Stanford rumbles over Oregon, hangs on for 26-20 win

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For the second year in a row, Stanford has upset the BCS apple cart.

The No. 6 Cardinal used a powerful run game and a physical defense to beat No. 2 Oregon in Palo Alto, 26-20.

With the win, Stanford moves to 8-1 overall and 6-1 in the Pac-12, while Oregon falls to 8-1 and 5-1 in league play.

For about three-and-a-half quarters, this game was the province of the Cardinal ground game. Running back Tyler Gaffney carried the ball a career-high 45 times for 157 yards and a touchdown as Stanford punched the Ducks in the mouth over and over again. The Cardinal rushed for 274 yards and converted 14-of-21 third down conversions while holding the ball for an unbelievable 45:30.

Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan was efficient and killed the Ducks with timely scrambles. He was 7 of 13 for 103 yards and rushed for 57 yards and a score. The Cardinal didn’t need him to do much more since they were in control for most of the game.

Ah, but what about the end?

When Cardinal placekicker Jordan Williamson hit his fourth field goal of the game to put Stanford up 26-0 with 11:40 to play, it looked like the Ducks were going to go quietly into the Northern California night. There was even talk of blanking Oregon, something that hasn’t happened since 2007.

But Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who struggled most of the game, suddenly came to life. He led Oregon on a 60-yard drive that culminated in a 23-yard touchdown pass to Daryle Hawkins. That made it 26-7 with 10:11 to play.

Oregon’s onside kick failed and Stanford drove the ball to the Oregon 23-yard line and then Williamson lined up for his fifth field goal of the night. But the attempt was blocked and Rodney Hardrick returned it 65 yards for a touchdown and it was suddenly 26-13 after Mariota’s 2-point conversion attempt failed.

The Ducks lined up for another onside kick and this time it worked. Oregon recovered and, seven plays later, had a first and goal at the Stanford 2-yard line with almost four minutes to play. It looked like Oregon had a chance to pull off a miracle comeback.

But this is where the Ducks’ hopes died. While Oregon eventually scored on a fourth down play to make it 26-20, the Ducks ate up valuable time on the clock and, with one time out left, it wouldn’t be able to get the ball back unless its next onside kick worked.

It didn’t. Wide out Jeff Trojan recovered it and Stanford ran out the clock. Afterward, Stanford students stormed the field.

And it no doubt set off celebrations in Tallahassee and Columbus, as both Florida State and Ohio State’s odds of making it to the BCS title game improved substantially tonight. When Sunday’s BCS standings come out, we’ll see FSU holding on to its spot at No. 2 behind No. 1 Alabama.

For Oregon, it’s back to the drawing board. On the bright side, it won’t have to face a Stanford defense of this caliber anytime soon as 15 of the 22 players on the Cardinal’s defensive two-deep are seniors. Mariota’s Heisman hopes took a big hit, though the late rally mitigated the damage somewhat, but he’s going to need some help down the stretch to win his school’s first Heisman.

As for Stanford, it’s now in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12 North and has an outside chance at crawling back into the BCS title hunt. If Alabama loses to LSU, Ohio State loses to Michigan or Michigan State and Baylor drops a game in the next month, it will be well-positioned to give the title tilt a physical presence — from the Pac-12, no less.

Dwayne Wallace, Cal’s starting right guard, no longer with team

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Just a little over a month before the start of summer camp, Cal’s offensive line has taken what some might consider a rather significant hit.

In a very short and terse press release, the football program announced that “Dwayne Wallace is no longer associated with the school’s football program.”  No reason was given for what could be best described as an eyebrow-raising departure.

The first two years of the 6-5, 330-pound Wallace’s collegiate playing career were spent at the junior college level in Riverside, California.  He transferred to Cal in January of 2016.

In his first and what turned out to be only season with the Golden Bears, Wallace started nine of the 12 games in which he played.  Exiting spring practice, Wallace was firmly entrenched as Cal’s starting right guard.

With Wallace’s departure, Cal’s offensive line will now have four new starters for the 2017 season.

Ole Miss, Texas Tech to open 2018 season in Houston

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As opening weekend of the 2017 season grows larger and larger on the horizon, there’s some news for the same weekend the following year that’s been confirmed.

As expected, both Ole Miss and Texas Tech announced Friday morning that the two football teams will open the 2018 season at Houston’s NRG Stadium, home of the NFL’s Texans.  The game that will be a part of the annual Advocare Texas Kickoff series does not yet have a specific date or time for its kickoff.

The two programs have met in football five times previously, the first coming in 1986 and the last in the 2009 Cotton Bowl.  The Rebels hold a slight 3-2 edge in the miniseries.

“We are excited to be part of this great event and play a tradition-rich opponent like Texas Tech,” said Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork in a statement. “In our scheduling process, we seek out marquee matchups at premier venues, and this is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our program on a grand stage. Houston and the state of Texas have become quite the hot bed for Rebel Nation, and we know our fans will continue our stellar reputation of supporting our team and filling up NRG Stadium.”

“We’re excited to return to Houston and take part in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff,” Bjork’s Tech counterpart, Kirby Hocutt, said. “The support of Red Raider Nation helped set a new Texas Bowl attendance record in our last trip to Houston, so we look forward to NRG Stadium being filled with scarlet and black once again to kick off the 2018 season.”

This year’s Advocare Texas Kickoff will feature LSU squaring off against BYU in Houston.

Scholarship offer for a 9-year-old? Nevada says sure, why not

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OK, this might be getting a little bit ridiculous. Check that — this is getting ridiculous.

Earlier this year, Lane Kiffin, long the king of way-too-early offers, further buttressed that reputation earlier this month when, just weeks after offering the seventh-grade son of Tee Martin, the Florida Atlantic head coach offered a scholarship to a quarterback who had just completed the sixth grade.  Earlier this month, Hawaii one-upped Kiffin by offering an 11-year-old who just completed the fifth grade.

At the time, we wrote, “Surely there’s not an offer to a kid still in elementary school in the offing.”

Nevada football: Hold my beer…

Welp.

Assuming young Mr. Finney just completed the fourth grade — fourth grade!!! — that would make him a member of the Class of 2026.  And you all thought that scheduling way-into-the-future home-and-home series was getting out of hand.

If nothing else, it has people talking about Nevada’s program at a time when not many are talking about college football in general and Wolf Pack football specifically.  Besides, what possible harm could come from entitling pre-teens with scholarship offers, right?

(Tip O’ the Cap: SBNation.com)

Edgar Poe’s starting WR brother leaving Army football team

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Guess you can say he’ll play for the service academy, nevermore.

According to Sal Interdonato of HudsonValley.com, Christian Poe is no longer on the Army football team.  No reason was given for the unexpected and abrupt departure.

Exiting the spring, Poe was one of the Black Knights’ two starting wide receivers.

Last season as a sophomore, Poe started two of the games in which he played.  His 10 receptions for 133 yards were both second on the Black Knights.

Army’s leading receiver in 2016?  Edgar Poe, Christian’s brother, who as a senior had 16 receptions for 336 yards as well as three of the Black Knights’ seven touchdown receptions on the season.  The Poe brothers also accounted for nearly half of the decidedly run-heavy football team’s 54 receptions.