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No. 17 USC takes control of Pac-12 South after holding on for win over No. 22 Arizona

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A few weeks ago, No. 17 USC and No. 22 Arizona were like passing ships in the night, headed in opposite directions as their seasons took wildly different paths. On Saturday night at the Coliseum however, both appeared to get back on the course many thought they would be on.

The Trojans used a solid defensive effort combined with some big plays on offense to power to a 49-35 victory over the Wildcats and all but lock up an eventual berth in the Pac-12 title game as a result.

Clancy Pendergast’s group was swarming at the start of the game, blocking a punt in the first quarter for a touchdown and doing better than anybody in the country at slowing down dynamic quarterback Khalil Tate until the second half rolled around. The Trojans recorded five sacks on the night all told, as many as Arizona had allowed all year coming in.

The home side also got things going offensively too, mostly using their big offensive line to pave the way for tailbacks Ronald Jones (194 yards, three touchdowns) and Aca’Cedric Ware (122 yards rushing, one score). Quarterback Sam Darnold was also pretty sharp outside of a bad interception in the end zone, throwing for 311 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. The signal-caller did appear to injure his hip late in the third quarter but stayed in the game to see out the win.

Thanks to that early special teams gaff, Arizona played most of the night from behind. Tate seemed to be slightly off behind center in his Los Angeles homecoming early on but did help key a second half rally that made the game interesting and saw the team tie it up with a two point conversion in the fourth quarter. All told he finished with 146 yards passing and two touchdowns (two interceptions) while rushing for 161 and a score. Those numbers weren’t bad all told but they were well below his season averages — which says plenty about a player many have started touting for the Heisman Trophy.

Instead, the win by USC will all but secure them the division title they were heavily favored to win prior to the season starting. The Trojans are the only Pac-12 South team with one loss and have head-to-head wins over both of the other two teams behind them (the Arizona schools). With a trip to Colorado and crosstown rival UCLA at home being all that remains in the regular season, it seems like a lock that the cardinal and gold will head to Santa Clara to play for a New Year’s Six bowl bid.

The season hasn’t played out as expected for either of these two teams but at least they’re entertaining going on these rollercoaster rides each and every week.

Clemson DT Christian Wilkins on substitute teaching: I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Kindergarten Cop’

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Those of a certain age may look back on going to grade school and think fondly on those rare days where the regular teacher was out and a substitute filled in. For many around the country, that often meant watching a movie or two for class instead of doing, well… actual work.

If you happen to be a kindergarten student at James M. Brown Elementary School in Walhalla, South Carolina though, having a substitute teacher for class has been taking on a whole different meaning the past few weeks. That’s because 300-pound Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins has been moonlighting as a sub and trying to corral little kids on a much gentler scale than he corrals quarterbacks on Saturdays in the fall.

“It was fun, but took a lot out of me,” Wilkins told ESPN earlier this week. “I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Kindergarten Cop’ with all those little kids. Talk about energy, but it was a real cool experience.”

Perhaps the most accurate line from Chris Low’s excellent story on Wilkins’ substitute duties came by one young pupil who muttered, ‘That’s one big mister.’ The senior All-American is only getting $80 for a day’s worth of work with the kids but seeing the massive defensive tackle walk into a room is probably as priceless for Wilkins as it is for those at the school.

UCF claims undefeated season was worth $200+ million in exposure for football program

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How much is an undefeated season worth for a program? If you ask the most recent team to accomplish the feat, the answer is a lot of dough. Like nine figures worth.

According to a release by UCF, the school commissioned a report compiled by Joyce Julius & Associates on just how much value they got from their football team’s perfect season that was capped off with an AAC conference title and a Peach Bowl victory over Auburn:

When combining national television game broadcasts, television news coverage, print media, Internet news and social media, the value of the exposure for UCF Football from Nov. 17, 2017-Jan. 31, 2018 was $171,079,417.47. Combined, the entirety of the 2017 UCF Football season’s exposure was valued at well over $200 million.

Further more, the study found roughly 160,000 total social media posts “generated nearly 655 million impressions with an estimated exposure value of $17,696,403.81. Of the 160,792 posts the study found, over 138,000 of them were on Twitter.” No word how many of those tweets were fans ridiculing the school for claiming a national title or just angry Alabama supporters yelling back about the sport’s true champion last season.

There’s no doubt that the Knights’ story and resulting publicity from claiming to be “national champions” was worth plenty to the school, but it seems like a bit of fuzzy math to claim all of $200 million worth of exposure even with new state license plates and trips to Disney World. One wonders if UCF can claim low nine figures from a “championship” run you’ve got to think Nick Saban’s actual title-winning Alabama team might be able lay claim to more than double that amount for winning the College Football Playoff after all.

Louisville signee Jairus Brents caught speeding, arrested for outstanding shoplifting warrant

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It’s never good for a head coach to get a call that one of his players was arrested and equally bad when the player in question hasn’t even arrived on campus. Such is the case for Louisville coach Bobby Petrino as one of his recent signees was arrested by police on Wednesday.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that four-star cornerback Jairus Brents was cited for speeding by local police and then was arrested due to an outstanding warrant that was the result of a shoplifting citation from shortly before National Signing Day. He was reportedly going 86 mph in a 55 mph zone and was also cited by police for reckless driving and driving without a license.

While that’s not great to say the least, here’s what the Courier-Journal says about the reason for Brents’ actual arrest:

He was arrested because of a warrant stemming from an alleged incident on Jan. 26. According to police, Brents and an “unknown (co-defendant)” took five tank-top shirts and four boxer briefs from the JCPenney store at St. Matthews Mall. Brents’ court date was set for March 5, but court records show that he was not present.

Louisville has not released a statement about the matter yet but Brents is still expected to remain a member of the Cardinals’ recruiting class. In addition to being rated as a four-star defensive back by 247Sports, the local star was also listed as the state’s No. 2 prospect in the class of 2018.

Either way, not the way one wants to begin a career in college football… before it really even begins.

With offensive line coach recovering from a broken hip, Baylor turns to former QB to fill in as coach during spring practice

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Spring practice has arrived in Waco and things are probably not off to the smooth start that Baylor head coach Matt Rhule was hoping for after a turbulent 2017 campaign.

In addition to suspending two players amidst sexual assault allegations, the program is dealing with being a coach short on the field for the next several weeks. That’s because offensive line coach George DeLeone is recovering from a broken hip and the ensuing surgery, resulting in former Bears quarterback Shawn Bell stepping into his spot to coach the big boys up front.


“And it’s because of his character and because of his patience and never really questioning anything,” Rhule told the school’s website of the change. “Luckily, there’s no egos with anybody there. I think George kind of hand-picked Shawn, saying he’s the right guy.”

Bell is currently an offensive analyst for the program and was hired when Rhule first arrived in Waco after several years as a head coach in the high school ranks in the state of Texas.