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Auburn-North Carolina in 2020 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game made official

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The third and final Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game for the 2020 season has been made official.

After reports surfaced late last year, it was confirmed Thursday that Auburn and North Carolina will square off Sept. 12 of 2020 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.  Per the release, an exact kick time and television network will be finalized at a later date.

“The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is an exciting opportunity for our team to take on an outstanding Auburn program in what is always one of the top events of the college football season,” said North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora in a statement. “The chance to play on a national stage in a world-class facility like Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta will be a tremendous experience for our fans and everyone associated with our program.”

“The Chick-fil-A Kickoff game has established itself as a premier season opener in college football and we look forward to being a part of it again in 2020 against a very good North Carolina program,” a statement from Fedora’s Auburn counterpart, Gus Malzahn, began. “It’s always great to play in Atlanta in front of a big crowd of Auburn fans.”

It had previously been announced that Florida State-West Virginia and Georgia-Virginia would be the other two Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games that season.  The ACC and SEC have met 10 times in previous Chick-fil-A games, with the SEC holding a sizable 9-1 advantage in those contests.

 

Are they back now? Texas snaps four-game losing streak to TCU

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Before the 2018 season began, many were pondering what’s been an annual question of late: “Is Texas back?” A road loss to an embattled Maryland in the opener suggested no.  The last two weeks, however, might say otherwise.

Trailing 13-10 at the half, and then 16-10 in the middle of the third, Texas ripped off 21 straight points to secure a huge 31-16 win over No. 17 TCU in the Big 12 opener for both schools.  The win snapped the Longhorns’ four-game losing streak to the Horned Frogs.

Sam Ehlinger passed for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns while rushing for another score in a winning effort.  Tre Watson led all rushers with a game-high 58 yards.

Defensively, the Longhorns forced four turnovers — three interceptions, one fumble recovery.  Texas was able to turn those turnovers into 14 points.

Combine this impressive win with a 23-point win over then-No. 22 USC the week before, and we’re right back to…

Of course, the answer to the question won’t be definitively answered for another two weeks as, after a road trip to Kansas State, Texas will play host to No. 5 Oklahoma.  And, even then, we may not get answer.

Old Dominion stuns No. 13 Virginia Tech for first-ever Power Five win

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Since returning to the FBS level, Old Dominion had been 0-9 against Power Five teams, with eight of those losses coming to schools from the ACC.  And then Saturday afternoon/evening happened.

Coming in as a 27.5-point underdog, Old Dominion left Foreman Stadium with a stunning 49-35 upset over No. 13 Virginia Tech.  The Monarchs had been 0-3 entering the game — losses to Liberty, FIU and Charlotte — while the Hokies were a perfect 2-0.

Tech had allowed just two touchdowns in two games; ODU had four in the fourth quarter alone and seven total in the game.

The two teams traded the lead six times, while it was tied on another six occasions.  The Monarchs took its first lead of the game with just under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, only to see the Hokies tied it up nearly three minutes later.

With 5:11 left in the contest, ODU took the lead for good on a tremendous one-handed catch by Jonathan Duhart on the back-end of a 29-yard touchdown pass from Blake LaRussa.

Both teams ended the game with their backups quarterbacks on the field.  LaRussa passed for 495 yards and four touchdowns after he replaced the starter before the second offensive series, while Ryan Willis went eight-of-15 for 115 yards and a touchdown in place of the injured Josh Jackson (8-16, two touchdowns, one interception).

 

Tech was the second ranked ACC team to go down in defeat at the hands of a previously-winless squad.  Earlier in the day, No. 23 Boston College was railroaded 30-13 by a Purdue team came in 0-3.

Tua remains flawless as No. 1 Alabama slays No. 22 Texas A&M

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No. 1 Alabama and its Heisman candidate quarterback Tua Tagovailoa cruised through their first three games, but Saturday was supposed to be different. No. 22 Texas A&M was coming to Tuscaloosa, and for the first time this season, the defending national champions would face a team that would match them athlete for athlete, coach for coach, and dollar for dollar.

Or so we thought.

Texas A&M threw its best bunch at college football’s crimson bully, but in the end Alabama accepted that blow and landed a torrent of haymakers back, cruising to a 45-23 win that wasn’t as close as the final score.

The game opened with a quick interception by Alabama’s Mack Wilson and an even quicker touchdown pass, as Devonta Smith hauled in a 30-yard score one play later to give the Tide a lead just 50 seconds into the game.

The next sequence was the best for Texas A&M (2-2, 0-1 SEC): after Alabama downed a punt at the Texas A&M 1, the Aggies marched the length of the field to tie the game. The key play on a 54-yard quarterback draw by Kellen Mond, then a 15-yard strike to tight end Jace Sternberger. It was the first 99-yard drive surrendered by Alabama since Houston did it in 1997.

But, in typical Alabama (4-0, 2-0 SEC) fashion, the euphoria of legitimately challenging the Tide was short lived. Tagovailoa moved the Tide 75 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 1-yard keeper, to give Alabama a lead it would not relinquish.

Seth Small put the Aggies within 14-10 at the 8:50 mark of the second quarter, but Alabama put the game away with 17 points over the final half of the second frame: a 23-yard strike to Hale Henteges, a 6-yard toss to Henteges and a 47-yard Joseph Bulovas field goal to stake Alabama to a 31-13 lead.

Josh Jacobs scored on a 3-yard rush to push the lead to 38-13, and Henry Ruggs III took a ball 57 yards to the house to add the capper at the 2:01 mark of the third quarter.

Trayveon Williams added the final score of the day, a 1-yard rush, with 12:55 to play in the game.

Tagovailoa added to his Heisman resume with perhaps his best game yet: 22-of-30 for 387 yards and four touchdowns while adding another on the ground. Damien Harris and Najee Harris combined to run 15 times for 95 yards.

On the other end, Mond endured a number of sacks to still rush for a game-high 98 yards while throwing for 196 more, but the bulk of those were in garbage time, and two interceptions were backbreakers for the Aggies.

The win moved Nick Saban to 13-0 against his former assistants, though Jimbo Fisher‘s 22-point loss was ahead of Saban’s average margin of victory of 27 points.

Will Grier reminds Heisman voters he’s still here as WVU blasts K-State

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Thanks in large part to a game canceled because of Hurricane Florence, Will Grier had seemingly fallen behind the likes of Tua Tagovailoa, Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray in the Heisman Trophy discussion of late.  Saturday afternoon, the West Virginia quarterback very loudly reminded voters that he’s still here.

In a 35-6 romp over Kansas State in Morgantown, Grier passed for 356 yards and five touchdowns on 25-35 passing in less than four full quarters worth of work.  The only real blemishes on the day were a trio of interceptions, although those were just the second, third and fourth picks of the season in over 100 pass attempts.

Grier now has thrown 14 touchdown passes on the season in just three games, and he’s thrown at least four in every one of them — five in the opener vs. Tennessee and four in the Week 2 romp over FCS Youngstown State in addition to the five today.

The performance came on the same day a very nice feature on the quarterback — and his wife and daughter and, because of social media, more-famous younger brothers and sister — ran on ESPN‘s College GameDay show.

Fourth-ranked WVU is now 3-0 on the season, with Texas Tech up next in Lubbock in a matchup that should do nothing but add to Grier’s Heisman numbers.