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Halfway home: Joe Burrow’s record seven TDs gives LSU a massive halftime lead over OU

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Joe Burrow has been at his absolute best through the first half of the Peach Bowl, and we’ve yet to find a team that can hang with No. 1 LSU when that’s the case. Thirty minutes in, we know it’s not Oklahoma. The Heisman Trophy winner threw for 403 yards and an LSU and a College Football Playoff single-game record seven touchdowns as the Bayou Bengals lead No. 4 Oklahoma, 49-14.

The route started from the very first snap.

Oklahoma took the ball to start the game, and on 1st and 10 the Sooners went max protect, yet K’Lavon Chaisson sacked Jalen Hurts anyway. Kennedy Brooks ran the ball on second and third down; both carries lost a yard.

After a 25-yard Reeves Mundschau punt gave LSU the ball at Oklahoma’s 42-yard line, Burrow went right to work: a 16-yard strike to Thaddeus Moss, a 7-yarder to Terrace Marshall, Jr., and then a 19-yard touchdown to Justin Jefferson. Pat Fields wrapped Jefferson up at the 5 but the receiver willed the ball into the end zone, giving LSU a 7-0 lead at the 12:03 mark of the first quarter.

Oklahoma’s next possession went better than its first, in relative terms: Mundschau punted on 4th-and-11, not 4th-and-17. CeeDee Lamb false started before the first down snap, Brooks rushed for four yards on 1st-and-15, and Hurts’s first two passes were not close to being complete. However, the Sooner defense forced a three-and-out of its own, and then the Sooner offense arrived. A 12-yard Hurts keeper gave Oklahoma its first first down, and two plays later he found Lamb for a 51-yard bomb to the LSU 3. Brooks tied the game one play later.

It didn’t remain tied long. LSU knifed 75 yards in nine plays, converting the only third down they faced with a thunderous 14-yard Clyde Edwards-Helaire run, then finding the end zone on an 8-yard toss to Marshall, putting LSU back in front 14-7 with 4:24 remaining in the opening frame.

LSU’s defense then forced its third three-and-out in four tries, with some major assistance from the zebras. On a 3rd-and-10 pass toward the Oklahoma sideline, LSU’s Derek Stingley, Jr., all but tackled receiver Jadon Haselwood, yet the officiating crew — apparently the same group that reffed the 2019 NFC Championship — kept their flags in their pockets, despite the protests of the Sooner sideline and every viewer with working eyeballs.

Still, LSU took over at its own 14 after the punt, then converted a 3rd-and-2 when, evading a rush, Burrow rainbowed a 24-yard connection to Marshall, who was pushed out of bounds but, after a review, was deemed eligible to catch the pass. Chris Curry, garnering the start at running back in Edwards-Helaire’s place, charged for 19 yards after the review, then Jefferson dropped a 1st-and-10 pass from the OU 35. He did not drop the next one, a 35-yard strike that marked Burrow’s third touchdown pass of the first quarter and his 51st of the season, giving LSU a 21-7 lead with 1:16 still to play in the first quarter. The Heisman winner threw for 166 yards in the frame, firing as many touchdowns as incompletions (with one drop) over his 14 attempts.

After Oklahoma’s fourth punt of the first 16 minutes, LSU converted a 3rd-and-10 through an all-time bonehead play by Sooner safety Brendan Radley-Hiles, who elected to lay a blindside hit on Edwards-Helaire, allowing Burrow to scramble for the conversion while Radley-Hiles got himself ejected from the game for targeting. Two plays later, Burrow found Jefferson matched up on Radley-Hiles’ replacement, freshman Woodi Washington (who had his redshirt burned thanks to Radley-Hiles), and exploited that mismatch to the tune of a 42-yard touchdown pass, giving LSU a 28-7 lead at the 12:13 mark of the second quarter. That strike pushed Burrow’s numbers to 12-of-18 for 204 yards and all four scores, with six connections to Jefferson to the tune of 136 yards and three scores.

Hurts, meanwhile, was 1-of-9 for three yards outside of the 51-yard strike to Lamb. It would soon get worse. Oklahoma tried a trick play where Hurts tossed to Lamb, who tossed back to Hurts and looked downfield for Nick Basquine, but Kary Vincent, Jr., intercepted the throw. Oklahoma forced LSU into a 3rd-and-18, but that just allowed Biletnikoff Award winner J’Marr Chase to join the game with a 22-yard conversion, taking the ball to the OU 30. And then: Burrow to Jefferson, for a fourth time. This 30-yard score put LSU up 35-7 with 9:17 still left before halftime, and pushed Burrow to 291 yards on 17-of-23 passing, while Jefferson had nine grabs for 186 yards.

Oklahoma responded with a vintage OU drive: 75 yards over 10 plays, scoring on a 2-yard Hurts keeper.

That score pulled the Sooners to within 35-14, but it also sent Burrow and company back on the field. After a 13-yard Curry run, Burrow found a streaking Moss for a 62-yard touchdown. The score, with 4:18 still left in the first half: LSU 42, OU 14, Burrow 353 and six.

After another OU three-and-out and Mundschau’s fifth punt (his season high is six), LSU went 63 yards in five plays, pushing the lead to 49-14 and pushing Burrow over the top with school and Playoff single-game records with his seventh touchdown (a 2-yarder to Marshall), which he needed only 29:10 to break.

Burrow closed the half 21-of-27 for 403 yards with his record seven scores. LSU also ran 13 times for 94 yards (out-rushing OU by 35 yards, on five fewer carries), giving the Tigers a grand total of 497 first-half yards on 40 snaps.

But wait, there’s more: LSU will get the ball to open the second half.

Ole Miss corner Deantre Prince enters transfer portal

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If you had Ole Miss football as next up for an early-morning portal post, collect your winnings at the door.

Wednesday, it was reported by multiple media outlets that Deantre Prince has decided to enter his name into the NCAA transfer database.  By entering the portal, Prince can be contacted by any other school without receiving permission from Ole Miss football.  He can also pull his name from the database and remain with the Rebels.

Conversely, the defensive back could have his scholarship pulled at the end of the semester in which he entered the portal.

Prince’s decision, incidentally, comes two months after Lane Kiffin took over as the head coach of Ole Miss football.

A three-star 2019 signee, Prince was rated as the No. 18 player regardless of position in the state of Mississippi.  As a true freshman, Prince played in all 12 games for the Rebels.

With two interceptions, Prince tied for the team lead in 2019.  He as also credited with 25 tackles and two pass breakups.

Barring something unexpected, Prince would have to sit out the 2020 season in order to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  Unless those NCAA bylaws are changed and he’s grandfathered in, of course.

Todd Graham announces titles, responsibilities for first Hawaii coaching staff

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A little over four weeks after he was hired as the next Hawaii football head coach, Todd Graham‘s first staff is complete.

Wednesday night, Hawaii football announced both the titles and positional dutied for Graham’s 10-man on-field coaching staff.  As previously confirmed, G.J. Kinne will serve as the Rainbow Warriors’ offensive coordinator.  Kinne, who was Graham’s former quarterback at Tulsa, will also serve as quarterbacks coach.

Victor Santa Cruz will be the defensive coordinator for Hawaii football.  On top of that, he will coach outside linebackers for the Mountain West Conference program.  On top of that, Santa Cruz will carry the title of associate head coach.

Below are the titles for the other eight position coaches:

  • Dan Phillips — Defensive Line
  • Tony Hull — Inside Receivers
  • Jacob Yoro — Linebackers
  • Brandon Graham — Running Backs
  • Sam Bennett — Offensive Line
  • Abe Elimimian — Cornerbacks
  • Brennan Marion — Wide Receivers
  • Laiu Moeakiola — Safeties

Six of those eight position coaches will also hold additional responsibilities:

  • Hull — Co-Offensive Coordinator
  • Yoro — Co-Defensive Coordinator
  • Phillips — Special Teams Coordinator
  • Graham — Passing-Game Coordinator
  • Bennett — Running-Game Coordinator
  • Elimimian — Recruiting Coordinator

Graham was introduced as the Hawaii football program’s 24th head coach last month.  The 55-year-old Graham has been a head coach at four different FBS schools:

  • Arizona State (2012-17)
  • Pitt (2011)
  • Tulsa (2007-10)
  • Rice (2006)

Graham has posted a 95-61 record at those stops.  His teams have played in 10 bowl games in 12 seasons, winning five of those postseason appearances.  He’s also won three divisional titles.

After being fired by Arizona State in November of 2017, Graham has been out of coaching ever since.  He was mentioned as a candidate for the Kansas job that ultimately went to Les Miles.

Starting East Carolina DE Chance Purvis arrested on felony kidnapping charge, suspended

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For the second time this month, this time by way of a member of the East Carolina football program, a college football player is facing some serious off-field allegations.

According to 247Sports.com, Chance Purvis was arrested Tuesday and charged with one count each of second-degree kidnapping and breaking/entering with intent to terrorize or injure.  Both of those charges are felonies.

No details of what led to the arrest and charges have been released thus far.

As a result of the arrest, though, the redshirt junior defensive end has been suspended by East Carolina football head coach Mike Houston.

“We are aware of the situation concerning Chance Purvis and consider these charges as very serious and completely unacceptable,” a statement from the coach began. “Chance has been suspended from all football-related activities until further notice. We will continue to monitor the situation, but since this is a legal matter, any additional comment on our part would be inappropriate at this time.”

Purvis didn’t play at all his first two seasons with East Carolina football.  In 2018, the lineman played in 10 games, starting one of those contests.  This past season, Purvis started all 12 games for the Pirates.  He was second on the team in tackles for loss (12) and sacks (four).

Depending on how the off-field situation plays out, Purvis would be the only returning starting lineman on the defensive side of the ball for East Carolina football in 2020.

Purvis is actually the second East Carolina football player arrested this year.  Last month, Cortez Herrin was arrested on one felony count of possession with the intent to sell or distribute.  He’s also facing a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana paraphernalia.

When healthy, Herrin has been a part-time or full-time starter at left guard for ECU the past three seasons.

In 2018, Houston started all 12 games for the Pirates.  He made five starts in 2017 as well.  A knee injury in 2019 helped limit him to five starts.

Michigan State investigating allegations of NCAA violations committed under Mark Dantonio

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Mark Dantonio may have retired as the Michigan State football head coach, but his impact on the program will continue. On and off the field.

In May of 2017, Michigan State confirmed that the university had “parted ways” with Curtis Blackwell after opting not to renew the football staffer’s contract.  Blackwell, whose official title with the program was director of college advancement and performance, was suspended with pay February 9 of that year, the same day three unidentified Spartan football players were suspended in connection to sexual assault allegations.  While Blackwell was a part of the police investigations into the allegations, he was not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault but rather failing to disclose information he knew about the incident.

In a lawsuit filed in November of 2018, which named Dantonio, among others, as a defendant, Blackwell alleged that his employment contract was violated when it wasn’t renewed by the university. According to recent court filings connected to that ongoing suit, Blackwell and his attornies are also alleging that NCAA violations were committed by Dantonio.

From ESPN.com:

The mother of current Notre Dame defensive end Daelin Hayes said in an affidavit that Blackwell attended an in-home visit at their house in Michigan along with former head coach Dantonio and assistant coaches Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel. LaKeshia Neal, Hayes’ mother, also provided a photo of the coaches and Blackwell on that visit.

The NCAA has reached out to Hayes to ask about the incident, a source said. Per NCAA rules, Blackwell was not allowed to be part of off-campus recruiting during that time at Michigan State because he was not one of the program’s on-field coaches.

In documents filed two weeks ago, Blackwell alleged that Dantonio helped arrange jobs for the parents of an unnamed, high-profile recruit as well. The day after those documents were submitted, Dantonio abruptly announced his resignation.

Dantonio has claimed that the allegations had nothing to do with his decision to step down. One of Dantonio’s lawyers labeled the claims as “false, scandalous, and wholly unsupported accusations.”

As a result of the allegations made by Blackwell, the university — and the NCAA — is in the process of investigating the claims.

“We are aware of the allegations made by Curtis Blackwell as part of his litigation,” an MSU spokesperson stated. “As with any allegation concerning NCAA compliance, MSU is investigating and working with the NCAA and Big Ten. We have fully complied with our self-reporting obligations to the NCAA throughout this case.”

Feb. 12, Colorado’s Mel Tucker was hired by Michigan State football to replace Dantonio. As part of Tucker’s six-year contract, there is a clause that protects the new coach should Michigan State football be sanctioned by the NCAA for the actions of the previous coaching staff. The language of the deal calls for an additional year to be added to the length of the contract “as of the date the sanction takes effect or, if such sanction lasts more than one year, the six-year term will be extended to match the length of the sanction period.”