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RB Darrin Hall helps Pitt knock off No. 25 Virginia to jump to the top of the ACC Coastal race


Only one of Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi and Virginia counterpart Bronco Mendenhall could go home happy on Friday night when their two teams met in a surprising pivotal ACC clash but, if you knocked back a few adult beverages with the pair, they would probably confirm that the game was their kind of brand of football. Hard-nosed running, a few defensive plays, a salty effort at the line of scrimmage and plenty of mud and rain?

That’s all certainly up the two old school college football coaches’ alley.

Only Narduzzi left Scott Field with a smile however, as his Panthers knocked off the No. 25 Cavaliers in a low-scoring affair 23-13 that left the resurgent program somehow in control of their own fate when it comes to reaching the conference title game.

Leading the way all night long — in rather wet conditions following an early downpour — was running back Darrin Hall. The senior had the second best game in his career with the team and finished with 229 yards and three touchdowns on just 19 carries. While one of those scores came near the goal line to cap a 15 play drive that took over eight minutes off the clock, the other two were straight up home runs that came as a result of some huge holes opened up by his offensive line. He actually scored the first points in the game by scampering 41 yards in the rain and then followed that up later on with the game-sealing score in the fourth quarter on a 75 yard run that barely had a defender in his sight.

The effort took a lot of the pressure off quarterback Kenny Pickett to keep the offense rolling as the signal-caller could only muster 61 yards and seven completions on a night where it was simply hard to throw the football. Pitt went 4-of-11 overall on third down in the game but finished with three scoring dries in the second half to really pull away.

As for the Cavaliers, they can only rue the missed opportunities to really seize control of the division race heading into the final month thanks to plenty of mistakes (one turnover, 0-2 on fourth down) and penalties (10 total for 82 yards). Bryce Perkins threw for 205 yards and a touchdown but couldn’t show off much else with limited time behind his line after getting sacked five times. UVA only rushed for 44 yards total in the game itself and mustered under 250 yards of total offense.

It spoiled what had been a rather impressive run in recent weeks and came just three days after earning a spot in the College Football Playoff Selection Committee’s Top 25. Though there’s still a path to Charlotte for the ACC title game for Mendenhall’s crew, they will now need plenty of help and have zero margin for error with their final two games in league play to finish out the month.

The flip side is the result moves the Panthers to 4-1 in conference play and all but gives them control of the ACC Coastal with no worse than a tie for first place by the end of the weekend. The team has already scored wins over Duke and Georgia Tech this season and will control their own fate with upcoming games against Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech still to play. For a team moving above .500 for the first time since the initial week fo the season, that’s a pretty impressive turnaround engineered by Narduzzi in just the kind of game he will certainly be happy to win.

Kyler Murray is third straight ex-Texas high schooler to go No. 1 overall in NFL draft

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The Lonestar State in general and the flagship school of the state directly to its north made some player selection history Thursday night in Nashville.

Following months worth of speculation and smokescreens, the Arizona Cardinals officially selected Kyler Murray as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.  The Oklahoma quarterback is the second straight signal-caller from the Sooners to be the top overall pick (Baker Mayfield to the Cleveland Browns in 2018), marking the first time since 1968-69 (USC’s Ron Yary, O.J. Simpson) that one school has locked down back-to-back No. 1 overall selections.

It also marks the first time two Heisman Trophy winners from the same school have been selected with the top pick in the draft in consecutive years.  On top of that, this is the first time that quarterbacks from the same school have been selected in the top spot of the draft in back-to-back years.

Both Murray, who is the first athlete ever drafted in the first rounds of both the NFL and MLB drafts, and Mayfield played their high school football in the state of Texas.  When you add Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett (Arlington Martin High School to No. 1 overall for the Browns in 2017) to the equation, the Lonestar State can now lay claim to being the only state to ever produce three straight No. 1 overalls.

(Sidebar: Mayfield and Garrett are NFL teammates with the Browns, and will face Murray’s Cardinals this season.  And Arizona’s head coach? Kliff Kingsbury, whose fractured relationship with Mayfield that included a scholarship brouhaha led to the future Heisman Trophy winner’s transfer from Texas Tech to Big 12 rival Oklahoma.  Now, back to our regularly-scheduled programming, already in progress…)

In the history of an NFL draft that dates back to 1939, high schools in the state of Texas have produced 14 No. 1 overalls, the most of any state.  With 11, California is the only other state in double-digits.

Perhaps the most astonishing finding in all of this research?  High schools in the state of Florida, easily one of the most fertile football recruiting grounds in the country, have produced exactly one No. 1 overall: Auburn running back Tucker Fredrickson in 1965.

That’s a bar bet waiting to happen.  And you’re welcome.

Oklahoma-Houston season opener moves to Sunday primetime slot on Labor Day weekend

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Oklahoma’s season opener is going under the lights on Labor Day weekend.

The Sooners announced on Thursday that their 2019 debut against Houston is shifting from its scheduled Saturday date during Week 1 to a primetime slot on ABC at 7:30 pm ET on Sept. 1st.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us,” AD Joe Castiglione said in a statement. “It gives us great visibility at the very outset of the 2019 season. It is equally appealing to me that we get to play the game in the best conditions for student-athletes and fans. By making this move, we ensured that this game would be played in the evening, thus avoiding the heat we’ve dealt with in each of the last two seasons.”

OU makes note that this is the first time the school will play a regular season game on Sunday and just the fourth time ever they’ll play on a day normally reserved for NFL games (all three of the previous times were in bowl games).

The 2019 game is the latest in a long line of high profile matchups to get moved to the Sunday before Labor Day in recent years, including last year’s LSU-Miami tilt at AT&T Stadium.

While nobody is saying that Sooners-Cougars would have gotten overlooked on the first college football Saturday of Week 1, the move a day later will provide the spotlight all on its own to catch one of the more interesting non-conference games around with Dana Holgorsen’s debut leading Houston and the likely first start of former Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts at OU.

Notre Dame grad transfer Micah Dew-Treadway granted another year of eligibility at Minnesota

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Minnesota received an unexpected bit of good news on Thursday.

The school confirmed several reports that surfaced regarding recent Notre Dame graduate transfer Micah Dew-Treadway, who joined the Gophers this offseason and will now have two seasons to play in the Twin Cities after being granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.

Dew-Treadway spent four years in South Bend but mostly in a reserve role, recording two tackles while playing in 21 total games with the Irish. At the heart of the hardship waiver he and Minnesota applied for was the 2016 campaign that saw him miss the entire season with a broken foot.

The additional year is big for Minnesota as the transfer appeared to leave a good impression and is in line to start this fall. The program is having to replace mainstay defensive lineman Gary Moore in 2019 and will certainly be counting on Dew-Treadway and JUCO addition Keonte Schad to provide push up the middle.

The Gophers open their season against South Dakota State on Aug. 29.

Clemson football brought up at college basketball federal corruption trial

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The national champs are back in the spotlight during the offseason for a reason Dabo Swinney wants nothing to do with.

In federal court on Thursday in New York City, prosecutors in the college basketball corruption scandal played an FBI video wiretap involving Clemson hoops assistant Steve Smith. While much of the conversation is centered on top prospects in basketball like Zion Williamson and what the Tigers could do to lure them to campus, somewhat surprisingly the topic of football came up.

Via’s Matt Norlander: 

The Blazer in question above is Marty Blazer, a financial advisor from Pittsburgh who was on the stand. He’s the same witness who claimed a few days ago that he paid football players from Alabama, Notre Dame, Penn State and several other schools.

“We are aware of the developments in federal court today involving one of our men’s basketball assistant coaches,” Clemson said in a statement issued later on Thursday. “We take this matter seriously and will immediately conduct a review.”

While only a handful of folks can claim to be surprised that the federal hoops trial spilled over into football, it certainly raises further questions about the Tigers that they will have to deal with over the coming weeks. These are just the words of one witness and one assistant on a wiretap but something says the folks in Indianapolis are already wondering whether or not they need to expand a potential infractions probe that much wider in the wake of the testimony.