The Swamp was rocking, Tim Tebow was being honored, the national championship trophy was in the building and Florida football, at least on Saturday afternoon, was great again. The No. 22 Gators used a stifling defense and a few late offensive drives to deliver a 27-19 knockout blow to No. 5 LSU and give Dan Mullen his biggest win at the school as head coach.
Defense was the name of the game though as expected whenever these two programs square off. UF linebacker Vosean Joseph was making plays from sideline-to-sideline with 14 tackles (3.5 TFL) plus a pair of sacks. Defensive end Jachai Polite was also quite active as his group held LSU to just 4-of-15 on third down and saw Brad Stewart record a pick-six that all but sealed the deal with under two minutes to go.
On the other side of the ball, every yard was earned on the ground against that stout Tigers front. Tailbacks Lamical Perine (two touchdowns) and Jordan Scarlett combined for 150 yards and picked up numerous first downs between the tackles. Their efforts took some of the pressure off quarterback Feleipe Franks, who flashed some nice touch on key throws down the field on his way to a solid 161 yard, one touchdown (one interception) day. Perhaps his biggest asset was his athleticism though, rushing for 42 yards and catching a 15 yard pass on a trick play that setup a second half touchdown.
Even with that kind of performance and a huge win on the scoreboard though, the day belonged to another quarterback in blue as the school inducted Tebow into the Swamp’s Ring of Honor and honored the national title team from a decade ago that included a 51-21 win over LSU back in the day. As you could expect, the famous signal-caller-turned-broadcaster, gave a rousing speech to the crowd and seemed to spark a nice jump in energy for his team heading into the second quarter.
Nick Brossette led the way for the visitors with 95 yards and two touchdowns rushing but it was another one of those ugly-looking offensive performances for the Tigers that did enough to keep the game close but ultimately proved to be their undoing. Quarterback Joe Burrow picked a bad time to throw his first ever interception (it was returned for a touchdown) and he was sacked five times in the game and tossed another pick to seal the loss. He did make a few clutch throws to extend drives and managed 191 yards through the air but it just wasn’t enough as his team took a loss for the first time this season.
That result will not only knock the team out of the top five in the polls but also puts them a tick further behind Alabama in the SEC West race. With Florida’s loss to Kentucky not looking quite as bad in retrospect, perhaps it’s the Gators, after a special day in the Swamp, who are now back on the right course and a threat to be taken quite seriously heading into that game against Georgia in a few weeks.
LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.
According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.
So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.
The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.
While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.
The transfer portal has claimed another name.
As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.
Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.
The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.
Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.
Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.
The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.
Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.
Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.
Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.
A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.
In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’
“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”
The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.
Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.
The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.