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Colorado men’s cross-country team makes it four-for-four in winning fourth consecutive Pac-12 title
From the Pac-12 … Oregon’s Edward Cheserek might have won the battle, but the Colorado men’s cross country team won the war.
On a soggy course at the Oakland Metropolitan Golf Links, Colorado claimed the team title at the 2014 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships on Friday, marking the fourth straight year the Buffaloes have brought home the conference title.
This might be Mark Wetmore’s 19th season at the helm of Colorado’s program, but the veteran coach said the feeling of winning the Pac-12 never gets old.
“I’ve been at this long time and we’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of good things happen to us,” Wetmore said. “It feels great, but I always put it in big perspective and know that we have more work to do in the next couple of weeks.”
The top-ranked Buffaloes made good on their quest to go wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the nation heading into the NCAA Division I Mountain Regional on Nov. 14 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and NCAA Nationals on Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind.
While Cheserek, the reigning NCAA individual champion, defended his Pac-12 crown with a time of 23:23, Colorado senior Blake Theroux (23:42) led his team with a fourth-place finish. Theroux was the first of five straight Buffaloes to cross the finish line, as Colorado posted an impressive team score of 30. Second-place Oregon (57) and third-place Stanford (60) had a close battle on the podium, while Washington (87) and UCLA (168) also finished in the top five.
CU women finish third in Pac-12 cross country championships
From the Pac-12 … The No. 3-ranked Oregon women claimed its second team conference cross country title in three years.
Oregon (54 points) claimed a sizable victory over second-place Stanford (74) in the team competition, while Colorado (82), Washington (93) and UCLA (143) rounded out the top five. Freshman Frida Berge led the Ducks with her sixth-place finish and time of 20:25, while teammates Waverly Neer (10th), Molly Grabill (11th) and Alli Cash (12th) soon crossed the finish line in quick succession to help bolster Oregon’s score.
Utes “stunned” and “heavy hearted” after losing star wide receiver
From the Salt Lake City Tribune … Rewind the tape and there’s Utah wideout Dres Anderson, lined up on the game-winning play, and then there he is again, galloping down the sidelines to celebrate Utah’s win over USC.
All of this after sustaining a season-ending knee injury.
Sunday, without the adrenaline coursing through him, he “wasn’t feeling quite right,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. Monday, it was worse, and an MRI revealed an unspecified knee injury that required surgery and three to four months of rehabilitation for Utah’s leading receiver and senior captain.
Anderson’s playing days at the U. are now over.
Junior wideout Tim Patrick describes the receivers as “heavy-hearted” when that was explained to them at their position meeting. “It was quiet for a cool five minutes, and [Anderson] came in and just let us know that we’ve got a game this weekend, and we’ve just got to step up as a receiving corps”.
Marcus Mariota’s Heisman hopes rest in finally beating Stanford
Two pieces on the quarterback battle which will take place between Oregon and Stanford on Saturday (5:30 p.m., MT, Fox).
From the Oregonian … The spotlight will be on the quarterbacks Saturday when Stanford and Oregon meet in a 4:30 p.m. game in Autzen Stadium.
I know, when isn’t it?
But in this case, perhaps, it’s more true than ever.
…. Mariota had a particularly tough time with Stanford last year, a game in which the Cardinal won 26-20. He rushed for an un-Mariota like minus-16 yards, and was sacked three times. To be fair, he was playing on a gimpy knee.
Kevin Hogan, by contrast, has had two of his best games as a starter against the Ducks in an up-and-down career. When coach David Shaw opened up the offense last week against Oregon State and gave Hogan some operational discretion, he seemed to thrive.
It’s too simple to suggest that Stanford’s two-game winning streak in the series is due completely to the play of the two quarterbacks.
The ability of the Stanford offense to set a tone by controlling the ball is a factor. And so is Stanford’s bone-crunching defense, which is a smart, physical bunch.
But the two quarterbacks have the ball in their hands on virtually every offensive play.
It will be interesting to see how the Mariota/Hogan storyline changes this time, if indeed, it does change.
From ESPN … Kevin Hogan’s legend was born on Nov. 17, 2012, at Autzen Stadium. Still in a post Andrew Luck haze and unsatisfied with the results of Josh Nunes, Stanford turned to Hogan to make his first career start at home against Oregon State. A week later, he made his first road start in Eugene and helped engineer an unlikely 17-14 overtime win over the No. 1 Ducks. It was not a game the Cardinal were expected to win.
A year later at Stanford Stadium, the Cardinal knocked off the No. 2 Ducks 26-20. Again, Oregon was the favorite.
“Kevin has played probably two of the best games of his career against us,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said.
Against Oregon, Hogan is completing 65 percent of his throws with one touchdown, one interception and a pair of rushing touchdowns.
Conversely, Mariota has completed 57 percent of his throws against the Cardinal with three touchdowns, one interception and zero rushing touchdowns. Stanford — the only Pac-12 team Mariota hasn’t beaten in his decorated career — has been his Great White Buffalo (said in a whisper).
“Last year Marcus certainly didn’t play his best game, nor did everybody around him contribute to his best game,” Helfrich said.
Fair to assume, too, that his knee injury had something to do with it.
The quarterbacks once against take center stage this weekend as the No. 5 Ducks look to move up in the College Football Rankings. Stanford, the two-time defending league champs, is looking just to stay in the North Division race.
“It goes without saying our game plans are completely geared around Marcus,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “We have that much respect/fear of him. It is respect. He is the focal point of what we do and the focal point of what they do. At times we’ve been able to contain him. We’ve been able to harass him.
“But in every game, there’s a streak where you can’t do anything about it. He gets out of the pocket and takes off. He makes a couple of great throws. He moves the team down the field in three plays and scores a touchdown. It’s understanding that that’s going to happen at some point during the game. And when it does happen, we give respect to a great player and we come back and try to get after him again.”
Stanford’s best weapon against Mariota the last couple of years has been its offense’s ability to sustain drives and the defense’s ability to get off the field. In the two previous meetings, Stanford converted 52 percent on third down, while the Ducks converted just 25 percent.
It’s that same consistency Hogan has shown the previous two years that Shaw is hoping for out of him on Saturday.
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Utah loses wide receiver Dres Anderson for the remainder of the season
From the Deseret News … Utah wide receiver Dres Anderson’s college career is over. The senior, who injured his knee in the final drive of the Utes’ 24-21 win over USC on Saturday, underwent successful surgery Wednesday morning and faces three to four months of rehab.
“We feel bad for Dres. It’s heartbreaking for that kid. He’s a fifth-year senior. He’s poured everything he had into this program for five years,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “Nobody’s outworked him. Nobody’s done more for us than Dres during that period of time. He’s taken care of business on and off the field. He’s got his degree already in hand.”
Whittingham noted that Anderson was injured on a deep cross dig route on the final drive — the ball didn’t go to him — and he remained in the game for several more plays.
“He’s a tough kid,” Whittingham said. “He finished out.”
Anderson wasn’t feeling quite right on Sunday but didn’t think much of it. On Monday, however, Whittingham said things were a little bit worse. Team trainers then put Anderson through the procedure and an MRI and discovered that he needed surgery.
“The positive news is he should have a full recovery and should be ready to work our for the scouts when that time rolls around and I believe he’s got a future playing this game,” Whittingham continued. “So we’ll miss him and we feel bad for Dres but as far as the team, itself, we’ve got to move forward and keep going and the next guy has got to step up.”
Anderson, who is a team captain, finishes his Utah career with 2,077 receiving yards — one of just five players in team history to reach the 2,000-yard milestone. He played in 44 games, making 134 catches and scoring 17 touchdowns.
… This season, Anderson had 22 catches for 355 yards and three touchdowns … In the 2013 game against Colorado, Anderson led the Utes with seven catches for 94 yards …
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Pac-12 South race up for grabs
The Pac-12 North race comes down to this weekend. Oregon will play Stanford, with the winner the likely Pac-12 North representative (every other team in the North has a losing conference record).
The Pac-12 South, though, remains a five (sigh!) team race.
Ted Miller at ESPN has put together an interesting article on each team’s chances. The full article can be found here.
“Just about everybody controls their own destiny — almost,” said Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez. “We probably could have predicted — we did predict it — in the preseason because there’s so much parity in our league, particularly in the South. Everybody is going to beat up on everybody else and it’s going to be a wild race.”
The six-team South has become a five-team race, with only Colorado out of contention. Four of those teams are ranked, and USC is the equivalent of 27th in the AP Poll. Three teams have just one conference loss, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah, and each of them controls its own destiny. They also have yet to play each other, though the Utes visit the Sun Devils on Saturday.
USC and UCLA have two conference defeats. Both lost to Utah, but USC beat Arizona and UCLA beat Arizona State. So there’s plenty of room for us to end up with a labyrinthine tie-breaking procedure to decide who plays the North champion in the conference title game on Dec. 5.
…. USC has the best chance to win the rest of its game, according to evaluative metric FPI, at 13.9 percent. Utah’s chances to win out according to FPI are just 0.6 percent. As for the ultimate picture, FPI rates Arizona State as having the best chance to win the division at 34.2 percent. Arizona is next at 21.6 percent, while UCLA is last at 12 percent.
Best Chance to Win Pac-12 South
According to FPI:
Oregon fifth in very first Playoff Poll
From ESPN … The College Football Playoff selection committee has spoken — and it likes the SEC.
At least for now.
Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Mississippi are the top four teams in the first College Football Playoff rankings.
The first of seven Top 25 rankings compiled by a 12-member selection committee was released Tuesday night. The selection committee will ultimately pick the four teams to play in the national semifinals and set the matchups for the other four big New Year’s Day bowls that are part of the playoff rotation.
“It was extremely difficult, more difficult than any of us had expected having gone through our mock selections before,” Arkansas athletic director and committee chairman Jeff Long said. “There are 18 one-loss teams in FBS at this point in time, and the difference between many of them is very slim.”
Oregon was fifth and Alabama was sixth, giving the Southeastern Conference’s West Division four of the top six teams. There are still four games remaining matching those SEC West rivals, starting with Saturday’s matchup of Auburn and Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi.
The final rankings will be released Dec. 7, the day after the most of the conference championships are decided.
“Everyone on the selection committee recognized that our rankings will change over the next six weeks,” Long said. “I think that’s important for us to emphasize. We expect our rankings to change over the next six weeks. One week’s rankings won’t influence the next week’s rankings.”
TCU was seventh, Michigan State was eighth, Kansas State ninth and Notre Dame was 10th.
The rankings …
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott quotes on Pac-12 reforms
The Pac-12 press release concerns the sweeping reforms adopted by the Presidents and Chancellors of the conference schools is re-printed below.
Here are Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott’s comments on those changes, from CBSSportsline.com:
• Guaranteed four-year athletic scholarships while in good standing. “What it is clearly saying is there’s been concern out there within the media and otherwise that a scholarship could be taken away by a coach if he or she doesn’t like the way the student-athlete is performing,” Scott said. “The perception and reality have been vastly different. But this is making clear aid cannot be pulled for athletic performance or by the whim of a coach.”
• Return to school for athletes who don’t graduate.
Starting in 2016-17, if a Pac-12 athlete leaves a university in “good standing” and has completed half of his or her degree, the athlete can return and receive “necessary educational expenses” for remaining terms of the scholarship agreement.
• Enhanced medical support for current and former players.
“This is meant to respond to concerns that have been expressed that student-athletes put their bodies on the line and there’s not good enough care for them after school,” Scott said. “This is saying for four years or until a student-athlete is 26 years old, they’ll have medical expenses. “Essentially, all schools have a process they go through when an athlete gets ready to leave school where they document what injuries they occurred while there,” Scott said. “That will be the process by which they then determine what they treat and cover financially over the ensuing four years.”
• Liberalized transfer rules within the Pac-12.
“We’re not going to have a rule to withhold aid if you transfer within the conference,” Scott said. “They don’t have to worry about any economic hardship.” This rule does not allow athletes who transfer within the Pac-12 to play immediately. That is an NCAA rule that would have to be changed nationally through the association’s new autonomy or shared governance structure. “We haven’t had in any substantive way those conversations yet,” Scott said of eliminating the NCAA’s one-year transfer rule. “But it’s something we believe should be discussed. We are encouraging a national discussion about those transfer rules.”
• Increased athlete representation at Pac-12 meetings
“I’m not opposed to it at all,” Scott said. “We haven’t yet figured out whether we’ll have a fourth representative per school or add a student-athlete vote. We’re going to look at different models.”
Athletic scholarships will be guaranteed for four years for student athletes in all sports
From the Pac-12 … Sweeping reforms for student-athletes, including guaranteed four-year athletic scholarships, continuing education, improved health care, liberalized transfer rules, and more, were adopted today by the Pac-12 Conference in a vote of the presidents and chancellors of the Conference’s 12 member universities. The changes made today follow closely the reform principles the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors outlined in a letter written to their peer conferences in May 2014.
“This fulfills a promise we made when we announced our agenda for reform earlier this year,” said chairman of the Conference’s CEO Group, Dr. Elson S. Floyd, who is president of Washington State University. “These reforms assure better support for all our student-athletes, reinforce that academics come first, and address the financial and health needs of our students.” The Conference’s new rules apply to Pac-12 student-athletes across all sports, and include:
- Athletic scholarships will be guaranteed for four years for student-athletes in all sports.
- Student-athletes who leave school before graduating will be able to use the remainder of their educational expenses later to earn their degrees.
- Medical expenses for student-athletes who are injured during their college athletic careers will be covered for up to four years after a student-athlete leaves the institution.
- Student-athletes who transfer between Pac-12 institutions will be able to receive athletic scholarships immediately.
- Student-athletes will be represented in the Conference governance structure.
Praising the reform package was University of Washington gymnast McKenzie Fechter, the chair of the Pac-12 Student Athlete Advisory Committee: “I’m proud to be a part of a conference that is pushing reform and doing more for student-athletes,” said Fechter. “These reforms are positive steps not only for those of us who are current student-athletes, but also for those who aspire to be Pac-12 student-athletes in the future.”
The Pac-12 presidents and chancellors also reaffirmed their support for incorporating the full cost of attendance for Pac-12 scholarship student-athletes. The 65 institutions that compose the five major conferences and 15 representative student-athletes will vote on this important issue at the inaugural meeting of the five major conferences in January.
Also discussed were next steps to strengthen protections for student-athletes against excessive time demands of intercollegiate athletics. The Conference will continue to examine this subject with its Council and fellow major conferences.
Conference Commissioner Larry Scott hailed the reform package: “As a former student-athlete myself, I believe these reforms will mean a great deal to student-athletes in the Pac-12. These reforms will ensure they enjoy a positive collegiate sports experience, and graduate with a meaningful college degree. This set of reforms also addresses various health and financial concerns that student-athletes have expressed to me in the many conversations I’ve had with them, while preserving the essence of the collegiate experience that has served so many student-athletes so well. I am very proud of the national leadership position our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, senior women administrators, faculty athletic representatives, and other administrators have taken.”
PAC-12 STUDENT-ATHLETE REFORM PACKAGE
(i) Guaranteeing four-year scholarships that can neither be reduced nor canceled provided the student-athlete remains in good standing and meets his/her terms of the agreement. Effective in 2015-16, all financial aid agreements offered to incoming student-athletes will be multi-year agreements for no less than four academic years.
(ii) Financially supporting student-athletes who do not graduate in four years and return to school to complete their degrees. Effective 2016-17, if a student-athlete departs the institution in good standing and has completed a reasonable portion of their degree (50%), the student-athlete can return and receive necessary educational expenses for the remaining terms of the agreement.
(iii) Enhancing medical support for both current and former student-athletes. Effective in 2015-16, Conference schools will be required to provide direct medical expenses for documented athletically related injuries to former student-athletes for a period of four years after separation from the team or institution.
(iv) Liberalizing Transfer Rules within the Conference. The CEOs approved elimination of the financial aid penalty of the intra-conference transfer rule. Effective immediately, a student-athlete who transfers between Pac-12 institutions can receive an athletic scholarship from the second school without restriction, provided he or she is otherwise eligible to receive the aid.
(v) Increasing student-athlete representation in Pac-12 governance. The CEOs supported including student-athletes in Council meetings and giving them a meaningful role in its deliberations. Final recommendations will be determined June 2015.