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No. 11 Texas uses four INTs to push past West Virginia

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No. 11 Texas arrived in Morgantown a beat up team, especially in the secondary. The Longhorns played Saturday without starting corner Jalen Green, starting safety Caden Sterns and top-reserve safeties Josh Thompson and DeMarvion Overshown, with starting nickel back BJ Foster returning from an injury of his own.

And, considering all those circumstances, Saturday went nearly perfect for the Longhorns as they intercepted West Virginia quarterback Austin Kendall four times, turning three into touchdowns, to secure a 42-31 win.

The first pick came from linebacker Ayodele Adeoye, who stepped in front of a Kendall pass with the Longhorns trailing 7-0 in the first quarter. His 13-yard return set Texas up at the WVU 27, and Sam Ehlinger cashed in on a 22-yard touchdown toss to Malcolm Epps.

West Virginia (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) then nudged ahead with a 5-play, 60-yard touchdown drive, keyed by a 44-yard completion from Kendall to TJ Simmons and capped by a 1-yard Kendall keeper. Texas then pulled even with a 13-yard touchdown toss to John Burt and then, with 3:28 left in the first half, took the lead for good on a 13-yard Ehlinger keeper.

With the score still 21-14 late in the third quarter, West Virginia’s defense got in on the action when Keith Washington, Jr. picked an Ehlinger pass and raced it 34 yards to the Texas 29-yard line which, when combined with a 15-yard personal foul on Texas, gave WVU the ball at the 14. Unlike Texas, though, the Mountaineers did not turn a pick into six, this time settling for a 29-yard Evan Staley field goal with 1:59 left in the third quarter.

That’s when the Texas secondary took over, nabbing interceptions on consecutive drives to break the game open.

The first was by Foster, who bumped a WVU receiver out of the way and snared the ball off a deflection, giving Texas the ball at the WVU 18. Devin Duvernay, who led the ‘Horns with six grabs for 86 yards, pushed the lead to 28-17 with a 13-yard touchdown run on a handoff out of the backfield.

Now in true desperation territory, Kendall tossed his fourth pick of the day and his second to cornerback D'Shawn Jamison, who returned the ball to the WVU 33.

Texas (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) put the game away for good with this made-to-go-viral play call.

Kendall added two cosmetic scores with the game in hand, finishing the day 31-of-46 for 367 yards with three touchdowns and four crucial interceptions.

With Keontay Ingram battling a stinger, Roschon Johnson carried the Texas running game, rushing a game-high 21 times for 121 yards. Ehlinger had a pedestrian game by his standards, hitting 18-of-33 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns with one interception while adding nine carries for 45 yards and two touchdowns, the last coming with 3:03 to play to ice the game for good.

Florida Gulf Coast says someone was extending football offers for club program

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Florida Gulf Coast University does not have a football program, nor does the school have any plans to add a football program to its sports department. So when some football players started receiving offers to come play football at FGCU, there was bound to be some confusion.

According to a statement released by Florida Gulf Coast University on Wednesday, a non-employee was extending offers to for a club team at FGCU. So anyone receiving an offer could have potentially thought the university itself was looking to recruit that player to the university to play for an NCAA football program.

“Unfortunately, we have been notified that a non-employee, volunteer with the football sport club has extended “offers” to come to FGCU and play football to more than 100 individuals across the country,” the statement said. “This has been done without FGCU’s knowledge or sanction, and has caused a great deal of confusion to not only the individuals receiving the “offers” but to others reading accounts on social media.”

On the one hand, it is deceptive to pose “offers” to come play football at a university that doesn’t field a football program and those responsible should pay whatever consequences there may be for such a deception. On the other hand, that is one savvy way to try and recruit actual football talent to improve the skill on a club team. What’s next, boosters for club teams? Well, actually, let’s not give anyone any bad ideas.

Texas A&M linebacker entering transfer portal

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One member of the Teas A&M football program will begin evaluating his options to play elsewhere. Linebacker Brian Johnson has reportedly entered the NCAA transfer portal. News of Johnson entering the transfer portal was first reported by Matt Zenitz of Al.com, via Twitter.

By entering the transfer portal, Johnson is free to communicate with any other college football program interested in recruiting him. Johnson can always return to Texas A&M too by pulling his name out of the portal at any time. While not unprecedented, it seems most players that enter the transfer portal do eventually move on to a new home.

As noted by Zenitz, Johnson appeared in just four games this season. According to the NCAA redshirt rules, Johnson will be able to use a redshirt year for the 2019 season and preserve one year of eligibility. Having played as a true freshman in 2018, Johnson still will have three years of eligibility remaining. However, one of those years will be burned while Johnson sits out the 2020 season if he transfers to another FBS program. That will leave Johnson with two years of eligibility at his disposal beginning in 2021 at any other FBS program.

Big Ten and SEC each land two Bronko Nagurski finalists

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The final list of players left in the running for the Bronko Nagurski Award for the 2019 season has been released by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. Two players from the Big Ten and two from the SEC are joined by one player from the ACC.

Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, Georgia safety J.R. Reed, Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, Minnesota defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr., and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young are the five finalists for the award for best defensive player in college football.

The winner for this year’s Nagurski Award will be announced at a banquet on Dec. 9. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day is the keynote speaker for the banquet this year and former UCLA linebacker Jerry Robinson will be honored as this year’s Bronko Nagurski Legends Award winner.

Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen won the Nagurski Award last season. Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State all have had one player win the Naruski Award before. Champ Bailey won the award for Georgia in 1998. Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis won the award in 2006. Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers won the award in 2010. Auburn and Minnesota have never had a Bronko Nagurski Award winner and hope to add their first this season. Other past winners include Pitt’s Aaron Donald, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, Boston College’s Luke Kuechley, Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh, Arizona State’s Terrell Suggs, Michigan’s Charles Woodson, and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald. The current head coach of the Northwestern Wildcats is the only two-time winner of the award, having done so in 1995 and 1996.

The Belk Bowl will be no more

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Get your last bit of Belk Bowl goodness this upcoming bowl season, because one of the quirkiest bowl games is about to have a new name.

According to a Joe Person of The Athletic, via Twitter, Belk will not be renewing its contract to be the corporate sponsor for the bowl game and early season kickoff game organized by the Charlotte Sports Foundation.

The Belk Bowl has been one of the more entertaining and fun bowl games to follow on Twitter due to the social media handler’s ability to be witty and charismatic with the college football Twittersphere, but the Belk Bowl has seen its share of good games over the course of the corporate sponsorship as well. While last year’s game was a dud (Virginia beat South Carolina 28-0), the previous season’s meeting between Wake Forest and Texas A&M was a 55-52 shootout won by the Demon Deacons.

The Belk Bowl was previously named the Meineke Car Care Bowl from 2005 through 2010, and before that was the Continental Tire Bowl from 2002 through 2004. The Belk Bowl certainly is not going to be dropping off the bowl schedule given how well it generally does with attendance with its partnership with the ACC and SEC (the Big Ten will begin alternating appearances with the SEC from 2020 through 2025), but now a new sponsor will have to take over the lead.

The Belk Kickoff Game, first played in 2015, still has three upcoming matchups locked in the schedule. So the kickoff game will live on, at least for the next three seasons, just with a new sponsor. It is expected the new sponsor of the bowl game will take on the sponsorship of the kickoff game as well. Wake Forest will meet Notre Dame in the 2020 game, followed by East Carolina and Appalachian State in 2021 and South Carolina and North Carolina in 2023. No game is currently booked for 2022. UNC topped the Gamecocks in this season’s opener in the Belk College Kickoff, 24-20.

This season’s Belk Bowl is scheduled for Dec. 31.