The winner of the Iron Bowl has played in the national title game every year save one since 2009 and that looks like it will be the case once again given the high level of play in the first half between the two in-state rivals on the Plains this Saturday afternoon.
While the score was a bit lower than some expected coming into the game, No. 6 Auburn managed to score some points late in order to hold a slim 10-7 lead at the break and what is shaping up to be yet another classic in a series that has produced plenty of memorable moments.
Auburn’s first scoring drive began with the team backed up against their own goal line inside the 10 but several big plays (and big completions) allowed them to quickly move down to the other end of the field before running back Kerryon Johnson executed a perfect jump pass to a wide open Nate Craig-Myers just in front of the goal post. It’s not often you see Alabama’s defense give up 12 play, 94 yard drives but that was quite the scene-setter for the home side — which was fired up in the middle of the effort thanks to appearances from alums Charles Barkley and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Both sides exchanged quarterback fumbles over the next few drives before Alabama evened the scored following a key fourth down conversion just past midfield. That’s when signal-caller Jalen Hurts (4-of-8, 51 yards passing, 38 yards rushing) tossed a 36 yard bomb to Jerry Jeudy in the back of the end zone, with the young freshman creating just enough separation to haul in the touchdown and swing momentum back to the Tide’s side. In addition to the stingy defense played by Nick Saban’s team, punter J.K. Scott proved to be quite the weapon with three punts that averaged 49 yards a piece to help Alabama win the field position battle in a big way.
The visitors from Tuscaloosa do get the ball to start the second half and, while it won’t be brought up in the locker room by either coaching staff, the stakes over the final frame are absolutely massive for both sides. The winner will capture the SEC West title, a trip to Atlanta for the conference championship game and a potential berth in the College Football Playoff so it goes without saying that the pressure is about to be turned up several notches in the next few hours.
How about a little Power Five-Group of Five scheduling news to start off your Wednesday morning?
This week, Toledo announced that it has reached an agreement on a future three-game series with Kentucky, which is essentially a home-and-home plus a one-off. The two schools will play in Lexington during the 2025 and 2028 seasons, with the Wildcats traveling to the Glass Bowl in 2027.
Specific dates for those matchups, which will be the first-ever between the school, weren’t divulged.
“We are very pleased to enter in this three-game series with the University of Kentucky,” said UT athletic director Mike O’Brien in a statement. “Bringing an SEC opponent into the Glass Bowl is huge for our football program and for our fans. We look forward to an exciting series with the Wildcats, beginning with the game in Lexington this fall.”
That 2027 game will mark just the second time an SEC school has ever traveled to Toledo for a football game, with the first being Missouri in 2014. All told, the Rockets have played four games against members of that conference and have gone 1-3 in those contests, with the lone win coming against Arkansas in 2015.
For the third time this offseason, Memphis has seen a member of its football program sucked into the infamous portal.
Citing a source familiar with the decision, the Memphis Commercial Appeal is reporting that Nyle Love has entered his name into the transfer database. No specific reason was given for the departure, although positioning on the depth chart would be a likely place to start.
Other FBS schools will be able to contact Love without receiving U-M’s permission, with the linebacker also retaining the ability to return to the Tigers if he so desires. As we have noted multiple times in the past, the school now also has the option to strip Love of his scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered the portal.
If Love moves on to another FBS school, it’s very likely he’ll have to sit out the 2019 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.
Love didn’t play a down for Tigers after coming to the AAC school as a three-star 2018 signee.
The drama in the Land of Troy, such as it was, is officially over.
For most, there was a three-man battle for USC’s starting quarterback job throughout this offseason — incumbent JT Daniels, Matt Fink and Jack Sears. Tuesday, the Trojans ended the competition charade by confirming that Daniels will indeed be the team’s starter when they open the 2019 season later this month.
Most intriguing, though, is the fact that true freshman Kedon Slovis, who has been mostly an afterthought in the competition, has been chosen as the true sophomore Daniels’ backup over Fink, a redshirt junior, and Sears, a redshirt sophomore.
Daniels started 11 games as a true freshman for the Trojans this past season, with Sears starting the other. Fink seriously contemplated a transfer this offseason before opting to remain at USC. Slovis, meanwhile, was a three-star 2019 signee who was rated as the No. 26 pro-style quarterback in the country.
In his first season as a starter, Daniels completed almost 60 percent of his 363 passes for 2,672 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Michigan transfer Brandon Peters has won the quarterback derby at Illinois, Lovie Smith announced Tuesday.
“We loved Brandon when we got a chance to know him during the recruiting process,” Smith said. “Now that we’ve seen him on the field, he has been everything we though he would be. He has really thrown the ball well and is a better runner than he’s given credit for. Most importantly, he has moved into a leadership role for us. We’re pumped up about Brandon leading us heading into the season.”
A former 4-star recruit, the Avon, Ind., native is a graduate transfer who still has two years of eligibility remaining.
At Michigan he appeared in 10 games with four starts, completing 53 percent of his 110 throws for 680 yards and four touchdowns.
Illinois opens its season Aug. 31 at home versus Akron.