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No. 22 Texas A&M outlasts No. 7 LSU in record-tying 7 OTs

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No. 7 LSU thought it had No. 22 Texas A&M beat in regulation — twice. Instead, Kellen Mond found Quartney Davis for a 19-yard touchdown pass as time expired, extending what would become the longest and highest-scoring game in FBS history, as Mond’s 2-point pass to Kendrick Rogers gave Texas A&M a 74-72 win in seven overtimes.

It was the fifth game in FBS history to reach seven overtimes, and the third such SEC game. Mond passed or threw the ball on 69 plays for Texas A&M, posting seven total touchdowns and no turnovers. But before Texas A&M could win the game in the dawn of morning, the Aggies first had to give it away.

Leading 24-17 with the ball early in the fourth quarter, the Aggies appeared primed to beat the Tigers for the first time as SEC West bunk mates. Texas A&M had a 1st-and-10 at the LSU 40 and tossed it to Trayveon Williams, who’d already scored twice in the game. But Williams was wrapped up by LSU linebacker Devin White, who forced the ball free in the process of bringing Williams to the ground. Michael Divinity, Jr. picked up the loose pigskin and raced it 58 yards untouched for a game-tying touchdown.

Energized by the touchdown, LSU forced a three-and-out and then handed over to its offense. Completely dependent on Joe Burrow to that point, the Tigers’ offense knifed 76 yards in four plays, popping off a 46-yard Lanard Fournette run and two Nick Brosette runs of seven and nine yards, setting up a 14-yard scoring strike to Foster Moreau, handing LSU its first lead with 6:41 left in regulation.

The Aggies reached the LSU 37 on the ensuing possession, but Jimbo Fisher elected to go for a 4th-and-5 rather than try a 54-yard field goal with 2:32 remaining, but Mond was stopped short on a gotta-have-it scramble, turning the ball over on downs.

LSU could not expire the remainder of the clock, and punted the ball back to Texas A&M with 1:29 to go and no timeouts. Mond seemingly threw A&M’s last-gasp drive away with an interception to LSU’s Grant Delpit, but instant replay found Mond’s knee touched the ground when he kneeled down to corral an errant snap, handing the ball back to the Aggies at their own 39 with 26 seconds remaining. Completions to Davis and Rogers pushed the ball to the LSU 19 with one second left — including a 4th-and-18 conversion that appeared short of the line to gain to the naked eye but was not reviewed, and after the clock momentarily hit triple zeroes before a final second was added back — allowing Davis to sky over LSU All-American corner Greedy Willaims to snare the game-tying touchdown grab as time expired, pushing the game, one in which Ed Orgeron had already taken a Gatorade bath and the LSU defensive coaches had already bailed on the press box to join in on the victory celebration, into overtime.

LSU took the ball to open the extra session and lost seven yards on its offensive possession, but Cole Tracy bailed the offense out by a knocking in a 50-yard field goal. Texas A&M had no such problem in the bottom of the first overtime, pushing forward to a 1st-and-goal from the LSU 1. But two straight runs lost yardage and Mond’s third down pass was incomplete, forcing a 25-yard Seth Small field goal to force double overtime.

Williams rushed for 22 yards to open the second overtime, and Mond capitalized this time with a 3-yard keeper, forcing LSU to score a touchdown to extend the game — which LSU got, barely. On a 4th-and-2 from the Texas A&M 3, Brosette secured the first down and the touchdown, pushing the game to triple overtime.

Taking the ball to start the third frame, LSU did not flirt with disaster, instead hitting Dee Anderson for a touchdown on its first play, then connecting with Justin Jefferson on the mandated 2-point play. Texas A&M answered with its own 25-yard scoring heave, hauled in by Rogers despite pass interference, then hit Rogers for the 2-point try to push the game to a fourth overtime.

After achieving a 1st-and-goal in the top of the fourth overtime, Texas A&M again stalled near the goal line, forcing Small’s second field goal of overtime. Knowing a touchdown would win the game, LSU gained a 1st-and-goal on its first play but also stalled as three straight running plays could not reach the goal line, forcing Tracy’s second field goal of overtime, this one from 26 yards.

Texas A&M again pushed forward to a 1st-and-goal but again stalled. Facing a 4th-and-the-game from the LSU 6, Mond scrambled and again hit Rogers for the game-saving touchdown, but fired incomplete on the 2-point try, pushing the game to a sixth overtime at 58-all.

The Aggies wasted no time in the top of the sixth overtime, hitting Jace Sternberger for a 25-yard touchdown. Mond yet again found Rogers for the 2-point try. Burrow hit Jefferson for a 15-yard gain on 3rd-and-6 to put LSU at the 2, then carried in for his fifth touchdown of the night on his 65th rush or pass of the game, then found Anderson for the 2-point try to push the game to an FBS record-tying seventh overtime.

Burrow’s hot streak continued when his fade route drew a pass interference penalty on the first play of the seventh overtime, then rushed in untouched from seven yards out for his sixth touchdown of the game. Anderson caught a deflected 2-point pass but was hauled down short of the goal line.

Mond hit Davis for the tying touchdown, then found — who else? — Rogers for the winning 2-point conversion, concluding the longest and highest-scoring game in FBS history.

The win snapped Texas A&M’s seven-game losing streak to its would-be rivals to the east, including an 0-6 mark in SEC play, and concludes Fisher’s first season at 8-4 overall and in second place in the SEC West.

LSU, with hopes of moving to 10-2 and surpassing No. 5 Georgia to appear in the Sugar Bowl, now falls to 9-3 and will likely fall out of the New Year’s Six altogether.

The Tigers opened the fifth overtime with some creativity they did not show in the fourth, as running back Clyde Edwards-Elaire hit fullback Tory Carter for a 13-yard touchdown pass, but Burrow’s 2-point pass sailed wide of Jefferson.

After the teams combined for three three-and-outs to open the game, the Aggies opened the scoring by rumbling 95 yards in 10 plays, punctuated with a 10-yard Williams run run.

LSU immediately answered with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by a 22-yard Burrow run, but Texas A&M immediately answered that answer with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown march of its own, this one capped by a 10-yard scoring strike from Mond to Sternberger.

LSU ended the chain when Tracy missed a 49-yard field goal at the 5:30 mark of the second quarter.

Texas A&M closed the half with its third straight scoring drive, this one a 53-yard drive culminating in a 33-yard Small field goal. Tracy redeemed his 49-yard miss with a 47-yard make on the final play of the half.

After forcing a three-and-out to open the second half, LSU pieced together its best drive of the night, a 15-play, 90-yard marathon that consumed more than six minutes and ended in a 7-yard strike to Jefferson.

LSU forced another Texas A&M punt and was poised to take the ball in a tie game for the first time of the night, but Jonathan Giles muffed the punt and handed it right back to the Aggies at the LSU 29. Texas A&M capitalized with Williams’s second touchdown of the game, this one a 1-yard plunge.

 

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.