Pac-10 makes a run at recruiting crown


While the Pac-10 may have been exposed last year during bowl season, the Pac-10 rebounded with a flurry. While Florida’s recruiting class is being hailed as one of the strongest ever, top-to-bottom, no conference did a better job improving itself than the Pac-10.

Taking a look at the Rivals recruiting rankings, it’s pretty easy to see why people are feeling bullish about the Pac-10’s chances.

USC had an incredible Signing Day, sky-rocketing to a number-two finish in the mythical recruiting National Championship, signing an astounding five five-star commits to go along with 12 four-star players and only one three-star recruit. On offense, the Trojans pulled five-star commitments at running back, left tackle, two at wide receiver, and an athlete that can easily play on either side of the ball. If it weren’t for having only 18 commits, the Trojans would easily rank ahead of the Gators as the number one class.

UCLA made a terrific jump, pulling in Awamagbe Odighizuwa in an upset, Dietrich Riley, Anthony Barr, Cassius Marsh, and a slew of other top prospects. Even better for Rick Neuheisel, he beat out the Trojans head-to-head for a few key signatures, evening the score with the crosstown Trojans for the time being.

Jeff Tedford’s Cal program also came on the scene nationally, buoyed by the dynamic duo of five-star defensive end Chris Martin and defensive back Keenan Allen. As JT mentioned earlier, it was Cal’s willingness to take Allen’s half-brother that got Cal the North Carolina native.

Oregon, behind the commitment of dynamic running back Lache Seastrunk, also had a Top-15 effort in recruiting, capitalizing on first-year head coach Chip Kelly’s Rose Bowl run and the dynamic facilities and stadium that come with their prized status with Nike owner Phil Knight. (I’m not sure I can call their uniform choices a recruiting asset…)

Both Stanford and Washington had great recruiting classes as well, with coaches Jim Harbaugh and Steve Sarkisian each respectively pulling in classes just outside the Top 25 — pretty incredible ratings for regional programs far from historic powerhouses.

Arizona State, Arizona and Oregon State all had nice efforts as well. As for Washington State… let’s just hope these Rivals guys don’t know everything.

UPDATE — As we mentioned here, the Trojans’ late push to 20 recruits put them over the top. Just another crazy turn for a conference with a ton of momentum…  

Miami defense shutting down Pitt; Hurricanes lead 23-3 at half

Brad Kaaya

It may be hard to believe, but Miami is in position to end the season with nine wins. That assumes, of course, the Hurricanes avoid a second half meltdown against Pittsburgh and close out the year with a bowl win. For now, Miami should be feeling pretty good as the Hurricanes have stomped Pitt in the first half of an early kickoff in western Pennsylvania. Miami took a 23-3 lead into the half.

Miami has more than doubled the total offensive production of the Panthers, outgaining Pitt at halftime 248 yards to 102. The Panthers have just 36 passing yards and 66 rushing yards in the half. Pitt also had a turnover with Nathan Peterman having a pass picked off by Artie Burns.

Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya has completed 13 of 23 pass attempts for 166 yards, with Rashawn Scott on the receiving end of the touchdown play and leading the team with 50 receiving yards. Miami’s Joseph Yardley leads all players with 64 rushing yards. Pitt’s star receiver, Tyler Boyd, has just one catch for eight yards.

Houston takes halftime lead on Navy in AAC West winner-takes-all contest

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If Houston is going to slow down Navy’s offense, keeping it off the field is a good way to go about it. In a battle for the American Athletic Conference West Division title, and home field advantage in the AAC Championship Game, Houston has used methodic ball control to its advantage and leads the Midshipmen 24-14 at halftime. Greg Ward Jr.‘s five-yard touchdown run gave the home team the lead just minutes after Houston successfully converted a fourth down and short after a timeout.

Houston took the game’s opening possession 82 yards for a touchdown after 13 plays for an early lead. Greg Ward Jr. completed a short pass to Steven Dunbar from five yards out for the score, but Navy answered with a touchdown drive on their opening possession. Keenan Reynolds ripped off a 52-yard run and later capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7.

Houston again put together a lengthy and time-consuming touchdown drive on the ensuing possession. The Cougars took 13 plays to move 76 yards for a score, this time seeing Brandon Wilson complete the drive with a 17-yard touchdown run for a 14-7 lead. The two teams exchanged punts before Navy once again tied the game with Reynolds completing a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jamir Tillman.

Report: Washington State QB Luke Falk won’t play in Apple Cup

Luke Falk
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Earlier this week it was looking as though Washington State quarterback Luke Falk might be available to play Washington in this year’s edition of the Apple Cup. Now the outlook is not so good.

According to a report from Stefanie Loh of The Seattle Times, Washington State will start Peyton Bender at quarterback against the Huskies. Falk, who is recovering form a concussion last week, is not expected to dress for the game. It will be the first start of the redshirt freshman’s career. Bender has appeared in four games this season serving as Falk’s backup. In his limited playing time, Bender has completed 17 of 33 pass attempts for 210 yards and two touchdowns. He has been picked off twice.

The loss of Falk is certainly a blow to Washington State’s offense, although we will see if Mike Leach has a system in place where he can plug in a quarterback and still get the production through the air as has been the case during his career. There is no word on whether or not Falk will be available for the bowl season, although that would seem to look possible given more time to recover from a concussion.

NCAA denies sixth-year for Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt

Terrel Hunt

Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt will not get a sixth year of eligibility. The NCAA has denied a request to extend Hunt’s eligibility by one more year, Syracuse announced today.

Hunt had his 2014 and 2015 seasons cut short due to injuries. A broken leg in 2014 forced Hunt to miss the final seven games of the season. An Achilles tendon injury against Rhode Island in the 2015 season opener has sidelined Hunt for the entire 2015 season, effectively.

“Obviously, it’s very disappointing but I want to thank my teammates, coaches and all the Syracuse fans who have supported me through this process and during my time here,” Hunt said in a statement shared by Syracuse athletics. “Even though my career didn’t turn how I thought it would, I still have a lot of great memories that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.

“Right now I’m focused on my rehab and on finishing graduate school. I’m getting better every day and hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to continue my career at the professional level.”

Hunt’s Syracuse career will end with 2,621 passing yards and 24 touchdowns (11 passing, 13 rushing).