No. 23 Fresno State entered Friday night’s game against Boise State with one mission: secure the Milk Can and win on the blue turf for the first time ever.
The Bulldogs, poised to be one of the few teams that could secure the Group of Five bid if they win out, could do no such thing in the end after allowing the Broncos to rally in the second half and cap off a thrilling 24-17 victory in the pair’s rematch of last season’s Mountain West Championship Game.
Quarterback Brett Rypien was not surprisingly at the center of all the action for the home team, converting several key third downs with both his arm and his legs on his way to throwing for an efficient 269 yards, one touchdown and an interception. While he was pretty much unstoppable for most of the night outside of that ill-advised pick, it took until the second half before his team could start converting many of their long drives into points. After the switch was flipped down by two scores early in the third quarter though, it was all Broncos the rest of the way as they ran off three consecutive scoring drives to take the lead and blocked a late field goal for good measure too.
Rypien wasn’t the only BSU playmaker that was tough to stop in the game however, as tailback Alexander Mattison picked up 144 yards and two scores on the ground as the workhorse between the tackles. He had just one long run of 14 yards but it seemed like just about every other carry went for four or five yards as he kept churning along and helped the Broncos offense record 24 first downs.
Fresno State was no slouch on the offensive end either even if they did just come up a bit short and missed two field goal attempts on the night. Signal-caller Marcus McMaryion wound up throwing for 283 yards and a touchdown, finding favorite target KeeSean Johnson for eight catches, 95 yards and that short toss into the end zone. It was a good thing that the combo was productive because running the ball was far from a sure thing in the game with Jordan Mims recording only 47 yards rushing and Ronnie Rivers adding another 33 and a touchdown.
The victory was a triple-whammy for the visiting Bulldogs, which last won in Boise back in 1984 — when the turf was far from blue. Not only were they unable to secure a bit of revenge for last year’s MWC title game loss to their Milk Can rivals, but the loss will potentially knock them out of the running for a potential Group of Five bid as well after sitting in the College Football Playoff Selection Committee’s rankings the past two weeks. Worse, if they wind up winning their division once again (which they can do at home against San Diego State next weekend) and have to play potential Mountain division champs Boise State, the tie-breaker would then put the game back on the blue turf in Idaho instead of in Fresno.
The flip side is that second half rally will help keep the Broncos afloat in their own tight division race with a ranked Utah State squad. They will host the Aggies at the end of the season in two weeks and may have done just enough to get the attention of the committee themselves for that elusive Group of Five bid if they run the table the rest of the way. It’s been a bit of an up-and-down campaign for Bryan Harsin’s team but they showed plenty of toughness on both sides of the ball on Friday night to cap off a great comeback and put their destiny back in their hands once again.
For the time being, there will be no Pac-12 Just After Breakfast.
The conference confirmed last month that preliminary discussions about having an undetermined number of league games kicking off at 9 a.m. PT/noon ET were underway, and could possibly be implemented as early as the 2019 season. Some head coaches in the conference were for the idea; at least one who has experienced early kickoffs in another conference isn’t exactly a fan of the idea.
According to the esteemed Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, Chris Petersen and others can rest easy for now as the talk of league games in that noon ET time slot has been tabled.
The conference has opted against scheduling games this season at 9 a.m. PT/10 a.m. MT as a means of gaining exposure on the new FOX broadcast window.
Andrew Walker, head of communications for the Pac-12, said several schools are interested in playing early, but the conference couldn’t find “good options” over the coming three months.
The plan, Walker added, is to monitor whichever Big 12 and Big Ten games are slotted into the 9 a.m. window, then re-assess for next season.
How this early-morning scheduling tack tracks will be fascinating to watch play out in the coming months, especially as it pertains to fans on the West Coast embracing the idea of showing up on a Saturday morning at a stadium an hour or two before a football game that starts at nine in the morning their time (or 10 Mountain Time).
Finally, there’s some positive personnel news for the Georgia Tech football program.
Following rumors of his future at Notre Dame, Derrik Allen confirmed nearly two weeks ago that he would be leaving the Fighting Irish and transferring to the Yellow Jackets. In a press release Thursday morning, Tech confirmed that the defensive back has enrolled in classes and has been added to the team’s roster.
Not surprisingly, the school also confirmed that Allen will have to sit out the 2019 season because of NCAA transfer regulations. Beginning with 2020, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility to use.
“We’re excited to welcome Derrik home to Atlanta and into our organization,” head coach Geoff Collins said in a statement. “He’s a great addition to our football program, both on and off the field, and our campus community.”
A four-star member of Notre Dame’s 2018 recruiting class, Allen was rated as the No. 9 safety in the country and the No. 14 player at any position in the state of Georgia. He didn’t see the field as a true freshman and took a redshirt.
Blacksburg has become quite the fertile recruiting ground for Mike Locksley’s first-year Maryland football program.
In January, wide receiver Sean Savoy completed his transfer from Virginia Tech by moving on to Maryland; four months later, Savoy’s former teammate, Josh Jackson, became his current teammate yet again as the quarterback moved to the Terrapins from the Hokies. Wednesday, Dejuan Ellis indicated that he will join those former teammates as he too has decided to transfer to the Terps.
The wide receiver had opted to transfer from the Hokies earlier this offseason.
Ellis was a three-star member of Tech’s 2018 recruiting class. The Owings Mills, MD, native took a redshirt as a true freshman.
It’s believed the receiver will be forced to sit out the 2019 season, leaving him with three years of eligibility moving forward.
Here we go. Again.
Quite the kerfuffle was kicked up earlier this month when Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell and the family of James Hudson, who transferred from Michigan to UC late last year, accused the offensive lineman’s former school in general and its head football coach specifically of not doing enough — or doing the absolute bare minimum — when it came to an immediate-eligibility waiver being sought by the player. Despite the citing of mental health issues, that appeal was denied.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Myles Sims had his appeal for a waiver for immediate eligibility at Georgia Tech denied as well. The defensive back had transferred to Tech from Michigan earlier this offseason.
In a conversation this week with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sims’ parents laid the onus for their son’s denial squarely at the feet of the University of Michigan, intimating, as Hudson’s family did, that U-M did the absolute bare minimum when it came to the waiver process. Even worse, Sims’ family claimed U-M misled the NCAA by providing inaccurate information.
From the Journal-Constitution:
They also believe that a statement from Michigan regarding his transfer – a required part of the application process for a waiver – included inaccurate information about his reasons for leaving that could have damaged his chances for receiving a waiver.
“The disappointment is in knowing that they included just a few words outside of what we said to mislead the NCAA in their decision-making,” Katrina Sims, Myles’ mother, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. “Whether that weighed in heavily or not on the documentation that we provided, we take issue with that.
The newspaper also wrote that “[a] Michigan team spokesman stated that the school, as is the case with all transfers leaving the school seeking waivers, did not oppose Sims’ waiver request and followed standard policy.”
I don’t know who’s right or who’s wrong in these situations, but I do know it’s something that will be discussed on the recruiting trail and used by rival schools in luring and/or flipping potential prospects. So, do the bare minimum in such situations at your own peril.