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Troy makes Big Easy work of North Texas in New Orleans Bowl

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Troy jumped out to a big lead early, watched it dwindle to two points by halftime, then jumped out to another large lead to begin the second half and held onto it this time, exploding for a 50-30 win over North Texas in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

After watching a potential 29-7 lead in the second quarter turn into a 22-20 lead with North Texas getting the ball to open the second half, Troy intercepted North Texas quarterback Mason Fine at the Mean Green 27, which Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers capitalized on by hitting Damion Willis for a 24-yard fade and then scored one play later on a 1-yard keeper, giving Troy a 29-20 lead at the 13:33 mark of the third quarter.

The Trojans forced a three-and-out on UNT’s next drive, then moved 92 yards in just five plays, scoring on a 59-yard strike from Silvers to Tevaris McCormick. North Texas attempted to climb back in the game with a 13-play march, but Fine was sacked on a 3rd-and-3 play from the Troy 6-yard line and Mean Green head coach Seth Littrell elected for a 24-yard Trevor Moore field goal rather than a do-or-die fourth-down conversion, pulling the score to 36-23 at the 4:26 mark of the third quarter.

North Texas forced a three-and-out and accepted the ball at its own 33 with a chance to climb back in the game, but Tyler Murray effectively ended it by sacking Fine and forcing his third turnover inside UNT territory. The Trojans hopped on the ball at the Mean Green 13 and, after a penalty, scored on a 20-yard strike from Silvers (24-of-31 for 306 yards) to John Johnson, putting the game out of reach at 43-23 with 2:02 left in the third quarter.

The dagger came when North Texas coughed up its fourth minus-territory turnover of the game, a Michael Lawrence fumble at the UNT 47, and Silvers hit Willis for his fourth passing touchdown of the game and fifth total score, a 10-yard strike with 4:07 left in the game.

Fine completed the scoring with a 17-yard cosmetic touchdown pass to Turner Smiley with 28 seconds left. The Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year, Fine completed 30-of-54 passes for 303 yards with three touchdowns while getting sacked six times and turning the ball over four times. Playing without leading rusher Jeffrey Wilson, North Texas mustered only 50 yards on running plays. Overall, Troy won the turnover battle 5-2 and out-gained the Mean Green 437-295.

The win allows Troy to conclude its best season since joining the Sun Belt in 2004. The Trojans claimed their first SBC crown since 2009, won their fourth bowl game ever and registered their first 11-win season since doing so as an FCS member in 1999. North Texas (9-5) dropped to 1-4 in its five New Orleans Bowl appearances, slunk to 2-7 all-time in bowl games, missed a shot at its first 10-win season since 1947 and fell to 2-9 all-time against Troy.

Troy accepted the ball to open the game and promptly rolled 80 yards in nine plays, capped by a 1-yard Josh Anderson scoring run. The Trojans immediately pushed the lead to two scores when North Texas quarterback Fine was sacked and fumbled at his own 14, setting up Anderson’s second touchdown run of the first half of the first quarter. Silvers hit Johnson for a 2-point conversion to stake the Trojans to a 15-0 lead at the 9:21 mark of the opening frame.

The Mean Green went three-and-out on their next possession but, facing the prospect of getting buried for the game in just the first quarter, the North Texas defense rose up when Joshua Wheeler sacked Silvers on third down at the Troy 39. The UNT offense awoke with an 11-play, 75-yard drive culminating in a 12-yard pass from Fine to Rico Bussey, Jr.

Anderson immediately responded with a 55-yard run on the final play of the first quarter, and Silvers completed the drive four plays later with a 7-yard strike to Willis at the 14:24 mark of the second quarter. North Texas attempted to return service with another touchdown, but Fine under-threw a wide open Bussey on 3rd-and-2 from the Troy 31 and his fourth down pass to Michael Lawrence was dropped.

Troy threatened to push its lead to three touchdowns on its next drive, moving to the North Texas 22, when disaster struck — a snap went over Silvers’s head and was scooped up by the Mean Green’s Colton McDonald, who returned the loose pigskin 56 yards for a touchdown. Fine’s 2-point conversion rush failed, but North Texas was still within 22-13 with 5:49 left in the first half.

North Texas had a golden opportunity to pull within one score of the Trojans when Kishawn McClain intercepted Silvers at the UNT 46 on Troy’s first play of the ensuing possession, but the Mean Green were forced to punt after just one first down.

But North Texas forced its third straight stop, this drive ended by another Wheeler sack, and Fine capitalized with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Lawrence with 49 seconds left before the break to pull the Mean Green within two.

Duke hires Chris Hampton as CBs coach

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David Cutcliffe‘s Duke football coaching staff is whole once again.

Friday, the Blue Devils announced the hiring of Chris Hampton as part of Cutcliffe’s 10-man on-field staff. Hampton will serve as the ACC program’s cornerbacks coach.

The newest assistant will replace Derek Jones, who left Duke earlier this month after a dozen seasons to take over as secondary coach/co-defensive coordinator/associate head coach at Texas Tech.

“We are excited for Coach Hampton to join us here at Duke,” the Duke football head coach said in a statement. “His experience both as a student-athlete and coach will pay immediate dividends within our program. Coach Hampton has earned the respect of many coaches and administrators within the coaching industry and I’m confident he will make a smooth transition into our defensive staff room.”

Hampton spent the past four seasons as the defensive backs/secondary coach at Tulane. That was Hampton’s first on-field job at the FBS level.

The opportunity with the Blue Devil will, obviously, serve as Hampton’s first on-field role at a Power Five school.

“I’m both honored and excited to be joining the Duke football family,” the newest Duke football assistant said in his statement. “I’m extremely thankful that Coach Cutcliffe has given me this opportunity and I’m looking forward to learning under him. I can’t wait to get to work with our current players as well start recruiting future Blue Devils.”

During his coaching career, Hampton has also served in stops at:

  • Arkansas State, 2008 (graduate assistant)
  • Georgia Tech, 2009-10 (graduate assistant)
  • Central Arkansas, 2011 (safeties coach)
  • McNeese State, 2012-15 (defensive backs coach)

Dismissed Ohio State DBs indicted by grand jury on felony rape, kidnapping charges

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There’s been a significant development involving two former members of the Ohio State football program.

Late last week, Franklin County (Ohio) prosecutor Ron O’Brien announced that Amir I. Riep, 21, and Jahsen L. Wint, also 21, have each been indicted by a grand jury on two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping. All of those charges are first-degree felonies.

“If convicted on these charges, both men face a maximum consecutive term of 33 years of incarceration as well as registration as sex offenders,” O’Brien stated.

The details of the alleged rapes earlier this year are disturbing, to say the least.

At approximately 9:45 p.m. on Feb. 4, the two Ohio State players “forced vaginal intercourse with another … by purposely compelling said victim to submit by force,” according to a complaint filed on Tuesday by the alleged victim against Riep and Wint.

Riep, according to the complaint, “held the victim in place, restraining the liberty of another,” and pushed the victim “down by the neck then held her in place with his hands and body, with the purpose to engage in sexual activity with and against the will of said victim.”

Wint, according to the complaint, physically held the victim “by the face” and prevented the victim from “getting away or getting his penis out of her mouth, with the purpose to engage in sexual activity with and against the will of said victim.”

The victim began to have consensual sex with Riep before she stopped and moved away from him, telling him that she “did not want to continue,” per the summary statement of facts in a Franklin County Municipal Court affidavit in support of probable cause. Wint then entered the room, and Riep asked if he could join before forcing her to have non-consensual sex, per the affidavit. Riep then held her in place while Wint forced oral sex on the victim, according to the summary statement of facts.

The Ohio State football program initially suspended the defensive backs. A day after arrest warrants were issued, the Buckeyes dismissed both players.

Riep (pictured) and Wint, who, through their attornies, have maintained their innocence, will be arraigned March 6.

Riep, a cornerback, appeared in 37 games during his time in the Ohio State football program. Wint, a safety, saw action in 35 games. Both players would’ve been entering their senior seasons with the Buckeyes.

Colorado confirms hiring of Karl Dorrell as head coach

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Courtesy of Colorado football, we officially have the most unexpected hiring of the 2019-20 coaching carousel.

To the surprise of most of the free world, word began to circulate Saturday that Karl Dorrell was the front-runner to replace Mel Tucker as the Colorado football head coach.  Sunday evening, the Buffaloes confirmed that Dorrell has indeed been named as the 27th full-time head coach in the program’s history.

The hiring serves as a reunion of sorts as Dorrell has twice spent time on staffs at Colorado football.  From 1995-98, Dorrell was CU’s offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach.  Prior to that, he was the Buffs’ receivers coach in  1992-93.

“I’m excited to be back, it’s like coming home,” the new Colorado football head coach said in a statement. “The thing that excited me about this job is that my experience in the past here for the most part has been very successful. We had a lot of good teams, went to a lot of good bowl games. It’s a top-caliber program that has a lot of potential, and I’m excited to return it to that level.”

After being fired as the coordinator at Vanderbilt in December of 2014, Dorrell has spent the past five seasons in the NFL.  The California native was the receivers coach for the New York Jets from 2015-18.  This past season, he served in that same role with the Miami Dolphins.  He also held the title of assistant head coach with that organization.

Dorrell was also the head coach at UCLA for five seasons (2003-07).  He won either six or seven games in four of those five years.  The lone exception was a 10-win campaign in 2005.

Overall, he went 35-27 with the Bruins overall and 24-18 in Pac-12 play.

“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” athletic director Rick George said in his statement. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.”

According to the school, Dorell, upon approval of the university’s Board of Regents, will sign a five-year contract worth “$18 million, in which the first-year salary would be $3.2 million and then increase by $200,000 annually.” In his final season in Boulder, Tucker was paid $2.4 million in guaranteed compensation.

By moving to Michigan State, Tucker more than doubled what he would’ve made as the Colorado football head coach in 2020.

NC State lands Penn State grad transfer DL Daniel Joseph

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The Wolfpack at NC State has grown by one.

In a tweet posted on Sunday, defensive end Daniel Joseph confirmed he would be transferring to Raleigh for the 2020 season. He’ll be immediately eligible as a graduate transfer.

Once upon a time a four-star recruit out of Illinois, Joseph announced he was leaving Penn State back in late January. He made it into 33 games for the Nittany Lions, mostly as a backup. All told he’ll leave Happy Valley with a grand total of 29 tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery over three seasons.

While playing time likely was a big motivator, position coach Sean Spencer leaving for the NFL may also have contributed to the decision to head south.

Still, NC State landed a nice reinforcement in the trenches. The team struggled up front last season and have to hope some re-tooling will help going into 2020. Coastal Carolina DE transfer Jeffrey Gunter was expected to play a big role but he has found himself back in the transfer portal. It seems Joseph could be potentially taking his place.

Either way, the move comes just in the nick of time for Dave Doeren and company. The program starts spring practice on February 27.