Associated Press

No. 3 LSU hanging tough, but No. 1 Alabama still in control

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The good news for No. 3 LSU: it’s defense is holding its own against No. 1 Alabama’s top-ranked offense, and star linebacker Devin White is now back in the game. The Tigers held the Tide scoreless on their opening drive for the first time this season, and they even snatched the first interception of Tua Tagovailoa of the season.

The bad news, it hasn’t mattered. Alabama’s defense has swallowed LSU’s offense, and as a result the visitors hold a commanding 16-0 halftime lead in Baton Rouge.

Alabama has moved the ball on each of its possessions, including a 1st-and-10 at the LSU 14 on its first touch, but a broken play and two penalties forced a 4th-and-30 and a rare Mike Bernier punt.

But on the Tide’s next possession, the offense knifed 78 yards in five plays. Najee Harris busted free for a 22-yard gain and Tagovailoa connected on all four passes, including a 15-yard scoring strike to Henry Ruggs III at the 4:58 mark of the opening frame. Even though Alabama scored, LSU caught a break as a targeting call on the field against safety Grant Delpit was overturned upon review, keeping a second starter from being lost due to targeting. After the score, Joseph Bulovas‘s PAT was blocked.

After a punt, Alabama reached the LSU red zone for a second time and again was turned away without a touchdown, as Tagovailoa’s 3rd-and-3 pass from the 5 to Ruggs fell incomplete, forcing a 23-yard Bulovas field goal at the 6:59 mark of the second quarter.

Good as LSU’s defense has played, it won’t matter if the offense doesn’t get something going. The Tigers have crossed into Alabama territory twice, but just barely. Facing a 3rd-and-2 at the Tide 42 heading into the second quarter, LSU used the quarter break to dial up a Nick Brossette run, which was stuffed for no gain, forcing a punt. On the Tigers’ next drive, LSU surged to a 1st-and-10 at the Alabama 43, but the Tigers only went backward from there and punted on 4th-and-14 from the 47.

The second such punt put LSU in the danger zone, as an Alabama score probably put the game out of reach. Alabama moved from its own 16 to the 40, but Tagovailoa ended the drive with his first pick of the year. Though he gave the ball away, he still put his team in a favorable position, as the pick came at the LSU 4-yard line.

LSU promptly made its bad situation worse when Joe Burrow was sacked by Anfernee Jennings, turning a 2nd-and-6 into a 3rd-and-13 and an automatic punt.

Taking over at their own 45, the Tide needed only two plays for the dagger. First, Tagovailoa hit Jerry Jeudy for a 29-yard catch-and-run gain, then nailed Irv Smith, Jr., for a 25-yard score with 1:15 left in the first half. The Heisman favorite looked human for the first time this season and still played well, hitting 20-of-31 passes for 205 yards with two touchdowns and one pick.

For the half, Burrow completed 8-of-18 passes for 68 yards, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire leads the club in rushing with three carries for seven yards. As a team, LSU has rushed 11 times for minus-1 yard with a long gain of four.

And no matter how well White and the LSU defense play, the Tigers won’t win if those numbers don’t change.

Four-star 2019 corner tweets transfer from Arkansas

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For the second time today, there’s some Arkansas personnel news on which to touch.

Monday, Chad Morris confirmed that linebacker D’Vone McClure left the team to deal with family responsibilities.  Later that same day, teammate Devin Bush took to Twitter to announce that, “[a]fter speaking with my parents and coaches, I’ve made the decision to officially enter the transfer portal.”

A four-star member of the Razorbacks’ 2019 recruiting class, Bush was rated as the No. 28 corner in the country and the No. 13 player at any position in the state of Louisiana.  The New Orleans native was the highest-rated defensive signee in Arkansas’ class this year.

Because he played in just four games this year, Bush will be able to take a redshirt for his true freshman season.

WR Weston Bridges is fourth Michigan State player to enter portal

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In the offseason, Weston Bridges changed positions.  Midway through the 2019 season, it appears Bridges is now set to change schools.

On his personal Twitter account Monday afternoon, Bridges indicated that he has decided to take his leave of Michigan State and transfer to an undetermined elsewhere.  It has subsequently been confirmed that the wide receiver is headed into the NCAA transfer database.

A three-star member of the Spartans’ 2017 recruiting class, Bridges was rated as the No. 31 running back in the country and the No. 24 player at any position in the state of Ohio.  During the spring this year, Bridges moved from running back to receiver.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Bridges carried the ball 16 times for 53 yards last season.  He was suspended for a late-September game because of unspecified violations of team rules.

Bridges is the fourth MSU football player to enter the portal since the 2019 season kicked off, joining linebacker Brandon Bouyer-Randle (HERE) as well as a pair of running backs in Connor Heyward (HERE) and La’Darius Jefferson (HERE).

Louisville’s season-opening QB starter to undergo year-ending surgery

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Jawon Pass began the 2019 season as Louisville’s starter under center.  After a couple of weeks of uncertainty, the redshirt junior will end it on the sidelines.

Pass suffered what turned out to be diagnosed as a case of turf toe in the season-opening loss to Notre Dame.  It wasn’t severe enough, however, to keep the starting quarterback out of the Week 2 win over Eastern Kentucky.

The past four games, though, Pass has been sidelined because of the injury.  Tuesday, it was confirmed by the football program that, as some have speculated, Pass will undergo surgery and, as a result, miss the remainder of the 2019 season.

With Pass sidelined, Malik Cunningham had started all four games in his place.  The redshirt sophomore, though, has been dealing with his own injuries, including a knee issue, that at least temporarily knocked him out of a pair of games.

True freshman Evan Conley replaced Cunningham both times, and was even named as the ACC’s Quarterback and Rookie of the Week for his performance in the upset of Wake Forest this past weekend.

For the season, Cunningham has completed 44-of-66 passes (66.7 percent) for 820 yards, seven touchdowns, one interception.  Conley is at a 64.9 completion percentage on his 37 attempts, throwing for 422 yards, four touchdowns and a pick.  Cunningham is the Cardinals third-leading rusher with 226 yards, while Conley is fifth with 84.

As of today, head coach Scott Satterfield has not named a starter for this weekend’s game against No. 3 Clemson.

USC’s leading rusher set for knee surgery

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Vavae Malepeai tolerated the pain as long as he could, until he couldn’t.

A knee injury sidelined Malepeai for most of USC’s summer camp.  Even as he had played — and played well — in all six games, the issue lingered on into the regular season; this weekend, the pause button was hit on Malepeai’s year as Clay Helton confirmed that the running back will undergo surgery to repair the damage to his knee.

No timetable for a return was given.

“Vavae is a warrior,” the head coach said according to the Los Angeles Times. “[He was] dealing with a sore knee and really fighting through it for his team. It’s just gotten to the point where it’s gotten too sore, so we’re going to go ahead and take care of it now.”

Malepeai’s 406 yards rushing and four touchdowns currently lead the Trojans.

With Malepeai out for the foreseeable future, Markese Stepp and Stephen Carr will see their opportunities in the running game increase.  Stepp is second on the team with 241 yards rushing, Carr third at 233.  Both players have a pair of touchdowns each on the ground.