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No. 12 UCF completes perfect season with Peach Bowl triumph over No. 7 Auburn

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If you’re going to go undefeated, at some point the quote-unquote other side of the ball is going to have to carry you. For No. 12 UCF, that point arrived Monday, in the most important game of the best season in school history.

One game after allowing Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson to throw for 471 yards and four touchdowns in a 62-55 double overtime win in the AAC championship, the Knights’ defense harassed and confused Jarrett Stidham throughout the afternoon, sacking him six times and fooling him into two game-changing interceptions to secure a 34-27 win over No. 7 Auburn in the Peach Bowl.

The win secured the first winless-to-perfect 2-year turnaround in major college football history and, in Scott Frost‘s final game as head coach, secured UCF’s second New Year’s Six bowl win in the past five seasons. The Knights’ win moved mid-majors to 8-3 against Power 5 programs in BCS/CFP games, and joined UCF with Utah and Boise State as the only mid-majors with two major bowl wins over Power 5 opponents in the BCS/CFP era. UCF’s win also pushed the AAC to a 2-0 mark in the CFP era, following Houston’s win over Florida State at the close of the 2015 season.

Auburn (10-4) created the first break of the game by forcing a fumble at midfield, recovered by the Tigers’ Deshaun Davis. He was ruled down upon hopping on the lose pigskin at the Auburn 49, but replays showed Davis possessed the ball while still live with an ocean of green turf the only thing between he and the end zone. However, the play was not reviewable and, instead of a likely touchdown, Auburn was forced to settle for a 25-yard Daniel Carlson field goal after failing to convert a 3rd-and-4 at the UCF 8-yard line. 

Carlson missed a 53-yard try to open the second quarter, and UCF (13-0) answered with a field goal of its own, a 33-yard Matthew Wright boot to tie the game at 3-3 with 11:15 left in the first half.

Another fumble created the next break in the game, this time by Auburn. Stidham was forced into a fumble by UCF’s A.J. Wooten, which the Knights’ Tre Neal recovered and returned 36 yards to the Auburn 21. McKenzie Milton produced the first touchdown of 2018 two plays later on a 18-yard rush, putting UCF on top 10-3 with 8:51 left in the first half. 

UCF had a great opportunity to push its lead to 14 points when Otis Anderson broke free in the Auburn secondary, but Milton’s 3rd-and-8 pass was just out of his reach and the Knights punted. Auburn took over at its own 9 with 4:54 before halftime and methodically moved to the UCF 21 with under a minute left, but Stidham was sacked on 3rd-and-10 and Carlson converted 46-yard field goal.

UCF answered by moving 42 yards in five plays, setting up a 45-yard Wright field goal as time expired to push the lead back to a touchdown.

Auburn roared out of the second half gate, using a 72-yard kickoff return by Noah Igbinoghene to set up a 26-yard scoring toss from Stidham to Will Hastings to tie the game. Auburn then took the lead on a 10-play, 82-yard drive capped by a 4-yard Kerryon Johnson run.

But just when it seemed UCF might unravel, instead the Knights rallied. A 12-yard pass from Milton to Anderson tied the game at 20-20 with 1:20 to play in the third quarter, and an 8-yard toss from Milton to Dredrick Snelson gave UCF a touchdown lead with 11:36 remaining.

UCF then grabbed a stranglehold on the game when Chequan Burkett stepped in front of a Stidham pass and raced it 46 yards for a touchdown, handing the Knights a 34-20 advantage with 5:56 to play.

Auburn needed only 1:44 to pull back within seven on a 7-yard Eli Stove end-around, and the Tigers were given new life when Wright missed a 38-yard field goal with 2:18 remaining, his second miss of the fourth quarter. Stidham drove the Tigers to the UCF 21 with 24 seconds remaining, but an end zone heave was intercepted by Antwan Collier to seal UCF’s undefeated season.

Stidham completed 28 of his 43 throws for 331 yards and a touchdown, but he was sacked a half-dozen times and picked twice in the fourth quarter, while Johnson was limited to 22 carries for 71 yards and one score.

Milton had his worst passing game of the season, completing only 16-of-35 throws, but still threw for 242 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions and led all ball-carriers with 13 rushes for 116 yards and a touchdown.

Veteran WRs coach Gunter Brewer joins Louisville staff

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After a brief foray in the NFL, Gunter Brewer is back in college football and, more specifically, back in the ACC.

Brewer was announced as Louisville’s wide receivers coach on Tuesday, completing Scott Satterfield‘s initial staff.

This will be Brewer’s fourth different tour of duty in the ACC. He joined the conference as a Wake Forest wide receiver in 1985-86, then joined the Deacons’ coaching staff as a strength and conditioning assistant in 1986-87. He returned to the conference as North Carolina’s wide receivers coach from 2000-04, then coached the Tar Heels’ wideouts again from 2012-17.

In between those stints, Brewer has coached wide receivers at East Tennessee State, Marshall, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss. He has tutored two Biletnikoff Award winners and a third finalist — Randy Moss at Marshall (1997 winner) and Dez Bryant (2008 finalist) and Justin Blackmon (2010 winner) at Oklahoma State. (Blackmon also won the honor in 2011, but Brewer was at Ole Miss by then.)

Brewer spent the 2018 campaign as the wide receivers coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. His NFL stint ended with Alshon Jeffrey‘s drop against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional round.

Les Miles hires NAIA head coach to Kansas support staff

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Stay with me here, but Les Miles has made a smart, visionary hire to help his offensive coaching staff.

Bethel University head coach Brent Dearmon is leaving his post to become a senior offensive consultant at Kansas. The announcement was made by Bethel; KU has yet to confirm the hire.

“It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to come back home to Bethel and help rebuild the program,” Dearmon said in a statement. “This place will always be very a special place to me and my family. Bethel molded me into the player I was, the coach I am, and the man God designed me to be.”

Dearmon led Bethel, an NAIA school in McKenzie, Tenn., to its best season in school history. The Wildcats went 10-1, including an undefeated regular season and a ranking as high as No. 3, while averaging a staggering 55 points and 540.3 yards per game.

Dearmon’s offense was the highest scoring unit not just in NAIA, but all of college football.

Meanwhile, Kansas is still without an offensive coordinator after Chip Lindsey left to become the head coach at Troy.

“We are happy for Coach Dearmon and this opportunity for him but at the same time we regret to see him leave,” Bethel AD Dale Kelley said. “He did a marvelous job and the team was exciting to follow. The excitement around the program this past year was phenomenal. We wish him and his family the very best.”

The 2018 campaign was Dearmon’s first as head coach at Bethel, his alma mater. He had spent the previous three campaigns as the offensive coordinator at Division II Arkansas Tech, and prior to that deposited two seasons as an analyst on Gus Malzahn‘s staff at Auburn.

Missouri, Colorado reportedly ink home-and-home to celebrate Fifth Down anniversary

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Colorado and Missouri are set to reunite to celebrate the anniversary of one of the most infamous officiating gaffes in college football history, according to a pair of reports.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Friday that the Buffs and Tigers will play a home-and-home in 2025 and 2030, which was confirmed on Tuesday by CBS Sports‘s Dennis Dodd.

The 2025 game will be in Boulder and the 2030 game in Columbia, according to the Post-Dispatch. Specific dates have not been disclosed.

The pair will “honor” the anniversary of the famous Fifth Down game, an Oct. 6, 1990 game in which officials mistakenly gave Colorado two second downs in the closing moments of their meeting in Columbia. That mistake allowed Buffaloes quarterback Charles Johnson to score a 1-yard keeper as time expired, allowing Colorado to escape with a 33-31 win. Adding to the controversy, replays showed Johnson’s knee was down before the ball reached the goal line, but Colorado was allowed to keep its ill-gotten win and went on to share the 1990 national championship with Georgia Tech, the school’s only title.

Colorado and Mizzou have not met since both schools left the Big 12 following the 2010 season. Missouri won the final five games, including a 26-0 blanking in 2010, and holds a 41-31-3 all-time lead in a series that dates back to 1930.

The series will not be the first time either school faces a former Big 8/12 bunk mate since their respective departures. Missouri has a home-and-home with Kansas State set for 2022-23, while Colorado faces Texas A&M in 2019 and ’20, meets Nebraska in 2023-24 and squares off with Kansas State in 2027-28.

Colorado is set to open its 2025 season with Georgia Tech on Aug. 30 and visit Houston a week later. Mizzou has games with North Dakota, Miami (Ohio) and Massachusetts set for 2025. Neither team has another game on the docket for 2030 as of yet.

Penn State transfer TE Danny Dalton lands at Boston College

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One of the dozen(ish) members of the Penn State football program who has decided to transfer from the Nittany Lions this offseason has found himself a new college football home.

Over the weekend, Danny Dalton took to Twitter to announce that he has decided to transfer to Boston College and continue his playing career with the Eagles.  The tight end is on schedule to graduate from Penn State in June, meaning he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2019.

Including the upcoming season, the Marshfield, Mass., native will have two years of eligibility remaining.

A three-star member of the Nittany Lions’ 2016 recruiting class, Dalton was the top-rated player at any position in the state of Massachusetts.  After not playing at all his first two seasons in Happy Valley, the 6-4, 247-pound redshirt sophomore appeared in three games