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Auburn dominates first B1G-SEC bowl matchup in historic rout of Purdue

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The good news for the Big Ten?  They still have three more matchups with the SEC this postseason, and they couldn’t possibly go worse than this one. Right?

It was a record-setting first two quarters of the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl for Auburn (8-5) as they took a 56-7 lead on overmatched and overwhelmed Purdue (6-7) into the halftime locker room.  After scoring on all seven of its first-half offensive possessions (if you take away a kneel down to end the second quarter), the Tigers scored on its first possession of the second half as well before throwing it in cruise control and easing its way to a 63-14 win over the Boilermakers.

To put a finer point on the dominance, the Tigers didn’t punt the ball until there were just over three minutes left in the third quarter.  That punt came after Gus Malzahn, in the head coach’s first game since reassuming the play-calling duties, commenced to removing a handful of starters on both sides of the ball.

With the 63 points, Auburn broke the SEC bowl scoring record previously held by rival Alabama in its 61-6 win over Syracuse in the 1953 Orange Bowl.  The Tigers had already broken the Music City Bowl record for points in a game, previously the 49 by West Virginia in the 2000 game, with its 56 first-half points that also broke the FBS postseason record for two quarters of play.

Auburn had the chance to tie the record for points in a bowl game, but opted to kneel twice inside the five-yard line with less than a minute remaining in the game.  That means West Virginia’s record of 70 put up in the 2012 Orange Bowl rout of Clemson remains the postseason points standard.

In the last game of Jarrett Stidham‘s collegiate career — he announced earlier this month that he is leaving The Plains early for the NFL — the quarterback put on quite the show in just two-and-a-half quarters worth of work, throwing for 373 yards and five touchdowns in the rout.  He’s just the third player in AU history with five touchdown passes in a single game, joining Chris Todd in 2009 and Daniel Cobb in 2001, but the first to do so in a bowl.

Not surprisingly, Stidham was named as the Music City Bowl Player of the Game.

Darius Slayton caught three of Stidham’s touchdown passes for 160 yards, all of which came in the first half.  The yardage broke the old school record of 159 by Herbert Casey in the 1990 Peach Bowl.

With two rushing and one receiving (all in the first half), JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow is the first Tiger football player to score three touchdowns in a bowl game.

In a losing effort, All-American true freshman Rondale Moore, who came into the game leading the FBS in receptions with 103, added 11 more catches for 94 yards.

The Big Ten and SEC will square off three more times over the next four days: the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (Florida-Michigan, Dec. 29), the Outback Bowl (Mississippi State-Iowa, New Year’s Day) and the VRBO Citrus Bowl (Kentucky-Penn State, New Year’s Day).

With Auburn’s win, the SEC is now an even 1-1 in the 2018-19 bowl season with nine more games remaining.  The Big Ten suffered its first defeat of the postseason and is 2-1 with six games left on its bowl schedule.

Florida to host Florida Atlantic in 2021

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Florida will host Florida Atlantic in 2021, FAU announced Tuesday. The game will take place on Sept. 4 and serve as the season-opener for both schools.

The schools have met three times previously, all of them in Gainesville. Florida won 59-20 on Nov. 17, 2007, 41-3 on Sept. 3, 2011, and 20-14 on Nov. 21, 2015.

The game will round out both schools’ non-conference schedules.

Florida will visit USF on Sept. 11, host Florida State on Nov. 27 and has a TBD home game against Samford, most likely on Nov. 20.

Today’s news means Florida has a future game on the schedule with every FBS program in the Sunshine State except UCF and Florida International. Florida beat Miami in Orlando to open this season and will play a home-and-home with the ‘Canes in 2024-25.

Florida Atlantic will follow its Gainesville trip with an excursion to Colorado Springs to play Air Force. After that, the Owls will host Fordham and Georgia Southern to round out September.

 

With Husky mascot retiring in 2021, Northern Illinois to introduce successor on Tuesday

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Northern Illinois’ husky mascot, Mission, is retiring in 2021, and on Tuesday the school will introduce his successor.

Mission II, born on July 6 and weighing a tender 14.5 ounces, will replace Mission two years from now, and the puppy will begin his official duties as NIU’s next official mascot on Tuesday.

“We have long been searching for the heir apparent to Mission, and there is no question that we have found the right Huskie,” NIU Alumni Association Executive Director Reggie Bustinza said. “Mission has set very high expectations, but there is no doubt in my mind that Mission II cannot only meet those demands, but surpass them.

“We are happy that Mission will have plenty of years to enjoy his retirement.”

Mission will turn 10 years old in 2021, and by that time Mission II will be fully versed in all the expectations placed upon the Official Northern Illinois Husky.

Mission II, a Siberian husky born in southern Wisconsin, will accompany Mission “to all eligible events for experiential learning and proofing,” which begins at a tasting for an NIU-branded beer on Tuesday evening in DeKalb.

The school has not revealed when Mission II will make his debut at a Husky football game, and in the meantime he’ll continue training with Lisa Boland while also attending daily puppy classes.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing Mission and Mission II do the job together during the training period,” Boland said. “It will be wonderful to watch ‘Mini-Mish’ learn from Mission, and see them work as a team. Mission has set a very high bar in mascotting, and Mission II will be working very hard to follow in his footsteps. I am so proud of Mission and the work that he’s done as the official NIU mascot.

“I am thrilled to have the privilege of guiding his successor to best represent Huskie Nation.”

Troy loses RB B.J. Smith, SBC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, to season-ending injury

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This one will certainly leave a lasting mark.

Over the summer, Troy’s B.J. Smith was named as the Sun Belt Conference’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.  Two months later, the football program confirmed, the running back will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2019 season because of an injury sustained in the Week 3 loss to Southern Miss.

While the specific nature of the injury wasn’t divulged by the school, it’s believed Smith injured his knee midway through the second quarter of last Saturday’s game.

Last season, Smith led the Trojans with 1,186 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.  This season, the fourth-year senior had rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries in two games.

Because of the timing of the injury, Smith can take a redshirt for the 2019 season and return to the Trojans next season.

Texas LB Caleb Johnson enters transfer portal

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Sitting at the quarter-pole of the 2019 regular season, and Texas is the latest FBS program to feel the pain of the portal.

Joe Cook of InsideTexas.com was the first to report that Caleb Johnson has placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.  247Sports.com subsequently confirmed the initial report, writing that the junior linebacker “feels he has not fit in well since he arrived at Texas.”

247Sports provided further details as to the events leading up to Johnson’s decision.

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Johnson met with the staff Monday morning to inform them of his intentions to enter the transfer portal. While the staff requested he think more about his decision, Johnson decided to enter his name into he NCAA Transfer Portal, and is listed in the portal as of Tuesday morning.

Johnson joined the Longhorns from the junior college level, enrolling early and taking part in spring practice this past offseason.  He was a three-star 2019 signee who was rated as the No. 3 JUCO outside linebacker in this past year’s class.

Through three games, Johnson hadn’t yet taken the field for the Big 12 program.