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Pac-12 bowl woes continue as Arizona State falls in Sun Bowl to NC State

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The bowl season has not been kind to the Pac-12 this season. After entering the day with a dreadful 1-5 record, the conference of champions fell to a lowly 1-6 after Arizona State (7-6) started slow and could not rally enough to catch No. 24 NC State (9-4) in the Hyundai Sun Bowl on Friday afternoon in El Paso, Texas. The 52-31 win by the Wolfpack improves the ACC to 4-3 after Wake Forest topped Texas A&M earlier in the day.

Ryan Finley was efficient in his final game of the season, completing 24 of 29 pass attempts for 318 yards and a touchdown. Nyheim Hines rushed for three touchdowns in the first half but Reggie Gallaspy II picked up the pace after Hines got banged up on a play. Gallaspy scored twice. Jaylen Samuels didn’t get his touchdown until the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Samuels also recovered an onside kick attempt by Arizona State and nearly returned the football for a touchdown before being brought down at the seven-yard line.

Arizona State did try to make a game of it in the fourth quarter with a couple of touchdown drives, but the damage had largely been done by then. By then, three turnovers and a lackluster first half and a few too many gambles not paying off made for too big of a hole to climb out of against a solid NC State team. Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins was picked off three times but did have three touchdowns and 2352 yards through the air.

NC State ends the season with the most wins in a season under head coach Dave Doeren, and the Wolfpack will be finishing in the top 25 for the first time under his watch. This will be just the third season NC State finishes the season ranked in the top 25 since 1995. With win totals of 9, 8, and two years with 7 wins the last four years, the trick is for Doeren to be able to get NC State to take that next step forward as an ACC contender, and perhaps as a playoff contender.

Todd Graham goes out as Arizona State’s head coach with a final record of 46-32 and a bowl record of 2-3, with the last win coming in 2014. Graham was fired by Arizona State in late November. The School then went out and hired former NFL head coach Herm Edwards with the intent of keeping the coaching staff together, but Edwards has already had to replace both of his coordinators after each left voluntarily following his hiring.

NC State will open their 2018 season on Sep. 1, 2018 at home against FCS powerhouse James Madison. The highlight of the non-conference schedule will be a home game two weeks later against West Virginia, while the Wolfpack will get Florida State at home and Clemson and Louisville on the road in division play. Arizona State’s season will also begin on Sep. 1, 2018 with a home game against UTSA. The Sun Devils will also play Michigan State at home and San Diego Stae on the road in non-conference play.

Lincoln Riley finalizes defensive staff for 2019

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Oklahoma’s defense was flat-out awful in 2018, as we know. The Sooners were 114th in total defense (453.8 yards per game), 102nd in yards per play (6.13) and 101st in scoring (33.3 points per game). Their ineptitude indirectly handed Kyler Murray the Heisman Trophy as the Sooners’ signal caller had to pull his rabbit out of a hat on a weekly basis throughout the fall, but without Murray’s exploits Oklahoma might’ve been a 7- or 8-win team in 2018.

Murray is gone, so the defense has to improve or Oklahoma will take a significant fall in 2019.

Lincoln Riley has spent the past three weeks reshaping his defensive staff, and on Sunday he finalized his staff and their assignments.

New hire Alex Grinch will coach safeties while coordinating the defense. He spent 2018 as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Ohio State. (The Buckeyes’ pass efficiency defense slipped from 13th to 42nd in Grinch’s one season on staff, but Riley hired him for his success coordinating Mike Leach‘s defenses at Washington State.)

Assisting Grinch in the secondary will be cornerbacks coach Roy Manning. He spent 2018 as the outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at UCLA but worked with Grinch at Wazzu from 2015-17.

Brian Odom was hired away from Missouri to coach the Sooners’ inside linebackers, where he’ll team with new outside linebackers coach Ruffin McNeill. Riley’s mentor, McNeill is one of two holdovers from the 2018 staff. He was hired upon Riley’s promotion to head coach as assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach but took over the entire defense following Mike Stoops‘ midseason firing.

The only Oklahoma defensive coach to coach the same position from 2018 to ’19 will be defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux. The OU graduate has been on staff since 2016, when he returned to Norman as defensive ends coach.

Former South Carolina DE announces transfer to TCU

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TCU loses its top two sack artists from 2018 to 2019, but some help just arrived.

Shameik Blackshear (above, top) announced on Saturday he will spend his final year of college football in Fort Worth.

The Bluffton, S.C., native played his first three seasons at South Carolina, where collected 34 tackles and one sack. He appeared in all 13 of the Gamecocks’ games in 2018, including two starts.

He’ll have a chance to compete for an immediate starting role following the graduations of Ben Banogu and LJ Collier plus the departure of Michael Collier. Banogu and Collier combined for 14.5 sacks in 2018, more than 40 percent of the Frogs’ 35 total sacks.

Blackshear is the second Power 5 graduate transfer to pick TCU this week. The Frogs also secured the services of former Kansas State quarterback Alex Delton.

Penn State LB Jarvis Miller announces graduate transfer to UMass

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UMass signed one of its biggest recruits since joining FBS, four years after he left high school.

Penn State linebacker Jarvis Miller has announced he will leave State College to spend his final season in Amherst.

“After much prayer and consideration with my family I have decided to play my 5th year of eligibility at the University of Massachusetts (UMASS), Amherst will pursuing my Masters (sic) Degree,” Miller wrote in a note posted to his Twitter account. “To the Penn State fan base you are the best fans anyone could ask for ! It has been the most memorable 4 years of my life.”

A consensus 3-star recruit, Miller was viewed as a top-10 player in the state of Connecticut when he signed with the Nittany Lions out of Suffield.

Miller redshirted in 2015, then played in 33 career games as a special teams player and reserve linebacker. He collected 23 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack while in blue and white.

Florida State QB James Blackman reportedly not considering transfer after all

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It appears a bad debut season for Willie Taggart at Florida State is not going to get worse.

After it was reported Wednesday that Seminoles quarterback James Blackman had entered his name into the transfer portalWarchant reported that no such entry had been made as of the end of the business week.

Of course, entering one’s name into the transfer portal wouldn’t guarantee a transfer, but it’s simply not possible to transfer without putting your name in, so it appears that — as of this writing, at least — Blackman is intent on returning to Tallahassee for his junior season.

Starting quarterback Deondre Francois also dealt with a similar rumor last month. As of now, he remains a Seminole as well.

While playing for the injured Francois, Blackman completed 58.2 percent of his passes for 2,230 yards with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as a true freshman in 2017. Francois returned to health and the starting lineup this past season, connecting on 57.3 percent of his passes for 2,731 yards with 15 scores against 12 picks. Blackman went 33-of-51 for 510 yards with five touchdowns and one interception as his backup.

As Francois’ numbers indicated, the Seminoles sputtered offensively in Taggart’s debut campaign. Florida State finished 110th nationally in yards per play, 93rd in passing efficiency and 113th in scoring. However, both signal callers would be wise to stick around. Taggart hired Kendal Briles to run his offense. In 1-season stints at Florida Atlantic and Houston, Briles pushed the Owls from 80th to eighth in scoring and the Cougars from 65th to fifth.