The looming collision course between College Football Playoff contenders No. 1 LSU and No. 4 Georgia appears on track for early December as the latter clinched their spot in the SEC Championship Game thanks to a wild 21-14 win over No. 12 Auburn in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.
The victory gave Kirby Smart, who might have aged quite a bit in a tense fourth quarter, his third straight SEC East Division title at his alma mater and might have doubled as the sweetest yet given the effort on the side of the ball he specializes in. The Bulldogs defense was simply swarming all night in holding the Tigers to under four yards per play, netting a fumble, forcing an impressive five 3-and-outs, stopping three 4th down conversions and generally keeping their opponent out of the red zone until late in the fourth quarter.
That kind of effort certainly took the pressure off a still-questionable UGA offense. Quarterback Jake Fromm did wind up throwing for three touchdowns but it all came on just 13 completions (and 28 attempts) for 110 yards as every snap was a battle of wills between the two programs. Most of the damage came on just one play, a perfect first quarter strike down field 51 yards into the hands of Dominick Blaylock, who split the defense and raced into the end zone.
Tailback D’Andre Swift recorded 106 yards rushing but it wasn’t easy on the ground for anybody involved in this one against two of the best front-seven’s in the country.
Despite trailing all game long, Auburn did make things interesting with yet another rally in the final minutes. QB Bo Nix was naturally the spark plug and finished the evening 30-of-50 for 245 yards and a touchdown through the air but it was his scrambling ability that really made things interesting. He scored the first rushing touchdown the Bulldogs have allowed all season long to go with his 42 yards on the ground but it just wasn’t enough in the end as he took a sack with just over 90 seconds left to frame the final score.
As a result, the Bulldogs are headed back to Atlanta next month and may have locked up the title of the SEC’s second-best team behind top-ranked LSU with the win and Tua Tagovailoa’s tough season-ending injury for No. 5 Alabama. While it’s doubtful UGA will move up in the Selection Committee’s rankings at all with three undefeated programs ahead of them, they continue to make it look like the SEC title game will be a de facto quarterfinal game to get into the Playoff.
It was far from easy to get to that point and Georgia still has a tough final conference test remaining against Texas A&M but Smart once again has his team in position to get back to the promised land after crossing state lines and getting another big win at Jordan-Hare.
The portal has claimed another name and Iowa State’s quarterback depth will suffer as a result.
Cyclones signal-caller Re-al Mitchell became the latest enter the NCAA Transfer Database this week and confirmed on social media that he was leaving Ames for another opportunity elsewhere.
The move is fairly unsurprising given that Mitchell arrived on campus in the same recruiting class as current starter Brock Purdy. With a pathway to significant playing time blocked by one of the best young QB’s in the sport, a ticket out of town seemed like it was coming sooner or later for the team’s No. 2 on the depth chart.
A dual-threat known for his speed, Mitchell was originally ranked as a three-star prospect coming out of high school who picked ISU over Arizona, Illinois, Kansas State, South Carolina and others. He wound up playing in six games under Matt Campbell over two seasons and threw for an even 100 yards and one touchdown.
A Southern California native, it’s possible a move back West could be in the cards for Mitchell. He appears to be insistent on playing under center but did see spot duty as a wide receiver during his stint in Ames.
Following the departure of Mitchell, Campbell will quite a bit of youth behind Purdy on the team’s depth chart. Freshman Aidan Bouman enrolled early for spring practice while fellow Class of 2020 QB and four-star recruit Hunter Dekkers will arrive later as they battle it out for backup reps. Iowa State opens the season at home against FCS South Dakota before heading to Kinnick Stadium to take on rival Iowa in Week 2.
New Texas coordinator Chris Ash’s task at turning around the team’s defense got a tad bit harder on Saturday.
According to a release from the school, linebacker Ayodele Adeoye suffered a foot injury and will undergo surgery to correct it. While he is expected to be back in time for summer workouts, the upcoming trip under the knife will knock him out for all of spring practice in Austin.
Adeoye was a top recruit out of high school in 2018 but played in just four games and redshirted his first year on the Forty Acres. He turned into a regular starter (nine games) last season however and was fifth on the team in tackles (45) while recording an interception and 2.5 sacks.
With the redshirt sophomore out, the Longhorns depth this spring as they re-tool under Ash will certainly be tested. Fellow rising sophomore David Gbenda likely will take on an increased role based on the depth chart — though he might have to earn his way back after being sent home from UT’s Alamo Bowl win over Utah due to a violation of team rules.
Texas opens the 2020 season at home against USF and new head coach Jeff Scott before heading to Baton Rouge for a must-see game against reigning national champion LSU in Week 2.
The transfer portal has giveth for Miami football and it’s taken away.
Less than a week after Hurricanes got a big pickup in the form of Temple grad transfer DL Quincy Roche, the program learned that veteran defensive end Scott Patchan had entered his name into the transfer portal via an announcement on social media:
Patchan started six games last season and played in all 13 for Miami in 2019. He recorded 33 tackles and 2.5 sacks while in the lineup but ultimately took a back seat to star pass rusher Greg Rousseau and a host of others.
The loss of Patchan certainly hurts the depth head coach Manny Diaz has to play with but is by no means a killer given what will return in 2020 along the line. In addition to Rousseau (coming off a 15.5 sack campaign) and former AAC Defensive Player of the Year Roche, rising sophomore Jahfari Harvey saw action and former five-star Jaelan Phillips will be eligible after transferring from UCLA.
Patchan, who received a waiver from the NCAA for a sixth-year after injuries hampered his career, will be immediately eligible for his new school.
Miami opens the 2020 season with a game against Temple as part of a three-game homestand against Group of Five opponents before traveling to Michigan State for a big non-conference test.
A difficult year for UCLA on the football field was just as difficult on the balance sheet.
According to details obtained by the San Jose Mercury News, the Bruins reported a shocking $18.9 million deficit for the recent 2018-19 fiscal year. This was the result of $108.4 million in revenue and $127.3 million in outgoing expenses.
“A confluence of events over the past two years led us to this point,” AD Dan Guerrero said in a statement to the paper, “and while it is unusual for us, we expect this shortfall can be mitigated.
“The investments made into our football and men’s basketball programs will pay off, ticket sales will normalize and one-time expenses will be paid.”
Those investments included a nearly 30 percent increase in the football program’s funding since the hire of Chip Kelly in late 2017. While former head coach Jim Mora’s buyout (nearly $12.5 million) was recorded in the previous year’s budget, the effects of it naturally carried over and created an even tricker situation when basketball coach Steve Alford’s buyout was thrown in for 2019.
In addition to buyouts, the grocery bill seemed to play a pretty big factor in the deficit as well. While this doesn’t appear to just be the case of switching from Albertsons to Whole Foods, under Kelly the program’s budget for nutrition ballooned from just a shade under $1 million to nearly $5.4 million last year. Add in decreased ticket sales in football (down $3.5 million from projections) after a disappointing year and increased costs from other places in the department and you can see how UCLA quickly went from being in the black into the red.
Needless to say, that puts even more pressure on Kelly and company to help turn things around in 2020. Things in Westwood haven’t been rosy in some time in the major revenue-producing sports and it seems it’s finally caught up to the folks in powder blue.