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Tide Turned: No. 2 LSU takes control of SEC, CFP race with long-awaited win over No. 3 Alabama

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At halftime, you could feel it in the air. LSU had scored two touchdowns in the final 26 seconds to take a 33-13 lead into the break, and the Tigers would get the ball to start the second half. It was set to be the Clemson game all over again.

This time, though, Alabama rallied. The Tide scored four straight touchdowns and thrice pulled within one score, but each time LSU got into danger, Joe Burrow pulled them out of it. The Ohio State transfer was masterful once again, as he led the Tigers to their fourth defeat of a top-10 opponent and himself to the front of the Heisman Trophy race. Burrow hit 31-of-39 passes for 393 yards with three touchdowns, and No. 2 LSU never trailed No. 3 Alabama en route to a 46-41 win.

The win snaps LSU’s (9-0, 5-0) oh-so-painful 8-game losing streak to Alabama, and puts the Tigers on the precipice of their first SEC West title since 2011, while the Crimson Tide (8-1, 5-1 SEC) will now hope for chaos in the division and elsewhere to keep its streak of five straight College Football Playoff appearances alive.

As expected, Tua Tagovailoa started and played the entire game, in the process throwing for 418 yards and four touchdowns. But he committed two costly turnovers that turned into 14 LSU points, starting with the first drive of the game.

Alabama accepted the ball to open the game and rolled to the LSU 8-yard line until Tagovailoa fumbled the ball, recovered by LSU’s Ray Thornton. The Tigers promptly roared out of the gate, needing only 62 plays to move 92 yards, the final 33 on a strike from Burrow to J’Marr Chase.

Another Alabama fumble — this one by punter Ty Perine on a bobbled snap — giving LSU the ball at Alabama’s 40 with a 7-0 lead and a chance to deliver an early haymaker. Instead, Alabama’s defense limited the Tigers to a 40-yard Cade York field goal and then delivered a haymaker of its own in the form of a 72-yard Jaylen Waddle punt return touchdown.

LSU immediately answered, though, moving 75 yards in eight plays and scoring on a 29-yard toss from Burrow to Terrace Marshall, Jr. York’s PAT was blocked, though, and LSU’s lead sat at 16-7 not even two minutes into the second quarter.

After a pair of scoreless drives, Alabama’s offense finally joined the game when Devonta Smith streaked past LSU’s freshman All-American corner Derek Stingley, Jr. — who was looking to the sideline at the snap — for a 64-yard touchdown. Joseph Bulovas‘s PAT pushed wide right, keeping LSU’s lead at three with 6:43 to go in the second quarter.

After a York field goal pushed LSU’s lead to six and a Crimson Tide three-and-out, the Tigers took over at its own 39 with 2:39 left in the first half. LSU played the drive beautifully, keyed by a 16-yard connection to Thaddeus Moss where he stepped out of bounds, stepped back in and then snared the ball with his arm stretching practically to Birmingham, which put the ball at Alabama’s 1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire soared in three plays later, putting LSU up 26-13 with 26 ticks left in the first half.

Ed Orgeron and company would have been thrilled to take a 13-point lead into the locker room until Patrick Queen intercepted Tagovailoa on the next snap which, when paired with an unnecessary roughness penalty on Alabama offensive lineman Landon Dickerson, gave LSU the ball at Alabama’s 13 with 11 seconds left before halftime. They needed only five, as Burrow found Edwards-Helaire for a touchdown, putting the Tigers up 33-13 at the break and getting the ball to open the second half.

LSU indeed threatened to blow it open, but Burrow was sacked by Xavier McKinney and fumbled at the Alabama 45, which was recovered by the Tide’s Terrell Lewis. Alabama did not score off the turnover, but the Tide did score next — a 10-play, 95-yard drive that culminated in a 15-yard pass from Tua to Najee Harris.

Alabama then forced an LSU punt, and Harris’s 1-yard touchdown run with 14:33 to go pulled Alabama within 33-27 with nearly an entire quarter to play.

Burrow answered, running for 15 yards on 3rd-and-5 to keep a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, nudging LSU back in front at 39-27. Alabama needed a touchdown on its next touch, and at first the drive seemed in peril before it began when facing a 3rd-and-19, but Tagovailoa found Henry Ruggs III for 26 yards to keep the drive alive. Alabama eventually found itself inside LSU’s 10, but a 4th-and-2 suddenly became a do-or-die moment with 5:32 to go and 12-point deficit. Tua found Jerry Jeudy to pull the Tide within 39-34.

Once again LSU needed Burrow to carry them, and once again he did. Burrow kept for 18 yards on a 3rd-and-2 with two minutes remaining, setting up a 7-yard Edwards-Helaire run that seemingly put the game on ice with 1:37 remaining. It wasn’t on ice yet: Tua immediately hit DeVonta Smith for an 85-yard score to pull Alabama within one score for the third time in the second half, but LSU recovered the onside kick and expired the remaining clock, clinching the school’s biggest win since the 2011 Game of the Century.

Texas Tech WR Caden Leggett arrested for racing on a highway

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Yes, Texas Tech football fan.  You read that headline correctly.

According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Caden Leggett was arrested over the weekend in Lubbock County.  The charge?  Racing on a highway.  It’s believed that another Texas Tech football player was involved in the race, although that player has not yet been identified by the police.

Leggett was driving a Ford Mustang and admitted to police that a teammate was one of the individuals with which he was racing.  From the Avalanche-Journal‘s report:

A Lubbock police patrol officer saw three vehicles speeding northbound about 2:40 a.m. in the 10000 block of Indiana Avenue and began chasing the vehicles.

“I had to travel at a high rate of speed in order to attempt to catch up to the vehicles,” the officer wrote in his report.

The officer caught up to the three vehicles — a dark colored Dodge Challenger, a white Ford Mustang and another white vehicle — at a red light in the intersection of 82nd Street and Indiana Avenue. However, the vehicles sped away again when the light turned green, the report states.

The officer activated his lights and sirens to get the three vehicles to stop.

The officer pulled along side the Challenger and motioned and yelled at the driver to pull over. The officer believed the driver of the Challenger saw him and pulled behind the Mustang to stop the driver.

The driver of the Mustang pulled over in the 3300 block of 76th Street. However, the driver of the Challenger and third vehicle continued driving, the report states.

The Texas Tech football program is aware of the off-field situation involving members of the Red Raiders team.

Leggett joined the Tech football team in 2018 as a walk-on.  In 2019, the wide receiver was placed on scholarship.

In two seasons, Leggett appeared in 15 games.  Of those appearances, 11 came in 2019.  The Georgetown, Texas, product has caught two passes for 16 yards.

Family of the first Black football player in University of Texas history suing the NCAA

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A racial pioneer in the Texas football program is back in the news.

As we have noted previously, dozens of Texas student-athletes, including football players, are demanding change at the university.  One of those demands is naming a part of Royal-Memorial Stadium in honor of Julius Whittier, the first-ever Black player in University of Texas football history.

Coincidentally or not, the family of Whittier this week filed a lawsuit against NCAA.  In the suit, which is seeking damages in excess of a million dollars, the Whittier family is accusing the NCAA of negligence and wrongful death in connection to the pioneer’s passing in September of 2018.  Whittier had been battling Alzheimer’s for several years prior to his death.

According to the Houston Chronicle, “[p]ostmortem examination of his brain at Boston University… revealed that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease associated with head trauma.” The suit, filed by Whittier’s sister on behalf of her brother’s estate and three surviving children, alleges the Whittier’s death at the age of 68 was the direct result of football-related head trauma.

“Julius Whittier was a pioneer who became a lawyer and a member of the district attorney’s staff in Dallas County, and his life was about justice,” the family’s attorney told the Chronicle. “His family wants to carry on in his name and hope that we can make changes.

“We don’t want to end football. We just want to make it as safe as possible and make sure that everybody is informed about what can happen. That has not been the case historically, and we want to change that.”

The sister, Mildred Whittier, had previously filed a lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of college players who suffered brain injuries from 1960 to 2014.

In 1970, Whittier became the first black player to letter in football at Texas.  He first joined the Longhorns in 1969.  At the time, though, the NCAA did not allow freshmen to play.  Whittier lettered every year from 1970-72, first as an offensive guard and then as a tight end his senior season.

Memphis to wear ‘BLM’ decals on their helmets this season

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Memphis will take its off-field social activism onto the football field this fall.

Across the country, student-athletes, football players especially, have seen their collective voices grow louder in protesting for racial equality and against social injustices. And flags.  Several members of the Memphis football program took to the streets of their city last month to do just that.

This week, on his personal Twitter account, first-year Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield announced that his players will wear “BLM” decals on their helmets throughout the 2020 college football season.  “BLM,” of course, stands for the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

“The use of the BLM logo on a helmet decal was an idea from our student-athletes,” Silverfield told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal in a text message. “It doesn’t mean we support any anti-American, violent organization or hate group or any specific political party. In fact, I love this country and I love our players. Rather the decal is a show of support to our team.”

And what of a backlash against wearing the decals?  It was subsequently reported by The Athletic that “[a] prominent University of Memphis booster has informed the school that he will match, and then double, whatever donations the school might lose as a result of the Black Lives Matter helmet decal.”

The name of the booster was not revealed.

Memphis is coming off a school-record 12-win football campaign.  They claimed the program’s first-ever win in the AAC championship game after two straight losses.

Head coach Mike Norvell left the school for the same job at Florida State in mid-December.  Memphis stayed in-house for its next head coach, with Silverfield, the offensive line coach, promoted three days later.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, including experts holding out hope that the famed oaks on Toomer’s Corner could survive being Updyked

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The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on July 4, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Five-star 2020 LSU commit probably would’ve committed to Ohio State if Urban Meyer hadn’t left
THE SYNOPSIS: Elias Ricks is the recruit in question.  The cornerback ended up signing with LSU earlier this year.  Ricks, expected to contribute to the defending national champs immediately, underwent offseason surgery for a torn labrum.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Fox, BTN reportedly among those making run at Paul Finebaum
THE SYNOPSIS: Yeah, that didn’t work out as the SEC mouthpiece remains at ESPN.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Penn State suing Tennessee DC Bob Shoop for breach of contract
THE SYNOPSIS: Nittany Lions were seeking $900,000 the university said Shoop owed after he left as the defensive coordinator at Penn State for the same job at Tennessee in January of 2016.  In February of 2018, the two sides settled their dispute.  Terms of the settlement weren’t divulged.

2015

THE HEADLINE: Alabama self-reports multiple secondary violations
THE SYNOPSIS: “Alabama” and “NCAA violations” always bring out the commenters.  This was no exception.

2013

THE HEADLINE: Tragic: new Ole Miss OL killed in car accident
THE SYNOPSISPark Stevens’ truck collided with the back of a semi-truck attempting to cross a four-lane highway.  The lineman was a 20-year-old junior college transfer.

2011

THE HEADLINE: Experts not ready to say Toomer’s oaks are ‘definitely not going to make it’
THE SYNOPSIS: Thanks to Alabama “fan” Harvey Updyke, the iconic trees at Auburn definitely didn’t make it.

2011

THE HEADLINE: Purdue player missing; last seen swimming in Indiana lake
THE SYNOPSIS: Sadly, 22-year-old running back Sean Matti‘s body was found a day later.