Stanford stays unbeaten in OT thriller; Luck has Heisman moment

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What a remarkable game.

Stanford, unbeaten behind Heisman Trophy candidate Andrew Luck and a No. 4 national AP ranking, needed three overtimes to beat USC, but the Cardinal finally got their first signature win of the 2011 season in dramatic fashion, topping the 20th-ranked Trojans 56-48.

To say it was a Hollywood ending with the glimmers of Tinseltown in the background is too easy, and really, largely inaccurate. Much of the game, after all, felt like something that could only come from the mind of John Carpenter or George Romero. Penalties, turnovers, and mental errors galore — all of which were committed by Luck, no less — turned Stanford’s trip to the Coliseum into something that resembled “Night of the Living Dead” — a gritty, blood-soaked scrap for survival — more than it did a classic love story with a happy ending.

Halloween is Monday, folks.

And here are some scary stats: Luck’s touchdown to interception ration is over 5-to-1. He’s thrown for over 2,000 yards already on the season and has completed over 70 percent of his passes. But it’s not just the numbers. Luck’s command of the Stanford offense, combined with his football IQ and leadership, makes him the most complete player in college football. And it’s not even close. Luck’s Heisman buzz has been prevalent all season, but with the lack of elite competition, the future first-round pick didn’t have the Heisman moment yet.

(Not that Luck cares, but we do. So there.)

That all changed tonight, and incidentally, it occurred because of a rare mistake by the best quarterback in college football. Tied at 27 with just over three minutes left in regulation, Luck threw a pass on third down to his right — a comeback route that was jumped early by USC cornerback Nickell Robey, who picked off Luck and returned it 33 yards to the house.

It was Luck’s only major mistake of the night. For someone who played so well under extraordinary pressure for the first time all season thanks to USC defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, Luck screwed up in one of the worst possible situations. It was a situation that, had it not been for an instant replay call that overturned a Cardinal first down, may not have occurred.

Luck knew it too, his hands glued to his helmet in disbelief.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

But Heisman moments come in a variety of forms. Luck’s came not because of inflated numbers or touchdowns, but because of how he responded to nearly giving away the game. Just minutes after throwing the interception, Luck navigated a 76-yard scoring drive in 2:30 exactly.

Luck’s been great all year, but there it was: the clutch game-tying drive on national TV against a team that played 57 minutes of fine defensive football. There was the separation.

Upon falling behind to USC 13-10 in the third quarter — the Cardinal’s first time trailing this season — Luck was heard saying “We need this adversity.” Guess he was talking about himself too.

As a redshirt junior, Luck’s been in this situation before. Come to think of it, USC would know a thing or two about Luck’s ability to execute a two-minute drill. Remember, it was Luck who burned the Trojans last year in Palo Alto 37-35 on a late drive that resulted in a game-winning field goal.

Yes, the Trojans know all about Luck, and coach Lane Kiffin, along with the rest of the Pac-12, will be happy to pat Luck on the back as he heads out the door and into the NFL. The Trojans gave Stanford everything they had in the fuel tank tonight. They just came up a little bit short after the Cardinal recovered a Curtis McNeal fumble in the third overtime.

Stanford, Luck included, was far from perfect tonight, but David Shaw‘s team will surely be glad to leave L.A. with a win. They survived, and in a horror movie, that’s all you can want.

Nation’s top 2017 recruit announces transfer to Miami

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The transfer train has made yet another stop in South Florida, and this one brought a passenger with a helluva high school pedigree with not a lot to show for yet on his college résumé.

In mid-December, it was reported that Jaelan Phillips would be transferring from UCLA.  A little over two months later, Phillips announced on Twitter that he will continue his collegiate playing career at Miami.

Because of NCAA transfer rules, Phillips will likely have to sit out the 2019 season.  He would then have two years of eligibility to use beginning in 2020.

Phillips was the No. 1-rated recruit in the entire country for the Class of 2017 on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Despite that lofty ranking, although in large part due to injury, his collegiate career thus far hasn’t amounted to much.

As a true freshman, Phillips started four of the seven games in which he played. Despite missing nearly half the season because of an ankle injury, he finished fourth on the Bruins in tackles for loss with seven and second in sacks with 3.5. Battling additional injuries in 2018, including concussions, Phillips played in just four games this past season.

Phillips would be the sixth FBS player to transfer to Miami since Manny Diaz took over at The U, joining USC safety Bubba Bolden (HERE), Auburn running back Asa Martin (HERE), Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell (HERE), Buffalo wide receiver K.J. Osborn (HERE) as well as Phillips’ former UCLA teammate, defensive tackle Chigozie Nnoruka (HERE).

Clemson 4-star LB signee suffers knee injury in basketball game

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When a clip of Trevor Lawrence getting into a scuffle during an intramural basketball game went viral earlier this week, a chorus of takes screamed into the void asking what a college football player was doing playing basketball in the first place.

Dabo Swinney has always defended his players’ intramural endeavors, reasoning that unpaid college students should not be treated as employees. “They’re just having fun and enjoying being college people and doing what college kids do,” he said.

Swinney has defended this even in light of Jordan Williams, a potential starter at defensive tackle, suffering a leg injury during an intramural basketball game that will keep him out of a crucial spring for his development.

And now the basketball injury bug has struck another Clemson player.

Bryson Constantin, a 4-star linebacker signee in Clemson’s 2019 class, suffered a knee injury while playing for Baton Rouge’s University Lab High School basketball team last week — and he believes it could be serious.

“At a basketball game last week, I came down from an alley and I felt a pop in my knee,” Constantin told TigerNet. “I went to the ER that night to make sure it wasn’t like a knee cap or anything like that. They figured out it was most likely my ACL. I went for an MRI two days ago but I had too much blood in my knee to do an MRI, so they drained all the blood out and they were like, the only way you’d have this much blood in your knee is if you did tear your ACL. I go back for an MRI this weekend or Monday, so I’ll know for sure what it is coming up soon.”

While active college players playing intramural basketball is a (somewhat) controversial practice, incoming signees playing for their high school teams is not. Many a college coach has waxed poetically about falling in love with a player’s gridiron potential while watching him compete on the hardwood.

Still, it’s a cruel bit of irony: the only place the nation’s best football team seems to suffer any sort of defeat is on the basketball court.

Texas to host Louisiana-Lafayette in 2021

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Texas will host Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 4, 2021, according to a report Thursday from FBSchedules.

The Ragin’ Cajuns will cancel a scheduled game with Arizona State in order to make the trip to Austin. Other than the shorter trip, the switch will not turn a profit for Louisiana-Lafayette. The school was scheduled to make $1.3 million from Arizona State and will take $1.5 million from Texas, but, in order to access that $1.5 million payday, the Cajuns will have to give back $200,000 to the Sun Devils.

The meeting will be the third all-time between the schools. Texas beat ULL 52-10 to open the 2000 season and 60-3 to begin its 2005 national championship campaign. Both of those games were in Austin as well.

For what it’s worth, Texas hosts Louisiana Tech and LSU in this upcoming season.

After Louisiana-Lafayette, Texas will visit Arkansas and host Rice to round out its non-conference slate. ULL also has games with Ohio (home) and Liberty (road) lined up for 2021.

FBSchedules also reported Thursday that Louisiana-Lafayette will visit Minnesota on Sept. 30, 2023 and play a home-and-home with Tulane in 2024 and ’27.

The Cajuns played a 2-for-1 with the Gophers from 2001-03; Minnesota won all three games. ULL and Tulane have played 27 times previously. Tulane is 23-4 in those games, including each club’s most recent game — a 41-24 Green Wave win in the 2018 Cure Bowl.

Florida State hires Randy Clements as offensive line coach

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You knew this was coming as soon as Kendal Briles was hired.

Florida State on Thursday announced Randy Clements as its offensive line coach, ending weeks of speculation and idle waiting for this to happen. Much like an architect prefers a specific contractor or a director only works with a certain cinematographer, Briles and Clements are a package deal. An OG member of the Art Briles tree, Clements has been with dad and/or son dating back to 1990, when Art was the head coach at Stephenville High School and Clements was his offensive line coach.

After Art broke away to serve as Texas Tech’s running backs coach from 2000-02, Clements reunited with Briles at Houston in 2003, where Kendal was along for the ride as a wide receiver and safety. Clements then followed the Briles men to Baylor.

After the staff blew up in infamy in 2016, Clements and Kendal Briles spent 2017 in isolation from each other, with Kendal at Florida Atlantic and Clements at NAIA Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla.

But Briles’ overwhelming success in his one season at FAU led a desperate Major Applewhite to hire him, and he brought Clements along with him. The pair’s success at Houston has now led them to Tallahassee.

“Randy Clements has a remarkable resume filled with quantifiable results coaching offensive linemen,” Willie Taggart said in a statement. “He has proven to be a successful teacher and knows exactly how we want to operate in this offense. I am happy for our student-athletes to learn from him, and I’m enthusiastic about him joining our staff as we continue to build a championship culture at Florida State.”

Taggart made a well-renowned hire off the bat in luring Greg Frey, a member of FSU’s 1993 national championship team, away from Michigan, but the hire did not work out. Working with a patchwork line (to put it kindly), Frey’s offensive line helped FSU rank 110th in yards per play, 129th in yards per carry and 112th in sacks allowed, and he was relieved of duties last week to make room for Briles’ preferred contractor.

“I want to start by thanking Coach Taggart for this opportunity,” Clements said. “My family and I are thrilled to be part of this prestigious program. My background with Kendal will be valuable, but I’m also looking forward to integrating with the rest of the staff and can’t wait to get to know and work with the student-athletes on campus. I am excited to work toward our goal of bringing Florida State its next championship.”