Washington State Cougars

Associated Press

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

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.”

Alabama remains Bovada’s national championship favorite, but Buckeyes are rising

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After a handful of upsets throughout the top 10 this past weekend, the national championship odds updated by Bovada had some interesting developments. Alabama remains the easy favorite, but Ohio State continued to move up the board from Bovada this week.

Alabama is being given 10/11 odds of winning the national championship this week, after being 5/4 odds a week ago. Ohio State now has the second-best national championship odds with 5/1 odds on the Bovada board. Despite the loss on Friday night at Syracuse, Clemson is still third on the board with 9/1 odds.

Undefeated Georgia and Penn State each have 10/1 odds from Bovada, with undefeated Wisconsin getting a 20/1 shot to win it all. TCU and Miami, each also undefeated, share the same 28/1 odds to win it all, which are the same odds given to one-loss USC. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State each have 25/1 odds.

Washington (40/1) and Auburn (75/1) took big hits on the Bovada board after losses this weekend, but Washington State dropped from 50/1 all the way down to 300/1, while Texas moved from 200/1 to 1,000/1. On the flip side, Michigan State jumped on the board after being off last week. The Spartans are 100/1 this week.

Nebraska hires Washington State AD Bill Moos

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The red smoke is emerging from the top of Memorial Stadium, and it’s…. Bill Moos?

Nebraska was widely expected to announce a full-time replacement for ousted AD Shawn Eichorst this week, and on Sunday those rumors became true when the Huskers announced the hiring of Washington State’s Moos to run the department.

“Nebraska has secured a proven winner in Bill Moos to lead Husker Athletics into a new era of excellence,” chancellor Ronnie Green said in a statement. “It was clear that Bill stood out in a very competitive, tremendously gifted pool of candidates, not only because of his proven ability to lead programs to greatness, but because of his reputation for integrity in building and leading those programs.”

Moos is being hired to fix the Huskers’ football program as his first, second and third priorities. He did the same at Washington State by pulling Mike Leach from his exile in Key West up to Pullman — a moved that has worked as the Cougars are 18-6 in Pac-12 play since 2015.

That doesn’t mean Leach is on his way to Lincoln, however. Moos made the perfect hire for Washington State, and now he’s reportedly been hired to do the same for Nebraska.

“To lead one of the most storied and successful athletic programs in the nation is a true honor,” Moos said. “Nebraska is a very special place, known far and wide for its phenomenal fans, for doing things the right way, for supporting its students, honoring its athletic legacy and maintaining excellence in athletics success across the board. I am proud to help build upon these Husker traditions.”

Moos, 66, has signed a 5-year contract with a $1 million salary.

AP Poll: Alabama a unanimous No. 1, Penn State to No. 2 and Ohio State now the highest 1-loss team

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Four top-10 teams losing to unranked opponents in one week tends to shake things up a bit.

For starters, Alabama is now unanimously viewed as the No. 1 team in the country. The Tide earned every available No. 1 vote in Sunday’s Coaches’ Poll and the companion AP poll, released Sunday. Penn State moved up to No. 2, the program’s highest ranking since 1999. Georgia followed behind at No. 3, while TCU and Wisconsin filled out the top five.

A fifth straight blowout was enough for Ohio State to jump three spots forward to No. 6, putting the Buckeyes at the front of the 1-loss train, ahead of Clemson.

LSU re-joined the poll after knocking off then-No. 10 Auburn, but remained three spots ahead of the blue-and-orange Tigers. West Virginia bumped then-No. 24 Texas Tech out and moved in at No. 23, while Memphis made its 2017 debut, replacing No. 25 Navy.

And, cementing the AP’s status as the greater of the sport’s two opinion polls, voters moved Michigan State ahead of Michigan a week after the Spartans’ win in the Big House.

The full poll:

1. Alabama — 1,525 total points (61 first-place votes)
2. Penn State — 1,432
3. Georgia — 1,417
4. TCU — 1,322
5. Wisconsin — 1,241
6. Ohio State — 1,184
7. Clemson — 1,117
8. Miami — 1,109
9. Oklahoma — 1,066
10. Oklahoma State — 900
11. USC — 886
12. Washington — 811
13. Notre Dame — 798
14. Virginia Tech — 727
15. Washington State — 578
16. South Florida — 573
16. NC State — 573
18. Michigan State — 563
19. Michigan — 558
20. Central Florida — 387
21. Auburn — 303
22. Stanford — 274
23. West Virginia — 157
24. LSU — 108
25. Memphis — 62