Archive for the ‘NCAA Football’ Category

Stetson Bennett delivered the biggest throws of his storybook career and Georgia’s defense sealed the sweetest victory in program history, vanquishing rival Alabama 33-18 Monday night for its first national title in 41 years.

Bennett connected with Adonai Mitchell on a 40-yard touchdown to give No. 3 Georgia a 19-18 lead with 8:09 left and then hooked up with Brock Bowers for a 15-yard TD on a screen to put the Bulldogs up eight with with 3:33 left.

The final blow came from Georgia’s dominant defense. Kelee Ringo intercepted an underthrown deep ball down the sideline by Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young.

“I just saw the ball in his hands and that was all she wrote,” said safety Lewis Cine, the game’s defensive MVP.

Instead of going down with a little over a minute left, Ringo took off and behind a convoy of blockers and went 79 yards for a touchdown that set off a wild celebration by the relieved Georgia fans who packed Lucas Oil Stadium.

“There’s going to be some property torn up in Indianapolis tonight,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said, paraphrasing the late Georgia play-by-play man Larry Munson.

The Bulldogs (14-1) hadn’t won a national title since freshman Herschel Walker led them there in 1980. If simply snapping the drought wasn’t good enough, doing against No. 1 Alabama (13-2) had to make it feel even better.

“I cried, so pretty good,” Bennett said when asked how it felt.

Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide had won seven straight against the Bulldogs, including the last four against Smart, Saban’s longtime assistant.

Smart returned to his alma mater as coach in 2016 and has been chasing his mentor ever since. The Bulldogs lost two SEC championship games to Alabama, including one five weeks ago, and the 2018 CFP title game to the Tide under Smart.

“I told them we burned the boats. The only way home was through them,” Smart said he told his team about the Crimson Tide.

Mission accomplished.

Bennett, the former walk-on turned starter, finished 17 for 26 for 224 yards and no interceptions.

For most of the first three quarters, first CFP title game to be a rematch of a regular-season game was an ol’ fashion Southeastern Conference defensive struggle.

The first touchdown of the game came with 1:20 left in the third quarter. After James Cook broke a 67-yard run to get the Bulldogs into the red zone, three more running plays — a facemask penalty by Alabama — got them into the end zone. Zamir White went in standing up from a yard out with massive defensive tackles Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis leading the way as blockers. The Bulldogs led for the first time, 13-9.

After Alabama added another field goal, the Tide caught a break on strange looking turnover by the Bulldogs.

As Bennett was being taken down deep in Georgia territory, he tried to throw the ball away. The ball slipped loose, and bounced toward the sideline, seemingly harmless. Alabama’s Drew Sanders casually caught the ball as he was jogging out of bounds.

Surprisingly, the ruling on the field was a fumble, recovered by the Tide and replay upheld the call, giving the Tide the ball in the red zone. A few plays later, Young eluded the rush and found Cameron Latu for a 3-yard touchdown that put Alabama up 18-13 with 10:14 left in the fourth.

Once again, it felt like Georgia would not be able to break whatever spell Alabama seemingly had on the Bulldogs.

Bennett was 13 for 22 for 141 yards as the next drive started, and you could practically hear all skeptical Georgia fans wondering why Smart didn’t turn to his four-star back-up QB, J.T. Daniels, for a spark.

As he has done so many times during a career that started on the scout team and took a detour through junior college in Mississippi, the small-town Georgia kid nicknamed Mailman came through.

Bennett complete all three of his passes for 68 yards, including a long strike to Mitchell for a touchdown with 8:09 left that gave the Bulldogs a 19-18 lead after a failed 2-point conversion.

The Bulldogs’ defense clamped down on Young, forcing a three-and-out on the Tide’s next drive, and then Georgia went to work on sealing a long-awaited championship.

Young finished 35 for 57 for 359 yards with two interceptions and was sacked three times after Georgia didn’t bring him down one in the SEC title game.

“We played a heck of a game against a heck of a team for the first three quarters of the game,” said Saban, who was denied his eight national title, seventh with Alabama in the last 13 years. “Nobody can take the SEC championship away from this team, the Cotton Bowl championship.

“We just didn’t finish the way we needed to finish.”

Lamar Jackson will have his No. 8 jersey number retired by the University of Louisville during a ceremony at the Cardinals’ Nov. 13 home game against Syracuse, the school announced Saturday.

The Baltimore Ravens quarterback was evidently surprised by the news:

Johnny Unitas is the only other player in Louisville history to have his number retired; the school honored his No. 16 in 2003.

Jackson, 24, played for Louisville for three seasons from 2015-17. He became the first Heisman Trophy winner in school history in 2016 and the youngest player to ever win the award at 19 years old. He passed for 9,043 yards and 69 touchdowns during his Cardinals career and rushed 655 times for a school-record 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns.

Jackson quickly became one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks after the Ravens selected him with the No. 32 pick in the 2018 draft. He was named league MVP in 2019.

“Lamar earned the Heisman and then the NFL MVP, and he’s not even 25 years old. Even more remarkable, he’s only getting better,” said Louisville vice president and athletic director Vince Tyra.

Tyra added: “His humble heart and grounded approach endears him to his teammates, his coaches, and any staff he’s ever been around. He knows it takes 11 to be successful on offense, not one. We’re so proud to retire his No. 8 for what he has accomplished so far but are equally excited about what’s to come. This city has big Ls up for our guy.”

It appears the Detroit Lions once had another Campbell in mind for their head coaching position in 2021.

Before officially hiring Dan Campbell, Detroit offered Iowa State boss Matt Campbell an eight-year deal worth $68.5 million to leave the college ranks, according to CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd.

“(Campbell) sees his upward arch better at Iowa State,” Dodd said.

The Lions ultimately landed on the former New Orleans Saints assistant in January, a move that was viewed as a surprise around the league.

Campbell has been one of college football’s most promising coaches over the last few years. He’s a three-time Big 12 Coach of the Year and led the Cyclones to their most successful campaign in school history this past season.

The 41-year-old had received interest from a number of NFL teams over the last three offseasons before signing the eight-year extension this past February.

Alabama wins national championship with 52-24 rout of Ohio State - The  Washington Post

DeVonta Smith was uncoverable, Najee Harris unstoppable and Mac Jones impeccable. With a performance that was both surgical and explosive, No. 1 Alabama won the College Football Playoff national championship game 52-24 against No. 3 Ohio State on Monday night.

The final game of a college football season in a pandemic, a season that was uncertain to be played in the summer and filled with disruptions in the fall, ended in the most predictable fashion: Alabama (13-0) as national champion for the sixth time in the last 12 years under coach Nick Saban.

For Saban, it was career title No. 7 overall, breaking a tie with Alabama great Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most by a major college coach.

Ohio State (7-1) just couldn’t keep up. Justin Fields, playing what might be his last game before heading to the NFL, passed for 194 yards and a touchdown. Whether Fields was 100% after taking a brutal hit to the side during his brilliant semifinal performance against Clemson was hard to know for sure.

On the Buckeyes’ first drive, they lost star running back Trey Sermon to an injury and in a game they needed to be running at top speed, facing one of great offenses in recent history, they sputtered too much. Ohio State has never allowed more points in a bowl game.

Fans can debate which team in the Saban dynasty is best, but none will be more memorable than this group. The Tide finished perfect during a season that could not have been further from it as COVID-19 forced teams into quarantines and endless testing and uncertainty every single week with games played in mostly empty stadiums.

Only about 15,000 fans were at Hard Rock Stadium, capacity 65,326, to see the last magnificent performance of Smith’s college career.

The Heisman Trophy winner had catches for 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half as the Crimson Tide bolted out to a 35-17 lead.

Using an array of motions and misdirections, outgoing offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian had Ohio State heads spinning trying to track down Smith.

Sometimes it was simpler than that. On Smith’s third touchdown, he lined up in the slot, the closest to the line of three receivers on the left side. Smith cut quickly to the middle of the field and suddenly was matched up against a linebacker, whom he left in the dust for a 42-yard score with 41 seconds left in the second quarter.

Smith, who finished his freshman season by catching the 2017 national championship winning touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa, ended his Alabama career as the leading career receiver in Southeastern Conference history. He was the offensive player of Monday night’s game.

As for Sarkisian, he is on his way to Texas as the head coach. Longhorns fans had to have liked what they saw from their new playcaller. If only he could bring Smith and his fellow Heisman contenders to Austin.

Jones, who finished third in the Heisman voting, was 36 for 45 for a CFP championship-record 464 yards and five touchdowns, operating behind a line that had him rarely feeling rushed. Harris had 158 yards from scrimmage on 29 touches, scoring three times to give him an SEC record 30 touchdowns this season.

Smith hardly played in the second half, leaving with what an injury. He returned to the sideline in the fourth quarter with his left hand wrapped to the wrist, two fingers taped together, and wearing a Heisman mask.

Alabama hardly missed him and cracked 50 early in the fourth quarter when Harris went in untouched from a yard out.

Smith and Harris surprised some by returning to college after last season for their senior years.

Boy, did it turn out to be worthwhile. Along with Jones, another member of that 2017 recruiting class, they will leave Alabama as the leaders of a team that managed to make an arduous march from through the pandemic look easy.

Clemson quarterback and likely No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence announced Wednesday he will enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are in a position to select Lawrence after landing the first overall pick.

Lawrence will depart the college ranks as one of the most heralded quarterback prospects in recent memory.

The 21-year-old accumulated a 34-2 record as a starter and led Clemson to a national championship in 2018 as a freshman. Lawrence earned MVP honors for his performance in the title game as his three-touchdown showing led to a 44-16 victory over Alabama.

Lawrence led the Tigers to the College Football Playoff in each of his three seasons, with his only two losses coming to LSU in last year’s national title game and Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl on Friday.

A three-time ACC champion, Lawrence also finished runner-up for the 2020 Heisman trophy.

Lawrence’s ability to carve up opposing defenses was on grand display during his three years at Clemson. The signal-caller threw for over 10,000 yards and 90 touchdowns.

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Presumptive No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow has a simple goal in the NFL: to keep winning.

The former LSU star is coming off a historic season in which he won the Heisman Trophy and national championship.

While Burrow has already made it clear he’d be happy to be picked by the Cincinnati Bengals at the top of the draft, the quarterback is simply hoping for the best opportunity for professional success.

“I just want to get drafted to a good team, good organization that is going to maximize my talents,” Burrow said Wednesday on “The Big Podcast with Shaq.” “I’ve won everywhere that I’ve been. And I’ve never had a losing season in sports from the moment I was 5 years old. I’m not a loser. I just want to go somewhere where I can win.”

He added: “Teams are picking at the top for a reason. And I feel like, like I said before, I’ve won everywhere that I’ve ever been. I feel like if anybody can do it, I can do it.”

Burrow will be among 58 prospects who have been invited to virtually participate in the 2020 NFL Draft. With all public events canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the QB won’t get his big moment on the draft stage.

“There is definitely some disappointment. I was really looking forward to walking that stage, walking that red carpet, and hearing my name called,” Burrow said. “But I think having it at home with my family is going to be just as good. Getting drafted is getting drafted. I don’t really have any plans yet because I don’t really know what it’s going to look like.”

The draft is scheduled to take place April 23-25.

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Tim Tebow is one of the few people who truly understands Kyler Murray’s dilemma about whether to play professional baseball or football.

Prior to Murray’s decision to enter the NFL draft, Tebow did his best to help the 21-year-old dual-sport star make the right choice for himself.

“Kyler, I think he’s a really good young man, and I think this was a really tough decision for him,” Tebow said, according to ESPN. “He loves two sports, and I can really relate to that. And he went with something that he’s been really good at lately and dominating in. When we talked about it, and we did talk about that, I just gave him the advice to follow your heart. Whatever you’re passionate about.”

Murray was selected ninth overall by the Oakland Athletics in the 2018 MLB Draft, then went on to win the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma. Although Murray was already taken by the A’s, he decided to pursue his NFL dream and forgo a career in baseball.

Tebow also won the Heisman during his college career at Florida and decided to play baseball after his NFL stint ended, joining the New York Mets organization. He advised Murray to avoid making a decision for the benefit of people around him.

“Don’t do it for your agents, or your friends and sometimes necessarily even your family,” Tebow said. “Do it for what’s on your heart, and don’t let other people define you. You’re going to have all these coaches that you look up to and everybody else that’s going to tell you what they think, but what’s most important is following your heart and your passion. And so, I don’t know, hopefully, he did that.”

Murray will enter the draft as one of the most intriguing prospects in recent memory, something else that Tebow can certainly relate to.

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Quarterback Kyler Murray, the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner, will pursue an NFL career despite previously signing a contract with the Oakland Athletics.

“Football has been my love and passion my entire life,” he wrote on Twitter. “I was raised to play QB, and I very much look forward to dedicating 100 (percent) of myself to being the best QB possible and winning NFL championships.

“I have started an extensive training program to further prepare myself for upcoming NFL workouts and interviews. I eagerly await the opportunity to continue to prove to NFL decision makers that I am the franchise QB in this draft.”

Oakland drafted Murray with the ninth overall pick last June. The club agreed to let him play football during his junior year at Oklahoma before requiring him to report to the A’s.

Murray spent the past few weeks trying to decide between the two sports after thriving on the gridiron.

At the end of the college football season, he talked about pursuing both sports simultaneously. However, the time demands of being an NFL quarterback would have made that dream nearly impossible.

Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson are the highest-profile dual-sport stars, as both played baseball and football at the same time in the 1990s.

Murray was already slated to attend the NFL Scouting Combine at the end of February, where he’ll be one of the most watched prospects. The 21-year-old could be a first-round pick in the NFL draft in April, which would make him the first athlete selected in the first round of the MLB and NFL drafts, according to the NFL’s research department.

The 5-foot-10 pivot electrified the country during his lone campaign as a starter at Oklahoma, throwing for 4,361 yards with 42 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He added 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.

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Kyler Murray is making the rounds on Radio Row during Super Bowl week, informing members of the NFL media that he’ll be making a decision on whether to pursue a career in professional football or baseball in the near future.

“Soon. Very soon,” Murray said to NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano on Thursday, per NFL.com’s Nick Shook.

Murray was the ninth overall pick by the Oakland Athletics‘ in the 2018 MLB Draft. However, he was allowed to continue his collegiate football career and wound up winning the Heisman Trophy in December as the quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners.

If it were up to Murray, he wouldn’t limit himself to one sport.

“I wish I could play both,” Murray said to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “I know it’s highly, highly, highly unlikely, but it’s not an easy decision.”

Murray has declared for the 2019 NFL Draft and is projected to go as early as the first round.

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After declaring for the NFL draft on Monday, Kyler Murray must choose between football and baseball. One man who’s been in Murray’s position before, two-sport legend Deion Sanders, knows which decision he’d make if he was in the Heisman Trophy winner’s shoes.

Sanders suggested that Murray, an Oakland Athletics draft pick who’s already agreed to a signing bonus with the team, forego life in the NFL and stick to baseball.

“If I was in his shoes, I’m picking up the baseball bat and I’m not looking back,” Sanders said on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

After saying Murray won’t be able to play both sports because of the demands of the quarterback position, the man known as Prime Time, who was a star in the NFL and MLB, went on to explain why the young phenom should play baseball exclusively.

“That’s tough, at his position,” Sanders added. “I don’t think he realizes the ridicule that you go through once you declare and say, ‘I’m gonna be a football player.’ Now people start talking about your height, your size, what you can’t do. He ain’t dealt with that yet.”

Murray is listed at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, according to the Oklahoma Sooners website.

Despite being considered undersized as a quarterback, Murray is projected by some evaluators to be drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.