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No. 4 Alabama avenges loss to No. 1 Clemson in Sugar Bowl, sets up all SEC CFP final

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The College Football Playoff was created in large part in response to an all SEC BCS National Championship. Four years into the new system, the CFP has its own all SEC final. No. 3 Georgia outlasted No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl earlier Monday, and in the Sugar Bowl No. 4 Alabama avenged its title game loss a year ago by flattening No. 1 Clemson in a 24-6 win that wasn’t as close as the final score.

The win pushes Alabama (12-1) into its sixth national championship game under Nick Saban and its third consecutive title game.

Leading 10-3 at the half, the Tide provided Clemson a window early in the third quarter to climb back in the game and even take the lead. It started when Alabama accepted the ball to open the second half and promptly fumbled the exchange on its first snap, which Clemson recovered at the Tide’s 20-yard line. The Tigers actually went five yards backwards on its possession, but a 42-yard Alex Spence field goal cut the deficit to 10-6.

Clemson (12-2) forced a three-and-out on Alabama’s next touch, then moved to a 2nd-and-2 at the Tide 35 before Alabama defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne single-handedly ended the game. First, he caught a deflected interception and returned the ball 21 yards to the Clemson 42, and a 15-yard horse collar flag staked the ball at the Clemson 27. The Tide moved the ball to the Clemson 1, leading Alabama to put in the jumbo package. Rather than run the ball, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll called a pass, and Jalen Hurts hit Payne for the first touchdown catch of the 6-foot-2, 308-pound defender’s career.

If that wasn’t enough, Clemson’s own first-play disaster put the game out of reach. Another deflected Kelly Bryant pass landed in the arms of Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson, who raced the ball 18 yards to pay dirt to give Alabama a commanding 24-6 lead with 5:27 left in the third quarter.

Clemson could pull no closer, and an 18-play, 75-yard drive ended in a turnover on downs after Kelly Bryant threw incomplete out of the back of the end zone with 1:43 left in the game. Alabama harassed Bryant into the worst game of his career, completing 18-of-36 passes for just 124 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions while taking a season-high five sacks. Clemson managed just 64 yards on 33 carries.

Hurts hit 16-of-24 passes for 120 yards with two touchdowns and no picks while rushing 11 times for 40 yards. Damien Harris led all runners with 19 carries for 77 yards.

Looking ahead to next week, the only issue for Alabama moving forward were injuries to offensive lineman Lester Cotton and linebacker Anfernee Jennings. Both left the game with apparent leg injuries.

Alabama dominated the game from the start. After the teams exchanged three three-and-outs to open the game, the Tide opened the scoring with a 10-play, 47-yard drive capped by a 24-yard Andy Pappanastos field goal. Alabama forced another Clemson three-and-out on the Tigers’ next possession — Clemson’s third of the first quarter — Alabama started at the Clemson 46-yard line and leaned on its running game, with seven plays covering 34 yards, all of them in the hands of Hurts, Harris or Bo Scarborough before Hurts found Calvin Ridley wide open on a scramble for a 12-yard touchdown grab, putting the Tide up 10-0 to close the first quarter.

Sensing a now-or-never moment, Clemson turned to Bryant. After a 7-yard sack to open the drive, Bryant converted with runs of five and 20 yards and accounted for 53 of the Tigers’ 54 yards, setting up a 44-yard Alex Spence field goal to get the defending champions on the board at the 10-minute mark of the second quarter.

Alabama didn’t answer with points, but the Tide did chew more than four minutes off the clock and pin Clemson at its own 10 to start its next possession. It was the fourth time in five chances that Clemson started inside its own 17 (and the fifth began at the 24). Clemson moved out of the shadow of its own goal post but punted the ball back to Alabama, allowing the Tide to start a drive with the ball outside its own 40 for the fourth time in five tries. This drive covered 39 yards in 10 plays at 3:44, but Pappanastos’s 38-yard field goal doinked off the right upright with 17 seconds left in the half. 

Texas WR Brennan Eagles tweets he’ll ‘never play another snap’ amidst racial injustice, police brutality

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Not sure how I missed this on a very eventful Thursday, but the heartfelt thoughts of a Texas football player deserve to be heard by everyone.

Amidst protests against racial injustice and police brutality, Tom Herman has been one of a handful of head coaches who have been very vocal on issues that directly impact his Longhorn players.  Most of whom are black.

“[I]f you’re going to cheer them and love them for three-and-a-half hours a Saturday in the fall, you better have the same feelings for them off the field, because they’re human beings,” the Texas football coach said earlier this week. “They deserve the same amount of respect and human rights that all of us do in this country when we agreed on the social contract to be a member of the United States.”

In that same conversation, Herman also talked about not censoring any of his players on social media. “[S]ay what’s on your heart. You have a voice. Use it. And you know, I support them in that,” the coach said.

In that vein, UT wide receiver Brennan Eagles took to Twitter very early Thursday morning.  And suggested that he could very well sideline himself from football for the foreseeable future because of the current climate.

Below are the wide receiver’s own words.

Okay so for all my brothers out there that are student-athletes, do you really think athletics should be a man focus right now during this time that we live in? At the end of the day if that is the main focus I find you blind to the fact that your platform can change this.  Thousands of people come to watch for entertainment, revenue is built from that, money is generated from us. If it wasn’t for athletics we wouldn’t have coaches/trainers. Doctors wouldn’t [perform] as many [surgeries], etc. the list goes on. I’ll be [damned] if you think I’ll play another snap with the platform I have that [affects the] majority of people that contribute to the sport who don’t actually play. Know your value is all I’m saying. Athletics brings people together all over but at the end of the day I’m not going to play another snap knowing what’s going on in our society due to color and the system being broken… I just can’t… let’s look at the bigger picture. Don’t care if you yellow or blue that goes for every athlete/supporter out there.

Last season, Brennan was third on the Longhorns in receptions (32) and receiving yards (522).  He was also tied for second on the team in receiving touchdowns (six).  With the departures of Devin Duvernay and Collin Johnson, Brennan will be UT’s leading returning receiver.  If he actually returns, of course.

One final note: Thursday evening, Texas Longhorn football players, coaches and UT staffers, along with members of the University of Texas and City of Austin police departments, marched from Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium to the footsteps of the Texas State Capitol building.  In solidarity against racial injustice and police brutality.

“If you fail to realize what’s going on in front of you, when you see it every day, on social media you see how we’ve been viewed throughout history and the way we’ve been treated, you’re close-minded and you’re part of the problem,” safety Caden Sterns said after the march.

“You have to educate yourself. As white people, you got to educate yourself, because it’s right in front of you. All you’ve got to do is just look. The only way not to see this is if you clearly just turn around.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, including photos of a shirtless Jim Harbaugh at a satellite camp making their glorious debut

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The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on June 5, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Rape accusation preceded Brian Snead’s departure from Ohio State
THE SYNOPSIS: The running back has never been charged.  The alleged victim has declined to talk to the police.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Maryland’s Jordan McNair in critical condition after collapsing during workout
THE SYNOPSIS: One of the saddest stories of any offseason.  Ever.  McNair died a week later of what was later determined to be heatstroke.  A toxic culture that contributed to McNair’s death led to head coach D.J. Durkin‘s firing.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Another report has Al Pacino playing film version of Joe Paterno
THE SYNOPSIS: Pacino did indeed play the former Penn State head coach.  And he was brilliant.

2016

THE HEADLINE: Five-star QB, ex-A&M commit Tate Martell’s Final 5 features Ohio State, UCLA, USC
THE SYNOPSIS: How the mighty have fallen.

2015

THE HEADLINE: PHOTOS: Jim Harbaugh, shirtless, at Michigan’s satellite camp
THE SYNOPSIS: This will never get old.  Ever.

2013

THE HEADLINE: Four-star Miami QB signee hit with charges in single-car crash
THE SYNOPSIS: This was far from Kevin Olsen‘s most serious legal issueBy a longshot.

South Alabama announces future home-and-home with Louisiana Tech

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If you’ve been thinking, “boy, I sure could use some scheduling news involving South Alabama and Louisiana Tech,” are you ever in luck.

South Alabama Wednesday announced a future home-and-home series with Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs will head to Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile on Sept. 24, 2022.  The Jaguars will then take a trip to Ruston’s Joe Aillet Stadium on Sept. 25, 2027.

South Alabama and Louisiana Tech have squared off twice previously.  Those two matchups were part of a home-and-home in 2017 and 2018.  Both of those were wins for the Bulldogs.

USA had previously announced a home-and-home with Ole Miss.

South Alabama is coming off a 2-10 season in the second year under Steve Campbell.  The Jaguars have never finished above .500 since making the move to the FBS level in 2012.  The closest they came was a 6-6 record in 2013.

Louisiana Tech, meanwhile, is coming off a 10-3 2019 campaign.  The 10 wins set a school record as an FBS program. In beating Miami 14-0 in the 2019 Independence Bowl, Tech became the first Group of Five school to shut out a Power Five member in a postseason game.

In seven seasons under skip Holtz, the Bulldogs have gone 56-36.  Those are the most wins for a Bulldogs head coach since Tech moved up to the Div. I-A, now FBS, level.  With 151, Joe Aillet holds the school’s all-time record.

Eastern Michigan adds a tight end to its 2020 recruiting class

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Like Boise State and Nebraska before it, Eastern Michigan continues a late filling of its 2020 football recruiting class.  Even as its eyes are mostly on the 2021 class.

Eastern Michigan football Wednesday that its has officially signed tight end Lucas Luft as part of its Class of 2020.  With Luft’s signing, the Eagles now have a class that’s 24 recruits strong.

Luft spent the past two seasons at Fullerton College.  In 2018, Luft was a first-team All-Southern California Football Association selection after averaging a ridiculous 31.5 yards per catch.

According to 247Sports.com, Luft is the No. 17 JUCO tight end in this year’s class.  He’s also a three-star signee according to that recruiting service.

“In Lucas, we have found exactly what we were looking for,” said head coach Chris Creighton. “He’s a tough 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end that can really stretch the field and catch. He was an excellent wide receiver in high school and has grown into a man who can do it all. Best of all, he is the kind of person we look for off the field. He is a great fit for Eastern Michigan football.

Eastern Michigan now holds the No. 7 football recruiting class in the MAC.

EMU is coming off a 6-7 campaign that ended with a QuickLane Bowl loss to Pitt.  The Eagles have now played in a bowl game three of the past four years, the only time in school history that’s ever happened.

Creighton’s 28 wins (in six seasons) are already fifth-most in the program’s history.