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QB Sean Clifford says he received death threats after Penn State loss to Minnesota

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When it comes to the national perception, the image of the Penn State fan base has taken a beating of late.

In early October, Penn State defensive tackle Antonio Shelton posted a letter on social media from a Penn State fan addressed to safety Jonathan Sutherland that reeked of not-so-thinly-veiled racism. Nittany Lions football players supported their teammate by wearing t-shirts prior to the following week’s game, support that was shut down over potential compliance issues.

After that storm had calmed, Penn State went on to continue its eight-game winning streak to start the season before having the utter audacity to lose to then-unbeaten Minnesota in Week 11. The loss didn’t sit well with a certain segment of the PSU fan base, as it turns out, with starting quarterback Sean Clifford revealing Tuesday that he was forced off of social media because of death threats he alleged to have received.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

I completely deleted [social media] after the Minnesota game. It’s kind of sad to say how some fans get. It gets a little crazy. I was kind of sick and tired of getting death threats and some pretty explicit and pretty tough-to-read messages.

“But you learn how to deal with certain things and how certain people are going to react because it’s a very passionate game with a lot of passionate people. Our fans are definitely some of, if not the most, passionate fans in the country. So I just try to stay away from it.

“I appreciate all the positive people that are around, but there’s also people that try to tear you down. So I think it’s always been better to keep your head away from that kind of stuff.

The threats didn’t sit well with head coach James Franklin.

Penn State, ranked No. 9 heading into the release tonight of the updated College Football Playoff rankings, will travel to Columbus this Saturday to face second-ranked Ohio State in a matchup that will go a long way in deciding the Big Ten East and, eventually, the playoff hopes the conference entertain.

Ohio State remains wagering title favorite as Clemson inches closer

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With three weeks left in the regular season, including championship weekend, the true contenders for the 2019 national championship are coming into focus.

Ahead of Week 12’s action, Ohio State was one offshore sportsbook’s wagering favorite to win this year’s College Football Playoff championship at 2/1.  Heading into Week 13, the Buckeyes remain at that same 2/1.

Sitting at 3/1 the week before, Clemson saw its title odds shorten a bit to 5/2, the same as LSU’s.  The Tigers had sat at that same 5/2 heading into last Saturday’s win over Ole Miss.  Both of those teams are just ahead of Georgia at 7/1, which is shorter than the Bulldogs’ 9/1 they were getting at this time last week.

At the other end of the wagering spectrum is Alabama, which lost starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in a win and, not surprisingly, saw its odds tumble from 10/1 to 14/1.  Two weeks ago, the Crimson Tide was at 11/4 to win the title.

At 16/1, Oklahoma and Oregon were next up, followed by Utah and Penn State at 40/1 and 50/1, respectively.  After suffering their first losses of the season in Week 12, Minnesota is now at 150/1 (50/1 a week ago) and Baylor at 250/1 (66/1).

Biletnikoff Award whittles hunt for nation’s top receiver down to 12

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The Biletnikoff Award on Monday announced its list of 12 semifinalists for the 2019 award. The award specifies that any player who catches a pass is eligible to win — not just wideouts — but only wideouts have won the award through its 25-year history.

And for what has to be the first time in Biletnikoff history, both LSU and Alabama have two semifinalists, including 2018 winner Jerry Jeudy.

The semifinalists are:

Rashod Bateman, Minnesota: 44 catches for 945 yards (21.5 yards per) and seven touchdowns
Omar Bayless, Arkansas State: 73 catches for 1,262 yards (17.3 yards per) and 14 touchdowns
Ja'Marr Chase, LSU: 57 catches for 1,116 yards (19.6 yards per) and 13 touchdowns
Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty: 64 catches for 1,244 yards (19.4 yards per) and eight touchdowns
Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State: 73 catches for 1,021 yards (14 yards per) and 13 touchdowns
Justin Jefferson, LSU: 71 catches for 1,010 yards (14.2 yards per) and 11 touchdowns
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama: 64 catches for 867 yards (13.6 yards per) and nine touchdowns
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma: 44 catches for 983 yards (22.3 yards per) and 12 touchdowns
Michael Pittman, Jr., USC: 82 catches for 1,118 yards (13.6 yards per) and nine touchdowns
James Proche, SMU: 88 catches for 1,008 yards (11.5 yards per) and 12 touchdowns
Devonta Smith, Alabama: 56 catches for 1,026 yards (18.3 yards per) and 11 touchdowns
Sage Surratt, Wake Forest: 66 catches for 1,001 yards (15.2 yards per) and 11 touchdowns

The notable snub here is Devin Duvernay of Texas, who is one off the lead for catches (87) but could not crack the voters’ top 12. (Full disclosure: I am a Biletnikoff voter and had Duvernay on my semifinalist list.)

The 12 semifinalists will be chopped down to three next Monday, with the winner announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 12.

AP Poll: Georgia moves past Alabama; Texas A&M, Virginia Tech join top 25

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Voters are still struggling with what to do with Alabama after Tua Tagovailoa’s season-ending hip injury but it’s pretty clear that the immediate effect for the Tide is to drop behind their SEC rival Georgia in the polls.

After doing so in the Coaches Poll earlier Sunday, the new No. 4 Bulldogs flipped places with the No. 5 Crimson Tide, following the example set by the CFP Selection Committee last Tuesday as well.

Elsewhere in the poll, previously undefeated Baylor and Minnesota dropped several spots after taking their first L’s of the year. The Bears were only down one place however to No. 13 while the Gophers were punished a little harsher by moving from No. 7 to No. 11. That latter spot is, it should be noted, two places behind the team it just beat a week ago in No. 9 Penn State.

No. 17 Cincinnati remained the top Group of Five team in the poll but there was some movement at the bottom of the rankings following a number of losses in the 20-25 range. No. 23 Appalachian State returns to the rankings after thumping Georgia State while No. 24 Texas A&M and No. 25 Virginia Tech also earned an appearance.

The full AP Top 25 entering Week 13:

  1. LSU (54 first-place votes)
  2. Ohio State (5)
  3. Clemson (3)
  4. Georgia
  5. Alabama
  6. Oregon
  7. Utah
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Penn State
  10. Florida
  11. Minnesota
  12. Michigan
  13. Baylor
  14. Wisconsin
  15. Notre Dame
  16. Auburn
  17. Cincinnati
  18. Memphis
  19. Iowa
  20. Boise State
  21. SMU
  22. Oklahoma State
  23. Appalachian State
  24. Texas A&M
  25. Virginia Tech

Baylor drops to No. 13 in latest Coaches Poll, Alabama slides behind No. 4 Georgia

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Two more Power Five teams fell from the ranks of the unbeatens this weekend and that predictably resulted in some big drops to their place in the latest Coaches Poll.

Following their rather historic second half collapse against new No. 7 Oklahoma, Baylor slipped three spots down to No. 13 on Sunday, falling behind two loss programs like No. 10 Florida and No. 12 Michigan.

That three spot drop wasn’t quite as bad as the four that Minnesota found themselves down, moving to No. 11 just ahead of the Wolverines after their loss to No. 20 Iowa on Saturday night. Auburn was the highest-ranked three loss team in the poll at No. 16 while Alabama flipped spots with new No. 4 Georgia.

Navy, Texas and Indiana all dropped out of the top 25 and were replaced by No. 23 Oklahoma State, No. 24 Texas A&M and No. 25 San Diego State.

The full Week 12 Coaches Poll:

  1. LSU (55 first-place votes)
  2. Ohio State (6)
  3. Clemson (4)
  4. Georgia
  5. Alabama
  6. Oregon
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Utah
  9. Penn State
  10. Florida
  11. Minnesota
  12. Michigan
  13. Baylor
  14. Wisconsin
  15. Notre Dame
  16. Auburn
  17. Cincinnati
  18. Memphis
  19. Boise State
  20. Iowa
  21. SMU
  22. Appalachian State
  23. Oklahoma State
  24. Texas A&M
  25. San Diego State