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Déjà vu all over again for No. 8 Penn State as Michigan State stuns Nittany Lions with late score

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Michigan State did it again. For the second year in a row, the Spartans (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) stunned No. 8 Penn State (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) with a fourth-quarter rally and late go-ahead score to hand the Nittany Lions a bitter loss in the first game Penn State played after losing to Ohio State by one point.

Brian Lewerke underthrew a pass to Felton Davis on a third-and-two, but Davis was ready for it, broke a tackle and then broke the hearts of Penn State fans gathering in Beaver Stadium for homecoming. Davis’ touchdown grab came with 19 seconds to play, giving Michigan State a stunning 21-17 lead on the Nittany Lions. All that was left was for the Michigan State special teams unit to prevent KJ Hamler from a big kickoff return (they did) and for the defense to hold on for the final 13 seconds of the game. They did.

Penn State didn’t play their best game of the year, and Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio going into his bag of tricks caught the Nittany Lions off guard a few times. But a fourth-quarter decision to attempt a fake field goal came up empty for the Spartans and their hopes of celebrating a big win in Big Ten East play. Brian Lewerke‘s pass over the middle to Raequan Williams appeared to be there for the taking, but the pass fell incomplete for a turnover on downs.

Earlier in the game, Michigan State had successfully executed a fake punt and followed it up with a running back pass to lead to a touchdown. A few trick plays were needed to light a spark for the Spartans, who were a bit short-handed on offense. Penn State’s offense was not much better. The Nittany Lions struggled on third-down conversions and had a missed field goal and Penn State was flagged for six penalties for 41 yards. Outside of a couple of big runs by Miles Sanders, the Spartans defense fared well enough to keep the pressure on Penn State all afternoon.

Trace McSorley and Lewerke each had a rough game in terms of completing passes. McSorley, in particular, did not look like himself after a career game against the Buckeyes, from the ball slipping out of his hand on a pass to making an odd decision to run out of bounds late in the fourth quarter to stop the clock without forcing Michigan State to use a timeout. That inability for Penn State to kill off more than 11 seconds on their last offensive possession with the lead proved to be critical, as was a missed field goal earlier.  Michigan State’s game-winning drive started at their 24-yard line with 1:10 to play, and the Spartans scored with fewer than 20 seconds remaining.

The win helps keep Michigan State in the discussion for the Big Ten championship with games still to play against Michigan (next week) and Ohio State down the line. The loss knocks Penn State out of the running for the Big Ten East once again, and the fight just to get back to a New Years Six bowl game may have taken a tough blow as well, although that could still be a possibility if Penn State can turn things around.

Penn State will take to the road for the second time in Big Ten play next week when they visit Indiana. Michigan State will return home next week for a big game against in-state rival Michigan.

TCU transfer QB Justin Rogers tweets move to UNLV

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A prized former signee of the TCU football program has unofficially found a new collegiate home.

In very early November, it was confirmed that Justin Rogers had entered the NCAA transfer database, the first step in a move away from the TCU football team.  Nearly three months later, Rogers took the second step by announcing on his personal Twitter account that he has committed to continuing his playing career at UNLV.

Rogers’ announcement came after he took a visit to the UNLV campus this past weekend.

Barring something unexpected, Rogers will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  That would then leave him with two years of eligibility, starting with the 2021 season.

However, that 2020 door isn’t completely closed as Rogers is expected to pursue a waiver from the NCAA.  Just what that waiver appeal would entail is unclear.

A four-star 2018 signee, Rogers was rated as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the country; the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Louisiana; and the No. 43 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  He was the highest-rated member of the Horned Frogs’ class that year.

Rogers suffered a severe knee injury during his senior year of high school that ultimately led to a case of drop-foot for the player as a true freshman in college.  The recovery from those ongoing issues contributed to Rogers’ positioning deep down on the depth chart, which, ultimately, triggered his decision to enter the portal.

Rogers did make one appearance as a true freshman, completing his only pass attempt in TCU’s Cheez-It Bowl win over Cal.  He hadn’t seen the field at all this past season.

Pitt mourns passing of Chris Doleman following ‘prolonged and courageous battle against cancer’

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The extended Pitt football family is grieving the loss of one of its own.

Late Tuesday night, it was confirmed that Chris Doleman, 58, had passed away following “a prolonged and courageous battle against cancer.” Two years ago this month, Doleman had undergone surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Doleman played his college football at Pitt from 1981-84.  From the school’s release:

Doleman finished his college career third all-time at Pitt with 25 sacks, a total that still ranks eighth nearly four decades later. He played in the Sugar, Cotton and Fiesta bowl games, while helping the Panthers earn three Top 20 finishes, including a No. 2 ranking in 1981 and No. 9 finish in 1982.

As a senior, Doleman was elected a Pitt tri-captain with linebacker Troy Benson and offensive tackle Bill Fralic. In addition to his immense athletic gifts, the 6-foot-5 Doleman also set a standard with his desire and relentless play.

The late Foge Fazio, Doleman’s defensive coordinator in 1981 before serving as head coach from 1982-85, said: “Sometimes we’ll stop the game film just to point out to the team Chris’ desire and hustle to get there.

In December of 2018, Fralic passed away at the age of 56.

“I had only been at Pitt for a few months when I first met Chris and he could not have been more supportive and enthusiastic about the University of Pittsburgh,” said Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi in a statement. “It was obvious that he took great pride in being a Panther. I remember we had him as our honorary captain when we played at Georgia Tech one year and he was so energetic with our kids. You know he wanted to put on that Pitt helmet one more time. Our deepest sympathies to the Doleman family. His passing is a great loss for all of us, but his memory and legacy, on and off the field, will never be forgotten.

The fourth-overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, Doleman was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

Third Oklahoma State WR in a week enters transfer portal

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It’s been quite the past handful of days for the Oklahoma State football receiving corps.

On Twitter a week ago Tuesday, Tyrell Alexander announced that he has decided to transfer from the Oklahoma State football team and “reopen my recruitment process.” The wide receiver would be leaving Stillwater as a graduate transfer for his final season of eligibility.

Two days later, teammate and fellow receiver LC Greenwood entered the portal as well.

Tuesday, another of Greenwood’s and Alexander’s receiving teammates at OSU, C.J. Moore, announced on Twitter that he too will be entering the transfer portal.

“God has a different plan for me,” Moore wrote. “Please respect my decision.

A four-star 2018 signee, Moore was rated as the No. 26 receiver in the country. He was also the No. 5 player in the state of Oklahoma regardless of position. More to the point, Moore was the highest-rated signee in the Cowboys’ class that year.

Despite that recruiting pedigree, the 6-5, 175-pound receiver failed to even remotely live up to it on the field. He played in one game as a true freshman and took a redshirt. In 2019, he totaled 81 yards and two touchdowns on four receptions in five games.

It’s likely that Moore will have to sit out the 2020 season if he lands at another FBS school. That would then leave him with two seasons of eligibility beginning in 2021.

Moore, Greenwood and Alexander are actually the second, third and fourth wide receivers to leave the Oklahoma State football team this cycle, joining Patrick McKaufman.  Like Moore, Greenwood was a four-star recruit, albeit in 2017.  Alexander was a three-star signee in 2016.  McKaufman came to OSU from junior college.

All told, a dozen Cowboys have left the program.

Tight end Grayson Boomer was another of those transfers.

Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence co-favorites in latest odds to win 2020 Heisman Trophy

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We’re nearly three full weeks into the college football offseason, so what better time than the present for some 2020 Heisman odds?

Shortly after suffering the first loss of his collegiate career, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was listed as a 7/2 favorite to claim this year’s Heisman Trophy. Right behind Lawrence was Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields at 4/1.

In the updated 2020 Heisman odds released by the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, Fields and Lawrence, both true juniors, are list as co-favorites at 4/1. No one else is really all that close, with Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler coming in at 12/1.

Interestingly, new Georgia quarterback Jamie Newman, who transferred in from Wake Forest this month, is one of two listed at 14/1. The other is also a quarterback, Texas’ Sam Ehlinger.

The shortest odds for a running back are Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard, who surprised many observers by returning to the Cowboys for his senior season, and Clemson’s Travis Etienne, who surprised most observers by staying with the Tigers and returning for his senior season, at 20/1.  The last two decades, just three running backs have won the Heisman.  The last player at that position to claim the most prestigious trophy in collegiate sports was Alabama’s Derrick Henry in 2015.

The two quarterbacks expected to replace 2019 Heisman winner Joe Burrow and 2018 Heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa, LSU’s Myles Brennan and Alabama’s Mac Jones, respectively, are both at 25/1.  One 2020 signee, though, will have some say in the Alabama competition.