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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.

Dave Aranda trending in UNLV search

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Dave Aranda makes more money in one year as LSU’s defensive coordinator than Tony Sanchez would earn in four as UNLV’s head coach.

But, still, the $600,000 Sanchez earned before his firing in Las Vegas as a living that most of us would deem more than comfortable, especially for a guy who began his career as a JV coach at Redlands High School back in 1995.

So that, and UNLV’s history of losing, are not enough to scare off Aranda from the UNLV job. Multiple outlets reported Tuesday that Aranda has emerged as a strong candidate for the vacant Rebels’ head coaching job. (Full disclosure: I also work for FootballScoop.)

UNLV went 4-8 in 2019 and 20-40 in five seasons under Sanchez. In fact, the last coach to leave the desert with a winning record did so in 1985.

Still, Aranda has been part of the turnaround at previously-moribund Utah State, and UNLV’s history is part of the intrigue for him.

Aranda is not UNLV’s next head coach at this time, but he could be. That alone is cause for celebration in Vegas.

Western Michigan’s Jon Wassink wins Wuerffel Trophy as college football’s top community servant

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Western Michigan quarterback Jon Wassink has been named the 2019 winner of the Wuerffel Trophy as college football’s top community servant, it was announced Tuesday.

The trophy is named in honor of Florida Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel. He will receive the award at the All Sports Association’s annual banquet in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

“We are excited to announce that Jon is this year’s recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy and are thrilled about him joining our family of past winners,” said Wuerffel. “What he has done serving others off the field, along with his work in the classroom and on the playing field, represents what the Wuerffel Trophy is all about. Also, I’d like to say the same about our other two finalists, Isaiah Sanders of the U.S. Air Force Academy and Derrick Brown of Auburn University. The amount of community service that these young men have done is just incredible. Hats off to these amazing student athletes.”

Wassink is also a finalist for the Campbell Trophy as the nation’s top scholar-athlete, which will be awarded Tuesday night during the National Football Foundation’s annual dinner. The Wuerffel Trophy announcement was made in conjunction with the NFF festivities.

Wassink carries a 3.96 GPA as an accounting major. A three-year starter and a two-time MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete, the Grand Rapids native has thrown for 6,289 career yards, rushed for 581 yards and scored 63 total touchdowns.

He led the Broncos to within a game of the MAC West championship and will close his career in the First Responder Bowl against Western Kentucky on Dec. 30, and he’ll do so with one and perhaps two major off-the-field awards in hand.

Mike Gundy calls Texas A&M ‘the best 7-5 team in the history of the NCAA’

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Mike Gundy has a dry sense of humor and a delivery flatter than the Stillwater topography, which can make it hard to parse when he’s being serious and when he’s not — which makes his sense of humor all the sharper.

But in this case, it seems like he was giving Oklahoma State’s Texas Bowl opponent a genuine complement, even if it reads on the page (or, uh, screen) as if he was attempting to damn Texas A&M with faint praise.

“I think they are the best 7-5 team in the history of the NCAA in my opinion,” said Mike Gundy on Sunday, via Pistols Firing. “They have lost to No. 1; they have lost to No. 1; they have lost to No. 1; they lost to No. 4; and they lost to No. 12. That’s their five losses.

“They are definitely a top-20 team. I haven’t started watching tape on them. I watched them on TV a couple times. I know that they are very athletic. I know that their quarterback, he’s a third-rated quarterback in the SEC, only behind the Heisman Trophy winner and behind Tua. So it will be a great challenge for us. We’ll have to get to work as soon as possible. We’ll have to have great preparation and we’ll have to play a very good game against a very, very good team.”

Texas A&M became the first team in AP poll era to face three separate AP No. 1 teams — postseason included — and did so during the regular season. The Aggies’ five losses came to then-No. 1 Clemson, then-No. 8 Auburn, then-No. 1 Alabama, then-No. 4 Georgia and then-No. 1 LSU. No. 25 Oklahoma State went 8-4 this season with losses to the-No. 12 Texas, unranked Texas Tech, then-No. 18 Baylor and then-No. 7 Oklahoma.

Gundy and company will attempt to make the Aggies the best 7-6 team in NCAA history come Dec. 27 (6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Buffalo suspends RB Dylan McDuffie after domestic violence arrest

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When Buffalo takes the field for the Bahamas Bowl Dec. 20, the MAC program will do so down a man in its backfield.

Saturday night, running back Dylan McDuffie was arrested on domestic violence charges.  Details of what led up to the arrest and charges have not yet been released, although the school did acknowledge that the alleged victim is not a student at the university.

As a result of the incident, McDuffie has been indefinitely suspended by the football program.

“Whenever there is a serious violation of our program’s code of conduct, we will take immediate action to address the situation, with the understanding that the university and law enforcement has a process that must be respected and followed,” a statement from head coach Lance Leipold read. “Domestic violence will not be tolerated.”

In its release, the school added that “[s]tudents are told in no uncertain terms that they put their academic and athletic careers at risk by breaking the law or violating UB’s Student Code of Conduct.”

A redshirt freshman, McDuffie is currently third on the Bulls in rushing with 150 yards.  His 6.5 yards per carry leads the team.