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Second half comeback powers Kansas State to Cactus Bowl victory over UCLA

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If this is the end of the Bill Snyder era (Part II) at Kansas State, at least the ol’ Wizard went out in memorable fashion.

The Wildcats (8-5) used a wild two-minute stretch in the third quarter to power a second half comeback at the Cactus Bowl on Tuesday to beat UCLA 35-17 and complete a flourishing kick to the 2017 season under the team’s venerable head coach.

Snyder, who is one of the best in the business in terms of making adjustments at halftime, proved his coaching acumen is still pretty sharp against a Bruins squad (6-7) that was banged up, without starting quarterback Josh Rosen and operating under an interim coaching staff. KSU took their first drive of the second half 74 yards to the end zone and included a fourth-and-inches run right at the goal line to cap it off. Safety Denzel Goolsby forced a fumble out of the hands of Bolo Olorunfunmi on UCLA very next offensive snap, setting his offense back up just outside the red zone.

They converted that into a touchdown and were off to the races for a bit of postseason revenge against the Bruins for a somewhat controversial Alamo Bowl three years ago — twisting the knife a bit with a 15-play, 98 yard drive to ice the game in the final frame.

Skylar Thompson started at quarterback but proved to be ineffective and eventually gave way to Alex Delton, who immediately took off running 68 yards for a touchdown on his first touch. The latter finished the game with 158 yards and three scores on the ground while adding another 52 through the air as the spark that seemed to get the Wildcats going and help really open things up.

Running back Alex Barnes chipped in with 117 yards and a touchdown, doing most of his damage after Delton took over signal-caller duties. Fullback Winston Dimel, who could be playing his final game with the team with his father taking the UTEP head coaching job, didn’t go out on quite the high note he would have wanted statistically and appeared to aggravate an existing shoulder injury in the third quarter as well.

Though new coach Chip Kelly was looking on from a suite, his new UCLA team didn’t exactly prove themselves to be up to the moment after looking pretty solid in the first half. Devon Modster, starting under center in place of Rosen, flashed early in throwing a pair of 50+ yard touchdowns during the second quarter but trailed off after that. He finished the game with 257 yards and added another 19 with his legs for what was still a pretty solid audition for the new staff.

It was nearly enough to stop one of the best teams in the country during the second half of the 2017 season, as Kansas State closed strong with wins in five of their last six to finish a very trying campaign on a high note. While the emotion of the effort from Chase Field in Phoenix was nice to celebrate for Wildcats fans, their attention will likely now be wondering about their head coach.

Snyder has said no decision has been made as to his plans in 2018 with the team but if Tuesday night was it for his career in the Little Apple, it was a heck of a way to go out for the man nicknamed The Wizard. And if it isn’t the end, it will make for a fine way to run into the offseason after running right over UCLA out in the desert.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.