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ESPN analyst Mack Brown rips Oregon for handling of Royce Freeman

ESPN’s college football analysts — most notably Mack Brown — ripped into Oregon for the way they handled Royce Freeman, who decided not to play in the Ducks’ bowl game on Saturday. Oregon said days before the bowl game that Freeman, who is a top NFL running back prospect, would not be playing in the…Read More

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Kerryon Johnson says he will ‘of course’ play in Peach Bowl

Kerryon Johnson

Auburn Tigers fans got some reassurance Friday on the status of star running back Kerryon Johnson.

When asked by a fan if Johnson, who injured his shoulder during the team’s Iron Bowl win, would suit up for the Peach Bowl, the back gave an answer that should make Auburn fans very happy.

Johnson played in the SEC Championship, and he’ll get a good period of recovery time before this game. He ran for 1,320 yards and 17 touchdowns over the course of the season, and is unquestionably one of the keys to Auburn’s offensive gameplan. They’ll certainly need him if they want to do well against a high-powered UCF team.

ESPN analyst Mack Brown rips Oregon for handling of Royce Freeman

Royce Freeman Oregon

ESPN’s college football analysts — most notably Mack Brown — ripped into Oregon for the way they handled Royce Freeman, who decided not to play in the Ducks’ bowl game on Saturday.

Oregon said days before the bowl game that Freeman, who is a top NFL running back prospect, would not be playing in the Las Vegas Bowl against Boise State, likely to avoid injury risk with his pro future on the line. He’s not the first player to do this, as both Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey did so recently to mixed criticism.

But what really struck Brown and studio analyst Booger McFarland as wrong was Oregon allowing Freeman to be on the sidelines and speak to the team pregame with the Ducks huddled up around him.

“Well, he’s not part of our team anymore. He decided not to play in the game; I don’t bring him,” Brown said at halftime. “I don’t bring him to the site. I don’t let him be around the bowl. I don’t have him speaking to our team for sure. If he’s on our football team, he’s at home, he’s watching. Because he made the decision ‘I don’t want to play, I don’t want to be a part of it.’ When you’re not part of it, you’re not part of it with me.”

McFarland agreed.

“The main thing: It’s a distraction,” McFarland said. “If some players in that huddle say, ‘Man, you want us to huddle up and rally around you, but you can’t come out here and play with us?’ If I’m (head coach Mario Cristobal), I really question the fact that Freeman was allowed to address the team. You’re either with us or you’re not. the fact that he’s on the sideline, to me, is an issue, and maybe the responsibility of this slow start for Oregon.”

The comments are certainly going to strike a chord with many. On one hand, Freeman is a respected part of the team, a team captain, and likely viewed as a team leader. On the other, he’s skipping out on his teammates for the final game of the season for selfish, but understandable reasons. He probably wasn’t the best player to be giving a pregame speech. However, as the McCaffrey situation showed us, teammates may be more understanding than the media.

Lions break out Rockettes celebration after touchdown

The Detroit Lions had an appropriately holiday-themed celebration after scoring a touchdown Saturday against the Chicago Bears.

After T.J. Jones’s touchdown reception gave the Lions a 13-0 lead over the Chicago Bears, several players joined together in a Rockettes-style chorus line.

We wonder if they planned this. There did seem to be some spontaneity involved, so credit to whoever came up with the idea, even if the professionals would probably have a thing or two to say about the execution.

It’s not the first time Ford Field has played host to a holiday-themed touchdown celebration this year, though they’re probably happier to see the home team doing it this time.

Lakers’ Caldwell-Pope to miss games due to legal agreement

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will miss multiple games over the next few weeks due to a legal matter.

The fifth-year guard said on Saturday via ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk that he will not be allowed to leave the state of California for the next 25 days due to a plea agreement he reached in May. That means he will be unable to travel with the team for away games against the Houston Rockets on Dec. 20 and again on Dec. 31 as well as against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Jan. 1.

Caldwell-Pope is averaging 14.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in his first season with the Lakers and also serves as the team’s top perimeter defender. He was arrested on a misdemeanor DUI charge back in March when he was still a member of the Detroit Pistons (full details here).

The 24-year-old also missed Thursday’s away loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers and was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie guard Josh Hart. For what it’s worth though, Caldwell-Pope is fortunate that 10 of the Lakers’ next 14 games are at home. He will also be eligible to play in an away game against the Golden State Warriors on December 22 since he will be remaining in-state.

Statue of Liberty play backfires on Boise State (Video)

Boise State statue of liberty

10 years ago, the Boise State Broncos ran an epic Statue of Liberty play on a two-point conversion to topple Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl and bring some serious respect to their program. On Saturday in the Las Vegas Bowl, they tried the same trick play again, only this variation wasn’t so successful.

Boise State was up 24-0 on Oregon and looking like they were about to go in for another TD when they tried the trick play and fumbled. The Ducks’ Troy Dye picked it up and returned it 86 yards for a touchdown to make it 24-7.

As if that weren’t wild enough, Boise State drove downfield and took the ball into the red zone almost immediately after the turnover. They threw a pass in the end zone that got intercepted and returned 100 yards for a touchdown by Tyree Robinson to make it 24-14. That all happened within the final minute of the first half. Talk about missed opportunities for the Broncos.

Baker Mayfield has high praise for Georgia defense

Baker Mayfield

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield knows exactly what he’s up against in the College Football Playoff semifinal.

The Heisman Trophy winner is expecting a very tough test from the Georgia Bulldog defense, one of the best units in the game. Mayfield was quick to praise them on Monday, and it’s safe to say he’s expecting his most difficult outing of the season.

“You can’t compare them to anybody,” Mayfield said, via Kipp Adams of 247 Sports. “They’re in a league of their own. There’s a reason they’re in the playoffs. There’s a reason they follow behind that defense. You can’t compare them to people because they’re so talented and they play so well together. To say they’re like anybody else would be downplaying how good they are.”

Mayfield will be up to the challenge. He even has some added motivation thanks to some Georgia fans who talked trash.

Lions’ Darius Slay, Bears’ Chris Prosinski evaluated for concussion

Darius Slay

The first quarter of Saturday’s Detroit Lions-Chicago Bears game saw two defensive backs get checked for concussions.

Detroit Lions playmaking cornerback Darius Slay went into the medical tent after a hit to his head on a tackle. He was eventually taken into the locker room to be checked for a concussion.

Additionally, Bears safety Chris Prosinski was placed in concussion protocol after a hit to his head while tackling Eric Ebron.

Prosinski was credited with two tackles in the game before departing, while Slay was credited with one.

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