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Clayton Thorson scores 4 TDs as Northwestern upsets No. 20 Michigan State

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Northwestern (2-3, 2-1 Big Ten) finally found a way not to waste a halftime lead. The Wildcats took down No. 20 Michigan State (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) in East Lansing behind a solid defensive effort and a three-touchdown performance through the air from Clayton Thorson. Northwestern’s 29-19 win also helps keep Northwestern in the early running in the Big Ten West Division thanks to the crossover matchup with the Spartans.

After Northwestern’s defense brought pressure on Brian Lewerke in the end zone on two straight plays and somehow managed to not get a safety ruled in their favor on those two straight plays, the defense dialed up a fourth down stop on 4th and 1 on the Michigan State 11-yard line. Northwestern took over in a great spot to put the game away, and a strong push on the goal line by Thorson put the 10-point underdogs up by 10.

Thorson passed for 373 yards and three touchdowns and he pushed forward on the goal line score late in the game gave Northwestern’s quarterback four touchdowns in the game.

Each of Thorson’s touchdown throws came from outside the red zone. The first to Kyric McGowan in the first quarter and traveled 77 yards came as a result of a bit of blown coverage down the field, as McGowan was wide open behind the Michigan State defense. Thorson’s perfectly placed ball into the hands of JJ Jefferson covered 34 yards for a second-quarter touchdown, helping to give Northwestern a 14-6 lead as the Michigan State offense was failing to cash in on their opportunities. A third touchdown pass to Cameron Green in the third quarter from 21 yards pulled Northwestern back in front of Michigan State after the Spartans had taken a 19-14 on their second touchdown of the second half.

Northwestern missed a field goal to keep Michigan State in it in the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats defense forced a three-and-out and then

Northwestern will return home next week to play a home game against Nebraska. The Huskers, already off to a woeful start at 0-4, could be searching for their first win of the season after a road game at Wisconsin on Saturday.

Michigan State will be on the road next week to play a division game at Penn State. The Spartans knocked off the Nittany Lions with a last-second field goal to effectively remove any thought of the College Football Playoff for Penn State. The Nittany Lions lost a tough one last week at home against Ohio State and have this week off to prepare for their next revenge situation against Michigan State.

Indiana QB Peyton Ramsey enters transfer portal, per report

Indiana QB Peyton Ramsey has entered the transfer portal.
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Indiana starting quarterback Peyton Ramsey has entered the NCAA transfer portal, according to a report on Monday afternoon.

As reported by 247 Sports, Ramsey has entered the transfer portal, which means he will begin evaluating his transfer options for the upcoming season. Ramsey will be a graduate transfer. As a graduate transfer, Ramsey will be eligible to play for any other FBS program this fall.

Ramsey may always pull his name form the transfer portal if he decides to stay at Indiana. While that move is not unprecedented in the era of the transfer portal, the situation appears likely to see Ramsey moving on.

Ramsey passed for 2,454 yards and 13 touchdowns with five interceptions last season in 11 games. Ramsey also rushed for 252 yards and seven touchdowns in one of the most successful seasons in Indiana’s history since 1993.

With Ramsey likely to be moving out of Bloomington, Indiana’s offense will now be placed in the hands of Michael Penix Jr. Penix played in seven games for the Hoosiers in 2019. He completed 68.8 percent of his pass attempts for 1,394 yards and 10 touchdowns with four interceptions. He also rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns on 22 rushing attempts. Penix played in just three games in 2018 to preserve a redshirt season. He has three remaining years of eligibility for Indiana.

USC safety C.J. Pollard enters transfer portal

USC safety C.J. Pollard has entered the NCAA transfer portal.
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USC safety C.J. Pollard announced he decided to enter the transfer portal. The redshirt junior posted on his Twitter account Monday morning he will begin evaluating his transfer options with the intent on being a graduate transfer.

“After considerable thought and prayer, I have decided to enter the Transfer Portal as a GRADUATE,” Pollard posted on his social media account.

As a graduate transfer, Pollard will be eligible to play for any other FBS program in the fall, without having to sit out a season. Pollard will have just one final season of eligibility to use this upcoming season.

Pollard appeared in 12 games for USC in 2019 and recorded 15 tackles, with one tackle for a loss. Pollard was listed second on the USC depth chart at the end of the 2019 season. Pollard was the first backup free safety listed behind starter Isaiah Pola-Mao, a redshirt sophomore set to return and (likely) continue being the starter for the Trojans in 2020.

DeMarco Murray returns to Oklahoma as running backs coach

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In the past, Oklahoma’s running backs coaches might have pointed to DeMarco Murray as an example of how it’s done. Murray redshirted, fought through multiple serious injuries, stuck around for his senior year, set numerous program records and then led a productive NFL career, including leading the league in rushing in 2014.

Now, Oklahoma’s running backs coach will be DeMarco Murray.

Murray was announced Monday as the newest member of Lincoln Riley‘s coaching staff.

“This is a really exciting day, being able to welcome one of our program’s all-time best players back to Norman,” Lincoln Riley said in a statement. “DeMarco had a tremendous playing career both at OU and in the NFL and has a passion for coaching and helping young men grow as players and people. He’s got an incredibly bright coaching future and will be an outstanding mentor to our players. I don’t think there’s anyone better to lead our running backs. Everyone in our program is excited to have DeMarco, his wife Heidi and their children as part of our family.”

A product of powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Murray signed with Oklahoma in 2006 and left school with the program’s record in all-purpose yards (6,718) and touchdowns (65). That means, in all of OU’s storied history of producing prolific offenses, no player carried the ball for more yards or crossed the goal line more than Murray.

“This is very surreal,” Murray said. “Obviously I never thought I’d be back coaching at the place where it all started for me. Having the opportunity to come back and be among great coaches and be with some of the people I grew up with is exciting. I’m thankful for the opportunity Coach Riley is giving me and I’m looking forward to being back home.”

Murray replaces Jay Boulware, who left to become the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator at Texas, his own alma mater.

Murray arrives in Norman with only one year of coaching experience, serving as Kevin Sumlin‘s running backs coach at Arizona last season. After a 7-year NFL career, Murray spent 2018 as an analyst for FOX Sports.

All signs point to Bo Pelini being next LSU defensive coordinator

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Bo Pelini (remember him?) is set to be the next LSU defensive coordinator, according to multiple reports on Monday, though FootballScoop was the first to report on the possibility a full week ago.

Pelini will return to a job he held from 2005-07, when he served as Les Miles‘ first defensive coordinator in Baton Rouge and helped LSU win the 2007 national championship. From there, he became the head coach at Nebraska, where he went 66-27 in seven seasons. Though he never brought a Big 12 or Big Ten title to Lincoln, Pelini’s Huskers teams joined only Alabama and Oregon in winning at least nine games each year from 2008-14. After being pushed out following the 2014 campaign, Pelini has spent the past five seasons as the head coach at Youngstown State, where he is 33-28.

The volcanic Pelini represents a stark departure from the stoic Dave Aranda, who left earlier this month to become the head coach at Baylor.

According to Sports Illustrated‘s Ross Dellenger, Pelini will make around $2 million a year, which represents a massive raise from his salary as an FCS head coach but a major savings for LSU, who paid Aranda a best-in-the-nation salary of $2.5 million. (Update: CFT has learned Pelini’s salary is likely to be closer to Aranda’s deal than previously reported.)

Though he’s spent the past 30 seasons in coaching, Pelini does not have a ton of experience as a coordinator. Aside from the three seasons in his first stint at LSU, Pelini spent just one season as the defensive coordinator at Nebraska (2003) and one as a co-coordinator at Oklahoma (2004).

Nevertheless, he takes over a defense that’s fresh off a national championship that both loses and returns a ton of talent. The Tigers will look to replace all four starting linebackers plus defensive ends Rashard Lawrence and Breiden Fehoko, safety Grant Delpit and cornerback Kristian Fulton, but the 2020 defense will be led by perhaps college football’s best defender in sophomore corner Derek Stingley plus safeties JaCoby Stevens and Kary Vincent, Jr.