Alabama v Texas A&M

Manziel back on top of Heisman Poll


Johnny Manziel has once again used a huge performance against the Alabama to impress Heisman voters.

The defending Heisman winner retook the top spot in the latest HeismanPundit Heisman Straw Poll thanks to 562 yards and five touchdowns in a losing effort against the Crimson Tide. He opened the season atop the poll before falling off the last few weeks.

“His game against Bama was just what he needed to get back in the race,” said one voter. “He reminded everyone why he won it last year.”

Manziel garnered six first place votes and 20 total points from the weekly panel of Heisman voters. Marcus Mariota of Oregon was second with 16 points and two first-place votes. Alabama’s AJ McCarron (one first-place vote) and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd tied for third with five points each.

Teddy Bridgewater, last week’s poll leader, dropped to fifth with four points after a less-than-stellar effort in a win over Kentucky.

The weekly straw poll surveys 10 actual Heisman voters. It has been the most accurate Heisman poll in the country during the past seven seasons. It is released every Tuesday during the season on

The Heisman Straw Poll, 9/17/2013

Total Points (with first place votes in parentheses)

1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M — 20 (6)

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon — 16 (2)

3. (tie) AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama — 5 (1)

Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson — 5

5. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville — 4

6. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA — 3 (1)

7. (tie) Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia — 2

Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado — 2

9. (tie) Duke Johnson, RB, Miami — 1

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State — 1

Chuckie Keeton, QB, Utah State — 1

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.