Stanford stays unbeaten in OT thriller; Luck has Heisman moment


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.

Report: Ex-Clemson QB Kelly Bryant to announce grad transfer destination on Dec. 4

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The first time Kelly Bryant was recruited, as a member of the class of 2015, he was a 4-star. A product of Wren High School in Piedmont, S.C., and the younger cousin of former Clemson wide receiver Martavis Bryant, Bryant chose Clemson over offers from Florida, North Carolina and Ole Miss, according to his Rivals profile.

This time around, Bryant is definitely a 5-star. Bryant led Clemson to an ACC title and a College Football Playoff berth in his lone season as Clemson’s starter, then guided the Tigers to a 4-0 mark before giving way to freshman Trevor Lawrence in September. Along the way, Bryant threw for 3,263 yards, rushed for 795 and accounted for 28 total touchdowns in leading Clemson to a 16-2 record.

Bryant is a proven, effective college player, which wasn’t enough for him to remain ahead of Lawrence on the Clemson depth chart but is plenty good enough to start at a number of other schools — and many of those other schools have courted Bryant.

Just like a high school recruit, Bryant is permitted five official visits, which he’s taken to Arkansas, Missouri and North Carolina, with future visits planned for Mississippi State this weekend and Miami on Nov. 24. He’s also taken an unofficial vis to Auburn.

According to a report from Woody Wommack of Rivals, Bryant has set a date of Dec. 4 to pick his graduate transfer destination. That’s the Tuesday after Selection Sunday.

“I’m still trying to talk to more schools and make sure I get this right,” Bryant told Rivals earlier this month. “I need to make sure I establish the right type of relationship and make the right choice.

Among those six schools, three (Mississippi State, Missouri and Auburn) have senior starting quarterbacks, and three (Arkansas, Miami and UNC) are set to return their starters.

It’s clear that Bryant plans to start at whatever school he chooses. Whether he’ll be gifted the starting spot or have to earn it remains to be seen.

Report: ‘Mutual interest’ between Kansas, Todd Graham

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Kansas needs a coach. Todd Graham needs a job.

On that basis, the two sides have talked about the KU opening, according to a report Monday from Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports.

It is not known how far the discussion(s) went, nor where Graham stands on Jeff Long‘s list. But Graham does have experience building a program as the former head coach at Rice, Tulsa, Pittsburgh and Arizona State.

Coincidentally, Graham was current KU head coach David Beaty‘s boss for one season, as Beaty coached wide receivers on Graham’s Rice staff in 2006.

Graham is a Texas native and a former high school coach in the Dallas area, so he would present an opportunity to mine the Texas recruiting fields if Long opts to go that direction.

Overall, Graham is 95-61 with 10 bowl trips and four division championships in a dozen seasons as a head coach.

Long has also reportedly discussed the Kansas job with fellow out-of-work coaches Les Miles and DJ Durkin.

“KU fans, you don’t know me very well if you believe the latested [sic] speculation, I attempt to run a very confidential search and I am doing so now,” Long tweeted after the Durkin report went public. “The search is ongoing. Rock Chalk!!”

Mike Gundy rants on ‘liberalism’ and ‘the snowflake’ in question about transfers

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On Sunday, Oklahoma State safety Thabo Mwaniki announced his intention to transfer. On Monday, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy was asked about his decision, and Gundy had plenty of thoughts about it.

While insisting he’s not talking about Mwaniki specifically, Gundy launched into a soliloquy about “liberalism” and “the snowflake.”

“I’m talking about every millennial young person. Generation Z, I think is what they ‘call em,” Gundy said. “It’s the world we live in because if they say, ‘Well, it’s a little bit hard,’ we say, ‘OK, well, let’s go try something else’ vs. ‘Hey, let’s bear down and let’s fight and do this.’

Here’s the full quote, via The Oklahoman‘s Nathan Ruiz:

Mwaniki is the second Cowboy to announce a transfer during this season. Wideout Jalen McCleskey left the team earlier this year.

By the way, Gundy, who is paid $5 million a year, has attempted to use his post to transfer to similar jobs at Arkansas and Tennessee in order to leverage more money out of Oklahoma State.

Alabama has spent as much time as the AP No. 1 since 2009 as the rest of college football combined

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Nick Saban‘s Alabama continues to rack up milestone after milestone. The Crimson Tide are already on a record streak of 11 consecutive seasons with at least one AP No. 1 ranking. They hit win No. 900 a week ago. They’re on record streaks as favorites and wins over unranked opponents.

But on Sunday, with yet another unanimous No. 1 ranking, Alabama hit a milestone that seemed unfathomable. According to SEC Network, Alabama has spent 79 weeks as the AP No. 1 since 2009, which is equal to the number by the rest of the sport combined.

Alabama has been the AP’s No. 1 every week during the 2018 season, and collected 13 of a possible 16 No. 1 rankings. They were No. 1 all throughout the 2016 season until finishing at No. 2. In 2015, Alabama was not the AP No. 1 at all during the season — until knocking off Clemson in the title game to ascend to No. 1.

Dating back to the final poll of the 2015 season, Alabama has been the AP No. 1 in 41 of the last 45 polls.

It’s a level of consistency unmatched in college football, and one that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.