Young, No. 1 Alabama escape Texas on late FG 20-19

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AUSTIN, Texas — First came the twisting, falling backward touchdown throw. Then came the duck and dodge slip away from a sack that turned into a 20-yard scamper.

Two fourth-quarter plays by Bryce Young once again carried top-ranked Alabama to a victory. The Crimson Tide escaped Texas with 20-19 win Saturday after Young’s scramble set up Will Reichard’s 33-yard field goal with 10 seconds left.

“Houdini act,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said of the player he once helped recruit when he was an assistant at Alabama.

Texas had pressured last season’s Heisman Trophy winner for most of the day, only to lose its grip on him late.

“We know what it takes,” Young said of the final drive that started at the Alabama 25 and moved across midfield in two plays. “We embrace that challenge. That’s where we want to be at.”

Young’s clutch play rescued Alabama on an uncharacteristically sloppy day for the Crimson Tide (2-0), who struggled with penalties and dropped passes and was forced into six consecutive punts in one stretch. Texas (1-1) stuffed Alabama on fourth-and-inches late to set up a go-ahead field goal by Bert Auburn with 1:39 remaining.

“When his best was needed, he was really good,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said of Young. “And that’s what we needed.”

Young also spoiled what could have been a program-defining victory for Texas and Sarkisian after last season’s 5-7 finish. Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers was knocked out with a shoulder injury at the end of the first quarter. Sarkisian said Ewers had a sprained clavicle and would have more tests to determine how bad it is.

The steady hand of backup Hudson Card and an inspired defense helped Texas build a 16-10 lead early in the fourth, and then drive for the lead again on Auburn’s fourth field goal of the day.

Young was 27-of-39 passing for 213 yards with the scrambling TD throw to Jahmyr Gibbs that gave Alabama a 17-16 lead. Jase McLellan had an 81-yard touchdown run for Alabama in the first quarter.

Alabama avoided its first nonconference regular-season loss since 2007 against Louisiana-Monroe in Saban’s first season.

“Nobody gave us a chance in this game. … None of you, no one in the national media,” Sarkisian said. “We played like a team that believed it could win the game.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Alabama: The Tide was all out of sorts. Eleven first-half penalties and dropped passes showed a level of sloppy play seldom seen by Saban teams. Last season’s Bronko Nagurski Award winner Will Anderson struggled to make plays against an inexperienced Texas offensive line that started two freshmen.

“It’s all about discipline, making the right choices and decisions, whether it’s post-snap, it doesn’t matter. We’ve got to play better, there’s no doubt about that,” Saban said.

Texas: Texas looks reborn on defense. Sarkisian hired defensive guru and former TCU head coach Gary Patterson as a special assistant last spring. But Texas now has new questions at quarterback if Ewers is out for an extended period. He was electric early against the Tide and had already passed for 134 yards in the first quarter before he was hurt. Card, who lost the starting job after two games last season, finished 14-of-22 passing for 158 yards.

BACK ON TRACK

Saban won his first 25 matchups against former assistants who became head coaches, and then lost two last season against Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M and then Kirby Smart of Georgia in last season’s national championship game. Sarkisian was Saban’s offensive coordinator when Alabama won the 2020 national title.

POLL POSITION

This could be one of those rare situations where the top-ranked team gets penalized for not playing well in a win, while the loser earns respect for nearly stealing a victory in what was expected to be a blowout. If voters weren’t impressed by Alabama, the Tide could drop behind No. 2 Georgia. Texas, unranked but receiving votes, may have been impressive enough to sneak into the bottom of the rankings.

RECORD CROWD FOR FUTURE RIVAL

Texas, which is scheduled to join the Southeastern Conference ahead of the 2025 season, drew a record crowd of 105,213 to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Anderson was impressed by a crowd that hampered Alabama signal calls at the line of scrimmage all game.

“This is probably like the loudest environment I’ve played in. the hardest game, since I’ve been in college football,” Anderson said. “Super loud, a lot of energy.”

NO SAFETY

Texas got what initially looked like a sack and a safety that would have given the Longhorns a 12-10 lead and the ball early in the third quarter. Even the Alabama kickoff team was gathered on the field. But the game officials, who at first threw a flag for targeting, waived that off and the safety and Alabama was allowed to punt instead.

UP NEXT

Alabama hosts Louisiana-Monroe.

Texas hosts UTSA next Saturday.

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.