Pac-12 Notes

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Pac-12 Notes

December 17th

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Oregon loses All-American cornerback for Rose Bowl

From Duck Territory … Through multiple sources DuckTerritory.com has learned consensus All-American corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu has torn an ACL and will miss the remainder of the season.

The 5-foot-10 senior suffered the knee injury in practice on Tuesday, and from multiple sources close to the Oregon program Oregon’s staff instantly feared the worst.

Yahoo Sports’ Rand Getlin was the first to report the news.

Without the availability of Ekpre-Olomu Oregon will likely shift redshirt freshman corner Chris Seisay into the starting lineup and senior Dior Mathis will become Oregon’s third corner available.

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New Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen talks about leaving Wisconsin

The Oregonian has published transcripts of a pair of interviews new Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen gave to ESPN.

The interviews can be found here and here. Some of the transcript:

On if he believes OSU is one of the toughest jobs in the country:

“Absolutely not. There’s challenges everywhere. I’ve been in this very familiar situation. I love the college town, the atmosphere, the relationships the students can have here with the student-athletes and what the student-athlete can get from a social standpoint and athletic standpoint and the academic standpoint. (It’s) exactly, kind of, I guess it fits me as a coach, and I’ve done this long enough to know that there’s fits and certain spots where you believe as a coach that you can succeed. It’s a challenge. They’re all a challenge. You said it best — there is no easy jobs. I look at this job as a place that we can be very successful with quality kids and (I’m) looking right now to put a great staff in place to allow these kids to learn a lot of football. At the end of the day, players make plays, players win games and we’ll recruit like crazy and we’ve some great kids here I’m looking forward to working with.

On why he left Wisconsin for OSU:

“Well, it’s a simple answer and no one wants to buy that answer (from) me. I got into the conversation with Oregon State, (and) it became very apparent that the direction that they were heading fit myself and what I believe in as the head coach and the ability for them to be able to take the next step. You are right, I was at a tremendous place. Had tremendous, tremendous kids. I think there’s times and a place for all coaches, administrators, whatever it may be, you’ve got to look at yourself in the mirror and check your ego at the door sometimes and do what you think’s best for yourself, maybe not so fast, how about thinking about where you’re gonna go and the direction of what you’ve built in your own mind with kids and what have you and the people that you can affect. I was around a lot of great kids. I’ve had some  reat influences on some young men’s lives at Wisconsin, but I felt like, in my mind, I know that this is where I was supposed to go. That’s the easiest way for me to sum it up. After I was educated on the direction and where Oregon State plans on going in the future, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

On his reaction when the opportunity at Oregon State first came up:

“I knew it was a place I was immediately interested in. I was excited about the opportunity to at least communicate and see the direction of the program. I always tell recruits the people behind the desk are the most important part. When I was able to meet with the administration and see their vision and their goals and what they expect in the future as far as the facilities that they’re gonna build and the commitment to the program, I instantly became very, very intrigued. And like I said, from afar, I had great respect for this place through recruiting, competing against them on the field. I had been here once to play. I also competed against them at the University of Utah. So there was a lot of things that I saw from afar that really impressed me, and that did nothing but grow as we went through the education process.”

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December 16th

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Pac-12 puts 15 players on All-American teams, as many as any other conference

No wonder it was so hard to get a win this season

From the Pac-12 … There’s a definite purple and gold tinge to the Associated Press All-America first team this year.

The Washington Huskies placed three players on the AP’s first team – tied for the most of any squad in the nation – as part of the 15 Pac-12 players who earned All-American honors in 2015.

Both the SEC and Pac-12 placed 15 players on the All-America teams, more than any conference in the nation.

Defensive tackle Danny Shelton and linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha were both named to the first squad, as was Shaq Thompson as an all-purpose player. In addition, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (quarterback) and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (cornerback), Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright and Utah punter Tom Hackett each earned first-team nods as well.

In total, the Ducks led the way by placing four players on the three All-America teams, while the Huskies and USC Trojans each saw three players earn spots. Here’s a look at each of the Pac-12′s AP All-Americans.

First Team Second Team Third Team
Marcus Mariota, Oregon, QB Andrus Peat, Stanford, OT Jake Fisher, Oregon, OT
Shaq Thompson, Washington, All-purpose Hroniss Grasu, Oregon, C Nelson Agholor, USC, WR
Danny Shelton, Washington, DT Nate Orchard, Utah, DE Su’a Cravens, USC, S
Scooby Wright III, Arizona, LB Leonard Williams, USC, DT
Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington, LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA, LB
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon, CB
Tom Hackett, Utah, P

You can check out the full AP All-America teams here.

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December 15th

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Pac-12 teams favored in seven of eight bowl games

From vegasinsider.com

Saturday, December 20th … Las Vegas Bowl … No. 22 Utah a 4.5-point favorite over Colorado State

Saturday, December 27th … Sun Bowl … Arizona State is 8.5-point favorite over Duke

Saturday, December 27th – Holiday Bowl … No. 24 USC is a 6.0-point favorite over Nebraska

Tuesday, December 30th … Foster Farms Bowl … Stanford is a 14-point favorite over Maryland

Wednesday, December 31st … Fiesta Bowl … No. 10 Arizona is a 4.0-point favorite over No. 20 Boise State

Thursday, January 1st … Rose Bowl … No. 2 Oregon is an 8.5-point favorite over No. 3 Florida State

Friday, January 2nd … Alamo Bowl … No. 11 Kansas State is a 3.5-point favorite over No. 14 UCLA

Friday, January 2nd … Cactus Bowl … Washington is a 6.5-point favorite over Oklahoma State

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December 14th

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Oregon State congratulates Mariota

Oregon State took out a full page ad in the Oregonian, congratulating Oregon’s Marcus Mariota on becoming the first Duck to win the Heisman trophy:

Oregon State congratulates Oregon's Mariota

Oregon State congratulates Oregon’s Mariota

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ad reads: “Our own Terry Baker brought that treasured hardware home to Oregon 52 years ago. So we know that feeling. And what it takes to get there. It takes doing the work. Showing up, then stepping up. Becoming a leader on the field. It takes thousands of yards, gained one pass and one run at a time. Keeping your head in today’s game, not yesterday’s hype.

“It takes dedication. Standing with your team until the job’s done. Representing your school and state with character to the last. And you’ve done that.

“Congratulations, Marcus Mariota, on winning the Heisman Trophy. From the Oregon Beavers”.

 

Mariota wins Heisman in a landslide

From ESPN … Marcus Mariota wrote it all down, every word of his Heisman Trophy acceptance speech. It was a good thing, too, because getting through it might have been tougher than sprinting away from a linebacker or tossing a long touchdown pass for Oregon.

The Ducks’ understated star won the Heisman on Saturday night going away, capping a three-year climb to college football’s most prestigious individual award.

“I’m humbled to be standing here today,” Mariota said moments after he was announced as the winner.

“I had to give thanks to so many people because where I am today, it’s all due to all those people,” Mariota said later. “It’s hard not to get emotional. It’s been a long journey. My emotions got the best of me.”

Mariota received the second-highest percentage of possible points (90.92) in Heisman history, behind only Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith, who had 91.63 in 2006. Southern California tailback Reggie Bush received 91.77 percent of possible points in 2005, but his victory was later vacated for violating NCAA rules.

Mariota, the first Hawaii native to win the Heisman, has accounted for a Pac-12-record 53 touchdowns (38 passing, 14 rushing and one receiving) while directing the Ducks’ warp-speed spread offense.

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December 13th

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Pac-12 and the Heisman Trophy

Heading into the 2014 season, only ten players from the Pac-12 Conference had been awarded the Heisman Trophy, with six from USC, and one each from Colorado, Oregon State, UCLA and Stanford.

The previous winners:

1962 – Terry Baker, quarterback, Oregon State

1965 – Mike Garrett, running back, USC

1967 – Gary Beban, quarterback, UCLA

1968 – O.J. Simpson, running back, USC

1970 – Jim Plunkett, quarterback, Stanford

1979 – Charles White, running back, USC

1981 – Marcus Allen, running back, USC

1994 – Rashaan Salaam, running back, Colorado

2002 – Carson Palmer, quarterback, USC

2004 – Matt Leinart, quarterback, USC

New Oregon State’s head coach Gary Andersen’s contract worth $2.45 million per year

From the Oregonian … New Oregon State football coach Gary Andersen has agreed to a six-year contract that starts with a base salary of $2.45 million, athletic director Bob De Carolis said Friday afternoon.

Andersen’s salary will then increase by $100,000 each ensuing year. Additionally, bonuses will be awarded for winning eight, nine or 10 games in a season, winning the Civil War, reaching the Pac-12 title game and reaching the College Football Playoff or one of the “New Year’s Six” bowl games. Unlike former coach Mike Riley’s most recent contract, Andersen’s deal does not add a year each time he wins six games.

Andersen’s base salary is a raise from his total pay at Wisconsin ($2.285 million in 2014, according to USA Today’s database) and significantly larger than Riley’s $1.5 million salary in 2014 and expected salary of $1.6 million in 2015.

So how was OSU able to pull off the financials of Andersen’s contract?

“We’re still working on that,” De Carolis said.

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December 12th

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Pac-12 well represented in award presentations

In addition to the multiple major awards taken home by Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (see story, below), the Pac-12 had numerous other players who were honored for their efforts this fall …

- Nate Orchard, Utah … Ted Hendricks Award – Defensive end of the Year

- Scooby Wright III – Chuck Bednarik Award – Defensive Player of the Year

- Scooby Wright III – Bronco Nagurski Award – Defensive Player of the Year

- Scooby Wright III – Vince Lombardi/Rotary Award – Outstanding Lineman

- Tom Hackett, Utah … Ray Guy Award – Nation’s Outstanding Punter (first Pac-12 player to ever win the Award)

- Anthony Barr, UCLA – Ronnie Lott / IMPACT Trophy – Outstanding Defensive Player

 

December 11th

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Oregon’s Marcus Mariota wins Maxwell, Davey O’Brien and Walter Camp Awards

From ESPN … Marcus Mariota was the big winner at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Thursday night in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

The star Oregon quarterback took home the Maxwell Award as the nation’s most outstanding player and the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, in addition to winning the Walter Camp player of the year award.

Mariota said the accolades cap a long personal journey.

“Being from Hawaii, being kinda quiet and reserved to now being a little more vocal and being a part of a special team, it’s come a long way for me. It’s all been such a blessing,” Mariota said.

The soft-spoken QB said he has his coaches and teammates to thank for his growth.

“[My teammates] asked me to kinda step up and be vocal and understand that my words can be powerful. … It’s been an ongoing process for me and I’ve definitely come a long way with it,” he said.

Mariota is the first player from Oregon to win each of the three awards. The junior also is a Heisman Trophy finalist and the front-runner to win that award Saturday (8 p.m., on ESPN) in New York.

Seven of the last eight O’Brien winners have gone on to win the Heisman.

 

Nebraska flips Oregon State recruit after coaching change

From the Lincoln Journal-Star … The Huskers have already flipped one of Mike Riley’s Oregon State recruits. Now they’ve offered another, extending a scholarship opportunity to tight end Matt Snyder. (Rivals bio).

The 6-foot-5, 245-pound prospect from San Ramon, California, tweeted out news of the offer Tuesday.

Snyder has been committed to Oregon State since mid-October. Assistant coach Bruce Read, who has been reported as a possible Nebraska hire, was one of his lead recruiters for the Beavers.

Most of Snyder’s offers came from teams on the West Coast, including California, Utah State, Nevada, Fresno State and Colorado State.

On Saturday, Nebraska received a commitment from linebacker Tyvin Ferguson (New Orleans) (Rivals bio)  who previously was committed to Oregon State.

 

December 10th

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Surprise! … Oregon State hires Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen

From ESPN … Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen is leaving the school after two seasons to take the head coaching job at Oregon State, the school announced.

Andersen replaces Mike Riley, who left the Beavers this month after 14 seasons to take the head job at Nebraska.

Oregon State announced the news on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a press conference Wednesday evening that he was “very surprised” by the news. “I really had no idea this was in the works,” he said.

Alvarez said family considerations motivated Andersen’s decision.

“I thought Gary was a good fit,” Alvarez said. “There was never any talk about, ‘Some day I’d like to get back to that part of the country.’ When you’re away for a while maybe that settles in. I don’t know that. Those are things you may want to ask him.”

Alvarez said he wants to have a new coach in place by January 1. He said he is looking for someone with head coaching experience but the candidate doesn’t need to have Wisconsin ties.

“My phone is ringing off the hook already,” Alvarez said. “Word is just starting to leak out and I’ll be very busy tonight answering phone calls from agents and coaches.

“I’ll try to make contact with people … and try to move as quickly as we possibly can through our system and the process we have to follow,” he said. “My goal would be to have somebody in place certainly before the bowl game.”

Quick hits on Gary Andersen

From the Oregonian …:

>>> Andersen, 50, became Wisconsin’s 29th head coach on Dec. 20, 2012. He took over an 8-6 team after Bret Bielema left for Arkansas, and he has led the Badgers to a 19-7 record over two seasons. Last year, Wisconsin lost to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl. The No. 18 Badgers are set to face No. 19 Auburn in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1.

>>> Of the 31 coaches that took over at FBS programs 2013, Andersen was one of five to record at least nine wins his first season.

>>> This year, Andersen oversaw the nation’s top rusher. Junior running back Melvin Gordon, who has 2,336 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns this season, is one of three Heisman Trophy finalists. He said yesterday on the Dan Patrick Show that he plans to enter the NFL draft.

>>> Before arriving at Wisconsin, Andersen amassed a 26-24 record at Utah State. After opening his Aggies stint with back-to-back 4-8 seasons, Andersen led Utah State to a 7-6 record in 2011 and an 11-2 record in 2012. The Aggies played in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl each of Andersen’s last two years at Utah State (24-23 loss to Ohio in 2011, and a 41-15 win over Toledo in 2012).

>>> Andersen has no known ties to Oregon State.

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Oregon loses nation’s top recruit to Florida State

From the Oregonian … Oregon lost to Florida State. Ducks fans are certainly hoping that’s the last time that phrase is uttered this college football season.

Josh Sweat, 247Sports’ top-ranked recruit in the class of 2015, committed to Florida State over Georgia, Ohio State Oregon and Virginia Tech in a hat ceremony at Oscar Smith High School (Virginia) on Wednesday morning, according to multiple reports.

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound defensive end was one of the most offered prospects in the country, having eliminated dozens of schools leading up to his announcement.

Florida State entered the day with Rivals’ No. 2 recruiting class nationally, but could top current No. 1 Alabama with its latest pledge.

Oregon received an official visit from Sweat over the weekend, which created a glimmer of hope among Duck fans that the five-star talent would be swayed, but it was viewed as a long shot.

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December 9th

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Norm Chow staying on at Hawai’i

…CU’s next football game will be against Hawai’i, on the road, next September 5th. For now, anyway, it appears that it will not be against a new head coach …

From NBC Sports … Heading into the 2014 spinning of the coaching carousel, conventional wisdom had Hawaii’s athletic director firing head coach Norm Chow.  Instead, it’s the former who has found himself without a job.

While nothing is official quite yet, the Honolulu Advertiser is reporting that Chow will be retained as the Rainbow Warriors’ coach.  Additionally, Chow’s boss, athletic director Ben Jay, will resign.

The developments are expected to be announced at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

While the Rainbow Warriors went just 4-9 this season, that’s a marked improvement from the 1-11 2013 campaign.  Overall in Chow’s three years, Hawaii has gone 8-29 overall and 4-20 in conference play.

Jay’s most dubious claim to fame in overseeing UH athletics was acknowledging in August that “[t]here’s a very real possibility of football going away” at the university.  He later backtracked on those comments.

Attrition expected at the quarterback position at Utah

From the Salt Lake City Tribune … It’s a natural assumption.

With junior quarterbacks Travis Wilson, Kendal Thompson and Adam Schulz all having starting experience, and with redshirt freshmen Brandon Cox and Conner Manning currently vying for the backup role … and with true freshman Donovan Isom and junior transfer Jason Thompson and returned missionary Chase Hansen entering the mix last year — it’s a lot to type, much less evaluate.

Something has to give.

Monday, we learned that Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham is under the same impression.

“My guess is there may be one or two, or maybe even three, that get the itch to play sooner and they take their game elsewhere,” he said during the first day of bowl prep. “We don’t know.”

This year saw a seesawing battle between Wilson and Kendal Thompson extend into the final week of fall camp — and then again through the conference slate until Thompson was lost for the season with a knee injury.

Wilson, as fans well know, was captain as a sophomore before doctors discovered an intracranial artery condition that cast doubt on his ability to ever play football again. After receiving his doctor’s clearance, he showed up to summer conditioning a sculpted marvel, and he impressed coaches with his decision-making during fall camp.

Both Thompsons followed offensive coordinator Dave Christensen to the U. — Kendal operated a Christensen-influenced offense in high school and saw a chance to start at Utah, with a logjam at Oklahoma, and Jason played for Christensen at Wyoming and was once the heir apparent to Brett Smith.

Manning has one of the quickest releases in the recent memory of Utah running backs coach and longtime D-I head coach Dennis Erickson, and Cox has been described as one of Utah’s most athletic and intelligent quarterbacks.

Then there’s Isom, staying after practice to toss pinpoint spirals to backup receivers, and Hansen, who had a historic prep career at Lone Peak and was greeted by Whittingham last week when he got off the plane from Australia.

Accounting for them all can make your head spin.

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December 8th

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Sorry, CSU … Big 12 has no plans to expand

From ESPN … Big 12 athletics directors met with commissioner Bob Bowlsby for 2½ hours in New York City on Monday.

Bowlsby said West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, a voting member of the playoff selection committee, briefed the room, one day after the conference was shut out of the first College Football Playoff.

After visiting with Luck, Bowlsby said he believes the Big 12 not having a title game “had a bearing” on co-champions Baylor and TCU missing out. The other four power conferences have title games.

Bowlsby said no decision was made about if the conference would have a 13th game in the future if permitted by the NCAA. He added that the conference would not expand by two programs just to have 12 teams, as that would be a “poor reason.”

Bowlsby believes the “human nature” of Ohio State’s dominance of Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game left a “lasting impression” that was a factor.

He said Big 12 athletic directors will decide if one Power 5 nonconference opponent is required in the future, but added that each program in different stage of development.

Baylor had one of the weakest nonconference schedules in the country, and that was a factor in its failure to qualify.

Bowlsby said his recent remark that he would have voted for TCU for the playoff was more about believing the Horned Frogs were better positioned to stay ahead of Ohio State in the rankings and not a slight at Baylor.

Eastern Washington head coach a strong candidate for Oregon State vacancy

From the Oregonian … As the college football coaching carrousel picked up speed, Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin was mentioned as a candidate at several Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

The latest and most plausible is Oregon State, which saw longtime head coach Mike Riley depart for Nebraska. Within hours, Baldwin’s name was floated as a leading candidate by every major media outlet in the Willamette Valley.

Considered an innovative coach with a proven track record at the FCS level, the 42-year-old Baldwin is 66-24 in his seventh season with the Eagles, won a national championship in 2010 and owns a 49-46 win over the Beavers in the opening game of the 2013 season.

A Tacoma native, Baldwin also has strong recruiting ties in the Northwest. More than half of Eastern’s roster hails from west of the Cascades.

Earlier this week, Baldwin told The Spokesman-Review that he wasn’t interested in the head coaching position at Big Sky Conference rival Montana but left the door open to offers from FBS schools.

On Thursday, Baldwin said he hadn’t been contacted by anyone from Oregon State.

Meanwhile, EWU athletic director Bill Chaves was in Portland on Thursday night with several other Eastern officials. Chaves had no comment on whether he or Baldwin had been contacted by anyone from OSU.

Baldwin said he was flattered by the attention but remains focused on getting the Eagles past Montana.

“Obviously, it’s a step up, but in terms of where I am just right now on Thursday, my whole focus is toward Saturday and on what we’re doing here,” Baldwin said as the Eagles prepared for Saturday’s second-round FCS playoff game against the Grizzlies.

At the same time, Baldwin said, “By no means would I not be interested in hearing from a school at the Pac-12 level.”

A move to Corvallis also would mean a large increase in salary. Riley earned a base salary of $1.06 million this year, while Baldwin had a base salary $166,420, according to records obtained this week from EWU Human Resource Services.

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December 7th

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Pac-12 bowl opponents set

From the Pac-12:

Rose Bowl : Oregon vs Florida State – January 1st, 3:00 p.m., MT, ESPN

Fiesta Bowl: Arizona vs Boise State – December 31st, 2:00 p.m., MT, ESPN

Royal Purple Bowl (Las Vegas): Utah vs Colorado State – December 20th, 1:30 p.m., MT, ABC

Sun (El Paso): Arizona State vs Duke – December 27th, noon, MT, CBS

Holiday (San Diego): USC vs Nebraska – December 27th, 6:00 p.m., MT, ESPN

Fosters Farm (Santa Clara, California): Stanford vs Maryland – December 30th, 8:00 p.m., MT, ESPN

Alamo Bowl (San Antonio): UCLA vs Kansas State – January 2nd, 4:45 p.m., MT, ESPN

Cactus Bowl (Tempe): Washington vs Oklahoma State – January 2nd, 8:15 p.m., MT, ESPN

Initial thoughts … No one to cheer for when Utah and CSU meet in the Las Vegas Bowl … Same for the USC against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl … Rams not only without an athletic director and a head coach, but they now get one of the earliest bowl games, less than two weeks away … Maryland gets to travel across country for a bowl game, playing Stanford, which can bus to the 49ers stadium for the game …

Here is a link to all of the bowl games, from ESPN … Other interesting games … Texas vs. Arkansas in Texas Bowl (instead of Texas A&M) … Boston College vs. Penn State in Pinstripe Bowl in New York, a battle of teams which will bring fans to the Big Apple … No. 9 Mississippi vs. No. 6 TCU in the Peach Bowl (a far cry from what either team was expecting) … No. 8 Michigan State vs. No. 5 Baylor in the Cotton Bowl (Bears get a de facto home game in exchange for being shut out of the playoffs) …

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Ohio State earns College Football Playoff Berth

From ESPN … Ohio State will join Alabama, Oregon and Florida State in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

The No. 1 Crimson Tide will face the No. 4 Buckeyes in the All-State Sugar Bowl, and the second-seeded Ducks will face the third-seeded Seminoles in the Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual, both on New Year’s Day.

The 12-member selection committee bumped TCU from the top four in favor of the Buckeyes, who defeated Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten championship game on Saturday.

The Horned Frogs, ranked No. 3 in the previous rankings, dropped to No. 6, behind Florida State, Ohio State and Big 12 rival Baylor.

Alabama and Oregon remained No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Florida State, which defeated Georgia Tech in the ACC championship game on Saturday, moved up one spot to No. 3.

The semifinal winners will meet in the College Football Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on Jan. 12.

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December 6th

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Oregon first to clinch Playoff bid; Mariota cements status as Heisman trophy favorite

From ESPN … Marcus Mariota made a strong final impression in his bid for the Heisman Trophy, and No. 2 Oregon left no doubt about whether the Pac-12 champion will get a chance to play for the national title.

About the only question now is who the Ducks will face next.

Mariota threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a career-high three scores, and Oregon all but assured itself a spot in the first College Football Playoff by overwhelming seventh-ranked Arizona 51-13 in the Pac-12 title game Friday night.

On a rainy night in Silicon Valley, Oregon wiped out the Wildcats in front of a sparse but rowdy pro-Ducks crowd — announced as 45,618 — that sprinkled the red seats at the $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium bright yellow and green. Mariota also boosted his credentials for college football’s most prestigious award as the Ducks turned the patchy field into their personal playground.

Oregon outgained Arizona 640 to 224 yards. The Ducks ran for 324 yards and held the Wildcats to 111 on the ground.

The victory avenged Oregon’s only loss this season — a 31-24 setback to Arizona on Oct. 2 in Eugene — and a 42-16 loss in Tucson last year that kept the Ducks out of the conference championship game.

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez benched quarterback Anu Solomon — and later backup Jesse Scroggins — in the second half trying to find a spark. By then it was too late, and Rodriguez’s scrunched face on the sideline exemplified his team’s frustrations.

It was quite a turnaround from the previous meeting between these teams, when Arizona held the Ducks to a season-low 144 yards rushing. The Wildcats also sacked Mariota five times and forced two fumbles in that game.

This time, Mariota completed 25 of 38 passes and ran for 33 yards on 10 carries. He extended his conference record to 53 touchdowns this season — 38 passing, 14 rushing and one receiving.

“If this guy isn’t what the Heisman Trophy is all about, then I’m in the wrong profession,” Helfrich said.

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December 5th

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CSU head coaching job a “dream job”

From the Coloradoan … More than 40 candidates or their representatives already have contacted CSU about becoming the Rams’ next football coach, interim athletic director John Morris said Thursday

“This is a fantastic place to be a head football coach,” Morris said. “This is a dream job. This is a destination job. We are already are attracting amazing candidates from the highest levels of football.”

Candidates to replace departed head coaches at Colorado State and Oregon State

Now that Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain has moved on to Florida, and Oregon State head coach Mike Riley has been named to lead the Cornhuskers, the speculation has moved on to who will be patrolling the opposing sidelines next fall when the Buffs face the Rams and Beavers.

Interesting to note that the potential candidates for the Oregon State job are either coordinators at Pac-12 programs or head coaches which the Beavers can poach. The list of potential candidates for the Colorado State job … well, let’s say that they do not carry the same weight to their resumes …

Potential candidates (from the Coloradoan) for the CSU job include:

- Several coaches from McElwain’s staff, OC Dave Baldwin; DC Marty English; and assistant head coach Tim Skipper

- CSU-Pueblo head coach (and former CU assistant coach) John Wristen;

- Mississippi State OC Billy Gonzales (who played at CSU);

- Notre Dame running backs coach Tony Alford (who played at CSU);

- Oregon’s WR coach Matt Lubick (in case CSU didn’t learn from CU’s Embree experiment);

- Oregon OC Scott Frost (because Frost wants to live closer to Nebraska … ?); and

- Former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke (because CSU fans are delusional about their pull)

Meanwhile, the Oregonian has put forth some candidates to replace Mike Riley in Corvallis:

- Arizona State OC Mike Norvell;

- Utah State head coach Matt Wells;

- Nevada head coach Brian Polian;

- Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin;

- USC DC Justin Wilcox;

- UCLA OC Noel Mazzone;

- Oregon OC Scott Frost

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December 4th

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Surprise … Oregon State’s Mike Riley to be the new head coach at Nebraska

From the Omaha.com … The University of Nebraska has hired Mike Riley as its new head football coach, Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst announced Thursday.

Riley comes to Nebraska after 14 seasons as the head coach at Oregon State, spanning two different tenures in Corvallis.

Riley has led OSU to 93 wins and a 6-2 record in bowl games. In addition to his time at Oregon State, Riley has served as the head coach of the San Diego Chargers, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League — where he won two Grey Cup championships — and the San Antonio Riders in the World Football League.

“There was one coach who fit all the characteristics that I was seeking to lead our tradition-rich football program,” Eichorst said in a press release. “Mike Riley has a proven record of success, a sound approach to football and teaching, an understanding of the educational mission of our university and the integrity and values that we cherish at Nebraska. I have no doubt that Mike will assemble a tremendous staff and lead our student-athletes to win Big Ten titles and compete for national championships in the years ahead.”

Riley will be formally introduced at a press conference at 9 a.m. Friday.

“It is truly an honor to join the University of Nebraska family,” Riley said in the release. “Though we love Corvallis and Oregon State, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to coach at one of the nation’s most storied football programs and I can’t wait to get started. My sincere thanks to Chancellor (Harvey) Perlman and Shawn Eichorst for their confidence in me and I look forward to becoming a part of the Nebraska family and building upon the great history and tradition.”

Riley is a native of Idaho and a graduate of the University of Alabama, where he played for Paul “Bear” Bryant and won three SEC titles and one national championship.

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December 3rd

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What it would take to get Arizona into the Playoffs

From ESPN … Should it beat Oregon, Arizona (10-2) would likely be the only two-loss team considered for one of the four spots and would need to jump two teams in a group that figures to consist of No. 6 Baylor, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 4 Florida State and No. 3 TCU to remain in national-title contention. A hiccup from one or more is what the Wildcats will be cheering for, but if that doesn’t happen it’s still possible for them to earn a berth.

For argument’s sake, let’s say in addition to Arizona, everyone in contention wins this weekend: Baylor over No. 9 Kansas State, Ohio State over No. 15 Wisconsin, Florida State over No. 11 Georgia Tech, TCU over Iowa State and No. 1 Alabama over No. 16 Missouri.

Alabama and Florida State are both in, no questions asked. There’s no way to justify an alternative, which leaves two spots for Arizona, Baylor, Ohio State and TCU. Based on the Horned Frogs’ No. 3 ranking this week, it’s hard to see them falling out of favor (and the top four) with a win, but in Year 1 of the playoff era there’s no precedent to develop firm expectations.

Selection committee chairman Jeff Long has said all along that they start from scratch each week and a final look at TCU’s regular-season schedule would show just two wins against ranked teams — Oklahoma and Kansas State. With a win in the Pac-12 title game, Arizona would finish with four wins against ranked teams, including to two against an Oregon team that likely wouldn’t fall past No. 7.

While Arizona’s two losses will be a valid point of contention for those arguing in favor of Ohio State, Baylor and TCU, it should be noted both losses were competitive games against ranked teams and one (USC) came without 1,200-yard rusher Nick Wilson. There will always be the “a loss is a loss” crowd, which is fine, but the committee has already shown it doesn’t necessarily think like that with undefeated Florida State behind one-loss Alabama, Oregon and TCU.

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Pac-12 South dominates the North for the first time … even with CU’s 0-4 record vs. Pac-12 North teams

From ESPN … Last month, we wrote about how the Pac-12 South had collectively overtaken the North. With the regular season over, the final numbers are in, and they’re staggering: For the first time since the league’s expansion in 2011, the South won the head-to-head battle against the North, and they did so in commanding fashion.

Of course, the ultimate prize still resides in the Pac-12 North: Either Oregon or Stanford has won every conference title since the creation of the two-division format. Arizona will try to change that Friday, and if the Wildcats succeed, they’ll add icing onto the cake of this 2014 shift of power.

The North held the head-to-head advantage over the South for three years, but the margin shrunk in each season, setting the table for the South’s takeover. With just the Pac-12 championship game remaining, the North is 9-15 against the South. Non-Oregon Pac-12 North teams beat ranked South opponents only twice this season. Both of those wins were significant, though, as they derailed their opponents’ College Football Playoff hopes (Oregon State over ASU, Stanford over UCLA).

During this regular season, the combined conference record of the Pac-12 South was 30-24, while the combined conference record of the North was 24-30. It should be noted that the South maintained this advantage even while dragging around the dead weight of 0-9 Colorado. Remove the lowest teams from both divisions (the Buffs from the South and 2-7 Washington State from the North), and the disparity is even more astonishing: The Pac-12 South finishes with a 30-15 record in conference play, while the North is at 22-23.

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November 30th

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Nebraska fires Bo Pelini despite 67-27 overall record

From ESPN … Bo Pelini was fired on Sunday, ending the seven-year run of the polarizing figure as Nebraska’s football coach.

“Earlier this morning, I informed coach Bo Pelini of our decision to move forward in a new direction,” athletic director Shawn Eichorst said in a statement released Sunday. “Coach Pelini served our University admirably for seven years and led our football program’s transition to the Big Ten Conference. We wish Coach Pelini and his wonderful family all the best and thank him for his dedicated service to the University.”

Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said he supported the decision and wished Pelini well.

“I am confident that Shawn will find the best coach, teacher and fit for this University and for our football program,” he said.

Pelini is owed $7.65 million by Nebraska on his contract, extended after last season through February 2019. Nebraska’s assistants are under contract through January 2016.

The former defensive coordinator at LSU and Oklahoma, Pelini, in his first head-coaching job, produced notable consistency but little evidence that Nebraska was set to take the next step as a program. It lost 59-24 at Wisconsin on Nov. 15, surrendering a then-FBS record 408 rushing yards to Melvin Gordon in the latest embarrassing defeat for the program.

Nebraska has lost 10 games by 20 points or more since 2008, Pelini’s first season, and allowed 45 points or more in six games since the Huskers joined the Big Ten in 2011.

Pelini improved to 67-27 as Nebraska’s coach on Friday with a 37-34 overtime win at Iowa. The victory pushed Pelini’s win total past Tom Osborne for the most ever at the school in a coach’s first seven years.

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November 29th

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Oregon mauls Oregon State in Civil War, denying Beavers bowl eligibility

From ESPN … Marcus Mariota threw for 367 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 39 yards and two more scores to lead Oregon to a 47-19 victory over Oregon State in the 118th Civil War game Saturday night.

Oregon (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12, No. 2 CFP, No. 3 AP) will face Arizona in the Pac-12 championship game Friday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Freshman Royce Freeman ran for 135 yards and also caught one of Mariota’s touchdown passes. Fellow freshman Charles Nelson caught two passes — both touchdowns — for 56 yards, and Byron Marshall had six catches for 131 yards and a score.

It was Oregon’s seventh straight win overall and seventh in the series against the rival Beavers (5-7, 2-7), who have lost six of their past seven games and failed to become bowl-eligible.

Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion finished his college career as the Pac-12′s career leader in passing yards, with 13,600, and the school record-holder with 83 touchdown passes.

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BYU defeats Cal, denies Bears bowl eligibility

From ESPN … BYU put an exclamation point on the season by denying its opponent a chance for one more game.

Christian Stewart threw for 433 yards and five touchdowns, and the Cougars kept California from becoming bowl eligible with a 42-35 win over the Golden Bears on Saturday.

“It’s as gratifying a win as I’ve ever been associated with as a player or a coach,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

Stewart tossed a 38-yard TD pass to a wide-open Jordan Leslie with 2:39 remaining for the go-ahead score, setting off chants of “B-Y-U! B-Y-U!” at half-filled Memorial Stadium. The Cougars (8-4) stopped record-setting Cal quarterback Jared Goff one more time to finish the regular season with four straight victories.

“It means a lot,” Stewart said. “We’re an independent team who people say, `OK, can they compete with some of these better conferences?’ It shows that we can play with anybody in the country.”

Or at least a middling Pac-12 team.

Goff completed 38 of 60 passes for 393 yards and four touchdowns, adding to his own school record for yards passing in a season and breaking Pat Barnes’ mark of 31 TD passes in 1996. But he had one interception and threw incomplete on his final four passes to the end zone as the Bears (5-7) ended the season with three consecutive losses.

“It’s hard to take in right now. And I think it’s hard for the whole team,” Goff said after emerging from a silent locker room.

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November 28th

… Foe Pause …

Arizona earns trip to Pac-12 title game to face Oregon

From ESPN …  Nick Wilson ran for 178 yards and three touchdowns and No. 11 Arizona claimed the Pac-12 South title by holding on for a 42-35 victory over No. 13 Arizona State on Friday.

Arizona (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12, No. 12 AP) needed to beat its biggest rival and have Stanford knock off UCLA (No. 8 CFP, No. 9 AP) to win the Pac-12 South.

The Cardinal took care of the first part by rolling over the Bruins. The Wildcats handled their end with a stream of big plays and a final defensive stand.

Arizona moves on to face Oregon (No. 2 CFP, No. 3 AP) in the Pac-12 Championship game, Dec. 5 at Levi’s Stadium in the Bay Area.

Arizona State (9-3, 6-3) got a spark by replacing Taylor Kelly with Mike Bercovici, but a final drive stalled at Arizona’s 40-yard line.Anu Solomon threw for 208 yards and hit Samajie Grant on a pair of touchdown passes for Arizona.

Bercovici threw for a pair of touchdowns, but had a key interception that led to a score.

The latest Duel in the Desert for the Territorial Cup was arguably the most anticipated in the rivalry’s 88-game history.

The usual bragging rights were there, of course. A shot at the Pac-12 South for both teams added to it.

That was going to depend on whether Stanford beat UCLA in a game going on at the same time.

But that part would have to wait; Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez didn’t want the score shown in Arizona Stadium and Arizona State’s coaches didn’t want any updates, either.

The focus was on each other, nothing else.

UCLA blows chance to represent Pac-12 South in title game

From ESPN … Kevin Hogan passed for 234 yards and two touchdowns, and Stanford crushed UCLA’s hopes for the Pac-12 South title and a College Football Playoff spot with a 31-10 victory Friday.

Devon Cajuste and Michael Rector caught scoring passes for the Cardinal (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) as the two-time defending Pac-12 champions salvaged from satisfaction from a down season by trouncing the Bruins (No. 8 CFP, No. 9 AP) for the seventh consecutive time.

With a dynamite 16-for-19 performance by Hogan and two rushing TDs from Remound Wright, Stanford snatched the South title away from UCLA (9-3, 6-3), which needed a victory to advance to the conference title game. Instead, the Bruins flopped in another big game and Stanford handed the division crown to Arizona.

“We had very good preparation,” Hogan said. “We knew what looks they were going to be in, and I got great protection. We had a lot of fun.”

Brett Hundley passed for 146 yards in likely his final home game for the Bruins, losing a matchup with Hogan for the fourth time in three years.

After an up-and-down season, an inspired Hogan made sure the Cardinal didn’t miss top receiver Ty Montgomery, who sat out with a shoulder injury. Hogan completed his first 12 passes, scrambled for key yards and showed poise in the pocket, particularly in avoiding a sack before uncorking a 37-yard TD throw to Cajuste 41 seconds before halftime to cap a 92-yard drive.

Just six days after a blowout win over rival Southern California, UCLA retained none of that momentum or passion in its third home loss of the season. The loss ended the Bruins’ five-game winning streak, which had given them an outside shot at the four-team playoff after a slow start to their season.

After joining UCLA’s seniors for a pregame ceremony, Hundley said farewell to the Rose Bowl with a tentative, ineffectual effort, getting sacked four times while the Bruins were shut out for the final 41 minutes.

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8 Responses to “Pac-12 Notes”

  1. buffnaustin

    Good! Without Thomas we can keep The Ducks under 70.

  2. JW Blue

    underwater treadmill?
    holy moly
    the rich get richer

  3. JW Blue

    Does anyone feel sorry for USC?
    not me
    Even with 56 schollies every kid who will be on the field this weekend for USC will be at least 4 star talent.
    Coach em up Kiffin, if you can, and quit cursing Pete Carrol

  4. buffnaustin

    The good news is we are not ranked #120 like we were last year. Steady upward progress is all I am asking.

  5. JW Blue

    after watching both teams play this weekend, I think Fresno at #25 could handle #1 alabama

  6. BuffLady

    I wore my blue shirt (since Buffs were not playing) just to piss off my neighbors and cheer for the Bruins. Sad day for Husker fans but good day for me! Note: I thought it was classy of the NU fans at the stadium to honor the Bruin who was killed last week with his number and blue and gold balloons. In light of what happened in Boulder last week, some things are more important than football.

  7. Dan

    Iowa State lost to UNI (University of Northern Iowa)


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