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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.

MAC schools stand to lose millions because of Big Ten going to conference only schedule

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No conference will feel the financial pinch of one of the Power Five’s domino-tipping decisions more than MAC football.

Thursday afternoon, the Big Ten confirmed reports that it will be going with a conference-only football schedule for the 2020 season.  That means, of course, that the 14 members of the league will forego playing a combined 42 non-conference games.  Nine of those 42 were to come against other Power Five programs.  Those schools are more well-positioned financially to take any hit.

Then there’s MAC football.

All told, 11 games were scheduled to be played between members of the Mid-American Conference and the Big Ten.  Ball State (Indiana, Michigan), Bowling Green (Illinois, Ohio State), Central Michigan (Nebraska, Northwestern) and Northern Illinois (Iowa, Maryland) each had two games on this season’s docket against Big Ten teams.

According to USA Today, MAC schools stand to lose a combined $10.5 million from those canceled football games.  Bowling Green and Central Michigan will take $2.2 million and $2.15 million hits, respectively.  Kent State would’ve been paid $1.5 million for its game against Penn State.

At this point, it’s unclear if the MAC schools will have any legal recourse to recoup the money.  Rest assured, though, all of those impacted by the Big Ten’s decision are looking into that angle as we speak.

“Every member of the NCAA is attempting to navigate these very difficult times in college athletics,” Bowling Green athletic director Bob Moosbrugger said in a statement. “While we are certainly disappointed that our student-athletes will not have the opportunity to compete in non-conference games against Big Ten opponents, we understand that difficult decisions need to be made.

“The decision by the Big Ten is the tip of the iceberg. Ten FBS conferences have signed a college football playoff agreement with an expectation that we will work together for the good of college football. If we are to solve these challenges and be truly dedicated to protecting the health and safety of our student-athletes, we need to do a better job of working together.”

It should also be noted that BYU will be directly impacted by the Big Ten’s move as well.  The football independent has two paycheck games scheduled against B1G opponents this season, at Michigan State and at Minnesota.  At this point, it’s unclear how much BYU stands to lose.

ACC expected to finalize decision on fall sports in late July

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Whether the ACC will follow the Big Ten’s lead when it comes to football matters will be determined at a later date.

Thursday afternoon, the Big Ten confirmed reports that it will be going with a conference-only football schedule for the 2020 season.  All other fall sports are impacted in the same way.  In the immediate aftermath of that monumental development, it was thought that both the ACC and Pac-12 would make a similar decision, and make it in short order.  In fact, there are rumblings that the latter’s announcement could come as early as Friday evening.

When it comes to the ACC, though, a decision on football and other sports isn’t in the offing until later this month.

Below is a statement from the conference’s commissioner, John Swofford.

The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and administrators remains the ACC’s top priority.  As we continue to work on the best possible path forward for the return to competition, we will do so in a way that appropriately coincides with our universities’ academic missions.  Over the last few months, our conference has prepared for numerous scenarios related to the fall athletics season.  The league membership and our medical advisory group will make every effort to be as prepared as possible during these unprecedented times, and we anticipate a decision by our Board of Directors in late July.

It’s believed that both the Big 12 and SEC will follow a similar timeline for a decision as the ACC’s.

Big Ten tops SEC, all other Power Fives in revenues for 2019 fiscal year

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It wasn’t a banner day for the Big Ten Thursday, but at least the conference can rest in the comfort of its bloated bank account. For now.

In June of last year, it was reported that Michigan was projecting a total distribution of nearly $56 million from the Big Ten.  A little over a year later, Steve Berkowitz of USA Today reports that the 12 long-standing members of the league received $55.6 million for the 2019 fiscal year.  As newer members, Maryland and Rutgers receive less, “but both schools also received loans from the conference against future revenue shares,” Berkowitz wrote.

All told, the revenue for the Big Ten was $781.5 million.  Next closest was the SEC at $720.6 million, followed by the Pac-12 ($530.4 million), ACC ($455.4 million) and Big 12 ($439 million).

Below are the per-school payouts for each Power Five conference, again according to Berkowitz:

  • Big Ten — $55.6 million (except Maryland, Rutgers)
  • SEC — $45.3 million (except for Ole Miss because of its bowl ban)
  • Big 12 — $38.2-$42 million
  • Pac-12 — $32.2 million
  • ACC — $27.6-$34 million

Berkowitz also noted that Notre Dame, which is a football independent but ACC member in other sports, received $6.8 million.  Additionally, when it comes to the Pac-12’s figure, it “does not take into account the equity value of the Pac-12 Networks, the conference’s fully self-owned television and video content provider whose expenses help result in the conference passing less money to its member schools than the other conferences.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, though, all of these numbers are expected to look dramatically different at this time next year.

Howard one of seven finalists for highest-rated recruit in the Class of 2021

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Here’s something you don’t see every recruiting cycle: Howard and a five-star prospect in the same story.  Yet, here we are.

This week, touted 2021 defensive end Korey Foreman revealed the seven schools that are finalists for his talent.  And one of the seven?  FCS Howard, a Historically Black College and University, according to the video reveal put out by the five-star recruit.

The other six are Power Fives you normally see in line for such a prospect, including Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Oregon and USC.

“I am a young black man that is happy and proud of my race. The Black Lives Matter movement is and forever will be powerful and definitely never forgotten,” Foreman wrote on Twitter. “These are the schools I will now be focusing on the most. Set the standard and… be different.”

The schools Howard is competing with for the services of the five-star are all currently inside the Top 20 on the 247Sports.com composite.  Alabama, in particular, has been on a recruiting roll of late.

Foreman is no ordinary five-star, either.  The Corona, Calif., high schooler is the No. 1 rated recruit in the country for next year’s class.  All-time, according to 247Sports, the 6-4, 265-pound strongside defensive end is the No. 12 prospect.  Ever.

Foreman, though, isn’t the only five-star making news around this particular HBCU.  From NBCSWashington:

The news comes just a week after the Howard basketball program landed five-star Makur Maker, who chose the Bison over Division I schools UCLA, Kentucky and Memphis. Maker was the highest-ranked recruit Howard basketball has landed in its history. Mikey Williams, a top-five basketball recruit in the 2023 class, has already hinted about potentially playing at an HBCU as well.