Associated Press

Kicking woes doom Pitt to halftime deficit against Penn State

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Pittsburgh has rushed the ball for 214 yards on nearly seven yards a carry, but a disastrous effort in the kicking game has allowed Penn State to carry a 14-6 lead into the locker room.

Penn State opened the game as well as a coach (or fan) could hope: by forcing a Pitt three-and-out, then moving 63 yards in three plays for a touchdown, as K.J. Hamler put the Nittany Lions on top with a 32-yard run.

The Panthers answered, though, ripping through 75 yards in 10 plays, culminating in a 13-yard Qadree Ollison rush, but a bobbled extra point snap kept the Panthers’ deficit at 7-6.

Kicking woes would be a theme through the first half, as a driving rain on the Heinz Field grass ruined the kicking surface for both sides. Penn State moved to the Pitt 27 on its second possession, but Jake Pinegar‘s 45-yard field goal try was no good.

Pitt returned the favor midway through the second quarter, as the Panthers could not get a clean hold for Alex Kessman, whose 35-yard try was pulled to the right. Pitt’s defense immediately got the ball back when Rashad Weaver hopped on a Ricky Slade fumble at the Penn State 31.

The Panthers moved to the Penn State 4 on a 4th-and-3, and Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi elected to go for it, but Ollison was stuffed for a loss of three.

Then, with 59 seconds left in the half, Pitt lined up to punt the ball and accept its 1-point halftime deficit, but Kirk Christodoulou, who struggled to corral the earlier snaps as the holder, dropped the punt snap, and Penn State hopped on the loose pigskin at the Pitt 35. Trace McSorley hit Himler for a 14-yard touchdown pass two plays later.

McSorley completed 7-of-11 passes for 82 yards and the late score, while Miles Sanders rushed eight times for 74 yards.

Ollison carried Pitt’s offense, rushing 17 times for 125 yards and a score. Pitt’s passing offense has been non-existent, as Kenny Pickett completed 4-of-8 passes for a paltry 17 yards with an interception.

Penn State will receive to open the second half.

North Dakota State takes No. 1 seed in FCS Playoffs

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The playoff field is set for the FCS Playoffs. Defending national champion and No. 1 North Dakota State took the top seed overall but will face a challenging bracket if the Bison are to claim another national title this year.

As the top seed, North Dakota State will own home-field advantage in the Fargo Dome for as long as they are in the playoffs, with the exception of a possible national title game appearance, which will be played in Frisco, Texas on January 5. North Dakota State’s portion of the bracket includes No. 4 seed Kennesaw State (who was the No. 2 team in the FCS top 25) and last year’s national title runners-up from James Madison. The Dukes were not seeded in this year’s tournament with a record of 8-3, but they are always to be considered a dangerous opponent this time of year.

A handful of teams ended playoff droughts with this year’s bracket. East Tennessee State is making its first playoff appearance since 1996, ending the longest drought among this year’s playoff teams. Delaware and Southeast Missouri State are each back in the playoff for the first time since 2010. The field also includes three first-time playoff teams; Incarnate Word, Lamar, and UC Davis.

The FCS Playoffs begin next weekend.

Michigan’s Berkley Edwards tweets he has been released from hospital after nasty hit

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Michigan running back and special teams player Berkley Edwards was carted off the field on a stretcher in the fourth quarter at Michigan Stadium on Saturday in a scary scene that paused the game for roughly 10 minutes. The morning after the Wolverines beat Indiana, however, there is good news to report on Edwards. Edwards shared an update on his Twitter account to tell his followers and Michigan fans he has been released from the hospital and he is OK.

“Just got out the hospital,” Edwards said. “[E]verything is good!”

Edwards followed that up to say he did not see the Indiana player who hit him (Cam Jones, who was ejected for the hit) and his head is still hurting a bit.

It is unknown at this time what the status of Edwards will be for Michigan’s regular-season finale at Ohio State this week. The winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game will play in the Big Ten Championship Game as the East Division champion.

Reports say Texas State will not bring Everett Withers back in 2019

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Send another coach through the coaching carousel. Multiple reports on Sunday say Texas State will move on from Everett Withers after this season. Football Scoop and The Athletic each reported news of the coaching change for the program.

According to Football Scoop, as reported by College Football Talk contributor Zach Barnett, Withers will not coach for Texas State this week in the regular season finale against Arkansas State.

Withers was hired by Texas State prior to the 2016 season to replace Dennis Franchione. Texas State had back-to-back 2-10 seasons in his first two years on the job and the Bobcats are just 3-8 this season with one game remaining. This will be the fourth straight season Texas State has had no more than four wins (and it could be a fourth straight year with no more than three wins).

The former James Madison head coach will likely manage to find a job somewhere on a coaching staff, even if not as a head coach. Texas State is now looking for its third head coach since jumping up from the FCS to the FBS in 2012.

UCF moves up to No. 8 in AP Top 25, Army makes first appearance since 1996

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After arguably the biggest weekend in UCF football history, the Knights are now enjoying their highest ranking in the AP Top 25 of the season and second-highest ranking in program history. UCF moved up to No. 8 in this week’s AP Top 25 poll as they finally managed to jump ahead fo a couple of power conference programs that have been standing in the way the past few weeks.

Alabama claimed all 61 first-place votes from the AP voters this week. The top-ranked Crimson Tide are followed by Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan, Georgia, and Oklahoma as there were no changes in the top six. No. 7 Washington State, UCF, and LSU all took advantage of No. 12 West Virginia falling five spots after a loss at Oklahoma State.

UCF moved into a tie with LSU for the No. 8 spot in the ranking this week, but the Knights have officially moved ahead of Ohio State. The Buckeyes slipped to No. 10, dropping one spot.

Army is also making some headlines in the AP Top 25 by appearing in the ranking for the first time since 1996. Army cracked the Ap Top 25 at No. 23 to be in the AP Top 25 for just the third time since 1985.

Here is this week’s AP Top 25:

1. Alabama (61)
2. Clemson
3. Notre Dame
4. Michigan
5. Georgia
6. Oklahoma
7. Washington State
8. (tie) UCF
8. (tie) LSU
10. Ohio State
11. Texas
12. West Virginia
13. Florida
14. Utah State
15. Penn State
16. Washington
17. Kentucky
18. Utah
19. Syracuse
20. Northwestern
21. Boise State
22. Mississippi State
23. Army
24. Pittsburgh
25. Iowa State