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No. 6 Georgia secures sweet revenge over No. 2 Auburn in SEC championship game to punch playoff ticket

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Ticket punched, revenge complete.

No. 6 Georgia more than made up for their lone loss on the season by upsetting Deep South rival and second-ranked Auburn on Saturday evening 28-7 in an old school SEC Championship Game to secure the conference title and book their trip to the College Football Playoff at the same time.

The relatively low-scoring affair was quite the contrast to the Tigers’ victory three weeks ago on the Plains when they throttled the Bulldogs 40-17. Though quarterback Jarrett Stidham led the Auburn offense down the field to a quick strike touchdown on the opening drive of the game, that easy ball movement didn’t seem to return for either side as both defenses showed why they are two of the best in the country across the board. That early bit of momentum for Gus Malzahn’s team looked like it was going to lead to another repeat of the first meeting but that proved not to be the case when the Bulldogs seized control of the game and never let go the rest of the way.

A Stidham fumble early in the second quarter might have been one of the biggest game-changers of the day in Atlanta as it led to points on the other end. Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm found tight end Isaac Nauta wide open in the middle of the end zone off a fake toss play and was symbolic of the kind of bounce-back the freshman signal-caller (183 yards passing, two touchdowns) and the rest of the team would have.

Nothing summed that reversal of fortune up more than a pair of key defensive plays down the stretch in the second half. DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle blocked a short field goal right into the waiting arms of Dominick Sanders, while a fumble recovery at the start of the fourth quarter led to a perfect back-shoulder throw by Fromm to Terry Godwin (who also caught a two-point conversion) from seven yards out extended the lead further.

That kind of lead meant it was time for the UGA ground game to get going to salt away the victory. With Sony Michel was banged up with a left knee injury he suffered in the third quarter, Nick Chubb grabbed most of the carries and finished with 77 yards rushing against that tough front seven of coordinator Kevin Steele. Yet it was youngster D'Andre Swift (88 yards) that truly opened things up in the upset by jetting 64 yards for a touchdown.

Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson did start despite banging his shoulder up against Alabama last week, rushing for a team-high 44 yards but coughed up that costly fumble in the second half. Stidham was far from the kind of quarterback he showed in recent upsets of the No. 1 team in the rankings the past month and threw for only 145 yards on just 16 completions. In the end, the team simply appeared to run out of gas after a hot start and never could make a play to get themselves right back into things.

Now comes the intrigue with the College Football Playoff thanks to that kind of performance. Georgia will assuredly find themselves in the top four come Sunday afternoon and are likely ticketed to the Rose Bowl semifinal as either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed. Current No. 3 Oklahoma punched their ticket earlier in the day with a victory over No. 11 TCU and the winner of the ACC title game is a lock as well.

With No. 10 USC likely set for a Fiesta Bowl trip, that leaves the Big Ten championship game winner facing off for a spot against No. 5 and one-loss Alabama. The Crimson Tide probably would have preferred an Auburn blowout win in Atlanta but that wasn’t the case as the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry went the way of the Bulldogs in the biggest way possible.

Ex-Duke WR Aaron Young lands at Florida Atlantic

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When Duke wide receiver Aaron Young first entered the transfer portal, nearly a year ago to the day, he wanted to head back west.“I’m looking for a graduate program that I can get into since I can’t get into one here, and also a chance to play closer to home,” the California native told 247Sports at the time.

Young later pulled his name from the portal and played the 2019 season for the Blue Devils. His 29 receptions for 367 yards and three touchdowns ranked him second among all Duke wide receivers.

Still unable to get into graduate school at Duke, Young re-entered the portal two days after Christmas, and now he’s found his next destination — which is very much not closer to his Murrieta, Calif., home.

Young later replied to the tweet, comically correcting FAU Owl’s Nest to let them know he’s actually 6’4″ and 210 pounds.

Immediately eligible to play his sixth season, Young will join a defending Conference USA champion team that nonetheless loses four of its top five pass catchers. In 37 career games, Young owns 63 grabs for 849 yards and seven touchdowns.

LSU now losing multiple support staffers to bigger jobs

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To the victor comes the spoils, they say. And the spoils are all leaving town.

LSU was already set to lose a lot on the field, with eight early entrants plus seniors like Joe BurrowKristian Fulton and both guards on their Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line. And though losing passing game coordinator Joe Brady to the Panthers and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to Baylor — damn you, Matt Rhule — wasn’t unexpected, it was still a blow.

But LSU is now losing third-level assistants, the type of guys only the most purple and gold of LSU fans knew but the guys who made the machine hum the way it did.

Jorge Munoz, an analyst and former Louisiana-Lafayette offensive coordinator widely speculated to slide into Brady’s role, left to join Aranda at Baylor. Offensive graduate assistant John Decoster took a job as the tight ends coach at Old Dominion. Defensive analyst Dennis Johnson, who would’ve coached LSU’s defensive line had he not injured both knees playing basketball in the offseason, also followed Aranda to Baylor.

And now longtime defensive analyst Ronnie Wheat is leaving to become the safeties coach at Nevada, according to multiple reports Tuesday.

Wheat had more than earned his promotion, spending the past seven seasons on LSU’s support staff while working under coordinators John ChavisKevin Steele and Aranda. According to Geaux247, who broke the story, Wheat was instrumental in developing linebackers such as Devin White and Kendell Beckwith, and helped reel in a pair of 4-star linebackers in LSU’s 2020 recruiting class.

To be clear, change is the nature of college football. The roster turns over completely every five years, and losing assistants to bigger and better jobs is the price of victory. On a personal level, you want to lose your guys to bigger jobs, because it makes the jobs you have all the more attractive. Alabama’s staff has almost completely turned over from its 2017 national championship, to say nothing of the now-ancient 2009 title, and yet Nick Saban keeps the Crimson Tide humming.

Now it’s Ed Orgeron‘s turn.

Stanford transfer QB KJ Costello to visit Washington

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KJ Costello may have left the Stanford football program, but he could still end up playing in the Pac-12.  Maybe.

In mid-December, it was confirmed that Costello had entered his name into the NCAA transfer database, the first step in a potential move from the Stanford football team.  Tuesday, Mike Vorel of the Seattle Times has reported that the quarterback will visit Washington today.

This would be the first known visit made by Costello.

Regardless of where he ultimately lands, Costello would be leaving Stanford football as a graduate transfer.  That would allow him to play immediately at another FBS school in 2020.  The upcoming season will be his final year of eligibility.

The 6-5, 222-pound Costello started all 13 games for the Cardinal in 2018 after starting seven the year before. As a redshirt sophomore during that 2018 season, Costello was named second-team All-Pac-12.

This past season was an entirely different story. In very large part because of multiple injuries (thumb, head), Costello played in just five games in 2019.  He last made an appearance Nov. 9, which turned out to likely be his last in a Stanford football uniform.

For his career thus far, Costello has completed 494 of his 790 passes (62.5 completion percentage) for 6,141 yards, 49 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.  He’s added another three touchdowns on the ground, although all of those came as a redshirt freshman in 2017.

This season, Costello threw for 1,028 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions as he completed just under 61 percent of his 166 pass attempts.

A four-star member of Stanford’s 2016 recruiting class, Costello was rated as the No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the country; the No. 7 player at any position in the state of California; and the No. 47 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only one signee in the Cardinal’s class that year, tight end Kaden Smith, was rated higher than Costello.

For those wondering: Yes, Stanford plays Washington in 2020, with the Huskies hosting the Cardinal Nov. 7.

RB Jaylin Bradley set to leave Nebraska via transfer portal

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For the fourth time in roughly a week, a Nebraska football player has left Scott Frost‘s program.

Multiple media outlets reported Tuesday morning Jaylin Bradley is set to leave the Cornhuskers.  A short time ago, a Nebraska football official confirmed that the redshirt sophomore running back is listed in the NCAA transfer database.

At this point, it’s unclear if Bradley will be leaving as a graduate transfer.  If Bradley has to sit out the 2020 season, he would then have one season of eligibility to use in 2021.

A three-star member of Nebraska’s 2017 recruiting class, Bradley was rated as the No. 3 player in the state of Nebraska regardless of position.  Showing promise as a true freshman, Bradley ran for 93 yards on 24 carries as well as catching four passes for another 38 yards in seven appearances.  He also returned six kicks for 124 yards.

The next two seasons, however, Bradley played in just one game.  He carried the ball twice for eight yards in his lone 2019 appearance.

In addition to Bradley, cornerback Tony Butler announced on Twitter late last week that he has entered the transfer database.  On top of that, linebacker Pernell Jefferson, a three-star 2016 signee, entered the portal last Wednesday.  Days before that, offensive lineman John Raridon decided to retire from football to pursue a career in architecture.

According to the Lincoln Journal-Star, all of the departures leave Nebraska football with 84 players on scholarship.  That’s one under the NCAA-mandated limit of 85 scholarship players.