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  1. GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida football coach Dan Mullen was given several more chances Monday to clarify any confusion regarding his comments about wanting to pack 90,000 screaming fans inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during the coronavirus pandemic. He declined each of them, brushing aside criticism and insisting he's focused on defending national champion LSU. He was asked: Did you have any discussions with your boss, athletic director Scott Stricklin, about what you said following a 41-38 loss at Texas A&M? "No, I've been worried about trying to beat LSU," Mullen said. Then: Any regrets two days later? Did you talk with school president Kent Fuchs? "Yeah, I've been preparing for LSU. But, I mean, I'll be honest. I think if you look at what we've been able to do, the safety precautions we have that our players have followed, our coaches follow, our staff follows, you know, I think we're a model of safety of what we've been doing during this time period. "So I'm really proud of how we've handled everything and how safe we've been with everything we're doing and all the precautions we've had in place during this time." Another follow-up: Do you understand how bad it could be having so many people, with or without masks, in cramped quarters for four hours? "I think Texas A&M, actually, they created a great atmosphere at the game, created an exciting atmosphere, you know?" the coach said. "I thought they did a great job of doing that. ... I haven't talked to people because I've been really focused on trying to beat LSU. "But, you know, whatever our government officials all say and what everybody does for the game, what we do need to do is however many people they allow into the stadium, we need to try to work as hard as we can -- all the Gator fans and all of us -- to create the best game-day atmosphere we can.'' Mullen raised eyebrows Saturday by calling for fans to pack the Swamp for Saturday's game against the Tigers. State reopening guidelines under Gov. Ron DeSantis have allowed for full stadiums since late last month. EDITOR'S PICKS Mullen wants to see 'The Swamp' packed vs. LSU Are SEC defenses this bad, is Lane Kiffin's offense this good and more Week 6 questions No college or professional team in the Sunshine State has moved beyond a small percentage of fans in attendance. The Gators had 2,000 of a nearly 17,000 allotment unsold for their home opener against South Carolina two weeks ago. But Mullen wants more. "I know our governor passed that rule, so certainly, hopefully, the UF administration decides to let us pack The Swamp against LSU -- 100% -- because that crowd was certainly a factor in the game,'' Mullen said after the Aggies upset his defenseless Gators. Derek Stingley Jr Jersey Mullen was given an opportunity to back down a few minutes later. Instead, he stood by his comments. "Absolutely want to see 90,000 in The Swamp," he said. "I don't think the section behind our bench, I didn't see an empty seat. It was packed. The student section, there must have been 50,000 behind our bench going crazy. Hopefully that creates a home-field advantage for us next week because now we passed a law in our state that we can do that. We want our students out there cheering us on to give us that home-field advantage.'' Stricklin quickly squashed any thoughts about Florida opening up its campus and increasing capacity. Fuchs took it a step further Sunday, saying on Twitter that Florida "remains fully and firmly committed to following CDC guidelines for every part of our campus from classrooms to athletic venues as well as the guidance of our own experts and local and state health officials." University of Florida students are currently holding all classes online. Campus guidelines mandate physical distancing and wearing a mask or cloth face covering, restrictions that limit how many occupants can be in buildings. But Mullen apparently believes crowded bleachers would be OK. "These preventative measures remain the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19," Fuchs said. "It is important that all members of the UF community and our campus visitors follow this guidance."
  2. Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades said there are 28 active cases of COVID-19 among its football players and 14 active cases among football staff members, which led to the decision to postpone its scheduled game against No. 7 Oklahoma State. The athletic department has 32 total COVID-19 cases among athletes, the school announced on Monday; four of those are outside of the football team. The school said 29 of the 32 positives are symptomatic, only three are asymptomatic. Rhoades, in an interview with SicEm365 Radio in Waco, Texas, on Monday, said he believes the outbreak is linked to the Bears' Oct. 3 road trip to West Virginia. Baylor officials haven't figured out the exact source of the outbreak but currently believe a false negative test that allowed an infected individual to travel to that game caused the issues. EDITOR'S PICKS Vandy-Mizzou 1st SEC game postponed by virus OSU-Baylor reset for Dec. after virus outbreak "We feel pretty confident that we had a false negative; that somebody was on the plane that was really infectious, carrying the disease at some point in time," Rhoades said. Rhoades said they're not certain how many infectious individuals traveled, but the "percentages say that it was probably one or two." The false negative test was likely an antigen test, Rhoades said, which most teams take the day before games because of the rapid nature of results as opposed to PCR tests, which take longer to process results. The Center for Disease Control says the sensitivity of rapid antigen tests is generally lower than that of PCR tests. Baylor, in accordance with Big 12 guidelines, tests athletes and staff members three times per week. Two of those tests are PCR, Rhoades said, and the third test, prior to games, is an antigen test. Rhoades said his team was "really spaced out well" on the team flight and bus rides and was compliant in wearing masks and goggles in transit. He speculated that spread could have occurred during team dinner the night before the Oct. 3 game or in the visiting locker room at West Virginia's Milan Puskar Stadium, citing "very cramped quarters." Most visiting college football locker rooms are smaller than the home teams' locker rooms. "That's where we've narrowed it down to," Rhoades said. 'We think that's the likelihood of how this started." Baylor paused all football activities on Thursday after receiving results from its team testing Wednesday. The Big 12 announced on Sunday night that the Baylor-Oklahoma State game is postponed. It will be played Dec. 12. Gregory Rousseau Jersey This is the third game on Baylor's schedule to be postponed this season. The Bears' scheduled season opener against Louisiana Tech on Sept. 12 was postponed because of the Bulldogs' COVID-19 testing results. The Bears' hastily scheduled game with Houston for Sept. 19 was postponed a day before kickoff because the Bears were short of the league's COVID-19 thresholds at a key position group. West Virginia coach Neal Brown on Monday said his team tested three times last week and had no new positive tests last week following the game against Baylor. Rhoades called the results "discouraging," but they'll examine what measures they can take on future road trips to further minimize risk. "You feel like you're doing everything you can to follow the rules, and we certainly felt like we were going above and beyond," Rhoades said. "For this to happen ... it's stressful and discouraging. But it's become a way of life, and that's the reality of it. "The unpredictability of it, knowing that you can have a perfect plan and execute it at a high level and still be susceptible to it .... you don't have the control that you would like. You've got to stay positive and stay flexible, thoughtful and smart. So, we'll deal with it."
  3. To suggest that success in college football is cyclical only understands half the picture. Yes, even the great programs such as Alabama and USC have endured their lean years. But getting back? That part isn't guaranteed. For every Nick Saban (at Alabama) or Pete Carroll (USC) resurrecting a program from seemingly infinite mediocrity, there's a Randy Shannon (Miami) and a Derek Dooley (Tennessee) who simply steered into the skid. Which brings us to Saturday, when No. 7 Miami visits top-ranked Clemson and No. 14 Tennessee, winner of eight straight games, visits No. 3 Georgia. In both Coral Gables, Florida, and Knoxville, Tennessee, the phrase is well worn and, at this point, largely meaningless, but this weekend, we'll dust it off once again. Trevor Lawrence Jersey Miami is back. Maybe. "I hear the phrase constantly," Miami athletic director Blake James said. "You heard people saying it quite a bit during our run in 2017 after we won some big games. ... The question when we're not doing well is, 'When is Miami going to be back?' The reality of it is, I don't think we ever left. Have we had the success our program and our fans wanted? Not always. But there's never been any less commitment to being at that level." EDITOR'S PICKS How Florida's two Kyles -- Trask and Pitts -- became the SEC's biggest matchup problem Rat poison, missed buses and sideline fireworks: The ultimate Nick Saban-Lane Kiffin timeline 'Basketball on grass': The origin of Mike Leach's Air Raid offense Look around college football, and the list of blue bloods committed to scripting their own narrative arc, the long awaited return to glory, is a long one. Texas isn't back. Nebraska could go to Uzbekistan but still not arrive at its 1990s glory days. Michigan, UCLA, Florida State -- they're all still somewhere on a curve that's trending in the wrong direction. But if F. Scott Fitzgerald suggested there are no second acts in American life, Saban proved there can be in college football, so here we get Miami and Tennessee -- boats against the current, hopelessly drawn into the past. "What we're trying to do is get to a position where playing these games is not extraordinary for Miami anymore," Miami coach Manny Diaz said. "This is how you build a program to be in these positions and have it feel natural and normal, as it does for Clemson." Indeed, these big games are the norm for ascendant programs like Clemson or consistent winners like Georgia. For Tennessee and Miami, however, these moments in the spotlight represent a rare glimmer of a better time when these programs enjoyed a view from the mountaintop. From 1980 through 2005, Miami won 82% of its games. It won 14 bowls. It finished in the AP top 10 in 15 different seasons. Head coach Jeremy Pruitt and No. 14 Tennessee have won eight straight games going into Saturday's matchup with No. 3 Georgia. Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports Through roughly the same time frame, Tennessee won nearly 80% of its games. It went to 25 bowl games in 26 years. It enjoyed nine seasons in the AP top 10 and seven more in the top 25. The last time both the Canes and Vols played in top-10 matchups on the same day was way back in 2004, when Tennessee played for an SEC title and Miami closed out its first season in the ACC with a loss to Virginia Tech. And the last time both programs were ranked in the top 15, as they are now, on the same weekend was Oct. 8, 2016. Both lost. To suggest that is the likely scenario come Saturday would be reasonable. Miami has faced Clemson twice since 2015. The first game, in 2015, was a 58-0 embarrassment that resulted in Golden's firing. The second was a 38-3 beating in the ACC championship game in 2017, a game that arguably represented Miami's post-2005 high-water mark. Tennessee is back. Derek Stingley Jr Jersey At Tennessee, what once was an annual heavyweight battle against Georgia has become a mismatch. The Dawgs have won each of the past three by a combined score of 122-26. And in games against top-10 opponents since the end of their respective halcyon days in the early 2000s, Tennessee and Miami have combined for a woeful 4-45 mark. "We still have a ways to go to be the program we want to be," Tennessee AD Phillip Fulmer said. "Culture is a big part of it. ... We've been at the heights and we like it better there than fighting from the middle of the pack. I know we've turned a corner culturally. We've still got a lot to do to play for championships, but I can see a real difference in the way we look, how we line up and how we practice." So at least until Clemson's Trevor Lawrence delivers his first 70-yard bomb against Miami or Georgia's Richard LeCounte returns a pick-six to the end zone Saturday against Tennessee, there is hope.
  4. Jaelan Phillips had something to say to the Miami defense before the Florida State game last Saturday, so he stood up, looked out at his teammates and coaches and let himself go. He spoke forcefully and emotionally. This team saved him, made him believe in himself again, made him believe in everything he knew he could be back when he was one of the nation's top recruits in 2017. He told them how grateful he felt to be a part of this rivalry game, how humbled he felt, because a year ago, he still had no idea whether he would ever play again. The players listened quietly, moved in ways they never expected. Teammate Bubba Bolden, one of his closest friends on the team, could especially relate given he had transferred himself, and had come back from a leg injury. "He hit the point I wanted to hit, but I never said it," Bolden said. "The way he said it, the passion he came with, you could tell he meant it. We're both blessed to have a second chance at playing football." A few hours later, Phillips made one of his biggest plays to date -- a juggling interception as he fell to the ground off a botched reverse. He then drew a 15-yard penalty for his celebration. That did not stop him from mugging for the camera on the sideline while wearing the Turnover Chain for the first time. EDITOR'S PICKS After transfer and tragedy, D'Eriq King finds his way back onto the field AP Top 25 college football poll reaction: What's next for each ranked team? College football conference power rankings Two-thousand, six-hundred miles across the country in Redlands, California, his high school coach had one thought: "He's back." "That joy of playing football -- it's very obvious watching him on the field, he's found it again," Kurt Bruich said. There is a balance, of course, and Phillips might have let his emotions get the best of him. On the next drive, he kicked a Florida State helmet that had come off, drawing a second unsportsmanlike penalty and automatic ejection. "He felt awful about it," Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz told reporters after the game. "I think it's a great teaching lesson not only for Jaelan, but for everybody else on the roster." And Diaz knows No. 7 Miami can't afford that again this Saturday against No. 1 Clemson (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN App), a game that will serve as a measuring stick for the Hurricanes and how much progress they have made toward reestablishing themselves as a perennial national championship contender. Phillips is only three games into his Miami career, but he has played a big role in the way the culture, demeanor and chemistry inside the program has changed. If quarterback D'Eriq King has been the catalyst for the offense, Phillips has been the same for the defense in the team's 3-0 start. "When your best players practice and play as hard as he does, it sets a standard," Miami defensive coordinator Blake Baker said. "That's something that hasn't necessarily been the case around here, especially among the older players." Jaelen Phillips has again found contentment on the football field: “It’s just the best feeling to be able to do this again.” Al Diaz/Miami Herald/AP Photo The remarkable part is not that he set the standard, but that he is in the Miami locker room at all. Nearly two years ago, Phillips had given up on football after a string of injuries ended his career at UCLA. He had enrolled at Los Angeles Community College to study music production, his biggest passion outside football, and worked at his dad's law office. He lived alone in a loft and, for the first time in his life, started to question who exactly he was now that he no longer had the one thing that defined him. He kept asking himself, "Who am I without football?" Phillips was a natural at the game because of his long frame, deceptive speed and unparalleled work ethic. Though Phillips wanted to play receiver in high school, Bruich told him defense is where he would make his money. It took some convincing, but Phillips finally moved to outside linebacker. Phillips didn't truly buy in until midway through his sophomore year. But once he did, he was an unstoppable force and scholarship offers started pouring in too. He chose UCLA in large part because of the relationship he developed with then-coach Jim Mora. As the No. 3 overall recruit in the ESPN 300 in 2017, Phillips says now he entered school "on my high horse" and "a little entitled," given all the recruiting hype and the spotlight that had been put on him. Reality set in earlier than anyone could have predicted. In his third game as a true freshman, Phillips sustained a high ankle sprain, the first major injury of his football career. When he returned to play, he hurt his other ankle, then sustained a concussion. He ended up playing in seven games, with four starts, and told himself he would work harder than ever in the offseason for a breakout sophomore year. But then came the injury that ultimately changed the course of his life, in January 2018. Phillips' parents had given him a moped to help him more easily get around the Westwood area. He was in the bike lane, close to his apartment, with traffic in the two lanes next to him at a complete standstill. Phillips says he was riding about 30 mph when a car unexpectedly pulled into the bike lane without putting on a turn signal. He slammed on the brakes, but the sudden change in momentum threw him into the air and over his moped. Phillips hit the side of the car and rolled onto the sidewalk, stunned. He glanced down at his legs, and they were fine. His arms seemed fine. Then he glanced down at his wrist, bent in what Phillips describes as a "horrible angle." The driver stopped briefly to make sure he was OK, then left the scene. Phillips called his roommate to take him to the hospital. Only a few weeks into winter conditioning, Phillips knew he would be out indefinitely. "It was almost like I had gone through a really bad breakup and I was trying to move on, and [I was] going to dedicate my life to music, but football kept coming back to me." Miami DE Jaelan Phillips on temporarily being away from football "It was a bad situation overall," Phillips said. "All the anticipation was building for the season and then boom: off-the-field injury. I was like, 'This is really unfortunate.' It was like a roller coaster, coming in on a high and then injured and a low, then coming back up and then boom, a low." Phillips broke his left wrist and needed multiple surgeries, including one that removed three bones because of ligament damage. He was able to start the first game of the 2018 season, but even then, he played in excruciating pain because the small bones in his wrist were rubbing against one another constantly. He sustained another concussion in his fourth game, and UCLA doctors declared him out for the season in mid-October. At that point, Phillips said the doctors told him it might be best to medically retire. Phillips thought about all the injuries he had been through, and the recent coaching change to Chip Kelly did not put him any more at ease. He was clearly unhappy, so he agreed it would be best to step away from the game. "I had a lot of expectations, both for myself and from people, and getting those injuries ... as an athlete, our body is our asset, so when your body starts failing you, it's a weird feeling. It derails what you've got going on," Phillips said. Phillips thought he would be OK without football if he focused on his music and lived a 9-to-5 life. He quit working out, too. Then, he went on a holiday cruise with his family. While he was gone, Mora had called and floated an idea that remained stuck in the back of Phillips' mind: Are you sure you're done with football? "It was almost like I had gone through a really bad breakup and I was trying to move on, and [I was] going to dedicate my life to music, but football kept coming back to me," Phillips said. "I didn't know what to do with myself. That was my whole identity. I didn't really feel like myself. I wasn't the Jaelan Phillips that everybody knew, and so when Jim Mora hit me up, it was almost like, 'This is a little bit of a sign. Maybe I should pursue this again.'" In February 2019, Phillips announced he would transfer to Miami. But even then, he had no idea whether he would play again. Neither did Miami, given his medical history. When he arrived on campus that summer, Phillips was virtually unrecognizable, especially compared to his arrival on the UCLA campus as a ballyhooed freshman. Phillips was down to 225 pounds, from his UCLA playing weight of 245. No one on campus or inside the locker room knew who he was, other than a transfer who had yet to live up to outside expectations put on him as an 18-year-old. He approached the situation with clear trepidation. Miami coaches wanted to focus on getting Phillips acclimated to his new surroundings first before they would worry about a weight-room regimen and rekindling his passion for football. The Phillips that was seen a few weeks ago smiling and celebrating on camera was not the Phillips anyone saw in those early months. "He was very, very quiet," Baker says. "He did not have that sense of belonging. He'd been through so much off the field, he really didn't know if he loved the game of football anymore because he'd been away from it, so our biggest priority was not to rush him back into it, not to make him feel that's the only reason we were bringing him here." DE Jaelan Phillips, left, reconnected with Bubba Bolden upon arrival in South Florida last year. Both players were top recruits in 2017 and played at L.A.-area schools before transferring to Miami. Miami Athletics Phillips started out with the developmental lift group, reserved for freshmen and newcomers, at 5:45 every morning. Bolden, who transferred to Miami from USC and helped get Phillips to consider the Hurricanes, watched how his friend approached the situation. Phillips and Bolden met during recruiting camps and played in the 2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Because they chose Pac-12 schools in Los Angeles, it was easy for them to stay in touch. Rather than big-time anyone, Phillips encouraged the young players around him, setting an early example for others to follow. Within a few months, Phillips had added 40 pounds to his frame. Bolden watched Phillips' body transform. "I used to pick his brain and ask, 'Bro, how are you getting so big, so fast?' He told me he could never let himself get hungry, so he ate full meals all the time and drank a lot of water. I said, 'I need to do what you're doing.'" Phillips ate roughly 260 grams of protein in a day to bulk up. He was not cleared to participate in practice that fall, and he says it was not until this past January that he truly felt ready to play football again. "The biggest thing for me coming into Miami, people knew who I was coming out of high school, and that is not what I was, and so it was really hard for me to function," Phillips said. "I had a lot of social anxiety when it came to that. I had a lot of identity issues. "To be honest, what's even harder than being thrust into that position of fame as a five-star No. 1 recruit is dealing with it when it all gets taken away, and that's what happened when I stopped playing. When I'm playing football, people are talking about me on Twitter, people are following me on Instagram. I'm posting pictures of me playing football, when I would walk down the street sometimes either back home or in Westwood, people would know who I was, and then I stopped playing football. Nobody's talking about me anymore. I'm not posting anything on Instagram. I kind of fell off the face of the earth in terms of the social aspect. Gregory Rousseau Jersey "That was hard to deal with because I felt like my identity was attached to all of that, so when it got stripped away, I felt like my identity got stripped away. When I lost all that weight, I felt like I was a shell of what I was before. I didn't get all my confidence back until started performing again." That came March 1, the first day of spring practice and the first time Phillips put on his Miami uniform. He lined up as a defensive end. "When we saw him this spring, we were like, 'Oh my gosh,'" Baker said. "We did not know what we had, I'll tell you that much. As a staff, we had no idea what kind of monster this dude is." After that first day, Baker decided to find Phillips' old high school clips. In the first one he watched, Phillips returned a punt for a touchdown. Once the team returned together for fall practices, coaches saw even more. Defensive line coach Todd Stroud said early in the fall camp that Phillips is in the 99th percentile of any player he has ever coached in terms of his physical attributes. Baker says, "If you were to create a player in a video game, you'd create Jaelan Phillips at defensive end. He's 6-5, he's 265, 270 pounds. I'm willing to guess he will run easily in the 4.6s. He's going to test out of this world from a combine standpoint. Then, from a mental aspect, he's one of the smartest players I've ever been around. The cherry on the top is with the effort he plays with." Chuba Hubbard Jersey Jaelan Phillips decided to step away from football after suffering numerous injuries early on in his collegiate career at UCLA. A call from his former coach there, Jim Mora, sparked his move to return. Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire Baker compares Phillips to NFL standouts Nick and Joey Bosa and says, if Phillips stays healthy, "he's a no-brainer first-round pick." But before Phillips gets that far, he has more to do at Miami. Starting Saturday. "It's surreal to be back," Phillips says. "A year and a half ago, when I was living by myself in an apartment in L.A. going to a junior college taking music production classes, I didn't think I'd have the opportunity to do what I'm doing again. Being here, thinking about the time I've spent and how hard it's been, it means a lot for me to be back on the field again. It drives my game, it drives my passion.
  5. Kansas State starting quarterback Skylar Thompson left Saturday's win over Texas Tech with an apparent right arm injury after taking a hit in the second quarter. Coach Chris Klieman did not have an update on Thompson's status after the game. Thompson, in his third year as the Wildcats' starter, appeared in street clothes during the second half with his right arm in a sling. Freshman Will Howard relieved Thompson and completed 7 of 12 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown as Kansas State rallied from a 21-17 fourth-quarter deficit to win 31-21. Thompson departed with 7:46 remaining in the first half after Texas Tech linebacker Riko Jeffers hit him after a pass attempt. Jeffers was penalized for roughing the passer. Howard replaced Thompson as Kansas State went on to score on a Deuce Vaughn touchdown run. "I was licking my chops when I saw that one-on-one matchup with Deuce and a linebacker," Howard said. "That's a good sight to see as a quarterback." Klieman did not take issue with the hit on Thompson, who made his 30th career start Saturday. "It was penalized," Klieman said. "[Texas Tech coach] Matt Wells is as classy a guy as there is, so, no, there was nothing malicious by it at all. It's the game of football." Last week, Thompson rallied Kansas State to an upset victory at then-No. 3 Oklahoma, passing for a career-high 334 yards and accounting for four touchdowns (three rush, one pass). Howard saw his first extensive action after completing one pass in Kansas State's season-opening loss to Arkansas State. "He did a great job for us," Klieman said. "We didn't open up everything for him, but Will can handle a ton for a true freshman. ... He's a competitor, he's a winner, he wants the stage and it wasn't too big for him." Howard called Thompson "a great mentor to have" and said of stepping in for him: "You've always got to be ready to go." "The team, we just rallied around each other," Howard added. "They picked me up and said they believed in me." Klieman declined to speculate on what it could be like if Thompson misses extensive time, saying, "We don't know. Let's diagnose it and see." Thompson is the first Kansas State quarterback to record three wins over AP top 10 opponents, and on Saturday became the second Wildcats quarterback to eclipse 5,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in his career. Kansas State visits TCU next Saturday. More team :Chuba Hubbard
  6. Campus police cleared out the entire SMU student section during the first half of Saturday's game against Memphis because a large majority in the crowd wasn't following coronavirus protocols such as wearing masks or social distancing, a school spokesman confirmed to ESPN. SMU's stadium policy allows up to 1,000 students in its student section and on the lawn, and it requires face coverings when it's not possible to maintain 6 feet of separation between each person. "During the game, some students began to gather and disregard these safety measures," said Brad Sutton, SMU senior associate athletic director/external affairs, in an email. "They were asked to spread out and mask when in close contact. EDITOR'S PICKS SMU receiver Roberson sidelined by knee injury "After numerous attempts by staff and security to get the students to comply with these safety requirements, it became necessary to clear the area. While some students did move to other areas in the stadium where they could watch in small groups at safe distances, many did leave." A picture of maskless students packed together, shouting and celebrating a touchdown on the grassy hill in the end zone at Gerald J. Ford Stadium circulated on social media after it appeared in an online story in The Dallas Morning News. Following last week's 50-7 home win against Stephen F. Austin, SMU athletic director Rick Hart issued a public statement addressing the same issue. "The majority of fans in the stadium behaved responsibly and were socially-distanced and masked," Hart wrote. "That said, we will be working to adjust the behavior of a small subsection of fans who did not follow our pledge to protect, which was sent to all ticketholders." Sutton said that throughout the week, SMU sent "several reminders of the critical importance of following safety measures while attending the game." SMU also increased staffing in the student section. According to the Dallas Morning News, the entire crowd was eventually gone by the start of the second half. "While no one at SMU wants to see fans leave, it is important to preserve our privilege to host games with fans in attendance during a pandemic," Sutton said. "The health, safety and well-being of our fans and students is our highest priority and we must enforce safety requirements to the greatest extent possible and to operate as we have promised local officials. Our hope is that students will be able to return for our next home game and we will continue to work toward that goal." With its 30-27 win over No. 25 Memphis, SMU has now started 4-0 in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1983-84. Its next home game is Oct. 24 against No. 15 Cincinnati. More player :Trevor Lawrence