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15 semifinalists unveiled for prestigious Walter Camp Player of the Year Award

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One of the most prestigious awards in college football has whittled down the list of players who will be able to claim the famed hardware this season.

Wednesday, the Walter Camp Foundation announced its 15 “Players to Watch,” essentially semifinalists, for its prestigious Player of the Year Award. The Camp Award is voted on by the 130 FBS head coaches/sports information directors and is the fourth-oldest award in the sport.

“It’s been another exciting college football season with many teams and players still in the hunt for national recognition,” Foundation president Michael Madera said in a statement. “We’ve identified some outstanding players and we know the final weeks of the regular season should be even more thrilling.”

Players on both sides of the ball are eligible, but just four defensive players made the cut — North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, Miami defensive back Jaquan Johnson and Washington defensive end Hercules Mala’afa. Six of the 15 semifinalists are quarterbacks, the other five are running backs.

Only two players from a Group of Five program, Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton and San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny, are included.

Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, last year’s Camp winner, is a semifinalist once again.

Below is the complete “Players to Watch” list:

Josh Adams, RB, Junior, Notre Dame
Saquon Barkley, RB, Junior, Penn State
Bradley Chubb, DE, Senior, North Carolina State
Sam Darnold, QB, Sophomore, USC
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Junior, Alabama
Baker Mayfield, QB, Senior, Oklahoma
Lamar Jackson, QB, Junior, Louisville
Jaquan Johnson, DB, Junior, Miami
Bryce Love, RB, Junior, Stanford
Hercules Mala’afa, DE, Junior, Washington State
McKenzie Milton, QB, Sophomore, UCF
Rashaad Penny, RB, Senior, San Diego State
Mason Rudolph, QB, Senior, Oklahoma State
Khalil Tate, QB, Sophomore, Arizona
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Freshman, Wisconsin

Nation’s leading receivers named among 10 Biletnikoff Award semifinalists

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The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation has trimmed down the list of the nation’s top receivers to 10 semifinalists for this year’s Biletnikoff Award. The award doesn’t necessarily have to go to a wide receiver, but this year’s award will maintain that tradition with 10 semifinalists all playing the wide receiver position.

Among the semifinalists are the nation’s leading receiver, Colorado State’s Michael Gallup (1,298 yards), the nation’s leader in receiving touchdowns, West Virginia’s David Sills V (18 touchdowns), and the nation’s leader in receptions per game, SMU’s Trey Quinn (9.6 receptions per game). The semifinalist list also includes key players on conference contenders like Deontay Burnett of USC and James Washington of Oklahoma State.

A Big 12 receiver has won the award each of the past two seasons, so that may be good news for one of the three semifinalists from the Big 12 this season. Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook won the award a year ago, preceded by Baylor’s Corey Coleman in 2015.A Big 12 player has won the award a total of six times since 2007, with Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree and Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon each winning the award twice.

2017 Biletnikoff Semifinalists

  • Darren Andrews, UCLA
  • A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
  • Deontay Burnett, USC
  • Keke Coutee, Texas Tech
  • Michael Gallup, Colorado State
  • Steve Ishmael, Syracuse
  • Anthony Miller, Memphis
  • Trey Quinn, SMU
  • David Sills, West Virginia
  • James Washington, Oklahoma State

Khalil Tate saving Rich Rodriguez and putting Arizona in Pac-12 contention

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Those who have sacrificed their sleep on the weekends to watch a talented running back duo of Stanford’s Bryce Love and San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny this season are already conditioned for this, but Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate has become one more reason to stay up late on Saturdays. Tate is close to carrying Arizona by himself as the main attraction in a much-needed turnaround season for Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats.

After diminishing win totals each of the past two seasons, it was fair to suggest this was a critical season for Rodriguez in Tucson. And after a 2-2 start to the season that included some offensive struggles against Houston and Utah at home, Tate’s sudden rise could not have come at a better time. Since taking over at quarterback in early October against Colorado, Tate has been off and running, literally. Tate is essentially Rodriguez’s 2017 edition of Pat White.

Tate is Arizona’s leading rusher with 926 yards and eight touchdowns following his 146 rushing yards and a touchdown Saturday night against No. 15 Washington State in a 58-37 victory. Tate also had 275 passing yards and two scores through the air to lead Arizona to a blowout win with a strong second half.

Tate is playing his way into the Heisman Trophy mix against incredible odds, and it is easy to see why. He legitimately has a chance to break a big play every time he touches the football. And as the quarterback, he has his hands on the football every play Arizona runs. Tate is second in the Pac-12 in plays of 30+ yards with 12, trailing only Stanford’s Love. He is one of five players in the conference with a play of 80+ yards and he is the only Pac-12 player with 4 plays of 70 yards or longer (Washington’s Dante Pettis is second in the Pac-12 with two).

As we have noted before, Tate was not the starting quarterback for Arizona at the start of the season, making Tate’s sudden rise in the Pac-12 even more entertaining to those tuning in. This week Tate will be one of the reasons to stay up late once again as Arizona prepares for a road game at USC. With the Trojans also winning last night on the road against Arizona State, first-place is on the line for the Wildcats and Trojans, the last two teams in the Pac-12 South with just one loss in conference play.

If Tate can make similar plays happen against USC and Arizona can leave Los Angeles with a win and a head-to-head tiebreaker, Arizona will have an incredibly manageable path to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Taking down the Trojans will be no easy task, but neither will USC’s mission of stopping Tate.

USC hosts Arizona at 10:45 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4. Put a pot of coffee on. It will be worth it.

San Diego State tops No. 19 Stanford despite stadium lights going out

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Head coaches always love to say they played lights out after a tough Saturday of college football. In the case of No. 19 Stanford and San Diego State they mean it quite literally.

With just under four minutes left in the fourth quarter, the banks of lighting at decrepit old Qualcomm Stadium simply went out in a close, tense four point game. The inexplicable timeout was reminiscent of Super Bowl XLVII’s outage — only with slightly less on the line for either side. That brief moment of darkness turned out to be a moment of clarity for the Aztecs however, and allowed them to game plan an 11 play, 75 yard go-ahead scoring drive that sealed a 20-17 victory and made the team an immediate Group of Five bid contender.

The outage overshadowed the much anticipated duel between star tailbacks Bryce Love and Rashaad Pennywho both lived up to the hype as they carried their respective teams offensively deep into the night. Given the conservative nature of both head coaches, there was little issue with running the ball often and playing stout defense between two good teams but it certainly made for a rather unexciting contest when all was said and done.

Cardinal quarterback Keller Chryst was largely ineffective and had his worst outing as a starter, finishing with just eight completions for an unremarkable 56 yards and the game-sealing interception with 48 seconds left. If not for Love running behind that bruising offensive line (184 yards and two scores), things could have been even worse for the one-time title dark horse.

As good as Love was though, his counterpart for the Aztecs was just as good in a second consecutive Pac-12 win. Penny wound up with 206 all-purpose yards and one touchdown, the bulk coming on 175 ground-churning rushing yards. Quarterback Christian Chapman was efficient to bring balance to the offense — 187 yards and the game-winning touchdown toss — and put SDSU firmly in the mix for the Group of Five bid at the end of the year with a pair of major victories.

Alabama leading Colorado State at the half

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Alabama threatened to run away and hide, but Colorado State fought back to make the game competitive as the Crimson Tide holds a 24-10 lead at the break in Tuscaloosa.

The Tide seemed to put the game in blowout mode early by grabbing a 14-0 lead before the midpoint of the first quarter. Alabama accepted the ball to open the game and immediately moved 75 yards, the last 27 coming on a Jalen Hurts rush. After forcing a three-and-out, Alabama moved 95 yards in four plays, the final 78 coming on a bomb from Hurts to Calvin Ridley at the 8:56 mark of the first quarter.

But Colorado State stiffened, briefly, after that, forcing a 46-yard Andy Pappanastos field goal on Alabama’s next possession, then a missed 52-yard J.K. Scott field goal, and then a three-and-out.

As Alabama stopped scoring, Colorado State started. The Rams put together a 55-yard field goal drive to get on the board, then an 11-play, 86-yard march keyed by a 36-yard connection from Nick Stephens to Michael Gallup to get Colorado State out of the shadow of its own goalpost and a 4-yard toss to Warren Jackson to complete the drive.

Alabama responded, though, knifing 76 yards in five snaps. Hurts hit Robert Foster for a 52-yard slash-and-dash touchdown on 3rd-and-9 with a minute left before the half. The sophomore connected on 8-of-11 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns while leading all rushers with six carries for 64 yards and another score. Damien Harris and Bo Scarborough combined for 47 yards on 11 carries.

Stephens completed the half hitting 10-of-14 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown while leading Colorado State with four carries for 21 yards.

Colorado State will receive to open the second half.