Associated Press

Tennessee in danger of first winless SEC season after falling to No. 20 LSU

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It was supposed to be a festive night at Neyland Stadium. Peyton Manning was in the house and Butch Jones wasn’t. But a driving rain and one player’s inability to field a punt dampened the night — pun intended — as No. 20 LSU cruised to a 30-10 win over Tennessee on a windy, soggy night in Knoxville.

Tennessee actually played an decent first half, which was largely erased by Marquez Callaway muffing not one but two punts.

Callaway’s first fumble came at his own 15 yard line, which LSU’s Russell Gage hopped on. The Tigers gained only two yards on the ensuing possession, but it was enough to allow Connor Culp to knock through a 30-yard field goal.

Tennessee answered with a 14-play, 53-yard drive that killed over half a quarter. The 7-minute, 39-second march ended at the LSU 27-yard line, allowing Aaron Medley to tie the game with a 45-yard boot with 13:59 left in the second quarter.

LSU’s offense went three-and-out again, but Callaway again fumbled the ensuing punt, which Michael Divinity, Jr. grabbed at the Tennessee 19. LSU’s offense capitalized this time, as Darrel Williams rushed in from 10 yards out to put the Tigers up 10-3 with 11:31 left in the frame. 

Tennessee strung together another double-digit play drive that ended at nearly the exact same spot as the previous one — this one was the 28 — but swirling winds pushed Medley’s 46-yard field goal (far, far) wide left.

But as the weather picked up, both offenses came alive.

LSU closed the half by putting up its first self-made points of the night. The Tigers needed only 28 seconds to move 61 yards as Danny Etling hit Derrick Dillon for a 12-yard completion, Williams rushed for 36 yards and Etling carried for a 13-yard touchdown with 2:08 left in the first half.

The Vols struck back after LSU’s score, moving 75 yards in four plays and 45 seconds. Jarrett Guarantano hit Callaway for consecutive long passes, one for 26 yards and another for 46, which Callaway caught through pass interference and turned into a touchdown with 1:23 left in the first half.

LSU completely dominated the second half, though. After forcing Tennessee back to its own 3 on the opening possession of the second half, LSU accepted the ball at midfield and handed the ball to Derrius Guice seven times in a 9-play drive, including the final carry,  a 3-yard burst to put the Tigers up 23-10 after Culp missed the ensuing extra point.

The clubs traded punts on their next possessions and, facing a 13-point deficit with 17 minutes remaining and nothing to lose, Brady Hoke elected to go for a 4th-and-1 from his own 21. Guarantano was stuffed, and LSU needed only two plays to push the lead to 30-10 with 2:06 left in the third quarter.

Etling finished the game hitting 11-of-15 passes for 81 yards with nine carries for 42 yards and a touchdown. Guice led all runners with 97 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, while Williams added seven carries for 68 yards and two touchdowns.

Guarantano connected on 13-of-23 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown, while John Kelly mustered only 47 yards on 25 carries.

Saturday night’s game was the two sides’ first meeting since 2011, also in Knoxville, which ended in a 38-7 LSU win. The Tigers have won five straight in the series.

The win keeps LSU (8-3, 5-2 SEC) in prime position for a spot in one of the Florida New Year’s Day bowl games, while Tennessee (4-7, 0-7 SEC) needs to beat Vanderbilt next week to avoid the first 8-loss season and the first winless SEC season in school history.

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.