Marcus Mariota

Oregon returns to form against Utah

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It took No. 6 Oregon a little while to shake off the hangover that lingered from last week’s disappointing loss to Stanford, but the Ducks finally got going in the second half against Utah and returned to form in beating the Utes, 44-21, in Eugene on Saturday.

With the win, Oregon improves to 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the Pac-12. Utah fell to 4-6 and 1-6.

Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota was sharp from the beginning and he ended up throwing for 288 yards and three touchdowns on 19 of 27 passing. He now has 25 touchdown passes and no interceptions on the year in 286 attempts. If he’s going to crawl back into the Heisman race, he’ll need to have games like this one.

This game wasn’t decided until well into the third quarter. Utah quarterback Adam Schulz ran for a four-yard touchdown to make it 17-14 with 10 minutes to play in the third and it looked like Oregon was missing its mojo for the second-straight game.

But that’s when the Ducks exploded as they’ve been known to do so many times in the past. After the score by Schulz, De’Anthony Thomas took the ensuing kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown. After a Utah punt, Mariota led Oregon on a 93-yard drive that took a little under two minutes. Tailback Byron Marshall tacked on two touchdowns on the next two drives and suddenly the Ducks had a 44-14 lead, the byproduct of 27 unanswered points.

While it took a little while for the Oregon offense to get going, the defense was having few problems. Utah was held to 297 total yards and Schulz completed just 13 of 30 passes. Utah added a late Bubba Poole rushing touchdown to make the final margin more respectable.

Oregon still has some work to do to get its running game back up to snuff. The Ducks ran for 145 yards, their second-straight game under 200 yards rushing after eclipsing that mark in the previous 10. Luckily, Oregon also has Mariota and he’s a good safety valve to have when other things aren’t clicking.

At 4-6, Utah needs to beat Washington State and Colorado to return to bowl eligibility. Meanwhile, Oregon will sit back and wait — and hope — that USC can upset Stanford. If that happens, the Ducks might have a lot to play for in the next few weeks.

Report: Ohio Bobcats RB arrested for alleged intoxicated accident and fleeing scene

LAWRENCE, KS - SEPTEMBER 10: Maleek Irons #21 of the Ohio Bobcats rushes for a first down against the Kansas Jayhawks in the second quarter at Memorial Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Ohio running back Maleek Irons was arrested over the weekend for his role in fleeing a possible drunk driving accident.

The Athens News reports Irons was arrested Saturday morning by police responding to a call about “an intoxicated male driving a vehicle, colliding with other vehicles, and fleeing the scene.” The vehicles connected to the call was found off the road at 3:39 a.m. When police discovered the car, Irons got out of the car and started to run tow a dorm on Ohio’s campus, failing to stop when commanded by the officer.

Irons has been charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, resisting arrest and obstructing official business. He was released on bond and has a court appointment scheduled for Tuesday morning. There has been no statement from Ohio on his status with the program, although an indefinite suspension of some sort may be expected as is usually the case when an issue like this arises.

With Irons finding himself in some legal hot water, that means The Fulmer cup season is officially underway.

Alabama to hires Arizona AD Greg Byrne for same position

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 19: Athletic Director Greg Byrne of the Arizona Wildcats looks on during the second half of the college football game against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Arizona Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
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Alabama head coach Nick Saban may be the most powerful person within the Alabama sports department, but even he has a boss.  Now, he will have a new boss.

Alabama Director of Athletics Bill Battle is stepping down into retirement from his current position, although he will remain active in the university as a special assistant to university president Stuart Bell. Battle has been fighting through health issues and completed treatment for cancer last summer. His vacant spot in the athletics department will be filled by Arizona Athletics Director Greg Byrne. A formal announcement has not been made as of yet, but multiple reports have confirmed the pending Byrne hiring. (UPDATE: Alabama has since formally announced the hiring of Byrne)

”Bill has done a tremendous job as director of athletics, and has accomplished so much during his career,” Bell said, according to the Associated Press. ”His business expertise, coupled with his coaching experience and his strong understanding of the role an athletic department has in the daily fabric of a university, has allowed us to achieve the great successes we have enjoyed during his tenure. We are blessed to have the continued benefit of his counsel.”

The hiring of Byrne takes Alabama outside its own foundation to bring in an outsider to lead the sports department. Byrne is an Idaho native who has worked in an administrative role in two SEC schools, so he will be familiar with the landscape the conference has to offer. Byrne was the athletics director of Mississippi State from 2008 through 2010 before moving to Arizona for the past six years. At Mississippi State, Byrne hired football coach Dan Mullen. Byrne also held an associate AD role at Kentucky, where he directed development and fundraising efforts for the Wildcats.

Notre Dame OL Quenton Nelson announces return to school

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It’s not yet Signing Day, but Notre Dame has already secured a major commitment for what Brian Kelly hopes is a major bounce-back 2017 season.

Offensive lineman Quenton Nelson announced Sunday he is returning for his senior season. “Excited for this team to grow every day this offseason by putting in nothing but hard work and grinding together. When we reach our full potential, look out,” Nelson wrote in an Instagram post. “I’m right behind you Coach.”

Nelson, who hails from “Westeros, GOT,” according to his Twitter bio, is a two-year starter at guard for the Irish. Notre Dame finished tied for 62nd nationally in yards per carry this season, but ranked eighth in that same metric a year ago en route to earning a finalist not for the inaugural Joe Moore Award — given to the nation’s best offensive line unit — and a Fiesta Bowl appearance.

Sonny Dykes reportedly joins TCU staff

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 24:  Head coach Sonny Dykes of the California Golden Bears looks on during warm ups prior to the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Former California head coach Sonny Dykes is set to join TCU’s staff in a to-be-determined role, multiple outlets reported Sunday evening. Jeremy Clark of TCU’s 247 site broke the news.

Dykes, of course, was the head coach of the Golden Bears through last Sunday, when the school abruptly fired him. He was 19-30 in four seasons with Cal.

With Doug Meacham off to Kansas and Sonny Cumbie running the show for the Horned Frogs’ offense, Dykes is a natural fit to slide in and assist Cumbie. Dykes was an offensive assistant of Mike Leach at Texas Tech from 2000-06, and Cumbie played for the Red Raiders as a quarterback from 2000-04. Sharing the same first name can’t hurt, either.