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College football roundup: JMU lands No. 3 seed in FCS playoffs

College football roundup: JMU lands No. 3 seed in FCS playoffs

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James Madison linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey (left), shown after making an interception against Towson on Saturday, and the rest of the Dukes received an at-large bid to the FCS playoffs Sunday.

The James Madison football team received an at-large bid to the FCS playoffs Sunday and was awarded the No. 3 overall seed in the 24-team field.

JMU (10-1) reaped a first-round bye. The Dukes will host Florida A&M (9-2) or Southeastern Louisiana (8-3) in the second round on Dec. 4. SWAC member Florida A&M and Southland member Southeastern Louisiana also received at-large bids.

The Dukes, who tied for the Colonial Athletic Association title, are in the playoffs for the eighth straight year.

The only other CAA team in the field is Villanova (9-2), which tied for the CAA title and earned the CAA’s automatic bid because of its win over JMU. Villanova is the No. 5 overall seed.

CAA members Rhode Island (7-4) and William and Mary (6-5) both lost Saturday and are playoff bystanders.

The only Southern Conference team in the field is East Tennessee State (10-1), which earned the SoCon’s automatic bid. ETSU is the No. 7 overall seed. ETSU will host the Davidson-Kennesaw State winner in the second round.

SoCon members Mercer (7-3), Chattanooga (6-5) and VMI (6-5) all lost Saturday and are playoff wallflowers.

There were 13 at-large bids. The Big Sky landed four of them and the Missouri Valley Football Conference five of them.

Davidson, steered by former Washington and Lee coach Scott Abell, is in the playoffs for the second straight season. Davidson (8-2) earned the Pioneer’s automatic bid.

Defending champ Sam Houston (10-0) is the No. 1 seed, while North Dakota State (10-1) is the No. 2 seed.


Florida fires Mullen

Florida fired coach Dan Mullen on Sunday, a day after his sixth loss in nine games, two months after the Gators went toe to toe with defending national champion Alabama and a year after they had a chance to make the College Football Playoff.

Mullen’s stunning downfall and not-so-surprising departure ends a tumultuous two seasons that included mounting losses, numerous public relations missteps, NCAA sanctions and a victory against FCS member Samford that didn’t seem like much for Gators fans to celebrate.

Mullen finished 34-15 over four seasons at Florida that included a trip to the SEC championship game last year and three New Year’s Six bowls.

His final game was a 24-23 loss in overtime at Missouri that spotlighted Florida’s flaws: inconsistent quarterback play, a porous offensive line, a lack of playmakers on both sides of the ball and an inability to win close games. The Gators (5-6, 2-6 SEC) have dropped seven consecutive one-possession games, all in the last two seasons.

Florida hosts rival Florida State (5-6) on Saturday. Special team coordinator and running backs coach Greg Knox will serve as interim coach.

The Gators will pay Mullen a $12 million buyout spread over seven installments.

Florida has lost nine of its last 11 games against Power Five opponents, including four straight, and its current recruiting class ranks only 34th in the country, according to Rivals.

Mullen fired assistants Todd Grantham and John Hevesy following a 40-17 drubbing at South Carolina earlier this month. The Gators responded with a 70-52 victory against Samford that felt more like a loss.

Ohio State rises to No. 2 in poll

Ohio State is No. 2 in The Associated Press poll, surging three spots Sunday past No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Cincinnati in a close vote.

Georgia is a unanimous No. 1 for the seventh consecutive week. But for the second week in a row, No. 2 has changed.

Alabama slipped past Cincinnati last week and then Ohio State leapfrogged them both after routing Michigan State 56-7 on Saturday. The Buckeyes received 1,434 points from the media panel. The Crimson Tide had 1,423 and the Bearcats got 1,416.


South Carolina 21, Auburn 17

COLUMBIA, S.C. — It’s not his ultimate goal at South Carolina, but first-year coach Shane Beamer couldn’t hold back the tears after his Gamecocks (6-5, 3-5 SEC) became bowl eligible with a win over Auburn (6-5, 3-4).

Utah 38, Oregon 7

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah ended Oregon’s College Football Playoff hopes in dominant fashion. The Ducks’ loss also ended any chance the Pac-12 champion will claim one of the bids in the four-team playoff.

Neither Oregon (9-2, 6-2) nor Utah (8-3, 7-1) will finish high enough in the CFP rankings to earn a bid.

Oklahoma State 23, Texas Tech 0

LUBBOCK, Texas — Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1) wrapped up its first trip to the Big 12 championship game with a victory over Texas Tech, completely throttling an offense that hadn’t been shut out since 1997.

Mississippi 31, Vanderbilt 17

OXFORD, Miss. — Matt Corral threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns in his home finale and Mississippi (9-2, 5-2 SEC) beat Vanderbilt.

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