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No. 4 Clemson clinches third straight ACC Atlantic crown with win over Florida State

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It was much more difficult than it should have been, but it was a win. No. 4 Clemson topped Florida State 31-14 to claim the ACC Atlantic Division championship and take a step forward toward defending its national championship.

Clemson claimed a 17-0 halftime lead that could have been 28-0 without a pair of Kelly Bryant fumbles, and then found itself fending off an upset bid in the tail end of the fourth quarter.

With the score still 17-0 late in the third quarter, Florida State got on the board with a 7-play, 90-yard touchdown drive punctuated by a 3-yard Jacques Patrick run. After three straight punts, Florida State scored again, this time on a perfectly executed reverse-flea flicker from Blackman to tight end Ryan Izzo who bobbed and weaved his way for a 60-yard score, pulling the Seminoles within 17-14 with 8:53 to play in the game.

And then Bryant (151 passing yards, 60 rushing yards) fumbled — his third of the game — on Clemson’s next touch, giving Florida State the ball at the Clemson 40 with 6:36 to play.

However, Blackman immediately gave the ball right back. Florida State’s next snap was an interception to Clemson’s Van Smith on a throw where Smith was the only player in the picture. He returned the ball 38 yards to the FSU 44, and a rejuvenated Clemson offense sprung to life with a 6-play touchdown drive that killed half the remaining clock and Florida State’s chances of completing the comeback. Adam Choice added a punctuation mark score with 35 seconds remaining.

Both of Clemson’s first two touchdowns came with help from Florida State (3-6, 3-5 ACC). The first was set up by a fumble by Blackman (12-of-31 passing for 202 yards with one touchdown and one interception, five sacks), which Clemson’s Tre Lamar recovered at the FSU 20-yard line. Bryant rushed in from two yards out to put the Tigers up at the 2:51 mark of the first quarter.

Clemson (9-1, 7-1 ACC) threatened to add a second score midway through the second quarter, but Travis Feaster fumbled the ball at the FSU 1, and Demarcus Christmas hopped on the ball for Florida State. However, Clemson forced a punt from inside the Florida State end zone, and Ray Ray McCloud returned the boot 35 yards to the FSU 28. Travis Etienne raced in for Clemson’s second score on play later.

Bryant nearly gave away another red zone fumble on Clemson’s final drive of the half, with three Florida State defenders touching a loose football inside the FSU 10. But Bryant out-hustled all three of them to get the ball back, allowing Alex Spence to bang in a 26-yard field goal with 1:39 left before halftime.

The win pushes Clemson into the ACC Championship for the third consecutive year — matching 2012-14 Florida State for the longest appearance streak in the 13-year history of the game — and the fifth time overall, which ties Florida State for the second most in the ACC. (Virginia Tech leads the league with six division titles.) All five trips have come under Dabo Swinney. The Tigers have won their last three ACC title game appearances.

Not coincidentally, the win also gives Clemson three straight victories over Florida State. That matches the Tigers’ longest winning streak over the ‘Noles, though the two ACC Atlantic titans did not play regularly until Florida State joined the ACC in 1992. (Florida State leads the all-time series, 20-11.) The victory also pushes Swinney above .500 (5-4) against Florida State since obtaining the full-time head coaching job in 2009.

Of course, Clemson’s program has progressed well beyond simply Florida State and winning their division. The Tigers are in the midst of defending their College Football Playoff championship, and now three more wins separate them from a third straight CFP berth.

Florida State, meanwhile, now must reel off wins over Delaware State, Florida and Louisiana-Monroe to keep its FBS-leading 35-year bowl streak alive.

Feleipe Franks transfers from Florida to Arkansas

Former Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks will transfer to Arkansas and be eligible to play in the fall.
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Former Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks has made his transfer decision. He will be an Arkansas Razorback.

Franks is a grad transfer, which will make him eligible for Arkansas this fall. Even better for Arkansas is Franks will be enrolled in classes and be available to work out with his new team this spring. That means Franks will get a chance to go through a full spring practice schedule for his new program under brand new head coach Sam Pittman. Arkansas will also get its first spring practice in with new offensive coordinator Kendall Briles. It should go without much saying the Arkansas offense will have a new look in 2020.

A starting job may not yet be guaranteed for Franks at Arkansas, but he will be the most experienced option available. If Franks gels well with his new team this spring, that starting job may quickly become his to lose, if it is not considered that already. Franks is coming back from a season-ending ankle injury.

Arkansas will certainly be getting an experienced passer. Ranks passed for 4,593 yards and 38 touchdowns during his time at Florida, which included some time as the starter for the Gators. Franks also made a visit to Kansas while evaluating his options since deciding he would move on from Gainesville.

Bo Pelini heading back to LSU? It could be in play, per report

Could Bo Pelini be heading back to LSU?
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LSU needs a defensive coordinator, and Bo Pelini could potentially be the answer. According to a report from Football Scoop, the one-time LSU defensive coordinator could be a leading candidate for the job in Baton Rouge.

Given his defensive track record, Pelini and LSU could be a solid match, and it has certainly worked out well before. Pelini was LSU’s defensive coordinator from 2005 through 20078 before he was given the opportunity to be a head coach at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers were coached by Pelini from 2008 through 2014 with a handful of appearances in the Big 12 and Big Ten championship game, although with no conference title to show for it.

Pelini was let go as head coach at Nebraska after the 2014 season. He has been the head coach at Youngstown State since 2015. After a few disappointing seasons, a chance to jump back to the FBS, and to do so with the defending national champions, could be a good move for Pelini. If LSU and Pelini see eye-to-eye, then this could be as good a replacement at defensive coordinator as LSU could have asked for.

LSU has a vacancy at defensive coordinator after Dave Arranda accepted an opportunity to be the new head coach at Baylor following LSU’s national championship run.

Rutgers adds another Big Ten transfer with former Wolverine Michael Dwumfour

Michigan Wolverines football
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New Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano has been tapping the transfer portal to help build the roster in his first year back with the Scarlet Knights. On Monday, Rutgers added another Big Ten transfer to the program with the addition of defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour. Dwumfour transfers to Rutgers from Michigan.

Schiano confirmed the latest addition to the program on his Twitter account.

Dwumfour will be a graduate transfer, so he will be eligible right away for Rutgers this upcoming season. Dwumfour played 33 games for the Wolverines, including 10 game sin 2019 with four starts. He will provide an instant upgrade to the Rutgers defensive line depth and should be thrown right into the mix for a starting job this fall.

Notably, Dwumfour is a New Jersey native. Schiano’s hiring at Rutgers has certainly had a bit of an initial impact in luring some of the state’s and regional recruits on the transfer market. Earlier this month, Rutgers welcomed Brooklyn, New York product and former Wisconsin wide receiver Aron Cruickshank (HERE).

Miami gets its QB with ex-Houston dual-threat D’Eriq King as grad transfer

Former Houston quarterback D'Eriq King is heading to Miami.
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A day later, D’Eriq King is officially committed to the Miami Hurricanes. King brought his transfer process to a close on Monday afternoon with an announcement he is indeed committed to Miami. King shared the news with his followers on Twitter.

On Sunday, it was initially reported by Manny Navarro of The Athletic that King was scheduled to enroll and begin classes at Miami this week. Classes at Miami begin Tuesday. However, a quote of King relayed by a Houston-based media report shortly afterward quoted King as saying he had made no final decision and was still weighing some possible options. Other options were said to include Arkansas, LSU, and Maryland.

Miami was reported early on as a possible landing spot for King, along with Arkansas. Ole Miss had also been mentioned as an option early on. King initially started his transfer process by opting to redshirt the remainder of the 2019 season after a rough start to the year for the Cougars. He said at the time he had every intent on returning to the program in 2020, but his sudden announcement during the national championship game last week made it evident he was moving on. And now, of course, he has.

King appeared in just four games for Houston last season. In those four games, King passed for 663 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions. The dual-threat quarterback also rushed for 313 yards and six touchdowns before redshirting the remainder of the 2019 season. In 11 game sin 2018, King passed for 2,982 yards and 36 touchdowns and rushed for 674 yards and 14 touchdowns. King is certainly a quality talent that will add to the Miami offense and inject some new life into the program. With the right help around him, King could help make Miami an ACC Coastal contender in 2020.

King will be eligible for Miami in 2020 as a graduate transfer.