This weekend Penn State will play its final home game of the season against Jim Harbaugh, Jabrill Peppers and the surging Michigan Wolverines. As is typically the case around college football, the last home game of the year will see a proper sendoff to Penn State’s seniors, the first class signed by former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien. Though not a senior, many suspect this could also be the final home game for quarterback Christian Hackenberg. He says that thought has not crossed his mind.
Hackenberg shined as a freshman under O’Brien but has struggled at times in the past two seasons under James Franklin. Some still see potential in Hackenberg as an NFL prospect, but his stock and likelihood of being a potential draft pick has dropped considerably since the start of the season as a lack of progress as a passer has been apparent. Josh Norris of RotoWorld currently ranks Hackenberg as the sixth top quarterback prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft, assuming Hackenberg passes on his final season in State College. Hackenberg is now behind players like Paxton Lynch of Memphis, Jacoby Brissett of North Carolina State and Carson Wentz of North Dakota State. Other quarterbacks previously in the discussion for top quarterback options along with Hackenberg, Cal’s Jared Goff and Michigan State’s Connor Cook, are also both ahead of Penn State’s best quarterback prospect since Kerry Collins.
If Hackenberg does not declare early for the NFL Draft, there are those who believe his next best option might be to transfer to another school to play in a system more likely to use his skill set in a more preferable way. For now at least, Hackenberg’s on the record suggesting he has every intention on returning to Penn State for his fourth and final year of eligibility in 2016.
A total of 17 of the nation’s top quarterbacks have been named a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award Monday by the Davey O’Brien Foundation. One of a handful of individual awards tailored for quarterbacks, the Davey O’Brien Award is the nation’s oldest of its kind. This year’s semifinalists include some familiar names as well, including Michigan State’s Connor Cook, TCU’s Trevone Boykin and Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott. All three were named semifinalists last season (Boykin and Prescott would later be named finalists). It also includes a handful of passers from the Group of Five, including Memphis’ Paxton Lynch, Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. and Navy’s Keenan Reynolds out of the American Athletic Conference and Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson (MAC) and Brandon Doughty of Western Kentucky (Conference USA).
Oregon’s Marcus Mariota took home the award last season, becoming the first Pac-12 player to win the award since UCLA’s Troy Aikman won the award in 1988. The Pac-12 has some good candidates on the list of semifinalists again this season as well.
2015 Davey O’Brien Award Semifinalists
- Trevone Boykin (TCU)
- Connor Cook (Michigan State)
- Brandon Doughty (Western Kentucky)
- Luke Falk (Washington State)
- Jared Goff (California)
- Kevin Hogan (Stanford)
- Matt Johnson (Bowling Green)
- Cody Kessler (USC)
- Paxton Lynch (Memphis)
- Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech)
- Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
- Dak Prescott (Mississippi State)
- Keenan Reynolds (Navy)
- Josh Rosen (UCLA)
- Seth Russell (Baylor)
- Greg Ward Jr. (Houston)
- Deshaun Watson (Clemson)
Celebrating a bowl victory is supposed to be a proud moment. Unfortunately, Memphis and BYU turned in one of the uglier postgame bowl moments seen in years. After Memphis picked off a pass from BYU quarterback Christian Stewart to seal a wild 55-48 double-overtime victory, joy quickly turned ugly as players from both teams started exchanging punches instead of postgame handshakes.
Helmets were thrown and sucker punches were seen as well. It was eerily reminiscent of another college football game played in Miami years ago between Miami and FIU.
Sadly, the events that took place after the game will stain the memory of what was a wildly entertaining bowl game. Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch passed for over 300 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for three more touchdowns, and Memphis needed every one of them. BYU’s Stewart passed for 348 yards and three touchdowns, but was picked off three times, including the game-winning play. Neither offense was able to protect the football, despite having a field day for much of the afternoon. BYU and Memphis combined for nine turnovers.
Memphis had also blown two separate double-digit leads, and BYU was unable to keep Memphis off the scoreboard in the final minute of regulation. The game was back-and-forth from start to finish, but the first Miami Beach Bowl will instead be remembered more for the unfortunate postgame scene as the teams went after each other on the field.
If you like offense, then the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl seems to have you entertained this Monday afternoon. Memphis and BYU put together a back-and-forth first quarter with over 300 yards of combined offense and 31 combined points. BYU leads Memphis at the half, 28-24.
BYU fumbled away the football on the game’s opening possession, which set Memphis up in great position at the BYU 35-yard line to open the scoring just three plays later with a Paxton Lynch touchdown pass to Keiwone Malone. BYU responded by driving 82 yards over five plays with BYU quarterback Christian Stewart tossing a 47-yard touchdown strike to Mitchell Juergens to tie things up.
We were just getting started.
Memphis went 58 yards and Lynch pushed one across the goal line from the one-yard line to regain the lead for Memphis. BYU answered, this time with Stewart connecting with Mitch Mathews for a 25-yard touchdown. Memphis later regained the lead with a 39-yard field goal from Jake Elliott. That helped give Memphis a 17-14 lead after one quarter of play.
Memphis extended the lead to 24-14 with another touchdown run by Lynch early in the second quarter, but BYU battled back. Stewart completed a pass down the right sideline to a back-peddling Jordan Leslie, who showed great concentration to grab the pass above his head and step back into the end zone with one foot before falling out of bounds. A video review upheld the touchdown, bringing BYU within three points of Memphis, 24-21.
BYU’s defense then came up with a big play on the ensuing possession by Memphis. On the second play from scrimmage, Alani Fua tipped a pass from Lynch and he kept his hands on the ball for the interception before returning the football 37 yards to set the Cougars up on offense from the Memphis 15-yard line. Paul Lasike eventually punched one in on the ground from three yards out to give BYU its first lead of the game in the final two minutes of the half, 28-24.
This could be an entertaining second half between BYU and Memphis if the offenses continue working like this.