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No. 21 Fresno State runs past Arizona State in Las Vegas Bowl

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No. 21 Fresno State concluded arguably the best season in school history with an emphatic win over Arizona State on Saturday, toppling the Sun Devils 31-20 in the Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl.

For a moment in the third quarter, it seemed the Las Vegas Bowl was headed toward a heartbreaking loss. After a 17-17 first half, Fresno State threatened to strike first in the second half when Dejonte O’Neal hauled in a beautifully designed screen pass and jetted 29 yards toward the end zone. But the ball was dislodged as O’Neal reached toward the pylon, resulting in a fumble that turned the ball over to the Sun Devils.

Fresno State forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, but the Bulldogs’ next touch ended in another costly turnover when Marcus McMariyon was intercepted in his own territory.

Brandon Ruiz turned that pick into a 44-yard field goal and a 20-17 lead.

Fresno State’s next possession ended in another McMariyon pick near midfield, but again the Bulldog defense stiffened, forcing another three-and-out — though with the help of Herm Edwards. Facing a 4th-and-1 at the Fresno State 44 with a 3-point lead, Edwards elected to take a delay of game and punt the ball away. The Sun Devils gained only two first downs after that punt.

Given a fourth chance to take the lead, Fresno State this time didn’t leave anything to chance. McMariyon handed the ball to Ronnie Rivers, who charged 68 yards for a touchdown to give Fresno State a lead it would not relinquish. The Fresno State defense thoroughly shut down the Sun Devils’ second-half offense — forcing four three-and-outs and an interception, while surrendering just a 13-yard field goal drive — which allowed Rivers’ 5-yard touchdown rush with 5:19 remaining to put a cap on an important, satisfying win.

Rivers earned MVP honors, rushing 24 times for 212 yards and two touchdowns.

Arizona State’s comeback efforts ended when Manny Wilkins was intercepted by Juju Hughes at the Fresno State 11-yard line with 3:36 remaining. The senior closed his career hitting 17-of-25 passes for 112 yards — he threw for just one yard after halftime — with one touchdown and two picks, including a pick-six.

With the win, Fresno State set a school record with 12 wins, capping a season in which the club captured its third Mountain West championship. The Bulldogs will end the season ranked inside the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2004, another impressive milestone in the Jeff Tedford era, a 2-year run in which a program that went 4-20 in 2015-17 has turned the tide to go 22-6 in 2017-18.

Despite the loss, Year 1 of the Edwards era was still a success for Arizona State. Picked to finished last in the Pac-12 South in the league’s preseason poll, the Sun Devils concluded the year at 7-6.

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 10-0 lead 10 minutes when Anthoula Kelly stepped in front of a Wilkins pass and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown, but the Sun Devils responded with consecutive touchdown drives.

The first scoring drive was almost all Wilkins, as he rushed or pass on the final seven snaps of a 9-play, 65-yard drive, culminating in a 3-yard scoring toss to Kyle Williams. After forcing a Fresno State three-and-out, Arizona State took the lead when Eno Benjamin covered the final 30 yards on an 8-play, 58-yard march. Benjamin’s 17-yard touchdown run not only gave his team the lead, it handed him the Arizona State single-season rushing record at 1,585 yards.

Fresno State answered with a 9-play, 75-yard drive, seven of them runs. Rivers ran for gains of 19 and 15 yards to open the drive, then quarterback McMariyon finished the drive with a 10-yard keeper, putting the Bulldogs back in front at 17-14 with 8:03 left in the first half.

Arizona State consumed nearly the remainder of the half, piecing together a marathon 17-play, 72-minute drive. Rather than go for a 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Edwards, foreshadowing another un-Vegas-like decision, opted for a 20-yard Ruiz field goal with 51 seconds left in the first half.

Veteran WRs coach Gunter Brewer joins Louisville staff

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After a brief foray in the NFL, Gunter Brewer is back in college football and, more specifically, back in the ACC.

Brewer was announced as Louisville’s wide receivers coach on Tuesday, completing Scott Satterfield‘s initial staff.

This will be Brewer’s fourth different tour of duty in the ACC. He joined the conference as a Wake Forest wide receiver in 1985-86, then joined the Deacons’ coaching staff as a strength and conditioning assistant in 1986-87. He returned to the conference as North Carolina’s wide receivers coach from 2000-04, then coached the Tar Heels’ wideouts again from 2012-17.

In between those stints, Brewer has coached wide receivers at East Tennessee State, Marshall, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss. He has tutored two Biletnikoff Award winners and a third finalist — Randy Moss at Marshall (1997 winner) and Dez Bryant (2008 finalist) and Justin Blackmon (2010 winner) at Oklahoma State. (Blackmon also won the honor in 2011, but Brewer was at Ole Miss by then.)

Brewer spent the 2018 campaign as the wide receivers coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. His NFL stint ended with Alshon Jeffrey‘s drop against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional round.

Les Miles hires NAIA head coach to Kansas support staff

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Stay with me here, but Les Miles has made a smart, visionary hire to help his offensive coaching staff.

Bethel University head coach Brent Dearmon is leaving his post to become a senior offensive consultant at Kansas. The announcement was made by Bethel; KU has yet to confirm the hire.

“It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to come back home to Bethel and help rebuild the program,” Dearmon said in a statement. “This place will always be very a special place to me and my family. Bethel molded me into the player I was, the coach I am, and the man God designed me to be.”

Dearmon led Bethel, an NAIA school in McKenzie, Tenn., to its best season in school history. The Wildcats went 10-1, including an undefeated regular season and a ranking as high as No. 3, while averaging a staggering 55 points and 540.3 yards per game.

Dearmon’s offense was the highest scoring unit not just in NAIA, but all of college football.

Meanwhile, Kansas is still without an offensive coordinator after Chip Lindsey left to become the head coach at Troy.

“We are happy for Coach Dearmon and this opportunity for him but at the same time we regret to see him leave,” Bethel AD Dale Kelley said. “He did a marvelous job and the team was exciting to follow. The excitement around the program this past year was phenomenal. We wish him and his family the very best.”

The 2018 campaign was Dearmon’s first as head coach at Bethel, his alma mater. He had spent the previous three campaigns as the offensive coordinator at Division II Arkansas Tech, and prior to that deposited two seasons as an analyst on Gus Malzahn‘s staff at Auburn.

Missouri, Colorado reportedly ink home-and-home to celebrate Fifth Down anniversary

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Colorado and Missouri are set to reunite to celebrate the anniversary of one of the most infamous officiating gaffes in college football history, according to a pair of reports.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Friday that the Buffs and Tigers will play a home-and-home in 2025 and 2030, which was confirmed on Tuesday by CBS Sports‘s Dennis Dodd.

The 2025 game will be in Boulder and the 2030 game in Columbia, according to the Post-Dispatch. Specific dates have not been disclosed.

The pair will “honor” the anniversary of the famous Fifth Down game, an Oct. 6, 1990 game in which officials mistakenly gave Colorado two second downs in the closing moments of their meeting in Columbia. That mistake allowed Buffaloes quarterback Charles Johnson to score a 1-yard keeper as time expired, allowing Colorado to escape with a 33-31 win. Adding to the controversy, replays showed Johnson’s knee was down before the ball reached the goal line, but Colorado was allowed to keep its ill-gotten win and went on to share the 1990 national championship with Georgia Tech, the school’s only title.

Colorado and Mizzou have not met since both schools left the Big 12 following the 2010 season. Missouri won the final five games, including a 26-0 blanking in 2010, and holds a 41-31-3 all-time lead in a series that dates back to 1930.

The series will not be the first time either school faces a former Big 8/12 bunk mate since their respective departures. Missouri has a home-and-home with Kansas State set for 2022-23, while Colorado faces Texas A&M in 2019 and ’20, meets Nebraska in 2023-24 and squares off with Kansas State in 2027-28.

Colorado is set to open its 2025 season with Georgia Tech on Aug. 30 and visit Houston a week later. Mizzou has games with North Dakota, Miami (Ohio) and Massachusetts set for 2025. Neither team has another game on the docket for 2030 as of yet.

Penn State transfer TE Danny Dalton lands at Boston College

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One of the dozen(ish) members of the Penn State football program who has decided to transfer from the Nittany Lions this offseason has found himself a new college football home.

Over the weekend, Danny Dalton took to Twitter to announce that he has decided to transfer to Boston College and continue his playing career with the Eagles.  The tight end is on schedule to graduate from Penn State in June, meaning he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2019.

Including the upcoming season, the Marshfield, Mass., native will have two years of eligibility remaining.

A three-star member of the Nittany Lions’ 2016 recruiting class, Dalton was the top-rated player at any position in the state of Massachusetts.  After not playing at all his first two seasons in Happy Valley, the 6-4, 247-pound redshirt sophomore appeared in three games