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No. 6 Ohio State sends off Urban Meyer in style by topping No. 9 Washington in the Rose Bowl

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PASADENA, Calif. — Urban Meyer’s first trip to the ‘Granddaddy of them All’ resulted in an appropriate grand finale.

No. 6 Ohio State turned in a thrilling performance in the 105th Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day to send their head coach out in style, beating No. 9 Washington by a deceiving 28-23 score on a picture-perfect Southern California afternoon to ring in 2019 in style.

Leading the way was Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who could count the contest as a sendoff himself with a looming NFL draft decision awaiting. The redshirt sophomore certainly looked the part of a first-rounder, throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns against one of the best pass defenses in the country coming in. In addition to making a number of ‘wow’ throws, he found nine different receivers all told from TE Rashod Berry on a short scoring toss on the goal line to Parris Campbell (71 yards, 1 TD) all over the field.

Tailback Mike Weber made the most of his final game in scarlet and gray by rushing for 96 yards as well.

“Today Mike ran the ball really efficiently and got a lot of first downs with him. Opened up the passing game for us, giving us some wide-open lanes and as far as impacting the zone coverage,” said Haskins. “We did a great job picking up some blitzes today, and we had to be efficient.”

The Huskies certainly had their chances as the sun set on the San Gabriel Mountains but never could get over the hump and truly threaten to make it a close one. Jake Browning failed to extend his record for wins by a Pac-12 signal-caller but did what he could, scrambling often to extend plays while throwing for 313 yards and giving way to fellow senior Myles Garrett in both the passing game (one TD pass off a jump throw) and the run game with 121 yards and two more scores to close out his career.

Though UW’s offense failed to find the end zone enough, their defense continued to battle from start to finish and sacked Haskins three times. It was a solid effort overall that made things closer than expected as the fourth quarter clock ticked away and was even more impressive considering safety Taylor Rapp missed the action with a reported hip injury and linebacker DJ Beavers went down with a leg injury in the first half among other issues.

Still, it wasn’t quite what the throngs of purple and gold-clad fans were hoping for this season after College Football Playoff talk gave way to a Pac-12 title but also four losses on the year. The program’s first trip to the Rose Bowl since 2001 is still not a bad consolation prize but it’s clear that Chris Petersen doesn’t quite have Washington back among the national elite just yet on Montlake.

“Tough one. Very frustrating when you start the first half like we started. I had no idea why. It’s on me. It’s not these kids,” said Petersen. “They practiced hard. They’re ready to play. But we really didn’t play with that edge and that chip that we normally play with, really, just, you know, across the whole squad.”

All eyes were on his opposite number Tuesday however, who will leave the game (for now) with a 187-32 overall record — and 83-9 at Ohio State with a national title — that will put him just behind historical greats like Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy in terms of overall winning percentage. It was the final victory though, in Meyer’s first and only appearance at the greatest of all bowl games, that will surely be cherished unlike any other.

“What an up-and-down year,” remarked a visibly relieved Meyer as he savored his final few minutes in charge. “(The players) gave us their very best. Big Ten Division champs, Big Ten champs, Rose Bowl champs, and one of the great teams in Ohio State history.

“This has always been very personal. I’m from the great state of Ohio and I’m very proud of my state. I’ve been a Buckeye fan as long as I can remember.”

It was a trying final campaign in Columbus for both coach and program but the sweet taste of victory and roses will be the final one for Meyer and the Buckeyes to savor.

Reports: Alabama DC interviews for, accepts job with Cleveland Browns

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The offensive side of Nick Saban‘s Alabama coaching staff has been ravaged by poaching over the past few weeks. As of Wednesday night, it appears the defensive side won’t go unscathed this offseason either.

According to Matt Zenitz of al.com, Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi interviewed for a job with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns this week. Zenitz didn’t specify for what position Lupoi interviewed with the Browns, which officially filled its defensive coordinator position earlier this week.

However, a subsequent report not only identified the position for which Lupoi interviewed, but that the erstwhile Tide coordinator has accepted the job.

Lupoi, one of the best recruiters in the sport, has spent the past five seasons on Saban’s staff. After serving as a defensive analyst his first two years, he was the Tide’s outside linebackers coach in 2016 before taking over as coordinator for Jeremy Pruitt, who left to take the head job at rival Tennessee.

Prior to Alabama, Lupoi was the defensive line coach at Washington (2012-13) and Cal (2008-11).

The Browns recently named Freddie Kitchens as its latest head football coach. Kitchens, for those of you who don’t remember, was a three-year starter at quarterback for Alabama in the mid-nineties.

Saban, for those of you who don’t remember, was the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns from 1991-94 under Bill Belichick before taking the head job at Michigan State.

Mike Locksley reportedly turns to ex-ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery as Terps’ OC

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Mike Locksley is turning to a former head coach to become his first offensive coordinator at Maryland.

As first reported by InsideMDSports, the new Terps OC will be none other than former East Carolina head coach Scottie Montgomery. The move by Locksley comes a few days after fellow former Alabama assistant Josh Gattis reportedly spurned Maryland to take the same job at Michigan.

Montgomery’s track record as an assistant is certainly a bit better than what he did with the Pirates after going 9-26 overall in three seasons in charge of the program. While ECU’s offense did put up some impressive numbers at times (as well as produce players like Gardner Minshew II before he transferred to Washington State), Montgomery is probably best known for his work on the Duke staff under David Cutcliffe.

The 40-year-old started out as a wide receivers coach at his alma mater before eventually becoming OC of the Blue Devils, with a short stint in the NFL mixed in.

The good news for Locklsey and Montgomery is that they do have talent to work with in College Park even after missing out on grad transfer QB Jalen Hurts. The Terps are set to return both Tyrrell Pigrome and potentially Kasim Hill at quarterback as well as a slew of speedy backs and receivers.

Oklahoma will grant QB Austin Kendall waiver to play immediately at WVU

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It only took a few hours of getting thrown under the bus by fans and the national media, but cooler heads have prevailed in Norman.

Not long after it surfaced that graduate transfer Austin Kendall was being blocked by Oklahoma from being immediately eligible at West Virginia in 2019, USA Today reports that the Sooners have relented and the quarterback will indeed be able to play right away with the Mountaineers.

Kendall arrived at OU as part of the class of 2016 and saw limited playing time behind back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners at his position in Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. While it’s possible he could have stuck around to be the starter for the team in 2019, former Alabama starter Jalen Hurts announcing he was transferring in as a graduate transfer earlier on Wednesday all but put an end to that line of thought.

The reversal from Lincoln Riley and Oklahoma’s athletic department shows once again that schools have little to gain by even threatening to block a player from transferring. At some point a college football program will learn that it invites nothing but bad press in the short term over somebody who is leaving town anyway. At least everybody came to that same conclusion this time around before Kendall and his family had to call up a lawyer or two to reach the same end point.

Oh and by the way, Kendall will be back in Norman with the Mountaineers on October 19 during the upcoming season for what figures to be a Big 12 game with more than the usual on-field storylines coming in.

Iowa State not playing spring game in 2019 due to weather, construction concerns

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The calendar says January and the national title game was just last week but it’s never too early to start thinking about spring football around the college landscape.

The folks at Iowa State certainly are.

In a release from the school issued on Wednesday, the Cyclones confirmed that they would not be playing a spring game in 2019 and will now go two years between any potential showcases to cap off their prescribed 15 practices.

“As a result of the uncertain weather conditions we face each spring in Iowa, plus the site preparation work that will begin this Spring for the new Sports Performance Center project, Coach Campbell and I have decided to not schedule a spring football game,” Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard said in a statement.  “Similar to last year, Coach Campbell and his staff can use that day to conduct a 15th spring practice which they feel is more beneficial for the overall development of the student-athletes and the football program.”

Though there are indeed plenty of reasons why a program might join the growing trend of skipping out on playing a spring game, it’s certainly disappointing for many ISU fans to go two years without being able to see their team in action and what new faces might end up contributing in the fall. Weather concerns are nothing new in Ames though, as an actual non-conference game in 2018 was cancelled and replaced with an FCS foe in December, to say nothing of last year’s spring game getting called off due to the elements.