Associated Press

No. 13 West Virginia pushes past No. 17 Texas on late 2-point conversion

12 Comments

Trailing 41-34 with half a minute to play, Will Grier found Gary Jennings for a 33-yard touchdown pass for what seemed like the tying, overtime-forcing score. But Dana Holgorsen and No. 13 West Virginia came to Austin for the win, and the Mountaineers kept their offense on the field. After two defensive timeouts, Grier kept the ball, for the first time all game, around the left side to notch a game-winning 2-point conversion, helping the Mountaineers surge past No. 17 Texas, 42-41.

The score was necessary after Texas broke a 34-34 tie with Sam Ehlinger‘s 48-yard touchdown pass to Devin Duvernay with 2:34 to play, handing Texas fifth lead of the day. West Virginia’s resulting score marked the fifth time in two seasons Texas has blown a fourth quarter lead and the seventh time in that span the ‘Horns have lost a one-score game.

The win moves West Virginia to 7-1 overall and 5-1 in Big 12 play, putting the Mountaineers in prime position to reach the Big 12 championship. Texas, meanwhile, has now dropped two straight and will need help to reach the title game.

Despite a dry spell that covered most of the second half, West Virginia simply got what it wanted from the Texas defense. Grier completed 28-of-42 passes for 346 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions while the team ran 33 times for 232 yards and two touchdowns.

After a WVU field goal and two punts to open the game, the two teams were off to the races. Texas got on the board thanks to the first of two spectacular Sam Ehlinger-to-Lil'Jordan Humphrey connections, the first a 23-yard lob on 3rd-and-4 with four West Virginia defenders flushing Ehlinger out of the pocket. That play set Texas up at the WVU 1, and Ehlinger kept it the next play to put Texas up 7-3.

West Virginia then struck back with the first of two Will Grier-to-David Sills throws, the first going 60 yards for a touchdown. After taking a 10-7 lead, WVU was hit with two consecutive personal foul penalties, the second of which kicked All-Big 12 left tackle Yodney Cajuste out of the game. Humphrey took the ensuing short kickoff 29 yards to the WVU 39, then completed the short drive with a 21-yard touchdown grab.

Trailing for the second time, West Virginia quickly erased the deficit by moving 75 yards in nine plays, aided by a roughing the passer penalty on Texas linebacker Malcolm Roach that would have sentenced WVU into a 4th-and-15 at the Texas 37 with a stiff wind in their face. Given new life, West Virginia scored again on an 18-yard connection from Grier to Sills.

Another key Texas penalty gave WVU a chance to take a commanding lead, as an offensive pass interference penalty on Humphrey erased a 45-yard Collin Johnson touchdown catch. Rather than a 21-17 lead, Texas faced a 3rd-and-20 at its own 40, but a 17-yard connection from Ehlinger to Duvernay gave Texas a 4th-and-3, which the Longhorns converted with a 26-yard catch by Johnson. Tre Watson punched in a 5-yard run two plays later, putting Texas up 21-17 with 10:04 left in the first half.

And yet again West Virginia came right back, converting two third-and-shorts to set up Martell Pettway‘s 55-yard touchdown run, staking the Mountaineers to a 24-21 lead with 7:36 before halftime. It was the second long score that came at the expense of freshman Texas safety Caden Sterns, who was beaten on the long Sills touchdown and then missed a tackle on Pettway.

Facing its fourth deficit of the first half, Texas once again answered. This time, a defensive holding call erased what would have been a three-and-out, and the Longhorns then rolled 65 yards in seven plays from there, scoring on a 32-yard swing pass from Ehlinger to Watson to give Texas a 28-24 advantage with 2:40 to play in the first half.

West Virginia again surged down the field to close the first half, but the drive stalled at the Texas 27 with 14 seconds to play. Texas head coach Tom Herman called a timeout to ice WVU kicker Evan Staley, whose kick sliced wide right. Given a second chance, Staley drilled a 44-yard field goal to cut the deficit to one.

After a first half that saw the officials call 18 combined penalties, they again intervened for a major call on the first drive of the second half. On a 4th-and-1 from the WVU 5, Ehlinger kept and was originally reviewed down two inches beyond the yard stick. However, after a lengthy review, officials ruled his helmet came off before he reached the line to gain, handing West Virginia a crucial stop.

Texas forced a West Virginia punt after the turnover on downs, stuffing a 3rd-and-2 run for a loss of three yards. The Longhorns again moved the ball and again failed to reach the end zone, settling for a 22-yard Cameron Dicker field goal to push the lead to 31-27 with 2:55 left in the third quarter.

West Virginia again moved the ball on its next possession — sensing a theme here? — but the drive came away scoreless when another short-yardage run was stuffed, this one a Kennedy McKoy run for no gain on 4th-and-1 on the final play of the third quarter.

Given a chance to deliver a knockout blow, Texas once again missed. After running the ball into WVU territory, a holding call on guard Elijah Rodriguez erased a run that would have given Texas 1st-and-10 in the red zone. WVU stiffened, forcing a 3rd-and-15, and an Ehlinger scramble came close to the first down but did not reach it, forcing a 38-yard Dicker field goal that snuck inside the left upright with 9:38 remaining.

Facing a second half shutout to that point, West Virginia got the answer it needed, relying mostly on the run to move 75 yards in 11 plays. Pettway strolled in untouched from 19 yards out for the equalizer with 5:40 to play, putting him over the 100-yard mark.

Ehlinger closed the day hitting 24-of-35 passes for 356 yards with three touchdowns plus another on the ground. Watson led Texas with 14 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown.

ACC endorses free one-time transfer for all student-athletes

Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The ACC is now on-board with the idea of allowing student-athletes in all sports a chance to have a free one-time transfer without having to sit out a season. The conference released a brief statement on Monday afternoon confirming the ACC supports a one-time transfer opportunity.

“During the league’s annual winter meetings (February 12-14), the ACC discussed the transfer environment and unanimously concluded that as a matter of principle we support a one-time transfer opportunity for all student-athletes, regardless of sport,” the statement from the ACC said. “As a conference, we look forward to continuing the discussion nationally.”

It is important to understand this does not mean players in the ACC will now be given a free transfer. This is merely a step in the direction toward allowing the free one-time transfer and shows the ACC would support any potential adjustment to the NCAA transfer rule. As the transfer rule currently stands, any player transferring from one school to another at the same level of competition (FBS to FBS, for example), is required to sit out one full season before being ruled eligible again. This takes away a year of eligibility or burns a redshirt season, barring any potential exemptions granted by way of a waiver. Graduate transfers are generally the only transferring players allowed to play immediately at a new school.

The Big Ten quietly proposed just such legislation last year, but no movement was made on the proposal. The NCAA instead opted to have a committee spend additional time reviewing the current policies regarding transfers with the intent of continuing the discussion this year as rule changes begin to be reviewed.

That gives us two power conferences that appear to be ready to embrace the one-time transfer rule. Don’t be shocked if more join the party, and expect the transfer rule to be altered soon enough. Maybe even as early as this upcoming year.

The NCAA modified the redshirt rule two years ago. The transfer rule appears the next most likely rule to be altered regarding a player’s eligibility.

Indiana completes coaching staff with Tulane DL coach Kevin Peoples

Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

After being left at the altar by a Michigan State assistant coach, Indiana had found a way to plug its hole at defensive line coach. Kevin Peoples is reportedly leaving Tulane to join the Hoosiers, multiple reports said on Monday. News of the coaching hire in Bloomington was first shared by Football Scoop.

Peoples will be taking on the job on the Indiana coaching staff previously set to be filled by Michigan State assistant Ron Burton. Burton decided to remain in East Lansing with the Spartans and new head coach Mel Tucker over the weekend before officially making his way from one Big Ten school to another. With the addition of Peoples to the coaching staff, the Hoosiers will now have a full coaching staff barring any potential adjustments before spring football begins.

With Peoples in charge of the defensive line, Tulane was not among the conference leaders in sacks and tackles for loss in the American Athletic Conference in 2019, but Tulane did have the conference’s fourth-best rushing defense; Tulane allowed 156.31 rushing yards per game in 2019, an averages that is inflated slightly from playing Navy in conference play (allowed 385 yards to the triple-option Midshipmen) and Army in non-conference play as well as a road game against Auburn. Tulane allowed just 58 rushing yards in its bowl victory over Southern Mississippi.

Peoples is filling the role previously held by Mark Hagen. Hagen left Indiana to accept a coaching position with Texas this offs

Utah, LSU to play home-and-home in early ’30s

Getty Images
1 Comment

The SEC and Pac-12 are in a bit of a love affair right now. Actually, scratch that. They’re full-on obsessed with one another.

More than 30 SEC v. Pac-12 games are on the docket for future years, and two more were added to the ledger on Monday when LSU and Utah inked a home-and-home.

Utah will host LSU on Sept. 6, 2031, and LSU will return the favor on Sept. 11, 2032.

“Our aspirations to continue to grow and elevate our football program make opportunities like this especially important,” Utah AD Mark Harlan said. “For our student-athletes it is an incredible opportunity to play a high-profile opponent in two fantastic environments. It also is incredibly attractive to our fans to host a team like LSU at Rice-Eccles Stadium and to go on the road to Baton Rouge and cheer on their Utes.”

Utah has two more home-and-homes against SEC schools coming, against Florida in 2022-23 and Arkansas in 2026 and ’28. LSU has home-and-homes with UCLA (2021, ’24) and Arizona State (2029-30) on its docket.

The schools have met twice previously, with LSU winning in Baton Rouge both time, 35-10 in 1974 and 35-7 in ’76.

Bret Bielema reportedly interviewing for Colorado job

Getty Images
2 Comments

Bret Bielema is interviewing for the Colorado head coaching position, according to reports Monday from NFL Network and ESPN.

Bielema tried to get in on the Michigan State job that, obviously, went to Mel Tucker, so now he’s in the running for the job Tucker left.

The former Wisconsin and Arkansas head coach joined Bill Belichick‘s witness protection program after his 2017 Arkansas firing, working for a year as “consultant to the head coach” in New England. He was promoted to defensive line coach and reportedly told friends he was in the running to become the defensive coordinator after Greg Schiano stepped down, but Belichick wound up giving that job to himself.

He wound up following Joe Judge from Foxboro to the New York Giants, but now has apparently decided he’d rather be back in college than work as a position coach at the NFL level.

Bielema went 68-24 at Wisconsin before his 29-34 flameout at Arkansas. His teams famously stuck to a ground-and-pound philosophy that worked like peanut butter and jelly in Madison but peanut butter and salsa in Fayetteville. So, should Colorado be as interested in Bielema as he apparently is in them, his offensive philosophy would figure to be question one in the interview.