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Coach Jamey Chadwell led Coastal Carolina to an 11-1 season and was named AP Coach of the Year. John Amis/Associated Press

 

Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell is The Associated Press Coach of the Year after leading the Chanticleers to a surprising, near-perfect season.

Chadwell received 16 first-place votes and 88 points from the AP Top 25 panel to finish ahead of Indiana’s Tom Allen, who was second with 14 first-place votes and 66 points. Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell was third (5, 44) and Alabama’s Nick Saban was fourth (8, 42).

Chadwell is the first Sun Belt Conference coach to win the AP award, which was established in 1988, and the third coach to earn it with a team from outside the Power Five leagues. UCF’s Scott Frost was AP coach of the year in 2017 and Gary Patterson won the first of his two AP awards with TCU in 2009 when the Horned Frogs were competing in the Mountain West.

San Jose State’s Brent Brennan finished fifth, meaning Group of Five teams had three of the top five coaches in this year’s voting.

The 43-year-old Chadwell directed a breakout season for No. 9 Coastal Carolina (11-1) in his third year leading the program. The Chanticleers were picked last in the Sun Belt’s East Division after finishing 5-7 (2-6) last year.

“I knew we weren’t as bad as people were going to pick us to be,” Chadwell said. “I thought we were going to be pretty good. I knew we were going to be better.”

Instead, behind freshman quarterback Grayson McCall running a creative option offense, Coastal Carolina had its best season since transitioning to the Bowl Subdivision in 2017.

The Chants’ perfect season came to an end last week when they lost in overtime to Liberty in the Cure Bowl.

USC: Safety Talanoa Hufanga is headed to the NFL after a standout junior season.

Hufanga announced his plan to enter the draft on his social media accounts.

Hufanga was a first-team AP All-American and the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year this season for the No. 21 Trojans (5-1). He led USC with 62 tackles and four interceptions while adding three sacks, 5 1/2 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.

IOWA: All-America defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon of Iowa announced he’ll declare for the NFL draft and forego his senior season.

Nixon was a first-team Associated Press All-American and the AP Big Ten defensive player of the year.

Nixon led the Big Ten in tackles for loss (33), tied for the conference lead in sacks (5 1/2) and had the most tackles by a Big Ten defensive lineman (41).

DUKE’S MAYO BOWL: Graham Mertz accounted for three touchdowns and Wisconsin turned four second-half interceptions into 21 points to beat Wake Forest 42-28 at Charlotte, North Carolina.

Mertz, a redshirt freshman, threw for 130 yards and ran for two short touchdowns as Wisconsin (4-3) finished a rocky season on a high note.

“I’m truly proud of this group and what they have had to endure and how they did it together,” Wisconsin Coach Paul Chryst said.

With the game tied at 21 late in the third quarter, Noah Burks intercepted Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman on a pass in the flat when the intended receiver failed to turn his head around. Burks returned the ball 41 yards to set up a 14-yard scoring strike from Mertz to Mason Stokke on a wheel route, giving the Badgers their first lead.

Hartman, who had thrown only one interception all season, was picked off on the next three possessions as well.

Scott Nelson had a 60-yard interception return and Collin Wilder returned a pick 72 yards to set up short TD runs that gave the Badgers a 42-21 lead, resulting in Hartman getting benched. Jack Sanborn had 11 tackles and an interception and was named MVP of the game.

ALAMO BOWL: Casey Thompson passed for 170 yards and four touchdowns and No. 20 Texas overcame an injury to senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger and beat Colorado 55-23 in the Valero Alamo Bowl late Tuesday night.

Freshman running back Bijan Robinson had 183 yards on 10 carries with a TD for Texas (7-3). The Longhorns are undefeated in five bowl games under Tom Herman.

Ehlinger missed the second half after sustaining a shoulder injury in second quarter. He returned to the field in the third quarter in warmups, with his right arm in a sling. There was no immediate word on the extent of Ehlinger’s injury. Ehlinger played the entire first half, completing 10 of 16 passes for 160 yards and a score.

Colorado was playing its sixth game of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Pac-12 initially canceled its season only to reverse the decision and delay the start until Nov. 7. The Buffaloes (4-2) had two games canceled due to virus issues, but competed in the Alamo Bowl despite failing to reach the traditional six win threshold required for the postseason due to this season’s unusual circumstances.

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