Kyler Murray wins Heisman Trophy as Oklahoma goes back-to-back

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For the second year in a row, an Oklahoma Sooners quarterback has won the Heisman Trophy. Quarterback Kyler Murray was named the winner of this year’s Heisman Trophy on Saturday night in New York as he edged out Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for the award down the stretch of the season.

Murray took on the starting role this season following in the footsteps of 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, who left Oklahoma a year early to be the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Already with a shot at baseball locked up with the Oakland Athletics, Murray was committed to playing at least one more year of football before getting set on his baseball career. Even though a game was played by his head coach leading up to the start of the season, Murray was clearly going to be the starting quarterback for Oklahoma this season, and he did not disappoint.

Murray passed for 4,053 yards and 40 touchdowns with seven interceptions and rushed for 892 yards and 11 touchdowns in leading Oklahoma to the Big 12 championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff for the second straight year. The only game in which Murray failed to throw for at least 200 yards was a September home game against Army, but Murray produced three quick touchdown drives in a game that saw Army dominate the time of possession and not give Murray many chances. In that game, Murray completed 11 of 15 passes for 165 yards and he carried the football seven times for 71 yards with four combined touchdowns. Oklahoma held the football for just 15:19 in that game, a 28-21 overtime victory against a determined Army that found an advantage against Oklahoma’s defense.

The lack of solid defensive play put plenty of pressure on Murray all season long to find ways to put points on the board. Because Oklahoma’s defense was a constant weakness that could be exposed, Murray had to keep up the pace and rarely was given a chance to take a foot off the gas pedal. Whatever works in Norman, right?

On Thursday night at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show in Atlanta, Murray received the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s best quarterback, but Tagovailoa took home the Walter Camp Player of the Year and the Maxwell Award. The last Walter Camp Player of the Year not to win the Heisman Trophy was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o in 2012. The last Maxwell Award winner not to win the Heisman Trophy was Alabama’s AJ McCarron in 2013. The last time a player won the Walter Camp Player of the Year and the Maxwell Award but did not win the Heisman Trophy was 2012, when Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel took the Heisman but Te’o took the other two individual awards.

Murray’s Heisman Trophy victory moves Oklahoma into a tie for first place with Notre Dame and Ohio State on the list of all-time Heisman Trophy winners. All three schools now have seven Heisman Trophy winners each. USC would also be tied for first place but the Trojans officially only have six Heisman winners with the 2005 Heisman won by Reggie Bush vacated from the record book. Now the Trojans are alone in second place, officially speaking. Murray’s Heisman Trophy means Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley now has two Heisman Trophy winners in his first two seasons as a head coach.

The stage is now set for a playoff showdown between this year’s Heisman Trophy winner and first runner-up as Alabama and Oklahoma will play in the Orange Bowl semifinal in the College Football Playoff in a few weeks. According to research by Associated Press college football reporter Ralph Russo, this will be the seventh bowl game featuring the Heisman winner and runner-up dating back to 1975.

Here is how the voting went down, with Murray running away from Tagovailoa with 517 first-place votes to Tagovailoa’s 299. Murray won the award by a total of 296 points.

With felony sexual assault of a minor charges dismissed, suspended LSU lineman Ed Ingram reinstated

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An off-field odyssey that’s lasted more than a baker’s dozen months has led Ed Ingram back into the good graces of the LSU football program.

Friday, it was confirmed that two felony counts of aggravated sexual assault of a minor that Ingram had been facing in Dallas have been dismissed.  Not long after, the Tigers confirmed that Ingram has been reinstated to the football team.

“Our whole team and our LSU family welcomes Ed Ingram back,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement. “He is an outstanding football player, an integral part of our football team, and family and we are excited to have him back with us.”

In early August of 2018, it was confirmed that Ingram had been indefinitely suspended for violating unspecified team rules.  It was subsequently confirmed that, prior to the suspension, Ingram had been arrested on felony sexual assault charges involving a minor in connection to incidents that occurred prior to the offensive lineman signing with the Tigers in 2017.

No details of the events that led up to the arrest and subsequent charges — or the reasons behind the charges being dismissed — have been released publicly.

Ingram was a four-star member of LSU’s 2017 recruiting class, rated as the No. 13 offensive guard in the country.  He started 12 games at right guard as a true freshman.

While Ingram has been reinstated, he won’t play for LSU this weekend.

LOOK: Georgia grocery store removes Irish Spring soap from shelves ahead of Notre Dame-UGA

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Even for a non-conference matchup, the South has hilariously shown once again that it takes its college football very seriously.

No. 7 Notre Dame has traveled to Athens to take on No. 3 Georgia in the most high-profile matchup in Week 4 of the 2019 season.  The two bluebloods aren’t exactly rivals — they’ve faced each other twice, the most recent in 2017 (one-point UGA win in South Bend) and the first coming in the Sugar Bowl following the 1980 regular season.

The lack of history between the Bulldogs and Fighting Irish, though, didn’t stop one grocery store in the vicinity of the UGA campus from hating on this week’s enemy as it removed its entire supply of Irish Spring soap from its shelves in the week leading up to the Top 25 matchup.

College football, y’all!

In the days leading up to tonight’s primetime affair, the sportsbooks really liked UGA as the Bulldogs were listed as anywhere from a 14- to 15-point favorite; as of this posting, the Bulldogs are listed as a 14.5 favorite according to the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.

Three current FBS players, all Aussie kickers/punters, are age 30 or over

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While it seems like the quarterback position in college football is trending younger and younger these days, kicking specialists at a couple of schools are trending in the opposite direction.

Seniors Wade Lees and Dane Roy are punters at UCLA and Houston, respectively.  Junior James Stefanou (pictured), meanwhile, is a kicker at Colorado.

All three were born in Australia, with Stefanou and Lees hailing from Melbourne while Roy is from Bunyip, about 50 miles southeast of the state of Victoria’s capital.  All three came to the United States after training at ProKick Australia, and all three are also married.

What else do they have in common?  They’re all significantly older than your average students.  They’re also much older than your average medical school students as each individual in the kicking trio is at least 30 years old, as captured Thursday night by our own Bryan Fischer.

Lees, who transferred to UCLA from Maryland this offseason, and Roy are in their final seasons of eligibility, but Stefanou has another year he can use.  With an April 15th birthday, Stefanou will be 33 years old when the 2020 season kicks off.

Despite that “advanced” age, Stefanou won’t be the oldest player ever at the FBS level as that honor belongs to Tim Frisby, who walked on at South Carolina in 2004 at the age of 39 and played for both Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier.  In 2005, at the age of 40, Frisby, a former U.S. Army Ranger who had served in the first Gulf War as well as Kosovo, caught one pass for nine yards.

In 2016, Joe Thomas Sr. became the oldest player ever at the Div. 1 level when he suited up for FCS South Carolina State.

In 2011, 61-year-old Alan Moore kicked an extra point in an NAIA game to become the oldest player in the history of college football at any level.  Four years before that, 59-year-old Mike Flynt suited up and played for Div. III Sul Ross State.

USC takes charge in Pac-12 South after upset of No. 10 Utah

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Late Friday night saw the first upset of the weekend in college football. No. 10 Utah (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) was upset on the road by USC (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12), 30-23, despite the Trojans playing with a third-string quarterback and the Pac-12 officials throwing enough flags to fill five loads of laundry. The win by USC moves the Trojans into a comfortable spot in the Pac-12 South before even getting to October.

USC lost starting quarterback Kedon Slovis on the second play of the game. After Slovis left to be evaluated for a possible head injury, third-string quarterback Matt Fink stepped in to lead the offense. All Fink did was lead USC to touchdowns on their first two possessions of the game and then make some big passes in the second half to keep the Trojans in front of Utah. Fink ended his night off the bench with 351 passing yards and three touchdowns. Michael Pittman Jr. was on the receiving end of 10 of those receptions for a massive 232 receiving yards. The highlight of the night was a 77-yard touchdown pass that saw Pittman come down with a jump ball and then push aside a would-be tackler on his way to the endzone.

A win is a win, fo course, and USC will take them any way they can. On Friday night in the Coliseum, they had to overcome an onslaught of bad penalties. USC was flagged 11 times for 117 yards. Utah had their share of laundry too with 16 penalties called for 120 yards. Both teams were guilty of personal foul penalties as the game was certainly chippy at times. But some of the penalties were questionable at best. Neither coach will walk away from this game feeling great about the discipline or the officiating, as there was plenty of blame to go around in this one.

Utah had their chances to come away with the win, but an inability to defend deep jump ball passes by Fink killed them too often. The Utes ran for 247 yards as a team but managed just one touchdown on the ground. Quarterback Tyler Huntley put his team on the back for much of the night with 210 passing yards and 60 rushing yards, but it was not enough as defenders were able to get to him and bring him under pressure.

In the end, it was just USC’s night, and it was one Clay Helton really needed. For now, USC can live in the moment and not have to worry about distractions about the future of Helton. USC is already 2-0 in conference play with wins against Stanford and Utah. The road is not going to get any easier, with a road game at Washington coming up next week, followed by a trip to South Bend, Indiana to play Notre Dame. But USC ha splayed themselves into a favorable spot in the Pac-12 by being 2-0 and owning a head-to-head tiebreaker with Utah. That gives USC a margin for error in conference play, and they look to be the best team within the Pac-12 South the rest of the season.

While we should be wise not to pencil USC into the Pac-12 championship game just yet (remember, third-string QB and they still have Washington and Oregon to play in a difficult crossover division rotation), but there have been some true signs of promise for the Trojans early on this season. And bouncing back from a hard-fought loss at BYU last week to knock off No. 10 Utah is quite a turnaround for USC.

As USC hits the road to challenge Washington next week, Utah will look to rebound at home in Salt Lake City against Washington State. As of the conclusion of the USC-Utah game, the Washington State Cougars were one of three undefeated teams in the Pac-12 left standing (Cal, Arizona State).