Oregon buries UCLA with strong second half

7 Comments

No. 2 Oregon shook off a rusty first half and kept its BCS title dreams alive by crushing No. 12 UCLA in Eugene on Saturday, 42-14.

The Bruins and Ducks were tied at 14 at the half and the game started to evoke memories of Oregon’s 17-14 loss to Stanford last season. But Heisman Trophy front runner Marcus Mariota completed all 10 of his second half passes for 99 yards and the Ducks scored on four out of six second half possessions to pull away.

You might have to credit the Oregon defense for this win. The Ducks intercepted UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley twice and held him to just 64 yards passing. The Bruins were more successful on the ground, but ended up with 283 total yards — their second-straight sub-300-yard game. Ducks linebacker Boseko Lokombo really came to play — he had two sacks and snared a key interception when UCLA was threatening to score.

Unlike previous games, Oregon didn’t come up with many big plays on offense. Instead, it was content to nickel and dime UCLA’s defense, with 325 of its 555 yards coming on the ground. Byron Marshall notched his fifth-straight 100-yard game, rushing for a game-high 133 yards and three touchdowns.

Mariota had a solid game — 21 of 28 for 230 yards and one score, plus 18 rushing yards — and he extended his Pac-12 record streak of passes without an interception to 292. While it wasn’t his flashiest performance, he should remain atop the Heisman race for now.

Oregon has passed its first two tests of the season — marquee games with ranked Washington and UCLA teams — with both wins coming by an average score of 44-23. But we’ve become so spoiled by how easy the Ducks make it look in beating teams by huge margins, it’s easy to think they’re struggling when they don’t dominate from the first snap.

For UCLA, it really is right where it should be. The Bruins are playing so many true freshmen, it was probably too much to expect them to pull out the last two games versus elite teams like Stanford and Oregon. But a game like this will definitely play dividends down the road for such a young roster.

Jalen Jelks eschews leaving early for NFL, will return to Oregon

Getty Images
Leave a comment

We haven’t yet reached the first-ever early signing period, and Oregon has already bolstered its 2018 defense.

Jalen Jelks confirmed to The Oregonian that he has decided to push off the NFL and will instead return to Oregon for another season.  The redshirt junior indicated that he needs to work on his game before he takes it to the next level.

“I’m back for sure,” the redshirt junior defensive end told the newspaper. “I talked to my parents and my family and everything and just probably the best decision for me is to make the best out of next season and make a lot more plays than I did this season.

“I missed a lot of plays, and if I can capitalize on that and translate it to next season I could contribute a lot to the draft.”

This season, Jelks led the Ducks in tackles for loss with 15; in sacks with 6.5; and in quarterback hits with four.  The tackles for loss were second in the Pac-12 to Washington State’s Hercules Mata’afa‘s 21.5.

Rashaan Salaam’s 1994 Heisman up for auction, could fetch $300K

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A little over a year after his death, one of the most noteworthy pieces of Rashaan Salaam‘s athletic career finds itself up for sale to the public yet again.

According to the Denver Post, the former Colorado star running back’s 1994 Heisman Trophy will be auctioned off next month and is expected to sell for upwards of $300,000. A portion of whatever the trophy fetches will be donated to CTE research.

Salaam, who took his own life at the age of 42 last December, was diagnosed with CTE symptoms postmortem.

After rushing for more than 2,000 yards, Salaam in 1994 became the first, and thus far only, Buffaloes football player to win the most prestigious trophy in college football.  In 2013, Salaam sold the trophy to a sports memorabilia dealer who subsequently sold it to the unnamed individual who is selling it at auction. “The trophy also includes a letter from Salaam, acknowledging the 2013 sale,” the Post wrote.

Based on what we’ve found, the largest amount a Heisman Trophy has ever brought in was the $395,000 a California businessman paid for Minnesota’s Bruce Smith‘s 1941 award in 2005.

Nick Saban, other write-in votes may have helped decide Alabama’s contentious Senate election

Associated Press
2 Comments

Could Nick Saban have inadvertently played a role in the outcome of a historic election?  Believe it or not, that may actually be a valid question.

As this is a college football site, we won’t go into the background of the contentious U.S. Senate campaign waged between Democrat Doug Jones and scandal-plagued Republican Roy Moore in the state of Alabama.  In the run-up to the special election in the state Tuesday, however, one Democrat-leaning political action committee urged Republican voters who couldn’t vote for a Democrat and were leery of voting for Moore to use a write-in vote, specifically using the name of the Alabama head football coach to illustrate that option.

With 99 percent of the vote tabulated, NBC News reported earlier this morning that Jones held a lead of just under 21,000 votes.  It has since been reported that, with 100 percent of the votes in, there were nearly 23,000 write-in votes cast, with Jones’ lead still holding at just under 21,000 votes.

Because of a new state law, some are saying it’s likely we’ll know exactly how many of those write-in votes were for Saban.  From fivethirtyeight.com late Tuesday night:

With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Jones has a margin of 0.7 points over Moore, and the share of write-in votes is more than double that, at around 1.7 percent. Who were people writing in? If that difference holds, we’ll know in due time. In 2016, the Alabama state legislature passed a law requiring the write-in votes to be tallied if the share of write-ins exceeds the margin between the first- and second-place candidates — exactly the situation we’re in now.

“I’m a life-long Republican,” voter Gary Dobbins told MSNBC by way of al.com. “This is the first time in my entire life that I haven’t voted for the Republican candidate.

“I wrote in Nick Saban instead. The reason why is at first I was going to vote for the other guy. Then, I had a crisis in the voting booth and started thinking about what Richard Shelby had said and Condoleezza Rice. I just wrote in Nick Saban.”

West Virginia the landing spot for ex-Michigan DB Keith Washington

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After a brief pit stop at the junior college level, Keith Washington has found his way back to the FBS level.

The defensive back announced via Twitter that he has committed to West Virginia and will continue his collegiate playing career with the Mountaineers. As Washington spent the 2017 season at a Mississippi JUCO, he will be eligible to play for WVU immediately in 2018.

Washington held two other Power Five offers in this second round of recruitment, and both were from fellow Big 12 programs — Kansas and Texas Tech. East Carolina, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, Toledo and UAB had extended offers as well.

Washington was a three-star member of Michigan’s 2015 recruiting class, Jim Harbaugh‘s first with the Wolverines, coming out of high school in Alabama. After redshirting as a true freshman, he played in nine games during the 2016 season.

Before the start of this past season, he decided to transfer from the Wolverines.