The Fifth Quarter: Week 1 Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

WACK-12
The Pac-12 came into the 2015 season looking to challenge the SEC for conference football supremacy.  While that may end up still being the case, it was a rough Week 1 in myriad regards for the Left Coast league, particularly its northern division.

First and foremost, No. 21 Stanford went into Evanston as heavy favorites only to be upended and upset by Northwestern.  And it wasn’t just that one of the preseason favorites in the North was beaten, it was that they were roughed up by the Wildcats and seemed to play timid on both sides of the ball.  More embarrassingly, a couple of hours later Washington State lost to FCS Portland State, which came into the game a 30-point underdog.

The South contributed to the first-week malaise as No. 15 Arizona State, viewed by some as a darkhorse playoff candidate (sheepishly raises hand), capped off the night with a 20-point loss to unranked Texas A&M.  At least that, though, was a loss to a Power Five school, and one from the stacked SEC West no less, in what was essentially a home game for the Aggies.

Add in Washington’s loss to Boise State — no shame in that — and Colorado’s loss to Hawaii Thursday night — a whole hell of a lot of shame in that — and it turned into a horrific lost weekend for the conference.  That said, remember how many were writing the Big Ten off a year ago at this time?  Yeah, it wouldn’t be wise to repeat that history.

WEAK 1?
If you thought that the Week 1 schedule, especially Saturday, was especially lacking when it came to compelling on-paper matchups, you’re not alone.  In fact, the raw data is sitting right along side you.

Opening weekend, and including the two still remaining, there were/are 87 games involving FBS teams.  Of that, 11 pitted Power Five vs. Power Five (for this exercise, I’m considering BYU a P5); another 47 — more than half — featured FBS teams playing an FCS team.  There were 22 Power Five teams that opened their season against an FCS team, with the ACC far and away leading the cupcake way with seven.  The Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 had four apiece, while the pastry alley that is the late-season SEC lagged behind with three.

There were also 23 games played between Power Five and Group of Five teams.  The SEC accounted for eight of those games, while the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 saw four each.  The FCS-heavy ACC had three such games.

It wasn’t just the Power Fives feeding on the FCS, though, as 25 Group of Five teams opened against the former Div. 1-AA.  The remaining six games saw Group of Five squads squaring off against each other.

While most of the FBS feasted on their FCS cupcakes, a handful choked on them.  Two that lost to FCS teams were Power Five members in the aforementioned Wazzu and Kansas (South Dakota State, more on that below) and two were Group of Five teams in Army (Fordham) and Wyoming (North Dakota).

BAD BLOOD CHEAP SHOT?
Vernon Adams transferred from Eastern Washington to Oregon earlier this offseason and ultimately earned the Ducks’ starting quarterback job.  As luck would have it, Adams’ current and former teams squared off in the season opener in Autzen Saturday night, and there was one interesting development in UO’s 61-42 win.

While Adams was a popular teammate, some of his former EWU compadres reportedly didn’t appreciate that he “abandoned ship.”  Could the following be an example of that?

Adams briefly left the field and was examined by team doctors for a possible concussion,  While he ultimately returned to the sidelines, he didn’t return to the game. The player responsible for the fourth-quarter hit, John Kreifels, was ejected for targeting.

Prior to the brutal hit, Adams had totaled 340 yards of offense — 246 passing, 94 rushing — and two passing touchdowns.

THE ROSEN ONE
For at least one game, the production matched the hype.

In his first start as a true freshman, Josh Rosen lived up to his recruiting billing as he tossed three touchdown passes and threw for 351 yards in the win over Virginia.  The three statistics that will likely be most pleasing to head coach Jim Mora and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, though, are no interceptions, completing passes to 11 different players and completing exactly 80 percent of his passes (27-35) against what’s actually an above-average Cavalier secondary.

To put an exclamation point on the performance, Rosen had just one fourth-quarter pass attempt, meaning he accumulated his stats in essentially three quarters worth of work.

If Rosen, the top quarterback in the Class of 2015, can continue to play at or near this level, the Bruins could very well turn into the team to beat in the Pac-12 South — especially as they will avoid Oregon on this year’s schedule.

Oh, and then there’s this:

JAYHAWKS GONNA JAYHAWK
The more things change, the more things stay the same.

The departure of Charlie Weis as a head coach and the addition of, ultimately, David Beaty brought a modicum of optimism to the woebegone Kansas football program.  Saturday afternoon, that optimism went down in flames as KU became the first Power Five team in Week 1 to lose to an FCS team.  And, fittingly, they did so in prototypical Jayhawk fashion.

Training South Dakota State by three points with less than 10 seconds remaining, the Jayhawks were in position to, with a spike, attempt a game-tying field goal.  Instead, well, the Jayhawks did this:

Yep, that was quarterback Montell Cozart fumbling the snap prior to what was supposed to be a spike to stop the clock, putting the finishing touches on a 41-38 loss.  And, given that this is a program that’s won just 12 games since the end of the 2009 season, that was a very fitting punctuation to the opener.

MOODY MOTHER NATURE
As my wife said, maybe it was that time of the month?  Whatever the case, she was an issue for several games over the weekend.

To kick things off meteorologically — yes, I made that up — the Stony Brook-Toledo game was the second in as many years to be declared a no-contest.  As was the case in the Thursday night shutdown, weather — particularly lightning — forced the Idaho-Florida game last September to be called off and not rescheduled.  The Rockets’ game with the FCS won’t be rescheduled either.

Saturday, the LSU-McNeese State game was initially delayed because of lightning strikes in the area.  Four hours later, the game was officially cancelled and won’t be rescheduled.

Weather continued to wreak havoc in other areas of the country as the Georgia-Louisiana-Monroe was called early in the fourth quarter due to lightning while the Illinois-Kent State, which kicked off Friday night, was postponed to Saturday, again due to lightning.  Among others, the Miami-Bethune Cookman game also delayed midway through the second quarter — they ended up shortening the third and fourth quarters to 10 minutes each —  and the Tennessee-Bowling Green game saw an hour-long stoppage of play… and I’ll let you go ahead and guess the reason behind those.

There was also a weather delay for Cincinnati-Alabama A&M, with the UC student section biding their time in a manner that didn’t sit well with security.

 

SATURDAY RESET
Below is a list of links for all of the Week 1 gamers posted by the CFT crew, placed in one handy and convenient space for you, our beloved and dear readers.

  • Derrick Henry‘s hat trick, punishing run defense propels Alabama to an impressive win over Wisconsin.
  • Texas completely outclassed in blowout loss to Notre Dame.
  • Newcomers help push Texas A&M to an impressive season-opening upset of Arizona State.
  • No. 6 Auburn hangs on vs. Louisville in Atlanta, where Tigers hope to return in December
  • Mangum Miracle at Memorial: BYU stuns Nebraska on last-second Hail Mary
  • With its stunning 27-10 home win over Penn State, Temple snapped a 39-game winless streak against the Happy Valley bunch.
  • Boise State spoiled Chris Petersen‘s return to the Smurf Turf, with the defense throttling Washington’s offense enough to come away with a 16-13 win.
  • After what was by their standards a sluggish first half, Baylor was able to easily to easily pull away with a 56-21 win that left both BU and SMU feeling good about themselves.
  • The Charlotte 49ers’ FBS debut was a successful one, even as it came at the expense of a Georgia State team still struggling with its transition from the FCS.
  • Pretty or not, second-ranked TCU went on the road, did it’s job and will head back to Fort Worth with a 23-17 win over an underrated Minnesota squad on any potential playoff résumé.
  • South Carolina took advantage of North Carolina’s red-zone blunders to eke out a four-point win Thursday night.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Sunday if I, ya know, had a real vote.

1. Ohio State — If there’s a repeat of Week 2 of the 2014 season, OSU, obviously won’t be here this time next weekend.  I get the feeling, though, that the Buckeyes won’t let history repeat itself in Blacksburg Labor Day night. (Last week: N/A)
Next up: vs. Hawaii, Sept. 12

2. TCU — It may have been “ugly” in the eyes of a few, but that was a quality road win Thursday night against a good Minnesota football team.  Some might hold the win against the Horned Frogs and think about dropping them a bit; I’m not one of the some. (Last week: N/A)
Next up: vs. Stephen F. Austin, Sept. 12

3. Auburn — Once you get past Nos. 1 and 2, the next three spots could be given to anywhere from five to eight teams.  For the moment I’ll give the spot to AU, despite the fact that Jeremy Johnson threw three interceptions and the run defense was gashed for 240 yards. (Last week: N/A)
Next up: vs. Jacksonville State, Sept. 12

4. Oregon — 438 yards passing and 42 points allowed against an FCS team opening weekend? That could be a cause for concern, although the Ducks have the kind of offensive firepower that will allow them to outscore a lot of mistakes.  Notice I said a lot, not all. (Last week: N/A)
Next up: at No. 5 Michigan State

5. Michigan State — Other than the closer-than-expected 13-point spread, the most worrisome aspect of MSU’s opener?  The “No Fly Zone” secondary allowing Western Michigan to throw for 365 yards. With the Ducks on tap, the Spartans might want to consider getting that aspect cleaned up. (Last week: N/A)
Next up: vs. No. 7 Oregon

GOLFER TWEET OF THE DAY
Jordan Spieth is a professional golfer with multiple major championships already on his résumé.  He’s also a former Texas Longhorn who was not pleased with his alma mater’s offensively offensive display against Notre Dame.

HAIL MARY JOSEPH
Jordan Westerkamp did it to Northwestern.  Now, two years later, the Nebraska wide receiver knows how it feels to be on the other end.  “It,” of course, was the gut-punch of a touchdown with no time left that lifted BYU to a miraculous win at Memorial Stadium.

INTENSITY PERSONIFIED
I think it’s safe to say that Will Muschamp hasn’t lost any of his “spirit” in the move from Florida head coach to Auburn defensive coordinator.

I honestly believe the blood vessels in Muschamp’s don’t burst out of fear of its host body.

300 LBS. OF BEAST MODE
Robert Nkemdiche is a 296-pound defensive tackle for Ole Miss.  Saturday afternoon, he did this…

YOU SAY NEUTRAL, I SAY [/CHUCKLE]
This tweet pretty much sums up the “neutral field” game Saturday between Tennessee and Bowling Green in Nashville.

HE SAID IT
“The score. You can’t score six points and beat anybody.” — Stanford head coach David Shaw, when asked about the most frustrating aspect of the 16-6 loss to Northwestern.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“While you were getting set up I was taking a quick look at my friend Mike Riley on the TV there and my heart goes out to him and the team. He’s a good friend of mine and a really good person and a really good coach. Nebraska’s to be praised. They played really hard right to the end, and so did we. Sometimes one play determines a game.” — BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall following the thrilling win over Nebraska.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“The atmosphere was unbelievable.  You know, it’s like a home game.” — Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, on the “neutral field” Georgia Dome matchup with Louisville.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“After every first game there are always skeptics, but we’re ready to bounce back, and we’ll definitely be ready for Oregon.” — Michigan State linebacker Riley Bullough, following a closer-than-expected win over Central Michigan.

HE SAID IT, THE FINAL ONE
“I’m really proud of Temple. I’m proud of our fans, our students. I’m proud of our trustees, our president and everybody that stuck with us in some dark times. Hopefully, this won’t be the highlight of the season. That’s my goal.” — Temple head coach Matt Rhule, following his program’s first win over Penn State since 1941.

STREAKING
With a rematch of its last loss still to be played, Ohio State owns the nation’s longest winning streak at 13 straight.  Up next are Boise State (10), TCU (nine), Memphis (eight), Appalachian State (seven), Western Kentucky (six) and Michigan State and Navy (five each).

The “honor” of the longest losing streak belongs to Georgia State, which has lost 12 in a row after opening 2014 with a win.  Since moving up to the FBS level in 2013, the Panthers have lost 24 of their 25 games; the only win came against FCS-level Abilene Christian by one point at home.  Colorado, incidentally, has the longest losing streak among Power Five conference schools at 10 straight.  Eastern Michigan and UNLV have each lost eight in a row, while Southern Miss has lost seven.

THIS IS STILL…
… one of the most astonishing stats in college football: Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium has been sold out every game since Nov. 2, 1962, a streak of 342 consecutive sellouts. People of the Corn, you are truly amazing. And damn loyal.  And probably hurting after that last-second loss ended the Cornhuskers’ 29-game winning streak in season openers, the country’s top such streak that dated back to 1986.  That honor now belongs to Florida and its 26 straight.

S.I.D NOTE OF THE WEEK
Stanford, UCLA and Wisconsin are the only schools to have their respective football teams ranked in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 and be rated among the top 25 in the latest Academic Ranking of World Universities. The Bruins are ranked 13th in the AP poll, followed by the Badgers 20th and Cardinal 21st. Stanford is second, UCLA is 12th and UW is 24th in the ARWU.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK II
Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, who enters his eighth year as the Midshipmen’s head coach, has more head-coaching experience than the other five AAC West division coaches combined (six years).

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK III
Stanford and Texas are the only schools out of the 68 Power Five and independent programs in 2015 who play 12 FBS opponents and face 11 P5 schools/Notre Dame.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK IV
Oregon State is the only team in the nation, per a recent survey, that has no quarterbacks with playing experience and has only eligible freshmen signal-callers.

OFF THE CHARTS
Courtesy of the UCF sports information department
Prior to Week 1, best winning percentage for FBS schools in their current stadiums:
School – Stadium Opened – Record – Winning Pct.
1) Baylor – 2014 – 6-0 – 1.000
2) Ga. Southern – 1984 – 181-33 – .846
3) Marshall – 1991 – 142-26 – .845
4) Boise State – 1970 – 244-51 – .827
5) Alabama – 1929 – 239-52-3 – .818
6) Auburn – 1939 – 303-75-7 – .796
7) UCF – 2007 – 40-11 – .784
8) Ohio State – 1922 – 417-110-20 – .781
9) Old Dominion – 2009 – 32-9 – .780
10) Tennessee – 1921 – 449-121-17 – .779

OFF THE CHARTS, PART II
Courtesy of the TCU sports information department
Since 2005, and prior to Week 1, private FBS schools winning percentage:
Private School Win Percentages

OFF THE CHARTS, PART III
Courtesy of the Ohio State sports information department
Winningest Coaches All-Time

OFF THE CHARTS, PART IV
Courtesy of the UNLV sports information department

Youngest FBS Coaches

OFF THE CHARTS, PART V
Courtesy of the Louisiana Tech sports information department
Total conference championships won
Total conference championships won

SAY WHAT?
Pittsburgh’s Pat Narduzzi opened his head-coaching career with a win over Youngstown State, a school with which he has very deep ties. Narduzzi grew up in Youngstown, Ohio — as did the Penguins head coach, Bo Pelini — and began his collegiate playing career at Youngstown State, where his father was head coach for 11 seasons (1975-85).

DULY NOTED
TCU’s 21.4 points per game improvement last season broke the Big 12 record of 19.1 set by Oklahoma in 1999 (35.8; 16.7, 1998) and was the largest improvement by any team since Northwestern went up 24.0 points between 1999-00. The Horned Frogs went from scoring 301 points in 2013 to 604 in 2014.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

… Texas has been outscored by 97 points its last three games?  They lost to TCU 48-10 in the 2014 regular season finale, 31-7 to Arkansas in the bowl game and 38-3 to Notre Dame in the 2015 opener.

Baker Mayfield‘s first career start at Oklahoma produced a school record for most passing yards in an opener?  Mayfield’s 388 yards in the win over Akron bested Sam Bradford‘s 363 in 2007.

… Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds needs 13 more rushing touchdowns to break Wisconsin’s Montee Ball‘s FBS record of 77?  Reynolds’ 65 career ground scores are already the most-ever for a quarterback.

… Cal defensive end Cameron Saffle’s mother, Shauna Saffle, was one of the first 50 employees at Microsoft?

… Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill served as the best man at TCU head coach Gary Patterson‘s wedding ? The 54-year-old Kill and 55-year-old Patterson grew up two hours apart in Kansas, with the latter offering the former the offensive coordinator job when he took over at TCU in 2000. Kill declined his good friend’s offer and the two ended up facing each other the past two seasons, including the Horned Frogs’ (score) win over the Gophers Thursday night.

Urban Meyer is the only head coach in college football history with more than two 20-plus winning streaks, and he did it at three different schools? Meyer did it three times at Florida, once at Utah and once at Ohio State. Eight other head coaches accomplished that feat twice, but all of those came at one program.

… Ole Miss has increased its win total by one game each year under Hugh Freeze — 7 in 2012, 8 in 2013, 9 in 2014?

… Iowa has produced more active FBS head coaches than any other school? The specific number produced would be five: Bret Bielema (Arkansas), Bob Diaco (UConn), Dan McCarney (North Texas), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma) and Mark Stoops (Kentucky).

… Alabama, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Virginia all have 10 bowl teams from the 2014 season on its schedule this year, the most of any FBS teams?

… Clemson, Michigan State, Oregon and Utah State are the only teams to record 30-plus wins and three bowl victories the past three seasons?

… Arizona State is now 0-7 all-time against the SEC after Saturday night’s loss to Texas A&M?  The win, incidentally, extended A&M’s 16-game non-conference winning streak since joining the conference in 2012.

… Florida State (40), Ohio State (38), Alabama (38), Oregon (37) and Northern Illinois (36) have the most wins since 2012? Alabama (73), Oregon (71), Ohio State (67), Florida State (66), Stanford (62) and LSU (61) have won the most games over the last six seasons.

… Oregon has scored 32 non-offensive touchdowns since 2010, the most of any FBS team?  Oklahoma State is next with 30 followed by Utah’s 29.

… Baylor’s offense is the only one in the country to rank among the top-four in total offense each of the last four years? The Bears had the No. 1 offense the past two seasons, and finished second the previous two seasons.

… Clemson played 13 true freshmen in the season opener against Wofford, the most in a single game since 1943? That year the United States government drafted Clemson’s entire junior and senior classes, so Frank Howard’s team was made up of entirely freshmen and sophomore.

… Wake Forest entered the 2015 season with the fewest seniors (six) on its roster in the country? UCF, meanwhile, is the only team in the country without a senior at one of the one of the offensive skill positions (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end).

… Tulsa returns 100-percent of its passing and rushing totals from 2014 and 94-percent of its receiving total?

… TCU was the only school in the nation entering this season whose linebackers had never started a collegiate game?

… MAC teams returned 12 of their 13 starting quarterbacks, the highest percentage of any conference in the nation?  The only team that doesn’t is Miami (Ohio).

… eight teams began the 2015 season with the same head coach as a year ago but with brand new offensive and defensive coordinators? Those eight are Bowling Green, Hawaii, New Mexico State, UCF, USF, Utah, Utah State and Vanderbilt.

… SMU will not leave the state of Texas to play a game until its road trip to USF Oct. 24? All of the Mustangs’ first six games will be played in the state — four at home, one each at TCU and Houston — while nine of the 12 on the schedule overall take place in the state as well.

… Purdue later Sunday will become the first-ever Big Ten team to travel to Huntington, WV, to play Marshall?

… Vanderbilt managed to lose to Western Kentucky 14-12 despite overwhelmingly leading in time of possession (36:39-23:21), first downs (20-11) and total offense (385-246)?

Dana Holgorsen’s son commits to North Texas

Associated Press
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Soon there will be another Holgorsen in major college football.

Logan Holgorsen, son of West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen, has committed to North Texas. Holgorsen the Younger made the announcement Monday on his Twitter account.

Holgorsen, a high school junior, played for Morgantown High School in West Virginia through last season before transferring to St. Frances Academy in Baltimore before recently transferring back to Morgantown.

Listed as a 6-foot-1, 185-pound pro-style quarterback, Holgorsen also held an offer from Bowling Green according to his 247Sports profile.However, choosing the Mean Green over the Falcons was an easy choice for Holgorsen as his relationship with North Texas head coach Seth Littrell and offensive coordinator Graham Harrell goes back to his childhood. His father Dana was an offensive assistant alongside Littrell on Mike Leach‘s Texas Tech teams in the mid-2000’s, which were quarterbacked by Harrell.

“North Texas is the place I always wanted to be,” Holgorsen told the Denton Record-Chronicle. “I want to play for coach Littrell and coach Harrell. Playing for my dad has been a thought. He told me that there was no better to place for me to be than at North Texas.”

Big 12, Oklahoma lead the way on AP Midseason All-America team

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The Associated Press has released its first-ever Midseason All-America team, and it’s a Sooner-centric squad. Lincoln Riley‘s club leads all teams with threeL selections and the Big 12 leads all conference with six members of the 25-man team. The Big 12 claimed both starting wide receiver spots in Oklahoma State’s James Washington and West Virginia’s David Sills V. Washington leads the nation in yards per game with 34 grabs for 882 yards and six touchdowns, and Sills is far-and-away the national leader in touchdown grabs with 12, three ahead of the next closest competitor.

Baker Mayfield earned the First Team nod at quarterback (Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph was on the Second Team) after completing the first half of the year with a nation’s best 207.33 quarterback rating. He has completed 72.7 percent of his throws for 12.0 yards per attempt with 17 touchdowns against one interception. Mayfield also led the nation in efficiency last season, and finished third in 2015.

Not surprisingly, Saquon Barkley and Bryce Love claimed both running back slots. Love leads the country with 1,387 rushing yards on an astounding 10.27 yards per carry. Barkley has amassed 649 rushing yards and six touchdowns to go with 395 receiving yards and two touchdowns and a kickoff return touchdown. The pair are the leading betting candidates for the Heisman to this point.

While the Big 12 led the way with six selections, the Pac-12 and Big Ten followed closely behind with five. The SEC garnered four spots (but none on offense), while the ACC notched three. In addition to Oklahoma’s three, Alabama, NC State and Washington State put multiple players on the First Team.

OFFENSE
QB: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
RB: Saquon Barkley, Penn State
RB: Bryce Love, Stanford
WR: James Washington, Oklahoma State
WR: David Sills V, West Virginia
TE: Jaylen Samuels, NC State
OT: Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
OT: David Edwards, Wisconsin
OG: Quinten Nelson, Notre Dame
OG: Cody O’Connell, Washington State
C: Billy Price, Ohio State
AP: Dante Pettis, Washington
K: Matt Gay, Utah

DEFENSE
DE: Bradley Chubb, NC State
DE: Austin Bryant, Clemson
DT: Hercules Mata’Afa, Washington State
DT: Maurice Hurst, Michigan
LB: Roquan Smith, Georgia
LB: Josey Jewell, Iowa
LB: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma
CB: Jalen Davis, Utah State
CB: Levi Wallace, Alabama
S: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
S: DeShon Elliott, Texas
P: Johnny Townsend, Florida

Auburn dismisses WR Kyle Davis

Associated Press
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Kyle Davis began the 2017 season in Gus Malzahn‘s doghouse.  Today, he’s been kicked out of the yard and to the curb.

Last week, Davis was a non-participant in practice and didn’t travel with his teammates for the Week 7 game against LSU.  Malzahn confirmed Tuesday that the wide receiver has been dismissed from his Tigers football program.

The only reason given was breaking unspecified team rules.

We wish him nothing but the best moving forward,” the head coach said in announcing the dismissal.

Davis and two other Tigers were suspended for the season opener against Georgia Southern for, again, breaking unspecified team rules.  Since returning, the sophomore has seven receptions for 210 yards.  His 30 yards per catch is tops on the team.

A four-star 2016 signee, Davis was rated as the No. 10 receiver in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Georgia.    As a true freshman, he caught 12 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games.  He started one of those contests.

Mike Leach downplays rumors that have him following Bill Moos to Nebraska

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Sunday, it was confirmed that Bill Moos was leaving his job as athletic director at Washington State to take the same position at Nebraska.  It didn’t take long after the official announcement of the move for the speculation to commence.

A home loss to Northern Illinois was the football program’s first-ever to a MAC school and its first home loss to a Group of Five team since 2004, sparking talk as to how much longer Mike Riley could last as the Cornhuskers’ head coach.  Losses by a combined 63 points the last two weeks to Wisconsin and Ohio State did nothing to alleviate those concerns.

Enter Moos, whose last football hire at Wazzu has turned into a very significant upgrade for that program.  Taking over a team that won a combined nine games the four years before he was hired by Moos, Mike Leach guided the Cougars to 12 wins his first three years after being hired in 2012.  The past two seasons have turned into breakout ones of sort for the Cougars as they won nine games in 2015 (most since 2003) and eight in 2016.  They were off to a 6-0 start this season before Cal stunned them in Week 7.

Add Riley’s struggles to Leach’s successes and mix in Moos’ departure Pullman for Lincoln, and the recipe was there for Leach-to-‘Huskers talk.  Monday, the coach downplayed such a possibility.

“I don’t have any plans to do that and then they already have a head coach there and he’s a pretty good one, Mike Riley,” Leach said according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “Wish Bill the best and we just move forward.”

Leach did, though, have high praise for his now-former boss.  Extremely high praise.

“He’s the best AD that I’ve ever met,” Leach said. “Everything from active to retired to dead. Bill’s the best AD I’ve ever even met. …

“Bill’s a very honest, straightforward guy and he was a guy you could count on, who you knew had your best interest.”