Clemson spent most of this week hearing about the team being ranked fifth in the first set of College Football Playoff rankings. They may even have caught a glimpse at Wake Forest losing to Virginia Tech earlier Saturday to end any likely chance that they’ll finish the regular season with a win over a top 25 opponent.
No matter though, as the Tigers just kept rolling along as they continue to build up steam and look plenty capable of defending their national title once again after suffocating N.C. State 55-10 in a lopsided affair that wasn’t even as close between the lines as the score indicated.
Sophomore QB Trevor Lawrence had one of his best games of the season to power the convincing victory, throwing for 276 yards and three pinpoint touchdowns while also rushing for 59 yards and a score as well. He was out of the ballgame before the third quarter was up and helped lead a balanced attack that had nearly as many rushing yards as passing yards most of the night. Travis Etienne notched 112 of those on the ground and found pay-dirt twice but was overshadowed in the backfield a bit by… his offensive lineman.
Yes, such was the case as Dabo Swinney tabbed John Simpson for a lovely Fat Guy touchdown that really drove the talent disparity on the field home… all part of a 42 point first half outburst that made this one over before it even began.
While N.C. State had little chance in this one, their mounting injury list and the sheer number of young players making mistakes made an uphill climb even steeper. Quarterback Devin Leary had a botched exchange, a straight drop of the football while in the pocket and mishandled a bad snap to contribute to the team’s four turnovers. He wound up throwing for 166 yards while tailback Zonovan Knight notched 139 rushing and a touchdown but it wasn’t pretty in the least on both sides of the ball for the Wolfpack.
As a result, Clemson made it eight in a row in the series that had featured a number of close games in recent years but was not something that transpired in Raleigh this time around. Dave Doeren probably couldn’t have truly expected a win against the reigning champions but the loss does make things much more difficult down the stretch as the NCSU needs to emerge victorious in two of their final three to make a bowl game.
Perhaps more important than the local ACC battle was the statement that was sent as a result of the convincing victory by the Tigers to the CFP Selection Committee. Swinney didn’t even have to run up the score and called off the dogs early but it still was another game where Clemson scored more than 42 and allowed fewer than two touchdowns. In the process they secured a record fifth straight Atlantic Division title and booked their trip to the conference title game barely two weeks into November.
This might not be a team that can really lay claim to the No. 1 spot with Ohio State and LSU looking like they have been but come the next set of rankings, Clemson will surely be in the top four and that has less to do with Penn State’s loss to Minnesota and just as much to do with how the team is playing at the moment.
Finally, one of the top defensive players in the nation has been recognized with a significant hardware win.
Sunday night, it was announced that Auburn’s Derrick Brown has been named as the winner of the 2019 Lott IMPACT Trophy. This award, named for one of the game’s all-time greats, highlights a player’s performance on the field as well as off of it.
Not only does this award honor defensive excellence on the field but the player who most represents the qualities of the honor’s namesake, former USC All-American Ronnie Lott, off of it — Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.
Brown is the first-ever player from Auburn to win the award. The defensive tackle is also the second-straight player from the SEC to claim it, with Kentucky’s Josh Allen serving as the 2018 winner.
In addition to Brown, the other finalists for this year’s Lott IMPACT Trophy were Ohio State safety Jordan Fuller, Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons and Cal linebacker Evan Weaver.
After a run on bringing in assistants from Boone, Eli Drinkwitz has gotten about the business of retention in Columbia.
In a press release, Missouri confirmed that Drinkwitz has decided to retain Brick Haley as part of his first coaching staff with the football program. Haley wil continue on as the Tigers’ defensive line coach, and will carry the title of assistant head coach as well.
“In my short time of being around Brick I know him to be a man of high character who gets the most out of his players,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “His wealth of knowledge with the defensive line is exactly what we’re looking for to motivate young men.”
Haley has spent the past three seasons with the Tigers. Prior to that, he was the line coach at Texas (2015-16), LSU (2009-14) and Mississippi State (2004-06) at the collegiate level.
From 2007-08, Haley was the line coach for the NFL’s Chicago Bears.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue at Mizzou and I’m excited to work with Coach Drink and his staff,” said Haley. “Our family loves Mizzou and being part of the Columbia community, so we’re thrilled to keep stakes in the ground here and I’m looking forward to getting to work on doing great things.”
It seems Alex Hornibrook‘s college career is complete.
Florida State interim head coach Odell Haggins said on Saturday that Hornibrook is no longer with the Seminoles as the club prepares for the Sun Bowl
He will join (former) teammate Cam Akers in that regard.
A graduate transfer from Wisconsin, Hornibrook appeared in five games this season. His peak as a Seminole came on Sept. 28, when he completed 29-of-40 passes for 316 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. For the year, Hornibrook hit 84-of-122 throws for 986 yards with seven scores versus two picks.
In three years at Wisconsin, Hornibrook threw for 5,438 yards and 47 touchdowns.
SMU wide receiver Reggie Roberson, Jr., will return for his senior season in 2020, he announced earlier this week.
Roberson did so through a statement that at first read as if he would leave the Hilltop. “In the past couple of weeks, it has come to my attention that I am able to forgo my senior year and enter the NFL draft. I want to thank Coach Dykes for giving me the opportunity to come to SMU, and play the game I love in my hometown in front of my family and friends,” it began.
However, like a a classic Roberson open field move, he quickly changed directions and sprinted toward opportunity. “I have decided to come back and play my senior year at SMU. There is a lot of unfinished business that I left on the field that I need to take care of next season.”
A native of DeSoto, Texas, just south of Dallas, Roberson was one of SMU’s top players before he was lost to a foot injury in October. He caught 11 passes for 180 yards in the Ponies’ opening week win over Arkansas State and hauled in eight passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-21 drubbing of Temple on Oct. 19.
For the year, Roberson caught 43 passes for 803 yards and six touchdowns over seven-plus games. Spread over a 13-game season, he was on pace to end the year in the neighborhood of 80 receptions for 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Roberson originally signed with West Virginia out of high school.