Associated Press

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

1 Comment

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.

Four-star 2015 lineman Richie Petitbon to transfer from Alabama

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Regardless of the number of stars attached to a name or the recruiting pedigree, sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to.

Case in point: Richie Petitbon.  The touted offensive lineman came to Alabama as a four-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2015 recruiting class.  Three years later, al.com is reporting, and 247Sports.com is confirming, that the offensive lineman has decided to transfer from Nick Saban‘s football program.

Petitbon is on schedule to graduate from UA this coming May.  If that projected course holds, Petitbon would be able to use his final season of eligibility at another FBS school in 2019.

Coming out of high school in Washington D.C., Petitbon was rated as the No. 5 guard in the country and the No. 62 player overall on 247Sports.com’s composite board.  Only one offensive lineman, fellow guard Lester Cotton, was rated higher than Petitbon in a Tide recruiting class that was the top-ranked class in that cycle.

Injuries cost Petitbon early as, after redshirting his true freshman season, he suffered a torn ACL that kept him out of all but one game in 2016.  He played in three games the following season and then six this year.  His appearances in 2017 came at guard, the ones in 2018 at offensive tackle.

Marquise Brown’s status for Oklahoma-Alabama? ‘Not a definite no, not a definite yes’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If Oklahoma is to knock off top-ranked and heavily favored Alabama, they’ll need all healthy hands on deck.  Whether that will be the case on the offensive side of the ball remains to be seen.

Marquise Brown went down with an unspecified injury to his lower left leg in the Big 12 championship game win over Texas that pushed OU into the College Football Playoff semifinals. The fourth-quarter injury sidelined Brown for the remainder of the game and saw him leaving the stadium wearing a walking boot.

With a date against the Crimson Tide in the Orange Bowl looming in just over two weeks, the wide receiver’s availability for the Sooners is officially up in the air.

“Still too early,” head coach Lincoln Riley said Wednesday when asked about Brown’s status for the game. “Working through it. It’s not a definite no, not a definite yes. We’re hopeful, but he hasn’t done much to this point.”

Brown currently leads the Sooners in receptions (75) and receiving yards (1,318).  His 10 receiving touchdowns are tied for the team lead.

It’s widely assumed by most that Brown will leave his remaining eligibility on the table and make himself available for the 2019 NFL Draft whenever the Sooners’ season ends.

Despite retiring, K-State giving Bill Snyder his $3 million ‘buyout’

Getty Images
5 Comments

This is, well, interesting.

In August of this year, Bill Snyder and Kansas State reached agreement on a contract extension that would’ve kept the 78-year-old head coach in Manhattan through the 2022 season.  That new deal called for Snyder to be paid $3 million in the form of a buyout should he be fired without cause.

Fast-forward four months and, for the second time, Snyder announced his retirement from the Wildcats earlier in December.  Wednesday night, K-State athletic director Gene Taylor confirmed to the Wichita Eagle‘s Kellis Robinett that the university will pay Snyder the entire $3 million even as the coach was not contractually obligated to receive it as he retired and wasn’t fired.

The $3 million, to which Snyder agreed to accept, will be paid out over the course of the next three years.

“The buyout is just something I wanted to do,” Taylor told Robinett. “I think he deserved it for everything he has done. …

“[H]e deserves every penny for what he has done for this program. I am happy to do it.”

Taylor is certainly correct when it comes to all that Snyder has done for the football program.

Of K-State’s 21 bowl appearances in its 123-year history, 19 have come with Snyder as head coach. In the 27 seasons in which Snyder served as head coach, the Wildcats won 215 games; in the other 96 seasons, the Wildcats have won 316. Or, put another way:

  • Winning percentage with Snyder: .647
  • Winning percentage without Snyder: .379

In addition to the $3 million buyout that Taylor said “really isn’t a buyout,” Snyder will also be paid, as detailed in the August contract extension, $225,000 annually as a special ambassador to the university.

“We don’t know yet exactly what his ambassador role to the university will be,” Taylor said. “It is probably going to be a little bit in athletics and a lot in his leadership studies and then anything else from a donor perspective.”

One Buckeye declares, but two more remain undecided

Getty Images
1 Comment

Ohio State held a pre-Rose Bowl press availability on Wednesday, which turned into a will-you-or-won’t-you referendum on the draft-eligible Buckeyes.

First off, defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones announced he will enter the 2019 draft, but will play in the Rose Bowl. (As is a standard postscript for all early entrants these days.) A redshirt junior, Jones was pretty much a mainstay on Ohio State’s vaunted defensive line from the moment he hit the field. He started 12 games as a redshirt freshman, becoming just the third Buckeye to start at least 10 games along the defensive line as a freshman.

This season, Jones led the defensive line with 40 tackles, ranked second on the team with 13 TFLs, tied Chase Young for the team lead with 8.5 sacks, and broke the TCU game open with a 28-yard pick six.

On the offense, two major figures are still deciding whether or not they want to enter the draft as quarterback Dwayne Haskins and running back Mike Weber have yet to declare one way or the other.

The bronze medalist in the Heisman Trophy race, Haskins broke the Big Ten record for total yards and touchdowns in a single season, throwing for 4,580 yards and 47 touchdowns while rushing for 122 yards and four more touchdowns. With one game still to play, Haskins has a chance to become the first Big Ten quarterback to ever throw 50 touchdown passes in a single season.

He is expected to enter the 2019 NFL Draft, and like Jones could be a possible first-round pick.

Weber’s season has been, to boil it down to one word, odd. He began the year with a 22-carry, 186-yard, 3-touchdown game against Oregon State, then did not carry the ball 20 times again until Michigan State, where he rushed 22 times for 104 yards and a touchdown. Weber then missed the next week’s game against Maryland due to a quad bruise, while JK Dobbins racked up 37 carries in the 52-51 win.

Weber returned in the wins over Michigan and Northwestern with a combined 30 carries, and finished the regular season second on the team with 157 carries for 858 yards and five touchdowns.