One RB returns for, two exit from USC’s win over Utah


It was a series of comings and goings for No. 13 USC’s backfield in the 38-28 win over Utah Thursday night.

On the brighter side of the running back ledger, D.J. Morgan returned to the playing field for the first time since undergoing minor knee surgery early last month.  And it was a solid return for the sophomore, who rushed for 46 yards in five carries as the primary backup to Silas Redd.

Redd himself, though, was knocked out of the game with an undisclosed injury.  The Penn State transfer, who led the Trojans in rushing with 77 yards and a touchdown, declared after the game that he is “fine,” although there’s been no official word on that front from the school.

Additionally, Curtis McNeal was knocked out in the first quarter of a game that was actually 14-0 in favor of the Utes at the time.  Second on the team in rushing entering the conference game, McNeal reportedly suffered a concussion and did not return.

The comings and goings at the RB position, though, didn’t really matter on a night that was all about the aerial attack for the Trojans.  A two-game slump for Matt Barkley — just 446 yards passing total, with two touchdowns vs. four interceptions — became a thing of the past as the senior quarterback threw for 303 yards, three touchdowns and, most importantly, no interceptions.

Marquise Lee was the biggest beneficiary of Barkley shaking off the mini-slump, with the sophomore catching 12 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown.  The scoring play covered 83 yards, the longest of his career.

Expect Oregon’s quarterback rotation to continue for the next two weeks

AP Photo

Oregon touched the ball 15 times in its 41-24 win over Colorado on Saturday night. Jeff Lockie played seven of them, including the first. Taylor Alie played eight.

As long as Vernon Adams nurses his broken finger, this appears to be the plan for the Ducks.

“They’d both done enough good things in practice last week to merit playing,” head coach Mark Helfrich told the Oregonian. “We just felt looking at the game plan we could parcel out aspects with each.”

“Of course you want to get into a better rhythm but that’s how it goes,” Lockie said. “We’re just going to play the best we can and as long as we’re winning games, there’s no problem with me.”

Lockie completed 8-of-11 throws for 54 yards with an interception while rushing five times for 18 yards. Alie connected on 4-of-9 throws for 83 yards and a touchdown while adding 22 yards on five carries. Not quite Marcus Mariota numbers from either signal caller.

“It’ll just depend on the game plan,” Helfrich said of Alie and Lockie. “I think those guys they have differences. There are some strengths and weaknesses to different areas of their game and so we’ll think about that going forward of just how the Washington State game plan comes out.”

With Oregon playing Washington and Washington State (combined Pac-12 wins thus far: zero) before a tough closing stretch, Helfrich and company have time to alternate signal callers.

SEC shut out of AP top five for first time in half a decade

Stephen F. Austin visits Amon G. Carter Stadium to play the No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs.
AP Photo

The polls are meaningless. Especially any poll that isn’t the College Football Playoff top 25 and even then, as the TCU learned late last season, even the penultimate ranking is as meaningless as the paper they’re metaphorically written on.

Still, they’re catnip to college football fans and observers. Place them in front of us and we can’t help but gnaw on them.

And with that said, a bit of milestone was reached in Sunday’s Associated Press Top 25, as the SEC was completely shut out of the top five.

That group breaks down as follows:

  1. Ohio State
  2. TCU
  3. Baylor
  4. Michigan State
  5. Utah

An SEC free top five hasn’t happened in nearly five full years; October 10, 2010 was the last time such a thing occurred. Oddly enough, two of the same five culprits occupied that ranking as well:

  1. Ohio State
  2. Oregon
  3. Boise State
  4. TCU
  5. Nebraska

Underscoring the lesson of the first paragraph, eventual national champion Auburn checked in at No. 6. Those Tigers moved up a spot the following week and never looked back.

None of this means anything at all, until it does. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun along the way.