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Playoff ticket punched: No. 3 Notre Dame rallies to beat USC and cap off 12-0 regular season

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LOS ANGELES — They never said it was going to be easy, but the wins all count the same.

No. 3 Notre Dame trailed by double-digits for the first time all year but completed a second half comeback against rival USC 24-17 to cap off an undefeated regular season for the first time since 2012.

The Irish, who trailed by 10 early in the second quarter, slowly but surely chipped away at their deficit as the game wore on despite not really firing on all cylinders on either side of the ball. Though the defense allowed just 10 points, they were shredded in the first half by a short passing game that allowed true freshman quarterback J.T. Daniels to throw for 349 yards (one TD) while completing over 70% of his passes. The group did force two key turnovers (all fumbles) to keep the team in it with the offense not finding a groove until well after halftime.

That said, when Notre Dame needed a big play, they found one as they have all season long during this remarkable run. Dexter Williams recorded over half of 97 yards rushing on a 52-yard burst up the seam to give the visitors from South Bend their first lead of the game. After a few up-and-down drives, Justin Yoon tacked on a 46 yard field goal late in the third quarter while Tony Jones Jr. put the exclamation point on the season with a weaving 51 yard catch and run touchdown that clinched the game.

Irish signal-caller Ian Book was far from his best on the night but still finished with 352 yards and two scores (one interception) while picking up another 16 on the ground.

Though Williams was able to break that big run, neither side could do much at all running the football. Aca’Cedric Ware led the way for the Trojans with 68 yards but it was other wise too little, too late for the cardinal and gold as they miss a bowl game for the first time since 2000 at 5-7 overall.

That final record will also lead to plenty of speculation over the future of USC head coach Clay Helton, whose team was almost shutout in the second half and faces an extremely unhappy fan base that even flew a pre-game banner from an airplane over the Coliseum urging athletic director Lynn Syann to fire him.

Opposite number Brian Kelly won’t have to worry about that at all as he completed his second undefeated regular season in seven years. The Irish, who came into the night ranked No. 3 behind No. Alabama and No. 2 Clemson, will assuredly be in a College Football Playoff semifinal next month and will await who they might play on Selection Sunday next week.

There will be plenty to clean up between now and then for the Irish coaches but, deep into a perfect Southern California night, first will come just a little celebrating from the golden domers.

Former FIU DB Emmanuel Lubin dies in car accident, program confirms

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FIU announced on Sunday that former Panthers defensive back Emmanuel Lubin died in a car accident on Saturday night.

Lubinn (jumping, left) played in 45 games over four seasons for FIU, the most recent coming in 2018. He started all 13 games last season, collecting 31 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, one sack and four pass breakups. For his career, Lubin compiled 86 tackles, 11 pass breakups and one interception.

“Tragically, we lost a great young man in Emmanuel Lubin last night,” FIU head coach Butch Davis said. “He was a hard worker, great teammate and was respected and loved by his teammates, coaches and staff at FIU. His character, work ethic and leadership were instrumental in leading our program to success these past two seasons. Our football program is mourning his loss and we will honor Emmanuel every day moving forward. Our hearts and prayers go out to his friends and family.”

Added former teammate Tyree Johnson: “Anybody who knows you would never say anything bad on your name because you literally lit up any room you were in…I never told you this because I assumed you knew, but you made me the man I am today. If it wasn’t for you, I’ll still be the same Teejayy from four yeas (sic) ago.”

The North Miami Beach native was 22 years old.

Ex-Clemson DB Kyler McMichael headed to North Carolina

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The Portal is as mysterious as it is powerful. Some souls enter never to be heard of again, others are out as quickly as they entered. The Portal blesses whom it decides to bless, and it’s not for us humans to understand. All we know is The Portal must be questioned.

For instance, there’s the case of Kyler McMichael.

On Friday, the former 4-star recruit was a Clemson Tiger. By Saturday, he was a North Carolina Tar Heel.

Roughly 24 hours after announcing his intent to transfer, McMichael had announced his new destination. “Beyond blessed and grateful to be apart (sic) of such an amazing team last year at Clemson, however today I begin my next Chapter in life as I redirect my journey and travel to Chapel Hill, to the University of North Carolina and become a Tar Heel.”

McMichael didn’t make a major impact on Clemson’s national championship team, but that’s largely because he was a true freshman playing for the eventual national champions.

The Atlanta native played in 101 snaps according to his Clemson bio, which was still live as of this writing, spread across 12 games, where he made two tackles.

Barring a waiver, McMichael will sit out the 2019 season and compete for the Tar Heels as a redshirt sophomore in 2020.

Colorado lands Nebraska transfer LB Guy Thomas

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There’s a new Guy on the team at Colorado.

On Saturday, former Nebraska linebacker Guy Thomas announced his commitment to Colorado. “I give thanks to everybody that has been influential, and supportive in my life,” Nyon said in a graphic posted to his Twitter account. “I am taking this time to announce that I will be committing to the University of Colorado.”

Thomas first announced his transfer back in November; he appeared in just four games over two years on the club. He posted four tackles in as many games as a redshirt freshman in 2018, with three coming against FCS Bethune-Cookman.

“It’s not working out,” Thomas told the Omaha World-Herald upon his transfer.

Barring a waiver, Thomas will have to sit out the 2019 season and compete as a redshirt junior in 2020. He figures to contribute as a pass-rushing outside linebacker whenever he is cleared to play.

As of now, Jim Harbaugh plans to play Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey in every game

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Michigan does not open training camp until Aug. 2 and does not play its first game until Aug. 31, so any “as of right now” statements are devoid of 20-odd practices worth of context.

Still, as of Big Ten media days, Jim Harbaugh plans to play both Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey in every game.

“Yeah, I do (see games where they’ll both play). Where it stands right now, and that could change later or not, is I see them both playing,” Harbaugh told the Detroit Free Press. “Where it stands right now, I see it as maybe redefining what a starter is…. I’m really not talking about playing them both at the same time (on a play), when I say both in games it’d be they’re both playing quarterback during the same game. And in the way it stands now, in every game.”

Harbaugh has been a one-quarterback man for the entirety of his career, but Patterson’s inconsistency and McCaffrey’s talent may demand a change. Michigan did juggle quarterbacks in 2017 — John O’KornBrandon Peters and Wilton Speight each threw at least 81 passes — but that was due to necessity, not strategy.

Patterson completed 64.6 percent of his passes last season for 2,600 yards (on 8.0 per attempt) with 22 touchdowns against seven interceptions while rushing 76 times for 273 yards and two touchdowns. In his second year in the program, McCaffrey completed 8-of-15 passes for 126 yards with two touchdowns whilst rushing 10 times for 99 yards and a touchdown.

The son of Ed McCaffrey and brother of Christian McCaffrey is certainly the heir apparent in Ann Arbor, and it appears Harbaugh isn’t willing to wait for the future to arrive in order to unleash arguably his most talented quarterback recruit since Andrew Luck.