Getty Images

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

40 Comments

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.

Georgia WR Dominick Blaylock reportedly suffered ACL tear in SEC title game loss

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A rough weekend for Georgia was underscored on Sunday as reports surfaced saying one of their key young players is done for the rest of this year and likely part of the next one.

As per Rivals’ Radi Nabulsi and a host of other beat writers in Athens, Bulldogs receiver Dominick Blaylock suffered a torn ACL in the loss against LSU in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.

The freshman from Marietta, Ga. had to be carted off the field in the first quarter after making a short catch and planting his knee awkwardly. The team’s top receiver, Lawrence Cager, was already out after undergoing knee surgery on Nov. 29.

Blaylock had made 18 catches for 310 yards and five touchdowns at UGA this season.

Reports: Arkansas closing in on hiring Sam Pittman as head coach

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It appears we’re only steps away from the Hogs getting called.

According to a number of reports surfacing on Sunday, Arkansas has pivoted from hiring now-Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin to bringing in Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman as the team’s next head coach.

Pittman is widely regarded as one of the best assistant coaches in the SEC and developed a quality reputation for both recruiting and teaching along the offensive line. He was in Fayetteville from 2013-2015 under Bret Bielema and spent time at Tennessee, North Carolina, Missouri, Kansas and Northern Illinois and others over the years.

The Oklahoma native was recently elevated to associate head coach in Athens and was one of the few position coaches to come close making $1 million a year without a coordinator title.

Pittman will replace Chad Morris, who was fired in early November after going winless in conference play and posting a 4-18 overall record with the Hogs in less than two seasons.

Matchups, TV times and dates for 2019-20 bowl lineup announced

Getty Images
2 Comments

The games have been played. The wins have been tallied. The touchdowns have been counted. The championship trophies have been hoisted.

Now it’s time for the college football postseason to commence.

So where is everybody going bowling? Here’s a look at the full lineup of games and who’s in them. All times ET, games on ESPN unless otherwise indicated.

College Football Playoff Semifinals

Bowl Teams
Peach Bowl – Dec. 28, 4pm No. 1 LSU No. 4 Oklahoma
Fiesta Bowl – Dec. 28, 8pm No. 2 Ohio State No. 3 Clemson

New Year’s Six

Bowl Teams
Cotton Bowl – Dec. 28, Noon Memphis Penn State
Orange Bowl – Dec. 30, 8pm Florida Virginia
Rose Bowl – Jan. 1, 5pm Wisconsin Oregon
Sugar Bowl – Jan. 1, 8:45pm Baylor Georgia

2019 FBS Bowl Games

Bowl Teams
Bahamas Bowl – Dec. 20, 2 pm Buffalo Charlotte
Frisco Bowl – Dec. 20, 7:30pm** Kent State Utah State
New Mexico Bowl – Dec. 21, 2pm San Diego State Central Michigan
Cure Bowl – Dec. 21, 2:30pm^^ Georgia Southern Liberty
Boca Raton Bowl – Dec. 21, 3:30pm* SMU FAU
Camellia Bowl – Dec. 21, 5:30pm Arkansas State FIU
Vegas Bowl – Dec. 21, 7:30pm* Washington Boise State
New Orleans Bowl – Dec. 21, 9pm Appalachian State UAB
Gasparilla Bowl – Dec. 23, 2:30pm Marshall UCF
Hawaii Bowl – Dec. 24, 8pm Hawaii BYU
Independence Bowl – Dec. 26, 4pm Miami Louisiana Tech
Quick Lane Bowl – Dec. 26, 8pm Pitt Eastern Michigan
Military Bowl – Dec. 27, Noon UNC Temple
Pinstripe Bowl – Dec. 27, 3:30pm Michigan State Wake Forest
Texas Bowl – Dec. 27, 6:45pm Texas A&M Oklahoma State
Holiday Bowl – Dec. 27, 8pm++ USC Iowa
Cheez-It Bowl – Dec. 27, 10:15pm Washington State Air Force
Camping World Bowl – Dec. 28, Noon* Iowa State Notre Dame
First Responder Bowl – Dec. 30, 12:30pm Western Michigan Western Kentucky
Music City Bowl – Dec. 30, 4pm Louisville Mississippi State
RedBox Bowl – Dec. 30, 4pm+ Cal Illinois
Belk Bowl – Dec. 31, Noon Virginia Tech Kentucky
Sun Bowl – Dec. 31, 2pm^ Arizona State Florida State
Liberty Bowl – Dec. 31, 3:45pm Navy Kansas State
Arizona Bowl – Dec. 31, 4:30pm^^ Georgia State Wyoming
Alamo Bowl – Dec. 31, 7:30pm Texas Utah
Citrus Bowl – Jan. 1, 1pm* Alabama Michigan
Outback Bowl – Jan. 1, 1pm Minnesota Auburn
Birmingham Bowl – Jan. 2, 3pm Boston College Cincinnati
Gator Bowl – Jan. 2, 7pm Tennessee Indiana
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – Jan. 3, 3:30pm Ohio Nevada
Armed Forces Bowl – Jan. 4, 11:30am Tulane Southern Miss
LendingTree Bowl – Jan. 6, 7:30pm Miami (OH) Louisiana

ABC

** ESPN2

Fox

++ FS1

CBS

^^ CBS Sports Network

Justin Fuente announces Bud Foster’s replacement as Virginia Tech DC

Getty Images
Leave a comment

While most of the focus on the Sunday after the regular season is reserved to teams finding out their postseason destination, Virginia Tech took the time to focus on the future beyond the next month.

Hokies head coach Justin Fuente confirmed that the was staying in-house to find Bud Foster’s replacement as the program’s defensive coordinator, tapping safeties coach and former player Justin Hamilton for the role.

“Justin has earned this opportunity to lead our defense and our football team,” Fuente said in a statement. “Everyone in our program has a great deal of respect for him and his abilities. Coach Foster has reiterated to me on several occasions that Justin is ready for this next step in his coaching career. I feel the same way and am convinced he’s exactly the right fit for this role at Virginia Tech. Coach Hamilton is a talented coach and recruiter with a deep passion for both the game and Virginia Tech. He possesses a great knack for connecting with our players. His voice carries tremendous weight on the field and in the locker room because he’s worn that helmet and experienced many of the same things the young men in our program are going through.”

Hamilton returned to Blacksburg last year in an off the field role before joining the coaching staff. He was a player at a number of spots under Frank Beamer and Foster from 2002-05 before spending some time in the NFL. Hamilton’s coaching career began at Virginia Military Institute and Virginia-Wise from 2011-2017.

There had been plenty of speculation that Fuente would tap ex-Missouri head coach Barry Odom as DC after the two had the same arrangement together at Memphis but it appears those rumors did not bear fruit.

Fuente also confirmed that running backs coach Zohn Burden and cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell will not return to the Virginia Tech coaching staff.