Motivation is always a big factor in bowl games and there were plenty of folks wondering if Memphis would be properly enthused at playing in the Birmingham Bowl on Saturday afternoon just a few weeks after losing their conference title game.
Probably safe to say that they are. So was their opponent.
The Tigers scored on offense, defense and special teams to jump out to a 28-24 lead over Wake Forest at halftime in an impressive showing from both sides as momentum changed hands several times.
Memphis QB Brady White was 7-of-10 for 69 yards and a touchdown pass but barely needed to break a sweat given how good his teammates were on the day. That’s particularly true of Tony Pollard, who did a bang up job of filling in for leading rusher Darrell Henderson (who has moved on to the NFL draft process).
In the first half alone, Pollard rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown plus returned a kickoff nearly untouched 97 yards for another score. It was his seventh kick return touchdown, tying the NCAA record in the process.
The Tigers also put together a 16 play, 98 yard scoring drive in the first quarter and saw Chris Claybrooks add in a 37 yard pick-six in the second quarter to help cap off an impressive effort in the first half.
Though Wake Forest did give up all those non-offensive touchdowns, the Deacs have to be happy at their resolve in battling back from being down 18 at one point. Signal-caller Jamie Newman started fast in leading a game-opening scoring drive and finished with 159 yards and a touchdown (plus that one interception) but really did his damage on the ground by running for 79 and a pair of scores.
Playing without top target Greg Dortch (hand injury), Newman really spread the ball around in the passing game and had already connected with eight different receivers in the first half.
While it at times looked like this bowl game would get out of hand in favor of either side, both have battled back to make things quite interesting as we hit the break. It should result in a fun second half as the final Saturday before the College Football Playoff gets underway is off to a great start.
A couple of weeks or so before kicking off summer camp, the defending national champion’s depth in the secondary has taken a bit of a hit.
Exiting spring practice, Kyler McMichael was listed as A.J. Terrell‘s back up at one of Clemson’s cornerback slots. However, as first reported by 247Sports.com, McMichael’s name is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.
It’s at this point in the program where we’re compelled to remind readers that McMichael can pull his name from the portal and remain with the Tigers, although entering is, more times than not, the first step toward a transfer. Taking a seat in the portal also affords other programs the opportunity to contact the defensive back without receiving permission from Clemson.
Should McMichael ultimately opt to leave the Tigers, it’s highly likely that he’d have to sit out the 2019 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules if he lands at another FBS program.
A four-star member of Clemson’s 2018 recruiting class, McMichael was rated as the No. 8 corner in the country; the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 56 prospect overall on 247Sports.com’s composite board. He was the highest-rated defensive back in the Tigers’ class that year.
McMichael picked Clemson over offers from, among others, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.
As a true freshman, McMichael played in 12 games. During that action, he was credited with a pair of tackles in just over 100 snaps.
Cue Clay Davis because the birthplace of college football has a new name and fans probably can’t wait to make fun of it.
Rutgers announced on Friday that they have agreed to a new stadium naming rights deal with SHI International Corp. that will see the Scarlet Knights’ home rebranded over the next seven years into SHI Stadium. The venue was officially known as HighPoint.com Stadium last year but the naming rights deal with what most know as High Point Solutions expired this offseason.
“As the State University of New Jersey, we are thrilled to partner with SHI,” Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs said in a statement. “Headquartered right here in Somerset, SHI proudly embraces its strong Rutgers ties. As we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of college football here at the Birthplace, we are delighted to partner with a company that shares in our Relentless Pursuit of Excellence. This partnership will positively impact athletics, the university and the New Jersey community.”
Terms were not announced by the school but “a person familiar with the contract told NJ Advance Media it’s a 7-year deal starting at $1.25 million and increasing by $100,000 annually to $1.85 million in 2025-26.” At a total of nearly $10 million over the lifetime of the contract, that isn’t quite what other Power Five programs have fetched but a still significant bump over the previous $600,000 a year the school got.
The Scarlet Knights previously played at Rutgers Stadium up until 2011. The first football game at the newly renamed stadium will happen on Aug. 30 against UMass.
Are you a starting center for 2019? Good, because chances are high you made the Rimington Trophy watch list.
The Rimington Trophy Committee released their annual pre-season watch list for the award given to the nation’s best center and remarkably, 80 of the 130 FBS teams were represented on the list. While watch lists are always notable for their length and being sometimes too broad, it kind of feels like everybody who is in line to start was granted a place on this year’s edition.
Among the notable names were Clemson’s Sean Pollard, Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz, Michigan State’s Matt Allen, Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey, Notre Dame’s Jarrett Patterson, Stanford’s Drew Dalman, Washington’s Nick Harris and LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry III.
You can find the full list of centers nominated here.
The winner of the award will be announced in early December along with a host of other college football honors. The winner will then be recognized at the Rimington Trophy Presentation in Lincoln, Nebraska on January 18, 2020.
Being a tight end in today’s version of college football means you’re a player wearing many hats.
While blocking is emphasized less than ever before, players at the position still need to do it in addition to splitting out wide, running reverses and lining up all over the field in a variety of offensive sets. This year’s annual watch list for the 2019 Mackey Award includes a host of players who can do it all and leave an impact between the lines that can make them a headache for opposing defensive coordinators.
While the entire list includes just about every starter at the position in the country, some of the headliners for the upcoming season include Washington’s Hunter Bryant, Oklahoma’s Grant Calcaterra, Alabama’s Miller Forristall, Memphis’ Joey Magnifico, Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam, Stanford’s Colby Parkinson and Vandy’s Jared Pinkney.
The full list of players on the Mackey Award watch list can be found here.
Last year’s winner was Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson, who later became a top 10 draft pick for the Detroit Lions the following spring.