Predictions 101 — Fiesta Bowl

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No. 5 Oregon vs. No. 7 Kansas State
Thurs., Jan. 3 – 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Glendale, Ariz. – University of Phoenix Stadium

For a time last month, this was our BCS championship game.

The losses that each team absorbed on Nov. 17, to divert their paths away from Miami, tell us a lot about how this one might go.

Kansas State’s 52-24 loss at Baylor is cause for concern in Little Manhattan because the Bears are merely a poor man’s Oregon. The Wildcats allowed Baylor to gain 580 total yards, 342 rushing, 238 passing.

Those numbers are extremely close to what the Ducks are averaging — 550 total yards, 323 rushing, 227 passing.

If you allow Oregon (11-1) that kind of freedom, which always translates into 50-plus points, you’ve got no shot.

The way to beat the Ducks is to follow Stanford’s blueprint, but that’s WAY easier said than done. We don’t even think the Cardinal truly believe that they really bottled up Oregon for just a couple touchdowns and 405 yards in a 17-14 overtime victory.

Aside from a 77-yard blast by quarterback Marcus Mariota, Stanford did an amazing job limiting explosive plays. Incredibly, the Ducks averaged less than two yards on 15 rushing attempts outside the tackles.

Pac-12 teams are more used to this sort of madness and obsess about meeting the challenge. Stanford lost its previous two encounters with Oregon, 53-30 and 52-31. Painful yes, but learning experiences each time.

What Kansas State (11-1) has that Pac-12 teams never do is extra time to prepare. That has served Duck postseason opponents well in the past. But don’t forget that Chip Kelly knows the “Stanford blueprint” is out there and the most glorious part of his attack is its ability to make adjustments according to the defense.

Oregon has things to worry about as well, namely the fact that Wildcat quarterback Collin Klein has this habit of winning games. He even does it all by himself when necessary.

The workhorse got a little banged up in the win over Oklahoma State on Nov. 3, and experienced a slight dip in productivity over the final three games. Unfortunately for the Ducks, he’ll be rested and ready to fire on all cylinders.

We’re just not sure Klein will be able to make it work, trading his haymakers with Oregon’s barrage of lighting quick jabs.

Opening point spread: Oregon by 8 1/2

The pick: Oregon 42-31

Click HERE to get predictions for the remaining bowl games.

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.

4-star QB explains why he picked Princeton over Power 5 offers

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The NCAA likes to remind us that it represents thousands of athletes and most of them will go pro in something other than sports. Most of those athletes consciously know that, yet their college decisions are usually based on what school will help them go pro in sports.

Not Brevin White.

The Lancaster, Ca., quarterback is a 4-star prospect in 247Sports‘s 2018 rankings, with reported offers from Tennessee, Washington, Auburn, North Carolina and others. He’s going to Princeton. White committed to the Tigers on Wednesday, making him Princeton’s highest-rated recruit since Woodrow Wilson.

On Thursday, White appeared on The Dan Patrick Show to talk through why he turned down the SEC for the Ivy League.

Nevada names ‘Bama transfer as starting QB, but doesn’t say he’ll start opener

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David Cornwell, an Alabama transfer, will be Nevada’s starting quarterback — until he isn’t.

Wolf Pack head coach Jay Norvell said at Pac-12 media days that Cornwell will enter fall camp, which begins Monday, as the starter but that doesn’t mean Cornwell will actually start Nevada’s opener at Northwestern.

“David’s the starting quarterback right now and he’ll have to compete and earn that spot throughout training camp and if there’s reason for him not to be (the starting quarterback) we’ll address,” Norvell said, via the Reno Gazette-Journal. “Until we see that, we won’t make any changes at that position.”

A junior from Jones, Okla., Cornwell did not throw a pass with the Crimson Tide. He started Nevada’s spring game and completed 22-of-33 throws for 302 yards with two touchdowns.

“David fits those qualities and demonstrated those strengths the best out of all of our quarterbacks in the spring, and that’s why he was the starting quarterback,” said Norvell. “And the way he played in the spring game gave us even more evidence of that.”

Cornwell’s competition for the starting spot will be incumbent Ty Gangi, also a junior. Gangi appeared in 10 games last season, nailing 99-of-172 throws for 1,301 yards with eight touchdowns against six interceptions whilst rushing 49 times for 217 yards and three scores.