Marcus Mariota

Mariota wants to ‘hold off’ on NFL talk until season ends


As the 2013 college football season has (sadly) reached its midpoint, more and more attention is turning to a pair of three-letter acronyms: the BCS and NFL.

Marcus Mariota and his Oregon Ducks have positioned themselves for a run at the former.  Conversely, many folks are beginning to think the quarterback should make a run at the latter following the end of the season.

Mariota’s 2013 season has been nothing short of spectacular and has placed him squarely on not only the Heisman radar, but on the NFL’s as well.  In playing time this season that essentially amounts to 17 quarters in the Ducks’ first six games — he’s played into the fourth quarter just once, and past the halfway point (roughly) of the third quarter in only three games —  Mariota has passed for 17 touchdowns and rushed for another eight.  He’s fifth in the country in passing efficiency  — a 60.6 completion percentage is pushing that rating down — and sixth in total offense per game at 358.3, again in large part because he’s yet to play a full game.

Arguably the most impressive thing Mariota’s done this season is something that he actually hasn’t done: in his 165 attempts, he’s yet to throw an interception.  Add in the fact that he has yet to lose a football — he fumbled once, vs. Tennessee, but recovered it — and Mariota hasn’t turned the ball over in 206 pass/run touches.

As Mariota is a third-year sophomore, he would be eligible for the NFL draft next April.  A trio of respected NFL draft experts have Mariota going third-overall in their latest mock drafts,  In his Monday Morning Quarterback posted yesterday, Peter King wrote that Mariota could be the No. 1-overall pick in the upcoming draft if he decides to come out.

As more and more NFL talk in connection to Mariota begins to surface, the player has not so unexpectedly brushed aside any rumblings of his leaving the Ducks, preferring to remain focused on the here and now and putting any conversations regarding an early leap to the professional level on the back-burner.

“My family and I have decided to hold off on these conversations until after the season,” Mariota told John Canzano of 750-AM in Portland during a radio interview Monday. “We’re obviously going to put the pros and cons together, and we’re going to do what’s best for the family.

“At the same time, my education is important… I love Oregon. I love the community. We’ll decide when the time is right.”

Selfishly, we hope Mariota stays in Eugene for another two years.  Realistically, no one could, or at least should, begrudge the talented young man if he decided to take said talent out of the non-paying collegiate game and ply his wares at the NFL level.

And if he truly does have the opportunity to go No. 1 overall?  That could make the decision even more of a no-brainer than it already may be.

Starting Northwestern CB ruled out vs. Ohio State

Michigan State tight end Josiah Price, left, catches a pass for a touchdown against Northwestern's Trae Williams during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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Struggling mightily in the passing game, Ohio State may have caught a bit of a break as the Buckeyes look to rebound from just their fifth in the four-plus years under Urban Meyer.

On Northwestern’s official injury report, cornerback Trae Williams is listed as out for the Wildcats’ Week 9 matchup with the Buckeyes in Columbus. Williams is dealing with an injury that the school has not specified.

The redshirt freshman also missed the Week 8 win over Indiana because of the injury.

Prior to that, Williams had started the previous four games, the first four starts of his collegiate career. This season, Williams has been credited with 20 tackles and has one of the Wildcats’ seven interceptions.

With Williams sidelined, Alonzo Mayo will get the start opposite Montre Hartage. The redshirt freshman made his first career start in place of Williams last weekend.

Louisville, WKU announce three-game series

LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 06:   Louisville Cardinals cheerleaders perform during the game against the Murray State Racers at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on September 6, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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A pair of FBS schools from the state of Kentucky will be getting back together on the gridiron after a sabbatical of nearly two decades.

Louisville and Western Kentucky announced Thursday that they have reached an agreement on a three-game series that will actually be played in the not-too-distant future. Two of the games will be played at the U of L’s Papa John’s Stadium in 2018 and 2020.

The third will be played at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium in 2019.

“It’s great for both schools that we were able to resume this series against an in-state school of Western Kentucky’s caliber,” U of L athletic director Tom Jurich said in a statement. “Because of the proximity of both schools, I think it’s a tremendous win for the state of Kentucky and each fan base. I’m thrilled we were able to lock down a three-game series versus WKU.”

“We are excited to begin a football series with the University of Louisville,” Jurich’s WKU counterpart, Todd Stewart, said in his statement. “These three games will be exciting for both fan bases and good for college football in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We continually try to develop strong non-conference schedules each year while also focusing on regional match ups that enable our fans to attend games outside of Bowling Green. A series with Louisville checks all of those boxes, and we appreciate Louisville’s administration and football program for their efforts and cooperation.”

The two teams have met 31 times previously, with the first coming in 1922 and the most recent in 1998. The Cardinals hold a 19-12 advantage in the series.

The Hilltoppers are currently coached by former Cardinals quarterback Jeff Brohm.

Virginia Tech grabs control of ACC Coastal with win over Pitt

Virginia Tech quarterback Jerod Evans (4) throws the ball against Pittsburgh in the first half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/John Heller)
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It’s not quite over, but No. 25 Virginia Tech will be firmly entrenched in the driver’s seat of the ACC Coastal heading into the final month of the regular season.

Thanks in large part to 406 yards passing from Jerod Evans, Tech was able to survive off a fourth-quarter rally by Pittsburgh and secure a 39-36 road win Thursday night.  Evans’ performance was easily the best of his career, and just the second time he’s gone for 300-plus yards.  The first (307) for the first-year starter came just two weeks ago in a loss to Syracuse.

Evans was also part of an offense that rolled up a season-high 556 yards on the night.

With the win, Tech improves to 4-1 in conference play, tied with North Carolina for the Coastal lead.  However, by virtue of the Hokies’ Oct. 8 win over the Tar Heels, they control their own destiny in the division.  Tech has three league games remaining — at Duke (0-3) and home games against Georgia Tech (1-3)  and Virginia (1-2) — and, if they win all three, they will represent the division in the ACC championship game.  UNC would need to win out plus see Tech lose at least one game in order to win the division.

Pitt fell to 3-2, with those two losses coming to VT and UNC, meaning they have essentially eliminated themselves from Coastal contention.  In a losing effort, Pitt running back James Conner contributed 141 yards and three scores on the ground on just 19 carries.

Jury awards former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary $7.3 million after defamation suit

STATE COLLEGE, PA - JANUARY 24: Former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary stands in line with other mourners as they wait to pay respect to former Penn State Football coach Joe Paterno during a public viewing at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on the campus of Penn State on January 24, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. Paterno, who was 85, died due to complications from lung cancer on January 22, 2012. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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A Pennsylvania jury has awarded former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary a whopping $7.3 million on Thursday evening in a case that found the school defamed him for his role in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the jury (which included two PSU employees) took just under four hours to render the verdict. While the lawsuit is not completely over because a judge has to rule on McQueary’s whistleblower claim, the verdict is nevertheless a blow to the Nittany Lions after the school was found guilty of defamation and misrepresentation in the case.

McQueary, a former quarterback in State College and an assistant under Joe Paterno, was at the center of the Sandusky scandal back in 2011. He allegedly witnessed Sandusky’s sexual assault of a boy in team facilities back in 2001 and reported what he saw to Paterno and others, but nothing was done about the crime. The revelations a key part in a case against Sandusky and eventually led to the ouster of Paterno and McQueary’s subsequent loss of his own job at the school.

The timing of the news is probably not what Penn State fans wanted to hear about this week after they celebrated the program’s biggest win since the scandal last Saturday in a come from behind victory over then-No. 2 Ohio State.