Jared Goff strafes Air Force, leads Cal to first bowl win since 2008

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If this was indeed Jared Goff‘s last game in a Cal uniform, he made it a statistically memorable — and record-breaking — finale that came at the expense of Air Force.

Expected to leave his remaining eligibility on the table and make himself available for the NFL draft next April, Goff riddled the service academy’s air defense systems throughout the afternoon, setting Armed Forces Bowl records with 467 yards passing and six passing touchdowns in leading the Golden Bears to a 55-36 win over the Falcons.  The win was Cal’s first in a bowl game since dropping Miami (Fla.) in the 2008 Emerald Bowl.

Goff has now thrown for 300 or more yards 22 times — 10 this season in 13 games — in his three-year career as Cal’s starting quarterback.  He’s also gone over 400 yards eight times and surpassed 500 on three different occasions.  It was also the fifth time he’s thrown five or more touchdowns in a single game, including each of the last two.

In the process, Goff, expected to be in a fight with Memphis’ Paxton Lynch for the right to be the first quarterback selected in the draft, broke the Pac-12 single-season records for passing yards (4,719) and passing touchdowns (43), the latter of which was set by Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (42) during his Heisman run last season.  The yardage record was previously held by Oregon State’s Sean Mannion (4,662 in 2013).

The last two games alone, Goff passed for 1,009 yards as he threw for a career-high 542 yards in the regular-season finale against Arizona State.  He totaled 11 touchdowns in those two contests for good measure, a number that’s more than 13 FBS teams have thrown for all season.

Three of Goff’s scoring tosses on the day came in the second quarter as Cal took a 35-21 lead into the halftime locker room.  That was as close as the Falcons would get the rest of the way as they were outscored 20-15 over the final two quarters in what turned into their third bowl loss in their last four postseason trips.

Kenny Lawler caught three of Goff’s touchdowns, while Bryce Treggs accounted for 143 receiving yards.  Nine different Golden Bears caught passes as Goff completed 25-of-37 passes in putting up a season-high passer rating of 227.1.

Air Force, champions of the MWC’s Mountain division, finishes 2015 at 8-6.  The 18 wins for the Falcons the last two years (10-3 in 2014) are the most in back-to-back seasons for the program since they won 22 in 1997 and 1998.

Seven 2016 finalists headline Manning Award preseason watch list

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This is the last preseason watch list you’ll have to endure this year. I promise. I think.

Wednesday, the Manning Award released its list of the top 30 quarterbacks in the country, although a player not on this initial list is not necessarily precluded from winning the award. This is the only major award, it should be noted, that is handed out after the bowls, and is named in honor of the quarterbacking triumvirate of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning.

Highlighting this year’s list are seven of the 10 finalists from a year ago: J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), Jake Browning (Washington), Sam Darnold (USC), Luke Falk (Washington State), Jalen Hurts (Alabama), Lamar Jackson (Louisville) and Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma).

All FBS conferences are represented, led by the ACC and SEC with five watch listers apiece. The Big Ten, Mountain West, Pac-12 and Sun Belt are next with three each, with two apiece for all of the AAC, Big 12, Conference USA and MAC. Class-wise, there are 13 seniors, 12 juniors and five sophomores.

 

“We once again have a great group of quarterbacks returning to college football this fall,” said Archie Manning said in a statement. “While this Watch List has many of the best returning players, we look forward to making midseason additions as teams settle on definite starters and as young players step up and make names for themselves. I’m really looking forward to getting the season rolling to see which guys will rise to the top and become Manning Award finalists.”

Deshaun Watson was the 2016 winner of the award.

Below is the complete 2017 Manning Award preseason watch list.

CFT 2017 Preseason Previews: Coaching Hot Seat

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Like death and taxes, another certainty in life is that, somewhere, a college coach’s backside is feeling a little toasty.  Or a lot.

Such is the case as we get set to embark on yet another new college football season, with a handful of coaches feeling the heat from folks off the field for their collective failures on it. Fair or not, it’s a fact of life in the coaching profession: win or you’re gone, ofttimes with a multi-million buyout serving as a very lucrative parachute that provides a cushiony-soft financial landing.

So, just who is possibly looking at a spot in the coaching unemployment line at season’s end, or even sooner in some cases? Recent history suggests that anywhere from 15 to upwards of 25 of the 130 head coaches who are on the FBS sidelines when the season begins won’t be there when the calendar flips to 2018.

Last year around this time, our Hot Seat preview listed six head coaches feeling the heat; just two of them, Charlie Strong and Darrell Hazell, lost their jobs. The year before, though, five of the six on our list received their athletic director’s — or prominent boosters’ — boot.

Below are but a few of the coaches who could be entering a make-or-break season at their respective schools, in order from hottest to slightly less hot. And leading off? The man who was on our hottest seat nearly a year ago.

KEVIN SUMLIN, TEXAS A&M
2016 RECORD: 8-5 overall, 4-4 in SEC
OVERALL RECORD AT SCHOOL: 44-21, 21-19
“Coach knows he has to win and he has to win this year. We have to do better than we’ve done in the past.”

Those were the no-gray-area-here words of A&M athletic director Scott Woodward in late May of this year. When your boss very publicly puts you on notice that you have to win now or else, and you coach in the hyper-competitive SEC, you deserve the top spot on any coaching hot seat list.

In 2012, the first season for both Sumlin in College Station and the Aggies in the SEC, A&M went 11-2 overall and 6-2 in conference play. Since then, they’ve gone a middling 33-19 and, more importantly, just 15-17 in the league. More to the point, the Aggies have finished fourth, sixth, fifth and fourth the past four seasons in the even-more hyper-competitive SEC West. An even finer point? They are 9-15 against divisional foes in the same span.

Given that track record, and the AD’s public pronouncement, there’s really not much else to say.

RICH RODRIGUEZ, ARIZONA
2016 RECORD: 3-9 overall, 1-8 in Pac-12
OVERALL RECORD AT SCHOOL: 36-29, 18-26
In 2014, Rodriguez was the toast of the Pac-12, or close to it. After a 10-3 regular season that saw the Wildcats win the South Division, that record earned them a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl the first season of the College Football Playoffs.

After 2014? He might be toast if he has another year like his last.

In 2016, the Wildcats (seemingly) bottomed out in going 3-9, the program’s worst winning percentage since 2003. It was just the second time 60 years the team finished the season with a winning percentage of .250 or less. Even more distressing, just one of their wins came in conference play a mere two years removed from playing for the league championship.

Anything close to a repeat of the 2016 season will very likely end with RichRod not seeing the 2018 season on the sidelines in the desert.

BRIAN KELLY, NOTRE DAME
2016 RECORD: 4-8
OVERALL RECORD AT SCHOOL: 59-31
Where to start? Last season’s 4-8 record was the Fighting Irish’s worst since Charlie Weis went 3-9 in 2007. And it wasn’t just the record on the field as Kelly — by force on one and by a departure for the other — changed out both coordinators for good measure, not long after throwing his players under the bus for lacking “fire and grit.”

Kelly’s boss, Jack Swarbrick, gave his head football coach a vote of confidence in October… leading Kelly to express his disappointment over the athletic director having to publicly endorse his continuing employment.

Weis got two more seasons after that three-win year, ultimately getting canned after back-to-back six-loss seasons. At bare minimum, Kelly will need to get the Irish to seven or so wins for Swarbrick to justify bringing him back for an eighth season in South Bend.

TODD GRAHAM, ARIZONA STATE
2016 RECORD: 5-7 overall, 2-7 in Pac-12
OVERALL RECORD AT SCHOOL: 39-26, 25-20
Like Sumlin, Graham was on the receiving end of an offseason message from his boss regarding his standing with the university.

In June, Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson revealed that he would not be extending Graham’s contract out another season. Every year that Graham had been at ASU previously, he’s received a one-year contract extension that kept him with five years left on his contract.

In his first three seasons with the Sun Devils, Graham guided ASU to a combined record of 28-12, a total that included a pair of bowl wins as well as a Pac-12 South title in 2013. The 10 wins in 2013 and 2014 was the first time the program had done that in back-to-back seasons since a four-year stretch from 1970-73.

However, a 6-7 2015 season gave way to a 5-7 2016 mark that led to talk of Graham possibly entering the 2017 season on the hot seat. With the decision to eschew the annual contract extension, feel free to remove the word “possibly” from the previous sentence.

GUS MALZAHN, AUBURN
2016 RECORD: 8-5 overall, 5-3 in SEC
OVERALL RECORD AT SCHOOL: 35-18, 18-14
I very nearly went with another SEC coach, Tennessee’s Butch Jones, before deciding to include the second alum from the 2016 Coaching Hot Seat list.

A loss in the national championship game in Malzahn’s first season in 2013 raised the bar, perhaps too high given the fact that AU’s hated in-state rival, Alabama, has qualified for the first three editions of the College Football Playoff in running roughshod over and through the conference. There are also three-straight double-digit losses to the Crimson Tide machine in the Iron Bowl for the Tigers.

Meanwhile, during Nick Saban‘s continued run of dominance, Malzahn has watched as his Tigers have plateaued in the neighborhood of seven or eight wins the past three seasons. That’s not exactly slumming it, but it’s far from the uber-rich estate on which the Crimson Tide currently resides.

Right or wrong, Malzahn’s fate is likely very much intertwined with Alabama — and whether or not the perception is that he has, or even can, close the gap with the college football monolith that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. At all.

DOC HOLLIDAY, MARSHALL
2016 RECORD: 3-9 overall, 2-6 in Conference USA
OVERALL RECORD AT SCHOOL: 53-37, 35-21
West Virginia’s new governor, Democrat-turned-Republican Jim Justice, has reportedly spent at least a portion of his first term in office attempting to oust Holliday and replace him with Justice’s buddy Bobby Pruett. When the sitting governor, an alum of the university no less, is pushing to have you removed, you’re automatically placed on the hot seat, right?

The 2016 season did no favors for the coach entering his eighth season in Huntington as the Thundering Herd went 3-9. It was easily the worst season of Holliday’s tenure — they went 5-7 in both 2010, his first season, and 2012 — and the program’s worst since hitting the same mark in 2007.

The three years prior to 2016, however, saw the Herd win 10 or more games in back-to-back-to-back seasons. In 2014, they tied a school record with 13 wins, and won their first-ever Conference USA championship and first conference title overall since claiming the MAC in 2002.

So, was last season just a fluke? Whether it was or the portending of a continuing downward spiral will likely determine whether Holliday survives. Well, that and the state’s governor’s whims.

Reports: Ex-Clemson, Florida OL Jake Fruhmorgen transfers to Baylor

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This a slightly unexpected turn of events.

In late-June of this year, Florida announced that Jake Fruhmorgen, a transfer from Clemson, had officially joined the Gators. Four days later, it was reported that Fruhmorgen had decided to step away from football, at least in Gainesville.

Nearly seven weeks later, he’s reportedly stepped back in as both TigerNet.com and SicEm360.com are reporting that Fruhmorgen has enrolled at Baylor and will continue his collegiate football playing career with the Bears. The latter website noted that the lineman is scheduled to arrive in Waco at some point Thursday.

Fruhmorgen will have to sit out the 2017 season, but will then have two years of eligibility he can use, presumably at BU.

Fruhmorgen didn’t play another game for Clemson last season after suffering a shoulder injury in late October. While the injury kept him out of a couple of games, he missed the latter quarter of the regular season, as well as the postseason, dealing with unspecified personal issues that kept him away from the team. He decided to transfer from the Tigers in mid-January.

Prior to all of that, the true sophomore had started the first eight games of the 2016 season at right tackle.

A four-star 2015 signee, Fruhmorgen was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 8 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 20 player at any position in the state of Florida. As a true freshman, the 6-5, 290-pound lineman played in 11 games, starting one of those contests.

Day after leaving TCU, Isaiah Chambers transfers to Houston

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Because of a family situation, Isaiah Chambers announced on Twitter Tuesday that he would be transferring from TCU in order to be closer to home. Less than 24 hours later, the defensive lineman, a native of Houston, did just that as he took to the same social media website to announce the Houston Cougars as his new college football home.

Chambers’ mother passed away when he was in eighth grade and his dad isn’t involved in his life, with his aunt, his legal guardian, raising him after his mom’s passing. His aunt “is currently sick and her condition is getting worse” according to Chambers, which was the trigger for his decision to transfer.

Normally, Chambers would have to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. Given the situation with his aunt/legal guardian, it’ll be interesting to see if UH pursues an expedited waiver that would give him immediate eligibility.

If no waiver is sought and/or granted, Chambers would have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.

Chambers was a four-star member of the Horned Frogs’ 2016 recruiting class. He was rated as the No. 7 strongside defensive end in the country; the No. 23 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 136 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. Only one player in TCU’s class that year was rated higher than Chambers.

As a true freshman last season, Chambers took a redshirt. He had been expected to play a role in TCU’s defensive line rotation this season prior to the transfer.