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Ohio State offense sputtering, but Penn State squandering opportunities

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Ohio State’s visit to Penn State was supposed to be a shootout between two play-making quarterbacks and their highly-regarded arsenals. Penn State came into Saturday leading the nation in scoring at 55.5 points per game, with Ohio State just one point behind.

But the first half was anything but. Penn State shutdown Ohio State’s offense through the first half, but a number of squandered opportunities and a crucial mistake see the Nittany Lions take just a 13-7 lead to the Beaver Stadium locker rom.

But it could have been more. Penn State out-gained Ohio State by nearly 200 yards but carries just a 6-point lead into the third quarter.

After trading punts to open the game, Penn State struck the first blow of the game when Trace McSorley found Juwan Johnson for a spectacular 31-yard gain, taking the ball from the Ohio State 48 to the 17.

But a gadget play to backup quarterback Tommy Stevens lost 13 yards on the next snap, and so the Nittany Lions settled for a 34-yard Jake Pinegar field goal.

After forcing a three-and-out, Penn State was moved in prime territory to take control of the game when McSorley dashed for a career-long 51-yard gain on the first play of the drive, but the march sputtered and Pinegar’s 46-yard field goal hooked wide left.

The teams traded three and outs after that, until Garrett Taylor intercepted a Dwayne Haskins pass and returned it 45 yards to the Ohio State 28. Once again with a great chance to take control of the game, Penn State again couldn’t muster anything more than a glancing blow. The Nittany Lions could not gain a first down, and Pinegar’s 39-yard field goal pushed the lead to 6-0.

Though the offense couldn’t get anything going, Drue Chrisman tilted the game to Ohio State’s advantage with a pair of booming punts — a 44-yarder to pin the Nittany Lions to their own 12, and then a 58-yarder to the 2.

Pinned near their own end zone, it appeared Penn State was ready to give Ohio State good field position when facing a 3rd-and-5 from their own 7, but it was then that the Nittany Lions finally landed a knockdown punch — a slant to freshman K.J. Hamler who outraced the Buckeyes’ defense and raced it 93 yards for a touchdown. It was Penn State’s first third down conversion of the night.

Penn State forced Ohio State into a third consecutive three-and-out with 2:32 to go before the break, but a critical mistake allowed the Buckeyes back in the game. Miles Sanders coughed up the ball after being hit by Ohio State linebacker Tuf Borland, and the Buckeyes’ Dre’Mont Jones hopped on the ball at the Penn State 25.

The Buckeyes finally got on the board two plays later when Haskins hit J.K. Dobbins on a screen pass, who carried it 26 yards for a touchdown with 1:50 to go before the break. Even with that touchdown, Haskins suffered through by far his worst half of the season, hitting just 7-of-16 passes for 62 yards. The Buckeyes’ offensive line has been whipped by the Nittany front, and so four Buckeye ballcarriers combined to rush 13 times for just 34 yards.

Penn State has had no trouble moving the ball, thanks in large part two a pair of plays that covered 146 yards. McSorley completed 10-of-19 passes for 198 yards with a touchdown while rushing 10 times for a game-high 76 yards. Sanders has carried 10 times for 31 yards.

The teams are a combined 2-of-18 on third downs. Unless that changes, it’s hard to see either team putting a drive together.

Ohio State will receive to open the second half.

UCLA new home for Duke transfer RB Brittain Brown

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For the second time today, an erstwhile Duke football player has found a new college football home.

Tuesday, it was confirmed that wide receiver Aaron Young had transferred into the Florida Atlantic programOn Twitter not long after, Young’s former Duke football teammate, Brittain Brown, announced on Twitter that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career at UCLA.

Brown had entered the NCAA transfer database earlier this month.  He had also drawn interest from, among others, Colorado, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin.

Scheduled to graduate from Duke in May, the running back would then be eligible to play for the Bruins in 2020.  The upcoming season will be his final year of eligibility.

Brown was a three-star member of the Blue Devils’ 2016 recruiting class.  He was the No. 46 player regardless of position in the state of Georgia.

In four seasons with the Duke football team, Brown has rushed for 1,126 yards and 10 touchdowns on 222 carries.  His best season was his second as he ran for 701 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry as a redshirt freshman.

Brown’s last two seasons were marred by injuries.  A shoulder injury cost him four games in 2018, while another shoulder injury sidelined him for the last two months this past season.

The addition of Brown will help to somewhat — somewhat — mitigate the Bruins’ myriad personnel losses of late.

Washington State officially taps Wyoming’s Jake Dickert as DC

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The raiding of the Wyoming staff by the new head coach for Washington State football has formally commenced.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Wazzu would be adding three Wyoming assistants to Nick Rolovich‘s first staff at the Pac-12 school.  Tuesday, the first of those came to fruition as Jake Dickert was officially confirmed as the Cougars’ defensive coordinator.

Dickert will also coach linebackers for Rolovich.

“I am so pumped about this hire, I’ve been following Jake and his coaching career for a long time. We have competed against him the past couple years and his defenses play tough, they play physical and they play as one,” the first-year Washington State football coach said in a statement. “Jake came highly recommended from a number of coaches around the country and he has been very successful in recruiting and developing players from this area of the country. I’ve seen Jake continue to develop as he worked his way up the coaching ladder and he proved himself as a defensive coordinator this past season. He takes pride in how his defense plays, stopping the run, forcing takeaways and pressuring the quarterback, and I think he will be a great fit for this program and the Pullman community.”

Dickert spent the past three seasons at Wyoming.  For the first two, he was safeties coach.  Prior to the 2019 season, he was promoted to defensive coordinator.

The Cowboys job was Dickert’s first at the FBS level.  During a 13-year coaching career, he also served time on football staffs at North Dakota State, South Dakota, Southeast Missouri State, Augustana, Minnesota State and South Dakota State.

Alabama QB signee Bryce Young leaps to top of 247’s Class of 2020 player rankings

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Not only does the Alabama Crimson Tide football team currently hold the nation’s top recruiting class, they now boast the nation’s top player. Well, at least according to one recruiting service they do.

During the Early Signing Period last month, Mater Dei quarterback Bryce Young signed with Alabama. At the time, Young was the No. 3 player in the country according to 247Sports.com.

Tuesday, ahead of National Signing Day next week, the recruiting website released its final player rankings for the Class of 2020. And, according to that service, Young is now the No. 1 recruit in this year’s class.

Quarterback and Clemson signee DJ Uiagalelei is the No. 2 prospect. Another Clemson signee, defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, is No. 3. The rest of the Top Five is rounded out by an Ohio State signee, wide receiver Julian Fleming, and another Alabama Crimson Tide football signee, weakside defensive end Will Anderson.

The recruiting website explained the process that went into making the decision on the top player in this class:

There were three worthy candidates but there’s a new No. 1. In almost any year, any one of DJ Uiagalelei, Bryce Young and Bryan Bresee would be a clear No. 1. This year, two had to settle for something less. We landed on Young as our top guy after extensive deliberation. Despite Bresee being one of the best defensive linemen we’ve scouted in years, he was up against two quarterbacks that finish with the same rating as Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, our highest grade ever given to a quarterback. When it’s close, and a true No. 1 candidate is there at quarterback, we felt that position had to get the nod. Here’s our roundtable discussion on how we sorted through these three elite talents.

Despite coming up short on some of the physical tools that Uiagalelei boasts, Young’s consistency, instincts, accuracy and body of work both during his career, senior season and all-star performances was just too much to pass up for us. As the game turns to the best player going No. 1, regardless of traits (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow), we felt like Young gives us our best shot at hitting on the No. 1 player.

As for the 247 composite, which takes into consideration other recruiting services such as Rivals and ESPN? Bresee is the No. 1 recruit in the country, followed by Young and Fleming. According to that same composite, Uiagalelei is the No. 10 prospect in the Class of 2020.

Ex-Duke WR Aaron Young lands at Florida Atlantic

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When Duke wide receiver Aaron Young first entered the transfer portal, nearly a year ago to the day, he wanted to head back west.“I’m looking for a graduate program that I can get into since I can’t get into one here, and also a chance to play closer to home,” the California native told 247Sports at the time.

Young later pulled his name from the portal and played the 2019 season for the Blue Devils. His 29 receptions for 367 yards and three touchdowns ranked him second among all Duke wide receivers.

Still unable to get into graduate school at Duke, Young re-entered the portal two days after Christmas, and now he’s found his next destination — which is very much not closer to his Murrieta, Calif., home.

Young later replied to the tweet, comically correcting FAU Owl’s Nest to let them know he’s actually 6’4″ and 210 pounds.

Immediately eligible to play his sixth season, Young will join a defending Conference USA champion team that nonetheless loses four of its top five pass catchers. In 37 career games, Young owns 63 grabs for 849 yards and seven touchdowns.