Bryce Perkins

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Jerry Jeudy, AJ Dillon, Eno Benjamin and more set for State Farm All-Star Football Challenge

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It may fly under the radar for most, but the 22nd annual State Farm All-Star Football Challenge is set to take place on Jan. 31 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The skills competition will pit 24 college football stars in a team event. Among those participating in this year’s challenge will be Boston College running back AJ Dillon, Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray, and Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

Five teams representing each of the power five conferences will consist of players from those respective conferences: ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC. A sixth team of “wild card” players will be comprised of players from the Group of Five or below. This year’s wild card players will come from the Mountain West Conference (Utah State QB Jordan Love, Boise State DE Curtis Weaver), Conference USA (FAU TE Harrison Bryant) and the South Atlantic Conference of Division 2 (Lenoir-Rhyne S Kyle Dugger).

The individual events included in the competition are a quarterback accuracy contest, obstacle course, strength challenge, and a hands competition. A team event will complete the overall event.

TEAM ACC
Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
Bryce Perkins, QB, Virginia
Jason Strowbridge, DL, North Carolina

TEAM BIG TEN
Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa

TEAM BIG 12
Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Carter Stanley, QB, Kansas

TEAM PAC-12
Salvon Ahmed, RB, Washington
Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah
Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State

TEAM SEC
Nick Coe, DE, Auburn
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Terrell Lewis, LB, Alabama
Riley Neal, QB, Vanderbilt

TEAM WILD CARD
Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic
Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State

CFT Previews: Capital One Orange Bowl

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WHO: Florida (10-2) vs. Virginia (9-4)
WHAT: The 86th Capital One Orange Bowl
WHEN: December 30 at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, FL
BUY TICKETS: Click here

THE SKINNY: The last time Florida won the Orange Bowl, Steve Spurrier was the head coach and the Gators were in the thick of the national title conversation all season long (2001). Florida may be getting closer to entering the national title conversation, and a victory in the Orange Bowl could see some momentum continue to build for the Gators in 2020.

Dan Mullen’s pass-heavy focus on offense has seen Kyle Trask come in and keep things moving with a talented group of receivers to throw to in every part of the field. Virginia’s defense was just eaten alive by Clemson in the ACC Championship Game and should be expected to cough up some big plays through the air once again against the Gators. The biggest target for Florida will be tight end Kyle Pitts. Arguably the best tight end in the nation despite what the Mackey Award had to say about it, Pitts is Florida’s leading receiver with 51 receptions for 610 yards and five touchdowns.

Virginia is merely in the game due to the ACC’s bowl agreement with the Orange Bowl guaranteeing a spot in the game for an ACC member. With Clemson off to the playoff, and now the national championship game, Virginia was the next best option to represent the conference in Miami. Don’t expect Bronco Mendenhall to be issuing any apologies for his team’s presence, though. Despite being over a two-touchdown underdog, this is a massive step in the right direction for a Virginia program that is continuing to improve over time with Mendenhall at the helm.

Virginia’s dual-threat quarterback Bryce Perkins will have a lot on his shoulders as the Gators will look to contain the impact Perkins has on the game. Florida is known to swarm quarterbacks (46.0 team sacks entering the Orange Bowl) but if Perkins can escape pressure and extend plays, Virginia will be able to move the football. How often will that happen will be the key. Over the course of a 60-minute game, it may be a little too much to ask of Perkins to give Virginia a shot to win in the end.

THE PICK: Florida 30, Virginia 16

No. 3 Clemson wins fifth consecutive ACC championship as they return to College Football Playoff

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The defending national champions are back for some more. No. 3 Clemson (13-0, 8-0 ACC) locked up a fifth consecutive ACC Championship Game victory Saturday night with a 62-17 victory over No. 23 Virginia (9-4, 6-2 ACC), and with that all but officially submitted their R.S.V.P. for this season’s College Football Playoff. What’s not to respect?

Trevor Lawrence passed for 302 yards and four touchdowns before getting an early exit in the fourth quarter, with Clemson leading 45-14 at the time. Travis Etienne rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown and star receiver Tee Higgins hauled in nine passes for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Virginia’s Bryce Perkins had some positive moments with 265 passing yards and two passing touchdowns with 52 rushing yards, but he was picked off twice. His first interception came at the end of the game’s opening possession in the end zone.

Clemson’s 62 points are the most point scored by a team in the ACC Championship Game, which was first played in 2005. Clemson has now outscored its opponents in the ACC Championship Game by a cumulative score of 229-102 over the last five seasons. Clemson has held each of their last three ACC Championship Game opponents to 30 points (3 vs. Miami in 2017, 10 vs Pitt last season, and 17 against Virginia). Clemson is now 5-1 all-time in the ACC Championship Game with their only loss coming as an underdog in 2009 against Georgia Tech.

After 13 consecutive wins this season, on top of the 15 straight wins Clemson had last season en route to a national title, Clemson is going to be riding a 28-game winning streak back into the College Football Playoff. With Alabama being knocked out of the playoff race last week, Clemson will now own the longest active streak of playoff appearances with five straight. That matches Alabama’s record set last year with the Crimson Tide’s fifth consecutive appearance. This will be the first College Football Playoff without Alabama. All that is left to determine is what seed the defending champs will have. Whether Clemson is ranked No. 2 or No. 3 ultimately wouldn’t matter as the Tigers wouldn’t get to have a say which bowl destination they’d prefer, nor would it change the opponent. While Clemson will feel they made a case to be considered as the No. 1 team in the field, that decision now rests with the selection committee, which will make their final decisions on Sunday. A matchup with either LSU or Ohio State is likely the pairing for Clemson. Dabo Swinney will certainly have his team ready for whatever comes next, as his fight for respect will continue even if nobody is actually disrespecting his program these days.

Virginia’s bowl outlook is also likely fixed. Win or lose, Virginia was likely to be in the Orange Bowl, either as the ACC champion or the bowl’s pick from the ACC. When the ACC champion is in the College Football Playoff and unavailable for the Orange Bowl, the next highest-ranked ACC team fills the slot. Virginia being the only other ranked ACC team this week by the committee seems to suggest Virginia will be the locked pick for the Orange Bowl, although if Virginia manages to slip out of the playoff rankings, the Orange Bowl could choose from any available ACC team that is bowl eligible. But even in that scenario, Virginia would likely still be the pick. Virginia would play a team from the SEC or Big Ten, with the opponent being the highest-ranked available team from either conference. The Florida Gators may be the most likely opponent, with Penn State as the alternative. Regardless of how the first experience in the ACC Championship Game went for Virginia, Bronco Mendenhall continues to be doing a terrific job in building the Virginia football program, and a chance to play in the Orange Bowl is a significant step forward.

Big game by Bryce Perkins puts Virginia in ACC Coastal driver’s seat

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Anything is capable of happening in the ACC Coastal Division, but for at least one week it will be Virginia (6-3, 4-2 ACC) that has the most control of the division. A 38-31 victory at UNC (4-5, 3-3 ACC) lifted Virginia into sole possession of first place in the ACC Coastal Divison with some key head-to-head tiebreakers in their pocket.

In a game that was highlighted by offense, neither team managed to score any points in the fourth quarter. A turnover on downs by UNC with just over a minute to play gave Virginia the football with nothing standing in the way of a win. A big game by Bryce Perkins certainly helped Virginia’s cause. Perkins completed 30 of 39 pass attempts for 378 yards and three touchdowns. As if that wasn’t enough, Perkins put the offense on his back and rushed for a game-high 12 yards and two more touchdowns to account for nearly all of Virginia’s scoring. He did not throw an interception.

UNC’s freshman quarterback Sam Howell had a big game too with 353 passing yards and four touchdown passes. Despite UNC having more total yards of offense, it was the little things that made the difference in this one. Both teams went 7-for-13 on third down, but Virginia converted its one fourth-down try while UNC was 0-for-3, including one from the Virginia 27-yard line in the second quarter and one more from the Virginia six-yard line in the fourth quarter. Neither team had a turnover but Virginia had just one penalty for five yards while UNC was flagged six times.

Virginia opened the season with a victory at defending Coastal champion Pittsburgh, 30-14. The Panthers are currently tied with Virginia in the loss column but with one fewer win and on the wrong end of the head-to-head result, Pitt cannot pass Virginia unless the Cavaliers have more losses than them. UNC, Miami and Duke are all with three losses. Virginia Tech also has two losses in conference play, but Virginia will face the rival Hokies in the final game of the regular season.

Virginia will be home next week to face Georgia Tech, who was defeated by Pitt earlier in the day to fall to 2-6 overall and 1-4 in ACC play. A win by the Cavaliers will inch Virginia one step closer to its first appearance in the ACC Championship Game.

North Carolina may have not be mathematically eliminated from the race but will need Virginia to lose twice. UNC will get a road game at Pitt in two weeks (Thursday, Nov. 14) for a chance to stay alive if Virginia stumbles next week). The Tar Heels will be off next weekend.

In battle for ACC Coastal control, UNC and Virginia deadlocked at halftime

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In a battle to seize control of the ACC Coastal, Virginia and North Carolina are knotted in a 17-17 tie in Chapel Hill. Virginia drew even with North Carolina with a Bryce Perkins touchdown pass to Hasise Dubois just 13 seconds before halftime.

The Tar Heels and the Cavaliers were tied at 10-10 until Sam Howell completed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Dyami Brown for a 17-10 lead. Earlier in the second quarter, Howell and Brown connected on a 47-yard score to tie the game at 10-10. The go-ahead touchdown came after the Tar Heel defense forced a three-and-out after the game had been tied.

Virginia has not been able to run the football, with quarterback Bryce Perkins running for 14 yards on 11 carries to lead the team. Perkins picked up the only Virginia touchdown of the half on a short touchdown run from the one-yard line in the first quarter.

The ACC Coastal championship picture may not exactly be cleaned up for good regardless of who wins this game, but the winner will be in the position to have the ultimate hand in determining what happens in the division race that is once again up for grabs.