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Mississippi State picks off Lamar Jackson four times, gets past Louisville in TaxSlayer Bowl

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It was far from Lamar Jackson‘s finest performance, and the sour swan song played a significant role in the talented quarterback (likely) finishing his time with the Cardinals on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

In what’s widely expected to be his final season at the collegiate level, Jackson accounted for three touchdowns but that wasn’t enough to overcome his turnovers as the U of L (8-5) dropped a 31-27 decision to No. 23 Mississippi State (9-4) in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl.  The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner will (likely) finish his career 1-2 in bowl games and the same 1-2 versus the SEC, with his lone win coming as a true freshman when he guided the U of L to a Music City Bowl win over Texas A&M.  They also fell to LSU in last year’s Citrus Bowl.

Jackson came into the game having not thrown an interception since a late-October loss to Wake Forest; he threw a career-high four in this one, including one deep in his own territory that led to a Keytaon Thompson rushing touchdown, the freshman quarterback’s second of the game, that knotted the score at 24-all with 13:25 left in the fourth quarter.  A U of L field goal six minutes later gave the Cardinals the lead back at 27-24; Thompson’s third rushing score with 3:39 remaining in the game proved to be the game-winner.

Jackson’s fourth pick of the game, with 2:31 left and the U of L trailing 31-27, helped seal the loss for the Cardinals.  MSU’s Mark McLaurin, incidentally, intercepted three of those passes and was named as the Player of the Game.

The U of L had a chance for a Hail Mary just beyond midfield to try to win the game in the last seconds, but Jackson’s pass was batted out of bounds as the clock ran out.

Thompson, in his first collegiate start, proved to be a difference maker for the Bulldogs, rushing for a team-high 148 yards on 27 carries to go along with the three scores.  He was quietly efficient in the passing game as well, going 11-of-20 for 126 yards in place of the injured Nick Fitzgerald and with his head coach, Dan Mullen, bolting Starkville for Gainesville.

Jackson finished the game 13-of-30 passing for 171 yards and two touchdown passes to go along with the four picks.  He also added a game-high 158 yards rushing.

The success of the dual-threat quarterbacks produced something on the ground not seen very often.

In the first half, Jackson also joined Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick as the only players in FBS history to account for at least 50 passing touchdowns and 50 rushing touchdowns in their careers.   Jackson now has 69 career passing touchdowns and 50 on the ground.

Mississippi State’s win was the first for the SEC after the conference started the 2017 bowl season 0-3.  The SEC had been the only Power Five league without a win in the postseason.

Louisville has now won at least eight games in each of the last six seasons, including four under Bobby Petrino.  In fact, In Petrino’s four seasons in his second stint at the school, the Cardinals have won eight, eight, nine and nine games.

FCS team suspends head coach amid probe into ‘alleged violations of university policy’

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We don’t normally do much with the FCS level of football here at CFT; when we do, though, it normally doesn’t trend toward the positive.

Such is the case in this instance, with Stephen F. Austin announcing Monday night that head coach Clint Conque has been suspended.  In its statement, the university wrote that the suspension is “pending an investigation into alleged violations of university policy.”

The alleged violations weren’t detailed.

“The investigation is expected to take several weeks,” the school’s statement read, in part. “No comments will be made by the university until the investigation is complete.”

The Magnolia Reporter wrote that “Conque’s suspension comes two weeks after SFA appointed Ryan Ivey as the new director of Athletics – a position he is set to officially assume on July 1.”

Conque has been the head coach at SFA the past four seasons.  In that span, he went 21-25 overall and 17-18 in Southland Conference play.  Since going 8-5 and qualifying for the FCS playoffs his first season, the football program has gone 4-7, 5-5, 4-7 the last three years.

Prior to that, Conque was the head coach at Central Arkansas from 2000-13, with the last seven of those years spent in the Southland Conference.  During his time with the Bears, he went 105-59.

In a statement released by that university in July of 2010, prior to the start of his 11th season with that FCS team, Conque admitted to what he described as “an inappropriate relationship” that stemmed from “some poor personal decisions.”

During a period of time in my life I made some poor personal decisions. I had an inappropriate relationship in the past that I regret and these mistakes and missteps have hurt the ones that I love the most. While we have been dealing with these issues privately, I regret that we must now deal with this in a public manner.

“I take sole and complete responsibility for my actions as my family and I continue the process of healing and rebuilding. I want to once again sincerely apologize first to my family, also to the university community, the administration, the university’s athletic staff, and to our football staff and team. I will emerge from this a better man, husband, father and coach. I appreciate the support that I have received from the Board of Trustees, President (Allen) Meadors, (Athletic Director) Dr. (Brad) Teague, and the university during this extremely difficult time.

“I would genuinely appreciate everyone extending Angele and my three sons the privacy and compassion needed to move forward in our personal lives. I look forward to the 2010 football season and the beginning of fall practice.

Conque remained on as the head coach at Central Arkansas for four more seasons, going 32-16 in that post-admission span and qualifying for the FCS playoffs twice for good measure.

Notre Dame football to have all-new radio team in 2018

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When it comes to Notre Dame’s radio booth on football gamedays, it’ll apparently be out with the old and in with the new.

Earlier this offseason, it was announced that JMI Sports had taken over as Notre Dame’s multimedia partner.  As part of that partnership, JMI Sports would have control over, among other entities, the football program’s national radio broadcasts.

Since 2006, there’s been a two-man radio booth consisting of play-by-play voice Don Criqui and color analyst Allen Pinkett.  Come the 2018 football season, the latter confirmed, there will be a complete makeover of the Fighting Irish’s radio broadcasts.

“Their plan is they want someone more local — like ‘live in South Bend’ local — because they want to do some packages during the week, and they wanted somebody who was there,” Pinkett told the South Bend Tribune. “So it was a good run. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to do it since 2001, but this thing comes to an end, so I just wish whoever’s going to do it next the best of luck.”

The “whoever” Pinkett mentioned is still in question as the radio replacements have yet to be announced.

The 54-year-old Pinkett was a star running back at Notre Dame in the eighties, twice earning All-American honors.  He was the first Fighting Irish player to ever rush for 1,000-plus yards in three straight seasons.

The 78-year-old Criqui is a Notre Dame graduate as well.  Prior to this 2006-17 stint, he was also the play-by-play voice of the Fighting Irish from 1974-76.

Lincoln Riley will (barely) make more than his starting QB in 2018

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One running joke that’s made numerous laps around the college football world this month has officially run its course.

After being taken ninth overall by the Oakland Athletics in the June Major League Baseball draft, Kyler Murray reached an agreement on a contract with the stick-and-ball club that will not only allow him to play football for Oklahoma in 2018, but will pay him a signing bonus of nearly $4.7 million for good measure.  As Lincoln Riley was paid $3.1 million in 2017, there was a very real possibility that the Sooners’ starting quarterback would earn more in 2018 than OU’s head football coach.

Tuesday, however, that particular plotline was put to bed as the university’s Board of Regents confirmed a long-expected revised contract for Riley.  The coach’s 2018 salary?  $4.8 million (plus bonuses).

Take that, Kyler Murray.

The new salary figure would’ve made Riley the third-highest paid head coach in the Big 12 last season, behind only Texas’ Tom Herman ($5.5 million) and TCU’s Gary Patterson ($5.1 million).  His actual salary last year was seventh in the conference.

In his first season at the helm for the Sooners, the 34-year-old Riley guided OU to a 12-2 record, a Big 12 championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff. In addition to a raise coming off that wildly successful year, Riley also had his contract extended through January of 2023.

New Mexico LB Rayshawn Boyce arrested, suspended after May incident with ex-girlfriend

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Not surprisingly at this point in the offseason, it’s once again time to push the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker back to double zeroes.

The latest to trigger a reset is New Mexico’s Rayshawn Boyce, with KOB-TV in Albuquerque reporting that the linebacker was arrested over the weekend on multiple charges stemming from an incident involving an ex-girlfriend last month. Specifically, Boyce has been charged with one count each of aggravated battery, battery of a household member, criminal damage to private property and negligent use of a deadly weapon.

From the television station’s report:

According to a criminal complaint, he attacked a man inside his ex-girlfriend’s home back in May and then hit his ex-girlfriend in the face. Boyce then left the house and fired shots at her vehicle.

Police interviewed Boyce, who admitted to being at the home but says he never went inside. He claims he fought the man outside of his ex-girlfriend’s apartment.

As a result of the incident, Boyce has been indefinitely suspended from the Lobos football by head coach Bob Davie, who’s had his own off-field issues this offseason.

“I want to emphasize that we have standards and expectations of conduct for all UNM student-athletes that include civility and mutual respect,” UNM athletic director Eddie Nunez said in a statement. “We cannot, and will not, accept anything less.”

After transferring in from a California junior college, Boyce played in eight games for the Lobos this past season. He was credited with 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack.