Rondale Moore

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Dozens of players named to Maxwell, Bednarik watch lists

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If every player named to Monday’s Maxwell and Bednarik award watch lists was a muffin, you’d have breakfast for the next two months. One hundred sixty players were selected to the respective watch lists — 80 on each side of the ball — signifying that they are on the eye of those selecting these awards.

Given by the Maxwell Football Club, the Maxwell Award is given to the college player of the year, and is generally regarded as college football’s Golden Globe award to the Heisman’s Oscar. The Maxwell was first given in 1937, two years after the Heisman. Among the watch list designations are reigning winner Tua Tagovailoa, along with returning semifinalists AJ DillonTravis EtienneLaviska ShenaultD’Eriq KingIan BookJustin HerbertRondale MooreZack Moss and Jonathan Taylor.

Alabama each had three Maxwell watch list honorees.

On defense, LSU’s Grant Delpit is the only returning semifinalist on the 2019 Bednarik Award watch list.

Monday’s announcement is the official beginning of Watch List season, which runs through next Friday. The Davey O’Brien Award will list the quarterbacks under its watch on Tuesday.

Tua Tagovailoa still narrow favorite over Trevor Lawrence for 2019 Heisman odds

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When last we left the stiff-armed odds for the upcoming season, the losing quarterback in the 2018 national championship game was a slight favorite over the winning one.  A couple of months later, not much has changed.

By way of TigerNet.com, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa is a 5/2 favorite to claim the 2019 Heisman Trophy.  Right behind him, though, is Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, who sits at 3/1.  You have to work your way through three more quarterbacks — Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts (8/1), Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez (10/1), Ohio State’s Justin Fields (11/1) — before you come to the first non-quarterback on the list, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor at 12/1.

And the first wide receiver? Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy at 25/1, the same as quarterbacks Austin Kendall (Oklahoma), Kelly Bryant (Missouri) and JT Daniels (USC).

No players from Group of Five schools are represented on the list, which can be seen below.

Tua Tagovailoa 5/2
Trevor Lawrence 3/1
Jalen Hurts 8/1
Adrian Martinez 10/1
Justin Fields 11/1
Jonathan Taylor 12/1
Jake Fromm 14/1
D’Andre Swift 14/1
Travis Etienne 14/1
Justin Herbert 16/1
Sam Ehlinger 16/1
Ian Book 20/1
Austin Kendall 25/1
Jerry Jeudy 25/1
Kelly Bryant 25/1
JT Daniels 25/1
Shea Patterson 28/1
K.J. Costello 33/1
Rondale Moore 33/1

Future Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz sets two passing records in All-American Bowl to win MVP

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Wisconsin fans likely will be smiling knowing their quarterback of the future just set a record in the All-American Bowl. Graham Mertz set two of them, actually, on his way to winning MVP honors as the East dominated the West in this year’s All-American Bowl in San Antonio. Mertz threw for 188 yards and five touchdowns to show Wisconsin fans what they should expect to see soon in Madison.

Mertz, a four-star pro-style quarterback from Kansas, was a big addition to the Wisconsin recruiting class and it was easy to see why on Saturday in San Antonio. The 188 passing yards and five touchdowns in an all-star game that typically sees the ball spread around between some of the nation’s top recruits, and quarterbacks tending to split the snaps was a mighty feat. Of course, it helps when Mertz is throwing the football to other four and five-star players.

A number of players made their college announcements during the course of the game as well. USC scored a big recruiting victory with the addition of five-star wide athlete Bru McCoy and four-star wide receiver Kyle Ford. It was a solid day for Oklahoma as well with the addition of five-star wide receiver Jadon Haselwood to the recruiting class in Norman.

Purdue scored a great recruiting victory as well by landing the commitment of wide receiver David Bell, who will pair quite well with Rondale Moore in the passing game moving forward for the next couple of years. Bell picked the Boilermakers over Ohio State and Penn State as Purdue struck gold with this recruiting battle. Naturally, the day featured a stud defensive lineman, Khris Bogle, choosing to go to Alabama

Auburn dominates first B1G-SEC bowl matchup in historic rout of Purdue

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The good news for the Big Ten?  They still have three more matchups with the SEC this postseason, and they couldn’t possibly go worse than this one. Right?

It was a record-setting first two quarters of the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl for Auburn (8-5) as they took a 56-7 lead on overmatched and overwhelmed Purdue (6-7) into the halftime locker room.  After scoring on all seven of its first-half offensive possessions (if you take away a kneel down to end the second quarter), the Tigers scored on its first possession of the second half as well before throwing it in cruise control and easing its way to a 63-14 win over the Boilermakers.

To put a finer point on the dominance, the Tigers didn’t punt the ball until there were just over three minutes left in the third quarter.  That punt came after Gus Malzahn, in the head coach’s first game since reassuming the play-calling duties, commenced to removing a handful of starters on both sides of the ball.

With the 63 points, Auburn broke the SEC bowl scoring record previously held by rival Alabama in its 61-6 win over Syracuse in the 1953 Orange Bowl.  The Tigers had already broken the Music City Bowl record for points in a game, previously the 49 by West Virginia in the 2000 game, with its 56 first-half points that also broke the FBS postseason record for two quarters of play.

Auburn had the chance to tie the record for points in a bowl game, but opted to kneel twice inside the five-yard line with less than a minute remaining in the game.  That means West Virginia’s record of 70 put up in the 2012 Orange Bowl rout of Clemson remains the postseason points standard.

In the last game of Jarrett Stidham‘s collegiate career — he announced earlier this month that he is leaving The Plains early for the NFL — the quarterback put on quite the show in just two-and-a-half quarters worth of work, throwing for 373 yards and five touchdowns in the rout.  He’s just the third player in AU history with five touchdown passes in a single game, joining Chris Todd in 2009 and Daniel Cobb in 2001, but the first to do so in a bowl.

Not surprisingly, Stidham was named as the Music City Bowl Player of the Game.

Darius Slayton caught three of Stidham’s touchdown passes for 160 yards, all of which came in the first half.  The yardage broke the old school record of 159 by Herbert Casey in the 1990 Peach Bowl.

With two rushing and one receiving (all in the first half), JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow is the first Tiger football player to score three touchdowns in a bowl game.

In a losing effort, All-American true freshman Rondale Moore, who came into the game leading the FBS in receptions with 103, added 11 more catches for 94 yards.

The Big Ten and SEC will square off three more times over the next four days: the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (Florida-Michigan, Dec. 29), the Outback Bowl (Mississippi State-Iowa, New Year’s Day) and the VRBO Citrus Bowl (Kentucky-Penn State, New Year’s Day).

With Auburn’s win, the SEC is now an even 1-1 in the 2018-19 bowl season with nine more games remaining.  The Big Ten suffered its first defeat of the postseason and is 2-1 with six games left on its bowl schedule.

Auburn scores on first seven possessions, adds pick-six in blowing doors off Purdue at halftime of Music City Bowl

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At least for the first two quarters, Tyler Trent‘s special kind of inspirational magic hasn’t traveled well from West Lafayette to Nashville.  At all.

Thanks to a startling, historic offensive outburst and a stifling defensive effort throughout, Auburn has taken a dominating 56-7 lead on Purdue into halftime of the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Saturday afternoon.  This marked the first time in more than two years that head coach Gus Malzahn, who is either on the hot seat or he’s not, called the offensive plays during a game, and the impact was immediate as the Tigers scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions en route to 398 yards of first-half offense.

 JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow set the tone early on as, on Auburn’s first offensive possession, the running back took a wheel route from Jarrett Stidham on third-and-one and turned it into a 66-yard touchdown just a little over a minute into the postseason contest.  That was the first of three Whitlow touchdowns in the first half, the second coming on a two-yard run in the middle of the first quarter to push the Tigers’ lead to 14-0 and a third two minutes later, following a David Blough interception, from a yard out to make it a 21-0 game.

After a Rondale Moore touchdown pulled the Boilermakers to within 14 at 21-7, Stidham hit Darius Slayton on a 74-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing possession to push the lead back out to 21 with just under three minutes left in the first quarter.  Stidham would finish the half with 335 yards and four touchdown tosses on 13-of-18 passing, while Slayton added another touchdown catch early in the second quarter, this one from 52 yards out on a second-and-18 screen pass, that stretched Auburn’s advantage to 35-7.  Slayton then added a third touchdown catch with two minutes left in the half.

Stidham’s first-half quarterback rating, incidentally, was an astronomical 301.8.

A second Blough interception was returned 20 yards for a touchdown by Big Kat Bryant three minutes into the second quarter to push the Boilermakers further into the abyss at 42-7.  Blough finished the half 18-of-28 passing for 142 yards and the two picks for a rating of 92.6.  The Boilermakers’ offense as a whole managed just 180 yards and were 3-9 on third downs (and 1-3 on fourth downs).

Just once this season did Auburn score more points in an entire game than they did in the first half today — 63-9 over FCS Alabama State in early September.  AU’s high-water mark against an SEC team in 2018 came in a 34-3 win over Arkansas Sept. 22 as they came into the game today 102nd nationally averaging 28.3 points per game.

The 56 points also breaks the Music City Bowl record for points set by West Virginia against Ole Miss in a 49-38 win in the 2000 game.  It also breaks the old FBS record of 49 points in a half in any bowl game (West Virginia vs. Clemson, 2012 Orange Bowl).