Stanford hangs on against Washington, 31-28

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There’s only one conclusion you can take away from the Pac-12’s marquee matchup on Saturady: Washington is legit and Stanford is for real.

Oh, and this conference is really good.

The Huskies went toe-to-toe with the Cardinal for four quarters, but came up short in the end as No. 5 Stanford hung on for a thrilling 31-28 win over No. 15 Washington in Palo Alto. It was the Cardinal’s 13-consecutive victory.

The box score favored UW, at least when it comes to the offensive numbers. The Huskies outgained Stanford, 489 to 279, and out-first-downed them, 30 to 14, but the Cardinal got 290 all-purpose yards from receiver Ty Montgomery, including 204 yards on four kickoff returns — one of them a 99-yarder to open the game — and this was the difference in the game.

Stanford employed its usual strategy from the getgo: Pound its opponent into submission with unbalanced lines and power running. But the Huskies were ready for it — just like they were last season when they upset Stanford, 17-13. The Cardinal never really got untracked offensively but, as good teams do, they executed enough key plays at key moments to prevail.

Case in point was Stanford’s touchdown before the first half ended. The Cardinal had the ball on the UW 39-yard line with 17 seconds to play. The smart money woudl think Stanford would position itself for a field goal. But Kevin Hogan threw a perfect pass to a perfectly covered Montgomery for a touchdown and the Cardinal went into the locker room up 10.

Stanford kept the Huskies at arm’s length until the very end, but Washington chipped away, dug down deep and then nearly pulled off the upset. Hogan was stopped on a 3rd and 1 bootleg with the Cardinal up by three with just under two minutes to play and the Huskies got the ball back.

Washington quarterback Keith Price took over on his own 33 with a chance for glory. His first pass was a remarkable back-shoulder throw against the sideline caught by Kasen Williams at the Stanford 49 yard line. His third and 10 pass over the middle to Austin Seferian-Jenkins was dropped — it would’ve been a first down but the All-American tight end couldn’t find the handle. This set up the key play of the game — a 4th and 10 pass where Price scrambled away from a Ben Gardner rush and found Kevin Smith for a first down. But the referees over-ruled the original call and decided that Smith trapped the ball. Stanford was given the ball back, victory assured.

There are no moral victories, but Washington has to feel good that it took a top five team to the limit. This game could’ve easily belonged to the Huskies and they arguably outplayed Stanford but, in the end, the Cardinal found a way to win.

From a conference standpoint, this was an optimal outcome for the Pac-12. Stanford remained a national title contender while Washington showed it could play with anyone. It also keeps the year’s potential dream matchup alive: Undefeated and explosive Oregon at physical and methodical Stanford on Nov. 7.

Florida State DB A.J. Lytton, removed from Seminole roster last week, makes way into transfer portal

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One former member of the Florida State football program has taken the next step in finding a new collegiate home.

Last week, it was reported that A.J. Lytton is no longer consider a member of the Seminoles team.  A Florida State football official subsequently confirmed that the defensive back “has been removed from the team.”

No specific reason, including whether the separation was voluntary or involuntary, was given for Lytton’s removal from the roster.

Wednesday, 247Sports.com, citing an unnamed source, reported that Lytton has entered the NCAA transfer database.  Thursday, an official from the Florida State football program confirmed that the ex-Seminoles has entered Ye Olde Portal.

A four-star 2018 signee, Lytton was rated as the No. 3 recruit regardless of position in the state of Maryland.  He was also the No. 7 cornerback in the country.  Only one signee in FSU’s class that year, fellow defensive back Jaiden Woodbey, was rated higher than Lytton.

Over two seasons, Lytton played in a total of 22 games.  A dozen of those appearances came during the 2019 campaign.  He started one of those appearances, with that lone start coming this past season.

In those appearances, Lytton was credited with 28 tackles, two tackles for loss, two passes defensed, an interception and a forced fumble.  That lone interception came in a 2018 loss to Clemson.

With two-year starter Stanford Samuels III leaving the Seminoles early for the NFL, Lytton had been expected to compete for a starting corner job prior to his departure.

Lytton’s departure continues the expected Florida State football roster churn since Willie Taggart‘s firing and Mike Norvell‘s hiring.  Norvell will be taking over a program that has gone 11-14 the past two seasons.  That two-year stretch is the worst for the school since they went 8-14 in 1975-76.

Starting safety Nolan Turner knocked out of Clemson’s spring practice after surgery

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As Clemson football officially kicked off its quest to earn yet another spot in the College Football Player, there was some injury news to update when it comes to the 2019 national runners-up.

Wednesday, Clemson football held the first of what will be 15 spring practice sessions that will culminate in an April 4 spring game.  One key player who didn’t take the field was Nolan Turner.  According to Dabo Swinney, the senior safety underwent surgery on his right/arm shoulder earlier this offseason.

The specific nature of the medical procedure performed on Turner, who was seen viewing the goings-on with his right arm in a sling, wasn’t detailed.

“We went ahead and did a little surgery on Nolan so he’s going to be out,” the Clemson football head coach stated. “He could’ve gone through spring and we could’ve done it after spring… But he’s incredibly knowledgeable and knows what he’s doing. We felt like from a timing standpoint if we went ahead and did it he’d be ready for the start of May and really have a full summer. Having him out there this summer and leading skills and drills and all of that is important.”

After redshirting as a true freshman in 2016, Turner played in 43 games the past three seasons.  He started four of those contests, with all of those coming in 2019.  Given the departures at safety as well as his experience in the system, Turner is expected to start for Clemson football in 2020 when he gets healthy.

In his nearly four-dozen appearances, Turner has been credited with 124 tackles (5.5 for loss), 14 passes broken up, three interceptions (all in postseason play), a sack and a forced fumble

Turner is the son of Kevin Turner, who played with Swinney at Alabama.  The elder Turner died in March of 2016, shortly before his son arrived on the Clemson campus, after a courageous and inspirational battle with ALS.

Ex-TCU QB Trevone Boykin sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to beating girlfriend so bad her jaw was wired shut

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The next chapter of a former TCU football player’s tumultuous life will play out by bars.

Wednesday, Trevone Boykin was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to a pair of felonies related to aggravated assault and tampering with a witness.  He was also sentenced to 180 days in jail for theft of services and theft of property on charges unrelated to the assault.  The misdemeanors are related to his failure to pay for a hotel room in December; the former TCU football player has been in jail ever since that arrest.

In June of 2019, Boykin was arrested on one count each of aggravated assault of a family member with a deadly weapon and tampering with a witness.  In March of the year before, Boykin beat his girlfriend Shabrika Bailey so badly that she was hospitalized and had her jaw wired shut.

A member of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks at the time, Boykin was immediately cut.

These incidents continued what’s been a spate of legal issues in which Boykin has been involved over the past five years.

In December of 2015, Boykin was charged with, among other things, felony assault of a police officer following an incident outside of a San Antonio drinking establishment very early Thursday morning.  The altercation, which was preceded by Boykin skipping out of the team hotel following bed check, led to Boykin being suspended for the Alamo Bowl matchup with Oregon, leaving his teammates in a lurch and effectively ending his collegiate playing career.

Video of that incident subsequently surfaced.

After leaving the TCU football program, Boykin was arrested twice in an 11-game span in late March and early April of 2017.

In 2014, Boykin was named as the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.  He remains the TCU football leader in career passing yards (10,728), passing attempts (1,356), pass completions (830) and touchdown passes (86).  In that 2014 season, he also set single-season team records for passing yards (3,901), touchdown passes (33), touchdowns responsible for (42) and total offense (4,608).

Pair of Oregon State assistants given additional titles

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It’s Oregon State football “Additional Title Week” in Corvallis.

Earlier this week, Jonathan Smith announced a pair of on-field assistants have been given additional duties.  Linebackers coach Trent Bray has assumed the title of assistant head coach.  Additionally, running backs coach Michael Pitre will assume the role of recruiting coordinator.

Obviously, both assistants will continue on in their on-field roles.

“Working with Coach Bray for over two years, I recognize the value in his wealth of experience makes him a great resource for me to bounce ideas off,” the Oregon State football head coach said in a statement. “I love his passion and the perspective he brings to our conversations. …

“Coach Pitre is a tremendous recruiter and his influence on our recruiting staff will provide great vision, direction, and growth.  He is exceptional and connecting with people and building relationships with coaches and young men.”

This past cycle, the Beavers pulled in the No. 9 recruiting class in the Pac-12 in 2020.  Prior to that, they were 10th in 2019 and 12th in 2018.

Pitre has been part of the Oregon State football coaching staff since 2018.  This was his first on-field job at the FBS level.  He did, though, begin his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant at Colorado.

Pitre, who played his college football at UCLA, was the running backs coach at FCS Montana State (2014-17) prior to joining the Oregon State football program.

Bray, who played for Oregon State football, has also been at his alma mater since Smith took over in 2018.  This was his second stint with the Beavers as held the same job coaching linebackers from 2012-14.  In between those two Corvallis stops, he was at Nebraska from 2015-17.  From 2009-11, he was at Arizona State.

Taking over a one-win program, Smith won two games in 2018 and five in 2019.  That was the program’s most wins since hitting that same number in 2014.

Last month, it was reported that OSU is working on a contract extension for Smith.