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Wake loses starting rover to season-ending shoulder injury

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Wake Forest’s first loss of the 2019 campaign came at a loss on the personnel side as well as the won-loss ledger.

During Wake’s wild 62-59 loss to Louisville Saturday night, Luke Masterson went down with an upper-body injury and didn’t return.  Tuesday, head coach Dave Clawson revealed that the starting rover won’t return for the foreseeable future, either, as he will miss the remainder of the 2019 season because of a shoulder injury.

“We lost some kids that will hurt us, but that’s football,” the coach said. “Everybody goes through it. You feel more bad for the individual player. Luke was playing at such a high level.”

Masterson has started a dozen games in a row for the Demon Deacons, six this season and six last.

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.

Dan Mullen confirms QB Nick Sproles to enter transfer portal

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Florida’s quarterback room will officially be pared by one.

Earlier this week, speculation surfaced that Nick Sproles was seriously considering leaving Dan Mullen‘s football program.  Wednesday, the head coach confirmed that Sproles has officially placed his name into the NCAA transfer portal.

In a bit of twist on the standard portal entry, Sproles will remain with the Gators and practice with the team.  When Sproles does depart, he’ll leave as a graduate transfer, which would give him immediate eligibility at another FBS school.

Sproles came to the Gators as a walk-on in 2016 and didn’t see the field at all his first two seasons.  This past season, he appeared in three games and attempted one pass.

This season, Sproles served as Florida’s No. 3 quarterback but didn’t see the field.

New USC AD: revealing timeline for any Clay Helton decision would be ‘premature and probably inappropriate’

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You have to hand it to the new boss of USC athletics: he won’t tip his hand.  At all.

Earlier this month, it was confirmed that USC had hired Cincinnati athletic director Mike Bohn for the same job at the university.  With head football coach Clay Helton on the hot seat entering the season, and doing nothing to cool it down up to that point, Bohn stated at this introductory press conference that “It’d be premature to be talking about coaches or any situation when I just arrived” when asked about Helton’s future.

Since Bohn’s hiring, USC has won back-to-back games to improve to 7-4 on the season and, at No. 23, made its way into the College Football Playoff rankings for the first time since 2017 Tuesday night.  At 6-2, and with a win over 6-1 Utah already stuffed into its hip pocket, USC is very much alive in the Pac-12 South.

Despite that mini-wave of momentum, and the coach’s public sucking up, questions still remain as to Helton’s future with the football program.  In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Bohn gave no indication whatsoever that a decision on Helton’s fate is any closer to being made.

“Any time you’re a part of a significant enterprise in something that so many people are invested in, it’s something we don’t want to race into,” Bohn explained to the Times. “We’re not on a specific timeline that would do anything to jeopardize momentum or opportunities that exist, regardless of what those are. Revealing any type of timeline or plan at this point would be premature and probably inappropriate.”

USC will close out the regular season this Saturday against crosstown rival UCLA.  At some point after that, and one way or the other, a decision on Helton’s fate will be made.

Can the schedule allow Justin Fields to gain ground on mammoth Heisman favorite Joe Burrow?

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Right around this time two years ago, many sportsbooks pulled wagering on the winner of the 2017 Heisman because Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was too big of a favorite.  Based on the trajectory of this year’s race, a similar situation could soon arise.  Maybe.

Last week, one offshore sportsbook had Joe Burrow listed as a sizable 1/10 favorite to win this year’s Heisman Trophy.  Seven days later, the LSU quarterback has seen those odds shorten significantly to a mammoth 1/20 — the same number listed for Mayfield before his odds were yanked in 2017.

With Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa off the board because of his season-ending hip injury, there are just two players, both quarterbacks, listed — Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts at 9/1, Ohio State’s Justin Fields at 10/1.  Hurts is up a bit from 10/1, while Fields stayed steady at the same number.

One factor that’s likely keeping the sportsbooks from pulling the odds this year?  Fields’ remaining opponents.  No. 2 Ohio State will play host to No. 8 Penn State this Saturday before traveling to Ann Arbor the following weekend against No. 13 Michigan, not to mention a potential primetime appearance in the Big Ten championship game the first full weekend of December.

As for the other two contenders’ remaining schedules?

BURROW

HURTS

  • vs. TCU (5-5)
  • at No. 21 Oklahoma State (7-3)
  • Potential rematch with No. 14 Baylor (9-1) in Big 12 championship game