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BYU upsets No. 24 USC with game-winning interception in overtime

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BYU scored their second straight win against a team from a power conference, and this time they did it on their home field. BYU (2-1) needed overtime to score their first victory against No. 21 USC (2-1) in program history. It came in dramatic fashion with Dayan Ghanwoloku picking off a pass by Kedon Slovis in overtime to seal a 30-27 win. An official video replay review had to confirm the call on the field after fans had already started to strom the field.

 

USC took a 24-17 lead in the fourth quarter thanks in part to bad personnel management by BYU’s special teams. On 4th and 1 form the BYU 32-yard line, the Trojans appeared set to attempt a 50-yard field goal, but BYU head coach Kalani Sitake was forced to burn BYU’s second timeout of the half because they had 12 players on the field. After getting some extra time to think things over, USC head coach Clay Helton opted to let his offense go back on the field and Markese Stepp rewarded him for that decision with a two-yard gain to move the chains. Then, on the very next play, Kedon Slovis took to the air to find Michael Pittman Jr. for a 30-yard touchdown. The ruling of a touchdown was discussed by officials to determine if Pittman should have been flagged for illegally touching the football after stepping out of bounds, and a review upheld the decision on the field.

After cutting the lead to four with a field goal, the BYU defense come up with a controversial stop on 3rd & 8 (officials ruled Pittman had caught a pass out of bounds, although video review showed there was a chance he may have had a foot inbounds), BYU took over around midfield. A big 35-yard pass from Zach Wilson to Gunner Romney picked up 35 yards right away, and two plays later Wilson took the ball himself straight up the middle of the Trojans defense.

But USC responded with a 52-yard field goal off the leg of Chase McGrath, a career-best, to tie the game at 27-27 on the ensuing possession.

USC is now 2-1 all-time against BYU. The two teams played in 2003 and 2004, with the Trojans winning by scores of 35-18 and 42-10, respectively.

USC will jump back into Pac-12 play next week with BYU’s rival, and preseason Pac-12 media favorite, Utah. The Trojans will get the Utes at home in an early pivotal matchup in the Pac-12 with the winner taking the early lead in the Pac-12 South Division standings. Utah was getting a final tuneup at home against Idaho State in Week 3. Utah also opened the season with a victory against BYU.

BYU will welcome another Pac-12 contender to Provo next week when the Washington huskies make the trip to LaVell Edwards Stadium. Washington head coach Chris Petersen is 2-1 all-time against the Cougars, including a 1-1- mark at Boise State.

Rutgers hires search firm to help find new football coach

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Rutgers has officially been in the market for a new head football coach for over a week, and now the school is going to get some help from a search firm.

Rutgers announced a new partnership with Ventura Partners on Monday. The firm will help Rutgers in searching for a new head football coach and may assist in helping to hire other new leaders in the future as Rutgers looks to revitalize their entire athletics department.

“We are excited to be working with Ventura Partners,” Rutgers Director of Athletics Pat Hobbs said in a released statement on Monday. “They provide a unique range of services, including talent acquisition and development. We will begin working together immediately to ensure excellent leadership for our football program. They will also be working with us throughout the engagement on strengthening our human resources and providing market data and intelligence.”

Rutgers fired Chris Ash as head coach on Sept. 29, which is a costly move thanks to a previous contract extension. The Scarlet Knights have since been dealing with a handful of players redshirting the remainder of the season and an abysmal performance on the road against Indiana in which the team gained just 75 yards of offense while giving up over 500 yards to the Hoosiers.

Mike Aresco expects to hear update on AAC championship game waiver “in the next month”

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With the upcoming departure of UConn from the American Athletic Conference, the staus of the AAC Championship Game is officially in question. Without 12 football-playing members, the AAC does not satisfy the NCAA requirement to play an official conference championship game without a waiver. Not wanting to give up the title game just a few short years after implementing it (and accepting the extra revenue generated in the TV contract), AAC commissioner Mike Aresco is hoping to get some positive word on a waiver request sometime soon.

How soon?

It looks like we may have an update on this situation within the month. The sooner, the better.

UConn is leaving the AAC after this current football season, and Aresco has made it clear the conference still wants to continue playing its conference title game. The current plan is for the AAC to scrap the two-division format entirely and pit the two best teams in a conference championship game at the end of the regular season (an idea that would work well in almost every conference, by the way). The AAC reportedly field a formal waiver to allow for the championship game to live on back in August.

The Big 12 currently only has 10 members and has been granted permission to field a conference championship game on top of the round-robin schedule played during the season. If the Big 12 can have a conference title game without 12 members, then the AAC should be getting confirmation their conference championship game will continue too. But waiting for the official word is needed before the conference can start making plans for 2020 and beyond.

At this point, there remains no sign the conference is looking to add a 12th member for football, which would negate the need for a waiver. But if the waiver is denied, for some reason, then expect the AAC expansion rumors to start flying once again.

Michigan Class of 2018 four-star TE Mustapha Muhammad enters NCAA transfer portal

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The NCAA transfer portal has been busy this Monday. Add Michigan tight end Mustapha Muhammad as one of the latest entrants into the transfer portal. Muhammad made the transfer portal news himself with an announcement on his Twitter account Monday afternoon.

Muhammad is a redshirt freshman. He will have to sit out the 2020 season if he lands at another FBS program, and he will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning 2021. By entering the transfer portal, Muhammad is free to have contact with any other football program looking to recruit him out of Ann Arbor. The Texas native signed with Michigan over offers from Ohio State, Alabama, and Clemson, among others. Unfortunately, the highly rated recruit hasn’t been able to establish a key role in the Michigan offense early on, even with the Wolverines offense looking for playmakers.

Michigan’s tight end position appears to be settled with Nick Eubanks and Sean McKeon reaching the midway point of the season as Michigan’s leading tight ends when it comes to receiving yards. Eubanks is fifth on the team overall with 128 receiving yards and a touchdown. McKeon has added 96 yards and two touchdowns. Both players are seniors, however, but Michigan also has redshirt freshman Luke Schoonmaker as an option at the tight end position moving forward.

Oregon DB Kahlef Halassie steps into transfer portal

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Oregon defensive back Kahlef Hailassie is now officially on the market. Hailassie announced on his Twitter account on Monday afternoon he has officially entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal.

A sophomore and a member of Oregon’s Class of 2018, Hailassie is now eligible to have contact with any other college football program that may be interested in recruiting him to their program. when he committed to the Ducks out of high school, Hailassie chose Oregon over offers from Colorado and Washington State, among others. Hailassie had previously committed to Colorado during his recruiting process, only to de-commit shortly after an official visit to Boulder.

Hailassie played in just three games this season before being sidelined with an injury. Because he has played in fewer than four games, Hailassie can use the 2019 season as a redshirt year. Hailassie played in all 13 games for Oregon as a true freshman in 2018, recording one tackle as a reserve player and a special teams player. Hailassie will have to sit out the 2020 season if he ends up at another FBS program, which would make him eligible to return to the field with two full years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2021.