Stanford and Wisconsin were as different as they come heading into the 2013 Rose Bowl game. The Badgers were a five-loss team that backed its ways into the Big Ten championship and lost its coach, Bret Bielema, to Arkansas just days later. Stanford, meanwhile, has become the new model of consistency with David Shaw picking up where Jim Harbaugh left off with the Cardinal finishing its third straight season of at least 11 wins.
Yet when the two sides took the field, the result was about as even as you could imagine all the way up to the final seconds when No. 8 Stanford held on against Wisconsin, 20-14.
Stanford and Wisconsin had 344 and 301 yards, respectively, and were knotted at a 17-14 punt-fest for much of the second half before Jordan Williamson made a 22-yard field goal to reflect the final score. Bowl games are a battle of many variables, motivation and match-ups being among them. There was no questioning motivation and the match-up between Stanford and Wisconsin was a good one. The Cardinal just made one more big play.
It’s hard to say the Barry Alvarez experiment didn’t work simply because the Badgers didn’t come out on top. Running back Montee Ball had 100 yards rushing and became the first player in history to score touchdowns in three different Rose Bowls. All were losses. But he also only had 12 in the second half, ironically a time when it felt like Wisconsin controlled the momentum of the game even though it trailed.
The Rose Bowl had become a stalemate where the anticipation of the big play mounted with every possession. Ultimately, nothing major happened — at least not until Curt Phillips threw a costly interception to Stanford cornerback Usua Amanam. One first down later and the Cardinal would execute the victory formation to win its first Rose Bowl win since 1972. And without Andrew Luck, no less. In the middle of Oregon’s incredible run of Pac-12 dominance.
It’s a job well done for Shaw, who signed a long-term extension with the university last month. There’s no sign that indicates he’s planning on leaving any time soon, either. Depending on what happens with Oregon coach Chip Kelly and the NFL rumors surrounding him, Stanford and Shaw could become the new king atop the Pac-12. Some might argue, with good reason, that the Cardinal is already there and to stay. Shaw is a little more humble.
“We’re still ascending,” Shaw said after the win.
Not surprisingly, one of the most physically-gifted wide receivers in the country is making himself available to the next level.
Ole Miss confirmed Monday that Damore'ea Stringfellow has decided to forego his senior season and will enter the 2017 NFL draft. The receiver had long been expected to make the leap; the official announcement served to confirm the obvious.
“I cannot begin to express to Rebel Nation what an honor and privilege these last three years have been putting on the Ole Miss jersey each Saturday,” Stringfellow said in a statement. “The fans’ endless support, both on and off the field, has allowed me to grow and develop into the athlete and man that I am today.
“In that light, after much reflection and prayer, it pleases and saddens me to announce that I have decided to forgo my senior year and declare for the 2017 NFL Draft to pursue my dream of playing on Sundays. I would like to thank my family, coaches, professors and most of all the fans that have given me the love, courage and much needed prayer to go out and make Oxford proud. I truly would not have this amazing opportunity without you.”
After a May of 2014 departure from his original collegiate home, Washington, that revolved around an off-field legal incident, Stringfellow had initially stated he would be transferring to Nebraska. Less than a month later, though, the receiver landed at Ole Miss.
The past two seasons, after he sat out the 2014 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, the 6-2, 219-pound Stringfellow caught 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“I am grateful to Damore’ea for his commitment to our program,” said Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze. “He has a tremendous opportunity, and we are excited for him to enter the next phase of his life. We look forward to seeing another Rebel receiver in the NFL.”
The Heisman Trophy finalists were announced in a made-for-awkward-television moment during ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown on sight from MetLife Stadium. The Heisman trust revealed a list of five finalists including: Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook.
Described my some (read: yours truly) as Allen Iverson in cleats, Jackson’s slippery explosiveness led to 4,928 yards of total offense and a nation-leading 51 touchdowns responsible for. He is regarded as the overwhelming favorite to win the stiffarm trophy.
Mayfield has thrown for 3,669 yards with 38 touchdowns against eight interceptions. His 197.75 quarterback rating is on pace to break the FBS single-season record, and he pilots an offense that ranks third nationally in scoring and yards per play. Mayfield’s efforts helped Oklahoma win its second straight Big 12 title and complete the first 9-0 run in the league’s 6-year round-robin era.
Peppers is the swiss army knife of a threat for the Wolverines. He ranks second on Michigan’s elite defense in tackles and tackles for loss while also returning punts and kicks and serving as a running back on offense.
Watson has led Clemson to back-to-back ACC championships and College Football Playoff appearances while firing 37 touchdown passes and throwing for 3,914 yards on the year.
Mayfield’s top target, Westbrook recorded 74 receptions for 1,465 yards and 14 touchdowns on the year. Westbrook’s inclusion makes Oklahoma the first team to send teammates to New York since Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush did the same for USC in 2005. They’re just the fifth set of teammates to do so overall (Leinart and Bush did so twice.)
That’s also the last time the SEC did not place a player in the top five vote-getters.
The Heisman Trophy ceremony will be held Saturday night in New York.
Army will carry with it a 14-game losing streak against Navy when it takes the M&T Bank Stadium field on Saturday. But the Black Knights will do so in some some great uniforms.
The academy on Monday unveiled the special uniforms they’ll wear against Navy that honor the accomplishments of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II.
Known as the All-Americans, the 82nd Airborne was “[h]ighly trained and highly disciplined, the soldiers of the 82nd Airborne were asked to spearhead the invasions of Italy, Normandy, and Holland. With little to no reinforcements or relief in the most adverse conditions, their physical and mental toughness was pushed to the limits. Their unwavering brotherhood and intense dedication to success, ultimately led to mission accomplishment.”
While Navy has won 14 straight and 15 of the past 16, four of the fast five games have been decided by six points or less, including last season’s 21-17 decision.
Knowing the recent history of this game, expect a response from Navy at some point this week.
For the second straight season, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has been named the recipient of the Burlsworth Award. Mayfield is now the first player to win the award two times.
The award is given to college football’s top player who began his career as a walk-on player. Mayfield was originally a walk-on player at Texas Tech before eventually transferring to Oklahoma, where he has emerged as a Heisman Trophy candidate and led the Sooners to two consecutive Big 12 championships and one appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Mayfield beat out Washington State quarterback Luke Falk and Northwestern wide receiver Austin Carr for the award. Mayfield will also have a chance to add one more Burlsworth Award to his name next season, as the Sooners passer has already said he will return to Oklahoma for the 2017 season.