Stanford v USC

USC upsets Stanford on late field goal

21 Comments

Andre Heidari kicked a 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds left to lead USC to a 20-17 victory over No. 5 Stanford at the Coliseum on Saturday night.

With the win, the Trojans improved to 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the Pac-12. The Cardinal dropped to 8-2 and 6-2.

It was an emotional effort by USC, which snapped a four-game losing streak to Stanford while winning for the fifth time in six games under interim head coach Ed Orgeron.

Trojan quarterback Cody Kessler passed for 288 yards and a touchdown on 25 of 37 passing to pace a USC offense that made the plays that it had to make to win. Case in point, a 13-yard completion to Marqise Lee on fourth and two on USC’s last drive that gave the Trojans a first down at the Stanford 35-yard line. Six plays later, Heidari was the hero.

The key to the game was USC’s ability to score early. By doing so, Stanford was unable to grind out the clock with its run game (as it did against Oregon last week). As it was, running back Tyler Gaffney still gained 158 yards on 28 carries, with two scores, but quarterback Kevin Hogan struggled to hit targets down the field, completing just 14 of 25 passes for 127 yards while throwing two interceptions, including a back-breaker to safety Dion Bailey at the USC 10-yard line early in the fourth quarter.

There was no major breakdown by either defense. Stanford allowed 311 total yards, while USC gave up 387. The time of possession was about even and the Trojans gained just 23 net yards on the ground. But USC’s spirited effort on defense stymied the Cardinal, whose three turnovers might’ve been the difference.

The win by USC tonight could have some long-term ramifications in the Pac-12 and nationally. By beating Stanford, Oregon has now taken control of the race for the Pac-12 North. Stanford now has no place in the national title discussion, while the Ducks have an outside chance at sneaking back into it.

Meanwhile, the temptation might exist for USC athletic director Pat Haden to tab Orgeron as his permanent head coach. But USC has the potential to get an elite coach who has proven himself over the long term. Will Haden be far-sighted enough to think of that long term rather than take the easy, emotional route? His decision could ultimately decide the course of the conference for the next five years.

For now, though, USC can enjoy a great win over a top five team. It just goes to show that despite the scholarship restrictions, the Trojans can field a roster that can compete with any team in the country. Lane Kiffin obscured that fact for a while — now it’s self evident.

WR Allen Lazard says he’s returning to Cyclones for senior year

AMES, IA - SEPTEMBER 3: Wide receiver Allen Lazard #5 of the Iowa State Cyclones pulls in a touchdown pass as defensive back Jamison Whiting #29 of the Northern Iowa Panthers blocks in the second half of play at Jack Trice Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Ames, Iowa. Northern Iowa Panthers won 25-20 over the Iowa State Cyclones (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Amidst the beginning wave of early departures for the NFL, Iowa State has staved of attrition on that front.

In a missive posted to his personal Twitter account, Allen Lazard announced that, “after discussing my options with my family and coaching staff, I have decided to return for my senior year.” His reasoning for eschewing the NFL for another year? “”I feel we’re on the verge of something special here and I want to be along for the ride.”

The move doesn’t come as too much of a surprise as the 6-5, 233-pound wide receiver had indicated earlier in the season that he was leaning toward returning.

After finishing second his freshman season, Lazard has led the Cyclones in receiving each of the past two seasons. This past season in particular, Lazard was the primary focus of ISU’s passing attack. Lazard’s 69 receptions for 1,018 yards was far and away tops on the team. Next up? The 37 catches from Deshaunte Jones and Trever Ryen, and Jones’ 536 yards.

ISU went 3-9 in Matt Campbell‘s first season in Ames.  This marks the fourth consecutive season in which the Cyclones have failed to reach a bowl game.

Sonny Dykes has reportedly spoken to Baylor; Mike MacIntyre could soon?

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Head coach Sonny Dykes of the California Golden Bears looks on during the third quarter of a game against the San Diego State Aztecs  at Qualcomm Stadium on September 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
3 Comments

Has Baylor honed in on its top target — or two — to permanently replace Art Briles?

With a significant number of signs pointing to Chad Morris being Baylor’s initial focus, SMU announced Wednesday that it had reached an agreement with its head coach on a contract extension through the 2023 season. Not long after, Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com reported that BU would now shift the focus of their search to Cal’s Sonny Dykes.

Thursday night, a report surfaced that Dykes and the Big 12 Bears have been in contact and held conversations.

Dykes completed his fourth season at Cal late last month. In three of those four seasons, including 2016, the Bears have failed to qualify for a bowl. In 2015, Cal won eight games; in the other three seasons, the Bears combined to win 11 games.

The son of legendary Texas Tech head coach Spike Dykes, Sonny Dykes is a well-steeped disciple of the so-called “Air Raid” offense. Given the type of players Briles recruited to Waco the past several years, especially offensively, Dykes would seemingly offer a smoother transition personnel-wise than someone outside that particular coaching tree.  The Texas native’s extensive ties to his home state would be a draw to the program as well.

While Yahoo! has previously disputed the notion that Dykes has now emerged as BU’s focus, Pat Forde says the Cal coach is one of five or six who could still in the mix for the job.  Another?  Mike MacIntyre, according to that and numerous other outlets.

The reports connecting MacIntyre to Baylor come amidst Colorado’s preparations for the Pac-12 championship Friday night against Washington.

MacIntyre took over a Buffaloes program that won a combined four games in 2011 and 2012, but then won just four, two and four games his first three seasons at the school.  In 2016, however, the Buffs went 10-2, the football program’s first 10-win season since 2001. They are also bowl-eligible for the first time since the 2007 season.

This week, MacIntyre has taken home Coach of the Year honors from the Pac-12 and Walter Camp Foundation.

It would seem odd that a coach, even a devout Baptist such as MacIntyre, would leave a program seemingly on the rise for one enveloped in a cloud of controversy. Especially a coach with zero ties, personally, professionally or otherwise, to either the program or the state. Earlier this week, at least one respected national college football writer has attempted to toss some cold water on the speculation.

With his name being mentioned in connection to other jobs, it’s expected CU will commence talks on a contract extension following the title game. In 2016, MacIntyre was the lowest-paid head coach in his conference.

Year after breakout freshman season, WR Desmond Cain to transfer from Illini

CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 14: Desmond Cain #86 of the Illinois Fighting Illini is shoe tackled by Raekwon McMillan #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes
at Memorial Stadium on November 14, 2015 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

A career that began with much promise will, at least the Champaign portion, end with a departure.

On social media Thursday night, Desmond Cain announced that he has decided to transfer out of the Illinois football program and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere. According to the wide receiver, a desire to be closer to his home in Florida triggered his decision.

After talking it over with my family it’s best to move closer home to finish off my next few years in college! Thank you Illini! Has been amazing these two years I’ve been here and thank you all for the major support GO ILLINI!

A three-star 2015 signee, Cain was rated as the No. 146 player at any position in the state of Florida coming out of high school in Delray Beach.

With Bill Cubit as his head coach as a true freshman, Cain was second on the Illini in receptions (53) and third in receiving yards (492). Those totals dropped to five and 61 in Lovie Smith‘s first year as injuries caused the receiver to miss six games.

If the 5-11, 185-pound Cain ends up at another FBS program, he’d have to sit out the 2017 season. He’d then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.

Missouri DE Charles Harris declares for 2017 NFL draft

COLUMBIA, MO - OCTOBER 11:  Charles Harris #91 of the Missouri Tigers attempts to maneuver around John Theus #71 of the Georgia Bulldogs on October 11, 2014 at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Missouri football has been through a rough patch the past few seasons but one thing they’ve consistently  done over the years is produce quality defensive linemen who are eventually drafted into the NFL.

It appears they can add one more name to the list.

Tigers defensive end Charles Harris announced on Thursday that he would be giving up his final year of eligibility and heading to the 2017 NFL Draft.

“Charles and I have had a few conversations about his future. I am extremely proud of his approach on a very big decision,” head coach Barry Odom said in a statement. “Certainly, I wish we could have another year with Charles leading our program, but there’s no question in my mind that he’s ready for the next level. He knew the time would come to make a decision, but his primary focus was always this team and doing what he could to make himself better and to help his teammates and coaches.”

Harris rounded out 2016 with nine sacks and 12 tackles for loss. He was second on the team, and first among defensive linemen in the SEC, with 61 tackles and wrapped up his college career seventh in school history with 18 sacks.

The junior is considered to be a potential first-rounder and certainly displayed some of that caliber of play in Columbia despite seeing frequent double-teams trying to keep him away from the quarterback. While Harris’ departure isn’t too much of a shock to those at Missouri, his decision to move on was probably sealed when the school fired defensive line coach Jackie Shipp on Thanksgiving.