USC and UCLA face off in battle for Los Angeles

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It’s been quite a while since USC and UCLA both fielded quality football teams for their annual crosstown showdown.

The last time this classic rivalry featured both teams with at least eight wins was back in 2005, when USC was 11-0 and the Bruins were 9-1.

The stakes aren’t quite as high this time, but Saturday’s game between No. 22 UCLA (8-3) and No. 23 USC (9-3) at the Coliseum promises to be a good one.

The Trojans are one of the hottest teams in the Pac-12 thanks to a five-game win streak that includes a huge upset of then-No. 5 Stanford. Ed Orgeron is 6-1 as USC’s head coach since taking over for the fired Lane Kiffin and could make a great case to be elevated to permanent coach with a win over the Bruins.

UCLA has lost to three teams ranked in the top 13 and missed out on a chance to win its third-straight Pac-12 South title when it lost to ASU last week. But the Bruins can notch their second-straight nine-win season by beating the Trojans. It could also beat USC in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1997-1998.

The outcome of this game will effect the battle for recruiting supremacy in the Los Angeles area. The two schools consistently duke it out for top talent in the region and USC has been dominant in this regard for the better part of the last decade. But UCLA head coach Jim Mora Jr. has turned things around in Westwood and he can continue to make inroads by beating the Trojans.

For UCLA to win, it will need a big game from sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley, who has passed for 2,637 yards and 22 touchdowns to go with 507 rushing yards and seven scores. He’s got several weapons to throw to and a talented back to hand off to in Myles Jack, but the Bruins won’t be able to do much without a quality effort from a very young offensive line. USC’s front seven is as good as there is in the conference, so if Hundley is running for his life, then things won’t end well for the Bruins.

USC also needs a good game from its quarterback, sophomore Cody Kessler. His improvement has mirrored that of his team’s and he has 2,449 yards and 15 touchdown passes so far. Tailback Javorious Allen has been on fire of late, rushing for 439 yards and nine touchdowns in the past four games. UCLA’s brilliant linebacker corps will be key in stopping the USC offensive game plan, which relies on a physical ground game and a short passing attack.

The Trojans were left for dead earlier this season but could wind up with 10 wins despite a coaching change, NCAA sanctions and a ton of injuries. UCLA is still hoping for its first 10-win season since 2005, but will need to beat USC to get there.

Above all, the city is at stake, as well as bragging rights for the year to come.

Sonny Dykes to coach new team, SMU, in bowl game vs. old team, Louisiana Tech

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This is something you don’t see every day, in a couple of ways.

Monday night, SMU confirmed reports that had surfaced earlier in the day that Sonny Dykes has been named as the Mustangs’ new head football coach.  Dykes replaces Chad Morris, who left for the same job at Arkansas late last week.

At an introductory press conference Tuesday afternoon, Dykes’ new boss, athletic director Rick Hart, revealed that the new coach will get to work immediately as he will coach the Mustangs in their bowl game Dec. 20.  Dykes will immediately begin assembling his coaching staff to help in preparation for the Frisco Bowl.

And SMU’s opponent in the Frisco Bowl?  Louisiana Tech, which Dykes was the head coach of from 2010-12.  After going 22-15 in three years at Tech, he left for the same job at Cal in December of 2012.  He went 19-30 with the Bears before being fired after his fourth season in 2016.

Jack Cichy won’t seek sixth season, leaves Wisconsin for NFL

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One snakebitten Wisconsin linebacker has decided to call it a career, at least when it comes to the Badgers.

Jack Cichy announced in a Players’ Tribune article Tuesday that he will be leaving UW and making himself available for the 2018 NFL draft.  The fifth-year senior could’ve, because of injuries, applied for a sixth season of eligibility.

“I’m excited for what’s to come, but I can tell you that deciding to leave Madison was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make,” Cichy wrote. “This place has become my home. …

“I’m a Badger for life.”

Projected to be one of the top linebackers in the Big Ten this season, Cichy was instead sidelined for the entire year after suffering a torn ACL during summer camp this past August.  Last season, Cichy started the first seven games for the Badgers before going down with a torn pectoral muscle that sidelined him for the remainder of the year.  Despite missing nearly half the season, he was still named honorable mention All-Big Ten.

All told, he started 11 games during his time in Madison, which began as a walk-on in 2013.

Ace recruiter Tim Brewster following Jimbo Fisher to A&M

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Tim Brewster is taking his Twitter act — and recruiting talents — to College Station.

The top recruiter announced on his personal Twitter account Tuesday morning that he will be joining Jimbo Fisher‘s coaching staff at Texas A&M.  Fisher left as the head coach at Florida State earlier this month for the same job at A&M.

Brewster spent four years on Fisher’s FSU staff, serving as the Seminoles’ tight ends coach.  From 1998-2001, he served in the same role for Mack Brown at Texas.

Brewster had one prior stint in the SEC, at Mississippi State in 2012 where he was the Bulldogs wide receivers coach.  He was the head coach at Minnesota from 2007-2010, compiling a 15-30 record before being fired midway through his fourth season.

Former Georgia QB Jacob Park transferring from Iowa State too

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Jacob Park‘s winding collegiate football journey has taken yet another twist.

The quarterback confirmed to the Des Moines Register that he has decided to transfer from Iowa State and continue his playing career elsewhere.  The football program has granted Park, who will be leaving as a graduate, a release from his scholarship, although there’s no word on what if any restrictions were attached.

The development comes a little over two months after Park took a sudden leave of absence due to what were described as “unspecified medical concerns.” Park confirmed to the Register that he was facing a one-game suspension after testing positive for marijuana prior to his sabbatical.

From the newspaper’s report:

He said the challenge of balancing school, football, fatherhood and living with the mother of his child became overwhelming. Park also said he failed a drug test because of marijuana usage and was facing a one-game suspension that was supposed to have been served against Oklahoma on Oct. 7.

Park said he talked to Iowa State’s staff about his marijuana usage. The night before the suspension was supposed to be served, Iowa State announced Park had taken an indefinite leave from the team to “work through some personal health issues.”

“It was not something that was very easy to deal with when you have so much high-pressure situations that you’re being put into as I do,” Park said Monday. “And it’s a coping mechanism that I understand now is not acceptable and that I’m still working on this to this day.

Park had started the first four games of the 2017 season for the Cyclones in his second year in Ames.  In his first season at ISU, he became the full-time starter in the latter portion of the 2016 season.  During his time with the Cyclones, he completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 2,971 yards, 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.  He also ran for a pair of touchdowns in that span.

If the move on comes to fruition, Park will be working on his fourth collegiate program in less than four years.

A four-star member of Georgia’s 2014 recruiting class, Park was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country; the No. 4 player at any position in the state of South Carolina; and the No. 229 player overall according to Rivals.com.  Park worked mainly with the scout team during his only season with the Bulldogs.

In mid-June of 2015, it was confirmed that Park would be transferring from Georgia.  After spending the 2015 season at the junior college level, Park transferred to ISU in February of 2016.