Tennessee v Oregon

After ‘slow’ start, Mariota, Ducks take Vols to woodshed


The last time Tennessee and Oregon met on a football field, the Ducks cruised to an easy 48-13 win in Knoxville.

If margin of defeat is an indicator, the Vols are worse off than they were three years ago.  Or the Ducks are exponentially better.  One of the two.

Regardless, the No. 2 team in the country had little problem in disposing of their SEC opponents, passing over, through and around the Vols in a 59-14 win in Eugene.  And yes, you heard that right: passing.

Marcus Mariota went 15-of-22 passing for 350 yards and three touchdowns… then came back out for the second half.  “Super Mariota,” as UO officials like to refer to him, finished with 456 yards passing and five touchdowns — four passing, one rushing — as part of a Ducks’ offense that accounted for 687 yards of total offense.

While it was “just” the Vols, the performance is yet another indication that Mariota should be a player in the Heisman discussion right now and on into the future.

The Ducks, at least for them, actually got off to a slow start for what was such an easy win.  failing to score on their first two possessions.  The first UO score didn’t come until 5:45 was left in the first quarter, and that was on a field goal after the Vols had taken a 7-0 lead.  A touchdown two minutes later, though, opened the scoring floodgates as the Ducks tallied a total of 35 points in 17 minutes to close out the half and essentially put the game away.

All told, the Ducks ripped off the 59 unanswered points after falling behind by a touchdown in the middle of the first quarter and before a UT touchdown in the middle of the fourth quarter.

On the Vols’ side of the ledger, it was UT’s worst loss in the modern era and its most lopsided since Georgia Tech 1905 — the school’s fourth year as a football program.

After the Ducks had taken a commanding lead late in the first half, the Autzen Stadium student began chanting “We want Bama!

If both teams continue on their current trajectories, the UO faithful may very well get their wish.  Stanford and LSU, though, may have other plans.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.