The Civil War really could not have ended any other way. A back-and-forth game from the start, Oregon (10-2, 7-2 Pac 12) managed to come out on top with a late game-winning touchdown lifting the Ducks to a 36-35 victory against Oregon State (6-6, 4-5 Pac 12).
The two teams reached halftime with a 17-17 stalemate, and the second half was full of twists and turns. Oregon took a 24-20 lead in to the fourth quarter when Marcus Mariota completed a touchdown pass to Josh Huff from 28 yards out of the end zone. That set the stage for an incredible fourth-quarter effort by the Beavers. The rally started with a field goal to cut the lead to one and was followed just minutes later with Sean Mannion completing his second touchdown pass of the night, this one to Tyler Anderson for a 29-24 lead after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
Oregon responded midway through the fourth quarter when Mariota and Huff hooked up for another touchdown, this one inside the red zone on 4th and 11. Needing just a field goal to take a lead, Oregon State worked their way in to the end zone. Rather than needing to settle for a field goal, Victor Bolden rushed for 25 yards and a touchdown to cap a 74-yard drive on eight plays, giving Oregon State the 35-30 lead. Unfortunately for Oregon State, the defense was unable to hold on to the late lead. Oregon drove right down field on the Beavers and the Mariota-to-Huff combo struck for a third time in the game, giving the Ducks a late 36-35 lead after a failed two-point conversion.
This was a bitter loss for Oregon State of course. Mike Riley‘s program ended their regular season losing five straight games against some of the better teams from around the Pac 12. After a 6-1 start to the year marred only by a season opening loss to FCS Eastern Washington, Oregon State will go limping in to the postseason.
The win by Oregon could end up helping the Pac 12 get two teams in to the BCS bowls. Stanford and Arizona State will play next week for the Pac 12’s automatic BCS bowl spot in the Rose Bowl, but the loser will likely fall out of the mix. With Northern Illinois looking to grab one BCS spot with a win next week in the MAC Championship Game, Oregon could be on the outside looking in on the BCS fun this season.
An off-field incident involving alcohol has unofficially cost an assistant coach a job.
It had been reported that Gerad Parker, who served as Purdue’s interim head coach last season, decided to leave his new job at Cincinnati to take another at East Carolina. That reported move was complicated after reports surfaced that, following a going-away party in West Lafayette early Tuesday morning, the coach was pulled over and charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
Parker had been expected to take over the wide receivers coach job at ECU; Wednesday, multiple reports indicated that the Pirates are moving on from the coach in light of the recent development.
In a tweet that has since been deleted from his Twitter account, Parker apologized. “I’m sorry to all my friends and family,” the coach wrote. “Thanks to all that have reached out and shown support.”
Parker would’ve replaced Phil McGeoghan, who left ECU in late January for a job with the Buffalo Bills. ECU’s search for a replacement will continue.
After making some changes to the coaching staff this offseason, Kentucky is locking in offensive coordinator Eddie Gran for the next few seasons. Kentucky has signed Gran to a contract extension good through the 2019 season, according to The Courier-Journal.
According to the reported contract extension, Gran will be paid $825,000 in the 2017 season and will be given a $25,000 raise each of the next two seasons. A buyout cost of $150,000 per years is also added to the contract should he leave for another job during that span. Gran was originally under contract through the 2018 season, so his new deal tacks on an extra year in Lexington. The extended contract also bumps Gran’s pay by $175,000 compared to his previous contract.
Kentucky may have finished the 2017 season ranked 9th in the SEC in total scoring, but the Wildcats bumped up their average points per game by roughly six points in 2016 compared to the 2015 season. Kentucky also had the SEC’s third-most productive rushing attack with an average of 234.15 rushing yards per game and 30 rushing touchdowns. Only Auburn and Alabama had better averages and touchdown totals (and Alabama had two more games to pad the stats).
Kentucky has room to improve in the passing game after finishing the 2016 season ranked 13th in passing offense in the 14-team SEC. Kentucky also had an SEC-high 28 turnovers lost in 2016, with 16 fumbles and 12 interceptions thrown.
Gran joined the Kentucky program last year after a three-year stint at Cincinnati as offensive coordinator. Gran has previously been an assistant at Florida State, Tennessee, Auburn, and Ole Miss as well.
Nebraska wide receivers coach Keith Williams pled no contest to charges from a DUI incident last August. On Wednesday, he received his sentence from a county judge and learned he would be sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of probation.
According to The Lincoln Journal-Star, Williams was also fined $1,000 for his latest DUI charge. Williams has until March 3 to apply for house arrest, although prosecutors made a push for Williams to serve his time behind bars after not being locked up for two prior DUI charges.
Nebraska opens spring football practices on March 4. If he is ruled eligible for house arrest, that would allow Williams to continue coaching in the spring. Otherwise, he could have to miss at least some of Nebraska’s spring practices depending on when his jail sentence would begin.
Williams was pulled over for driving under the influence last August with a BAC above .15. Further complicating things was the fact Williams also had two previous convictions for DUI. Nebraska head coach Mike Riley suspended Williams without pay through the end of August and was prohibited from coaching in Nebraska’s first four games of the 2016 season.
Former Hawaii defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa has landed in Ann arbor with a new job. Michigan announced Lempa has joined the staff as a senior defensive analyst under Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Don Brown.
“Kevin is a great addition to our football program and defensive staff,” said Harbaugh in a released statement. “He adds a wealth of experience and knowledge on the defensive side of the ball, and Kevin’s working relationship with Coach (Don) Brown will be a big asset for our team.”
“I am very excited and honored to become part of Coach Harbaugh’s staff,” Lempa said in his released statement. “I am also fired up to be working with Coach Brown again.”
Lempa resigned from his position with the Hawaii program following the 2016 season. He previously served as a defensive backs coach at Boston College from 2013 through 2015, when Brown was the defensive coordinator of the Eagles.
As a defensive analyst, Lempa will not have any hands-on instruction with the Michigan roster but will assist in film breakdown and other orders of business in preparing Michigan’s game plan.