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No. 21 USC leads Arizona State at halftime despite Sun Devils’ whacky Hail Mary

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No. 21 USC has been struggling on the offensive end the past few weeks. Arizona State has been stingy on the defensive side. Naturally, the two decided to do a body switch on Halloween weekend. As a result, the Trojans did almost whatever they wanted down in the desert, taking a 31-10 lead into halftime in a huge Pac-12 South battle few could have seen coming a few weeks ago.

The cardinal and gold offensive explosion not surprisingly came at the hands of quarterback Sam Darnold, who had one of his best outings in weeks by throwing for 217 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. Looking a lot more like that top draft many touted him to be early in the year, he also added a career-long 39 yard run to boot. Running back Ronald Jones chipped in with a 67 yard touchdown run on his way to a 120 yard effort through two quarters.

On the receiving end of many of those Darnold passes was receiver Tyler Vaughns. The young wide out has steadily become a bigger part of the offense and was already up to 94 yards and two scores prior to going to the locker room at the break.

USC also had a pretty strong defensive effort too — up until the final play of the half. Manny Wilkins completed only eight passes and Arizona State managed just two sustained drives all told but one was thanks to an N'Keal Harry 70 yard catch and the other was part of a wild Hail Mary as time expired. The play was reviewed numerous times before it actually resulted in points going on the board and required the two teams to come back from the locker room in order to kick the extra point.

We’ve come to think that Pac-12 games going late into the night will have some whacky ending and while this one appeared over, perhaps that Hail Mary is only the start of strange things to come.

Starting QB Kenny Hill officially ruled out for TCU vs. Texas Tech

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This certainly makes things interesting.

Earlier this week, Gary Patterson revealed that starting quarterback Kenny Hill and starting linebacker Travin Howard were somewhere between “probable and questionable” for the Week 12 game against Texas Tech in Lubbock.  Both players suffered unspecified injuries in the Week 11 loss to Oklahoma.

Unfortunately for the Horned Frogs, it’s been confirmed that Hill will not play against the Red Raiders.  Additionally, strong safety Niko Small and kicker Jonathan Song have been ruled out as well.

Howard, the team’s leading tackler, will travel to Lubbock but be a game-time decision.

With Hill sidelined, true freshman Shawn Robinson, who has attempted 10 passes in five games this season, will make his first career start in a game that will carry significant weight in the chase for the Big 12 championship tilt.

Unless Oklahoma (6-1), which beat both TCU (5-2) and Oklahoma State (5-2) earlier this season, loses its last two games — ROTFL one of them is against Kansas — the Sooners have all but clinched one of the two spots in the conference title game. TCU needs to either win one of its last two games (at Tech, vs. Baylor) and have OSU lose at least one, or win out regardless of what OSU does in order to claim the other spot. OSU, meanwhile, needs to win out (vs. K-State, vs. Kansas) and have the Horned Frogs lose at least one. West Virginia (5-2), which lost to both TCU and OSU, needs to beat Texas and win at OU while TCU and OSU lose at least one game apiece.

K-Statement: Bill Snyder ‘will remain coach until he decides otherwise’

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Kansas State has responded to the events of Thursday and, wow, what a response.

Early yesterday afternoon, a report surfaced that indicated K-State had a verbal agreement with Jim Leavitt to ultimately take over the football program in place but that arrangement was nixed by legendary current head coach Bill Snyder, who wants his son to take the reins when he steps down. Subsequent to that, Leavitt, the defensive coordinator at Oregon who was an assistant under Snyder at KSU in the nineties, told GoPowercat.com that he has “no desire nor I ever had a desire to be a coach in waiting.”

Not long after, with FootballScoop.com refuting the original report, the Manhattan Mercury confirmed at least a portion of it; however, that newspaper said Snyder nixed the arrangement “because he did not want to commit to a timetable for his own retirement.” Per the original report via Facebook from former ESPN college football insider Brett McMurphy, Leavitt would’ve been paid $3 million if he wasn’t named head coach prior to Jan. 1 of 2018.

Given all of that he-said, he-said drama, the university released a statement that indicates Snyder maintains the autonomy to choose the when of his departure.

As has been the case and stated many times, Coach Snyder is our football coach and will remain coach until he decides otherwise.

Left unsaid is whether Snyder will get to handpick his successor whenever he decides otherwise.

In the past, the 78-year-old Snyder has made it perfectly clear that he wants his son, 48-year-old Wildcats special teams coordinator and associate head coach Sean Snyder, to take over when he steps down for good.

“I have a strong belief, and my preference is Sean,” Snyder said back in July of 2015 when asked his preference for a successor. “He knows more about our football program than anyone. He runs our program. I have great confidence in him.

“It’s easy to say, ‘He’s your son,’ but I don’t wish coaching on anyone.”

“If I were to step down today, I certainly would [recommend Sean for the job],” Snyder said in October of 2012, “I think he’d be absolutely fantastic at it, but I wouldn’t encourage him to take the job.

“I’d rather see him live a more complete life than this.”

The younger Snyder has actually spent more time as part of the K-State football program than his Hall of Fame father, transferring to KSU from Iowa after the 1989 season. The lone exception being 1993, Sean Snyder has been a Wildcats player, football staffer or assistant coach for 27 of the last 28 years. Since 1989, Bill Snyder has spent 26 years as K-State’s head coach, with a three-year sabbatical in the middle of the last decade splitting up his first and second tenures at the school.

Whether that makes him qualified to take over for his dad is a question that will very likely be answered in the coming months.

Tanner Lee on verge of being cleared to play for Nebraska vs. Penn State

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It’s looking more and more likely that Nebraska’s starting quarterback will be available for Week 12. Whether he starts seems to be another matter entirely.

In the second quarter of last Saturday’s embarrassing beatdown at the hands of Minnesota, Tanner Lee suffered a head injury that knocked him out of the game and left him in concussion protocol ever since. With No. 10 Penn State looming this Saturday, all signs are pointing toward Lee being cleared.

“He’s actually going through the protocol and if he does not have a setback as of today — if everything checks out OK after this practice, heading into tomorrow’s walkthrough — he will be cleared to play,” Mike Riley said according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

The embattled head coach stopped short of declaring the redshirt junior would be the starter if cleared, saying that’s something “[w]e’re going to talk about” prior to kickoff.  If Lee doesn’t get the start, those duties would fall to redshirt freshman Patrick O’Brien.

Only two quarterbacks at the FBS level have thrown more interceptions this season than Lee’s 13. On the other hand, his 2,539 yards passing are more than all but three other Big Ten quarterbacks.

Nebraska needs to win its last two games, at No. 10 Penn State and at home against 6-4 Iowa in the Black Friday regular-season finale, to become bowl-eligible.

Notre Dame tandem headlines six Outland Trophy semifinalists

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Suffice to say, Notre Dame will be well-represented when it comes to one particular award.

The Football Writer’s Association of America announced Thursday night its six semifinalists for the 2017 Outland Trophy.  The third-oldest award in college football, the Outland has been handed out annually since 1946 to the best interior lineman in college football on either offense or defense.

This year, there are five offensive linemen and one defensive lineman who can win the award.

Those six semifinalists are Oklahoma offensive tackle Orlando Brown, Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (pictured), Notre Dame offensive guard Quenton Nelson, Western Michigan offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor, Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver and Ohio State center Billy Price.  That list will be whittled down to three finalists next week.

Last year’s winner was Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson.  Offensive linemen have claimed 11 of the last 14 Outlands.