Associated Press

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.

WVU wideout Dillon Spalding transfers to James Madison, will play against old team in Week 1

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In the NFL, you’ll often see teams sign a player who was just cut off another team the week or two before they wind up playing that opponent. We could sort of have a college football version of that scenario in the case of wide receiver Dillon Spalding.

The former West Virginia redshirt freshman announced on Twitter that he had committed to James Madison and would be transferring to join the team in 2019. The team’s opponent in Week 1? None other than the Mountaineers in Morgantown.

Of course any knowledge Spalding might bring with him is limited given that both JMU and WVU have new coaching staffs in place this year. The former three-star recruit is moving a little closer to his Lorton, Va. hometown and will have all four years of eligibility remaining between redshirting last season due to an injury and the drop down to the FCS level.

The Dukes have added a solid amount of FBS talent recently for new coach Curt Cignetti. In addition to Spalding, former Penn State wide receiver Brandon Polk joined the program this offseason and both will catch passes from ex-Pitt QB Ben DiNucci.

Wildcats see attendance spike after allowing beer and wine sales at Arizona Stadium in 2018

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Arizona posted a disappointing 5-7 campaign in Kevin Sumlin’s first season in Tucson but Arizona fans still came out and enjoyed themselves thanks, in part, to the school allowing beer and alcohol sales for the first time.

As the Arizona Daily Star reports, attendance for the Wildcats home football games actually ticked up last year an average of 2,804 people while incidents of ejections at the stadium did the same — though were below historic averages.

“We’ve been very pleased with the rollout across the board in Arizona Stadium and McKale,” athletic director Dave Heeke said. “This was really focused around a number of things that we’ve done in the area of fan amenities and food service, and beverage selection was a key component.”

Some 43 people were kicked out of seven home games at UA, which is double the 21 from 2017 but well below the numbers the school reported for seasons when they played in-state rival Arizona State. It seems that Territorial Cup contest was the biggest indicator of above-average ejections in a year though game-by-game data was not given.

“I really haven’t noticed an increase in any type of criminal behavior due to beer and wine sales,” UAPD spokesman Sgt. Sean Shields told the paper. “Obviously from year to year the ejections and different numbers change and they fluctuate, but it’s very hard to pinpoint the reason why those happen.”

The amount of revenue generated by beer and alcohol sales wasn’t detailed by the school but Heeke noted it covered the additional costs on game days and the profit overall wasn’t hugely significant. Still, it seems the atmosphere at Arizona Stadium was still enough to lure fans into their seats despite plenty of late starts and a football team that was largely up-and-down in 2018.

Ex-FAU defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro joins Kansas staff in off-the-field role

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Not many people can say they worked for the very different styles of head coaches Lane Kiffin and Les Miles back-to-back but Tony Pecoraro certainly can.

The recently let go Florida Atlantic defensive coordinator has apparently landed a new gig in Lawrence as a senior defensive analyst, primarily serving under Jayhawks DC D.J. Eliott.

Pecoraro took over the Owls defense in 2018 after spending the previous two seasons running things on that side of the ball for Southern Miss. Things didn’t quite work out in Boca however as FAU couldn’t get off the field like they did in Kiffin’s first year and allowed 31.8 points per game.

The veteran coordinator, who has Power Five assistant experience from a stint at Florida State, was replaced at FAU by longtime Oklahoma State DC Glenn Spencer back in December.

Wisconsin unlikely to join trend of selling beer and alcohol at football games anytime soon

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Wisconsin fans are known to hold more than their own when it comes to enjoying an adult beverage or two before, during and after Badgers football games but they apparently will have to keep waiting for the opportunity to buy a cold one at Camp Randall on game days.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, a decision on whether or not to allow beer/alcohol sales in the general seating sections of the stadium rests with school chancellor Rebecca Blank and that she is not inclined to change the status quo on such prohibition anytime soon.

“The university believes that there is already an atmosphere of energy and excitement around Badger game days,” a school statement to the paper read. “The addition of alcohol to general seating areas isn’t needed to improve that experience and could detract from it for our students and fans.”

Just in the last two months, Indiana, Rutgers and Illinois have turned on the taps for football games in 2019. That will result in fully half of Big Ten schools allowing such sales in general seating areas as a result this season and it’s turned into yet another lucrative revenue stream for those that have too.

Wisconsin appears resistant to the idea however, doing so in the face of declining attendance for games too. While it is certainly too early to remark ‘never say never’ when it comes to the Badgers, it’s pretty clear this trend isn’t making its way to Madison anytime soon.