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They’re Gr8! North Dakota State outlasts James Madison for eighth FCS crown in nine years

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Vegas listed James Madison as a 1-point favorite entering Saturday’s FCS National Championship, and after the first drive of the game it seemed the boys in the desert knew something the rest of us didn’t. The Dukes accepted the ball to open the game and promptly rolled 86 yards in 17 plays, converting three third downs and consuming half the first quarter clock to take a 7-0 lead on a 5-yard toss from Ben DiNucci to Riley Stapleton.

And then the rest of the game happened.

North Dakota State rolled over the final 52 minutes of the game, outscoring JMU 28-13 from that point forward to book its eighth national championship in nine years, 28-20.

After the opening score, the Bison responded with an 8-play, 70-yard touchdown march of their own, then took the lead on a reverse where North Dakota State showed a Philly Special but Phoenix Sproles faked the handoff and kept the ball on a reverse, racing 38 yards untouched for a score.

The key play in the game came at the 8:23 mark of the second quarter. Trailing 14-10 without a stop to that point, an inadvertent face mask penalty by JMU defensive end Ron’Dell Carter turned a 3rd-and-20 inside NDSU’s own 10-yard line into a 1st-and-10 at the 25. Given new life, the Bison marched to the Dukes’ 20 when they appeared to settle for a field goal, but instead holder James Hendricks kept the ball and scampered 20 yards for a touchdown, putting the Bison up 21-10 with 3:47 left in the first half.

Bison quarterback Trey Lance was simply too athletic for the Dukes’ defense. Though he was just 6-of-10 for 72 yards through the air, Lance carried 30 times for 166 yards and a touchdown, a 44-yard dash that seemingly put the game on ice, giving NDSU a 28-13 lead with 14:50 left in the game. As a team, North Dakota State rushed for 281 yards and four touchdowns on 45 carries.

James Madison (14-2) finally found the end zone again at the 6:55 mark of the fourth quarter — more than three quarters after their last touchdown — on another 5-yard toss from DiNucci to Stapleton, a play that was made possible when DiNucci put his head down (literally) and picked up six yards on a do-or-die 4th-and-6 from the NDSU 11 two plays earlier.

North Dakota State killed 4:04 of the remaining seven minutes with its constantly churning ground game, but could not kill it all. After a penalty set NDSU up with a 3rd-and-9 at the JMU 44, Lance gained seven yards on a quarterback draw, and then head coach Matt Entz called Lance’s number again on 4th-and-2, but he was stuffed at the Dukes’ 36 with 2:51 to go, giving James Madison the ball and ample time to force overtime.

The Dukes survived a sack, converted a 4th-and-3 and moved into the Bison red zone on a brilliant 22-yard catch by Stapleton. A pair of NDSU penalties gave JMU a 1st-and-goal at the 3 with eight seconds left, but DiNucci’s pass was intercepted by Hendricks to seal North Dakota State’s third consecutive national championship and its 37th straight win.

The win pushed NDSU to an astounding 128-8 since the beginning of the 2011 season, and an even more astounding 34-1 in playoff games. The one loss came to this same James Madison program, in the Fargodome in the 2016 FCS semifinals en route to a JMU national title. North Dakota State has now avenged that loss twice; the Bison defeated JMU 17-13 in the title game the following year, then doubled up on Saturday.

North Dakota State is the first Division I team since Yale in 1894 to record a 16-0 season. And here’s the best news of all for Bison Nation and the opposite for the remainder of FCS: Lance is a freshman.

Iowa State QB Re-al Mitchell latest to enter name into transfer portal

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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.

Texas LB Ayodele Adeoye to miss spring practice with foot injury

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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.

Miami DL Scott Patchan enters transfer portal

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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.

Buyouts and Chip Kelly’s grocery bill lands UCLA with $18.9 million deficit in 2019

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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.