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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.

UMass adds Florida State, Pitt, Auburn and others to future schedules beyond 2021

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It’s apparently a big week on the schedule front for FBS independents.

While UConn and Maryland announced a new home-and-home series in what is always going to be known as the Randy Edsall bowl, fellow New England independent UMass had a number of dates added to their calendar this week too.

According to the school, the Minutemen have confirmed several dates and games against Power Five opponents as well as a host of other smaller programs being added to the team’s future docket including:

  • at Pitt on Sept. 4, 2021
  • at Florida State on Oct. 23, 2021
  • at Auburn on Sept. 2, 2023

In addition, FCS foes like Merrimack (Nov. 4, 2023) and Wagner (Sept. 21, 2024) were scheduled. Two other contests were moved as well, including a game against Boston College from Sept. 2022 to Sept. 6, 2025. A game against New Mexico State was shifted up into Week 0 and is now set for Aug. 26, 2023 as well.

The moves give UMass five of their 12 games for 2021-2024 while there’s even more work left to be done beyond that.

“We’ve been hard at work over the last nine months building competitive future schedules that will allow our Independent program to grow and be challenged,” AD Ryan Bamford said in a release. “We are pleased with our scheduling progress and ability to secure agreements with a mix of Power Five, Group of Five and regional FCS opponents.”

The Minutemen host Coastal Carolina on Saturday and have notable games coming up against Army, Northwestern and BYU down the stretch in 2019.

Designs released for UAB’s future stadium in downtown Birmingham

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It’s truly been remarkable how far UAB has come since the program was shuttered just a few years ago but the next major step in the rebirth of the Blazers came on Wednesday as the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex unveiled the latest plans for the upcoming $175 million football stadium that the CUSA program will soon call home.

You can check out the latest renderings here.

The 45,000 seat venue is designed to host a number of different events once completed in 2021 but the primary purpose each fall will be UAB home games. As you would expect, all the modern design elements for a stadium nowadays are incorporated, such as suites, open concourses, a large press box and a hefty number of restrooms (including nearly double the number for women than men).

The price tag for everything is set at right around $175 million for the project, with bids going out sometime later this fall and an estimated date of completion prior to the 2021 season starting in late August.

The biggest question left about the stadium now might be not whether it will actually get built but what the Blazers will be playing on in terms of the surface. The school has reportedly expressed interest in having turf but the area trying to attract major soccer matchups could mean the venue has a grass field instead.

Either way, UAB remarkable turnaround on the gridiron took another big step this week and is poised to make a giant leap come 2021.

QB Artur Sitkowski to start for Rutgers against Boston College with McLane Carter not cleared from concussion

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Boston College’s bid to avoid losing to both Kansas and Rutgers in the same season may have received a slight boost thanks to the quarterback situation this week with the Scarlet Knights.

Speaking to the media on Thursday after practice, Rutgers head coach Chris Ash confirmed that starting signal-caller Carter McLane remains in the school’s concussion protocol and will not play on Saturday against the Eagles. That means the job falls on last year’s starter in Artur Sitkowski for the Scarlet Knights.

“(Carter) is still day-to-day (and) hasn’t practiced so he won’t be cleared to play,” Ash said according to NJ.com. “I’ve got nothing but 100 percent confidence and belief in Art. We talked all through training camp about the battle between the two. There wasn’t a whole lot of difference. The biggest one was just at the moment McLane was a fifth-year player and had a little bit more experience. But Art had a tremendous training camp, and the players, the coaches, everybody has nothing but 100 percent faith and trust in him to go out and lead the team. And we’re excited for him to do that.”

Carter, a grad transfer from Texas Tech, started the opener against UMass but was knocked out of last week’s shutout loss to Iowa after a hard hit in the first half. Sitkowski replaced him the rest of the way and will now make his first start of 2019.

A former four-star out of IMG Academy, Sitkowski was handed the reigns of the team as a true freshman last season and made 11 starts at Rutgers… with things not exactly going well under center considering he threw for just over 1,100 yards with four touchdowns against 18 interceptions. He’ll have a chance for redemption on Saturday against Boston College, which leads the ACC in interceptions but did give up a number of big passing plays in their shocking loss to Kansas last week.

Interestingly enough, the move to elevate Sitkowski in the wake of McLane’s concussion means that former Eagles quarterback Johnny Langan will now be the No. 2 QB for Rutgers in the game against his old team.

Lane Kiffin thinks UCF should be in top 10: ‘They looked just like an ACC or SEC team’

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Lane Kiffin is a believer… in a newsworthy in-state rival.

Speaking to Yahoo! Sports, the always talkative Florida Atlantic head coach threw his weight behind UCF being a top 10 team this season and even a College Football Playoff contender had they been starting veteran QB McKenzie Milton. 

“They looked just like an ACC or SEC team,” said Kiffin. “Not Alabama or Clemson, but one of the top teams in both of those conferences. They’ve done an unbelievable job recruiting. They have skill. Normally in the Group of Five they have skill players but not the [size on] the lines, well UCF has long and good-looking linemen.”

Kiffin would know having seen the Knights up close each of the past two seasons, including a 48-14 blowout by the defending AAC champions down in Boca Raton earlier in September. A former offensive coordinator in the SEC, he also got a good look at one of this season’s elite programs too considering FAU opened the year with a 45-21 loss to Ohio State in Columbus.

Though Kiffin doesn’t have a vote in the weekly Coaches Poll, he did add he’d rank UCF as high as No. 5 but certainly in the top 10, blaming the name on the front of the Knights’ jersey as much as anything for why they’re not being taken seriously nationally.