Associated Press

Pitt whips Wake Forest, claims first-ever ACC Coastal title

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Since joining the ACC in 2013, Pitt had never finished higher than a solo second (2015) in the Coastal division.  With one game left in the 2018 regular season, the Panthers have already clinched a significant piece of program history.

Things didn’t exactly look promising for Pitt early on, however, with Wake Forest taking a 10-6 into the halftime locker room as the Panthers’ high-powered rushing attack was essentially shut down through two quarters.  A pair of third-quarter touchdowns passes from Kenny Pickett, though — four yards to Rafael Araujo-Lopes, 63 yards to Taysir Mack — gave the Panthers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in a securing a 34-13 win in Winston-Salem.

With the win, Pitt, at 6-1 in conference play, is officially the winner of the ACC Coastal division.  It marks the first-ever conference title for the Panthers after joining the league five years and six seasons ago.

It was also the culmination of a march that began back in July when the conference’s media picked them to finish fifth in the seven-team division.  The next step, after a road date with Miami next weekend to close out the regular season, will be against second-ranked Clemson Dec. 1 in the ACC championship game in Charlotte.

Over the past three games, the Panthers had rushed for nearly 1,300 yards combined; Saturday, they were held to just 154 in averaging 3.3 yards per carry.  Pickett picked up the offensive slack, though, as he passed for a career-high 316.  Not only was this the first 300-yard game of the sophomore’s career, it was just the second 200-yard game (242 vs. Virginia Tech in November of last year) in his two seasons.

The three touchdown passes were a career-high as well; in fact, Pickett came into the game with 10 career touchdown passes and nine on the season.

While they couldn’t get much going on the ground, especially compared to the past couple of weeks, the Panthers did manage a pair of rushing touchdowns.  The last one, with 3:22 left in the fourth quarter that proved to be the final nail in the Demon Deacons’ coffin, came courtesy of a six-yard touchdown run by Stefano Milan — a fifth-year senior offensive tackle.

Wake, meanwhile, dropped to 5-6 and will need to beat Duke on the road next week to become bowl-eligible.  The Demon Deacons have played in two straight bowl games, and a third would tie the program record set from 2006-08.

Iowa lands Division II graduate transfer

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The graduate transfer has become a great vehicle for Group of 5 and FCS players who over-perform at their level to shoot their shot at a Power 5 program. But Iowa this weekend added an extremely rare Division II-to-Power 5 graduate transfer.

Zach VanValkenburg on Saturday pledged his commitment to Iowa after being pursued by multiple Big Ten programs.

“So thankful for all the people who have gotten me to this point; my parents, my coaches in high school, and my coaches at Hillsdale,” VanValkenburg in an iPhone note posted to his Twitter account. “Leaving Hillsdale is bittersweet but I have reached the end of the road here educationally and my goals are uncompromising. I will always cherish the experiences I had here and the friendships I have made. With that said, I’m very proud to announce that I will be continuing both my academic and football careers at the University of Iowa this fall! Go Hawkeyes!”

Playing at Hillsdale College, a private college in an eponymous Michigan town, the 6-foot-4, 266-pound defensive end collected 70 tackles with 14.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2018.

He will be expected to add depth along Iowa’s defensive line after losing all four starters from last year’s team.

VanValkenburg will have two seasons to compete for the Hawkeyes.

Idaho WR diagnosed with kidney cancer

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Idaho wide receiver Collin Sather is battling advanced renal cancer, the program has announced. Renal cancer attacks the kidneys and most commonly attacks older men.

According to the Idaho Statesman, Sather began experiencing stomach pains on Jan. 17, and by Jan. 21 the pains had progressed to the point where he had to be hospitalized. He is currently undergoing dialysis and chemotherapy at Deaconess Hospital in Spokane, and once he is stabilized will be transferred to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

“We are with Collin every day during this fight,” Idaho head coach Paul Petrino said in a statement. “He is a great young man and the model of a great teammate. Everyone in our program cares a lot about him, and he will always be a valued member of this team.

“We keep Collin and his family in our thoughts and prayers each day. We are here to help him keep fighting, and we will be here to welcome him back when he wins his battle.”

A Spokane, Wash., native, Sather was an all-conference player in football and basketball at West Valley High School before signing with Idaho in 2018. He redshirted last fall.

Mark Dantonio approved for rolling 1-year extension

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Mark Dantonio signed a 6-year contract in 2016 that was essentially an indefinite contract. Under the provisions of the deal, MSU’s Board of Trustees each February have the option to tack another year onto the contract, making it essentially a rolling 6-year contract, and for the second straight year they have done just that, according to the Lansing State Journal‘s R.J. Wolcott.

Though he is 2-for-2 on automatic rollovers (the deal would remain a 5-year contract if MSU’s trustees for some reason did not approve the rollover), both extensions have come amid a fair level of turmoil around the program.

In 2017, Dantonio successfully rebounded from Sparty’s 3-9 2016 campaign to go 10-3 with a No. 15 finish in the AP poll, but he was dogged by accusations that he mishandled sexual assault allegations against a handful of Spartan players — amid a complete mishandling (to put it lightly) of sexual assault allegations elsewhere in the athletics department, against gymnastics trainer Larry Nassar.

In 2018, Dantonio watched Michigan State’s record slink to 7-6 and, instead of making changes on the offensive staff, he opted to retain his entire roster of offensive coaches, though in different spots.

Still, Dantonio secured his extension. The 2025 season would take Dantonio to his 19th season at Michigan State and past his 69th birthday.

He is 107-51 with three Big Ten championships, two AP top-5 finishes and one College Football Playoff appearance in a dozen seasons as the head Spartan.

Georgia State pulling new offensive coordinator from FCS ranks

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After losing Travis Trickett to his old country roads of West Virginia, Georgia State’s new offensive coordinator is a name unfamiliar to most fans, but not to Panthers head coach Shawn Elliott.

Georgia State will hire Brad Glenn as its new offensive coordinator, a source confirmed to CFT.

Glenn is currently the associate head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Western Carolina. Prior to that, he spent seven years on staff at Appalachian State, at times coaching the Mountaineers’ slot receivers, tight ends and quarterbacks. Elliott was App State’s offensive line coach from 2001-09.

Georgia State ranked No. 76 nationally in yards per play (5.57) and No. 104 in scoring (23.9 points per game) en route to a 2-10 season in 2018.