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Notre Dame losing leading receiver Miles Boykin to NFL

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Notre Dame will need a new go-to wide receiver in 2019. As suspected would be the case, Miles Boykin is passing on his final season of eligibility to take his game to the next level. Boykin officially declared himself eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft with a statement shared on Twitter on Sunday afternoon.

“To my teammates and coaches, I’d never be in this position without the continuous support you’ve shown me over my career, ” Boykin said in his statement. “I’ll truly miss all of you, and I want to thank you all for believing in me.”

Boykin has already earned his degree from Notre Dame, which made his decision to turn pro a pretty likely one given the circumstances. Although he did have another year of eligibility at his disposal after not playing as a freshman, Boykin appeared to be a likely departure from South Bend at the end of this college football season.

Boykin was Notre Dame’s leading receiver this season with 872 yards and eight touchdowns. He caught five passes for 69 yards in his final game in a Fighting Irish uniform, a College Football Playoff loss to Clemson in the Cotton Bowl. Boykin’s best game of the season was either his two-touchdown performance at Virginia Tech with 117 receiving yards on eight catches or the game prior to that with 144 receiving yards on 11 receptions with one touchdown at home against Stanford. Both games helped make Notre Dame a legitimate playoff contender in early October.

Cheez-It Bowl sees nine glorious interceptions thrown, one TCU victory over Cal in the process

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The Pac-12 and Big 12 are filled with numerous high-flying offenses but Cal, under Justin Wilcox, and TCU, under Gary Patterson, have hitched their wagons to playing stout defense. The two programs met in the Cheez-It Bowl on Wednesday night in Phoenix and to nobody’s surprise, the pair combined for plenty of the latter and very little of the former as the Horned Frogs snuck out of the desert with a 10-7 win in overtime.

Let’s get this out of the way: this was far from the sharpest of games this postseason and might have been one of the ugliest college football games in all of 2018. There were nine — nine! — interceptions thrown and a combined seven sacks. It took heroic efforts for either side to rise above three yards a play and the two teams had a total of 15 punts between themselves.

So yeah, it was one of those games. That said, there was plenty of entertainment for the college football masochists out there.

TCU quarterback Grayson Muehlstein, whose play ironically had helped his team into this bowl game down the stretch, had a regrettable game throwing the football: completing seven passes to his own team and throwing four to the other side, including one on an absolutely dreadful double-pass trick play in the first half. He finished the evening with just 27 yards passing and just a few more in total if we’re being generous and including the eight yards he had on scrambles.

The Horned Frogs converted just three third down attempts all game long and really would have been dead in the water if not for tailback Sewo Olonilua, who had 194 yards on the ground and powered his way to the team’s lone touchdown. Things actually went from bad to worse in the fourth quarter when Muehlstein was briefly hurt, forcing Patterson to put in Justin Rogers — an emergency move if there ever was one because the freshman has been dealing with drop-foot from an injury he suffered in high school and is not fully mobile (Rogers completed one pass for one yard and took a sack while in the game).

Things were not terribly better on the Cal side of the field offensively either. Chase Garbers started the game and went 12-of-19 for 93 yards… but threw three picks himself and was replaced by Chase Forrest (71 yards, two INTs of course). Senior running back Patrick Laird was the team’s leading rusher for most of the game but left at halftime with a shoulder injury. Chris Brown did put up a team-high 57 yards in relief but yards and points were clearly hard to come by in this one.

Listen, this was no Pitt-Oregon State Sun Bowl from eons ago that ended 3-0 or that Virginia Tech-Wake Forest game that went to overtime sans points but boy did it come close to reach that elusive plane in college football lore. TCU got the victory in the end, however ugly, and we can all tell our kids years from now that yes, we too watched the lackluster Cheez-It Bowl unfold in all it’s glory late on a Wednesday night the day after Christmas.

No. 15 Texas leading No. 16 Iowa State at the break, but Ehlinger’s shoulder in question

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At the half in Austin, No. 15 Texas holds a 17-3 lead over No. 16 Iowa State.

Thanks to Oklahoma State’s upset of No. 9 West Virginia earlier Saturday, the winner of this game will control their own destiny to reach the Big 12 Championship.

Texas forced an Iowa State punt to open the game, then moved 80 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 7-yard Sam Ehlinger run.

The Cyclones answered with a field goal but, after a pair of punts, the Longhorns moved 94 yards in 10 plays to push the lead to 11, scoring on a 19-yard swing pass from Ehlinger to running back Keaontay Ingram.

Texas had a chance to break the game wide open when Chris Brown caught a tipped interception of Brock Purdy at the Iowa State 36 with 5:53 left in the first half, but the Longhorn drive stalled at the Iowa State 10-yard line and Cameron Dicker‘s 28-yard field goal was pulled wide right.

After forcing an Iowa State punt, Texas again drove inside the Iowa State red zone but was again turned away as Ehlinger’s 3rd-and-14 scramble was stopped a yard shy of the line to gain. Dicker converted a 22-yard field goal this time with two seconds left in the half.

Ehlinger, who accounted for 169 yards and two touchdowns in the half, took an apparent shot to the right shoulder on the final offensive play of the half and returned to the locker room ahead of the rest of the team.

Iowa State played the first half without star running back David Montgomery, who was suspended for fighting in last week’s win over Baylor, but he will return for the second half. Without Montgomery, Iowa State has run for 53 yards on 15 carries — nearly half of those on one Kene Nwangwu run. Purdy was 6-of-17 for 63 yards with an interception.

Texas will receive to open the second half. It remains to be seen if Ehlinger or Shane Buechele takes the opening snap.

Syracuse QB Eric Dungey leaves game with injury as Notre Dame is pitching shutout in Yankee Stadium

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If Syracuse was going to pull an upset in the Bronx against Notre Dame, they likely needed quarterback Eric Dungey to play a key role. That is no longer in the picture after Dungey left the game with an injury early in the first half. Notre Dame, with Ian Book back at quarterback for the Irish, have shown no signs of a struggle so far, owning a 20-0 lead at halftime.

Dungey left the game on a non-contact injury as the Orange were lining up at the line of scrimmage to run a play. Tommy DeVito has taken over at quarterback for Syracuse as a result, and finding success in the passing game has not yet been possible. DeVito completed just four of 14 pass attempts for 25 yards with two interceptions as the Syracuse offense has lost a bit of the versatility Dungey brings to the table.

Book has been having a terrific outing back on the field. Aside from an interception in the end zone in the first half, Book has completed 18 of 29 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown. Justin Yoon has kicked a couple field goals and Jafar Armstrong has seemingly put this game well out of reach for Syracuse already with a nine-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Notre Dame’s defense appears to have this game on lockdown, which will move the Irish one giant step closer to their first appearance in the College Football Playoff.

No. 4 Notre Dame sneaks away from Northwestern in second half to remain undefeated

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No. 4 Notre Dame has proven to be a very good second half team this season, often turning the jets on after emerging from the locker room. That has not been the case for Northwestern on occasion in 2018, often struggling to put away teams after a good effort before the break.

Predictably in the pair’s 31-21 game on Saturday night in Evanston, it was the Irish who exploded with a trio of third quarter scoring drives to create just enough distance to hold off a Wildcats rally and remain undefeated on the year.

Ian Book led the way once again on offense for Notre Dame, overcoming that slow start to wind up throwing for 343 yards and two touchdowns to go with 56 yards on the ground and the game-sealing scoring run across the goal line. The offense really ran through his arm as the ground game was lackluster at best for most of the night. Dexter Williams ran for 56 yards and a score but it was otherwise tough sledding between the tackles. Jafar Armstrong did record 18 yards but only saw four touches.

That led to the Irish defense being on the field just a bit longer than they would have liked even though they did just fine. The linebackers in particular were quite active with Te’von Coney in particular stuffing the stat sheet with nine tackles, two sacks and a nifty pass breakup. Drue Tranquill showed few signs of that high ankle sprain he suffered last game and added several pressures to go with four tackles as well.

Still, as much as things felt like they tilted toward Brian Kelly’s team in the second half, Northwestern refused to go quietly into the night. A late blocked punt in the fourth quarter gave the team added life and Pat Fitzgerald was rewarded by going for it on fourth-and-goal from the one yard line with a touchdown off a QB sneak from Clayton Thorson. That cut it to a three point game with half of the final quarter remaining but it would be as close as the ‘Cats would come in this one.

Thorson finished with only 141 yards passing and had another touchdown through the air but it was tailback Isaiah Bowser’s 93 yards rushing that was probably the most encouraging offensive takeaway going forward for the team.

Even with the final result at home though, Northwestern still managed to capture a win on the day overall thanks to Iowa’s earlier loss in the final seconds to Purdue. The Wildcats play the Hawkeyes next week in Iowa City and would have at least two shots to sew up the division against either Illinois or Minnesota at the end of the month. While that 0-3 mark in non-conference play is not something Fitzgerald will be happy about, he’ll gladly take it if it means a trip to the conference title game with a berth in the Rose Bowl on the line.

The Irish, meanwhile, will all but assuredly move up a spot in the College Football Playoff Selection Committee’s rankings come Tuesday by moving to 9-0 (to say nothing of the results of the SEC showdown in Baton Rouge between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 LSU). While there has been a tendency of playing up or down to the competition, Notre Dame has still passed all their tests so far this year and will move on unscathed heading into their game against Florida State next Saturday night on NBC.