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Georgia Tech needed zero passing yards to beat Virginia Tech by 21 in Blacksburg

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This one was not one of Virginia Tech’s finer moments on defense. The Hokies (4-3, 3-1 ACC) were run over at home Thursday night by Georgia Tech (4-4, 2-3 ACC), 49-28, and the Yellow Jackets did all of their damage on the ground.

Every one of Georgia Tech’s 465 yards of offense came on the ground, with Tobias Oliver leading the attack with 215 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Jordan Mason (82 yards) also scored three touchdowns and Jerry Howard (76 yards) added one more. The 465 rushing yards is the most allowed in a game by Virginia Tech since 1973, and this was the first time the Hokies had given up more than 300 rushing yards in a game since giving up 309 rushing yards on November 12, 2016 against… you guessed it, Georgia Tech.

Adding to that dominant rushing performance, Oliver attempted just one pass in the entire game for Georgia Tech. It fell incomplete, giving the visiting team zero passing yards. Georgia Tech also became the first team to win in three consecutive trips to Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium since 1992.

It took a while for Georgia Tech to gain control of the game with its running game, as Virginia Tech held a 21-14 lead in the second quarter before things spiraled out of control for the Hokies. A muffed punt by Sean Savoy gave Georgia Tech a short 12-yard field to work with for a game-tying touchdown midway through the second quarter, and a three-and-out by Virginia Tech on the ensuing possession was followed by a go-ahead touchdown drive by Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech also ran a 10-play touchdown drive covering 75 yards to open the second half and take a 35-21 lead, and the Hokies offense was nowhere to be seen for much of the remainder of the night until it was too late.

The loss by Virginia Tech, their second in a row at home, drops the Hokies into a tie for first place in the ACC Coastal Division with in-state rival Virginia with identical 3-1 ACC records. Miami and Pittsburgh are each 2-1 in the conference and will have opportunities to move into a first-place tie this weekend. Miami is at Boston College and Pitt is home against Duke. Virginia is hosting North Carolina this weekend as well.

Virginia Tech can take solace in knowing they will get three of their final four games at home, but they have just suffered two straight home losses by a combined 43 points against Notre Dame and now Georgia Tech. The home-field advantage of playing in Lane Stadium has not helped them in big spots midway through the season. Virginia Tech will look to bounce back next week at home against Boston College. Georgia Tech can continue to play spoiler in the Coastal Division in a couple of weeks, but will remain on the road next week for a game at North Carolina.

Auburn loses two turnovers but leads Tenenssee at halftime

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It has not been the sharpest half of football for the Auburn Tigers, but the home team finds themselves up 17-13 against a Tennessee team looking to score an upset this afternoon. The Tigers lost two turnovers, the second of which quickly led to a game-tying touchdown at the time, but a big touchdown play of their own has given Auburn the lead after one half of play.

Bryce Thompson‘s interception of Jarrett Stidham early in the second quarter led to a game-tying touchdown by the Volunteers five plays later. Jarrett Guarantano completed a 42-yard pass to Ty Chandler for a touchdown./

Auburn wasted no time opening the scoring in the game by driving down the field for a touchdown on the game’s opening possession, but the Vols responded with a field goal on the ensuing possessions. Auburn added to their early lead with a field goal on their next offensive series and remained up by seven when the special teams blocked Tennessee’s second field goal attempt.

Tennessee’s defense came up with a big play with the Thompson interception but the defense got burned by the speed of Anthony Schwartz on Auburn’s next possession late in the second quarter. After catching a short route, Schwartz broke a tackle and took off down the right sideline for a blazing fast 76-yard touchdown.

Stidham has passed for 182 yards, 76 of which came on that long touchdown catch and run by Anthony Schwartz, his lone catch of the game. Tennessee has managed to hang around but still has to capitalize a little bit on any opportunities given to them by Auburn in the second half. This one is still anyone’s game, but the Vols have struggled to win these types of battles.

Virginia Tech jumps out to early lead at halftime to quiet Florida State

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It’s been six years since Virginia Tech last played Florida State and it’s safe to say that Justin Fuente is a bit of a difference maker in the latest meeting between the ACC rivals. The Hokies’ head coach was masterful calling plays early as his team jumped out to a 17-3 lead against the Seminoles in a fun, offensive-filled first half at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Tech needed 10 plays on their opening drive to cover 75 yards before finding the end zone, opening the season as about as well as possible. While the Hokies mixed in three different tailbacks, it was Deshawm McClease who really seemed to surprise the defense with several nice runs to the outside and went into the locker room with 66 yards on the ground. That strong run game opened things up for quarterback Josh Jackson, who looked solid in the pocket and on the move while recording 102 yards and a touchdown through the air.

Not to be outdone, there was a bit of BeamerBall as well as Virginia Tech’s Chris Cunningham blocked a punt just before the end of the second quarter that was recovered in the end zone by Eric Kumah. That extended the team’s lead to two scores and sapped whatever momentum the home team might have had and quieted the crowd on the road (an ensuing interception by Caleb Farley didn’t hurt either).

While Bud Foster’s defense did look a lot better than anticipated for such a young group, Florida State was still able to move the ball early. Making his first start since being injured in the team’s opener against Alabama a year ago, Deondre Francois was sharp passing the ball and was already up to 214 yards and nearly had a touchdown throw of his own too. It was a good thing he was on point because the much vaunted rushing attack for the Seminoles was kept in check for the most part. Sophomore Cam Akers only had seven on the ground and Jacques Patrick wasn’t terribly better but did manage 43 yards.

FSU still managed nearly six yards per play and moved the ball well on their drives but simply lost momentum when they entered the red zone and also missed a field goal early.

It’s all is trending toward a fun second half as playmakers on both sides are really stepping up. It’s not often you have a key conference game to open the season but this one is certainly shaping up to have a fun finish in Tallahassee.

Record number of players on NFL’s official early-entry list for 2018 draft

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If it seemed to you like there were an inordinate number of early cannonballers jumping into the draft pool, you were correct.

Four days after the Jan. 15 deadline, the NFL Friday announced that 106 players have been granted special eligibility for the April draft.  That sets a new record for early entrants, breaking the mark of 98 set in 2014.  The past two seasons, there were 95 and 96 in 2017 and 2016, respectively.  In 2015, there were just 74.

The SEC was hit hardest by attrition with 26 players leaving early, although the ACC wasn’t far behind at 24.  The Pac-12 was next among the Power Five conferences with 17, followed by the Big 12’s 13 and the Big Ten’s 11.

Among Group of Five leagues, Conference USA lost the most with four.  The Mountain West saw three go early, with the AAC (two), MAC (one) and Sun Belt (one) coming next in line.  There were also two non-FBS players who left early, as well as two from Notre Dame.

As far as individual schools go, there were three that lost six apiece — Florida State, LSU and Texas.  Alabama lost five, while Auburn, Miami, Oklahoma, UCLA, and USC all lost four apiece.  Clemson, Florida, Louisville, Stanford and Tennessee were on the losing end of three players each.

In addition to the 106 granted special eligibility — they’ll be listed at the end — the NFL also granted eligibility to 13 players who the league writes “have in timely fashion under NFL rules officially notified the league office that they have fulfilled their degree requirements.” Those players are listed below:

» Jordan Akins, TE, UCF
» Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
» Kyle Allen, QB, Houston
» Will Clapp, C, LSU
» Terrell Edmunds, DB, Virginia Tech
» Taylor Hearn, G, Clemson
» Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
» Sam Jones, G, Arizona State
» Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
» Brian O’Neill, T, Pittsburgh
» Christian Sam, LB, Arizona State
» Tre'Quan Smith, WR, UCF
» Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Courtesy of the NFL, below is the complete list of 106 players who have been granted special eligibility for the 2018 NFL Draft:

» Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame
» Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, DE, Toledo
» Jaire Alexander, DB, Louisville
» Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
» Dorance Armstrong, DE, Kansas
» Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State
» Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
» Jessie Bates, DB, Wake Forest
» Orlando Brown, T, Oklahoma
» Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
» Deontay Burnett, WR, USC
» Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
» Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
» Geron Christian, T, Louisville
» Simmie Cobbs, WR, Indiana
» Keke Coutee, WR, Texas Tech
» Vosean Crumbie, DB, Nevada
» J.J. Dallas, DB, Louisiana-Monroe
» James Daniels, C, Iowa
» Sam Darnold, QB, USC
» Carlton Davis, DB, Auburn
» Michael Dickson, P, Texas
» Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
» DeShon Elliott, DB, Texas
» Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
» Matt Fleming, WR, Benedictine
» Nick Gates, T, Nebraska
» Rashaan Gaulden, DB, Tennessee
» Frank Ginda, LB, San Jose State
» Rasheem Green, DT, USC
» Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
» Ronnie Harrison, DB, Alabama
» Quadree Henderson, WR, Pittsburgh
» Holton Hill, DB, Texas
» Nyheim Hines, RB, NC State
» Jeff Holland, LB, Auburn
» Mike Hughes, DB UCF
» Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
» Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB, Western Kentucky
» Ryan Izzo, TE, FSU
» Donte Jackson, DB, LSU
» J.C. Jackson, DB, Maryland
» Josh Jackson, DB, Iowa
» Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
» Derwin James, DB, FSU
» Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee
» Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
» Courtel Jenkins, DT, Miami
» Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
» Ronald Jones, RB, USC
» John Kelly, RB, Tennessee
» Arden Key, LB, LSU
» Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
» Du’Vonta Lampkin, DT, Oklahoma
» Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA
» Chase Litton, QB, Marshall
» Tavares Martin, WR, Washington State
» Hercules Mata’afa, DE, Washington State
» Ray-Ray McCloud, WR, Clemson
» Tarvarus McFadden, DB, Florida State
» R.J. McIntosh, DT, Miami
» Reginald McKenzie, DT, Tennessee
» Quenton Meeks, DB, Stanford
» Kolton Miller, T, UCLA
» D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
» Ryan Nall, RB, Oregon State
» Nick Nelson, DB, Wisconsin
» Kendrick Norton, DT, Miami
» Isaiah Oliver, DB, Colorado
» Dwayne Orso-Bacchus, T, Oklahoma
» Da’Ron Payne, NT, Alabama
» Kamryn Pettway, RB, Auburn
» Eddy Pineiro, K, Florida
» Trey Quinn, WR, SMU
» D.J. Reed, DB, Kansas State
» Justin Reid, DB, Stanford
» Will Richardson, T, NC State
» Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
» Austin Roberts, TE, UCLA
» Korey Robertson, WR, Southern Miss
» Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
» Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama
» Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford
» Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech
» Andre Smith, LB, UNC
» Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
» Van Smith, DB, Clemson
» Breeland Speaks, DE, Ole Miss
» Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
» Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State
» Auden Tate, WR, Florida State
» Maea Teuhema, T, Southeastern Louisiana
» Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia
» Kevin Toliver, DB, LSU
» Travonte Valentine, NT, LSU
» Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
» Vita Vea, NT, Washington
» Mark Walton, RB, Miami
» Denzel Ward, DB, Ohio State
» Chris Warren, RB, Texas
» Toby Weathersby, T, LSU
» Jordan Whitehead, DB, Pittsburgh
» JoJo Wicker, DT, Arizona State
» Jalen Wilkerson, DE, Florida State
» Connor Williams, T, Texas
» Eddy Wilson, DT, Purdue

Hernia surgery knocks Virginia Tech’s top receiver out of bowl game

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Virginia Tech will finish off its 2017 season without its top threat in the passing game.

Tech confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Cam Phillips will not play in the Dec. 28 Camping World Bowl game against Oklahoma State.  Per the school, the wide receiver recently underwent successful sports hernia surgery in Philadelphia.

“While we’re disappointed that Cam won’t be able to compete in the bowl game, hopefully he enjoys a speedy recovery as he prepares for the next step of his football journey,” head coach Justin Fuente said in a statement. “We appreciate Cam’s many contributions and accomplishments during his career at Virginia Tech and wish him the very best.”

A senior, the surgery and subsequent rehab mean his collegiate playing career is over.  Invited to play in the East-West Shrine game next month, Phillips’ status for that postseason all-star game is still to be determined.

This past season, Phillips led the Hokies in receptions (71), receiving yards (964) and receiving touchdowns (seven).  The year before, he was second on the team in all three categories (76-983-5).  All told, he finished with 236 catches, 3,027 yards and 17 touchdowns in his four seasons.