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Ole Miss strikes first, but No. 1 Alabama buries Rebels in Oxford

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From the very first snap, Ole Miss showed this wasn’t going to be like other games No. 1 Alabama plays. Behind its strong-armed Hawaiian quarterback, these Rebels were going to hit the Tide’s inexperienced secondary right in the mouth, as Jordan Ta’amu found D.K. Metcalf for a 75-yard touchdown grab.

And right from its very first snap, Alabama showed Ole Miss that this wasn’t other Alabama teams. These Crimson Tide have their own big-armed quarterback from the islands, and they can deliver haymakers with the best of them.

Alabama (3-0, 1-0 SEC) needed only three plays to tie the game, a 43-yard Damien Harris rumble. And then, after a pair of Ole Miss (2-1, 0-1 SEC) three-and-outs and an Alabama fumble, Tua Tagovailoa had his equalizer, a 79-yard scoring strike to Jerry Jeudy, and the Tide were off to the races. After a 10-yard Najee Harris run and a 12-yard pass from Tagovailoa to tight end Irv Smith, Alabama had a 28-7 lead by the 4:40 mark of the first quarter.

The Tide expanded on that 28-7 first quarter lead into a 49-7 halftime edge and a 62-7 final.

While Alabama’s offense was obviously the story of the half, Ole Miss’s unit failed to keep them in the game after the opening score. The Rebels went three-and-out after Alabama’s first score, then did the same upon taking over at the Alabama 47 after a Henry Ruggs III fumble. Trailing 14-7, Ole Miss again moved to the Alabama 47 when Ta’amu fumbled away what would have been a 3rd and 1 situation. The Rebels’ next possession, trailing 21-7, Ta’amu threw an interception that Deionte Thompson returned to the Rebels’ 15 and the game was all but over.

In the second quarter, Alabama scored on a 4-yard Josh Jacobs run, a 22-yard pass from Jalen Hurts to Jeudy and a 13-yard pass from Hurts to Ruggs.

All told, the Tide rolled up 418 yards of total offense and 20 first downs on 41 first half snaps. Tagovailoa hit 11-of-15 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns, while Hurts was 7-of-10 for 85 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Nine Alabama players combined to carry 44 times for 210 yards and three touchdowns.

Ta’amu, meanwhile, after starting 1-of-1 for 75 yards and a touchdown, finished 6-of-21 for 58 yards with two interceptions.

McKenzie Milton set for another surgery, but will be in attendance for UCF’s Fiesta Bowl matchup vs. LSU

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McKenzie Milton wasn’t in attendance as his UCF teammates won back-to-back AAC championships earlier this month.  Very early next year, however, he’ll be there as the Knights look to put the finishing touches on a second consecutive unbeaten season.

In an update on the UCF quarterback’s status, Teresa Milton, McKenzie’s mom, revealed in a statement posted to Twitter that her son is undergoing another surgery Thursday “to get him more comfortable.” Additionally, the mom confirmed that Milton “will be at the Fiesta Bowl to cheer his [teammates] on to Victory!”

UCF will face LSU Jan. 1 in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl.

In the second quarter of UCF’s win over rival USF last month, Milton went down with a horrific and gruesome injury to his right leg. Medical personnel immobilized the quarterback’s entire leg before he was taken to a local hospital for further treatment of an injury that his head coach, Josh Heupel, deemed “traumatic.”

It was subsequently confirmed that Milton underwent emergency surgery to repair unspecified damage in his knee as well as what was described as “other internal issues.” Not long after, McKenzie’s family issued a statement in which they described the surgery as being successful but provided no details on the specific nature of the injury.

In the days following the injury, one of Milton’s teammates, Jordan Johnson, revealed that he had FaceTimed with Milton and that the quarterback stated he was able to take steps for the first time since the initial surgery was performed.  In another statement, the family confirmed that “blood flow has been restored to his right leg and his nerve is injured but intact.”

Milton, who was released from the hospital eight days after sustaining the injury, will have to undergo reconstructive surgery at some point in the next month or so “depending on his vascular recovery.” At this point in time, it remains decidedly uncertain what if any future Milton has in football.

App State officially hires NC State OC Eli Drinkwitz as new head coach

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Wednesday, interim head coach Mark Ivey informed the Appalachian State football team that he wouldn’t be named as the school’s permanent head coach.  A day later, the players officially found out in which direction the football program was headed.

Following up on reports that bubbled to the surface earlier in the morning, App State confirmed that Eliah Drinkwitz has agreed to become the Mountaineers’ next head football coach.  Drinkwitz will be officially introduced at a Monday press conference, two days after Ivey leads App State in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against Middle Tennessee State.

The 35-year-old Drinkwitz replaces c, who left earlier this month for the head job at Louisville.

“I’m excited to welcome Eliah and his family to App Nation,” App State athletic director Doug Gillin said in a statement. “The App State football program is in great position to continue its championship ways. Eliah is committed to excellence academically, competitively, socially and to the well-being of our student-athletes. There was significant interest in our process throughout a national search. Eliah has great character and a clear vision for the future of Mountaineer football. I’m excited about the future of our football program.”

Drinkwitz spent the past three seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at North Carolina State. Prior to that, he spent two seasons at Boise State, the last of which he took over the title as coordinator.

In embarking on the first head-coaching job at any level of football, Drinkwitz will be taking over an App State program that has won 40 games the past four seasons and won all three of its bowl games since moving up to the FBS level in 2014.

Days after effusively praising UCLA for getting him a sixth season, Justin Murphy announces transfer from Bruins

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Well, this is a tad bit awkward.

In announcing Monday that he had been granted a sixth season of eligibility, Justin Murphy was effusive in his praise of the work put in by the UCLA compliance department. “None of this could’ve been possible if it weren’t for the amazing job done at @UCLACompliance,” the offensive lineman wrote on Twitter. “Thank you for everything y’all do over there, it doesn’t go unnoticed!”

Two days later, however, Murphy took to Twitter again, only this time to announce that he “will be transferring to another university to finish out the last year of my college football career.”

This latest development continues an “interesting” path Murphy’s collegiate career has taken.

In the middle of the 2016 season, Murphy, then at Texas Tech, announced that he was taking a medical retirement because of knee injuries.  In April of 2018, however, Murphy revealed that he would be moving on from Tech to UCLA as a graduate transfer.

Murphy played in the first four games of his first season with the Bruins this year before going down with a knee injury.  That issue kept the lineman sidelined for all but the final two games of the year.

At Tech, Murphy started a total of 12 games — eight at right guard, four at tackle — in a little over two seasons before leaving the Red Raiders midway through the 2016 season.

Mizzou’s Tre Williams still facing felony domestic violence charge

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Over the weekend, Missouri’s Tre Williams was arrested at his off-campus apartment for suspicion of second-degree domestic assault following an incident involving a woman with whom he was having “an intimate relationship.”  Tuesday, the assistant prosecuting attorney of Boone County (MO), Susan Boresi, told multiple media outlets that the charge, a Class D felony, would not be filed against the defensive lineman.

“Additional information came forward that made it impossible to prosecute the case,” Boresi was quoted as saying.

Wednesday night, however, Boresi’s boss, Boone County prosecuting attorney Dan Knight, confirmed in a statement that Williams is still facing a felony domestic violence charge.

“The case involving Tre Williams has not been dismissed,” Knight said. “Because this is a pending case, no further comment will be made by this office at this time. Please refer to (Case.Net) for any updates. A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch offered up the details of the events leading up to Williams’ arrest:

Williams, 21, was arrested after a verbal argument turned physical early Sunday morning, Columbia Police Department spokesman Jeff Pitts said. Around 1:45 a.m., officers responded to a report of a physical altercation along South Providence Road. The alleged victim, described as an ex-girlfriend by Williams’ mother, Teresa Crews, told police there was a verbal argument with Williams while the victim was driving. Williams became physically aggressive with her in the vehicle, Pitts said. Officers observed physical evidence that supported the claim that the victim gave.

According to the police’s probable cause statement… Williams grabbed the woman’s steering wheel while she was driving to get her to pull over. He also hit her with his forearm and elbow and slapped her on the chest, according to the statement. The woman threw Williams’ phone out the window and when Williams later exited the car, he reached into the driver’s open window and choked the woman with both hands. She then rolled up the window and drove off.

Because Williams was arrested on a felony charge, he was automatically suspended by the football program.

A redshirt sophomore, Williams began the 2018 season as a starting defensive end for the Tigers before losing the job over the last half of the year. Williams’ 2½ sacks are still good for third on the team.