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New York Jets deny report of planned pursuit of Jim Harbaugh

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So, a little bit of a brouhaha has broken out involving our parent site.

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk reported Sunday that the New York Jets plan to pursue Jim Harbaugh at season’s end. Among the items Florio reported are:

The thinking is that the Jets plan to make Harbaugh a financial offer he can’t refuse, well in excess of the $7 million he earns at Ann Arbor.

The Jets started digging on Harbaugh roughly four weeks ago, and the plan remains to attempt to interview him, which presumes that coach Todd Bowles will be fired after the season.

The Jets denied the report on Monday, as team chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement, “Todd Bowles is our Head Coach. There is no truth to the report of our interest in Jim Harbaugh.”

To that, PFT tweeted this.

At the center of all of this, of course, is whether or not Harbaugh is actually interested in leaving his alma mater for New York. Rumors have swirled for the past few weeks that Harbaugh could draw NFL interest — the Miami Dolphins, owned by Michigan booster Stephen Ross, have been another rumored suitor — but all the rumors have pointed one way: from the NFL to Ann Arbor, and not the other way around.

“This is a choreographed message that comes up at this time every year before signing day,” Harbaugh said earlier this month. “It’s people spreading messages to further their own personal agenda. But I’m on record right here, right now: I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying at Michigan. We have big plans here, and there’s a lot we want to accomplish.”

The Jets have yet to make the playoffs in four seasons under Bowles. The club missed a Wild Card birth at 10-6 in his 2015 debut and has not sniffed a winning record since; a win in their season finale on Sunday would give Gang Green three straight 5-11 seasons. In the NFL, that’s usually plenty of ammunition for a club to give its coach his walking papers, but it remains to be seen if Harbaugh is interested in leaving Michigan, particularly now that Urban Meyer is leaving the rivalry.

Pick-six gives Houston a 21-17 lead on Memphis in AAC West-deciding game

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A trip to the AAC Championship Game is on the line in Memphis this afternoon, and the Houston Cougars are looking to play their way into it after erasing a double-digit deficit in the second quarter to take a lead into halftime. Gleson Sprewell‘s 63-yard interception return for a touchdown off Memphis quarterback Brady White gave Houston a 21-17 lead. Houston had been down 17-7 just minutes before. Sprewell struck again with a second interception that prevented a Memphis touchdown in the final 20 seconds of the half.

After missing three of the last four games due to a knee injury, star defensive lineman Ed Oliver returned to the football field for the Houston Cougars Friday afternoon. And whether it was a coincidence or not, the Houston defense set the tone early on the road against Memphis. Memphis went three-and-out on each of their first two drives and the Tigers were stuck playing a battle of field position early on.

With the offense pinned just outside their own goal line, Memphis took advantage of a Houston defense that was forced to play without Oliver, who was having a helmet issue corrected on the sideline. Patrick Taylor rushed for a gain of 57 yards to the Houston 34-yard line on a 3rd & 2, and a 15-yard facemask penalty on Houston moved the football all the way to the Houston 19-yard line. Despite having an excellent chance to put points on the board, Memphis would have to settle for a field goal from the Houston 18-yard line.

Memphis took a 17-7 lead with touchdowns on each of their next two offensive drives, which started with a defensive stand that forced a Houston turnover on downs at the Memphis 25-yard line. Taylor capped the first touchdown drive with a run to the end zone from seven yards and quarterback Brady Whtie completed a nine-yard pass to Joey Magnifico for the 10-point lead.

Houston started the game playing aggressively through the air with Clayton Tune, who has taken over the offense in the absence of an injured D’Eriq King. Houston took to the air multiple times on their first offensive series, and Tune was fortunate not to have thrown an interception on a few plays the Memphis defenders would likely love to get a seconds chance at catching. The inability to force an early turnover would cost Memphis as Tune completed a 33-yard touchdown lob to Terry Mark on a free play (Memphis was offside on the play).

Tune helped the Cougars cut into the Memphis lead in the second quarter by extending a play with his legs and then finding a wide-open Keith Corbin in the back of the end zone for a score. The touchdown drive came after a much-needed strong defensive stand by the Cougars.

We have a ball game in the Liberty Bowl with the stakes as high as they can get in the AAC West. Winner gets to play UCF next week in the AAC Championship Game.

King shines as Houston sends No. 21 South Florida tumbling from unbeaten ranks

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Houston did not have perhaps the best player in college football in uniform Saturday as All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver was held out with a knee contusion. The Cougars still had the best player on the field in quarterback D’Eriq King, and that was more than enough.

The junior quarterback accounted for seven of Houston’s eight touchdowns as the Coogs blasted previously unbeaten No. 21 South Florida, 57-36.

King posted a career day, hitting 28-of-40 throws for 419 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions (one of those being an end-of-half Hail Mary) while rushing 12 times for a game-high 132 yards and two touchdowns.

In all, the Cougars rolled up 678 yards of total offense, averaging 7.79 yards on their 87 snaps while obtaining 35 first downs and converting 13-of-17 third downs.

Houston jumped out to a 14-0 lead before South Florida forged ties of 14-14 and 21-21 in the second quarter. Each time the Bulls pulled close, however, King was there for an answer. After the 14-14 tie, King found Marquez Stevenson for a 38-yard touchdown, their second such connection of the first half. When USF pulled even at 21-21, King hit Courtney Lark for a 30-yard touchdown with a minute left in the first half.

After South Florida lodged a safety and a field goal to pull within 28-26 early in the third quarter, King led the Cougars on an 8-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 36-yard scoring rush, his second of the day.

South Florida responded with a 25-yard field goal to make the score 35-29, but King hit Jeremy Stevenson for a 52-yard touchdown pass, and Stevenson then caught the ensuing 2-point conversion to push the lead to 14.

Blake Barnett (288 total yards, one touchdown) closed the third quarter with a 39-yard scoring strike to DeAngelo Antoine to pull South Florida back within 43-36 to close the third quarter, which is seemingly where the Bulls wanted the game. South Florida entered Saturday 4-0 under Charlie Strong when trailing entering the fourth quarter.

But King engineered another 75-yard touchdown drive, this time allowing running back Mulbah Car to cross the threshold on an 11-yard rush.

King then added the capper at the 8:05 mark of the third quarter, hitting Raelon Singleton for a 27-yard touchdown pass.

The win announces Houston (7-1, 4-0 AAC) as a legitimate contender with No. 10 UCF in the American, while USF (7-1, 3-1 AAC) suffers the first loss they’ve spent all season flirting with.

Houston jumps up early, but No. 21 South Florida climbs back in it

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Houston jumped out to an early lead and looked like it would leave No. 21 South Florida in its dust.

The Cougars’ offense never really slowed down in the first half, but the Bulls’ attack picked up and the score sits 28-21 in Houston’s favor at the break.

Houston’s first two drives were nearly the same; the first covered 75 yards in seven snaps, the second 74 in eight. Both also ended in D’Eriq King touchdowns, first a 47-yard run and then a 15-yard toss to Marquez Stevenson.

After punting on its first three possessions, South Florida tied the game with consecutive scores. Jordan Cronkite punctuated a 15-play drive with a 1-yard plunge to pull the Bulls within seven at the 10:33 mark of the second quarter. South Florida needed only two plays to tie it from there — the first a Mekhi LaPointe interception of King, then, one play later, a 32-yard Johnny Ford run.

Houston then see-sawed back in front with the second pay dirt pass from King to Stevenson, this one 38 yards, but USF pulled even with another Ford touchdown run.

The Cougars closed the half with King’s third touchdown pass of the second half, a 30-yard fade to Courtney Lark. King closed the half hitting 16-of-22 passes for 232 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions (one on an end-of-half Hail Mary) while rushing a team-high seven times for 74 yards and a score.

South Florida will receive to open the second half.

WATCH: Houston throws two forward passes on same play vs. Texas Tech (and gets away with it!)

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Houston had trouble beating Texas Tech on Saturday, even though they tried throwing forward passes twice on the same play.

In a game that was described as being defense-optional, it would appear the officiating was optional too at times. Early in the third quarter, with Houston trailing by a touchdown, the Cougars ran quite a play that bewildered the officials. Quarterback D’Eriq King threw a quick forward pass to wide receiver Marquez Stevenson. Stevenson scrambled to get away from defenders and then lobbed a pass downfield to Keith Corbin for a gain of 31 yards.

Somehow, the officials let this illegal double forward-pass play go by without a penalty flag.

Though it did not end up costing Texas Tech the game (the Red Raiders won 63-49), this play did pick up a first down on a 2nd & 23 and the drive later ended with a game-tying touchdown by the Cougars to open up the second half.

Remember, it’s only illegal if you get caught.