Tennessee v Alabama

AJ McCarron, Tajh Boyd headline Unitas Award finalists


Handed out annually to the nation’s top SENIOR quarterback — notice that the word “senior” is in all-caps, bolded, italicized and underlined — the Johnny Unitas Golden Award is one of the most prestigious in the game.

Wednesday, the award announced the group of finalists eligible to win this year’s version of the honor.

A total of 10 finalists were named Wednesday afternoon, headlined by Alabama’s AJ McCarron and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd.  Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, who leads the nation in passing yards and touchdown passes, is on the list as well.

One of the more glaring exclusions?  LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, who’s in the midst of a breakout season that has him No. 6 in the country in passing efficiency.

Three of the quarterbacks come from each of the Pac-12 and SEC: Mannion, Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly (no relation) and Washington’s Keith Price from the former conference, McCarron, Georgia’s Aaron Murray and South Carolina’s Connor Shaw from the latter.  The MAC is the only other league with more than one player, while the AAC, Big Ten and Big 12 were shutout.

Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Derek Carr, Fresno State
Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Sean Mannion, Oregon State
AJ McCarron, Alabama
Aaron Murray, Georgia
Keith Price, Washington
Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Keith Winning, Ball State

Expect Oregon’s quarterback rotation to continue for the next two weeks

AP Photo

Oregon touched the ball 15 times in its 41-24 win over Colorado on Saturday night. Jeff Lockie played seven of them, including the first. Taylor Alie played eight.

As long as Vernon Adams nurses his broken finger, this appears to be the plan for the Ducks.

“They’d both done enough good things in practice last week to merit playing,” head coach Mark Helfrich told the Oregonian. “We just felt looking at the game plan we could parcel out aspects with each.”

“Of course you want to get into a better rhythm but that’s how it goes,” Lockie said. “We’re just going to play the best we can and as long as we’re winning games, there’s no problem with me.”

Lockie completed 8-of-11 throws for 54 yards with an interception while rushing five times for 18 yards. Alie connected on 4-of-9 throws for 83 yards and a touchdown while adding 22 yards on five carries. Not quite Marcus Mariota numbers from either signal caller.

“It’ll just depend on the game plan,” Helfrich said of Alie and Lockie. “I think those guys they have differences. There are some strengths and weaknesses to different areas of their game and so we’ll think about that going forward of just how the Washington State game plan comes out.”

With Oregon playing Washington and Washington State (combined Pac-12 wins thus far: zero) before a tough closing stretch, Helfrich and company have time to alternate signal callers.

SEC shut out of AP top five for first time in half a decade

Stephen F. Austin visits Amon G. Carter Stadium to play the No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs.
AP Photo

The polls are meaningless. Especially any poll that isn’t the College Football Playoff top 25 and even then, as the TCU learned late last season, even the penultimate ranking is as meaningless as the paper they’re metaphorically written on.

Still, they’re catnip to college football fans and observers. Place them in front of us and we can’t help but gnaw on them.

And with that said, a bit of milestone was reached in Sunday’s Associated Press Top 25, as the SEC was completely shut out of the top five.

That group breaks down as follows:

  1. Ohio State
  2. TCU
  3. Baylor
  4. Michigan State
  5. Utah

An SEC free top five hasn’t happened in nearly five full years; October 10, 2010 was the last time such a thing occurred. Oddly enough, two of the same five culprits occupied that ranking as well:

  1. Ohio State
  2. Oregon
  3. Boise State
  4. TCU
  5. Nebraska

Underscoring the lesson of the first paragraph, eventual national champion Auburn checked in at No. 6. Those Tigers moved up a spot the following week and never looked back.

None of this means anything at all, until it does. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun along the way.