Top-ranked Tide rolls in first ‘real’ test

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UPDATED 12:14 a.m.: Consider this first test aced.

Coming off a strong first half, No. 1 Alabama closed nearly as strong in dropping Mississippi State from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 38-7 win.

Thanks to Florida’s loss to Georgia, the Tide will likely, once again, be a unanimous No. 1 when the Associated Press and coaches’ polls are released Sunday afternoon.

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One of the few negatives a nitpicker could find when it comes to the 2012 Alabama Crimson Tide is its strength of schedule, or lack thereof.  The combined record of the Tide’s last six opponents?  23-25.

Even a 27-point season-opening win over then-No. 5 Michigan came with an asterisk, although that’s slowly fading as the Wolverines have gone on to win five of their next six.

Still, many were looking at Saturday’s game with No. 13 and undefeated Mississippi State as UA’s first real test of the 2012 season.  If that’s indeed the case, and through 30 minutes, it’s A’s across the board.

Through two quarters of play, the Tide has dominated every phase of the game, leading the Bulldogs 24-0 at the half.

Offensively, the Tide totaled 236 yards, including an un-Alabama-like 177 yards passing off the right arm of Heisman contender AJ McCarron.  On the defensive side of the ball, where the Tide leads the country in nearly every major statistical category, they were their usual dominant self, limiting MSU to 105 yards of total offense, just 2.1 yards per carry and four first downs.

Even on special teams, the Tide is holding a significant edge.  Their lone kick return of the game went for 41 yards, giving the Tide prime field position on the opening kickoff that was cashed in on with a T.J. Yeldon touchdown run.  Additionally, punter Cody Mendell‘s gross average was the same as his net on three kicks at 52.7, pinning the Bulldogs at the 21-yard line or deeper each time.

Add it all up, and the methodical machine that is Alabama football continues to roll on.

Clemson transfer Scott Pagano progressing from foot surgery, but might miss Oregon’s opener

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There was good news and potentially not-so-good news on the Scott Pagano front Thursday for Oregon.

A transfer from Clemson this offseason, Pagano suffered a broken bone in his foot in the Tigers’ mid-November win over Pitt that forced him to miss the remainder of the regular season.  After moving on to the Ducks as a graduate transfer in mid-April, UO’s medical staff decided he needed to undergo surgery to repair the damage in his foot.

First-year head coach Willie Taggart Thursday declared the defensive lineman ahead of schedule in his recovery from the medical procedure, but didn’t guarantee he’d be on the field for the 2017 opener.

“Something he had that he needed to be corrected,” Taggart said of the surgery according to oregonlive.com. “He’s ahead of schedule right now. I don’t like putting certain weeks on guys because everybody heals differently.

“He’s one of those kids that has been rehabbing his tail off and is itching to get back out there. He’s ahead of schedule right now. Hopefully he’s there for the Southern Utah game.”

Coming out of high school in Hawaii as a four-star 2013 recruit, Pagano was rated as the No. 24 tackle in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state. He started 13 games the past two seasons, four of which came in 2016.

Before opting for UO, Pagano had taken an official visit to Oklahoma as he had whittled his to-do list down to those two. Arkansas, Notre Dame and Texas were also among the lineman’s five allotted official visits in his second round of collegiate recruiting.

CB Ryan Mayes no longer part of Miami football team

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There’s been a slight tweak to Miami’s defensive secondary ahead of the start of summer camp.

In a press release that consisted all of two sentences, the Hurricanes announced that Ryan Mayes is no longer a member of Mark Richt’s football program.  No reason was given for the separation, nor is it known whether the move was voluntary or involuntary.

A three-star member of The U’s 2014 recruiting class, Mayes was rated as the No. 48 cornerback in the country and the No. 92 player at any position in the state of Florida.  He held offers from, among others, Boston College and Syracuse.

As a true freshman, Mayes played in three games, then saw action in just one game the following season as he took a redshirt.  In 2016, the defensive back played in 11 games, mainly on special teams.

Prior to his departure, the redshirt junior was expected to fill a reserve role in the Hurricanes’ secondary.

Kyle Whittingham confirms Darren Carrington is at Utah, not yet a Ute

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Former Oregon wide receiver Darren Carrington‘s father confirmed his son of the same name was headed to Utah on Wednesday, and the head coach of the team in question has now double confirmed it.

But just because Carrington is at the University of Utah does not make him a Ute. Not yet.

Speaking at Pac-12 media days, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said Carrington is in school but has hurdles to clear to join the team.

“Not just yet. There’s a process that has to occur, some things that have to transpire and we’ve just got to wait for all that to kind of take place,” Whittingham said, via Deseret News.

It’s not sure what “things” have to transpire and when that is expected to happen; Whittingham couldn’t be sure Carrington would be with the team when camp opens Friday.

“Right now I don’t have a good answer because everything’s being sorted through right now,” Whittingham said.

Carrington will be immediately eligible to play as a graduate transfer. He caught 43 passes for a team-leading 606 yards and six touchdowns last season. Utah’s leading returning receiver, junior Raelon Singleton, nabbed 27 passes for 464 yards and four scores a year ago.

Clay Helton: O.J. not welcome back at USC

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OJ Simpson is one of the greatest Trojans of all-time. A unanimous two-time All-American, Simpson won the 1968 Heisman Trophy and was a member of USC’s 1967 national championship team.

OJ Simpson will also soon be a free man.

Granted parole from his felony armed robbery conviction last week, Simpson will be free on Oct. 1. The question, then, if you’re a reporter at Pac-12 media days is whether or not USC will welcome back one of its most accomplished — if not favorite — sons.

The answer? Uh, no.

To be clear, Simpson has not indicated he wanted to be part of USC football again. The 70-year-old indicated to the parole board he would return to Florida if granted his freedom.

USC has distanced itself from Simpson ever since his 1994 double-murder trial, but his Heisman Trophy remains on display at Heritage Hall.