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No. 8 Washington State survives pesky Cal team with last minute drive to move to 8-1

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After ascending to No. 8 in the polls last season, Washington State went on the road at Cal and ran into a buzzsaw during a brutal loss where they didn’t play particularly good in any phase of the game.

After ascending to No. 8 in the polls this season, the Cougars played host to a pesky Bears team and very nearly ran into the same kind of buzzsaw, needing a last minute scoring drive to secure a sloppy 19-13 win and keep whatever slim hopes of a College Football Playoff appearance there is for the Pac-12 alive.

This was, no exaggeration, one of the worst games to watch of the season so far and a very, very dark edition of Pac-12 After Dark. Despite there incredibly being only two 3-and-outs the entire ballgame, there were four combined turnovers (two apiece) and just eight 3rd down conversions. The two sides dropped passed, made mind-numbing play calls, had issues in the red zone and generally played the anthesis of the wide-open football we normally find out West.

Wazzu QB Gardner Minshew was not as sharp as he has been in rolling through conference play but came up big in the final minutes when his team needed it most. Throwing darts on the final drive, he needed just six plays to cover 69 yards before finding Easop Winston in the corner of the end zone. That naturally delighted the home crowd, who sat through plenty of boring football in the three quarters prior to the stakes getting turned up a few notches for the final frame.

All told, the mustache-laden signal-caller threw for 334 yards and that one score while also tossing an interception on the third series of the game. The Cougs run game was not all that consistent against a tough Bears front and even short passes over the middle were a struggle compared to some of the team’s recent outings. Gardner still found 11 different receivers by the time the clock had expired, with Winston leading the way with 92 yards and the one score while tailback James Williams added 10 receptions to go with five carries for 34 yards on the ground.

The loss will be one that Cal head coach Justin Wilcox won’t enjoy watching back in the coming days. While his defense did play well, the offense punted four times, turned the ball over twice, missed a field goal and saw time expire on them at the end of the game. In fact, their most consistent form of picking up first downs might have been penalties on their opponents that gave them a free one.

The coaching staff did rotate quarterbacks as they have done in past games but they strangely took out the hot hand under center at the time — Chase Garbers, who had 127 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT and led the team with 67 yards rushing — for a backup during a key late drive. Brandon McIlwain entered late in the fourth quarter and wound up throwing an interception in the end zone on a bad decision — only bailed out when WSU missed a field goal after promptly marching down the field themselves.

There is a thought that surviving and advancing at this point in the college football season is all that matters and Washington State has to hope the Selection Committee doesn’t mind them doing just that against a Cal team that is still looking for that elusive sixth win for bowl eligibility. The Cougars didn’t play well at all but a win is a win and they might benefit from chaos elsewhere across the country on Saturday to even move up a spot or two in the rankings from where they sit now.

Reports: Alabama DC interviews for, accepts job with Cleveland Browns

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The offensive side of Nick Saban‘s Alabama coaching staff has been ravaged by poaching over the past few weeks. As of Wednesday night, it appears the defensive side won’t go unscathed this offseason either.

According to Matt Zenitz of al.com, Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi interviewed for a job with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns this week. Zenitz didn’t specify for what position Lupoi interviewed with the Browns, which officially filled its defensive coordinator position earlier this week.

However, a subsequent report not only identified the position for which Lupoi interviewed, but that the erstwhile Tide coordinator has accepted the job.

Lupoi, one of the best recruiters in the sport, has spent the past five seasons on Saban’s staff. After serving as a defensive analyst his first two years, he was the Tide’s outside linebackers coach in 2016 before taking over as coordinator for Jeremy Pruitt, who left to take the head job at rival Tennessee.

Prior to Alabama, Lupoi was the defensive line coach at Washington (2012-13) and Cal (2008-11).

The Browns recently named Freddie Kitchens as its latest head football coach. Kitchens, for those of you who don’t remember, was a three-year starter at quarterback for Alabama in the mid-nineties.

Saban, for those of you who don’t remember, was the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns from 1991-94 under Bill Belichick before taking the head job at Michigan State.

Mike Locksley reportedly turns to ex-ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery as Terps’ OC

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Mike Locksley is turning to a former head coach to become his first offensive coordinator at Maryland.

As first reported by InsideMDSports, the new Terps OC will be none other than former East Carolina head coach Scottie Montgomery. The move by Locksley comes a few days after fellow former Alabama assistant Josh Gattis reportedly spurned Maryland to take the same job at Michigan.

Montgomery’s track record as an assistant is certainly a bit better than what he did with the Pirates after going 9-26 overall in three seasons in charge of the program. While ECU’s offense did put up some impressive numbers at times (as well as produce players like Gardner Minshew II before he transferred to Washington State), Montgomery is probably best known for his work on the Duke staff under David Cutcliffe.

The 40-year-old started out as a wide receivers coach at his alma mater before eventually becoming OC of the Blue Devils, with a short stint in the NFL mixed in.

The good news for Locklsey and Montgomery is that they do have talent to work with in College Park even after missing out on grad transfer QB Jalen Hurts. The Terps are set to return both Tyrrell Pigrome and potentially Kasim Hill at quarterback as well as a slew of speedy backs and receivers.

Oklahoma will grant QB Austin Kendall waiver to play immediately at WVU

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It only took a few hours of getting thrown under the bus by fans and the national media, but cooler heads have prevailed in Norman.

Not long after it surfaced that graduate transfer Austin Kendall was being blocked by Oklahoma from being immediately eligible at West Virginia in 2019, USA Today reports that the Sooners have relented and the quarterback will indeed be able to play right away with the Mountaineers.

Kendall arrived at OU as part of the class of 2016 and saw limited playing time behind back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners at his position in Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. While it’s possible he could have stuck around to be the starter for the team in 2019, former Alabama starter Jalen Hurts announcing he was transferring in as a graduate transfer earlier on Wednesday all but put an end to that line of thought.

The reversal from Lincoln Riley and Oklahoma’s athletic department shows once again that schools have little to gain by even threatening to block a player from transferring. At some point a college football program will learn that it invites nothing but bad press in the short term over somebody who is leaving town anyway. At least everybody came to that same conclusion this time around before Kendall and his family had to call up a lawyer or two to reach the same end point.

Oh and by the way, Kendall will be back in Norman with the Mountaineers on October 19 during the upcoming season for what figures to be a Big 12 game with more than the usual on-field storylines coming in.

Iowa State not playing spring game in 2019 due to weather, construction concerns

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The calendar says January and the national title game was just last week but it’s never too early to start thinking about spring football around the college landscape.

The folks at Iowa State certainly are.

In a release from the school issued on Wednesday, the Cyclones confirmed that they would not be playing a spring game in 2019 and will now go two years between any potential showcases to cap off their prescribed 15 practices.

“As a result of the uncertain weather conditions we face each spring in Iowa, plus the site preparation work that will begin this Spring for the new Sports Performance Center project, Coach Campbell and I have decided to not schedule a spring football game,” Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard said in a statement.  “Similar to last year, Coach Campbell and his staff can use that day to conduct a 15th spring practice which they feel is more beneficial for the overall development of the student-athletes and the football program.”

Though there are indeed plenty of reasons why a program might join the growing trend of skipping out on playing a spring game, it’s certainly disappointing for many ISU fans to go two years without being able to see their team in action and what new faces might end up contributing in the fall. Weather concerns are nothing new in Ames though, as an actual non-conference game in 2018 was cancelled and replaced with an FCS foe in December, to say nothing of last year’s spring game getting called off due to the elements.