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Khalil Tate saving Rich Rodriguez and putting Arizona in Pac-12 contention

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Those who have sacrificed their sleep on the weekends to watch a talented running back duo of Stanford’s Bryce Love and San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny this season are already conditioned for this, but Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate has become one more reason to stay up late on Saturdays. Tate is close to carrying Arizona by himself as the main attraction in a much-needed turnaround season for Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats.

After diminishing win totals each of the past two seasons, it was fair to suggest this was a critical season for Rodriguez in Tucson. And after a 2-2 start to the season that included some offensive struggles against Houston and Utah at home, Tate’s sudden rise could not have come at a better time. Since taking over at quarterback in early October against Colorado, Tate has been off and running, literally. Tate is essentially Rodriguez’s 2017 edition of Pat White.

Tate is Arizona’s leading rusher with 926 yards and eight touchdowns following his 146 rushing yards and a touchdown Saturday night against No. 15 Washington State in a 58-37 victory. Tate also had 275 passing yards and two scores through the air to lead Arizona to a blowout win with a strong second half.

Tate is playing his way into the Heisman Trophy mix against incredible odds, and it is easy to see why. He legitimately has a chance to break a big play every time he touches the football. And as the quarterback, he has his hands on the football every play Arizona runs. Tate is second in the Pac-12 in plays of 30+ yards with 12, trailing only Stanford’s Love. He is one of five players in the conference with a play of 80+ yards and he is the only Pac-12 player with 4 plays of 70 yards or longer (Washington’s Dante Pettis is second in the Pac-12 with two).

As we have noted before, Tate was not the starting quarterback for Arizona at the start of the season, making Tate’s sudden rise in the Pac-12 even more entertaining to those tuning in. This week Tate will be one of the reasons to stay up late once again as Arizona prepares for a road game at USC. With the Trojans also winning last night on the road against Arizona State, first-place is on the line for the Wildcats and Trojans, the last two teams in the Pac-12 South with just one loss in conference play.

If Tate can make similar plays happen against USC and Arizona can leave Los Angeles with a win and a head-to-head tiebreaker, Arizona will have an incredibly manageable path to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Taking down the Trojans will be no easy task, but neither will USC’s mission of stopping Tate.

USC hosts Arizona at 10:45 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4. Put a pot of coffee on. It will be worth it.

Kansas looking for first Big 12 road win since Oct. 4, 2008

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It’s been a season of “first times since…” standards thus far this year for the Kansas football program, and the Jayhawks have the opportunity to add yet another one in Week 4.

Saturday afternoon, Kansas will travel to Waco for a Week 4 matchup against Baylor in the Big 12 opener for both schools.  Should the Jayhawks head back to Lawrence with a win stuffed into its back pocket, they would do something they haven’t done in nearly 10 full years.

On Oct. 4, 2008, Kansas beat Iowa State 35-33 in Ames.  That marked the Jayhawks’ last road win in Big 12 play as they have lost 40 straight conference games away from home since.

All told, Kansas has lost 29 of its last 30 Big 12 games, with the last win coming vs. Texas in 2016.

Already in 2018, Kansas snapped a 46-game road losing streak, which was the second-longest such streak in the history of college football at any level.  Additionally, they have won back-to-back games over FBS teams for the first time since 2009.

A win over Baylor would also give Kansas back-to-back wins over Power Five teams for the first time since 2008.

Nick Saban plans to continue using both Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts

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So much for that idea, it appears.

Two weeks ago, a report surfaced that there is an agreement in place between Jalen Hurts and the Alabama football program that would allow the quarterback to take a redshirt for the 2018 season, provided starter Tua Tagovailoa doesn’t go down with an injury.

Hurts appeared in Alabama’s season-opening romp over Louisville at the beginning of the month, and then in the next two as well.  Thanks to a new NCAA rule implemented this year, players can appear in up to four games in a season and still retain the ability to take a redshirt; it appeared that the rumored agreement between the player and the football program would’ve been that Hurts would not play in more than four games this season — again, unless Tagovailoa is injured.

With the fourth game of the season fast approaching, it doesn’t seem as if redshirting Hurts is in Nick Saban‘s plans.  At all.

From ESPN.com‘s Chris Low‘s interview with the Crimson Tide head football coach:

It’s the same as it’s always been, to use them both,” Saban told ESPN on Thursday. “It evolves a little bit as you go. Our team has evolved. I can’t tell you exactly how it all will play out. It’s going to be whoever helps our team play the best, and they’ve both played a role in doing that. …

We needed both quarterbacks last year, and we’ll need them both again this year.

Hurts, who was 26-2 as the Tide’s starting quarterback entering 2018, is on schedule to graduate from UA in December.  It’s widely expected that, at some point afterward graduation, he will transfer from the Tide as the true sophomore Tagovailoa is firmly entrenched as the starter.

Provided he doesn’t actually end u redshirting this year, Hurts would then have one more season of eligibility he can use at another FBS school.

Fourth & fifth Auburn players leave Tigers since 2018 season started

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In what’s quickly becoming a trend, Auburn has lost yet another couple of players to in-season moves.

Citing an unnamed source, Rivals.com was the first to report that Nate Craig-Myers is leaving the Tigers and will transfer out of Gus Malzahn’s football program. No specific reason for the abrupt departure of the wide receiver was given.

Despite starting all three games for the Tigers this season, Craig-Meyers had just two receptions for 39 yards. He’ll apparently finish the AU portion of his playing career with 394 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns on his 22 catches.

Craig-Meyers was a four-star member of the Tigers’ 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 receiver in the country; the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 45 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. He was the highest-rated signee on the offensive side of the ball for the Tigers that recruiting cycle.

Additionally, 247Sports.com reported that Craig-Meyers’ half-brother, Jayvaughn Myers, did not attend Thursday’s practice and is leaving the team as well. The defensive back was a 2016 signee who played sparingly during his two-plus seasons on The Plains.

Head coach Gus Malzahn subsequently confirmed both of the departures.

Including Craig-Meyers and Meyers, a total of five Tigers have left the program since the start of the 2018 season. Just this week, tight end Jalen Harris took to Twitter to announce his decision to transfer. Additionally, cornerback John Broussard Jr. and punter Aidan Marshall parted ways with the team earlier this month as well.

Most, if not all of those players are taking advantage of a new NCAA rule implemented this offseason that allows them to play in up to four games in a season and still be able to take a redshirt and preserve a year of eligibility.

Miami to be without its leading tackler for FIU game

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As it closes out the non-conference portion of its 2018 schedule, Miami will (again, in one case) be at less than 100 percent at a couple of key positions.

Mark Richt confirmed Thursday that Jaquan Johnson will be sidelined for The U’s Week 4 matchup with Florida International. The safety suffered a hamstring injury in the Week 3 road win over Toledo and did not practice at all this week.

Johnson has started 17 straight games for the Hurricanes — three this season, all 13 in 2017 and the 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl win over West Virginia. In 2018, the fourth-year senior leads the ‘Canes in tackles with 22. He also has one of UM’s two blocked kicks on the season.

In addition to Johnson, wide receiver Ahmmon Richards will miss his third straight game because of a knee injury suffered in the season-opening loss to LSU. Like his teammate, Richards did not practice at all this week.

The knee issue continues a string of injuries that Richards has had to battle through the past two seasons.

Richards missed the first two games in 2017 because of a hamstring issue, then suffered a season-ending meniscus injury in late November. At the time of that latter injury, Richards was third on the Hurricanes in receptions (24) receiving yards (439) and receiving touchdowns (three). The year before as a true freshman, he led the team with 934 receiving yards.

Prior to being injured in the opener this season, Richards had one catch for nine yards.

Miami will open ACC play next Thursday against North Carolina, with that short week likely playing at least a small role in erring on the side of caution with the players, Johnson in particular.