The last couple of trips to the Outback Bowl have not been kind to Iowa, but the first college football game to played in 2019 had a much more enjoyable outcome for the Hawkeyes. Iowa (9-4) used a big second quarter and a strong defensive showing in the fourth quarter to hold on for a 27-22 victory over No. 18 Mississippi State (8-5).
Mississippi State had a chance to take the lead early in the fourth quarter with a first-and-goal from the Iowa one-yard line, but three straight runs by Nick Fitzgerald were stuffed by the Hawkeyes and the Bulldogs settled for a short field goal by Jace Christmann to cut the Iowa lead to 24-22. Fitzgerald got one final chance to deliver a win for Mississippi State with the Bulldogs down 27-22 in the final minutes of the game, but an incomplete pass on fourth down allowed Iowa to run out the remaining seconds of the clock to wrap up the win.
Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley completed 21 of 31 pass attempts for 214 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. The running game had a rough afternoon against the Mississippi State defense, however, as the Hawkeyes combined for a loss of 14 yards running the ball, including sacks of Stanley. Mississippi State had a much more productive day on the ground with 190 yards as a team, fueled by 103 yards by Fitzgerald, who also passed for 152 yards on 14-of-32.
Nick Easley caught two of the touchdown passes thrown by Stanley. And although it took until the second half of the game to get him in the box score, T.J. Hockenson had three catches for 43 yards that came in important moments.
The win by Iowa was the first for the Big Ten this bowl season against the SEC after dropping the previous two matchups on the bowl calendar. The Iowa win also put the Big Ten above .500 this bowl season, pending the results of other bowl games being played on Jan. 1. The loss by Mississippi State at least temporarily dropped the SEC to .500 with other games still being played.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is now 8-8 all-time in bowl games and has won two consecutive bowl games after snapping a five-game losing streak in bowl games a year ago in the Pinstripe Bowl. This was the first bowl game for Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead as a head coach, so his search for a bowl victory will continue in the 2019 season.
This, of course, means Outback Steakhouse will be giving away free coconut shrimp to customers as the Big Ten won the Outback Bowl. A win by the SEC would have awarded customers free bloomin’ onion.
With the start of the 2019 regular season a little over a week away, Texas Tech has bolstered its defensive secondary with an experienced addition to its roster.
Tuesday evening, Tech confirmed that Ja’Marcus Ingram has joined Matt Wells‘ football program and practiced with the team for the first time earlier in the day. The cornerback began his collegiate career as a walk-on at Utah State before opting to leave the MWC school earlier this offseason.
As Ingram has already graduated from USU, he will be eligible to play immediately for Tech in 2019. Including this coming season, the defensive back will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Ingram started the 10 games as a redshirt freshman in 2017 and then five of the first six games for the Aggies this past season before going down with what turned out to be a season-ending injury.
As noted by the school in its release, Ingram is far from the first grad transfer added by Tech this offseason.
Ingram becomes the sixth graduate transfer to arrive in Lubbock this summer, joining a group that already includes Zech McPhearson (Penn State), Evan Rambo (Cal), Armand Shyne (Utah), RJ Turner (Louisiana-Monroe) and Jackson Tyner (Rice). Of that group, the trio of McPhearson, Rambo and Ingram will all have two years of eligibility remaining.
It doesn’t happen very often, but it does, every once in a great while, play out this way.
Earlier this offseason, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Kurott Garland signaled his intention to leave Tennessee by placing his name into the NCAA transfer database. As we often note, players are not bound to transfer by entering the portal and can instead return to the team.
Tuesday, that rare phenomenon played out as Jeremy Pruitt confirmed that Garland has decided to remain with the Volunteers.
“He was thinking about possibly transferring. We supported him all the way through, and in the end, he decided to come back here,” the head coach said by way of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “He’s here. We’re excited that he’s here. I think the guy has lots of ability.”
Garland was a three-star member of the Volunteers’ 2018 recruiting class. He played in four games as a true freshman, which allowed him to take a redshirt for the past season.
Prior to his decision to enter the portal, Garland had been in line to see increased playing time as part of the Vols’ defensive line rotation. How that plays out moving forward this season remains to be seen.
It hasn’t been a good month waiver-wise for the Georgia Tech football program.
As we noted Tuesday, the NCAA has already denied immediate-eligibility waivers being sought for Antonneous Clayton and Myles Sims, who transferred to Tech from Florida and Michigan, respectively, this offseason. That same day, Marquez Ezzard took to Twitter to reveal that “[t]he NCAA has decided to not grant my waiver to play at Georgia Tech this season, and I will have to sit out.”
The wide receiver opted to transfer from Miami in January of this year, ultimately landing at Tech the following month.
With the decision, Ezzard will still have three years of eligibility he can use beginning with the 2020 season.
Ezzard was a four-star 2018 signee who played in three games as a true freshman, catching two passes for 24 yards during his brief stint with the Hurricanes.
A rather disturbing story involving a former Power Five quarterback is currently playing out in the state of Tennessee.
According to The Tennessean, Tennessee State quarterback Demry Croft was arrested Monday and charged with six felony counts of rape and two counts of sexual battery. The charges stem from an alleged incident that occurred Dec. 1 of last year and came about after the allegations were presented to a grand jury by the university police department.
Other than the alleged rape wasn’t reported until April 4 of this year, no details surrounding the case have been revealed.
Croft remains a part of the FCS school, with the newspaper writing that “TSU officials would not confirm if Croft has been suspended from the football team.”
Croft began his collegiate playing career at Minnesota, but opted to transfer from the Gophers and ultimately landed at Tennessee State in December of 2017.
During his last season with the Gophers, Croft, who started the last six games of 2017, completed 42 percent of his 122 passes for 674 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions. His 87.6 pass efficiency rating is not amongst the top 126 quarterbacks in the country. Perhaps the most noteworthy moment of his Gophers career was posting a negative quarterback rating in a mid-November loss to Northwestern two weeks before he decided to transfer.
Conversely, though, he was good with his feet as his 309 yards rushing and four rushing touchdowns were fourth and third on the team, respectively.
At TSU, Croft started four games before missing the last half of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury. Prior to the off-field issue, Croft had been penciled in as the Tigers’ starting quarterback.