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Joe Burrow, No. 6 LSU outgun No. 9 Texas in shootout

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On a 3rd-and-17, with a six point lead and two and a half minutes left in the game, the old LSU would have run the ball, punted and played defense. The old LSU is dead, and the new one is pretty damn scary.

On that 3rd-and-17, Joe Burrow faced a blitz, stepped up and found Justin Jefferson, who raced 61 yards for a touchdown that clinched the No. 6 Tigers’ 45-31 win over No. 9 Texas in Austin.

Burrow played the game of his life, completing 31-of-39 passes for 471 yards with four touchdowns, the second-most passing yards in LSU history, while in the process producing three 100-yard receivers for the first time in LSU history. The trio of Jefferson, JaMarr Chase and Terrace Marshall, Jr. simply torched the Texas secondary, as Jefferson caught snared nine passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns, Chase caught eight for 147 and Marshall caught six for 123 and a score of his own.

Sam Ehlinger posted a career night of his own, throwing for 407 yards, rushing for 60 and accounting for five touchdowns, but it was a play he didn’t make that set the early tone.

LSU opened the scoring with a 36-yard Cade York field goal, but the Longhorns appeared in position to take the lead when Brennan Eagles hauled in a 26-yard pass to put the ball at the LSU 8 on UT’s second possession. The ‘Horns moved the ball to the 2 when Tom Herman characteristically rolled the fourth down dice, which saw Ehlinger find a wide open Keaontay Ingram in the end zone, who promptly dropped the ball.

The Texas defense gave its offense the ball right back, though, when linebacker Joseph Ossai caught a tipped Burrow pass and took it to the LSU 4, but again Texas was denied. This time, Ehlinger ran for two yards on first down and appeared to get in on second, but replay ruled him down inside the 1. The Tigers stuffed Ingram on third down, then stoned Ehlinger on fourth — thereby turning eight snaps in goal-to-go situations into zero points.

After Texas forced an LSU punt, Ehlinger tried two unsuccessful deep shots, then hit on a third when Kristian Fulton misjudged a ball and a wide open Eagles hauled it in to race 55 yards for a touchdown, putting the ‘Horns up 7-3 at the 10:29 mark of the second quarter. The play was Texas’ first of 50-plus yards since the 2017 season.

LSU answered with its best drive of the half: 75 yards in eight plays, most of them Burrow to Jefferson, who had grabs of 17, 12 and six yards, the last of which resulted in a third-and-goal touchdown, shoving LSU back ahead 10-7 at the exact midpoint of the second quarter.

After a Texas punt, Burrow again charged LSU down the field, but this time an Ossai third down sack forced a 33-yard York field goal with 1:41 left in the first half. Texas used two timeouts in forcing that field goal, a move that backfired when its offense went three-and-out and LSU took over at its own 42 with 1:13 still left. They would need only 26 seconds. Three straight Burrow completions, the last to Jefferson from 21 yards out, gave LSU a commanding 20-7 halftime lead.

Teetering on the brink of blowout territory, Texas answered the bell to open the second half. The ‘Horns’ defense forced a three-and-out to open the third quarter, and then the offense went on a 2018-esque 19-play, 86-yard touchdown drive (that saw four stoppages due to injured LSU players) that this time around ended in a successful 2-yard Ehlinger plunge.

After a third York field goal, Texas again drove the length of the field on a winded and bruised Tiger defense, moving 75 yards in seven plays and scoring on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Ehlinger to Jake Smith on a third-and-10, pulling UT within 23-21 with 2:36 left in the third quarter.

And at that point, a game that began an SEC slobber-knocker turned into a Big 12 track meet.

LSU zipped down the field 75 yards in six plays, scoring on a 26-yard strike from Burrow to Marshall. Texas zipped right back, going 75 yards in seven plays and scoring when Devin Duvernay caught a slant on 4th-and-2, slipped a tackle and sprinted 44 yards for a touchdown that brought Texas back within 30-28 with 12:09 to play.

When Texas pulled close, LSU again pulled away with yet another 6-play, 75-yard drive. Clyde Edwards-Hellaire did the damage this time with a 12-yard run to push the cushion to 37-28 with 9:58 remaining.

On the ensuing possession, Texas finally blinked. And by blinked, they broke a string of four straight touchdown drives (and three touchdowns in their last three possessions) by settling for a 47-yard Cameron Dicker field goal to cut the deficit to six with 3:59 left.

After an incompletion on 1st-and-10, Brandon Jones sacked Burrow on 2nd-and-10 to set up a 3rd-and-17 with 2:27 to play, needing only one stop to potentially send its offense on the field with a chance to win the game. Instead, Jefferson beat single coverage from Texas safety Caden Sterns and was off to the races.

Texas answered with another Ehlinger-to-Duvernay touchdown, but it came with just 22 seconds remaining.

The Longhorns had a golden opportunity to recover the onside kick, but the ball rolled off Collin Johnson‘s fingertips and he could not recover the ball, allowing LSU to hold on for the win.

Family of the first Black football player in University of Texas history suing the NCAA

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A racial pioneer in the Texas football program is back in the news.

As we have noted previously, dozens of Texas student-athletes, including football players, are demanding change at the university.  One of those demands is naming a part of Royal-Memorial Stadium in honor of Julius Whittier, the first-ever Black player in University of Texas football history.

Coincidentally or not, the family of Whittier this week filed a lawsuit against NCAA.  In the suit, which is seeking damages in excess of a million dollars, the Whittier family is accusing the NCAA of negligence and wrongful death in connection to the pioneer’s passing in September of 2018.  Whittier had been battling Alzheimer’s for several years prior to his death.

According to the Houston Chronicle, “[p]ostmortem examination of his brain at Boston University… revealed that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease associated with head trauma.” The suit, filed by Whittier’s sister on behalf of her brother’s estate and three surviving children, alleges the Whittier’s death at the age of 68 was the direct result of football-related head trauma.

“Julius Whittier was a pioneer who became a lawyer and a member of the district attorney’s staff in Dallas County, and his life was about justice,” the family’s attorney told the Chronicle. “His family wants to carry on in his name and hope that we can make changes.

“We don’t want to end football. We just want to make it as safe as possible and make sure that everybody is informed about what can happen. That has not been the case historically, and we want to change that.”

The sister, Mildred Whittier, had previously filed a lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of college players who suffered brain injuries from 1960 to 2014.

In 1970, Whittier became the first black player to letter in football at Texas.  He first joined the Longhorns in 1969.  At the time, though, the NCAA did not allow freshmen to play.  Whittier lettered every year from 1970-72, first as an offensive guard and then as a tight end his senior season.

Memphis to wear ‘BLM’ decals on their helmets this season

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Memphis will take its off-field social activism onto the football field this fall.

Across the country, student-athletes, football players especially, have seen their collective voices grow louder in protesting for racial equality and against social injustices. And flags.  Several members of the Memphis football program took to the streets of their city last month to do just that.

This week, on his personal Twitter account, first-year Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield announced that his players will wear “BLM” decals on their helmets throughout the 2020 college football season.  “BLM,” of course, stands for the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

“The use of the BLM logo on a helmet decal was an idea from our student-athletes,” Silverfield told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal in a text message. “It doesn’t mean we support any anti-American, violent organization or hate group or any specific political party. In fact, I love this country and I love our players. Rather the decal is a show of support to our team.”

And what of a backlash against wearing the decals?  It was subsequently reported by The Athletic that “[a] prominent University of Memphis booster has informed the school that he will match, and then double, whatever donations the school might lose as a result of the Black Lives Matter helmet decal.”

The name of the booster was not revealed.

Memphis is coming off a school-record 12-win football campaign.  They claimed the program’s first-ever win in the AAC championship game after two straight losses.

Head coach Mike Norvell left the school for the same job at Florida State in mid-December.  Memphis stayed in-house for its next head coach, with Silverfield, the offensive line coach, promoted three days later.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, including experts holding out hope that the famed oaks on Toomer’s Corner could survive being Updyked

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The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on July 4, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Five-star 2020 LSU commit probably would’ve committed to Ohio State if Urban Meyer hadn’t left
THE SYNOPSIS: Elias Ricks is the recruit in question.  The cornerback ended up signing with LSU earlier this year.  Ricks, expected to contribute to the defending national champs immediately, underwent offseason surgery for a torn labrum.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Fox, BTN reportedly among those making run at Paul Finebaum
THE SYNOPSIS: Yeah, that didn’t work out as the SEC mouthpiece remains at ESPN.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Penn State suing Tennessee DC Bob Shoop for breach of contract
THE SYNOPSIS: Nittany Lions were seeking $900,000 the university said Shoop owed after he left as the defensive coordinator at Penn State for the same job at Tennessee in January of 2016.  In February of 2018, the two sides settled their dispute.  Terms of the settlement weren’t divulged.

2015

THE HEADLINE: Alabama self-reports multiple secondary violations
THE SYNOPSIS: “Alabama” and “NCAA violations” always bring out the commenters.  This was no exception.

2013

THE HEADLINE: Tragic: new Ole Miss OL killed in car accident
THE SYNOPSISPark Stevens’ truck collided with the back of a semi-truck attempting to cross a four-lane highway.  The lineman was a 20-year-old junior college transfer.

2011

THE HEADLINE: Experts not ready to say Toomer’s oaks are ‘definitely not going to make it’
THE SYNOPSIS: Thanks to Alabama “fan” Harvey Updyke, the iconic trees at Auburn definitely didn’t make it.

2011

THE HEADLINE: Purdue player missing; last seen swimming in Indiana lake
THE SYNOPSIS: Sadly, 22-year-old running back Sean Matti‘s body was found a day later.

Pandemic-related restrictions force Western Michigan to schedule a new season-opening opponent

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The coronavirus pandemic has already impacted the 2020 season for Western Michigan football.

Western Michigan was scheduled to open the upcoming football season against Colgate on Sept. 4.  However, the Patriot League, Colgate’s conference, mandated late last month that all of its member schools not be permitted to travel by air or stay overnight in another locale.  As the distance between Hamilton, NY, to Kalamazoo, Mich., is nine-plus hours, that opener was certainly in jeopardy.

This week, Western Michigan confirmed that it will now open the 2020 college football season against Stony Brook.  The game will still be played Sept. 4 at Waldo Stadium, the football home of the Broncos.

“We are looking forward to opening the 2020 season with Stony Brook,” WMU head coach Tim Lester said in a statement. “We know coronavirus has changed, and will keep changing, how we operate this season. We will continue to operate with an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, staff members, fans and WMU community.”

It should be noted that Syracuse is also supposed to open its home schedule Sept. 19 against Colgate.  It’s unclear if that game will be played, although distance certainly isn’t as much of an issue as it was for Western Michigan.

WMU is coming off a second consecutive 7-6 season under Lester, who will be entering his fourth season with the Broncos.  That 2019 campaign also included narrowly missing out on a berth in the MAC championship game.