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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.

Hawaii’s leading receiver, Dylan Collie, leaving as grad transfer

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Dylan Collie is again on the move, presumably for the final time.

The wide receiver took to Twitter Tuesday night to announce that he has decided it’s in his best interests to transfer from Hawaii.  Collie will be leaving the program as a graduate transfer, giving him immediate eligibility if he opts for another FBS program for his final season of eligibility.

Collie signed with BYU in 2012 but, after completing an LDS Church mission, opted to transfer to Hawaii.

This past season, Collie led the Rainbow Warriors in receptions with 56, and was second in receiving yards (636) and receiving touchdowns (four).  In three years at the Mountain West school, Collie totaled 118 catches for 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns.

Two of Dylan Collie’s brothers, Austin and Zac, played receiver at BYU.  Their father, Scott Collie, also played his college football for the Cougars.

ACC releases complete 2018 football schedule

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The 2017 season was put to bed a little over a week ago, so the focus of the college football world has shifted to 2018.

In that vein, the ACC Wednesday released its football schedule for the upcoming season.  The first game featuring a team from the conference will have Wake Forest traveling to Tulane on Thursday, Aug. 30.  The first league game sees Virginia Tech traveling to Tallahassee on Labor Day to face Florida State in a primetime matchup.

Opening weekend will also see the ACC involved in a pair of neutral-site nonconference matchups: Louisville against defending national champion Alabama in Orlando Saturday, Sept. 1, and Miami facing LSU the next day in Arlington.

There are also five previously-announced games against scheduling partner Notre Dame, including road trips to South Bend for FSU (Nov. 10) and Pitt (Oct. 13).  Wake (Sept. 22) and Virginia Tech (Oct. 6) will play host to the Irish, while Syracuse and Notre Dame will square off at Yankee Stadium Nov. 17.

The release announcing the schedule notes that ACC teams will play more games (19) against Power 5 competition than any other P5, and their members will also play 27 games against non-conference opponents that participated in bowl games last season, the highest total among Power 5 conferences.

“The 2018 ACC Football schedule provides our schools and programs the opportunity to build upon the numerous football successes that have been achieved in recent years,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “Once again, our teams will be facing both a daunting conference schedule and what is collectively the most challenging non-conference schedule in the country. There will be no shortage of excitement for fans on a weekly basis.”

You can click HERE for the composite schedule, HERE for the team-by-team schedule and HERE for the ever-popular logo schedule.

College Football Playoff reveals new chairperson, six new selection committee members

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As expected, the group that will determine the four playoff semifinalists next season will have a new leader — with the group consisting of new members as well.

The College Football Playoff announced Wednesday that Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens has been named as the selection committee’s new chairperson.  Mullens replaces Kirby Hocutt, the Texas Tech athletic director whose two-year term is expiring Feb. 1.

Former Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long was the first CFP chair (2014-15).

“We are delighted that Rob will be stepping into this role,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement. “He is an experienced committee member, extremely passionate about college football, detail-oriented and brings a high level of energy that is perfectly suited to chairing the committee.”

As chairman, the press release stated, “Mullens will set the selection committee’s agenda, run its meetings and serve as the spokesman for the committee along with Hancock.”

“College football plays a vital role in intercollegiate athletics, and it is an honor to continue to serve on the CFP Selection Committee,” said Mullens. “I look forward to partnering with the other committee members and the staff to build on the strong foundation which has been created in the first four years of the CFP.”

Additionally, the CFP announced six new committee members:

  • Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, as previously reported
  • Former journalist/current journalism professor Paola Boivin
  • Former Rice/Clemson/Arkansas/Air Force head coach Ken Hatfield
  • College and NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott
  • Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury
  • Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin

There were five members whose terms are set to expire at the beginning of next month: Clemson AD Dan Radakovich, Arkansas AD Jeff Long, former NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt, former Stanford/Notre Dame/Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham, former Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson and former journalist Steve Wieberg.

The six additions bring the committee back to a dozen voters, including Robert Morris president Christopher B. Howard (term expires in Feb. of 2020), former Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer (2020), Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith (2020), former Southern Miss head coach Jeff Bower (2019), former Central Michigan head coach Herb Deromedi (2019) and Mullen (2019).

You can wager on who will be first coach to leave their team, Nick Saban or Bill Belichick

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If you’re into this sort of thing, Bovada.lv has offered up a very interesting and intriguing wager.

There’s been some chatter of late that the 65-year-old Bill Belichick could be nearing the end of his wildly successful run with the New England Patriots, although the future Hall of Fame head coach has been dismissive of such talk. And then there’s 66-year-old Nick Saban, Belichick’s former defensive coordinator and rumor mill veteran who is regularly linked to the NFL or even other college jobs despite the future Hall of Famer’s wildly successful run with the Alabama Crimson Tide that shows no sign of abating.

That gets us back to Bovada, which asked a very simple question in their latest prop bet: Who will be the first coach to part ways with their current team? According to them, Belichick is a slight favorite to leave Foxboro before Saban takes his leave of Tuscaloosa.

Bill Belichick -150 (2/3)
Nick Saban +110 (11/10)

If I were a gambling man — and I’ll bet you I’m not — I’d put my money on the younger Belichick to not only leave his team first but to be the first to retire from coaching, period, in large part because of quotes like these from his former lieutenant.

“I’ve been a part of a team since I was nine,” Saban said in June of last year, shortly after Bob Stoops announced his retirement from Oklahoma. “The thought of not being [part of a team] scares me.”