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Auburn scores on first seven possessions, adds pick-six in blowing doors off Purdue at halftime of Music City Bowl

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At least for the first two quarters, Tyler Trent‘s special kind of inspirational magic hasn’t traveled well from West Lafayette to Nashville.  At all.

Thanks to a startling, historic offensive outburst and a stifling defensive effort throughout, Auburn has taken a dominating 56-7 lead on Purdue into halftime of the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Saturday afternoon.  This marked the first time in more than two years that head coach Gus Malzahn, who is either on the hot seat or he’s not, called the offensive plays during a game, and the impact was immediate as the Tigers scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions en route to 398 yards of first-half offense.

 JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow set the tone early on as, on Auburn’s first offensive possession, the running back took a wheel route from Jarrett Stidham on third-and-one and turned it into a 66-yard touchdown just a little over a minute into the postseason contest.  That was the first of three Whitlow touchdowns in the first half, the second coming on a two-yard run in the middle of the first quarter to push the Tigers’ lead to 14-0 and a third two minutes later, following a David Blough interception, from a yard out to make it a 21-0 game.

After a Rondale Moore touchdown pulled the Boilermakers to within 14 at 21-7, Stidham hit Darius Slayton on a 74-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing possession to push the lead back out to 21 with just under three minutes left in the first quarter.  Stidham would finish the half with 335 yards and four touchdown tosses on 13-of-18 passing, while Slayton added another touchdown catch early in the second quarter, this one from 52 yards out on a second-and-18 screen pass, that stretched Auburn’s advantage to 35-7.  Slayton then added a third touchdown catch with two minutes left in the half.

Stidham’s first-half quarterback rating, incidentally, was an astronomical 301.8.

A second Blough interception was returned 20 yards for a touchdown by Big Kat Bryant three minutes into the second quarter to push the Boilermakers further into the abyss at 42-7.  Blough finished the half 18-of-28 passing for 142 yards and the two picks for a rating of 92.6.  The Boilermakers’ offense as a whole managed just 180 yards and were 3-9 on third downs (and 1-3 on fourth downs).

Just once this season did Auburn score more points in an entire game than they did in the first half today — 63-9 over FCS Alabama State in early September.  AU’s high-water mark against an SEC team in 2018 came in a 34-3 win over Arkansas Sept. 22 as they came into the game today 102nd nationally averaging 28.3 points per game.

The 56 points also breaks the Music City Bowl record for points set by West Virginia against Ole Miss in a 49-38 win in the 2000 game.  It also breaks the old FBS record of 49 points in a half in any bowl game (West Virginia vs. Clemson, 2012 Orange Bowl).

South Carolina in play for Clemson transfer RB Tavien Feaster

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This would certainly add a little bit of spice to the annual Palmetto Bowl if it were to come to fruition.

Late last month, and amidst rumors of a potential departure, Clemson confirmed that Tavien Feaster had entered the NCAA transfer database and was looking to continue his collegiate playing career at somewhere other than the home of the defending national champions.  Speaking to the Charleston Post and Courier this week, Feaster acknowledged that Clemson’s in-state rival, South Carolina, is one of a handful of schools that have shown interest.

“They are recruiting me like most teams. Obviously, they want to talk to me and see where I’m at with everything,” Feaster told the Post and Courier. “That’s really how it’s been with everybody. Everybody is seeing where my head is and where I’m at with everything. But, I look at it (USC) as a place that’s providing me with an opportunity to better myself and better my future.

“I haven’t really looked at it from a fan’s aspect because that’s not my job and that’s not what I’m doing it for. That doesn’t really matter to me. What really matters to me is that I go to a place that’s going to use me and play me in the way that I need to be played.”

It had previously been reported that Power Five programs such as Alabama, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia Tech had already been in touch with the running back since he entered the portal.  East Carolina has shown interest as well.

Feaster has not yet taken any visits to potential landing spots, and won’t make a decision on his football future until he’s had a chance to take trips to various campuses.

If he follows through with the transfer — the back has the option of pulling his name from the portal — Feaster would finish the Clemson portion of his playing career with 1,330 career rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 222 carries, as well as 183 receiving yards and one touchdown on 23 receptions.  The Spartanburg, SC, native, who ran for 11 yards on three carries in the Tigers’ title game win over the Crimson Tide, started 11 of the 41 games in which he appeared for the Tigers.

In the Tigers’ 63-9 win over the Gamecocks last season, Feaster ran for 63 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.  In three career games against the SEC’s USC, The back carried the ball 21 times for 117 yards and a pair of scores.  He also caught three passes for another 19 yards.

As a grad transfer, Feaster would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school.  The upcoming season will be the back’s final year of eligibility.

2020 three-star CB prospect Joshua Ancrum killed in shooting

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Yet again, a young man with the rest of his life ahead of him has had it snuffed way too early.

Citing multiple sources, 247Sports.com confirmed Tuesday night that Joshua Ancrum, a Class of 2020 football recruit, was killed in a shooting earlier that day.  The details of what led to the tragedy have not yet been divulged.

In a tweet posted early Tuesday evening, Ancrum’s 7-on-7 team mourned the high school junior’s passing.

A three-star cornerback, Ancrum held offers from Bowling Green, FIU, Southern Miss and USF. “That list was likely to grow, thanks to his strong showing at The Opening Miami,” 247Sports.com wrote. “Ancrum was named the MVP of the defensive backs at the camp with a couple of interceptions.”

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Ancrum’s senseless and tragic death.

Ex-UCLA head coach Terry Donahue recovering from surgery following cancer diagnosis

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One of the greatest UCLA football head coaches of all-time is the latest to battle one of the most insidious diseases in the history of mankind.

UCLA has confirmed that Terry Donahue was recently diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer and underwent surgery this past Friday.  The 74-year-old Donahue was released from the hospital Tuesday morning and is set to begin chemotherapy.

“The Donahue family appreciates everyone’s well wishes but requests privacy at this time,” the football program wrote in its release.

Donahue, who played his college football for the Bruins in the mid-sixties, served as the offensive line coach at his alma mater from 1971-75 before replacing Dick Vermeil, who left to take the same job with the Philadelphia Eagles, and taking over as head coach in 1976.

In 20 seasons leading UCLA, Donahue led the Bruins to a school-record 151 wins.  From 1976-95, Donahue captured five Pac-12 championships and two conference Coach of the Year honors. He was the first coach in NCAA history to win a bowl game in seven consecutive seasons, and had a 10-9-1 record against crosstown rival USC.

In 2000, Donahue was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Southern Miss, Troy schedule 4-game series

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Southern Miss and Troy on Tuesday jointly announced a four-game series to be spread across the next decade.

Troy will visit Hattiesburg on Sept. 18, 2021, but Southern Miss will not make a return visit until Sept. 14, 2024. The teams will then take the next three years off before resuming in Troy again on Sept. 16, 2028, and the series will conclude on Sept. 1, 2029 in Hattiesburg.

“We are excited to announce these future games for our football program,” Southern Miss AD Jeremy McClain said. “Our scheduling philosophy moving forward will continue to include regionally based opponents that provide great opportunities for fans to enjoy Golden Eagle football.”

Southern Miss and Troy have met nine times previously, first in 1937 and most recently 2016. The Trojans won both of those games, while Southern Miss took the seven in between.

As of today, Southern Miss has its entire 2021 non-conference slate lined up against teams from the state of Alabama. The Golden Eagles open at South Alabama, then visit Tuscaloosa a week after hosting Troy. The Trojans stand as USM’s only non-conference opponent on the books for the 2024, ’28 and ’29 seasons.

Troy, meanwhile, hosts Liberty on Sept. 11, 2021, and visits South Carolina a week after the trip to Hattiesburg. The Trojans will visit Memphis a week before hosting USM in 2024, and have no other games scheduled in 2028 or ’29.