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Colorado rallies from 17 down to upend No. 25 Nebraska in OT

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These past two games have been so good it makes you pine for the days when Colorado and Nebraska found a way to play every season. After Colorado took a back-and-forth game in Lincoln a year ago, the Buffaloes completed a 17-point comeback in barely more than a quarter to stun No. 25 Nebraska, 34-31 in overtime.

Trailing 17-0 at the break, Colorado rallied to tie the game at 24-24, then again at 31-31 on a fabulous 26-yard heave from Steven Montez to Tony Brown with 46 seconds left in regulation. Heaving the ball down the field with 24 ticks to play, Adrian Martinez was intercepted by CU’s Dimitri Stanley, who raced the ball 48 yards to the Nebraska 41 with nine seconds to play, but replay found his knee was down upon catching the ball at his own 15 and the game went to overtime.

Colorado (2-0) opened overtime with a 34-yard James Stefanou field goal, then sacked Martinez on 3rd-and-9 to force a 48-yard Isaac Armstrong field goal to push the game to double overtime, but his kick sailed wide right.

The first half was near perfect for Nebraska (1-1). Martinez hit all nine of his passes for 180 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 45 more with another score, allowing the Huskers to take a 17-0 lead to the break.

The second half? A different story.

After an exchange of five punts to open the half, Colorado finally got on the board on an 11-yard Jaren Mangham run at the 1:52 mark of the third quarter, capping an 8-play, 64-yard drive.

Colorado then pulled within three on one of the gutsiest calls of the season: a flea-flicker from the Buffs’ own 4-yard line, which turned into a school-record 96-yard connection from Montez to KD Nixon, pulling CU within 17-14 with 14:22 left to play.

Nebraska, its offense vacant for the entire third quarter, answered immediately: a 75-yard swing pass from Martinez to Maurice Washington on the game’s next snap.

Colorado answered, though, needing only five snaps to put together a 75-yard scoring march of its own. Mangham pulled the Buffaloes back within three at 24-21 with a 7-yard rush with 12:19 left. Colorado’s defense then stepped up, stripping Martinez for the second time of the game, this time at his own 20. Colorado could not take its first lead of the day, Montez’s third-and-goal pass to Brown was too flat, but Stefanou’s 20-yard boot leveled the game with 8:30 remaining.

Nebraska re-gained the lead with a vintage Big 8-Nebraska drive: seven plays, all of them runs by the quarterback or running back, for 75 yards and a score. Martinez punctuated the drive with a 6-yard keeper on 4th-and-1 with 5:49 remaining.

Colorado appeared to seize back momentum when Laviska Shenault returned the ensuing kickoff 54 yards, but he was stripped and Nebraska’s Luke Reimer recovered at his won 21. Given a chance to seize permanent control of the game, Nebraska instead went three-and-out, and Colorado took over at its own 29 with 3:33 to play and pulled even on Montez’s pass to Brown.

After throwing for 84 yards in the first half, Montez finished the day 28-of-41 for 375 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while Martinez threw for 290 yards and two scores, rushed for 66 and two more, but committed three turnovers.

While Nebraska can take a shallow solace in its 49-20-2 lead in the series, Colorado can point to its two consecutive comeback victories until the teams meet again in 2023.

Star WR Michael Pittman confirms he’ll play in USC’s bowl game

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(Pardon us as we’ve been catching up on a few things due to some very significant technical difficulties.)

USC fans can assuage their anguish somewhat over the retention of Clay Helton with the knowledge that one of their school’s most explosive weapons on offense will be available during the postseason. There, feel better?

After some uncertainty and speculation, Michael Pittman announced on Twitter this week that he will be playing in the Trojans’ bowl game. USC will face Iowa in Holiday Bowl Dec. 27, the first meeting between the football programs since 2002.

Pittman led the Trojans this season in receptions (95), receiving yards (1,222) and receiving touchdowns (11). The catches and yards led the Pac-12, while the scores were second.

The fourth-year senior was named first-team all-conference and is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award.

FAU makes hiring of Willie Taggart as Lane Kiffin’s replacement official

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A week ago, it was reported that Willie Taggartbadly wants a second act” at USF.  While that job ultimately went to a Clemson coordinator, Taggart still ended up landing yet another gig in the Sunshine State.

With rumors swirling throughout the day, Florida Atlantic confirmed Wednesday evening that Taggart has been named as the Owls’ new head football coach.  Taggart replaces Lane Kiffin, who left shortly after FAU won the Conference USA championship game Saturday for the Ole Miss job.

“I’m grateful to Brian White and President Kelly for their belief in me to lead the football program at Florida Atlantic University,” a statement from Taggart began. “I’m looking forward to long-term success here. I think our players and the university deserve that commitment. Family is extremely important to me. I couldn’t do what I do without their love and support and all of us are looking forward to being here in Paradise for the foreseeable future.”

After four years as the head coach at South Florida, Taggart left USF for Oregon — for one season as it turned out as he pulled up stakes from the Pac-12 school for the Florida State job in December of 2017.  Less than two full seasons later, though, Taggart was shown the door by the Seminoles in early November.

Taggart is a native of Bradenton, Fla. and has deep, extensive recruiting ties in the state, which will only aid him in taking over a football program that has won two conference championships the past three years.

Taggart has never won a conference crown during his 10 seasons as a head coach, although he did claim a division title at South Florida in 2016.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Coach Taggart on board to lead our football program,” FAU athletic director Brian White said in his statement. “Coach Taggart is a proven program builder who will develop strong relationships with our student-athletes and develop them as future leaders. His deep relationships around the state of Florida and the nation will be vital in recruiting as well. The traits he brings to the table will allow us to continue building upon our recent success.”

FAU’s Harrison Bryant named Mackey Award winner as nation’s best TE

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In a change of pace, we come to an award that doesn’t involve either Joe Burrow or Chase Young.

The John Mackey Award winner was announced earlier in the day Wednesday, with Florida Atlantic’s Harrison Bryant claiming this year’s honor.  The Mackey is handed out annually to the nation’s top tight end.

Established in 2000, the 2018 winner was Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson.

This past season, Bryant caught 65 passes for 1,0004 yards and seven touchdowns.  Bryant led all FBS tight ends in both catches and receiving yards.

Bryant beat out seven other tight ends for the 2019 Mackey.

  • Hunter Bryant, Washington
  • Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
  • Brevin Jordan, Miami
  • Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
  • Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
  • Colby Parkinson, Stanford
  • Giovanni Ricci, Western Michigan

Ole Miss announces future home-and-home with Oregon State

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With the 2019 regular season put to bed, there is some future scheduling news on which to hit — and some very rare news at that.

Wednesday afternoon, Ole Miss announced that it had reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series with Oregon State.  The Beavers will travel to Oxford Sept. 18, 2027, with the Rebels making the trek to Corvallis on Aug. 31, 2030.

The 2027 game will mark the first-ever between the football programs.

According to Ole Miss, they have played a current member of the Pac-12 just twice, with both of those games coming against Cal.  Those games, incidentally, came in the last three years, including this season.

Oregon State last played a team from the SEC in 1987 when they traveled to Georgia.  A team from that conference has never played in Corvallis.