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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

Bovada trims Heisman odds down to just three players, with Mayfield a runaway favorite

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With a few games left in the regular season, Bovada may see the writing on the wall as far as the Heisman Trophy is concerned. After updating the odds as they usually do at the beginning of the week, the shortlist for the Heisman Trophy is down to just three players, with Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield a runaway favorite.

Updated Heisman Trophy Odds via Bovada

While not entirely impossible for another player to creep up on the Heisman board at this point, it would be highly unlikely given how much of an edge Bovada is giving to Mayfield. Mayfield has been putting up extraordinary numbers and he’s been doing so in significant games. Even after a stellar performance against a tough run defense Friday night, Bryce Love is only able to pull into a tie with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley as his numbers continue to dwindle.

Mayfield has been among the most consistent offensive players in the country this season and is a big reason why the Sooners have soared to the top of the Big 12 and are in a position to make a run to the College Football Playoff. The odds even suggest Mayfield could have a hiccup down the stretch and he would still be the easy favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

Oklahoma has had five Heisman Trophy winners in school history. One more with Mayfield would move the Sooners to one shy of the all-time record of seven, held by Ohio State and Notre Dame (and USC, since we all know Reggie Bush won one as well).

Bryce Love and Stanford knock over No. 9 Washington to knockout Pac-12 playoff hopes

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The Pac-12’s chances of participating in the College Football Playoff were on life support heading into a huge weekend of action.

Unfortunately for Larry Scott and company on the West Coast, those postseason dreams didn’t even make it to Saturday. Stanford once again threw a wrench into the league’s playoff hopes and did so in impressive fashion to upset No. 9 Washington 30-22 on Friday night behind the team’s big hitters on both sides of the ball.

Running back Bryce Love was not surprisingly the focal point of the Cardinal offense, looking solid despite still dealing with some issues from a bum ankle that was hurting coming into the game and was re-injured in second quarter. The Heisman candidate battled through all that though, not ripping off his typical huge runs but grinding away at one of the best defenses in the country to the tune of 160 yards and three touchdowns.

Stanford didn’t just rely on Love to be the only way to move the ball though, as quarterback K.J. Costello had his best game of the season on the way to 211 yards and several huge throws down the field to loosen up the box for his tailback.  Most of those throws went to his biggest target in receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who didn’t find the end zone but did rack up five catches for 130 yards in the upset.

The Huskies had been holding onto the slim hopes of sneaking back into the College Football Playoff again this season but never seemed to put a consistent effort on the field on both sides of the ball after jumping out to an early lead. Running back Myles Gaskin was nearly the equal of Love, managing 120 yards and three scores on the ground to help his team control some of the clock down on the Farm. Backfield-mate Jake Browning started the game with 10 straight completions but was lackluster in the second half — including an awful sack in the fourth quarter that later setup a Stanford touchdown.

Gaskin also added a fumble to Chris Petersen’s issues in the loss and Washington recorded an uncharacteristic seven penalties for 73 yards to set them back even further as their Pac-12 title hopes went almost completely out the window.

The victory allowed Stanford head coach David Shaw to tie Hall of Famer Glenn ‘Pop’ Warner (71) for most wins in school history and keep his team’s hopes for yet another Pac-12 title alive by the thinnest of margins. The Cardinal moved a half game up in the North division with only Bay Area rival Cal remaining on the conference slate (Notre Dame also comes to town) and will need these same Huskies to beat their in-state rival Washington State in the Apple Cup in order to make it to Santa Clara.

RB Myles Gaskin rolling as No. 9 Washington leads Stanford at halftime

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If you expected a heavy dose of the running game with No. 9 Washington traveling to Stanford, you would be spot on. The Huskies put together several impressive drives in the first half offensively to jump out to a 14-10 lead after two quarters in a battle of Pac-12 North heavyweights.

Tailback Myles Gaskin proved to be a workhorse in the backfield to edge out his more highly touted counterpart on the other sideline, rushing for 87 yards in the half to go along with his two scores for the College Football Playoff contenders. He wasn’t the only one racking up yards however, as the play-action game was working well for quarterback Jake Browning (120 yards) on his way to 10 consecutive completions to start the game. Washington really mixed in tempo to their advantage and moved the ball against the normally stingy Stanford defense.

The Cardinal offense was also surprisingly effective despite Heisman contender Bryce Love being bottled up fairly well. He still finished the half with 43 yards and a touchdown but never busted any sort of big run and had a long of eight at the break. Love’s first quarter score did allow him to extend his streak to 11 straight games with a touchdown, tied for the longest in school history and the best active mark in the FBS right now. Just as interesting was the fact that the team came out throwing a lot more than they have in recent weeks, with starter K.J. Costello throwing for 137 yards on 10 completions.

Given the past history of these two programs, a low-scoring affair that is built around defense and running the ball should come as no surprise. It should be fascinating to see what adjustments will be made in the locker room as the game carries several division and national title implications.

Josh Rosen says he won’t sit out bowl game if UCLA qualifies for one

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At least for now, one high-profile player won’t be McCaffreying a bowl game.  Or Fournetting it for that matter.

Last season, running backs Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey, both at the time considered likely high first-round picks in the 2017 NFL draft, raised eyebrows and made headlines by skipping LSU’s and Stanford’s bowl games.  It led some to wonder whether this would, or even should, become the norm for players projected to be taken early in the next draft.

Josh Rosen is currently projected to be one of the first quarterbacks taken in the 2018 NFL draft, should he decide to leave college early.  Wednesday, the junior seemingly put to bed any talk that he would sideline himself should the 4-5 Bruins qualify for a bowl.

“I mean, bowl games are just fun,” Rosen said by way of the Los Angeles Times. “I like going out there with the guys and you’re in another city for a week and you have a good time.”

Rosen is currently dealing with a concussion that kept him out of a Week 10 loss to Utah, but is on track to return this weekend.  His sophomore campaign in 2016 was marred by a nerve issue in his throwing shoulder that sidelined him for the final six games of that season.

The decision to skip the bowl game had no impact on either Fournette or McCaffrey as the former was taken fourth overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars while the Carolina Panthers selected the latter with the eighth pick in the draft.