Young sets record, No. 2 Bama tops No. 21 Arkansas 42-35

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Bryce Young passed for more yards than any Alabama quarterback ever had in a game.

The second-ranked Crimson Tide needed that kind of performance – and every timely deep ball to Jameson Williams, too.

Young passed for a school-record 559 yards and five touchdowns and No. 2 Alabama clinched a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game with a 42-35 victory Saturday over No. 21 Arkansas.

The Tide (10-1, 7-1, No. 2 CFP) won its 15th consecutive game against the Razorbacks (7-4, 3-4), thanks largely to the Young-to-Williams deep connection that continues to be the ultimate offensive bailout.

Alabama set up a date with No. 1 Georgia in Atlanta on Dec. 4 after a visit to rival Auburn.

“We left a lot of points on the board where we could have put the game away,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “And defensively, we gave up a couple of big plays but the big thing was they were like 10 of 19 on third and fourth down so when we had opportunities to get off the field we didn’t get off the field.”

This one wasn’t settled until Arkansas’s onside kick went out of bounds with 1:02 left.

The Razorbacks had stayed alive with Raheim Sanders’ 17-yard touchdown catch from K.J. Jefferson, but took nearly five minutes to get there.

Young completed 31 of 40 passes to keep himself squarely in the Heisman Trophy conversation, hitting Williams for a perfect strike for a 79-yarder in double coverage and flipping the ball to Christian Leary for another touchdown when he appeared set to run.

It was the second-most passing yards in SEC history, behind Mississippi State’s K.J. Costello, who threw for 623 yards against LSU last season.

Williams caught eight passes for 190 yards with touchdowns of 79, 32 and 40 yards.

“When you have a dynamic playmaker like that you just have to put the ball in the air and let him run under it,” Young said.

John Metchie also gained 173 yards on 10 catches with a touchdown. Alabama’s Brian Robinson ran for 122 yards on 27 carries.

The clincher was Young’s 40-yarder to Williams in the end zone on third and 10. It was reviewed to see if Williams had possession as he came down, and replay officials upheld the call to the relief of the Bryant-Denny stadium crowd.

That left Jefferson and Arkansas needing two scores in the final 5:39, but they could only deliver one.

Jefferson completed 22 of 30 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns. Much of that damage was done by Treylon Burks, whose eight catches went for 179 yards and a pair of scores.

“We felt like we had a great chance to win the game and obviously we did,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “We just didn’t get enough or didn’t get a stop. We certainly didn’t play a perfect game.”

It gave Alabama double-digit wins for the 14th consecutive season, matching Florida State’s FBS record set from 1987-2000.

Young shattered the school mark of 484 passing yards set by Scott Hunter against Auburn in 1969, surpassing it with 11 minutes to play.

THE TAKEAWAY

Arkansas has come a long way since getting dominated in the last five meetings with Alabama by an average of 34.4 points. Jefferson delivered a big game but the defense had no answer for Young & Co. A fake field goal also went for a fourth-quarter touchdown.

“We matched the physicality of what Alabama’s known for,” Pittman said. “I just told (the players) the days of getting our teeth kicked in are over. I think we proved that at least for this week.”

Alabama continues to look more beatable than last year’s national championship team. Sure, the Tide racked up 671 yards but they also allowed 468. Alabama also lost a fumble at the goal line in the fourth and gave up a sack to move out of late field goal range.

POLL IMPLICATION

Alabama would seem likely to hold firm at No. 2 in the AP poll and College Football Rankings. The Razorbacks are good bets to fall back out of the Top 25 after a one-week return.

FIELD GOAL FAKE

The Razorbacks pulled to within 34-28 early in the fourth quarter with a fake field goal. Holder Reid Bauer’s jump pass to tight end Blake Kern went for a 32-yard touchdown after two false start penalties appeared to stymie the drive.

“We were trying to cover the guy and we ran into the official,” Saban said. “They had run a fake field goal against LSU last week so we actually worked against it and called the defense we wanted to play against it.”

ANDERSON’S GAME

Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. had 11 tackles, a sack and two quarterback hurries. Anderson came in leading the nation in sacks and tackles for loss.

UP NEXT

Arkansas: Closes the regular season Friday against Missouri.

Alabama: At in-state rival Auburn for the Iron Bowl.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.