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New Mexico State defends signing of ex-Minnesota player accused of sexual assault

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New Mexico State last month announced the addition of a junior college transfer, but this one isn’t like most others.

As a redshirt freshman at Minnesota in 2016, Ray Buford, Jr., was allegedly involved in a sexual assault that would eventually engulf the program in result in head coach Tracy Claeys being pushed out. Though he was never charged by two separate investigations, Buford was suspended and later recommended for expulsion, along with three others, but instead announced he would leave the school before the school could kick him out.

He wound up at Independence Community College in Kansas and, now, New Mexico State.

New Mexico State’s transfer protocols require that a student be eligible for return at his or her original school in order to gain admittance to NMSU, which is under question since Buford was recommended for expulsion at Minnesota.

“Sexual assault, sexual misconduct and sexual harassment is front and center right now everywhere,” NMSU Title IX coordinator Lauri Millot told the Las Cruces Sun-News. “NMSU’s obligation is to protect our campus community, students and our staff and do it in a way that incorporates prevention, education and an appropriate response so we don’t put students or staff in a hostile environment.”

Aggies head coach Doug Martin told the paper that Buford was admitted after a multi-month investigation. In fact, Buford committed in December but was not announced until a month later.

“It started in October when we handed all of the information we had to the administration and everyone involved in making that decision,” Martin. “Football did not make the decision. We just brought it to them and said (Buford) is a young man who we believe deserves a second chance and you guys (NMSU administrators) tell us what you want us to do. I don’t think we have chased guys like that like some programs do. We have been selective and wouldn’t bring in anyone who we didn’t think deserved to be here.”

New Mexico State will compete as an FBS Independent in 2018. The Aggies went 7-6 in 2017, ending the year with a win over Utah State in the Arizona Bowl, the program’s first bowl trip in six decades.

Top 10 stands pat in third edition of CFP rankings

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The third edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were unveiled Tuesday night and the top ten remained exactly the same from a week ago. Such a holding pattern was expected after the entire top 10 won a week ago.

It is the first time in the history of the CFP rankings the top 10 has remained the same from one week to the next.

Most notably, Oklahoma did not fall from No. 6 after being pushed to the limit by 5-4 Oklahoma State at home.

Kentucky was the highest-ranked team to lose, a 24-7 loss at Tennessee, and the Cats fell from No. 11 to No. 17.

UCF moved up to No. 11 and Syracuse to No. 12 ahead of their showdown with the Irish. UCF’s No. 11 ranking is the highest a Group of 5 team has ever appeared in 28 sets of CFP rankings.

Mississippi State remained the highest-ranked 4-loss team, edging out Northwestern at No. 21. Utah State, Cincinnati and Boise State joined the rankings in the final three spots.

1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Notre Dame
4. Michigan
5. Georgia
6. Oklahoma
7. LSU
8. Washington State
9. West Virginia
10. Ohio State
11. UCF
12. Syracuse
13. Florida
14. Penn State
15. Texas
16. Iowa State
17. Kentucky
18. Washington
19. Utah
20. Boston College
21. Mississippi State
22. Northwestern
23. Utah State
24. Cincinnati
25. Boise State

Oregon grad transfer WR to redshirt, pursue second graduate transfer

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The two major rule changes in college football over the past decade have combined into one on the Oregon wide receiver depth chart.

Oregon wide receiver Tabari Hines, who arrived in Eugene by way of a graduate transfer out of Wake Forest, has announced he will take this season as a redshirt year and pursue a second graduate transfer elsewhere.

“Tabari Hines is not on roster right now,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal told The Oregonian.  “He is on the transfer portal. He will use this year to redshirt and transfer out.”

A native of Florence, S.C., Hines signed with Wake Forest as an early enrollee and caught 32 passes for 366 yards, a school record for a true freshman. Hines’s production increased from there, catching 38 balls as a sophomore and 53 as a junior — the most on the team.

However, Hines decided to try his luck elsewhere and left for Oregon, but has caught only three passes for 32 yards and one touchdown, all of them in a 62-14 win over Portland State in September. He has appeared in three games, none since Pac-12 play began.

Given that, Hines will use the new redshirt rule to take a mulligan and now find a third school to play for — or perhaps he realizes the grass wasn’t really greener and returns to Wake Forest.

Virginia Tech loses leading sacker to torn ACL

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Virginia Tech’s embattled defense has taken yet another hit.

Justin Fuente confirmed Monday Houshun Gaines will miss the remainder of Virginia Tech’s 2018 season because of a knee injury.  Defensive coordinator Bud Foster had previously stated that the defensive end had suffered a torn ACL.

Gaines suffered the injury in Saturday’s blowout loss to Pitt.

“House plays extremely hard and will be missed, but he’ll be very quickly on the road to recovery and we look forward to having him out there next year,” the head coach said by way of the Roanoke Times.

The redshirt junior currently leads the Hokies in sacks with 4½, while his five tackles for loss are tied for fourth.

Maryland QB Kasim Hill suffers second torn ACL in last 14 months

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Last September, Kasim Hill‘s season came to a premature end thanks to a torn ACL in his right knee.  During Saturday’s loss to Indiana, Hill suffered what appeared to be a significant injury to his other knee.

In fact, in an Instagram post Monday, the Maryland starting quarterback intimated that it was yet another torn ACL as he alluded to  “attacking the process all over again.”

Tuesday, acting head coach Matt Canada confirmed that Hill had indeed suffered another torn ACL.  Obviously, the sophomore’s season has come to an end.

Hill had started all 10 games under center for the Terrapins this season.  He completed under 50 percent of his 170 passes for nine touchdowns and four interceptions.  His passing efficiency rating of 115.7 is 10th in the Big Ten and 100th nationally.

Sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome is expected to take over for Hill as the Terps’ starting quarterback.