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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.

Doak Walker Award watch list highlighted by 2016 semifinalists Barkley and Pettway

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A watch list of the top running backs in the nation has been released by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum on Thursday. The Doak Walker Award watch list is full of great players, including 2016 Doak Walker Award semifinalists Saquon Barkley (Penn State) and Kamryn Pettway (Auburn).

Among those included on this year’s initial Doak Walker Award watch list (more players can be added at any time) are LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, LJ Scott of Michigan State, Mike Weber of Ohio State, and Bo Scarbrough of Alabama, Washington’s Myles Gaskin, and Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin.

D’Onta Foreman of Texas beat out both Barkley and Pettway last season for the award. The Doak Walker Award has been presented to the nation’s top running back annually since 1990. Among the winners over the years have included Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush, and Montee Ball.

To be included on this watch list, the university athletic department must submit a nomination.

2017 Doak Walker Award Watch List

Josh Adams, Notre Dame
Ryquell Armstead, Temple
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Alex Barnes, Kansas State
Jamauri Bogan, Western Michigan
D’Angelo Brewer, Tulsa
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Jordan Chunn, Troy
Justin Crawford, West Virginia
Damarea Crockett, Missouri
Rico Dowdle, South Carolina
D’Andre Ferby, WKU
Kendrick Foster, Illinois
Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
Myles Gaskin, Washington
James Gilbert, Ball State
Derrius Guice, LSU
Damien Harris, Alabama
Kyle Hicks, TCU
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Jon Hilliman, Boston College
Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Chris James, Wisconsin
Ty Johnson, Maryland
Ronald Jones II, USC
Ray Lawry, Old Dominion
Phillip Lindsay, Colorado
Tonny Lindsey Jr., Utah State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Sony Michel, Georgia
Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech
David Montgomery, Iowa State
Jamal Morrow, Washington State
Ryan Nall, Oregon State
Jacques Patrick, Florida State
Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
Demario Richard, Arizona State
Diocemy Saint Juste, Hawaii
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
Jordan Scarlett, Florida
LJ Scott, Michigan State
Bradrick Shaw, Wisconsin
Armand Shyne, Utah
Justin Silmon, Kansas State
Ito Smith, Southern Miss
Rodney Smith, Minnesota
Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky
Terry Swanson, Toledo
Shaq Vann, Eastern Michigan
Akrum Wadley, Iowa
Mark Walton, Miami
Warren Wand, Arkansas State
Tre Watson, California
Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
Mike Weber, Ohio State
Braeden West, SMU
Devwah Whaley, Arkansas
Aeris Williams, Mississippi State
Shaun Wilson, Duke
Marquis Young, Massachusetts

AFCA lists 146 players to Good Works Team watch list

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It’s watch list season, and we all know the deal with watch lists. “These guys had good years last year,” the organizations say, “now pay attention to us because it’s the dead of July.”

Usually the watch lists simply consist of every FBS player who started at that position a year ago — or, in the case of positions with multiple starters, the best returning starter from each team. Which makes sense. No one’s being excluded here.

And then there’s the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. The Good Works team has nothing to do with what happens on the field — its 22-member team will be released in September. “The student-athletes nominated for this esteemed award embody the true spirit of teamwork and selflessness, donating their limited free time to helping and serving others,” the press release reads.

But, still, the Good Works Team and its sponsor need publicity just like everyone else — and, thus, we have a list of the 146 best dudes in college football.

“After looking at the bios of the 146 nominees we received for 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, it really shows that there are great football student-athletes all over this country who just don’t care what happens between the sidelines, but they also care about their community and giving back to others,” AFCA executive director Todd Berry said in a statement. “The AFCA has been proud to partner with Allstate these past 10 years to honor football players who give more of themselves to help others in need.”

View the 146 watch list members below.

Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS)

Arizona State – Tashon Smallwood

Arkansas – Frank Ragnow

Arkansas State – Blaise Taylor

California – Raymond Davison

Auburn – Daniel Carlson

Central Florida – Shaquem Griffin

Baylor – Taylor Young

Connecticut – Vontae Diggs

Boise State – Brett Rypien

Georgia – Aaron Davis

Bowling Green – Nate Locke

Houston – Steven Dunbar

BYU – Fred Warner

Illinois – Nick Allegretti

Clemson – Christian Wilkins

Kansas – Joe Dineen, Jr

Colorado State – Zack Golditch

Kentucky – Courtney Love

Duke – Gabe Brandner

Louisiana-Lafayette – Grant Horst

East Carolina – Jimmy Williams

Louisville – Lamar Jackson

Florida State – Mavin Saunders

Maryland – Adam Greene

Georgia Tech – Matthew Jordan

Memphis – Spencer Smith

Georgia Southern – Myles Campbell

Miami – Demetrius Jackson

Indiana – Rashard Fant

Minnesota – Eric Carter

Kansas State – Dalton Risner

Mississippi – Javon Patterson

LSU – Danny Etling

Missouri – Corey Fatony

Marshall – Ryan Yurachek

Nebraska – Chris Weber

Middle Tennessee – Brent Stockstill

Nevada – Austin Corbett

Mississippi State – Gabe Myles

North Carolina – Austin Proehl

North Carolina State – A.J. Cole, III

Notre Dame – Tyler Newsome

Northwestern – Justin Jackson

Oklahoma – Nick Basquine

Ohio State – J.T. Barrett

Pittsburgh – Brian O’Neill

Oklahoma State – Mason Rudolph

South Alabama – Tre Alford

Old Dominion – Josh Marriner

USC – Jordan Austin

Penn State – Brandon Smith

Tennessee – Todd Kelly, Jr

Rutgers – Sebastian Joseph

Texas – Naashon Hughes

San Jose State – Nate Velichko

UTEP – Ryan Metz

SMU – Justin Lawler

Toledo – Cody Thompson

Stanford – Harrison Phillips

Tulsa – Willie Wright

Syracuse – Zack Mahoney

Utah – Chase Hansen

TCU – Shaun Nixon

Virginia – Quin Blanding

Texas A&M – Koda Martin

Wisconsin – Derrick Tindal

Texas State – Gabe Schrade

Utah State – Jontrell Rocquemore

Tulane – Parry Nickerson

Vanderbilt  – Tommy Openshaw

UCLA – Kenny Young

Virginia Tech – Joey Slye

Alabama – Minkah Fitzpatrick

West Virginia  – Rob Dowdy

UAB – Shaq Jones

Western Kentucky – Marcus Ward

Combined Divisions (FCS, II, III & NAIA)

Amherst College – Reece Foy

Moravian College – Nick Zambelli

Aurora – Kurtis Chione

Murray State  – Zach Shipley

Berry College – Michael Wenclawiak

Norfolk State  – Kyle Archie

Bethel (Minn.) – Josh Dalki

North Greenville  – Johnny Burch

Butler – Isaak Newhouse

Northwestern College (Iowa) – Jacob Jenness

Carnegie Mellon – Sam Benger

Notre Dame College – Justin Adamson

Carson-Newman – Antonio Wimbush

Ohio Dominican – Austin Ernst

Chadron State College – Steven Allen

Ohio Wesleyan – Jerry Harper

Chapman – Diano Pachote

Peru State College – Gunnar Orcutt

Colorado State-Pueblo – Zach Boyd

Princeton – Kurt Holuba

Dakota State – Jacob Giles

Saint Augustine’s – Justin Shaw

Davidson College – Ryan Samuels

Saint John’s (Minn.) – Will Gillach

East Stroudsburg – Larry Mills

Samford – Deion Pierre

Eastern Kentucky – Jeffrey Canady

South Dakota State – Jake Wieneke

Edinboro – Ryan Stratton

Southern Arkansas – Stacy Lawrence

Ferris State – Jake Daugherty

Southwestern Assemblies of God – Stephen Lawson

Fordham – Manny Adeyeye

Stephen F. Austin – Marlon Walls

Franklin & Marshall College – Tyler Schubert

Stonehill College – Jermel Wright

Frostburg State – Jordan Procter

Susquehanna – Tommy Bluj

Georgetown College (Ky.) – Kody Kasey

Texas A&M-Commerce – Luis Perez

Grinnell College – Carson Dunn

Catholic U.– Patrick Vidal

Harding – Gavin De Los Santos

The College of Wooster – Patrick Mohorcic

Hillsdale College – Danny Drummond

U. Chicago – Chandler Carroll

James Madison – Jonathan Kloosterman

Mount Union – Alex Louthan

Kalamazoo College – David Vanderkloot

Puget Sound – Dwight Jackson

Kennesaw State – Luther Jones

Saint Mary – Kyle Dougherty

Liberty – Trey Turner

St. Thomas (Minn.) – Matt Christenson

Manchester – Jared Bourff

South Dakota – Stetson Dagel

Marist College – Lawrence Dickens

Wartburg College – Matt Sacia

Mercer – Thomas Marchman

Wayne State (Mich.) – Deiontae Nicholas

Michigan Tech – Cayman Berg-Morales

West Texas A&M – Dillon Vaughan

Millersville (Pa.) – Kevin Wiggins

Western Carolina – Keion Crossen

Minot State  – Logan Gunderson

Western New England – Garrett Jones

Mississippi College – Chris Manning

Wingate – Lawrence Pittman

Montana State – Mitchell Herbert

Youngstown State – Armand Dellovade

Notre Dame announces signing of Arizona State grad transfer WR Cameron Smith

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Not long after Notre Dame officially lost a transfer, the Fighting Irish officially landed one.

The Irish announced Monday evening that Cameron Smith will attend graduate school at the university and will play football for Brian Kelly’s squad.  As the wide receiver is coming in as a graduate transfer, he’ll have immediate eligibility.

The 2017 season will be his final year of eligibility.

Earlier this offseason, Smith opted to transfer from Arizona State.  During his time with the Sun Devils, the receiver started 18 of the 30 games in which he played.  He missed the entire 2015 season because of an injury.

During his three healthy years, Smith caught a combined 60 passes for 908 yards and six touchdowns.  One of those touchdown receptions came in a November of 2014 ASU win over… Notre Dame.  That season was Smith’s best as he finished second on the team in receiving yards (596) and receiving touchdowns (six), while his 41 receptions were third.

No. 15 Utah overcomes slow start to take halftime lead over Arizona State

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Utah’s first four drives at Arizona State on Thursday night were far from what head coach Kyle Whittingham was expecting for a team coming into the game full rested.

There were two fumbles right off the bat for the offense, and then two straight three and outs. Not ideal, to say the least.

Somehow, the Utes overcame that slow start to take a 21-20 lead into the halftime break thanks to some surprisingly sharp passing in a wild second quarter.

Quarterback Troy Williams shook off some rust to finish the half with 215 yards and three touchdowns, the latter of which was to a wide open receiver with just 22 seconds left. It was the third scoring drive of the second quarter, and remarkably the only one of which that lasted more than four plays.

Arizona State did their best to match those big plays from the visitors. Their second to last drive of the half saw them quickly enter Utah territory. Head coach Todd Graham figured that a trick play was in order on the 31 yard line and decided to have receiver N'keal Harry take a double pass and try to throw it into the end zone.

The Utes defense was all over it however and forced Harry to run around. And around. And around. And eventually around every Utah defender all 31 yards to the end zone.

That game gave the Sun Devils the lead but one they were only able to hold for three minutes. If that is a sign of things to come, expect plenty of #Pac12AfterDark in Tempe during the second half.