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.
The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.
In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.
So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on July 4, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.
(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section. Mailbag, maybe?)
THE HEADLINE: Five-star 2020 LSU commit probably would’ve committed to Ohio State if Urban Meyer hadn’t left
THE SYNOPSIS: Elias Ricks is the recruit in question. The cornerback ended up signing with LSU earlier this year. Ricks, expected to contribute to the defending national champs immediately, underwent offseason surgery for a torn labrum.
THE HEADLINE: Fox, BTN reportedly among those making run at Paul Finebaum
THE SYNOPSIS: Yeah, that didn’t work out as the SEC mouthpiece remains at ESPN.
THE HEADLINE: Penn State suing Tennessee DC Bob Shoop for breach of contract
THE SYNOPSIS: Nittany Lions were seeking $900,000 the university said Shoop owed after he left as the defensive coordinator at Penn State for the same job at Tennessee in January of 2016. In February of 2018, the two sides settled their dispute. Terms of the settlement weren’t divulged.
THE HEADLINE: Alabama self-reports multiple secondary violations
THE SYNOPSIS: “Alabama” and “NCAA violations” always bring out the commenters. This was no exception.
THE HEADLINE: Tragic: new Ole Miss OL killed in car accident
THE SYNOPSIS: Park Stevens’ truck collided with the back of a semi-truck attempting to cross a four-lane highway. The lineman was a 20-year-old junior college transfer.
THE HEADLINE: Experts not ready to say Toomer’s oaks are ‘definitely not going to make it’
THE SYNOPSIS: Thanks to Alabama “fan” Harvey Updyke, the iconic trees at Auburn definitely didn’t make it.
THE HEADLINE: Purdue player missing; last seen swimming in Indiana lake
THE SYNOPSIS: Sadly, 22-year-old running back Sean Matti‘s body was found a day later.
The coronavirus pandemic has already impacted the 2020 season for Western Michigan football.
Western Michigan was scheduled to open the upcoming football season against Colgate on Sept. 4. However, the Patriot League, Colgate’s conference, mandated late last month that all of its member schools not be permitted to travel by air or stay overnight in another locale. As the distance between Hamilton, NY, to Kalamazoo, Mich., is nine-plus hours, that opener was certainly in jeopardy.
This week, Western Michigan confirmed that it will now open the 2020 college football season against Stony Brook. The game will still be played Sept. 4 at Waldo Stadium, the football home of the Broncos.
“We are looking forward to opening the 2020 season with Stony Brook,” WMU head coach Tim Lester said in a statement. “We know coronavirus has changed, and will keep changing, how we operate this season. We will continue to operate with an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, staff members, fans and WMU community.”
It should be noted that Syracuse is also supposed to open its home schedule Sept. 19 against Colgate. It’s unclear if that game will be played, although distance certainly isn’t as much of an issue as it was for Western Michigan.
WMU is coming off a second consecutive 7-6 season under Lester, who will be entering his fourth season with the Broncos. That 2019 campaign also included narrowly missing out on a berth in the MAC championship game.
The Oklahoma State football depth chart has seen its offensive line take a significant hit. But, hey at least it’s not some of the other headlines the school has seen of late.
In a text message to SI.com this week, Dylan Galloway revealed that he has decided to retire from the sport due to injuries. The offensive lineman has dealt with multiple shoulder injuries the past couple of seasons as well as a right leg injury last season.
Galloway will be leaving the Oklahoma State football team and Stillwater as a graduate.
“I’m done with football,” Galloway told the website. “I was getting hurt so much and I felt like all of my injuries were piling up to where they were effecting me too much on and off the field.”
Galloway was a three-star member of the Oklahoma State football Class of 2016. As a redshirt, the Dallas native took a redshirt.
All told, Galloway played in 31 games during his time with the Cowboys. He started five games at left tackle in 2018 and another nine this past season. The 6-5, 297-pound lineman missed three games in 2019 because of the injury to his right leg.
As noted by SI.com, “[t]he Preseason Athlon’s College Football Preview has Galloway listed as second-team All-Big 12.”
Toledo is the new home for a former Michigan State football assistant. Reportedly.
When Mel Tucker took over for Mark Dantonio earlier this month, the former Colorado head coach retained just two of his predecessor’s assistants, Mike Tressel and Ron Burton. Two other former Dantonio assistants, Terrence Samuel and Paul Haynes, took jobs at UNLV and Minnesota, respectively.
This week, it’s being reported that a third former Dantonio assistant has landed on his coaching feet as Mark Staten is now a member of the Toledo football staff. Staten is expected to coach tight ends and offensive tackles for the Rockets.
Interestingly, Michigan State is set to host Toledo on Sept. 19 of the college football season.
If the hiring comes to fruition, it will mark the first time since 2003 that Staten is not part of a Dantonio-led coaching staff. From 2004-06, Staten was at Cincinnati. He spent the past 13 seasons at MSU. From 2007-10, Staten coached tight ends and offensive tackles for the Spartans. Staten moved to offensive line coach in 2011, a position he held until 2018. Amidst a reshuffling of Dantonio’s offensive staff, Staten became tight ends coach for the 2019 season.
Prior to Michigan State and Cincinnati, Staten had served as a graduate assistant at Ohio State (2002-03) and Miami of Ohio (2001).