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Arkansas beware: Alabama hasn’t lost to an unranked foe in a dozen years

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Suffice to say, Arkansas has its work cut out for itself Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa against top-ranked Alabama.

The Razorbacks head into Week 9 with a record of 2-4 — one of those two wins was against FCS Portland State.  By seven.  At home — and are losers of four in a row.  The Crimson Tide, meanwhile, is a perfect 7-0 and haven’t won by fewer than 19 points (Texas A&M in Week 7) in any of those victories.

The sportsbooks see it as an uphill climb as well, with Alabama anywhere from a 31- to 33-point favorite.  And then there’s history going against the underdog Razorbacks as well.

Louisiana-Monroe 21, Alabama 14

That was Nov. 17, 2007, Nick Saban‘s first year at Alabama, with the Sun Belt Conference school going into Tuscaloosa to steal a win over a Tide team that would finish that inaugural Nicktator campaign at 7-6.

That was also, as it turns out, Alabama’s last loss to an unranked opponent, at home or on the road, as the Crimson Tide has won a record 88 consecutive games against such foes (previous record: 72, shared by Miami (Fla.) (1984-95) and Florida (1989-2000)). Their last road loss to an unranked team on the road? The week before the ULM game, at Starkville against Mississippi State.  The last time an unranked team didn’t leave with a double-digit loss was Tennessee in October of 2015 (19-14).  Overall, Alabama is 92-3 (.968) under Saban against teams not ranked in the Top 25 at the time the game was played.

More recently, ‘Bama has beaten unranked schools by 39, 52, 24, 42, 28 and 22 points this season.

Even with Tua Tagovailoa watching from the sidelines, good luck Hogs.  Y’all are going to need it.

Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list includes 2018 finalist Shea Patterson, Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert

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And now for a quarterback award watch list that won’t include a certain starting quarterback form Clemson or Alabama. The Johnny Unitas Foundation has released the watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to college football’s top senior or fourth-year quarterback. This year’s watch list includes some recognizable names such as Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.

Former Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew was named the winner of the award in 2018. Just one finalist for the 2018 award is on the watch list this season. Michigan’s Shea Patterson is that player (UCF’s McKenzie Milton was a finalist last year but is not expected to play this season despite still being at UCF as he recovers from his season-ending injury from late in 2018).

Other past winners include Deshaun Watson (2016), Marcus Mariota (2014), Andrew Luck (2011), Matt Ryan (2007), Eli Manning (2003), Carson Palmer (2002) and Peyton Manning (1997).

2019 Golden Arm Award Watch List Presented by A. O. Smith

  • Jack Abraham, Southern Mississippi
  • Blake Barnett, University of South Florida
  • Woody Barrett, Kent State
  • Jake Bentley, University of South Carolina
  • Anthony Brown, Boston College
  • Kelly Bryant, Missouri
  • Joe Burrow, LSU
  • Stephen Buckshot Calvert, Liberty
  • Marcus Childers, Northern Illinois
  • K.J. Costello, Stanford Unversity
  • Jacob Eason, Washington University
  • Caleb Evans, University of Louisiana Monroe
  • Mason Fine, North Texas
  • Feleipe Franks, University of Florida
  • Mitchell Guadagni, Toledo
  • Jarrett Guarantano, University of Tennessee
  • Gage Gubrud, Washington State University
  • Quentin Harris, Duke University
  • Justin Herbert, University of Oregon
  • Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., Army
  • Tyler Huntley, University of Utah
  • Jalen Hurts, University of Oklahoma
  • Josh Jackson, University of Maryland
  • D’Eriq King, Houston
  • Brian Lewerke, Michigan State University
  • Jordan Love, Utah State University
  • Jake Luton, Oregon State University
  • Cole McDonald, University of Hawaii
  • Justin McMillan, Tulane
  • Steven Montez, University of Colorado
  • James Morgan, FIU
  • Riley Neal, Vanderbilt University
  • Kato Nelson, Akron
  • Shea Patterson, University of Michigan
  • Bryce Perkins, University of Virginia
  • Malcolm Perry, Navy
  • Peyton Ramsey, Indiana University
  • Armani Rogers, UNLV
  • Nathan Rourke, Ohio
  • Anthony Russo, Temple University
  • J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech
  • Nate Stanley, University of Iowa
  • Dillon Sterling-Cole, Arizona State University
  • Khalil Tate, University of Arizona
  • Zac Thomas, Appalachian State University
  • Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
  • Brady White, University of Memphis
  • Ryan Willis, Virginia Tech
  • Brandon Wimbush, University of Central Florida

True freshman Rondale Moore of Purdue wins Hornung Award

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In his very first game at the collegiate level, Rondale Moore broke Purdue’s single-game record for all-purpose yards.  So, it’s none too surprising — outside of his young age, of course — that the wide receiver has claimed an honor that goes to the nation’s most versatile player.

Tuesday, the Louisville Sports Commission announced that Moore has been named as the 2018 recipient of the Paul Hornung Award.  Moore, who played his high school football in the city of Louisville, is the first-ever true freshman to receive the award.

Moore is also the first Boilermaker football player to be on the receiving end of a major national honor since punter Travis Dorsch won the 2001 Ray Guy Award.

Moore beat out the other four finalists for the award: Marcus Green (Louisiana-Monroe), KJ Hamler (Penn State), N'Keal Harry (Arizona State) and Connor Heyward (Michigan State).

After the 313 all-purpose yards he put up in his collegiate debut, Moore also added 252 against Big Ten champion Ohio State.  He currently leads the Big Ten in receiving yards (1,164), receiving touchdowns (12) and kickoff return yards (599).

Biletnikoff Award watch list highlighted by 2017 finalist David Sills

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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  Yet another watch list.

The latest to release theirs is the Biletnikoff Award, with the honor going to the nation’s top receiver issuing a list consisting of 50 players from all nine FBS conferences as well as one independent (UMass).  Headlining this year’s preseason list is West Virginia’s David Sills, who was a finalist for the 2017 award claimed by Oklahoma State’s James Washington.  One other 2017 semifinalist is included as well, Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown.

A total of seven teams placed two receivers each on the watch list: Cal (Kanawai Noa, Vic Wharton III), Louisville (Dez Fitzpatrick, Jaylen Smith), Nebraska (Stanley Morgan Jr., JD Spielman), North Texas (Jalen Guyton, Michael Lawrence), Oklahoma (Marquise Brown, CeeDee Lamb), Toledo (Diontae Johnson, Cody Thompson) and West Virginia (Gary Jennings Jr., Sills).

Three conferences totaled seven players apiece, the ACC, Big 12 and MAC.  That trio is followed by five each from Conference USA and four apiece for the AAC, Pac-12 and Sun Belt.  The Big Ten and Mountain West each placed three.

Below is the complete list of 2018 Biletnikoff Award preseason watch listers:

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
Tyre Brady, Marshall
A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
Trevon Brown, East Carolina
Ryan Davis, Auburn
Greg Dortch, Wake Forest
Terren Encalade, Tulane
Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville
James Gardner, Miami-Ohio
Jonathan Giles, LSU
Marcus Green, ULM
Jalen Guyton, North Texas
Emanuel Hall, Missouri
Justin Hall, Ball State
Kelvin Harmon, North Carolina State
N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Penny Hart, Georgia State
Justin Hobbs, Tulsa
Andy Isabella, Massachusetts
Gary Jennings Jr., West Virginia
Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
Collin Johnson, Texas
Diontae Johnson, Toledo
KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Michael Lawrence, North Texas
Ty Lee Middle, Tennessee
McLane Mannix, Nevada
Scott Miller, Bowling Green
Denzel Mims, Baylor
Stanley Morgan Jr., Nebraska
Kanawai Noa, California
James Proche, SMU
T.J. Rahming, Duke
Ahmmon Richards, Miami
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
David Sills V, West Virginia
Steven Sims Jr., Kansas
Jaylen Smith, Louisville
Kwadarrius Smith, Akron
JD Spielman, Nebraska
Cody Thompson, Toledo
John Ursua, Hawaii
Teddy Veal, Louisiana Tech
Jamarius Way, South Alabama
Nick Westbrook, Indiana
Vic Wharton III, California
Malcolm Williams, Coastal Carolina
Olamide Zaccheaus, Virginia

Louisiana-Monroe finds its coach, hires McNeese State’s Matt Viator

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A month after firing Todd Berry in November, Louisiana-Monroe will hire McNeese State’s Matt Viator as its next coach, according to multiple reports. KTVE/KARD’s Gene Ponti was the first to report Viator’s hiring.

The 52-year-old Viator coached FCS-level McNeese State to a 77-33 record since taking over in 2006. McNeese State went 10-1 in 2015 and was the No. 4 seed in the FCS Playoffs, but were knocked out in the second round by Sam Houston State Dec. 5.

Under Viator, McNeese State reached the FCS Playoffs five times and won the Southland Conference four times. Prior to 2006, Viator served on Tommy Tate’s staff at McNeese State from 1999-2005 and spent a dozen years as a high school coach in Louisiana.

ULM has only made one bowl appearance in its 29-year program history (the 2012 Independence Bowl, which it lost, 45-14, to Ohio). Berry coached ULM to a program-best 8-5 record that year. ULM has only won six or more games six times and has a 120-212-2 all-time record.