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Déjà vu: No.1 Alabama rallies again behind backup QB to deny No. 4 Georgia another (SEC) title

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11 months ago, Nick Saban turned to his backup quarterback to lead a remarkable comeback with everything on the line and captured a national title in the process. Against the same team, in the same venue, with an SEC championship on the line, the Alabama head coach had to do so once again on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta.

Jalen Hurts entered off the bench and sparked an incredible storybook comeback against the Bulldogs in the process to capture a 35-28 victory and return the Crimson Tide to the top of the SEC once again. 

Even the legions of script writers in Hollywood who have moved to the Peach State wouldn’t have been able to spin this tale and get it into production.

Hurts, who was 26-2 as a starter for the team but was benched at halftime of last year’s national title game, entered in the fourth quarter to replace an injured Tua Tagovailoa. This year’s starter was fairly ineffective most of the game (10/25, 164 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) after being hobbled on an early sack and the Heisman Trophy favorite was carried off the field late after his ankle was rolled up on by one of his offensive linemen.

That was just the opening that the junior from Texas needed, entering to huge applause from the Alabama faithful at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Hurts finished the game with 82 yards through the air and had the game-tying touchdown on a scramble to Jerry Jeudy. Then, to cap things off as only he could, Hurts ran it in across the goal line for the exclamation point of the comeback with the game-winner from 15 yards out.

There will be plenty of questioning from Athens to Atlanta (and beyond) over the play calling for the Dawgs down the stretch after they built a 28-14 lead in the third quarter. That included an inexplicable fake punt at midfield in the final few minutes — that went nowhere — and the abandoning of the run in favor of downfield passes that just weren’t there like they were in the first half.

Quarterback Jake Fromm was not to blame all things considered as he was pinpoint with his passing most of the game and finished with 301 yards and three touchdowns. It wasn’t enough though as he suffered yet another heart-break at the hands of UGA’s SEC West rivals.

Tailback D’Andre Swift also played well with 75 yards and a touchdown while Elijah Holyfield added another 60 hard-fought yards between the tackles.

The loss will likely knock the Bulldogs out of the College Football Playoff race with No. 5 Oklahoma winning the Big 12 title earlier on Saturday. Even so, a Sugar Bowl berth isn’t a terrible consolation prize but the psyche of fans in red and black might need a few years to recover from what Alabama did to them in two games spanning 2018.

The Tide, meanwhile, will not only hoist their eighth SEC championship under Saban, but will all but assuredly move on as the No. 1 seed in the Playoff come Sunday afternoon. That means a berth in the Orange Bowl if the No. 4 seed is Oklahoma or the Cotton Bowl if it’s Ohio State or even Notre Dame. Also something to keep track of is what kind of effect the performance will have on Tagovailoa’s Heisman chances and whether he will be healthy come semifinal time too.

That will be a conversation for the coming weeks though as Alabama will celebrate yet another title in Atlanta thanks to their second incredible rally of the year over the Dawgs.

Four-star 2019 corner tweets transfer from Arkansas

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For the second time today, there’s some Arkansas personnel news on which to touch.

Monday, Chad Morris confirmed that linebacker D’Vone McClure left the team to deal with family responsibilities.  Later that same day, teammate Devin Bush took to Twitter to announce that, “[a]fter speaking with my parents and coaches, I’ve made the decision to officially enter the transfer portal.”

A four-star member of the Razorbacks’ 2019 recruiting class, Bush was rated as the No. 28 corner in the country and the No. 13 player at any position in the state of Louisiana.  The New Orleans native was the highest-rated defensive signee in Arkansas’ class this year.

Because he played in just four games this year, Bush will be able to take a redshirt for his true freshman season.

WR Weston Bridges is fourth Michigan State player to enter portal

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In the offseason, Weston Bridges changed positions.  Midway through the 2019 season, it appears Bridges is now set to change schools.

On his personal Twitter account Monday afternoon, Bridges indicated that he has decided to take his leave of Michigan State and transfer to an undetermined elsewhere.  It has subsequently been confirmed that the wide receiver is headed into the NCAA transfer database.

A three-star member of the Spartans’ 2017 recruiting class, Bridges was rated as the No. 31 running back in the country and the No. 24 player at any position in the state of Ohio.  During the spring this year, Bridges moved from running back to receiver.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Bridges carried the ball 16 times for 53 yards last season.  He was suspended for a late-September game because of unspecified violations of team rules.

Bridges is the fourth MSU football player to enter the portal since the 2019 season kicked off, joining linebacker Brandon Bouyer-Randle (HERE) as well as a pair of running backs in Connor Heyward (HERE) and La’Darius Jefferson (HERE).

Louisville’s season-opening QB starter to undergo year-ending surgery

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Jawon Pass began the 2019 season as Louisville’s starter under center.  After a couple of weeks of uncertainty, the redshirt junior will end it on the sidelines.

Pass suffered what turned out to be diagnosed as a case of turf toe in the season-opening loss to Notre Dame.  It wasn’t severe enough, however, to keep the starting quarterback out of the Week 2 win over Eastern Kentucky.

The past four games, though, Pass has been sidelined because of the injury.  Tuesday, it was confirmed by the football program that, as some have speculated, Pass will undergo surgery and, as a result, miss the remainder of the 2019 season.

With Pass sidelined, Malik Cunningham had started all four games in his place.  The redshirt sophomore, though, has been dealing with his own injuries, including a knee issue, that at least temporarily knocked him out of a pair of games.

True freshman Evan Conley replaced Cunningham both times, and was even named as the ACC’s Quarterback and Rookie of the Week for his performance in the upset of Wake Forest this past weekend.

For the season, Cunningham has completed 44-of-66 passes (66.7 percent) for 820 yards, seven touchdowns, one interception.  Conley is at a 64.9 completion percentage on his 37 attempts, throwing for 422 yards, four touchdowns and a pick.  Cunningham is the Cardinals third-leading rusher with 226 yards, while Conley is fifth with 84.

As of today, head coach Scott Satterfield has not named a starter for this weekend’s game against No. 3 Clemson.

USC’s leading rusher set for knee surgery

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Vavae Malepeai tolerated the pain as long as he could, until he couldn’t.

A knee injury sidelined Malepeai for most of USC’s summer camp.  Even as he had played — and played well — in all six games, the issue lingered on into the regular season; this weekend, the pause button was hit on Malepeai’s year as Clay Helton confirmed that the running back will undergo surgery to repair the damage to his knee.

No timetable for a return was given.

“Vavae is a warrior,” the head coach said according to the Los Angeles Times. “[He was] dealing with a sore knee and really fighting through it for his team. It’s just gotten to the point where it’s gotten too sore, so we’re going to go ahead and take care of it now.”

Malepeai’s 406 yards rushing and four touchdowns currently lead the Trojans.

With Malepeai out for the foreseeable future, Markese Stepp and Stephen Carr will see their opportunities in the running game increase.  Stepp is second on the team with 241 yards rushing, Carr third at 233.  Both players have a pair of touchdowns each on the ground.