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Middle Tennessee holds on to win the bizarre (and turnover-filled) Camellia Bowl over Arkansas State

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Middle Tennessee State entered the Camellia Bowl 121st in the country in turnover margin and had lost the battle in nine of their 12 games this season. Arkansas State was only a little bit better in the same category, ranking 81st in turnover margin in 2017. Predictably those kinds of statistics came into play on Saturday night in the Camellia Bowl as the two sides played a bit of hot potato — six giveaways — before MTSU hung on for a 35-30 win to cap off the first day of bowl season in college football.

Blue Raiders quarterback Brent Stockstill had a game that could have been a nightmare for a veteran quarterback but ended up being alright thanks to his defense continually picking him on a night where chunk plays were hard to come by. The signal-caller threw the first of his three interceptions on the night on the first drive of the game but bounced back over the final three quarters, throwing for 232 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. That kind of performance, which included several big throws in the second half, helped secure the first bowl victory of his career and give him the rare distinction of being able to win a postseason game with his father Rick as head coach.

It wasn’t all about the Stockstill combo for MTSU however as their run game produced a pair of touchdowns behind tailbacks Terelle West and Tavares Thomas, and the team’s defense had one of their best outings of the season to limit the Sun Belt’s highest scoring offense to well below all their season averages. Linebacker Darius Harris led the way when his unit was on the field, flying from sideline-to-sideline and racking up 12 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a two pass break ups. His running mate at linebacker, D.J. Sanders, was equally productive with seven tackles and a 54 yard fumble return for a touchdown just before halftime.

The Red Wolves did what they could to threaten to make things interesting down the stretch but never could get over the hill. The team ran a fake punt to open fourth quarter, resulting in a 21 yard strike from the punter to gunner Chris Murray along the sidelines and appeared to seize momentum after a subsequent  touchdown to Warren Wand. However the defense failed to get a stop and then Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year Justice Hansen (337 yards, 3TD, 1 INT) threw a fourth down pass out of the end zone to all but seal a rather lackluster loss for a team that had won six of the last eight coming into the bowl.

Arkansas State also came up a bit short in the record books on the defensive side of the ball as well. In addition to allowing 35 points to MTSU, conference player of the year Ja’Von Rolland-Jones failed to record a sack and thus couldn’t break the NCAA career record (held by former Arizona State and current Baltimore Ravens star Terrell Suggs) of 44 career sacks after entering the game just shy of the mark with 43.5. While the pass rusher did manage to sack Stockstill in the game, the play was negated by a penalty to keep him from taking over on the all-time list.

The victory pushed Middle Tennessee over the .500 mark for the fifth time in six seasons and likely meant a little bit more to the program given how many key injuries the team suffered over the course of 2017 before capturing their first bowl win in eight years. Arkansas State did their best to prevent that from happening as they dropped to 7-5 on the season after a rather bizarre Camellia Bowl that had a little bit of everything.

Three-star 2019 decommits from Rutgers after brother’s dismissal

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A burgeoning off-field scandal has cost Rutgers a future football prospect.

Earlier this month, reports surfaced that sophomore linebacker Brendan Devera was one of two players who had been dismissed from Chris Ash‘s football program. While the stated reason given at the time was unspecified violations of team rules, it was subsequently learned that Devera was one of eight Scarlet Knight football players being investigated for fraudulent use of credit cards.

Thursday, Tyler Devera, a Class of 2019 tight end, confirmed to nj.com that he had decommitted from RU. Tyler, if you hadn’t surmised by now, is Brendan’s younger brother, and confirmed that the development involving his sibling triggered his decision.

“Definitely what happened with my brother and everything,” Tyler Devera stated when asked why he had decommitted. “He was a big factor into why I wanted to go there.

“None of the coaches have contacted me since he’s been removed from the team to even say we still want you or anything like that. They just kind of led me away and made me feel like I wasn’t wanted there.”

Devera, a three-star 2019 prospect who 247Sports.com‘s composite board lists as the No. 77 tight end in next year’s class, had committed to the Scarlet Knights June 21, the same day he took an unofficial visit to the school. In addition to RU, the Bergen Catholic (NJ) high schooler holds offers from, among others, Air Force, Buffalo, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Old Dominion, UMass and Western Michigan.

Rutgers was Devera’s only Power Five offer, although schools such as Boston College, Minnesota and Penn State have expressed interest.

More than five dozen tight ends land on Mackey Award watch list

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If you’re a college football fan, there’s nearly a 50-50 chance that you’ll find one of your team’s players on this latest watch list installment.

The Mackey Award is next up to do the preseason deed, with the hardware going to the nation’s top tight end announcing a 64-player watch list Friday morning.  Unlike most other awards, not a single semifinalist from a year ago are up for the award won by Arkansas’ Mark Andrews in 2017.

A total of five teams placed two players on the list, with three of those coming from — surprise!!! — the Big Ten.  Iowa (Noah Fant, TJ Hockenson), Michigan (Zach Gentry, Sean McKeon) and Wisconsin (Zander Neuville, Kyle Penniston) represent that Midwest conference, while Louisville (Kemari Averett, Micky Crum) and South Carolina (KC Crosby, account for the other.

The Big Ten led all conferences with 12 players on the initial watch list, followed by the SEC (nine), ACC (seven), Pac-12 (seven), Mountain West (six) and Sun Belt (five).  There are four watch listers each hailing from the AAC, Big 12 and MAC, while Conference USA placed three.  There are also three tight ends from football independents.

Below is the complete 2018 John Mackey Award preseason watch list:



Mike MacIntyre, other Colorado officials dropped from lawsuit involving ex-Buffs assistant

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Thursday was a very good day on the legal front for Colorado University.

In early September, Pamela Fine, the woman who alleged she was abused by former Colorado assistant coach Joe Tumpkin, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Denver in which she alleged assault, battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress perpetrated by Tumpkin.  Additionally, she levied claims of negligence and civil conspiracy against head coach Mike MacIntyre, athletic director Rick George, chancellor Phil DiStefano and president Bruce Benson.

Thursday, the Boulder Daily Camera reported, all four of the CU officials, including MacIntyre, have been dismissed from the case by the federal judge presiding over the lawsuit.  The judge, William J. Martinez, “granted motions by the remaining defendants to dismiss the lawsuit against them, ruling that the university did not owe Fine a legal obligation because she was not affiliated with the school,” the Daily Camera wrote.

The portion of the lawsuit involving Tumpkin remains in place.

CU announced Jan. 27 of last year that Tumpkin, the Buffs’ safeties coach, had “resigned” his position in the midst of domestic violence allegations and was subsequently charged with multiple counts of assault.  Fine, Tumpkin’s ex-girlfriend, had accused MacIntyre’s assistant of multiple acts of domestic violence dating back to 2015 and as recently as November of last year.  She obtained a permanent restraining order against Tumpkin, of which the university became aware Jan. 6 and initially triggered a suspension.

Despite knowledge of allegations that reportedly included 80 episodes of abuse — according to the alleged victim, she first went to MacIntyre’s wife — all parties, including the coach, his athletic director and his chancellor, agreed that Tumpkin would call the defensive plays in CU’s Dec. 29, 2016, bowl game in place of Jim Leavitt, who had taken the coordinator job at Oregon.  CU subsequently defended their actions, and MacIntyre did the same.

CU hired an outside law firm to investigate the program’s and university’s handling of the allegations, finding in part that MacIntyre was informed by Fine Dec. 9 of 2016 of a pattern of physical abuse suffered at the hands of Tumpkin.  In June of last year, disciplinary measures connected to that investigation were announced — MacIntyre and George were forced to donate $100,000 each to domestic violence causes while DiStefano was suspended for 10 days.

Starting Oregon State cornerback Xavier Crawford takes grad transfer to Central Michigan

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After joining Central Michigan this season as secondary coach, Cory Hall will see a very familiar face in his new meeting rooms moving forward.

On CMU’s most recently-updated online roster, Xavier Crawford is listed as a numberless 6-1, 190-pound defensive back; the player also mentions CMU football in his updated Twitter profile. Citing an Oregon State source, The Oregonian confirmed that Crawford had left the Beavers football program earlier this offseason, although no specific reason for the decision was given.

As Crawford joins the MAC program as a graduate transfer — he graduated from OSU in June — he will be eligible to play for the Chips immediately in 2018. Crawford will also have a year of eligibility that he can use in 2019 as well.

Crawford was a three-star prospect coming out of high school in California in 2014. His official OSU bio states that Crawford “[o]riginally signed a financial aid agreement with Oregon State in September 2014 and enrolled in January, thus he was considered a greyshirt.”

After redshirting as a true freshman, Crawford started all 12 games of the 2016 season for the Beavers. That season, he tied for the team lead in passes broken up with 10, while his 70 tackles were good for fourth.

Crawford started the first five games last year before going down with what turned out to be a season-ending back injury.