had been dismissed for multiple violations of team rules in 2018. He was arrested for driving under the influence and possession of marijuana in 2016 and indicted in connection to an assault in 2017, to which he pleaded guilty to a pair of misdemeanors.

Baker rushed for 233 yards and one touchdown in seven games in 2017 for WKU, a year after rushing for 542 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games.

Mixon made appearances in two games last season. His loss from the roster will trim down on the competition for a key role on the offensive line for WKU.

Clemson claims top spot in preseason Super 16 poll

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The Clemson Tigers are once again No. 1 in yet another preseason college football poll. Hours after being awarded the top spot in the preseason AP poll, the defending national champions were cemented as the top team in the Super 16 Poll from the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.

Clemson received 33 first-place votes (out of 46 possible first-place votes) to create some separation from the No. 2 team in the poll, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Nick Saban and the Tide picked up 10 first-place votes in the preseason voting from the panel of college football writers and College Football Hall of Fame members. Two other teams picked up first-place recognition; No. 6 LSU received two first-place votes and No. 3 Georgia received one.

Here’s how the preseason Super 16 poll looks;

  1. Clemson (33 first-place votes)
  2. Alabama (10)
  3. Georgia
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Ohio State
  6. LSU (2)
  7. Michigan
  8. Notre Dame
  9. Texas
  10. Florida
  11. Oregon
  12. Texas A&M
  13. Washington
  14. Utah
  15. Penn State
  16. Auburn

The SEC leads the poll with six schools appearing in the poll, and three others (Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi State) received points to appear in the “Others Receiving Votes” category. Clemson is the only ACC team to crack the poll. The only other ACC teams receiving any points in the voting were Syracuse, Miami, and Virginia Tech. The Big Ten landed three in the poll and has some of the top schools receiving votes outside of the top 16 (Michigan State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, plus Iowa and Northwestern). The Pac-12 edged out the Big 12 3-2 for total schools appearing in the Super 16.

No Group of 5 school managed to get into the Super 16, although UCF is the first team out in the Others Receiving Votes. The Knights trailed Auburn by 57 total points though, so there is a decent buffer at the start of the season. The only other Group of Five schools to receive any points in the poll were Cincinnati, Boise State, and Memphis. Army also received some consideration, although they are not a part of the Group of 5.

The Super 16 Poll was created at the conclusion of the 2013 season by the FWAA and the National Football Foundation. Voters in the poll rank their top 16 teams in the FBS. The poll is updated every Sunday during the 2019 season, although the first poll of the regular season will be release don Tuesday, Sept. 3 to include all games played over Labor Day weekend. The final poll will be released on Sunday, Dec. 8.