Associated Press

No. 2 Alabama too much for South Carolina

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The good news for South Carolina is that it landed several punches against Alabama and the game was much more competitive than the final score indicated. The bad news for the SEC? A “close” win still amounted to a 31-point win Tua Tagovailoa threw for 444 yards and five touchdowns to led the No. 2 Crimson Tide to a 47-23 victory over a game South Carolina squad.

Alabama (3-0, 1-0 SEC) accepted the ball to open the game and sliced 65 yards in five plays, scoring on a 24-yard Tua toss to running back Najee Harris, and at that point it seemed the route was on.

South Carolina (1-2, 0-1 SEC), however, did not agree. The Gamecocks pieced together a 14-play, 60-yard drive that resulted in a 44-yard Parker White field goal. Then South Carolina’s defense simply swallowed Alabama’s offense on its next possession, sacking Tagovailoa on first and third down. Skyler DeLong‘s punt went just 14 yards, handing South Carolina the ball and a golden opportunity to take the lead at Alabama’s 30.

The Tide defense forced its own three-and-out but, rather than try a 51-yard field goal, Will Muschamp called a beautiful fake field goal that went for a White touchdown, but the score was wiped off the board due to holding and the Gamecocks punted.

Alabama punished that mistake three plays later, when Tua hit Henry Ruggs III for an 81-yard touchdown to give the Crimson Tide a 14-3 lead at the 3:15 mark of the first quarter.

Once again knocked to the mat, South Carolina answered. This time, the Gamecocks went 75 yards in six snaps, scoring on a 31-yard toss from Ryan Hilinski to Shi Smith.

The first quarter ended with the quarterbacks going 17-of-24 for 273 yards and three touchdowns and the teams rushing for 28 combined yards.

South Carolina limited another Alabama drive to a field goal to open the second quarter, but then committed another crucial special teams mistake. This time, an illegal shift penalty negated a punt that was downed at the 1-yard line; on the second attempt, Joseph Charlton booted it 55 yards to the 17, which Jaylen Waddle returned 18 yards to the 35, turning a 5-yard mark off into a 34-yard penalty.

The Gamecocks forced Alabama into a 4th-and-3 at its own 42, when Tua tossed it to Najee Harris and the former 5-star did the rest, shucking one tackler and hurdling another for a highlight reel touchdown.

Alabama forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession and then South Carolina committed its third special teams disaster of the first half. Sensing the game slipping away from him, Muschamp called a fake punt from his own 30, but the Tide’s coverage unit was not fooled at all and Alabama took over at the South Carolina 32.

This time, however, Alabama paid back the Gamecocks with a special teams miscue of its own — a 37-yard field goal that Will Reichard pushed wide left.

Needing a drive to remain in the game, South Carolina got one, moving .. On first-and-goal from the 4, Rico Dowdle dove into the end zone but was ruled down at the 1. However, replays showed Dowdle perhaps got into the end zone before his thigh hit the ground, but the play was not reviewed. Hilinski’s second down pass was incomplete, and he fumbled the third down snap for a loss of two. Rather than kick a field goal, Muschamp elected to go for a fourth down on the final play of the half and Hilinski’s pass was incomplete and the Gamecocks came up empty.

South Carolina took the ball to open the second half and went 71 yards to get a 28-yard White field goal, meaning the Gamecocks compiled back-to-back drives totaling 24 plays, 148 yards… and three points.

Alabama finally separated for good when Tua found Devonta Smith on an RPO slant route for a 42-yard touchdown, putting the visitors up 31-13 with 9:52 to play in the third quarter. Tagovailoa ended his day at the 13:41 mark of the fourth quarter when he hit Smith for his 28th completion and his fifth touchdown of the day. Mac Jones capped the Tide scoring with a 1-yard keeper with 2:04 remaining.

Hilinski played courageously in his first start, completing 36-of-57 passes for 324 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, including an 11-yard toss to Kyle Markway with 11 seconds left in the game.

Trio of Tua TD tosses puts Alabama up on South Carolina at the half

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South Carolina has landed several punches on No. 2 Alabama through one half. Unfortunately for a game ‘Cocks crew, several of those punches have missed the Tide and landed squarely on their own face, and as a result Alabama leads 24-10 at the half in Columbia.

Alabama accepted the ball to open the game and sliced 65 yards in five plays, scoring on a 24-yard Tua Tagovailoa toss to running back Najee Harris, and at that point it seemed the route was on.

South Carolina, however, did not agree. The Gamecocks pieced together a 14-play, 60-yard drive that resulted in a 44-yard Parker White field goal. Then South Carolina’s defense simply swallowed Alabama’s offense on its next possession, sacking Tagovailoa on first and third down. Skyler DeLong‘s punt went just 14 yards, handing South Carolina the ball and a golden opportunity to take the lead at Alabama’s 30.

The Tide defense forced its own three-and-out but, rather than try a 51-yard field goal, Will Muschamp called a beautiful fake field goal that went for a White touchdown, but the score was wiped off the board due to holding and the Gamecocks punted.

Alabama punished that mistake three plays later, when Tua hit Henry Ruggs III for an 81-yard touchdown to give the Crimson Tide a 14-3 lead at the 3:15 mark of the first quarter.

Once again knocked to the mat, South Carolina answered. This time, the Gamecocks went 75 yards in six snaps, scoring on a 31-yard toss from Ryan Hilinski (making his first career start) to Shi Smith.

The first quarter ended with the quarterbacks going 17-of-24 for 273 yards and three touchdowns and the teams rushing for 28 combined yards.

South Carolina limited another Alabama drive to a field goal to open the second quarter, but then committed another crucial special teams mistake. This time, an illegal shift penalty negated a punt that was downed at the 1-yard line; on the second attempt, Joseph Charlton booted it 55 yards to the 17, which Jaylen Waddle returned 18 yards to the 35, turning a 5-yard mark off into a 34-yard penalty.

The Gamecocks forced Alabama into a 4th-and-3 at its own 42, when Tua tossed it to Najee Harris and the former 5-star did the rest, shucking one tackler and hurdling another for a highlight reel touchdown.

Alabama forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession and then South Carolina committed its third special teams disaster of the first half. Sensing the game slipping away from him, Muschamp called a fake punt from his own 30, but the Tide’s coverage unit was not fooled at all and Alabama took over at the South Carolina 32.

This time, however, Alabama paid back the Gamecocks with a special teams miscue of its own — a 37-yard field goal that Will Reichard pushed wide left.

Needing a drive to remain in the game, South Carolina got one, moving .. On first-and-goal from the 4, Rico Dowdle dove into the end zone but was ruled down at the 1. However, replays showed Dowdle perhaps got into the end zone before his thigh hit the ground, but the play was not reviewed. Hilinski’s second down pass was incomplete, and he fumbled the third down snap for a loss of two. Rather than kick a field goal, Muschamp elected to go for a fourth down on the final play of the half and Hilinski’s pass was incomplete and the Gamecocks came up empty.

Tagovailoa closed the half 16-of-22 for 286 yards and three touchdowns, while Hilinski was 18-of-28 for 175 yards and a score. South Carolina leads the rushing battle, 27-26.

CFT Cheat Sheet: What to know for Week 3

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A quick primer on who, what and where to look for/at as we head into Week 3 of the 2019 college football season.

WEEK 3 STORYLINES

  • When ESPN‘s College GameDay traveling roadshow sets up camp in Ames for a game that decides the winner of the aptly-named Cy-Hawk Trophy, you know you’re in for, at least on paper, a light weekend of football schedule-wise. Thanks to Syracuse tripping over itself in Week 2 and Iowa State nearly getting knocked off by an FCS opponent in the opener, it’s Blutarsky’s GPA when it comes to Top 25 vs. Top 25 matchups in Week 3.  The last time there were no ranked teams facing each other?  Oct. 14, 2017 — and No. 2 Clemson was knocked off by unranked Syracuse on the road that weekend.  This weekend, No. 1 Clemson faces… unranked Syracuse… on the road.
  • It’s only Week 3, but Jeremy Pruitt and Chip Kelly are in more dire need of a win than any white man in history.  Pruitt has Tennessee off to its worst start to a season since 1988; under Kelly, UCLA has started a season 0-2 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since World War II.  Fortunately for UT, FCS Chattanooga is on tap and the Viols are 28-point favorites (then again, they were 26-point favorites over Georgia State and we all know how that turned out).  Unfortunately for UCLA — but fortunately for those looking to score free tickets — No. 5 Oklahoma is up next. If/when the Bruins suffer what seems like an inevitable loss, it will mark the first time since 1920-21 that they have gone 0-3 in back-to-back seasons.
  • In the first two games of the 2019 season, Florida State’s defense has allowed a combined 54 second-half points in a 1-1 start that includes the season-opening collapse against Boise State.  Enter Jim Leavitt, who Willie Taggart added this week in a defensive analyst role.  Leavitt served as Taggart’s defensive coordinator during the latter’s one-and-done season as Oregon’s head coach.  During his two seasons in Eugene, the Ducks finished tied for 63rd nationally in scoring defense in 2018 (27 points per game) and 77th in 2017 (28.3 ppg); the year prior to Leavitt’s arrival, they were 126th (out of 128 FBS teams at the time) at 41.4 ppg.  FSU travels to Charlottesville Saturday to face No. 25 Virginia.
  • With a Week 2 win over Western Michigan, Mark Dantonio tied Duffy Daugherty‘s Michigan State record for most career wins at 109.  If, unlike last year, No. 18 MSU can handle Arizona State this weekend, Dantonio, in the midst of his 13th season with the Spartans, will surpass the College Football Hall of Famer and stand alone in school lore with 110 wins.
  • No. 21 Maryland will take on Temple this weekend.  Maryland is leading the nation in scoring at 71 points per game (Penn State is next at 62); Temple is tied for 18th in the country in scoring defense at 12 ppg.
  • So, as you see, these notes signal very loudly that Week 3 is light in the britches and short in the wallet, as my grandfather used to say to describe one of his not-so-favorite sons-in-law.  Which, of course, means that utter and absolute chaos will very likely ensue…

SIX-PACK OF MUST-SEE GAMES

  • No. 6 Ohio State (-16½) at Indiana — Each of the past three seasons, a ranked OSU team lost to an unranked Big Ten opponent on the road in a game in which they were favored.  Are the Hoosiers the Buckeyes’ trap-game Waterloo this season?
  • No. 19 Iowa (-2) at Iowa State — As referenced earlier, this would’ve been a Top 25 matchup if then-No. 21 Iowa State hadn’t barely escaped Northern Iowa in triple overtime and dropped out of the rankings as a result.  The Hawkeyes have won the last four games in the rivalry; the Cyclones last home win in the series came in 2011.
  • No. 20 Washington State (-9) vs. Houston — This Friday-night, neutral-site affair is mentor vs. protégé as Wazzu’s Mike Leach had Houston’s Dana Holgorsen on his Texas Tech coaching staff from 2000-09.  Not only will this be the first time Leach and Holgorsen have been on opposing sidelines as head coaches, it’ll also be the first time since 1988 — and just the fourth time ever — the two schools have squared off in football.
  • No. 2 Alabama (-25½) at South Carolina — Alabama will be playing its first true road game of the 2019 season.  The last time these two teams met at Williams-Brice Stadium, the Gamecocks upset the top-ranked Crimson Tide in 2010. Unless I’m mistaken, though, neither Stephen Garcia nor Marcus Lattimore nor Alshon Jeffery will be suiting up this weekend.
  • Stanford at No. 17 UCF (-7½) — UCF will have two regular-season chances to prove its worth to national pundits against Power Five foes — this one at home, in Week 4 vs. Pitt.  Stanford is coming off a 25-point drubbing at the hands of USC that dropped them out of the Top 25, while UCF has beaten FAMU and FAU by a combined score of 110-14.
  • No. 9 Florida (-8) at Kentucky — If there’s a revenge game in Week 3 and despite the public pronouncements, it’s this one.  Week 2 last year, Kentucky beat Florida for the first time since Nov. 15, 1986, ending the Wildcats’ streak of 31 straight losses to the Gators.  That game was in Gainesville; this one is in Lexington.

BEST/WORST WAGERS OF WEEK 3

  • BEST: No. 1 Clemson at Syracuse (+28).  Clemson is, obviously, the better team, but on this weekend they won’t be four touchdowns better than Syracuse at home — the Orange’s spitting the bed against Maryland in Week 2 notwithstanding.
  • WORST: No. 5 Oklahoma at UCLA (+22½). Take the Bruins and the points at your own peril as the Sooners are primed to deal out a historic beatdown on Chip Kelly‘s woebegone squad.
  • COVER SPECIAL: Hawaii (+21) at No. 23 Washington.  Hawaii has beaten two Pac-12 opponents (Arizona, Oregon State) to start the 2019 season. Run, don’t walk, to your cyber betting window and lay that money on the Rainbow Warriors to cover.

HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH

  1. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma (Last week: No. 1) — Three touchdowns and 259 yards passing in a half’s worth of Week 2 work vs. an FCS foe would’ve been more than enough to maintain the top slot; working out like a boss immediately after the win and prior to the postgame press conference solidified it.
  2. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (No. 8) — Nine touchdown passes in two games this season for Burrow, giving him 25 in 15 appearances since transferring from Ohio State to LSU; in the two years prior to his arrival, Tiger quarterbacks accounted for 29 in 25 games.
  3. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (No. 2) — In just over a half of play vs. New Mexico State, the junior completed 16-of-24 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns.  He also scored another on the ground.
  4. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (No. 5) — In his first two career starts, the Georgia transfer has been responsible for nine total touchdowns (six passing, three rushing).
  5. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin (No. 4) — Taylor has three receiving touchdowns in two games after never catching one his first two seasons.  Oh, and he also has five touchdowns on the ground for good measure.
  6. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas (No. 6) — Even in a loss to Burrow’s Tigers, Ehlinger shined statistically as he totaled 401 yards and four touchdowns through the air.
  7. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (No. 7) — The sophomore has been fair to middlin’ the first two games, throwing more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (two).
  8. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon (No. 9) — Five touchdowns, 310 yards passing in a blowout win over Nevada in Week 2.
  9. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (No. 3) — After 205 yards and three touchdowns in the opener, he put up 53 and zero in Week 2.
  10. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama (No. 10) — As the token non-QB/RB, Jeudy is making a case to be taken out of the No. 10 slot as this past weekend he tied a school single-game record with three receiving touchdowns. The junior’s statline this season is 18-240-4.

(DROPPED OUT: None)

WEEK 3 BRAZEN PREDICTIONS
BRYAN FISCHER (@BryanDFischer): Given the slate of lackluster matchups (editor’s note: that’s being way too kind), I think we’re in for some chaos this weekend. I’ll go with four ranked teams getting upset on Saturday, with at least two getting upended at home.
ZACH BARNETT (@zach_barnett): Tennessee drops to 0-3. See the thing people don’t understand about Chattanooga is… okay, no. Mack Brown springs his third straight upset, moving the Mack Attack to 3-0. UNC is a three-point underdog for Friday’s non-conference game at Wake Forest; I would take them as three-point favorites. Sam Howell continues making the plays that need to be made and one of the best stories of this young season continues.
KEVIN MCGUIRE (@KevinOnCFB): Maryland has been scoring plenty of points to start the season and takes their high-flying, rejuvenated offense on the road this week. They are due for a letdown, and Temple is the team to give them their first tough battle of the year. The Owls get defensive at home in The Linc and the Terrapins go home with their first loss of the season, dropping them out of the top 25 as quickly as they entered. The AAC has a solid week as UCF sends Stanford home with a loss too.
JOHN TAYLOR (@CFTalk)
: Not only will No. 17 UCF win and cover, but the Group of Five school will hand Stanford its worst loss since Washington waxed them 44-6 in September of 2016.

NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH
This week, our pals over at Rotoworld take an in-depth look at matchups in games such as Clemson-Syracuse and Oklahoma USC.  For the entire extensively-detailed piece, click HERE.

Surgery will sideline South Carolina QB Jake Bentley for rest of 2019

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Moving forward, South Carolina’s offense is officially in the hands of Ryan Hilinski.

Reports surfaced early last week that starting quarterback Jake Bentley suffered some type of foot injury in South Carolina’s season-opening loss to North Carolina that could sideline him for upwards of six weeks.  Last Tuesday, head coach Will Muschamp confirmed that Bentley has been diagnosed with a Lisfranc injury in his mid-foot and would be out for 4-8 weeks if surgery weren’t required — and for the remainder of the season if it was.

Sunday, Muschamp revealed that, after receiving a second opinion, Bentley will undergo surgery this coming week and, as a result, will miss the remainder of the 2019 season.

Bentley will have another year of eligibility at his disposal after using his redshirt this season.  Whether he will use that fifth season at USC — or elsewhere — has not yet been determined.

From 247Sports.com:

Muschamp added that nothing has been determined about Bentley’s future beyond this season.

“That’s not even on the table,” Muschamp said. “Right now, it’s a very difficult time. When I know something, I’ll let you guys know. How about that?

Including this season’s opener, Bentley had started 33 of the last 34 games under center for the Gamecocks.

With Bentley officially out, Hilinski, a four-star 2019 signee whose brother, Tyler Hilinski, was Washington State’s starting quarterback before taking his own life in January of 2017, is the Gamecocks’ unquestioned starter.  In the true freshman’s first career start against FCS Charleston Southern in Week 2, Hilinski completed 24-of-30 passes for 282 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in USC’s 72-10 win.

Hilinski’s second career start will come this Saturday against No. 2 Alabama in Columbia.

Brother of Clemson DB granted immediate-eligibility waiver to play for South Carolina in 2019

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For at least one family, the 2019 edition of the Palmetto Bowl will officially serve up an on-field sibling-rivalry side dish as part of the annual in-state grudge match.

In June, it was confirmed that Nick Muse would be transferring from FCS William & Mary to South Carolina. At the time, it was reported that, because of the circumstances surrounding his departure from his previous school, the tight end would be seeking a waiver that would grant him immediate eligibility at USC.

Friday, after missing the season-opening loss to North Carolina, Muse’s father took to Twitter to confirm his son has been granted a waiver from the NCAA and will be able to take the field for the Gamecocks moving forward.

This past season, Muse’s 30 receptions and 453 receiving yards were second on the Tribe. His 15.1 yards per catch were tied for second on the team.

In the regular-season finale this season, South Carolina will play host to Clemson.  Muse’s younger brother, Tanner Muse, is a fifth-year senior defensive back at Clemson.

“That’s every brother’s dream, to be able to play each other on this level at this stage,” Tanner said in mid-July of potentially having to square off against his younger brother. “You see a bunch of brothers through the NFL and things like that, and that’d be awesome. I mean, he’s a great player and I’d love to play against him.

“But I did tell him, I warned him — Dad’s on his side, mom’s on my side — so I told him and Dad, I said, ‘Look, if we get that opportunity, I’m going to give you all I got, so you better bring it because I’m going to bring it.’”