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Biletnikoff Award semifinalists are heavy on Big 12 receivers

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College football’s award season is coming soon, which means various individual awards are trimming down their massive watch lists to much smaller lists of semifinalists, and soon finalists. The Biletnikoff Award, which honors the nation’s best receiver regardless of position, released its list of 11 semifinalists for its award this season. As expected, some of the nation’s leading receivers managed to make the cut midway through November.

The list of semifinalists includes some of the top receivers from the Big 12 with Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, West Virginia’s David Sills V, Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace, and Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley are among the 11 semifinalists for the award. Wesley leads the nation in average receiving yards per game with 134.7 ypg. Wallace is not far behind with 128.2 ypg. Those two are among the seven receivers who have already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this season.

UMass receiver Andy Isabella, who leads the nation with 1,479 receiving yards was also named a semifinalist for the award. Hawaii’s John Ursua, the nation’s leader in receiving touchdowns (15) also made the cut.

The SEC’s top two receivers, A.J. Brown of Ole Miss (SEC-leading 1,047 receiving yards) and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy (SEC-leading 10 touchdowns and second-most receiving yards, 925 yards). Arizona State’s N'Keal Harry, among the Pac-12 leaders in receiving yards and touchdowns, is joined by Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside as the Pac-12’s semifinalists.

Freshman star Rondale Moore of Purdue is the only player from a Big Ten school named a semifinalist for the award. Among the power conferences, the Big Ten has the longest drought of Biletnikoff Award winners with Braylon Edwards of Michigan being the last Big Ten player to win the award in 2004. The Big 12 has dominated the award over the past decade with seven Biletnikoff Award winners since 2007 including the last three years (Corey Coleman of Baylor in 2015, Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma in 2016, and James Washington of Oklahoma State in 2017) and two back-to-back winners (Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech in 2007-2008 and Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State in 2010 and 2011).

This list of 11 semifinalists will be trimmed down to three finalists on Nov. 19. The 2018 Biletnikoff Award will be presented on Dec. 6 at The Home Depot College Football Awards Presentation on ESPN.

Ole Miss loses WR D.K. Metcalf for the season

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Ole Miss has lost standout wide receiver D.K. Metcalf for the season to a neck injury sustained during the Rebels’ win over Arkansas on Saturday. Rebels head coach Matt Luke made the announcement on Monday.

“(Metcalf) hurt his neck, and it’s worse than we originally thought,” Luke said. “He’ll be done for the season. Long-term, he’ll bounce back and he’ll be fine. We’ll make sure he gets the very best care.”

A sophomore from Oxford, Miss., Metcalf paired with junior A.J. Brown to give Ole Miss one of the best passing attacks in the SEC. While Brown leads the club in catches (50) and yards (650), Metcalf is the Rebels’ big play threat, hauling in 26 catches for 569 yards and a team-high five touchdowns. His 21.88 yards per reception average trails only Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy among all players with at least 25 grabs.

Metcalf posted two games of at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown grab this season and provided Ole Miss’s only points in a 62-7 loss to No. 1 Alabama earlier this year, hauling in a 75-yard touchdown grab to open the scoring.

Ole Miss strikes first, but No. 1 Alabama buries Rebels in Oxford

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From the very first snap, Ole Miss showed this wasn’t going to be like other games No. 1 Alabama plays. Behind its strong-armed Hawaiian quarterback, these Rebels were going to hit the Tide’s inexperienced secondary right in the mouth, as Jordan Ta’amu found D.K. Metcalf for a 75-yard touchdown grab.

And right from its very first snap, Alabama showed Ole Miss that this wasn’t other Alabama teams. These Crimson Tide have their own big-armed quarterback from the islands, and they can deliver haymakers with the best of them.

Alabama (3-0, 1-0 SEC) needed only three plays to tie the game, a 43-yard Damien Harris rumble. And then, after a pair of Ole Miss (2-1, 0-1 SEC) three-and-outs and an Alabama fumble, Tua Tagovailoa had his equalizer, a 79-yard scoring strike to Jerry Jeudy, and the Tide were off to the races. After a 10-yard Najee Harris run and a 12-yard pass from Tagovailoa to tight end Irv Smith, Alabama had a 28-7 lead by the 4:40 mark of the first quarter.

The Tide expanded on that 28-7 first quarter lead into a 49-7 halftime edge and a 62-7 final.

While Alabama’s offense was obviously the story of the half, Ole Miss’s unit failed to keep them in the game after the opening score. The Rebels went three-and-out after Alabama’s first score, then did the same upon taking over at the Alabama 47 after a Henry Ruggs III fumble. Trailing 14-7, Ole Miss again moved to the Alabama 47 when Ta’amu fumbled away what would have been a 3rd and 1 situation. The Rebels’ next possession, trailing 21-7, Ta’amu threw an interception that Deionte Thompson returned to the Rebels’ 15 and the game was all but over.

In the second quarter, Alabama scored on a 4-yard Josh Jacobs run, a 22-yard pass from Jalen Hurts to Jeudy and a 13-yard pass from Hurts to Ruggs.

All told, the Tide rolled up 418 yards of total offense and 20 first downs on 41 first half snaps. Tagovailoa hit 11-of-15 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns, while Hurts was 7-of-10 for 85 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Nine Alabama players combined to carry 44 times for 210 yards and three touchdowns.

Ta’amu, meanwhile, after starting 1-of-1 for 75 yards and a touchdown, finished 6-of-21 for 58 yards with two interceptions.

Alabama running away from Ole Miss

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From the very first snap, Ole Miss showed this wasn’t going to be like other games No. 1 Alabama plays. Behind its strong-armed Hawaiian quarterback, these Rebels were going to hit the Tide’s inexperienced secondary right in the mouth, as Jordan Ta’amu found D.K. Metcalf for a 75-yard touchdown grab.

And right from its very first snap, Alabama showed Ole Miss that this wasn’t other Alabama teams. These Crimson Tide have their own big-armed quarterback from the islands, and they can deliver haymakers with the best of them.

Alabama needed only three plays to tie the game, a 43-yard Damien Harris rumble. And then, after a pair of Ole Miss three-and-outs and an Alabama fumble, Tua Tagovailoa had his equalizer, a 79-yard scoring strike to Jerry Jeudy, and the Tide were off to the races. After a 10-yard Najee Harris run and a 12-yard pass from Tagovailoa to tight end Irv Smith, Alabama had a 28-7 lead by the 4:40 mark of the first quarter.

The Tide tacked on tree more scores in the second quarter to take a 49-7 lead into the locker room.

While Alabama’s offense was obviously the story of the half, Ole Miss’s unit failed to keep them in the game after the opening score. The Rebels went three-and-out after Alabama’s first score, then did the same upon taking over at the Alabama 47 after a Henry Ruggs III fumble. Trailing 14-7, Ole Miss again moved to the Alabama 47 when Ta’amu fumbled away what would have been a 3rd and 1 situation. The Rebels’ next possession, trailing 21-7, Ta’amu threw an interception that Deionte Thompson returned to the Rebels’ 15 and the game was all but over.

In the second quarter, Alabama scored on a 4-yard Josh Jacobs run, a 22-yard pass from Jalen Hurts to Jeudy and a 13-yard pass from Hurts to Ruggs.

All told, the Tide rolled up 418 yards of total offense and 20 first downs on 41 snaps. Tide passers were 16-of-21 for 248 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, while Alabama runners carried 20 times for 170 yards and three touchdowns.

As if that isn’t enough, Alabama will receive to open the second half.

No. 21 UCF routs UConn behind McKenzie Milton’s 5 TDs

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No. 21 UCF (1-0, 1-0 AAC) had little trouble turning the page on a new season with a new head coach. Quarterback Mckenzie Milton opened the season by throwing for 346 yards and five touchdowns as the defending AAC champions blasted UConn (0-1, 0-1 AAC) by a score of 56-17 on Thursday night.

UCF head coach Josh Heupel saw his team score two touchdowns in each quarter to earn his first head coaching victory as the Huskies were simply no match for the Knights. UCF’s offense rolled up over 600 yards on their hosts, including 272 yards on the ground as a team.

UConn quarterback David Pindell was intercepted once, but had a solid enough effort to suggest he could be a fun player to watch this season. Pindell completed 27-of-41 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown and he rushed for 157 yards and a score. Pindell will likely be picking up some big numbers as the season continues, and not every opponent UConn faces will be as stacked as UCF.

UCF wide receiver Tre Nixon caught five passes from Milton for 101 yards and two scores. In all, 10 UCF players caught a pass from either Milton or backup Darriel Mack Jr.

UCF’s defense did give up 486 yards, but the Knights also forced three turnovers while the offense never let go of the football.

The game actually got started on a somber note, when UCF cornerback Aaron Robinson was injured on the opening kickoff of the game. He was attended to by medics and trainers on the field for about 10 minutes before being carted off on a stretcher. There has been no update on his status, but he did have motion in his legs and gave a thumbs up as he came off the field on the cart.

UCF will play their home opener next week with a game against FCS South Carolina State. UConn will be on the road in Week 2 to take on another Group of Five heavyweight, No. 22 Boise State.