Stanford v Oregon State

Stanford holds off Oregon State


On a night when its offense was once again stagnant, No. 6 Stanford’s vaunted defense stepped up to the plate, slowing down Oregon State’s nation-leading passing attack just enough to secure a hard-fought 20-12 victory over the Beavers in Corvallis on Saturday night.

The game wasn’t in hand until the very end as OSU drove to the Stanford seven-yard-line in an attempt to send the game into overtime, but Sean Mannion’s pass to Kevin Cummings was batted away in the end zone with one second left and the Cardinal survived.

Stanford set the tone for the game early, punishing Mannion early and often with a ferocious pass rush. By the time the game was over, the Cardinal got to Mannion eight times — with Trent Murphy getting 2.5 of those sacks — and held the Beavers to 17 net rushing yards.

Mannion, who entered the game averaging 427 yards and four touchdown passes per game, was held to 271 yards on 41 of 57 passing. His favorite target, Brandin Cooks, led the nation with an average of 11 catches and 168 receiving yards per game, but he was limited to just nine catches for 80 yards and one score.

But the Cardinal offense almost wasted this fine defensive effort. Quarterback Kevin Hogan was 8 of 18 for 88 yards and Stanford finished with just 273 total yards and 13 first downs. Luckily, running back Tyler Gaffney stepped up with 145 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries. It was Gaffney’s fifth 100-yard effort of the season and third in a row.

As good as he was on the night, it was Gaffney’s fumble that allowed Oregon State to chip away at a 20-9 deficit with a Trevor Romaine field goal with three minutes to play. Up eight points, the Cardinal just needed a first down to ice the game. But the Beavers defense held up and Stanford punted away.

Cooks returned the punt 28 yards to the Cardinal 43 yard line and that’s when Mannion and OSU went to work and almost pulled it out.

The Beavers now have one loss in conference, but they’ll need some help if they are going to win the league. You can also kiss Mannion’s Heisman hopes goodbye.

As for Stanford, the win keeps its slim national title hopes alive and sets up a huge matchup with Oregon on Nov. 7. That one could be for a lot of marbles.

Report: Temple’s Matt Rhule stops talking to Missouri

Matt Rhule

The search for a new coach at Missouri continues, and apparently one candidate has backed away from the pursuit. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Temple head coach Matt Rhule has turned taken himself out of the mix for the job at Missouri, which likely means Rhule will stay put in South Philly during this coaching carousel cycle.

According to the report, Temple is also in the process of negotiating a new contract for Rhule. Rhule has already signed a contract extension with Temple that runs through 2021. Rhule’s Owls are also preparing to take on Houston in this week’s American Athletic Conference championship game. Rhule does not believe this will serve as a distraction to his team as they prepare for the Cougars.

“I think our team is way too strong to be distracted about anything with me,” Rhule said. “I am honest with our players and tell them everything.”

Ironically, Houston also received some encouraging news this week when head coach Tom Herman said he has an agreement in principle to stay at Houston. Not only is that good news for Houston and Temple, but that is outstanding news for the conference as a whole, although Memphis did lose Justin Fuente to Virginia Tech.

For Temple, this should be encouraging news as a program. The two coaches before Rhule took the job each left to take on power conference opportunities once they came along. Al Golden took an offer to coach Miami (that, uh, didn’t exactly pan out nicely) and Steve Addazio bolted for Boston College. Who knows if Rhule will stick around for the long haul, but it would seem just being able to get him to return in 2016 would be a major step in the right direction for Temple.

Texas Tech fires three defensive assistants

Kliff Kingsbury

Texas Tech may be getting ready for a bowl game, but they will do so without three defensive assistant coaches. Co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Mike Smith, cornerbacks coach Kevin Curtis and outside linebackers coach Trey Haverty have been cut from the coaching staff, head coach Kliff Kingsbury announced today.

“We appreciate all that Mike, Kevin and Trey have done at Texas Tech over the last three seasons,” Kingsbury said in a released statement. “All three are great Red Raiders and we wish them the very best.”

Texas Tech had the Big 12’s ninth-ranked total defense after allowing 540.2 yards per game. That was nearly 100 yards more per game than Iowa State’s eighth-ranked defense. Only Kansas had a worst defense, allowing 560.8 yards per game. Texas Tech’s defense ranked 126th in the nation out of 128 schools. The Red Raiders were torched through the air, allowing 268.3 yards per game through the air, which was ranked 113th in the nation.

Offense appears to be the key to success in the Big 12 and defense has tended to be a hurdle for the Red Raider program. This much appears to be clear though. Kingsbury is making moves with his roster to find a way to improve defensively and become a more well-rounded threat in the Big 12.

VIDEO: Western Michigan’s bowl reveal video was shark-infested


Forget about all of the talk regarding 5-7 teams going to bowl games or not, because teams that have actually qualified and deserved a bowl trip are starting to line up their postseason plans. Western Michigan confirmed today it will head to the Bahamas Bowl, where the Broncos will face Middle Tennessee of Conference USA.

There were three potential bowl destinations for Western Michigan. The two in addition to the Bahamas Bowl were the Boca Raton Bowl and the Poinsettia Bowl. There really wasn’t a bad destination here for Western Michigan, but a chance to go to the Bahamas seemed to be a crowd pleaser, and how could it not?

After the video revealed the bowl destination for the program, head coach P.J. Fleck went on to commend the Broncos for accomplishing a number of firsts for the program this season, including its first win over a top 25 team, a share of the division crown for the first time in over a decade, and the first time going to bowl game sin back-to-back seasons. Now, Fleck wants his program to put together an eight-win season, which would mark the first back-to-back eight-win seasons. Keep rowing that boat, Western Michigan.

ECU says it would decline bowl invite after 5-7 season, but that invite was unlikely to come

James Summers, Ken Ekanem, Quincy McKinney
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The odds are pretty good East Carolina never would have received a bowl invitation as 5-7 teams wait in line for a rare bowl invitation to fill bowl vacancies. Either wayt, East Carolina is on the record now to say it would not accept any bowl invitation.

“While we understand there are still numerous programs with higher APR scores ahead of us who merit stronger consideration, we have already determined that we would decline an offer should one be extended,” East Carolina Director of Athletics Jeff Compher said in a released statement. “Our efforts should be centered on positioning the Pirates for future championships.”

With Nebraska and Illinois already reportedly ready to accept any bowl invitation they would receive, East Carolina was already going to eb locked out of the postseason as long as the Huskers and Illini stayed true to those reports. Missouri has publicly said it would turn down an ofer, but there are still other schools that would stand in the way of ECU, which is way down the order on the wait list.