Derrick Malone Jr., Brendan Bigelow

Oregon defense stepping it up in first half against Washington

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For all the talk of the Oregon offense, it is the Oregon defense that had made the most improvement this season.

The No. 2 Ducks came into their game with No. 15 Washington allowing just 11.8 points per game, good for second nationally. True to form, Oregon stifled the Huskies in the first half on Saturday, allowing just seven points and 159 total yards while forcing two turnovers.

And this was a Washington team that was averaging 557 yards of offense and nearly 38 points per game.

The Ducks did a great job containing Huskies running back Bishop Sankey, who entered the week fourth nationally in rushing at 146 yards per game. He managed just 47 yards on 16 carries in the first half.  UW struggled through the air, too, as quarterback Keith Price had just 80 yards on 9 of 15 passing.

It’s a good thing that the Oregon defense is playing at such a high level as the Washington defense is also playing well, holding the Ducks to 21 first-half points. That doesn’t sound like a huge accomplishment until you remember that Oregon came into the game averaging 59 points per game.

If the Ducks defense continues to play like this, they might as well punch their ticket to Pasadena.

Mark Dantonio quickly tosses aside South Carolina discussion

Mark Dantonio

Michigan State has become a national power under the coaching of Mark Dantonio. The grizzled and confident coach has put together a master plan in East Lansing and has taken the Spartans to the top of the Big Ten along the way, capturing a Big Ten title and victories in the Cotton Bowl and Rose Bowl as well as in-state dominance over the Michigan Wolverines. Danotnio is preparing his Spartans to take on the Wolverines this week, but with the new vacancy opening up at South Carolina following the sudden retirement of Steve Spurrier, Dantonio has already been presented with the question about his thoughts on coaching at South Carolina.

He did not seem all that interested in discussing the vacancy when meeting with Michigan State media this morning.

“Coach Spurrier’s had an outstanding career there, it’s alma mater, and we’re here to talk about Michigan,” Dantonio said when asked about it today. Video below from the Big Ten Network

Dantonio played defensive back for the Gamecocks in the mid 1970s, which helps make Dantonio an interesting name to mention in any coaching future discussion out of Columbia. While Dantonio may have played at South Carolina for Jim Carlen, Dantonio grew up in Ohio and has coached the bulk of his career within Ohio and the Big Ten. He is also one win away from picking up his 100th career coaching victory, 81 of which have come at Michigan State.

Dan Patrick: Spurrier brought personality to the SEC

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South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is stepping down as head coach of the Gamecocks, and that has the college football world reflecting on the impact he has had on the game of college football. Spurrier’s quips at rivals and revolutionary thoughts on where the sport has been heading were always on the mark, even when his team’s performance on the field was not.

Dan Patrick shared his reaction to the news of Spurrier retiring today on The Dan Patrick Show (simulcast on NBC Sports Network). As many have already suggested, Spurrier’s wit and charm brought a refreshing personality to the SEC.