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No. 14 Auburn overpowers Texas A&M to remain a viable threat in SEC title (and playoff) picture

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The odds are pretty good that No. 14 Auburn (7-2, 4-1 SEC) is not going to find a way into the College Football Playoff, but after a dominating performance on the road against Texas A&M (5-4, 3-3 SEC), one should not sleep on the Tigers potentially giving Georgia and Alabama a fight in the regular season later this month. Kerryon Johnson stepped up in the running game and Jarrett Stidham passed for three touchdowns in a 42-27 victory over the Aggies in Kyle Field on Saturday afternoon.

Texas A&M pulled a quarterback switch along the way. With Kellen Mond struggling (5/11, 16 yards), Nick Starkel got a chance to relieve him and try to rejuvenate the offense, and he did to a degree. Starkel completed 11 of 22 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns. But it was too little too late as the Aggies were already down too much and unable to slow down Auburn on offense.

After a sluggish start, Auburn came alive in the second quarter with three touchdowns to take a 21-13 lead into the halftime break. The Tigers continued to push forward with an overpowering offense with two more touchdowns in the third quarter to create some separation with the Aggies. The win by Auburn keeps a bizarre trend alive in this series. Since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012, the road team has won six straight games in this series.

November has not been kind to Texas A&M in recent years, and it would appear things are once again in danger of trending in the wrong direction in November with this loss. And because of that, the discussion about the job security for Kevin Sumlin will once again come into question. The Aggies have now lost back-to-back games by double-digit margins to Mississippi State and Auburn. And the way things are going in Gainesville, you will not win many points for a 19-17 victory over Florida. It was not so long ago that Texas A&M was 4-1, marred by an ugly collapse on the road against UCLA in the season opener. Sumlin needs a strong finish with the Aggies to put some of the hot seat talk to rest.

Next up for Auburn is a big one. The Tigers will host No. 1 Georgia next Saturday, November 11. For Auburn to play in the SEC Championship Game, beating Alabama will be essential as the Tigers trail their in-state rivals by one game in the loss column already with two games to play. But before any scenarios with Alabama can be explored, Auburn must find a way to take down the Bulldogs next week. It is certainly no easy task for any team needing wins against Georgia and Alabama this season, but the Tigers playing at home in each makes for an interesting final three weeks in the SEC.

Texas A&M will play their final home game of the season next week against UNLV. After that, the schedule wraps up with back-to-back SEC road games against Ole Miss and LSU. The way things have been going, next week’s game against the Rebels may be a must-win game for Texas A&M to get to the postseason.

Akron transfer offensive lineman Brandon Council commits to Auburn over Baylor, Missouri

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The future home for a former Akron football player has officially come into focus.

In mid-February, Brandon Council took the first step in leaving the Akron football team by placing his name into the NCAA transfer database. A month later, prior to the NCAA banning in-person recruiting because of the coronavirus pandemic, the offensive lineman took an official visit to Baylor. He had been scheduled to do the same with Auburn. Those plans, though, were placed on indefinite hold.

Over the weekend, Council announced that he had whittled his transfer to-do list down to three. Not surprisingly, Baylor and Auburn made the cut. Additionally, Missouri is part of the transfer trio.

LSU and USC were also reportedly in play at one point as well.

Thursday night, Council officially whittled his transfer to-do list down to one.  Auburn.

Council will be eligible to play immediately in 2020 as a graduate transfer. It’s believed that this coming season would be Council’s final season of eligibility, although the player could get a sixth season from the NCAA.

Coming out of high school in North Carolina, Council was a two-star member of Akron’s 2016 recruiting class.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Council started nine games at left guard in 2017. The 6-4, 325-pound lineman then started the first three games of the 2018 season at right tackle before going down with an injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the year. That injury plus the redshirt for his first season could potentially trigger a sixth season.

Coming off that injury, Council started all 12 games in 2019. Council played every position along the offensive line this past season.

Jim Harbaugh extends scholarship offer to second-grade cancer survivor

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Courtesy of the current Michigan football head coach, how about a little pick-me-up story amidst all of the coronavirus pandemic news?

Thomas Fidone is a four-star 2021 prospect out of Iowa. On the 247Sports.com composite, he’s rated as the No. 2 tight end in the country for next year’s class. Suffice to say, the 6-5, 220-pound prospect is a hot commodity on the recruiting trail.

Fidone holds offers from, among others, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame and Nebraska. And, yes, Michigan. Which is where the pick-me-up comes into play.

Because of the NCAA’s ban on in-person recruiting, Fidone this week was on a video chat with Jim Harbaugh and U-M tight ends coach Sherrone Moore. During the chat, Fidone’s second-grade cousin, Sebastiano Fidone, joined in.

According to a Facebook posting from Sebastiano’s mother, her son was asked by the coaches to flex. Sebastiano complied. And, at that point, Harbaugh offered the young man, who battled leukemia for four years until finishing up chemotherapy in February of last year, a Michigan football scholarship.

Sebastiano received his first college offer today. 😆

We were able to join cousin Thomas Fidone on a video chat with Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and tight end coach Sherrone Moore. During the video chat, they asked Yanno to flex. He did, and Coach Harbaugh immediately offered him a scholarship. Now that he offered, he can’t send him a Michigan football t-shirt because of NCAA gifting rules 😆. He told Yanno a scholarship is better than a t-shirt in the long run anyway. He said his previous record for youngest scholarship offer was a 7th grader, so Yanno being in 2nd grade smashes that.

Yanno and Thomas got to do a little virtual workout together and it was an awesome perk of Thomas being heavily recruited, we are so thankful for Thomas and the coaches for setting it up today.

For those curious, the younger Fideone would be a member of the Class of 2030.

And, great work, Coach Harbaugh. And good luck, young man, as you continue what is hopefully a long, prosperous and fruitful life.

Second ex-Miami player in a month transfers to Colorado State

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Quietly, Colorado State football is becoming a quasi, Rocky Mountain version of The U.

Last month, defensive lineman Scott Patchan announced that he would be transferring to Colorado State after leaving the Miami football program. Exactly one month later, one of Patchan’s former teammates, Brian Polendey, announced that he too is headed to CSU.

“Excited for this next chapter,” the tight end wrote.

As Polenday would be coming into the Colorado State football program as a graduate transfer, he would be eligible to play for the Rams in 2020. Not only that, but he has another season of eligibility he can use in 2021 as well.

Coming out of high school in Texas, Polenday was a three-star 2017 signee. He was rated as the No. 21 tight end in the country.

The past three seasons, Polenday played in a combined 14 games. He saw action in six as a true freshman, then had his sophomore season end after two games because of injury. His six appearances in 2019 were highlighted in his first career start, the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl loss to Louisiana Tech.  A shutout loss, if you needed a reminder.

The 6-6, 240-pound Polenday was mainly used as a blocking specialist during his time in Miami. He finished his time with the Hurricanes with one catch for 14 yards. That lone reception came during his truncated 2018 campaign.

Colorado State will be under new leadership this fall as Steve Addazio was hired as the program’s new head football coach. Addazio replaces Mike Bobo, who was fired earlier that month.

Report: ‘Strong conviction’ among people in the sport there will be college football this season

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It appears a pair of highly-criticized college football coaches have some company. Anonymous company, but company nonetheless.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy was roundly criticized when he argued that college coaches should get back to the business of football May 1, with players following shortly thereafter. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney took numerous shots when he very boldly claimed there’s no doubt the college football season would start on time.

OSU was forced to publicly address the kerfuffle kicked up by Gundy. An unapologetic Swinney, meanwhile, defended his faith-based opinion.

Thursday, however, an ESPN NFL insider offered additional optimism. In a tweet, Adam Schefter wrote that “there is a ‘strong conviction’ there will be college football this season.”

Below is the full text of Schefter’s tweet:

Speaking to people in and around college football this week, there is “strong conviction” there will be college football this season. Uncertainty about when – multiple scenarios being debated – but they sound certain there still will be college football this season.

As is the case will of these types of opinions, though, there’s no timeline attached to it.  Nor should there be, at least at this point.

At this point, it’s decidedly uncertain when the 2020 college football season will start. Or if it will even start, despite Schefter’s positive missive. There’s chatter that it could start in October, although one Bay Area health official doesn’t expect sports to return until at least Thanksgiving. January has been floated as a possibility as well. So has the spring of next year.

Playing games with no fans has also been tossed around. More than one prominent athletic director, though, has tossed cold water on such a plan. Fan-less games would very likely be an absolute, utter Hail Mary of a last resort to salvage some semblance of a season.

We’ve said myriad times before and we’ll continue to say it: The only certainty in all of this is that everyone involved in the sport will go to extreme lengths to ensure that a season is played in some form or fashion. Head coaches, though, will be far down on the list of people who will determine when a season starts. Or even if it does.