Jefferson leads No. 22 Arkansas over Penn State 24-10

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
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TAMPA, Fla. – KJ Jefferson picked up 104 of his 110 rushing yards in the second half and threw for 90 more to lead No. 22 Arkansas past Penn State 24-10 in the Outback Bowl on Saturday.

Raheim Sanders had 79 yards and two touchdowns on 13 rushing attempts and Dominique Johnson added 85 yards on 11 carries as the Razorbacks finished with 361 rushing yards.

Arkansas (9-4), coming off four consecutive seasons of four or fewer wins, got its first nine-win year since going 11-2 in 2011. The Razorbacks also played in their first bowl game since the 2016 Belk Bowl.

Sean Clifford went 14 of 32 or 195 yards for Penn State (7-6). He gained 47 yards on the ground on 11 attempts.

Jefferson ran 20 times while completing 14 of 19 passes. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound sophomore was sacked five times and limited to 6 yards rushing on 11 carries during the first half.

Jefferson and Sanders had TD runs, and Cam Little made a 36-yard field goal in the third quarter to put Arkansas up 24-10.

Arkansas took the opening kickoff in the second half and put together a seven-play, 75-yard drive that concluded with Jefferson’s 8-yard TD run.

Jefferson was hurt and left for several plays after a 34-yard dash later in the third period, and was replaced by Malik Hornsby. He had a 32-yard run to set up Sanders’ 1-yard score with 2:00 left in the quarter.

Hornsby had 67 yards on four carries.

Penn State led 10-7 at the half thanks to a 43-yard field goal by Jake Pinegar. The Nittany Lions tied it at 7 early in the second quarter when Clifford took advantage of blown coverage and hit a wide open KeAndre Lambert-Smith for a 42-yard touchdown.

Arkansas took a 7-0 lead on the last play of the first quarter when Sanders had a 3-yard TD run. The Razorbacks converted a pair of fourth-down plays during the drive, including Jefferson avoiding a sack and running for 13 yards.

MISSING PLAYERS

Both teams were impacted by bowl opt outs. Penn State was without leading receiver Jahan Dotson; defensive end Arnold Ebiketie and tackle Derrick Tangelo; safety Jaquan Brisker; and linebackers Ellis Brooks and Brandon Smith.

Arkansas played without wide receiver Treylon Burks and defensive end Tre Williams.

NUMBERS

Jefferson had his streak of 171 consecutive passes without an interception end when Ji’ Ayir Brown picked off his second throw of the game in the first quarter. Brown finished with two interceptions. . Penn State DE Smith Vilbert had three sacks. … Arkansas S Joe Foucha had an interception in the end zone and a sack during the second half.

Georgia extends contract for AD Josh Brooks, plans two new football practice fields

Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK
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ATHENS, Ga. – On the heels of a second straight national football championship, Georgia has rewarded athletic director Josh Brooks a contract extension that ties him to the Bulldogs through at least 2029.

The athletic association board, wrapping up its annual spring meeting Friday at a resort on Lake Oconee, also announced plans for a new track and field facility that will free up space for two more football practice fields.

Brooks’ new contract will increase his salary to $1.025 million a year, with annual raises of $100,000.

The 42-year-old Brooks, who took over the athletic department in 2021 after Greg McGarity retired, called the Georgia job “a dream for me” and said he hopes to spend the rest of his career in Athens.

“I am extremely grateful,” Brooks said. “I got into this business 20-plus years ago as a student equipment manager. My first job at Louisiana-Monroe was making $20,000 a year in football operations.”

The Georgia board approved a fiscal 2024 budget of $175.2 million, a nearly 8% increase from the most recent budget of $162.2 million and the sign of a prosperous program that is flush with money after its success on the gridiron.

The school received approval to move forward with its preliminary plans for a new track and field facility, which will be built across the street from the complex hosting the soccer and and softball teams.

The current track stadium is located adjacent to the Butts-Mehre athletic facility, which hosts the practice fields and training facilities for the football program.

Georgia lost a chunk of its outdoor fields when it built a new indoor practice facility. After the new track and field stadium is completed, the current space will be converted to two full-length, grass football practice fields at the request of coach Kirby Smart.

“He wants to find efficient ways to practice, and there is a lot of truth to the issues we’ve had with our current practice fields,” Brooks said. “There is a lot of strain on our turf facilities staff to keep that field in great shape when half the day it is getting shade, so that has been a challenge as well. For our football program, it is better to practice on grass fields than (artificial) turf, so to be able to have two side-by-side grass fields is huge. It makes for a much more efficient practice.”

The new track and field complex, which will continue to be named Spec Towns Track, will also include an indoor facility, the first of its kind in the state of Georgia.

Iowa AD Gary Barta announces retirement after 17 years at Big Ten school

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK
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IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa athletic director Gary Barta will retire on August 1 after 17 years at the university, the school announced Friday.

Barta, 59, is one of the longest-tenured athletic directors in a Power Five conference. He was hired by Iowa in 2006 after being the AD at Wyoming.

An interim director will be announced next week, Iowa said.

In September, Iowa hired former Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz to be deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, putting her in position to possibly succeed Barta.

“It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve in this role the past 17 years,” Barta said in a statement. “This decision didn’t come suddenly, nor did it come without significant thought, discussion, and prayer.”

“That said, I’m confident this is the right time for me and for my family.”

Iowa won four NCAA national team titles and 27 Big Ten team titles during Barta’s tenure. The women’s basketball team is coming off an appearance in the national championship game and the wrestling team is coming off a second-place finish at the NCAA championships.

Barta served as the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee in 2020 and 2021.

He faced heavy criticism over more than $11 million in settlements for lawsuits in recent years alleging racial and sexual discrimination within the athletic department.

Lawsuits filed by former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and associate athletics director Jane Meyer led to a $6.5 million payout.

Iowa had to pay $400,000 as part of a Title IX lawsuit brought by athletes after it cut four sports in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the agreement, Iowa reinstated the women’s swimming and diving program and add another women’s sport.

Iowa added women’s wrestling, the first among Power Five schools to compete this year.

A lawsuit brought by former football players alleging racial discrimination within the program was settled for $4.2 million last March, which prompted state auditor Rob Sand to call for Barta’s ouster.

“Gary Barta’s departure is a long time coming given the four different lawsuits for discrimination that cost Iowa more than $11 million,” Sand posted on Twitter.

The university did not allow taxpayer money to be used for the settlement with the former players.

Barta led Iowa through $380 million of facility upgrades, including renovation of Kinnick Stadium, the construction of a new football facility, a basketball practice facility and a training center for the wrestling teams.

Under Barta, Iowa has had just one head football coach (Kirk Ferentz), women’s basketball coach (Lisa Bluder) and wrestling coach (Tom Brands). All were in place when he arrived.

Barta has also come under scrutiny for allowing Ferentz to employee his son, Brian Ferentz, as offensive coordinator. To comply with the university’s nepotism policy, Brian Ferentz reports to Barta.