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No. 7 Michigan avoids major upset in double overtime vs Army

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No. 7 Michigan (2-0) saw the defense come up huge in a double overtime victory over Army (1-1). After taking a 24-21 lead to begin the second overtime, the Wolverines celebrated a gritty victory over the Black Knights when they recovered a fumble on Army’s last effort.

On 3rd and 11 form the Michigan 26-yard line, Army quarterback Kelvin Hopkins dropped back to pass and was sacked by Carlo Kemp and Aidan Hutchinson for a loss of 10 yards. To make matters worse, Hopkins had the ball knocked out of his hands, and Josh Uche came up with the loose ball for the victory.

Jake Moody gave Michigan a 24-21 lead to start the second overtime on a 43-yard field goal after the offense sputtered on three consecutive pass attempts by Shea Patterson. Patterson had a rough afternoon with a pair of lost fumbles and completing 19-of-29 passes for 207 yards. But the missed passes, at times, were infuriating for the Wolverines as he missed some wide open receivers for what could have been big plays. Michigan’s new-look offense showed it still has some work to do to become the improved unit that had been hyped going into the season.

Michigan had a chance to take a lead on Army in the first half thanks to the defense pouncing on a fumble, but a return by Josh Metellus was ruled down on the field on the recover. Video replay confirmed Metellus was not down when he recovered the football, shortly before he returned the loose ball for what should have been a touchdown. The play was not reviewable by officials, so the play stood.

Jim Harbaugh will certainly face the music for a pair of fourth-down decisions in the second half that backfired. The first was inside the red zone, with the game tied at 14-14 in the fourth quarter. the second came later around midfield with under three minutes to play. The later led to what was nearly a last-second field goal victory for Army, but the 50-yard attempt by freshman Cole Talley (his first field goal attempt of his collegiate career) didn’t quite have the leg or the angle to sail through posts.

Army came agonizingly close to scoring its first win against a top 10 opponent since 1963, when Army knocked off No. 9 Penn State. A year after losing to Kyler Murray and Oklahoma in overtime, Army knows it can give some of the best programs a good battle, but that won’t make anyone at Army feel any better after a tough loss at Michigan. Army will look to some of their own miscues that haunted them in this one. Midway through the third quarter, with a 14-7 lead in their favor, Army stalled on the door step of a possible touchdown with a false start penalty on 2nd & Goal form the one-yard line and Hopkins throwing an interception two plays later on 3rd & Goal form the five by Lavert Hill. Michigan seized the opportunity off the Army turnover by marching right down the field to tie the game at 14-14 on a Zach Charbonnet run form the Army one-yard line. Patterson did have a big third down pass for an 18-yard gain when he needed nine on third down, and a 25-yard pass to Ronnie Bell on 3rd & 7 moved Michigan to the two-yard line.

Michigan will now get a week off before taking the field again. The Wolverines hit the road in two weeks for their Big Ten opener against Wisconsin. That will give Michigan some time to refine the offense after having plenty of issues pop up against Army (and last week against Middle Tennessee). Wisconsin will also get the bye week to prepare for Michigan.

Army is back in action next week in San Antonio when they face UTSA.

Minnesota regents approve new contract for P.J. Fleck

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As expected, Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck now has a brand new contract to remain the head coach of the Golden Gophers. After agreeing to terms on a new deal and the school officially recognizing the new deal last week, just before a monster of a win for the program, the contract has been given the final green light to become officially official after the Board of Regents voted to approve the terms of the new contract.

As previously reported, Fleck will have a new seven-year contract good through the 2026 season and the terms of the buyout were significantly increased to fend off would-be suitors looking for a new head coach this year on the coaching carousel, and potentially in the next few years as well before the buyout drops off in price. Of course, any school with deep enough pockets willing to pony up to get Fleck to be their guy will still make a phone call or two, but Fleck appears to be settled in with Minnesota for the foreseeable future.

In addition to Fleck seeing his own pay increase, Minnesota’s regents also signed off on providing more combined salary for an assistant coaching staff with an extra $1.05 million being placed in the budget for assistant coaches.

Now that all of that contract business is squared away, Fleck can continue to focus on Minnesota’s next task on the field. This week, Minnesota heads on the road to face Iowa in a pivotal Big Ten West Division game. The Gophers remain undefeated and have climbed to No. 8 in the College Football Playoff ranking. A win on the road against Iowa could set Minnesota up for a regular-season finale riding an 11-0 record and the division already clinched for a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.

It’s no wonder Minnesota decided to lock down Fleck while they still could.

FAU TE John Raine awarded another year of eligibility

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We overlooked this one earlier in the week, but it’s a rather sizable piece of official news for Lane Kiffin‘s Florida Atlantic football program.

By way of the Palm Beach Post Tuesday, it has been confirmed that John Raine was recently awarded a fifth season of eligibility.  The ruling will allow the senior tight end to play for the Owls in 2020.

A broken ankle cost Raine all but four games of his true freshman season in 2016, paving the way for the NCAA to rule in his favor on his appeal for another year of eligibility.

“I’m super excited about it,” Raine told the Post about the NCAA’s approval of a medical hardship waiver. “I love being here; I love playing football.”

With two regular-season games plus a bowl remaining, Rainer has already set career-highs in receptions (26), receiving yards (426) and receiving touchdowns (five).  The touchdowns are tops on the Owls.

This weekend, a Notre Dame home game won’t be sold out for first time since 1973

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All good things, streaks in this particular case, must come to an end.

Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Notre Dame will play host to Navy in the 93rd renewal of their football rivalry.  And, according to the South Bend Tribune, the game won’t be played in front of a sellout crowd at Notre Dame Stadium (capacity: 77,622), which is actually a startling development.

This weekend, you see, will mark the first time since Thanksgiving Day 1973 (vs. Air Force) that the Fighting Irish haven’t sold out a home football game, snapping a streak of 273 straight sellouts.  Ahead of that streak being snapped, the Irish’s athletic director for the past dozen years, Jack Swarbrick, attempted to downplay the development.

From the Tribune:

It was never sort of important to me to keep it alive, but I understand why other people thought so. It’s a point of distinction to a lot of people and our fans.

“For me it’s always been: What’s the stadium environment like? Are we creating a great environment for our team and for our student-athletes? That you can say it’s also sold out is sort of a byproduct of that.

“But if my choice is (77,622) people in an environment that’s not really good versus 75,000 in a raucous environment, I’ll take the latter every time.

Notre Dame’s 237-game streak had been the second-longest active streak in college football behind Nebraska’s 373, which will move to 374 when Big Red hosts Wisconsin this weekend. The last time the Cornhuskers failed to sellout Memorial Stadium was during the 1962 season.

Four finalists named for 2019 Paul Hornung Award

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The field for the award that fetes the nation’s most versatile college football player has been whittled down significantly.

Earlier Thursday, the Louisville Sports Commission announced the four finalists for the 2019 Paul Hornung Award that have been chosen by the 17-member selection committee.  And (surprise!), all four of the finalists come from Power Five conferences: Lynn Bowden Jr. (Kentucky), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU), Joe Reed (Virginia) and Wan’Dale Robinson (Nebraska).

All four of the finalists come from the offensive side of the ball and have spent time as return specialists as well.  Because of injuries at the position, Bowden, listed as a wide receiver to start the season, has started the last three games at quarterback for UK, with the Wildcats going 2-1 in that span.

Reed is primarily a wide receiver and Edwards-Helaire a running back, while Robinson has split his time between both positions.

The 2018 winner of the Hornung Award was Purdue’s Rondale Moore, who likely would’ve been given serious finalist consideration again this year if not for his season essentially being derailed by a lingering hamstring injury.

For all of the statistical particulars for each candidate, click HERE the award’s press release: