Spotlight: Kevin Sumlin's seat just gets hotter after former recruit downs Texas A&M

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including recruiting gaffes.

Beleaguered Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin had to explain this week why he let quarterback Jarrett Stidham slip away to Auburn. “There’s a lot of things that go into the recruiting process,” he told reporters, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The question probably won’t be going away. Stidham grew up three hours from College Station — as the pick-up truck drives — in Stephenville, Texas. He went to Baylor, but left Waco during the Art Briles scandal. Stidham was courted by Auburn, Florida and Texas A&M.

Sumlin backed away, preferring highly-touted recruit Kellen Mond.

Stidham finally got to College Station on Saturday. He threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns as No. 14 Auburn beat the Aggies 42-27.

His play has the Tigers, who are 7-2, on the fringe of the College Football Playoff race. They lost to No. 4 Clemson, 14-6, and blew a 20-point lead in a 27-23 loss to Louisiana State, but have an opportunity to wedge their way into the race.

Auburn plays No. 1 Georgia on Saturday and No. 2 Alabama in the annual Iron Bowl clash on Nov. 25. In between is the traditional SEC-type tomato can, Louisiana Monroe.

Stidham, sequestered from the media all week, enjoyed the moment after the game.

“Obviously, I've had this one circled for a while,” he said. “Any time I get to come back home, being so far away, it's exciting for me, and my family and friends. It was great.”

A little less great for Sumlin. Asked if the constant speculation whether he will keep his job weighed on his mind, Sumlin bluntly replied, “No.”

Of course, there are a lot things that go into a firing process. Like who you pick as quarterback.

Spartan life

Michigan State coaches and players had to feel like the world was against them.

A week ago, airplane trouble forced the Spartans to bus from East Lansing to Chicago, where they lost a mistake-filled game to Northwestern in overtime.

On Saturday, their game against Penn State had a 3 1/2-hour delay in the second quarter because of severe weather. Yet the No. 24 Spartans endured.

Matt Coghlin, nicknamed McLovin, kicked two field goals in the fourth quarter, the last from 34 yards with four seconds left, to give Michigan State a 27-24 victory over No. 7 Penn State.

“It took us seven hours to get our seventh win,” Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio told reporters.

And left another team in seventh heaven.

Penn State’s loss, plus Iowa’s 55-24 pasting of No. 6 Ohio State, put the Big Ten in a precarious position where the College Football Playoff is concerned. Ohio State and Penn State, considered the conference’s top candidates, have two losses. Michigan State also has two losses.

The team McLovin the situation was No. 9 Wisconsin, which struggled before putting away Indiana, 45-17, on Saturday. The undefeated Badgers scored three touchdowns in the final 10 minutes to break open a 24-17 game.

Indiana, with a 3-6 record, is the type of team Wisconsin has fatted up on this season. The Badgers’ opponents had a combined record of 33-42 before Saturday’s games.

It’s not something Coach Paul Chryst is going to ponder. Asked what he or his players think about their standing in the College Football Playoff poll, Chryst said, “We don’t. We just want to enjoy and appreciate each opportunity in front of you each week.”

The opportunity next week is a 6-3 Iowa team.

Princeton review

Princeton seems to do well with Southern California-raised quarterbacks.

Senior Chad Kanoff, who played at Harvard Westlake High, threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Tigers to a 38-35 victory over Penn on Saturday in the 109th meeting between the teams. It left Kanoff with 6,612 career passing yards, 679 short of the Princeton record.

Doug Butler, who played at Anaheim Servite, holds the record. He threw for 7,291 yards from 1983-85.

Baby makes three (and out?)

Central Florida Coach Scott Frost will soon have another mouth to feed.

The No. 18 Knights played at Southern Methodist on Saturday, but ESPN reported that there was a plane standing by to whisk away Frost should his wife, Ashley, go into labor. The couple is expecting their first child.

Central Florida players had their own labor pains. The Knights had to hold the Mustangs scoreless in the fourth quarter to deliver a 31-24 win.

Frost has other planes waiting on the tarmac. One would be a puddle-hopper to take him to Gainesville — there is already speculation about Frost becoming the next Florida coach — while another may have Nebraska as the final destination. Nebraska officials certainly will be interested in their former quarterback if Mike Riley is fired. Frost led the Cornhuskers to a share of the national title in 1997.

People in Orlando are putting up a fight, sort of. Ashley Lariviere, a graduate student at Central Florida, started a “Go Fund Me” campaign on Nov. 1. As of Saturday, it had raised $150, well short of the $5-million goal.

No matter how it plays out, Frost won’t have to worry when baby needs a new pair of shoes.

Caissons roll along

This was Army football, the way it was played when a young cadet named Douglas MacArthur was team manager.

No passes. No punts. No points against.

Army smothered Air Force, 21-0, Saturday. It ended a string of 306 games in which the Falcons had scored, the fifth-longest streak in the nation. Mississippi shut out Air Force in the 1992 Liberty Bowl.

Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw did not throw a pass in the 28-mile-per-hour winds, nor did the Black Knights punt. But Bradshaw rolled up 265 yards rushing, outgaining the entire Air Force team (190 yards).

Army had seven possessions, Air Force six. Army had a 14-play, 73-yard drive that took up 10 minutes 42 seconds and resulted in no points in the third quarter. The Black Knights followed with a 14-play, 84-yard drive that took 7:44 off the clock before Kell Walker scored his second touchdown of the game.

Air Force quarterback Arion Worthman summed up the experience.

“We got our [rears] kicked,” Worthman told the Associated Press.

Fiscal fiasco?

Apparently, there are not a lot of duties that come with being the governors of South Dakota and North Dakota. Both leaders have plenty of time to place their bets.

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard and Doug Burgum, his North Dakota counterpart, made a wager on a college football game twice this season. Saturday’s bet was on the 128th meeting between Football Championship Subdivision powers South Dakota State and North Dakota State.

Both agreed that the loser would donate $128 to other school’s foundation.

The North Dakota budget took a hit. South Dakota State, ranked eighth in the FCS poll, upset the undefeated and No. 2-ranked Bisons, 33-21. It allowed the Jackrabbits to retain the Dakota Marker, a trophy that is a replica of the markers that sit on the border between the states.

It also made Burgum 0-2 this season. South Dakota’s victory over North Dakota in September cost him a case of bison steaks.

Burgum was eagerly awaiting payback this week. In a statement released by his office, he said, “I’m confident Gov. Daugaard will enjoy the delicious North Dakota-raised bison, which is good, because the only thing the Jackrabbits will be tasting this weekend is defeat.”

Instead, Burgum got to eat his words.

Could have been worse. The bet could have had him eating some Jackrabbit stew.

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