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No. 16 Auburn scores 21 straight to surge past No. 11 Oregon

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You had to know Oregon would regret its two trips inside Auburn’s 10-yard line that ended in no points, because you knew Auburn was going to rally.

Auburn rallied, and now the Ducks are flying home with an absolutely devastating loss, both for themselves and their entire conference.

Behind an inspired defensive effort and a clutch performance from their true freshman quarterback, No. 16 Auburn scored 21 straight to rally past No. 11 Oregon, 27-21 in Dallas.

Making his first career start, Bo Nix overcame two early interceptions to save Auburn’s comeback effort, first with a 3-and-one-inch scramble on a 4th-and-3, and then a game-winning 26-yard touchdown pass to Seth Williams with nine seconds left in the game.

But, before it could fall apart on Oregon, first it had to come together.

The Ducks (0-1) accepted the ball to open the game and promptly moved 74 yards in 11 plays to take an immediate 7-0 lead. The Ducks initially scored on a 3rd-and-goal Justin Herbert keeper, but replay ruled his knee down at the 1. No matter, Mario Cristobal kept his offense on the field and pounded the ball in through CJ Verdell.

The Ducks forced a three-and-out on Auburn’s first chance, then drove right back to Auburn’s doorstep. That’s where, if this game turns in the second half, Oregon will carry regret with the back to Eugene: a third-down drop in the back of the end zone by Bryan Addison, and then a missed 20-yard field goal by Camden Lewis.

Auburn (1-0) rode the chance to swing momentum for the first time, using a 38-yard completion from Nix to Will Hastings and then a 19-yard Nix run to set up a 40-yard Anders Carlson field goal, pulling the Tigers within 7-3 at the 3:17 mark of the first quarter.

Oregon immediately answered, needing only three plays to move 75 yards and push their lead to 14-3 with 2:11 left in the first.

The Ducks once again moved in position to take complete control of the game when Jevon Holland returned a punt 81 yards to the Auburn 9, but Oregon then gave it right back with another red zone disaster. This one was a fumbled exchange by Herbert, scooped up by Big Kat Bryant and returned 83 yards to Oregon’s 3.

Auburn again did not fully capitalize on this mistake, settling for a 25-yard Carlson field goal.

A third critical mistake set up Auburn’s third scoring chance, this one a 53-yard punt that was returned 41 yards by Auburn’s Christian Tutt, who was given an extra 15 when Oregon punter Blake Maimone roughed him. Given the ball at Oregon’s 26, Auburn again failed to cash in. This time, Carlson was wide right from 42 yards with eight seconds left before the break.

After forcing a three-and-out to open the second half, Oregon moved 53 yards in nine snaps to score on Darrian Felix‘s 6-yard run.

Auburn pulled back within eight thanks to two big plays by Eli Stove, a 36-yard run and an 11-yard touchdown grab on consecutive snaps and, after teetering on blowout territory for much of the first half, the Tigers were within one when backup quarterback Joey Gatewood soared over the top for a 1-yard score at the 9:48 mark of the fourth quarter.

Oregon’s next chance covered 33 yards and killed nearly half the remaining clock, but Verdell’s 4th-and-1 run, successful on the opening drive of the game, was stuffed at Auburn’s 41.

Now faced with their first deficit of the game, Oregon’s defense forced a three-and-out; however, the Ducks’ offense could not mount anything, so Auburn again took over with a chance to take the lead at its own 40 with 2:05 to play. That possession immediately found itself in a do-or-die 4th-and-3, which Nix converted by the nose of the football on a scramble, keeping Auburn’s chances alive.

Nix, who threw for 177 yards and rushed for 42, then ended the game with the already-legendary toss to Williams to complete the rally.

For Oregon, though, this is simply a catastrophic loss for themselves and a Pac-12 conference that desperately needed a marquee non-conference win. Mario Cristobal and company were close to exorcising demons of both its 2010 BCS National Championship loss to Auburn and two previous losses inside AT&T Stadium, one the 2015 CFP National Championship, but now goes to bed with those demons even larger than before.

Nine from ’19: TE Thaddeus Moss joins LSU exodus for NFL Draft

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Thaddeus Moss is officially a one-and-done at LSU after declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft.

The star LSU tight end became the ninth underclassman for the national champions to leave campus for the pros this week. He made the announcement on social media in a letter thanking the fan base:

Moss played a pivotal role in the team’s record-setting offense in 2019. He caught 47 passes for 570 yards and had three of his four touchdowns come in the College Football Playoffs. That included a pair of scores in the title game, one of which doubled as the one that allowed QB Joe Burrow to set the FBS record for TD passes in a season.

The one-time North Carolina State transfer is no stranger to the pros either way. He’s the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss and will be part of an intriguing class of players at tight end this spring.

While it’s possible there will be an additional name or two that surfaces, Friday’s deadline for underclassmen to declare means Moss’ departure could be the last for LSU for the time being. Still, that’s a lot of talent to lose as Ed Orgeron embarks on an offseason full of changes right after reaching the top of the sport.

Travis Etienne skipping draft, will stay at Clemson for 2020

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It’s not often you get a shocking announcement for a player returning for his senior year but this might qualify.

In an announcement posted on Twitter Friday afternoon, Clemson’s star tailback Travis Etienne surprised pretty much everybody by saying he would skip the 2020 NFL Draft and remain on campus for his senior season.

Etienne was a Heisman Trophy candidate for much of 2019 and has been a key cog in the Tigers’ incredible record the past few years. He’s rushed for over 1,600 yards each of the past two seasons and continued to become a threat as a pass catcher out of the backfield as well.

While many expected the junior to turn pro and join a deep class of running backs, apparently the taste left in his mouth by Monday’s national title game was just the extra push he needed to stay on campus to aim for another championship.

Though Dabo Swinney has to deal with a handful of departures from the two-deep this offseason, the return of Etienne should only further cement Clemson as the preseason No. 1 team for 2020. The tailback and quarterback Trevor Lawrence both figure to be high draft picks the following spring but for now they will be aiming for another ring with a team that just won 29 games in a row.

Report: Ex-Houston QB D’Eriq King to visit Maryland after Miami trip

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Last year, everybody wanted to know where Jalen Hurts would transfer to. This year? D’Eriq King might take that mantle.

The Houston quarterback entered the NCAA Transfer Portal shortly before the national title game on Monday and is already moving on to lining up visits. One of the first stops on King’s transfer tour? We already know that a trip to Miami to check out the Hurricanes on the docket but that’s not all on a busy weekend. According to the Baltimore Sun, Maryland is on deck for the signal-caller this Saturday.

The Terps turning to a graduate transfer is nothing new. Head coach Mike Locksley brought in Josh Jackson to mixed success in 2019 after the latter left Virginia Tech. King, however, would represent a much more dynamic option behind center for the team.

King set numerous records with the Cougars and scored 50 touchdowns (36 passing and 14 rushing) in 2018 alone. The prolific numbers also came despite the fact that he missed two games due to a knee injury. While UH had long maintained that King’s surprising redshirt decision this past season was part of a plan that would see him return to the team for 2020, things have played out pretty much as expected in him looking elsewhere.

Whether he lands in College Park remains to be seen but it’s no surprise Locksley is dipping into the market. Tyrrell Pigrome is a senior but isn’t quite up to Big Ten passing standards and depth behind him is limited. That’s always an issue at Maryland given the injury history at the position too.

Landing somebody like King would be quite a coup for the Terps but it’s pretty clear they’ll be just one of several programs in hot pursuit of the Texas native’s services.

K’Lavon Chaisson makes it eight LSU underclassmen headed to the NFL

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Last one left in Baton Rouge, please turn out the lights.

In an announcement posted to social media on Friday morning, LSU linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson became the eighth underclassman off the Tigers’ national championship team to announce he was skipping his final year and declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft.

The move ensures that the Tigers will have to replace their entire starting linebacking corps from this past season following Patrick Queen’s earlier departure. That’s in addition to a host of other big names and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda as well.

Chaisson arrived in Baton Rouge as a top recruit from Texas but injuries over the years prevented him from becoming the kind of player many thought he would blossom into. Nevertheless, he had a memorable 2019 and was a terror down the stretch run with several big games — including being named Peach Bowl MVP in the semifinal against Oklahoma.

The 6-foot-4, 250 pounder was originally a defensive end but has been effective as a rusher after developing quite nicely as an outside linebacker. Though he really only had one lengthy season as a starter after an ACL tear as a sophomore, Chaisson is still considered a potential Day 1 or 2 pick in a few months time at the draft.

While head coach Ed Orgeron has to still be soaking up the glory of being the champions, the LSU head coach will have little time to waste over the coming weeks dealing with all these departures from both the coaching staff and the two-deep. Defections after winning a title are nothing new but Chaisson’s announcement only added to the difficulty the program will have in trying to make it back-to-back in 2020.