The ultimate guide to the weirdest moments, unforgettable plays and defining quotes of Rivalry Week
Editor’s note: A version of this story originally was published in 2021.
It’s finally here, the week that hate — the clean, old-fashioned kind, mind you — is in fashion.
If you’ve ever been accused of firing a contractor because he wore a rival’s shirt to your house, this is your time. Put the flag up outside your house. Get the group texts fired up. Add a little school spirit to your Zoom background for your next meeting.
It’s Rivalry Week!
To celebrate, our reporters recap the excessive celebrations, tree desecrations and trash-can-fueled altercations from some of college football’s greatest games. Turn the fight song up and get the memes loaded up in your camera roll. Here we go.
Jump to a rivalry:
Ole Miss-Miss. State |
Oregon-Oregon State | Ohio State-Michigan
Kentucky-Louisville | Texas A&M-LSU
Alabama-Auburn | Arizona-Arizona State
Virginia-Virginia Tech | Washington State-Washington
Kentucky-Louisville | Florida State-Florida
Georgia-Georgia Tech | Clemson-South Carolina
North Carolina-NC State
All times Eastern
Better known as: Egg Bowl
This year’s game: Thursday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN & ESPN App
All-time record: Ole Miss 64-47-6 (according to Ole Miss); 66-46-6 (according to Miss. State)
Current streak: Mississippi State, 1
Wildest on-field moment: Where do you start? Most recently, there was Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore dropping to all fours in the end zone, lifting his leg and pretending to urinate like a dog in the 2019 Egg Bowl. His actions drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The Rebels missed the ensuing 35-yard extra point attempt and lost 21-20 to the Bulldogs. Three days later, Ole Miss fired coach Matt Luke, which precipitated the hiring of Lane Kiffin. Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead was probably under more pressure coming into that game. There was a feeling, fair or not, that he was an odd fit in Starkville after previous coaching stops at Penn State, Fordham and Connecticut, among other non-southern schools. Moorhead famously said that Thanksgiving night after the game, “This is my team, this is my school, this is my program. You’ll have to drag my Yankee ass out of here.” A little more than a month later, Moorhead was fired on Jan. 3, four days after Mississippi State lost to Louisville in the Music City Bowl. That’s despite going 2-0 against Ole Miss as Mississippi State’s coach. The ironic thing is that Moore’s stunt wasn’t original. DK Metcalf did it two years earlier in the end zone after catching a 63-yard touchdown pass in Ole Miss’ 31-28 win over Mississippi State. Three days later, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen bolted for the Florida head-coaching job.
Strangest off-field moment: Steve Robertson, a lifelong Mississippi State fan who has the school’s logo tattooed on his left hand, was researching former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze’s phone records on July 5, 2017, for a book Robertson was writing and found a call associated with advertisements for a female escort service.
Robertson, who had been covering Mississippi State sports since 2001, relayed his findings to attorney Thomas Mars, who was representing former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt in his lawsuit against Ole Miss. Mars alerted the Ole Miss general counsel in a July 13, 2017, email about the call, and a week later, Freeze was out as Ole Miss’ coach despite beating Alabama in back-to-back seasons, in 2014 and 2015, and guiding the Rebels to their first Sugar Bowl victory in 50 years to cap the 2015 season.
Robertson said he received multiple death threats and shared one with ESPN back in 2017 in which someone wrote on a message board that he “won’t be around much longer.” — Chris Low
Quote that defines the rivalry: C.R. “Dudy” Noble, the namesake for Mississippi State’s baseball field, played four sports at Mississippi State (then known as Mississippi A&M) then coached baseball, basketball and football at Ole Miss for parts of the 1917 to ’19 seasons, before returning to coach at Mississippi State, most notably baseball. He later became Mississippi State’s longtime athletic director.
Noble famously told a sports writer: “I already know what hell is like. I once coached at Ole Miss.”
A close second place in the quote department goes to former Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill. When Sherrill was hired in 1991, Ole Miss coach Billy Brewer called Sherrill a “habitual liar.” Sherrill countered by saying that Brewer “didn’t know what the word habitual meant.”
Better known as: The schools did away with Civil War moniker in 2019
This year’s game: Friday, 8:30 p.m., Fox
All-time record: Oregon, 67-49-10 (acc. to Oregon State); Oregon, 66-51-10 (acc. to Oregon)
Current streak: Oregon State, 1
Wildest on-field moment: It’s tough to beat the 1998 game. No. 15 Oregon was, of course, favored in the game, yet the nighttime setting in Corvallis made it ripe for an upset. The back-and-forth affair led to overtime, when a failed fourth-down try appeared to give Oregon State the victory. The fans rushed the field and surrounded the goalposts without noticing that there had been a flag thrown for pass interference. Security and team officials took more than 15 minutes to get all of the fans on the field back to their seats in order to continue the game. Oregon scored a touchdown to tie the game at 38 then added a field goal to start the second overtime.
The Beavers then handed the ball off to running back Ken Simonton, who had 157 yards on the ground and four touchdowns on the night, and he pranced into the end zone for a winning 16-yard touchdown run. The field was re-rushed, and the win not only gave the Beavers their first five-win season since 1971, it also set the stage for going 11-1 and winning the conference in the 2000 season.
Strangest off-field moment: This rivalry is no stranger to strange moments, but how about one that involved actual fire? In 2010, after the Ducks beat the Beavers in Corvallis to advance to the BCS title game, a group of Oregon fans were seen holding up an “I hate your Ducks” T-shirt that was on fire while they tried to light their celebratory cigars with it. The burning shirt soon ended up burning the turf and damaged the field. At the time, Oregon State’s assistant athletic director said the entire logo at midfield needed to be replaced, which would cost over $5,000. It was later determined that the damage was closer to $1,500.
Police found cigar wrappers on the field and eventually were able to catch the Oregon student via a photo in the Portland Tribune and a YouTube video in which the 20-year-old student was seen throwing the burning jersey onto the turf. Though he was not the one who lit the shirt on fire, he was charged with one felony and four misdemeanors. — Paolo Uggetti
Quote that defines the rivalry: At the risk of leaving out “No Natty for you” guy, this quote by running back Ryan Nall in advance of the 2017 matchup sums up the dynamic the two schools have with each other.
“I remember [at last year’s game] seeing that our sideline was jumping around, and we didn’t have raincoats on,” Nall said. “And then I saw the fancy Nike Duck raincoats on. And I remember thinking, ‘We’re going to beat them. They’re not prepared for these elements.'”
Nall was right. Oregon State beat the Ducks that day. But his trash talk was thrown back in his face during the 2017 game, as Oregon trounced the Beavers 69-10.
Better known as: The Game
This year’s game: Saturday, noon, Fox
All-time record: Michigan, 60-51-6
Current streak: Michigan, 2
Wildest on-field moment: There was Desmond Howard striking the Heisman Trophy pose as Keith Jackson yelled, “Hello, Heisman.” Charles Woodson and David Boston going after each other in 1997. The 1950 Snow Bowl, a game that featured 45 punts and ended with a 9-3 Michigan win. The controversy over whether J.T. Barrett got a first down in the 2016 game. But one of the wildest moments came in 1973, when Ohio State ran onto the field to a roar of boos and ran straight toward Michigan’s “Go Blue” banner that the Wolverines jump and touch before every home game. The Buckeyes jumped up, grabbed the banner and tore it down in the middle of the field, which caused the boos to grow louder. That incident led to former Michigan players defending the banner in 1977, which caused an incident of its own. As Ohio State players ran under the banner, the Michigan alumni stood in the middle of the lane while body checking and pushing the Buckeyes players as they ran through. The incident caused Michigan announcer Bob Ufer to exclaim, “Oh brother, are you and I in for 60 minutes of football!”
Strangest off-field moment: This probably could have served as the wildest on-field moment, but it technically happened off the field. A dustup occurred in the 2013 game, and Ohio State offensive lineman Marcus Hall was ejected. He stormed to the sideline, threw his helmet to the ground, kicked a bench and left the field. As he made his way into the tunnel, he extended both arms and flipped off the Michigan fans as he exited. That moment went viral, and T-shirts were even made with a silhouette of Hall flipping the double bird. — Tom VanHaaren
Quote that defines the rivalry: “I can assure you that you will be proud of our young people in the classroom, the community and, most especially, in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan.” — new Ohio State coach Jim Tressel at a Buckeyes basketball game after being hired to replace John Cooper, who went 2-10-1 against Michigan.
Better known as: Governor’s Cup
This year’s game: Saturday, noon, ABC and ESPN App
All-time record: Kentucky, 19-15
Current streak: Kentucky, 4
Wildest on-field moment: Louisville was a massive, four-touchdown favorite entering the 2016 game, with future Heisman winner Lamar Jackson leading the way. But the Cards’ season had already begun to fall apart the week before when Jackson was bludgeoned by Ed Oliver and the Houston defensive front. Against Kentucky, Jackson struggled badly, throwing three interceptions. Still, Louisville had a shot to win, with a first-and-goal play, tied at 38 with 1:45 to go. Instead, Jackson was hit in the backfield and fumbled. Kentucky recovered, drove 60 yards on seven plays and kicked a winning field goal to hand the Wildcats their first Governor’s Cup since 2010.
Strangest off-field moment: OK, this happened on the field — but not during a play. Louisville was looking for revenge in 2017 after Kentucky pulled the massive upset the year before, and Jackson was the catalyst. The emotions were high from the outset, and when Jackson scored in the first quarter, a skirmish broke out on the sideline. Jackson got into it with Kentucky’s Jordan Jones, but it was Wildcats linebacker Denzil Ware who stole the show by picking up a plastic trash can and attacking a Louisville player with it. — David M. Hale
Quote that defines the rivalry: Although the two schools initially played in 1912, the rivalry went dark from 1924 until 1994. When the rivalry kicked off again, Louisville was considered an upstart program, while Kentucky was already battling in the difficult SEC East. Former Kentucky coach Bill Curry summed up the general feeling for the Wildcats, who saw the game as an obstacle, while Louisville saw opportunity: “To add another stem-winder, another gut-check game, was just not smart scheduling on our part, whereas for Louisville, it was a great thing.” Kentucky prevailed 20-14.
Better known as: Nothing, but Les Miles once had an idea: “We need a trophy. Somebody needs to come up with a trophy. There’s so much petroleum right? On both ends. Maybe some kind of big petroleum something. No, not a barrel. A wrench or something.”
This year’s game: Saturday, noon, ESPN and ESPN App
All-time record: LSU, 35-23-3
Current streak: Texas A&M, 1
Wildest on-field moment: The two teams played 50 times before they were ever in the same conference, so there is plenty of history. But we just have to go back to 2018 for this one, to when A&M beat LSU 74-72 in an epic, seven-overtime game that set the FBS record for the most points in a game and lasted nearly five hours. That, in itself, was wild. But afterward, with fans storming the field and Texas A&M receivers coach Dameyune Craig — who was fired by LSU coach Ed Orgeron following the 2016 season — jawing at LSU coaches, a melee broke out. LSU offensive analyst Steve Kragthorpe (himself a former A&M offensive coordinator) intervened with Craig, and A&M student manager Cole Fisher, Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher’s nephew, shoved Kragthorpe. Cole Fisher then traded punches with LSU running backs coach Kevin Faulk and was punched by LSU safety John Battle. “I didn’t appreciate getting punched in my pacemaker,” Kragthorpe told Gannett Louisiana newspapers afterward, though video showed it to be a shove, albeit in his chest. Jimbo Fisher said “the matter has been addressed internally” on A&M’s end; and Kragthorpe, who has Parkinson’s disease, was OK. But that game supercharged the now-divisional rivalry.
Strangest off-field moment: The two are fierce recruiting rivals. But no signee was under as much scrutiny as Billy Cannon Jr., son of LSU’s legendary 1959 Heisman Trophy winner. The younger Cannon chose Texas A&M in 1980, saying he didn’t “owe LSU his blood” and that he wanted to leave Louisiana. LSU retired the elder Cannon’s No. 20 jersey in 1960, but after his son picked the Aggies, there was a failed movement to unretire the father’s jersey. LSU and the Aggies also went to the wire in 1986 for the services of one of the nation’s top recruits, running back Harvey Williams. Williams, a star at Hempstead (Texas) High School, just 42 miles from College Station, told Sports Illustrated he was set to sign with the Aggies but that he heard a cheerleader singing the “Aggie War Hymn” on the way to his announcement, got annoyed and changed his selection to LSU. For a little extra fuel, he added: “All that military and uniforms and yell leaders, I don’t get off on that stuff. And that dog — Reveille — that dog is so sorry. I can’t stand that dog.” — Dave Wilson
Quote that defines the rivalry: “I hope they enjoyed it. I hope they put the score of last year’s game too. I bet they didn’t sell many cups on that one.” — Orgeron to WAFB-TV in the spring of 2020, following LSU’s 50-7 defeat of the Aggies in 2019 after Texas A&M sold cups at Kyle Field concessions stands with 2018’s 74-72 score on them.
Better known as: Iron Bowl
This year’s game: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS
All-time record: Alabama, 49-37-1
Current streak: Alabama, 3
Wildest on-field moment: At first, it looked as if the official review might save Alabama, which was one win away from reaching the SEC title game in 2013 and a shot at a third consecutive BCS National Championship appearance. With the contest tied at 28, running back T.J. Yeldon sprinted across midfield and ran out of bounds right as the play clock hit 0:00 on the field. But officials took another look and decided one second should be placed back on the clock — enough time for Alabama coach Nick Saban to have his place-kicker attempt a 56-yard field goal.
And just like that, the Kick Six was born. Adam Griffith’s kick fell short. Chris Davis caught the ball in the back of the end zone, started running toward the middle of the field, then veered to his left. Alabama’s field goal team was late getting into coverage and couldn’t stop Davis from breaking containment, and he danced down the sideline for a touchdown. Auburn won the game, fans stormed the field and Alabama was stunned. Auburn went on to the SEC championship game and the BCS title game.
“First time I’ve lost a game that way,” Saban said. “First time I’ve ever seen a game lost that way.”
Strangest off-field moment: Al from Dadeville wasn’t Al from Dadeville at all. His real name was Harvey Updyke, and he was from Louisiana, and he called in to Paul Finebaum’s radio show one day with a story of how overheated the Iron Bowl rivalry can get.
Updyke, an Alabama fan, said he was at the 2010 game in Tuscaloosa when he saw someone place a Cam Newton jersey on former Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s statue.
“Let me tell you what I did,” Updyke told Finebaum. “The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn, Alabama, because I live 30 miles away. I poisoned the two Toomer’s trees. I put Spike 80DF in them.”
Finebaum, who wasn’t taking it all that seriously, asked, “Did they die?”
“They’re not dead yet, but they definitely will die,” Updyke said.
Finebaum then asked, “Is that against the law to poison a tree?
“Do you think I care?” Updyke said. “I really don’t. Roll damn Tide.”
Updyke did poison the famed oaks on Toomer’s Corner, which had stood for more than 70 years as a gathering place for Auburn fans to celebrate. The school fought to save the trees, but in 2013, they had to be removed.
Updyke, who died in 2020, was charged with criminal mischief, desecrating a venerated object and damaging agriculture. He was later convicted of felony criminal damage of an agricultural facility, served more than 70 days in jail and was ordered to pay about $800,000 in restitution. — Alex Scarborough
Quote that defines the rivalry: From 1904 to 1988, every Iron Bowl was played in Birmingham, which was only an hour’s drive from the University of Alabama but twice as far from Auburn. When Pat Dye took over as coach at Auburn in 1981, he wanted to change that. But his former boss, Bryant, said they’d never agree to it as long as he was still coaching. To which Dye famously replied, “You ain’t gon’ coach forever.” Bryant reminded Dye that they had a contract to play in Birmingham through 1988. Fine, Dye said, they’d play the game in Auburn in 1989 then. And they did. The 11th-ranked Tigers upset No. 2 Alabama 30-20 in the first rivalry game ever played in their home stadium. Afterward, Dye told his team how much that meant to him: “Sure I’d like to be 11-0, but I wouldn’t swap this year for any year that I’ve been at Auburn.”
Better known as: Territorial Cup
This year’s game: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN and ESPN App
All-time record: Arizona, 50-46-1
Current streak: Arizona, 1
Wildest on-field moment: Arizona State had already locked up a berth in the Rose Bowl when it traveled to Tucson in 1986, and the only blemish on its record was a tie. Down 24-10 late in the third quarter, the Sun Devils were driving with a chance to make it a one-score game. On third-and-goal, Chuck Cecil stepped in front of a Jeff Van Raaphorst pass six yards deep in the end zone and returned it for a touchdown. The touchdown sealed a famous win for Arizona and, perhaps more importantly, prevented Arizona State from finishing undefeated. For Arizona, Cecil’s interception return stands as one of the most iconic moments in program history.
Strangest off-field moment: Unlike most long-standing rivalries, there hasn’t been one iconic trophy on the line in the Arizona-ASU football game for a significant period of time. Multiple trophies have cycled in and out over the past 70 years or so. Still, the Territorial Cup is the oldest rivalry trophy in college football, dating back to 1899. After its debut more than a century ago, the Cup went missing for the next 80 years, only to be discovered in a church basement in 1980. It has been awarded to the winner of the game since 2001. — Kyle Bonagura
Quote that defines the rivalry: “This rivalry goes back [to 1899]. The Territorial Cup has really emotional fan bases when it comes to this football game. It’s one of longest rivalries in college football, so that’s always good. The guys that have played in this game have competed in it; they understand the validity of it.” — Sun Devils coach Herm Edwards, 2018
Better known as: Commonwealth Cup
This year’s game: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ACC Network and ESPN App
All-time record: Virginia Tech, 60-38-5 (acc. to Tech); Virginia Tech, 58-38-5 (acc. to UVA)
Current streak: Virginia Tech, 2 (and 17 of the past 18)
Wildest on-field moment: Virginia held a commanding 29-14 lead entering the fourth quarter of the 1995 installment of the Commonwealth Cup. The Hokies stormed back on the arm of signal-caller Jim Druckenmiller, taking a one-point lead with 47 seconds to play. UVA’s final comeback attempt was thwarted when Virginia Tech’s Antonio Banks picked off a pass and returned it for a score. But what’s most remembered from that play is Virginia trainer Joe Gieck sticking his foot out in a feigned attempt to trip Banks as the Hokies’ defender raced down the Cavaliers sideline. Gieck insisted the incident was just a joke and that he never came close to tripping Banks, adding, “I’ve seen too many people break a tibia [doing that] in soccer.”
Strangest off-field moment: These days, Virginia Tech players expect wins against their chief rival, but at the turn of the 20th century, things were different. Hence the story of the long career of Hunter Carpenter, a future Hall of Fame halfback who played for the Hokies from 1899 through 1903. In 1899, Carpenter’s team was demolished by Virginia, and he vowed revenge. Unfortunately for Carpenter, he lost again in 1900 and 1901 and 1902 and 1903. Inexplicably, Carpenter then enrolled at North Carolina — a far better football program at the time — in hopes he might finally beat Virginia in 1904. He lost again. In 1905, Carpenter returned to Virginia Tech — his eighth year playing college football — and faced allegations by the UVA newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, that he was being paid. He was forced to sign an affidavit denying it, and he finally got his win. The outcome became so contentious that Virginia refused to play the Hokies again until 1923. — David M. Hale
Quote that defines the rivalry: In 1989, former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer was dealing with heart problems, which raised alarms when he collapsed on the sideline during the Hokies game with Virginia that year. It turns out, Beamer had actually been on the receiving end of an errant elbow during a tackle attempt. “So, I got this heart issue going,” Beamer said, “I got a tooth knocked out, and we lost the game.” No doubt the score was the one that bothered Beamer most.
Better known as: Apple Cup
This year’s game: Saturday, 4 p.m., Fox
All-time record: Washington, 75-33-6
Current streak: Washington, 1
Wildest on-field moment: When an individual game within a rivalry is branded with its own name, it’s a good indicator that something unique took place. For the Apple Cup, the Snow Bowl is that game. After climbing to No. 13 in the AP poll a few weeks earlier, Washington State had lost three of four and entered the 1992 Apple Cup at home against No. 5 Washington. The Huskies had been ranked No. 1 until a loss to No. 12 Arizona two weeks prior but had still already locked up a trip to the Rose Bowl.
It began to snow the morning of the game and really started to come down after kickoff. At halftime, Washington, which was led by quarterback Mark Brunell, led 7-6 at halftime as neither team could find any sort of an offensive rhythm. In blizzard-like conditions in the second half, everything changed. WSU quarterback Drew Bledsoe caught fire and led the Cougars to 29 third-quarter points, including one of the most iconic plays in WSU and Apple Cup history: a 44-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Bobo, who slid into a snowbank underneath the goalpost after making the catch.
Strangest off-field moment: A lot of what made the 2002 game strange — for all the wrong reasons — technically took place on the field, but not until the game was over. Unranked Washington beat No. 3 Washington State 29-26 in triple overtime in a game that ended when the officials ruled a WSU bubble screen was a backward pass and recovered by Washington. The response from the crowd at Pullman’s Martin Stadium was ugly, as fans rained down bottles and whatever else they had at their disposal toward the field. Washington star wide receiver Reggie Williams was pelted with a bottle, and UW athletic director Barbara Hedges stated she “feared for her life,” marring the end of one of the best WSU regular seasons in history. — Kyle Bonagura
Quote that defines the rivalry: “One game doesn’t make a season, but the people who say that haven’t participated in the Apple Cup.” — former WSU coach Mike Price
Better known as: Sunshine Showdown
This year’s game: Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN and ESPN App
All-time record: Florida, 37-27-2
Current streak: Florida State, 1
Wildest on-field moment: It is so hard to choose between the Choke at Doak in 1994 or the Sugar Bowl in 1997 when Florida won the national championship or Florida upsetting No. 1 Florida State 32-29 by rotating quarterbacks in 1997 or Doug Johnson throwing a football near Bobby Bowden’s head during a pregame brawl in 1998 or a postgame fight between the teams in 2003 after Florida State started stomping on the logo at midfield (a game marred by horrific officiating calls). As you can see, there have been plenty of wild moments. But if we had to choose one, the most notable has to be the Choke at Doak, when Florida blew a 31-3 fourth-quarter lead in Tallahassee. The game ended in a 31-31 tie, but it felt like a win to many Seminoles. Florida coach Steve Spurrier said of the game, “They were all bragging about the tie. I said, ‘Hell, it’s the same for you as it is for us.'” Spurrier never did beat Florida State in Tallahassee.
Strangest off-field moment: Perhaps the most contentious moment in the rivalry happened after their 1996 regular-season matchup, when Spurrier accused Florida State coach Bobby Bowden of trying to deliberately take out quarterback Danny Wuerffel. Florida State won the game 24-21, but the teams ended up in a rematch in the Sugar Bowl to decide the national championship. Bowden said of the accusations: “We might hit ’til the echo instead of just the whistle. We try to do it legally. They usually call it if it’s too late.” It was not a good enough explanation for Spurrier, who said, “We are not going to go to the Sugar Bowl and take the crap that we took in Tallahassee. Maybe we’re declaring war on the Seminoles, and maybe they’ve declared war on us, but we’re looking forward to competing with them — not for a national championship, not for anything except trying to beat them. That should be as big a goal as we could possibly have.” Florida won the rematch 52-20 to claim its first national title. — Andrea Adelson
Quote that defines the rivalry: “You know what FSU stands for, don’t you? Free Shoes University.” — Spurrier
Better known as: Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate
This year’s game: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ABC and ESPN App
All-time record: Georgia, 70-39-5 (acc. to Georgia); 70-41-5 (acc. to Tech)
Current streak: Georgia, 5 (and 18 of the past 21)
Wildest on-field moment: In the 1999 edition in Atlanta, the score was tied at 48 with 13 seconds to go. Georgia had the ball at Tech’s 2-yard line on first-and-goal. Instead of kicking a field goal to potentially win the game, Georgia coach Jim Donnan elected to go for a touchdown. Jasper Sanks took a handoff, dove for the goal line and — depending on which side you were on — either fumbled or was down before losing the ball. TV replays showed Sanks was down, but it was before the introduction of instant replay rules. So, the only thing that mattered was the officials ruled Sanks fumbled the ball, and Georgia Tech took possession at its 1-yard line. The game went into overtime, and Tech’s Luke Manget kicked a field goal to give the Yellow Jackets a controversial 51-48 victory. The next week, then-SEC commissioner Roy Kramer suspended referee Al Ford and his six-man crew from working the SEC championship game.
Wildest off-field moment: The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets don’t agree about much of anything, including the all-time series record. Georgia says it has a 68-39-5 advantage; the Yellow Jackets claim 41 victories in the series. The dispute lies in games played during World War II, in 1943 and 1944, during which Georgia Tech won by a combined score of 92-0. Many of the Bulldogs’ best players from their 1942 national championship enlisted in the war, so there wasn’t a single returning starter. In fact, most of Georgia’s players were under the age of 18 and weren’t eligible for the military draft. Conversely, Georgia Tech benefited from having an on-campus Navy V-12 Program, from which it was able to recruit football players, as well as a Navy flight school, which attracted players from other schools. Georgia still distinguishes the disputed games in its media guide and record books with asterisks. — Mark Schlabach
Quote that defines the rivalry: “Lose to Tech, you don’t put up a Christmas tree. That’s my rule.” — Erk Russell, whose family apparently went without the holiday tradition only four times in his 17 seasons as Georgia’s defensive coordinator from 1964 to 1980.
Better known as: Palmetto Bowl
This year’s game: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network and ESPN App
All-time record: Clemson, 72-43-4
Current streak: South Carolina, 1
Wildest on-field moment: The nation’s second-longest continuously played rivalry (it ended at 111 games last year; thanks COVID-19) is packed with title-worthy moments, from The Return and The Brawl to The Catch and The Catch II (or as Gamecocks fans call it, The Push-Off). But the peak pissed-off moment of the game’s history happened in 1992. That’s when cocky, rattail-wearing quarterback Steve Taneyhill took over a South Carolina team that had started the season 0-5 and led the Gamecocks to four wins in his five starts, including an upset 24-13 victory over the reeling Tigers. Taneyhill threw for nearly 300 yards in the cold rain, and along the way, he stood on the bench and taunted the orange crowd, swung an imaginary baseball bat, was carried off the field by jubilant fans and, most notably, ran to Death Valley’s midfield and acted as if he was signing his autograph atop Clemson’s sacred Tiger Paw logo. A poster of that moment is still on display in sports bars and man caves from Charleston to Greenville.
Strangest off-field moment: OK, so it was on the field, but it involved a bunch of guys who should have been off the field. In 1961, Clemson took the field in Columbia and started their pregame warm-ups, but they were the weirdest warm-ups ever, including dancing and stumbling and dropping passes. They even convinced the Clemson band to play the “Tiger Rag.” But when the real Tigers jogged out, confused and then angry, the crowd realized that the “team” they’d been watching was instead members of South Carolina’s Sigma Nu fraternity. — Ryan McGee
Quote that defines the rivalry: “They ain’t Alabama. They ain’t LSU. And they’re certainly not Clemson. That’s why Carolina’s in Chapel Hill and USC’s in California and the university in this state always has been, always will be, Clemson.” — Tigers coach Dabo Swinney, 2011
Better known as: Carolina-State
This year’s game: Saturday, 8 p.m., ACC Network and ESPN App
All-time record: UNC, 68-38-6
Current streak: NC State, 2
Wildest on-field moment: This game has never been as big of a deal as it should be, at least not nationally. When these squads met as ranked teams one year ago, it was only the third time in 110 meetings that both teams were in the AP Top 25. But forget that neither one of these Tobacco Road anchors has been as good at football as they should be or that they have inexplicably kept this game off the final weekend of the schedule more often than not; this is a game that generates plenty of heat across the Old North State. (Trust me: I grew up dodging postgame fights in the Carter-Finley Stadium parking lot.) The 2004 edition of the game was in Chapel Hill, and the home crowd was left heartbroken when Wolfpack tailback T.A. McLendon rumbled into the end zone for a game-tying TD in the closing seconds, with the would-be game-winning PAT forthcoming. As one goal line official signaled touchdown, another ran in and said McLendon’s knee had hit the turf before the ball crossed the goal line. On the next play, McClendon ran it in again, this time going airborne. UNC’s Khalif Mitchell blasted the ball from McClendon’s grasp, and the game ended with a Tar Heels fumble recovery and a 30-24 win.
Strangest off-field moment: After the 1905 game ended in a 0-0 score, the third straight tie in the rivalry, the NC State football team received a congratulatory telegram from Trinity College, a little school in nearby Durham that had yet to start a football program. In 1925, Trinity changed its name to Duke. — Ryan McGee
Quote that defines the rivalry: “You might not hear much about that game around the country, and that’s fine. But if you ever walk into a bar anywhere in the state of North Carolina and you see a guy in khakis and his Carolina polo staring at a guy in his jeans and an NC State T-shirt, clear the room, because it’s about to go down.” — Philip Rivers, NC State quarterback, 2000-03, who posted a 3-1 record vs. UNC
‘Holy s—, this is really going to suck to do this’: Inside the CFP committee’s most controversial decision
GRAPEVINE, Texas — It was between 1:30 and 2 a.m. CT on Sunday after the conference championship games when the 13 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee finally left their meeting room. They had been sequestered for hours as they determined the top four teams in the country.
They knew what they could potentially wind up with — and it didn’t feel good.
As difficult as it was for them to remove their emotions from the process, the sinking feeling about excluding an undefeated Power 5 conference champion was tempered by the belief that they did what they were tasked to do — vote for the four best teams.
“All of us had the emotional tie, like, ‘Holy s—, this is really going to suck to do this,'” one committee member told ESPN. “We talked about that over and over, and we just kept coming back [to] are they good enough with what they have to win a national championship, and it just kept coming back [to] we didn’t think they could.”
There wasn’t any discussion about the SEC being left out because the committee maintains that it talks about teams, not conferences. There wasn’t any serious consideration to include Alabama without Texas because there was so much respect in the room for the Longhorns’ Week 2 win in Tuscaloosa. There also wasn’t enough support in the room to deem Georgia “unequivocally” one of the four best teams in the country — the standard for teams that don’t win their conference title.
Instead, the crux of the debate into the wee hours of Sunday morning centered on how to evaluate Florida State, which beat Louisville with its third-string quarterback after both Jordan Travis and his backup, Tate Rodemaker, were sidelined by injuries. While the Seminoles’ defense impressed the committee — and had all year — there were significant concerns about FSU’s offense.
Undefeated Michigan had won the Big Ten. Undefeated Washington won the Pac-12. Alabama knocked off the selection committee’s No. 1 team, Georgia, to win the SEC, and one-loss Texas, which easily won the Big 12, had knocked off the SEC champion in September.
And now Florida State had found a way to win — again.
It was the final layer of complication in what was already the most difficult, controversial decision any CFP committee has had to make in a decade of the four-team playoff. Never before has an undefeated Power 5 conference champion been excluded from the CFP — but never before have seven Power 5 teams finished the regular season with one or fewer losses. “We’ve never had a year with eight teams at the top as good as these are, and the five conference champions 1 through 5, we’ve never had it come out that way,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said. “My feeling is it probably was the toughest.”
FOR 2½ DAYS on conference championship game weekend, the CFP’s selection committee hid in plain sight.
While families clad in Christmas-themed clothes infiltrated the sprawling Gaylord Texan resort for its annual ice sculpture exhibit, the most powerful people in college football went nearly unnoticed, save for one cardboard sign bearing the CFP logo that some fans paused to look at as they exited the elevator and headed to their rooms.
“Is Bama in?!” one man asked a security guard sitting on a stool outside the meeting rooms Saturday night after the Tide’s SEC championship win against No. 1 Georgia.
The guard just shrugged.
As it turned out, one-loss Bama was in — at the expense of undefeated ACC champion Florida State. It was an unprecedented decision that sparked outrage throughout the sport. FSU coach Mike Norvell said he was “disgusted and infuriated.” ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said, “It’s unfathomable.” Travis, the Seminoles’ injured quarterback, said he wished he had broken his leg earlier in the season so the committee could have seen that the team was still great without him.
The committee is steadfast in its belief it got the decision right.
“At the end of the day, everybody had the same goal in mind — do we have the four best teams?” a committee member said. “And we all felt pretty good that we do.”
It wasn’t until the ACC championship game began to unfold, though, that the members’ opinions began to truly take shape. The group grew concerned as it watched the Noles struggle to get a first down in the first half. There is a section in the committee’s protocol that specifically refers to the “unavailability of key players … that may have affected a team’s performance during the season or likely will affect its postseason performance.” That allowed the committee to do something it intentionally avoids every other week: look ahead.
“People really wanted to talk about it,” a committee member said. “We don’t really have that conversation while we’re watching games. But we’ve got to talk about the elephant in the room. What just happened? We talked about 13-0. We talked about the teams they beat. And they were a conference champ. All of that. It took a while.”
Hancock rarely, if ever, shares voting results with the people in the room, though sometimes he’ll mention if they were close or not. The votes are cast privately on each committee member’s laptop. The committee members simply hover their mouse over a team and click to vote. If a committee member is recused from voting for a certain team, it’s shaded in gray on his or her laptop, making it impossible to click on.
They vote on the teams in small batches and continue through the process of voting and debating in groups until the entire list of 25 is compiled. So it’s not as if they begin talking about Texas and Alabama and vote around them to make it fit.
“People may not believe it, but we don’t say, ‘Oh gosh, if we vote this way, the SEC is going to be left out,” one source said. “That never came up. Ever. We literally look at teams, put them up against each other, and say, ‘Who did they beat? Who did they not beat? Who have they beaten on the road? What’s their strength of schedule?’ Look at the matrix and all the data.”
The only time the committee members know the vote is when it’s a tie, because they have to vote again. There was a sense within the room Saturday night, though, that the more they voted, the closer the group came to agreeing that Florida State should be No. 5.
Boo Corrigan, the chair of the committee and the athletic director at NC State, said the group voted six to eight times on the top four, and there was “never a moment of rushing it.” One source said the conversations were “tense” at times. Another said it “never got heated, never got ugly,” but it was “way more complicated and way more agonizing than some people may think.”
The committee met again at 8:30 a.m. CT on Sunday morning and began discussions and voting again.
Because the selection committee is composed of people from different backgrounds — former coaches, players, sitting athletic directors and a former sports reporter — there are different perspectives in the room.
Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart is one of them, and he had the unique experience of having seen Alabama, Georgia and Louisville, FSU’s title game opponent, in-person because his Wildcats faced them, too. He was given opportunities to share his thoughts on each of those teams with the group. Corrigan said the coaches had conversations about: “Who do they want to play? Who do they not want to play?”
“They’ve got a significant voice in the room,” he said.
In the end, though, the difference between Alabama and Florida State boiled down to the committee’s written protocol, particularly the emphasis on strength of schedule — which gave Alabama the edge — and the section that allowed committee members to project what Florida State might look like in a semifinal without their star quarterback.
Not having Heisman hopeful starter Travis “changes their offense in its entirety,” Corrigan said, “and that was really a big factor with the committee as we went through everything.”
So was the Longhorns’ double-digit win at Alabama in Week 2. The committee had been consistent in honoring the head-to-head result all season and felt it was important to be consistent with that on Selection Day — even though they believed Alabama had improved since that September loss.
“That’s something you just can’t ignore,” one person said. “At the end of the day, they scheduled them, they played them at their house, they won and they beat them — and that was big.”
It wasn’t just the committee’s decision to exclude Florida State that drew criticism Sunday afternoon.
The group rewarded undefeated No. 23 Liberty with a New Year’s Six bowl bid instead of two-loss No. 24 SMU, which beat a ranked team in its AAC title game. In addition to voting multiple times at the top of the ranking, the committee also voted repeatedly at the bottom, which pushed the morning meeting to its cutoff time of 11 a.m. CT. The results kept flipping between Liberty and SMU, but ultimately, the group deemed Liberty better.
American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco was fuming.
“For a decade, that committee used an unfair strength of schedule argument against our great undefeated UCF, Cincinnati and Houston teams, which played genuinely tough schedules with P5 opponents,” he told ESPN, “and then they apply a clear double standard to this situation.”
One former selection committee member was stunned and said the inconsistencies in this year’s ranking were “glaring.”
“This may need a complete reset before next year,” the former committee member said. “If Liberty is a Group of 5 playoff team over others, that’s a problem. No Power 5 opponents on the schedule, and the record of teams they’ve beaten is weak.”
NOT SINCE 2014, the inaugural season of the CFP, has the committee generated anything close to this much controversy. That year, the committee dropped TCU from No. 3 to No. 6 in the final rankings in large part because the Big 12 at the time didn’t have a conference championship game.
Now, in the final season of a four-team system, an entirely different group of 13 committee members snubbed an undefeated team that won its conference title. The backlash, according to multiple sources, has been significant, including some from colleagues, friends and peers, in addition to vitriol from Florida State fans.
This would have been the perfect season for the new 12-team playoff format to begin. Next year, the CFP will include the five highest-ranked conference champions and the next seven highest-ranked teams, assuming the proposed new format is rubber-stamped by the presidents and chancellors at their annual meeting before the national championship game in Houston. That guarantees a spot for each power-conference champ and a Group of 5 conference champion. As excited as fans might be for the more inclusive system, Hancock warned that it won’t solve the problem of a talented team being left out.
“People look for perfection, and there will be some teams that don’t quite make it in 12 who are going to be asking some serious questions,” said Hancock, who will retire after this season. “I laugh because the easy answer is to say, ‘Yeah, I wish we had 12.’ But that’s not going to be the panacea that some of us might think it might be. It’s going to be great, don’t get me wrong, but it won’t be perfect.”
Daniels, Harrison, Nix, Penix to vie for Heisman
LSU‘s Jayden Daniels, Oregon‘s Bo Nix and Washington‘s Michael Penix Jr., transfer quarterbacks who have all played at least five college seasons, and Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. were announced as the Heisman Trophy finalists on Monday night.
The Heisman has been given to the nation’s most outstanding college football player since 1935. This year’s winner will be announced Saturday in New York (8 p.m., ESPN). The top four vote-getters determined by more than 870 voters, which include members of the media and former Heisman winners, are selected as finalists.
With Nix and Penix, the Pac-12 has two Heisman finalists for the first time since 2010, when Stanford’s Andrew Luck was the runner-up to Auburn’s Cam Newton and Oregon running back LaMichael James finished third in the voting.
The Pac-12 is in its final season with its current membership before 10 schools depart, including Oregon and Washington to the Big Ten.
Daniels is trying to become the third LSU player to the win the Heisman and first since Joe Burrow in 2019 — another transfer quarterback in his second season in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Daniels had one of the most prolific seasons in SEC history for the 13th-ranked Tigers (9-3), his second at LSU and fifth overall after starting his career at Arizona State, passing for 3,812 yards and 40 touchdowns and running for 1,134 yards and 10 TDs.
While Daniels went from the Pac-12 to the SEC and found stardom, Nix went the opposite way. After three years at Auburn, the former five-star recruit transferred to Oregon in 2022 and became one of the best players in the country, leading the eighth-ranked Ducks (11-2) to the Pac-12 title game.
Nix has completed 77.2% of his passes, which is slightly behind the major college football record, and has thrown for 4,145 yards and 40 TDs.
Buckeyes standout Harrison has 67 catches for 1,211 yards and 15 touchdowns, and his trip to New York gives No. 7 Ohio State (11-1) Heisman finalists in five of the past six seasons. His overall numbers lag behind those of some of the other star receivers around the country, but he was the most consistent threat for a Buckeyes offense that was breaking in a new starting quarterback and dealt with injuries to its supporting cast all season.
Penix is in his sixth college season after four injury-filled years at Indiana. He transferred to Washington in 2022 to play for coach Kalen DeBoer, his former offensive coordinator at Indiana, and has guided the second-ranked Huskies to 23 victories, a Pac-12 title and their second College Football Playoff appearance with 4,218 yards and 33 touchdowns this year.
The Huskies play Texas in the CFP semifinal, with the winner playing either Michigan or Alabama in the final.
Live college football transfer portal updates: Latest news on who’s in and out
College football‘s 30-day winter transfer portal window is officially open, as players have until Jan. 2, 2024, to enter the portal for their one-time transfers. It doesn’t mean they have to find their new schools by then — or that they can’t return to their previous schools — but they have 30 days to decide whether they want to be in the portal.
More than 2,100 NCAA football players entered the portal in last December’s transfer window — the most of any month since the transfer portal was created in fall 2018.
This year, we’ve already seen several players announce their intentions to enter the portal, some of whom were eligible to enter early because their head coach was fired (or left the program) or because they already have undergraduate degrees. A few of the quarterbacks who already are in the portal include Ohio State’s Kyle McCord, Washington State’s Cam Ward, Duke’s Riley Leonard, Oregon State’s DJ Uiagalelei and UCLA’s Dante Moore.
Who’s next to enter the portal? We’re tracking notable players entering (and exiting) the portal, with the latest news and updates on how the 2024 season could be transformed:
Latest transfer portal entries
Portal entrants from before the window officially opened
Christian-Lichtenhan is a 6-foot-10, 315-pound junior, originally from Davis, California. He redshirted in his freshman season at Colorado in 2020, but played in five games along the offensive line during the 2021 season. He started in eight games in 2022, and was the starting left tackle this season for coach Deion Sanders. He is departing from an offensive line that struggled mightily in pass protection during 2023.
Ward transferred into the WSU program from Incarnate Word prior to the 2022 season, where he was a second team FCS All-American player and the Southland Conference offensive player of the year. He went 10-3 in 2021 with Incarnate Word and threw for 4,648 yards, 47 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
He continued that success in 2022 at Washington State and was an All-Pac-12 Conference honorable mention player. He started all 13 games and threw for 3,231 yards and 23 touchdowns.
After starting his career at Notre Dame, Pyne transferred to Arizona State last season. But because of injuries, he was sidelined for the most of 2023, only appearing in two games in September. In those two appearances, he threw two touchdowns and three interceptions. Pyne expects to have three seasons of eligibility left once he graduates with his degree.
The South Alabama wide receiver had over 1,300 receiving yards for the Jaguars this season to pair with seven touchdowns. He’s in the portal as a graduate transfer.
Moore was the No. 2 prospect overall in the 2023 class out of Detroit, Michigan. He originally committed to Oregon out of high school, but flipped to UCLA and signed with the Bruins. Moore appeared in nine games this season as a true freshman and threw for 1,610 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Prior to his commitment, he showed interest in Michigan State, Texas A&M, LSU, Miami and Michigan among others.
The former Clemson QB, who was one of the big names in the portal last season is planning to leave the Beavers. In his lone season in Corvalis, DJU was improved in almost every category compared this previous two seasons starting at Clemson. In 2023, Uiagalelei threw for 2,638 yards and accounted for 27 total touchdowns.
Morris, a sophomore, began the season as NC State’s backup with plans to be a backup and redshirt. He ended up starting four games before opting to sit out the rest of the season to preserve his redshirt. Morris played last season as a true freshman after Devin Leary went out for the season with an injury. Morris has thrown for 1,367 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions, completing 57.8 percent of his passes during his career at NC State.
Clark was a starter on the defensive line for the Wolfpack. He had 22 tackles in 2023.
Collins, a junior, will be immediately eligible for his final year. He has caught 91 passes for 1,290 yards and 11 touchdowns over three seasons.
Leonard, a junior, started all 13 games for the Blue Devils during the 2022 season and threw for 2,967 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also had 699 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns and was an All-ACC honorable mention selection for his performance. He played in seven games this season, missing games because of a toe injury suffered against Louisville, and finished the season with 1,102 yards passing, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He added on four rushing touchdowns and 352 yards on the ground.
Coastal Carolina starting quarterback Grayson McCall entered his name in the transfer portal as a grad transfer on Wednesday. McCall dealt with an injury this season that allowed him to play in just seven games where he threw for 1,919 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions under new coach Tim Beck. McCall threw for 2,700 yards, 24 touchdowns and two interceptions in 11 games during the 2022 season. He has 10,005 career passing yards and 88 career touchdowns.
Peebles, a graduate transfer, played 411 snaps this season, racking up four sacks, 40 total tackles and a forced fumble. He had 3.5 sacks over the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
Bedford, who started 10 games this season and played both right guard and right tackle, is the 17th Hoosiers player to enter the portal since Nov. 27, according to ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren. That includes four of their starting offensive linemen. Bedford allowed just one sack in 2023.
The Owls’ sophomore quarterback is moving on after starting two years for Temple. He was AAC rookie of the year in 2022. In his career, he has thrown for 6,104 yards with 41 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.
Cincinnati defender Deshawn Pace announced that he will enter the transfer portal. He plays the STAR position for the Bearcats, a safety and linebacker combination, and led the team in total tackles in 2023 with 80 tackles. Pace also led the team in tackles for loss with 11 and had five pass breakups on the season.
Rudolph, who had 46 catches for 499 yards and two touchdowns this season, intends to enter the transfer portal, a source told ESPN’s Pete Thamel. Rudolph caught 51 passes for 892 yards and seven scores in 2021.
Kaliakmanis had 1,838 passing yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while completing 53.1% of his attempts for Minnesota, which finished 5-7. He added two rushing touchdowns. He took over as Minnesota’s top quarterback after starting five games as a freshman in 2022, going 3-2 with 946 passing yards and three touchdowns. He has two seasons of eligibility left.
After replacing Sam Hartman, who transferred to Notre Dame last year, Griffis struggled this season. He went 124-for-207 for 1,553 yards with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions as Wake Forest finished 4-8. Wake Forest backup QB Santino Marucci also announced he would be transferring.
A sophomore from Minnesota, Burks has decided to leave Purdue. With 47 catches for 629 yards and seven scores, Burks was the Boilermakers’ leading receiver in 2023. Burks was a three-star recruit in the Class of 2021.
THANK YOU PURDUE
FOREVER A BOILERMAKER 🖤 pic.twitter.com/6JErgcHWop
— 𝐃𝐞𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐁𝐮𝐫𝐤𝐬 (@deionkburks) November 28, 2023
After an up-and-down career with the Hurricanes, Van Dyke entered the transfer portal, saying, “I am looking forward to the next chapter and what my future holds.” A fourth-year junior, had been the starter since the 2021 season. He threw for 2,931 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions in 10 games in 2021. His performance that season earned him ACC Rookie of the Year and ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Injuries and inconsistency hampered his next two seasons as Van Dyke threw 17 interceptions over the last two seasons and has played for three different offensive coordinators.
Chaney, a sophomore, had 478 yards rushing this season and two touchdowns. He was, at certain times, the Canes’ feature back, and he had double-digit carries in three games and 106 yards against Georgia Tech and 85 yards against Florida State.
Correll, who started 10 games for the Irish this season, enters the portal as a graduate transfer and will have one year of eligibility remaining. Correll was a veteran presence on the Notre Dame line but missed the final two games of the season with a concussion. He was a four-star prospect, ranked No. 148 in the 2019 ESPN 300.
Osafo-Mensah started one game this season before finding a reserve role on the Irish defense. In five seasons in South Bend, he had 47 tackles and five sacks.
A sophomore receiver, McAlister had a big season for the Broncos in 2023. He had 47 catches for 873 yards and five scores. He averaged 18.6 yards-per-catch in 2023.
Brown, a sophomore who saw limited action in 2023, has decided to leave USC. He had only three catches on the year. He was a highly ranked recruit in USC’s 2022 recruiting class. Ranked No. 64 overall, Brown was the highest-ranked offensive recruit in the class.
Part of an exodus of Hoosiers players after the firing of coach Tom Allen, Indiana has four of five starting offensive linemen entering the portal. Benson and Carpenter will be graduate transfers, while Smith and Bedford have multiple years of eligibility left.
Howard, who led Kansas State to a Big 12 title in 2022, has decided to move on as a graduate transfer. Howard led Kansas State with 2,643 passing yards and 24 touchdowns with eight interceptions, completing 61.3% of his passes. After sharing time with Adrian Martinez to begin the 2022 season, he emerged as the Wildcats’ top quarterback for their run to a conference title. Howard, who will have one year of eligibility left, has 5,786 career passing yards with 48 touchdowns — a team record — and 25 interceptions, as well as 934 career rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
Ward will move on as a graduate transfer after four seasons at Florida State before playing for the Wildcats in 2023. He has had more than 500 yards rushing in a season the past three seasons and 17 career touchdowns.
After starting 23 games over three seasons in Waco, Shapen has decided to transfer. As a true junior this season, he will have at least one season of eligibility remaining. He had 2,188 yards passing with 13 touchdowns in 2023. Shapen is a former four-star recruit from the Class of 2020.
Will Rogers, who has thrown for 94 career touchdowns, is leaving Starkville after the Mississippi State coaching change. Rogers played in every game in the 2021 and 2022 seasons before injuries limited his 2023 season. In eight games this season, Rogers threw for 1,626 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. In four seasons with the Bulldogs, Rogers threw for 12,315 yards, completing 69.4% of his passes.
— Will Rogers (@Wrogers__2) November 24, 2023
Houser, a redshirt freshman, who played in seven games this season, plans to transfer and has three years of eligibility remaining. He played in 11 games this season and finished with 1,132 passing yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions.
A day after the Hoosiers fired coach Tom Allen, their starting QB is moving on as well. Sorsby, who started parts of the 2023 season, played in 10 total games and finished with 1,587 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also had 286 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the ground. He was a three-star recruit in the Class of 2022.
With Cam Rising returning for a seventh year and Bryson Barnes, who started for for most of the 2023 season also back, Utah freshman signal-caller Johnson has decided to move on. Johnson started three games this season, going 2-1, and accounting for 734 total yards and 12 touchdowns. From Clovis, California, he was a four-star recruit and ranked 93rd overall in the 2022 ESPN 300.
Johnson, who started 12 games at LSU in 2021, then eight over two seasons at Texas A&M, is entering the portal as a graduate transfer. He was the Aggies’ starter in 2022 for three of their first four games before being injured and redshirting. Johnson then battled Conner Weigman for the starting job this season. After Weigman was injured in late September, Johnson was again the starter for the next five games before injuring his ribs. In total, Johnson has thrown for 5,853 yards and 47 touchdowns over four collegiate seasons. Johnson was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2020, ranked No. 129 overall in the ESPN 300.
Cottrell entered the portal after the firing of Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher. Cottrell, a freshman from Milton, Florida, had just one catch for 13 yards (it went for a touchdown) this season. A four-star recruit in the Class of 2023, Cottrell was the 23rd overall receiver in the class.
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