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Toledo woodsheds Western Michigan, hands Broncos first MAC loss of 2018

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While Western Michigan didn’t cede control of the MAC West Thursday night, it did shave away a significant portion of its margin of error.

The Broncos entered play last night sporting a perfect 4-0 record in conference play. Exiting it, WMU now stands at 4-1 as Toledo used a 21-point third quarter to head back to Ohio with a 51-24 win. The Rockets, meanwhile, evened their overall record at 4-4 and their league mark at 2-2 in what was a relatively easy win despite holding just a 23-17 halftime lead on the road.

In what turned out to be the game-turning quarter, though, Eli Peters tossed a pair of touchdowns in the first two and a half minutes of the third to stretch the Rockets’ lead to 37-17; a three-yard Bryant Koback touchdown run three minutes later pushed the lead to 44-17.

While WMU, which saw its six-game winning streak snapped, closed the gap to 20 on a Jamauri Bogan one-yard touchdown run late in the third, that was as close as the homestanding Broncos would get the rest of the way.

Peters added another touchdown pass in the middle of the fourth quarter, his third of the game, to officially ice the game for the Rockets. All told, UT tossed five touchdown passes as starter Mitchell Guadagni, who injured his shoulder late in the second quarter, accounted for a pair before being replaced by Peters.  Cody Thompson, incidentally, was on the receiving end of three of the five scoring tosses.

The Rockets ran for 268 yards, averaging 7.7 yards on its 35 carries. Koback’s 99 led all rushers on the night.

Western Michigan is now a half-game behind Northern Illinois (4-0), which is off this weekend, in the MAC West race. Provided both WMU (vs. 3-1 Ohio, 2-3 Ball State) and NIU (vs. 3-3 Akron, 2-2 Toledo, 3-1 Miami of Ohio) hold serve in conference play over the next three weeks, the Huskies-Broncos regular-season finale in Kalamazoo Nov. 20 will very likely determine which team will represent the West in the MAC championship game the following week.

Toledo, meanwhile, is now tied with Ball State (2-2) for third place in the MAC West.  Both of those teams, though, would need both WMU and NIU to utterly implode in order to make it to Detroit’s Ford Field on the last day of November.

Kentucky’s Josh Allen adds fourth national trophy honor

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When it’s all said and done, Josh Allen is going to need a bigger trophy cabinet — or at least significantly expand his current one.

Monday, it was announced that the Kentucky senior was named as the 2018 recipient of the Jack Lambert Award. That trophy is handed out annually by the Touchdown Club of Columbus (OH) and given to the national linebacker of the year.

Previously this awards season, Allen had been named as the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Award (HERE) and Chuck Bednarik Award (HERE) as well as the recipient of the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy (HERE). He also earned unanimous first-team All-American honors.

Allen’s 14 sacks this season set the football program’s single-season record, while his 28.5 career sacks are the most ever for a member of the Wildcats.

Utah State OC Troy Taylor named head coach at FCS Sacramento State

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For the second time since the 2018 regular season came to an end, Kyle Whittingham has seen one of his assistant coaches leave for a head-coaching job.

Exactly a week ago, Utah State announced that Utah associate head coach Gary Andersen was returning to again lead the Aggies.  Monday, Sacramento State announced that Troy Taylor has been hired as the FCS program’s next head football coach.

Taylor, who spent two seasons as Whittingham’s offensive coordinator, was the starting quarterback at Cal in the late eighties after playing his high school football in the state of California.  He also began his coaching career at the high school level near Sacramento.

“I am thrilled to be the new head football coach at Sacramento State,” Taylor said in a statement. “My family and I are excited to move back home and take on the challenge of building the Hornet Football program into something the city can be very proud. I want to thank President Nelsen, Mark Orr and the rest of the search committee for giving me this opportunity.”

With bowl season left, Utah is sixth in the Pac-12 and 67th nationally in scoring 28.7 points per game.  In Taylor’s first season in charge of the offense, they averaged 29.5 ppg.

Whittingham has already replaced Andersen with former Ute football player Sione Po’uha.

Nick Saban says Tua Tagovailoa ‘probably ahead of schedule’ in recovery from ankle surgery

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One of the biggest storylines leading into the 2018 College Football Playoff is the health of this year’s Heisman Trophy runner-up.  With Alabama’s date with Oklahoma less than two weeks away, the signs are pointing in a positive direction for Tua Tagovailoa.

The sophomore quarterback suffered a high-ankle sprain in Alabama’s SEC championship game win over Georgia two weeks ago and underwent surgery shortly thereafter to help aid the healing process.  Monday, Nick Saban sounded decidedly optimistic in giving an update on the status of his starter, who has participated at least partly in all four of the Crimson Tide’s practice session since the title game.

“He’s doing well,” the head coach said by way of ESPN.com. “I think he’s probably ahead of schedule. He’s been able to take a lot of reps. He’s been able to throw the ball from the pocket. He can run. …

“I don’t think he’s 100 percent in terms of change of direction yet. But he’s already going 100 percent on the gravity treadmill. So he’s been able to practice and he’s made really, really good progress. So we’re encouraged by that.”

Tagovailoa had been bothered by knee issues for a sizable chunk of the regular season before hurting his left ankle earlier this month.

Top-ranked Alabama will face Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and Oklahoma in the Dec. 29 Orange Bowl, which this season is serving as one of the two playoff semifinals.  The winner of that game will face the Notre Dame-Clemson in the national championship game next month.

Justin Fields’ family says QB ‘hasn’t made a decision’ to transfer from Georgia

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Maybe the future quarterback situation in Athens isn’t as straightforward and black and white as it seemed earlier in the evening.

Monday night, it was reported that Justin Fields has notified Georgia of his intent to transfer.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Fields is exploring the possibility of transferring, though he hasn’t yet told the Bulldogs’ coaching staff that he’s leaving.”

Additionally, at least one member of Fields’ family told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a decision hasn’t been made one way or the other.

Asked if she could confirm reports that her son intends to transfer from Georgia, Fields’ stepmother said she could not. But she also didn’t deny them.

“I’m not at liberty to discuss anything,” Jo Ann Claudrick Fields said via telephone Monday night. “We’re not confirming or denying anything. We haven’t made a decision.

Fields’ mother also told the Journal-Constitution to talk to the quarterback’s father, Ivant Fields, as “[h]e handles everything involving football.”

If the transfer were to come to fruition, ESPN reported that Florida State, Ohio State and Oklahoma would be potential landing spots.  That website also reports that Fields is expected to play in the Sugar Bowl for the Bulldogs.

Fields was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 1 player regardless of position in the Class of 2018.  He spent his true freshman season as the primary backup to sophomore starter Jake Fromm.