Later today, USC will announce whether Matt Barkley will be healthy enough to return to play in the Sun Bowl early next week (here’s a hint: he won’t).
Following the Trojans’ first postseason game since 2009, one of Barkley’s top targets over the past three seasons will announce whether he’ll return to play one more collegiate season.
After USC arrived in El Paso Wednesday for on-site bowl preparations, wide receiver Robert Woods confirmed to reporters that he will reveal his NFL intentions Monday, after the Trojans square off with Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. It’s expected the true junior will forego his final season of collegiate eligibility, with the Orange County Register writing that “[s]ources said Woods would probably turn pro, barring a last-minute change of heart.”
Woods is USC’s career leader in receptions, but has seen his role in the passing game decreased by the continuing emergence of Marqise Lee, who staked his claim to the Biletnikoff Award earlier this month after eclipsing Woods’ single-season school receiving record. Despite being relegated to “an afterthought” and Option B behind Lee, Woods still managed 73 catches for 813 yards and 11 touchdowns thus far this season.
If as expected Woods makes himself available for the 2013 NFL draft, the Los Angeles Times writes that Woods stated “he received a draft evaluation from the NFL that gave him a range that topped at the second round.”
While we’re here, and in other USC Sun Bowl news, the Trojans likely didn’t endear themselves to either the El Paso Chamber of Commerce or the Yellow Jackets thanks to a pair of “incidents” upon their arrival. As far as the former is concerned, defensive lineman Leonard Williams referred to El Paso as a “sh***y city” in a tweet that was subsequently deleted; in the latter misstep, the Trojans as a team were an hour or so late for a dinner feting both Sun Bowl participants. Tech ended up leaving the feast just as the USC entourage was arriving.
Yep, never a dull moment when a Lane Kiffin-coached team is involved.
Colorado’s unlikely road to the Pac-12 title may have gotten a little bit harder on Friday night.
Buffaloes starting quarterback Sefo Liufau suffered a lower leg injury midway through the first quarter and missed most of the half as the unlikely South Division champions trailed Washington 14-7 in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Liufau eventually headed to the locker room before the whistle at the end of the second quarter but it’s possible he will return to the game.
Backup Steven Montez did lead the team down on a scoring drive shortly afterward (capped off by a Phillip Lindsay touchdown run) but was under pressure on nearly every snap by the Huskies’ pass rush.
His counterpart similarly didn’t have much luck against Colorado’s stingy defense either. Washington signal-caller Jake Browning finished the half just 4-of-12 for 38 yards but the Huskies didn’t bat much of an eye by doing what they wanted on ground — rushing for 148 yards behind the tough running of both Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman.
It should make for a fantastic second half from the Bay Area as both teams harbor hopes of making it into the College Football Playoff after capturing a Pac-12 title.
Still perfect. Still rowing.
Western Michigan completed a dream undefeated regular season on Friday night and captured the school’s first MAC Championship since 1988 with a 29-23 win over Ohio.
The Broncos led from wire-to-wire on Friday night but struggled to complete drives with touchdowns against a stingy Bobcats defense on a night where they needed all the style points they could get. WMU is the College Football Playoff’s highest ranked Group of Five team but are in a neck-and-neck battle with Navy for a bid to the Cotton Bowl this season.
Even if the final margin wasn’t what head coach P.J. Fleck wanted, he nevertheless was excited at the way his team played defensively in holding Ohio to just 213 yards on the night. The normally prolific offense had their moments too, with quarterback Zach Terrell finishing with 301 yards, two scores and two interceptions.
One of those touchdown passes from Terrell went to wide receiver Corey Davis, who continued to press his case that he’s a first-round pick in the spring. The pass-catcher scored the team’s first touchdown back in the second quarter on a 70-yard scamper and the all-time leader in FBS receiving yardage finished his MAC career with 155 yards on nine catches.
The Bobcats tried to use their normal formula of running the ball and playing defense to control the clock but failed to do much of the former. The team finished with just 37 yards on the ground (and 251 overall) but did manage to make things interesting with three second half touchdowns and a late drive that could have taken the lead but instead ended with a game-sealing interception.
That wasn’t exactly the kind of high-flying #MACtion game the conference record 45,615 fans at Ford Field were looking for, with many of them sporting WMU colors as the school looks ahead to Sunday and whether or not they’re headed to a New Year’s Six Bowl at the end of the month.
On Friday night however, they just had to soak in the remarkable run the Broncos are on and row that boat all the way to a championship.
One of the bigger storylines of this offseason is the annual coaching carousel and where former LSU head coach Les Miles will land.
The longtime coach has stated he wants to coach again in 2017, and has plenty of credentials — over 100 wins, SEC and national championships — but where he will find a fit is one of the bigger mysteries.
A lot of folks have noted that he could be in the running for the Purdue job (Miles is a Big Ten man at heart) but it appears that will not be the case. According to Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel, a source told him to cross Miles’s name off of Purdue’s list.
There are not a ton of big openings at the moment so with the Boilermakers reportedly off the table, it might be a long offseason for the former LSU coach. Western Kentucky’s Jeff Brohm and Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck have been the two biggest names mentioned with the Purdue search but it appears unlikely any movement happens before this weekend.
Thamel also mentions Miles could be in the mix at Houston, which would be fascinating given his years at Oklahoma State and over a decade spent a few hours East in Baton Rouge. Either way, it looks like the carousel has a few more spins left in it this month.
Colorado plays Washington on Friday in the Pac-12 Championship Game but that hasn’t stopped the coaching carousel from taking a break.
Rumors have circulated that Buffaloes head coach Mike MacIntyre is a candidate at Baylor and that he would be interviewing with the Bears either today or tomorrow. Colorado’s sports information director wanted no part of those reports continuing to flourish however, and took to Twitter to vehemently deny them.
That is… quite the denial.
At the same time, you can understand why Baylor wants to speak with MacIntyre give his credentials for turning around the program, his moral values and the fact that he was just named the Walter Camp Coach of the Year.
If it’s not meant to be however, the school will no doubt be turning to other candidates this weekend, possibly including fellow Pac-12 coach Sonny Dykes at Cal.