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Michigan flexing on Penn State, pitching shutout in Big House

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When on the road against a top five team, you simply cannot make as many mistakes as Penn State did in the first half against Michigan. As a result, Penn State finds themselves trailing the Wolverines 14-0 in Ann Arbor, and it doesn’t really feel that close of a game. Failures on third downs, penalties, questionable coaching decisions and an inability to take advantage of opportunities have burned Penn State after one half, while Michigan continues to stick to their identity of power running and defense to hold the upper hand.

Penn State came out swinging on the first play of the game with Trace McSorley completing a 25-yard pass to tight end Pat Freiermuth to get the Nittany Lions to midfield, but back-to-back sacks by Chase Winovich and Josh Uche forced Penn State to punt the ball from their own 36-yard line. Penn State also had to burn a timeout on the punt too.

Karan Higdon then went to work on the ground, carrying the ball on each of Michigan’s first three plays with gains of one, 10, and 50 to get into the red zone. Quarterback Shea Patterson would be the player to get the Wolverines on the board a few plays later with a keeper off to the left side of the line.

Penn State appeared to create a great opportunity early in the second quarter with a blocked field goal attempt by former Penn State commitment Quinn Nordin. A return for a touchdown was taken off the board due to nullifying chop block penalties by Michigan and Penn State, but the Nittany Lions took over at the 35-yard line and quickly advanced to midfield following a pass interference penalty on the Wolverines. But one play later, McSorley and running back Miles Sanders had confusion on a handoff and Winovich pounced on a fumbled ball out of McSorley’s hands.

Michigan stuck with their running game to do most of the damage from there and Patterson ended a 10-play drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass to an open Donovan Peoples-Jones for a 14-0 lead.

Penn State didn’t pick up a third down conversion until the final two and a half minutes of the second quarter. At that point, Michigan held Penn State to -2 rushing yards while the Wolverines had 122 yards on the ground in the first half. Later in the half, Penn State appeared to be threatening to at least get some point son the scoreboard before halftime, but a missed wide open pass by McSorley to his intended receiver (DeAndre Thompkins) for an easy touchdown was followed by a sack on third down by Jordan Glasgow to move the ball well out of field goal position.

Michigan appears to be in great shape at the half, but Penn State is not buried just yet. If the Wolverines continue to pound away though, they could walk away with a big win against Penn State.

Auburn transfer RB Asa Martin to visit Miami

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After a rather bizarre departure from his first school, Asa Martin is getting on with the business of finding a second.

The running back confirmed to multiple media outlets HERE, HERE and HERE that he will be taking an official visit to Miami this weekend.  Martin stated that the Hurricanes, specifically running backs coach Thomas Brown, reached out to him not long after his Dec. 8 social media announcement that he would be transferring from Auburn.

Based on his comments, it doesn’t appear Martin is going to allow his second recruitment to stretch out much longer.

“Miami is a good program overall with lots of tradition,” Martin told 247Sports.com. “They basically said they want me if I decide I like it.

“I’ll probably make a decision within next couple days.”

Martin played in five games this season, although the original plan was to play in no more than four so he could take advantage of the new NCAA redshirt rule that would’ve saved him a season of eligibility.  However, Martin’s mother alleged that the Auburn coaching staff essentially lost track of how many games in which her son had played.

After sitting out the 2019 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Martin will have three seasons of eligibility he can use beginning with the 2020 season if he moves on to another FBS school.  If Martin had been able to take advantage of the new NCAA redshirt rule and remained at Auburn — the participation chart kerfuffle was the impetus for the transfer — he would’ve had four years of eligibility left and could’ve played in 2019.

A four-star member of AU’s 2018 recruiting class, Martin was rated as the No. 9 running back in the country and the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Alabama.  In the five games in which he played as a true freshman, Martin ran for 57 yards on 13 carries and added another 36 yards on a pair of receptions.

McKenzie Milton set for another surgery, but will be in attendance for UCF’s Fiesta Bowl matchup vs. LSU

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McKenzie Milton wasn’t in attendance as his UCF teammates won back-to-back AAC championships earlier this month.  Very early next year, however, he’ll be there as the Knights look to put the finishing touches on a second consecutive unbeaten season.

In an update on the UCF quarterback’s status, Teresa Milton, McKenzie’s mom, revealed in a statement posted to Twitter that her son is undergoing another surgery Thursday “to get him more comfortable.” Additionally, the mom confirmed that Milton “will be at the Fiesta Bowl to cheer his [teammates] on to Victory!”

UCF will face LSU Jan. 1 in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl.

In the second quarter of UCF’s win over rival USF last month, Milton went down with a horrific and gruesome injury to his right leg. Medical personnel immobilized the quarterback’s entire leg before he was taken to a local hospital for further treatment of an injury that his head coach, Josh Heupel, deemed “traumatic.”

It was subsequently confirmed that Milton underwent emergency surgery to repair unspecified damage in his knee as well as what was described as “other internal issues.” Not long after, McKenzie’s family issued a statement in which they described the surgery as being successful but provided no details on the specific nature of the injury.

In the days following the injury, one of Milton’s teammates, Jordan Johnson, revealed that he had FaceTimed with Milton and that the quarterback stated he was able to take steps for the first time since the initial surgery was performed.  In another statement, the family confirmed that “blood flow has been restored to his right leg and his nerve is injured but intact.”

Milton, who was released from the hospital eight days after sustaining the injury, will have to undergo reconstructive surgery at some point in the next month or so “depending on his vascular recovery.” At this point in time, it remains decidedly uncertain what if any future Milton has in football.

App State officially hires NC State OC Eli Drinkwitz as new head coach

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Wednesday, interim head coach Mark Ivey informed the Appalachian State football team that he wouldn’t be named as the school’s permanent head coach.  A day later, the players officially found out in which direction the football program was headed.

Following up on reports that bubbled to the surface earlier in the morning, App State confirmed that Eliah Drinkwitz has agreed to become the Mountaineers’ next head football coach.  Drinkwitz will be officially introduced at a Monday press conference, two days after Ivey leads App State in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against Middle Tennessee State.

The 35-year-old Drinkwitz replaces c, who left earlier this month for the head job at Louisville.

“I’m excited to welcome Eliah and his family to App Nation,” App State athletic director Doug Gillin said in a statement. “The App State football program is in great position to continue its championship ways. Eliah is committed to excellence academically, competitively, socially and to the well-being of our student-athletes. There was significant interest in our process throughout a national search. Eliah has great character and a clear vision for the future of Mountaineer football. I’m excited about the future of our football program.”

Drinkwitz spent the past three seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at North Carolina State. Prior to that, he spent two seasons at Boise State, the last of which he took over the title as coordinator.

In embarking on the first head-coaching job at any level of football, Drinkwitz will be taking over an App State program that has won 40 games the past four seasons and won all three of its bowl games since moving up to the FBS level in 2014.

Days after effusively praising UCLA for getting him a sixth season, Justin Murphy announces transfer from Bruins

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Well, this is a tad bit awkward.

In announcing Monday that he had been granted a sixth season of eligibility, Justin Murphy was effusive in his praise of the work put in by the UCLA compliance department. “None of this could’ve been possible if it weren’t for the amazing job done at @UCLACompliance,” the offensive lineman wrote on Twitter. “Thank you for everything y’all do over there, it doesn’t go unnoticed!”

Two days later, however, Murphy took to Twitter again, only this time to announce that he “will be transferring to another university to finish out the last year of my college football career.”

This latest development continues an “interesting” path Murphy’s collegiate career has taken.

In the middle of the 2016 season, Murphy, then at Texas Tech, announced that he was taking a medical retirement because of knee injuries.  In April of 2018, however, Murphy revealed that he would be moving on from Tech to UCLA as a graduate transfer.

Murphy played in the first four games of his first season with the Bruins this year before going down with a knee injury.  That issue kept the lineman sidelined for all but the final two games of the year.

At Tech, Murphy started a total of 12 games — eight at right guard, four at tackle — in a little over two seasons before leaving the Red Raiders midway through the 2016 season.