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Wake Forest scores 31 straight en route to first-half lead on Texas A&M in Belk Bowl

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A few of minutes into its Belk Bowl matchup with Texas A&M, things were looking bleak for Wake Forest.  After 30 minutes of play, the roles were decidedly reversed as the Demon Deacons have taken a 38-28 lead into the halftime locker room in what’s the highest-scoring half in the game’s history.

After a little more than two minutes had run off the first-quarter clock, A&M, playing in its first game since Kevin Sumlin was fired and Jimbo Fisher was hired, had taken the lead on a block punt that was recovered for a touchdown, the school’s first block punt since 2005.  Less than two minutes later, and after an Aggie got his hand on a second punt, Trayveon Williams scored from a yard out to push the lead to 14-0.

The following 13 or so minutes belonged to Wake, though, as the Demon Deacons scored the next 31 points to take a double-digit lead of their own early in the second quarter.  Senior John Wolford extended his stunning turnaround regular season into the postseason as he passed for four first-half touchdowns.  Prior to 2017, Wolford had thrown more interceptions (35) than touchdowns (30); this season, including today’s game, he’s thrown 29 touchdowns against just six picks.

Not to be outdone by A&M, Wake scored its own special teams touchdown, with Jessie Bates‘ 59-yard punt return stretching the lead to 31-14 with just over 12 minutes remaining in the second quarter.  That unit was not-so-special for Wake for most of the game, however, as, in addition to the two blocked punts, they had a field goal blocked as well.

And A&M’s interim head coach?  Special teams coordinator Jeff Banks.

That blocked field goal in the middle of the second quarter gave the Aggies a modicum of momentum as they turned that special teams play into a score two plays later, Nick Starkel hitting Christian Kirk, likely playing his last game for the Aggies, on a 52-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 31-21 with 7:31 left in the half.  Wolford’s fourth scoring toss, this one 37 yards to tight end Cam Serigne with 4:33 remaining, pushed the lead back out to 17.

The momentum shifted back to A&M right before halftime, however, as Starkel hit Kirk for a second touchdown with 18 seconds left to pull them back to within 10 at 38-28.

The Demon Deacons racked up 385 yards of offense — Wolford had 256 passing against A&M’s depleted secondary — to 306 for the Aggies.  Matt Colburn chipped in with 87 yards on the ground on 10 carries, with a long run of 66.

This marks the sixth time this season that A&M’s defense has given up 35 points or more in a game.

Kirk, meanwhile, already has a season-high 133 yards receiving on six catches.  Starkel has thrown for 313 yards in just two quarters worth of work; the freshman’s season- and career-high, 416 yards, is well within reach with 30 minutes to play.

Wake is looking to win back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 2007-08, while A&M is trying to snap a three-game bowl losing streak.  If the Aggies can mount a second-half comeback, they will hit eight wins for the fourth consecutive season.

Arizona State TE transfer Jared Bubak is headed home to Nebraska

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After a series of losses this offseason, Nebraska is on the positive side of a football roster move.  And it involves a local boy for good measure.

Jared Bubak began exploring the possibility of leaving Arizona State earlier this offseason.  Over the weekend, the tight end revealed on Twitter that he will be transferring into the Nebraska football team.  Interestingly, he’ll be joining the Cornhuskers as a walk-on.

Because of that, and the fact that he is an ASU graduate, he’ll be eligible to play for the Big Ten school this coming season.

Bubak is a native of Lincoln, Neb.  He actually committed to Nebraska before flipping to Arizona State football.

“After speaking with the coaching staff, I have decided to finish my last year of eligibility with the University of Nebraska as a walk-on,” Bubak wrote. “This transfer portal process has solidified how important the state of Nebraska is to me and my family.  The chance to come back home and play for Coach [Scott] Frost was an easy decision for me and I’m excited to represent the people of Nebraska.

“I just didn’t want to be living with that what-if,” said Bubak in explaining his decision to the Lincoln Journal Star. “What if I had gone to Nebraska? So I always knew for my last year I wanted to come back home and see what happens.

Bubak was a three-star 2016 signee for the Sun Devils.  He was the No. 2 player in the state of Nebraska regardless of position.

The 6-5, 242-pound Bubak appeared in 17 games during his time at ASU.  Seven of those appearances came a season ago.  He didn’t catch a pass during his time in Tempe, although he did return one kick.  For minus-four yards.

At least 13 scholarship Cornhuskers who have left the program for one reason or another this offseason.  Included in those are:

Additionally, three walk-on offensive linemen have left as well.

Hawaii adds North Texas transfer WR Rico Bussey

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North Texas’ loss is a win for the Hawaii football program.  Unofficially, of course.

In February, North Texas’ Rico Bussey Jr. made his way into the NCAA transfer database.  Three months later, the wide receiver used his Twitter machine to announce he is headed to the Hawaii football team.

Thus far, the Rainbow Warriors have not confirmed Bussey’s addition to the team.

Bussey will be eligible to play for the Hawaii football team in 2020.  This will be the receiver’s final season of eligibility.

A torn ACL prematurely ended Bussey’s 2019 campaign in mid-September last year.  Because he played in four or fewer games, he was able to take a redshirt.  That saves a year of eligibility that he’ll now use at the Mountain West Conference school.

Two seasons ago, Bussey led the Mean Green in receptions (68), receiving yards (1,017) and receiving touchdowns (12).  Prior to the serious knee injury in 2019, Bussey had 150 yards and a touchdown on five catches this year.

All told, Bussey accounted for 1,941 yard and 21 touchdowns on 128 receptions during his time in Denton.  He also returned a pair of kickoffs for a combined 78 yards.

Bussey was a two-star member of the Class of 2016 for UNT.  The Oklahoma native was rated as the No. 32 player regardless of position in the Sooner State.

Bussey will be coming to a Hawaii football team that will be under new management. In mid-January, Nick Rolovich left to take over for Mike Leach at Washington State. A week later, Todd Graham was named as Rolovich’s replacement.

Hawaii football is coming off its best season since 2010. Included in a 10-win season was the program’s first appearance in the Mountain West Conference championship game.  Of course, that appearance ended in a loss to Boise State.

Auburn releases statements addressing death of Pat Dye

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Auburn is, as expected, mourning the death of Pat Dye.

Last month, Dye was hospitalized for kidney-related issues.  During that hospital stay, Dye tested positive for COVID-19.  At the time, his son, NFL agent Pat Dye Jr., stated that “[w]e fully anticipate his release from the hospital in the next few days once his kidney function is stable.

Monday afternoon, it was confirmed that former Auburn head coach Pat Dye died at 80. A cause of death has not been released.

Pat Dye spent a dozen seasons as the coach at Auburn.  From 1981-92, Dye went 99-39-4 with the Tigers.  Included in that was a 6-6 record in the Iron Bowl.  And a national championship in 1983.  In 2005, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

In statements, Auburn mourned the beloved coach’s death.

Allen Greene, Auburn Athletic Director
“For four decades, Coach Dye showed all of us what it looks like to be an Auburn person. His coaching exploits are well known, securing his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. His skills as an administrator were equally formidable, resulting most notably in bringing the Iron Bowl to Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Just like his football teams, Pat Dye the athletic director was tenacious, never backing down from a fight when he believed Auburn’s good name and best interests demanded it. Thanks to his tenacity, I’ll always treasure my first home Iron Bowl, celebrating victory on the field that bears his name.

It’s been a blessing to get to know Coach Dye in his retirement years in his role as a passionate supporter of all of Auburn Athletics. Ever the coach, I’ve witnessed him on countless occasions pouring into our student-athletes. In that sense, he never stopped being Coach Dye. On behalf of the Auburn Family, we extend our deepest condolences to the family of Patrick Fain Dye, whose love and loyalty for Auburn rendered a contribution we can never fully measure or repay.”

Gus Malzahn, Auburn Head Football Coach
“Coach Dye was much more than a hall of fame coach and administrator at Auburn. He was an Auburn leader and visionary. He not only returned the football program back to national prominence during his tenure, but was a key figure in bringing the Iron Bowl to Auburn and made an impact on the university and in the community. He embodied what Auburn is about: hard work, toughness and a blue collar mentality.

Coach Dye’s impact on Auburn is endless and will stand the test of time. He had a great and deep love for Auburn and he displayed that affinity daily. I’m very appreciative of his support and friendship through the years. It’s a sad day. Coach Dye was a treasure and will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, his former players and coaches and the entire Auburn family.”

USC gives football booster the boot over tweets stating protestors should be shot

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USC has one less booster for its football program.

Former Los Angeles Police Department Union attorney Marla Brown is a USC graduate.  She is also officially registered as a USC football booster.  Or, she was.

In the wake of the abhorrent murder of George Floyd, peaceful protests have, in some cases, devolved into riots and looting across the country. In tweets posted to her Twitter account Sunday morning, Brown stated “Shoot the protestors” and exclaimed, “they need to be shot.”

While the tweets are no longer available as Brown has subsequently deleted her Twitter account, they were saved for posterity.

The LAPD made it perfectly clear that Brown is not an employee.  Then USC athletic director Mike Bohn announced in a statement that the USC football program is severing its ties with Brown. “Racism and hate speech will not be tolerated,” Bohn wrote in a tweet that contained his statement, which appears in full below:

Last night we were made aware of abhorrent and blatantly racist tweets from an individual who identified as a USC Football Booster. Following an immediate investigation into the matter, we informed the individual that their season ticket and Trojan Athletic Fund membership privileges have been revoked and their payments will be promptly returned. Their account has been flagged in our system to prevent future purchases.

Thank you to the USC community for helping us identity this individual so that we could move swiftly to terminate our relationship. We stand in solidarity with the Black community.