Pick six, Hail Mary key No. 18 USC past Oregon State, 35-10

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USC is missing close to 30 scholarship players, but two key players that the Men of Troy absolutely do have: a quarterback and a running back. Quarterback Cody Kessler diced Oregon State for an ultra-efficient 261 yards and two touchdowns on 24-of-32 passing, and Buck Allen added 20 rushes for 115 yards and a touchdown to push No. 18 USC past Oregon State 35-10 on Saturday night.

The quarterback-running back duo may have carried the water for USC, but it was defensive back-turned-linebacker Su’a Cravens that got the Trojans going with a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown with 5:11 to play in the first quarter. Ryan Murphy took the ensuing kick back 97 yards for a touchdown, and the Beavers added a 38-yard Trevor Romaine field goal early in the second quarter to grab a 10-7 lead, but that would be it offensively for Oregon State on this night.

Kessler hit Justin Davis for a 16-yard touchdown on the following drive, and then connected with Darreus Rogers on a 48-yard Hail Mary on the final play of the first half, effectively putting the game away at 21-10. Allen added a 17-yard scoring dash to open the fourth quarter, and his backup Justin Davis closed the scoring with a 21-yard burst at the 5:02 mark of the fourth quarter.

USC threw for 261 yards and rushed for precisely 200 more (Davis added 82 yards on 15 carries) and did not turn the ball over. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I feel like teams that rush and pass for 200 yards and don’t turn the ball over win home games approximately 95.2 percent of the time.

Especially when the opponent doesn’t hit 200 yards of total offense.

Sean Mannion looked like a quarterback that ranked second nationally in passing a year ago solely due to the presence of the now-departed Brandin Cooks, passing for a paltry 123 yards (he averaged 358.6 in 2013) on 15-of-32 passing with no scores and two picks. The Beavers rushed 21 times for a total of 58 yards.

With losses by Arizona State and Utah this week, USC (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12) remains atop the Pac-12 South alongside UCLA and Arizona. The Trojans host No. 15 Arizona State on Saturday.

Oregon State drops to 3-1 (0-1 Pac-12) and visits Colorado on Saturday.

NCAA extends recruiting dead period through May 31

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The NCAA has officially extended its dead period for all recruiting activities, shutting down the key spring evaluation period for college football in the process.

In a brief statement released Wednesday afternoon, via Twitter, the NCAA announced the recruiting dead period, which was originally put into effect in mid-March, was extended through May 31. The decision was made following advice and information from experts monitoring the ongoing pandemic linked to COVID-19.

The extended dead period means no face-to-face contact for coaches and recruits, official and unofficial visits, Junior Days, and more. The decision is not unexpected given the current climate in the sports world and with various stay home orders being extended on a state-by-state basis and federal guidelines and recommendations being adjusted.

As with the previous announcement of the dead period, texts and phone calls (and Zoom conference calls?) are all still allowed to keep communication on the recruiting trail open during these unique times.

The NCAA had originally planned to have a dead period lasting until April 15, at which point the NCAA would evaluate the situation before making another decision. As previously noted, April 15 is traditionally the day when coaches were allowed to visit recruits for the spring evaluation period. This extended dead period will wipe that out, at least for now.

Ex-Duke OT Jaylen Miller grad transfers to Tulane

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Tulane is preparing to fill one spot on the offensive line with a graduate transfer from Duke. Offensive tackle Jaylen Miller has committed to the Tulane Green Wave, as reported by NOLA.com on Tuesday. Miller reportedly made his announcement with a message on his Instagram account.

“[I] am beyond excited to start my new journey at Tulane University,” Miller said in his Instagram post. “I am looking forward to grinding, sacrificing, and winning with my new family. Let’s get it.”

As a graduate transfer, Miller will be eligible to play this season for Tulane. It will be expected Miller will be a candidate to fill a starting vacancy on the offensive line for Tulane given his previous experience at Duke.

Miller’s 2018 season was cut short in mid-October due to a fractured ankle. Although Miller eventually missed practicing in the spring of 2019 for the Blue Devils while rehabbing, he did serve in a backup role for the Blue Devils last fall. Miller appeared in nine games.

Rutgers adds commitment from Div. II corner

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Whether on the recruiting trail or transfer portal, Rutgers football is working it on the personnel front under Greg Schiano.

On his personal Twitter account this week, Keenan Reid announced that he will be continuing his collegiate playing career with the Rutgers football team.  The cornerback spent his first three seasons at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.  Because he’s moving up from the Div. II level, Reid would be eligible to play immediately for the Scarlet Knights in 2020.  He also has a redshirt available if the need arises.

The move will serve as a homecoming as Reid went to high school in Somerset, NJ.

Reid actually enrolled in classes at Rutgers before he even received an offer from the football team.  He participated in walk-on tryouts in late January.  That tryout led to a preferred walk-on offer from Rutgers football head coach Greg Schiano.

“I wanted to take a chance on myself. I grew up around Rutgers in Franklin Township right down the street,” the 6-0′, 175-pound Reid told 247Sports.com. “I just wanted to take a chance, come back home and be where I wanted to go from the beginning. This is big for me and my family.”

Reid was a three-year starter for the Lions.  He finished with a pair of interceptions.  He also blocked six kicks during his time at the lower-level school.

Rutgers football hasn’t been shy in dipping into the transfer portal under its first-year coach.  In early February, the program confirmed the addition of four transfers from Power Five programs.  Three of those came from the Big Ten.  Late last month, an FCS offensive lineman was added to the roster as well.

Michigan State sees one punter leave team, another pull his name from transfer portal

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It was a busy day personnel-wise on the punting front for the Michigan State football program.

Last year, Bryce Baringer placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.  This week, it was reported that Baringer had pulled his name out of the portal, an indication that the punter has decided to remain as part of the Michigan State football team.

Conversely, Michigan State confirmed that Jack Bouwmeester is no longer part of the Spartans football team.  According to mlive.com, Bouwmeester has returned to his native Australia.  No reason was given for the development.  It’s unclear at this point whether the move is permanent.

Baringer began his collegiate career at Illinois.  After taking a redshirt as a true freshman in 2017, Baringer transferred to Michigan State prior to the start of the 2018 season.  Because of injuries that year to the two punters ahead of him on the depth chart, Baringer played in four games.  In that action, he averaged 32.4 yards on 15 punts.  Four of those punts landed inside the 20-yard line.

Mlive.com wrote that “Bouwmeester, who Michigan State found through ProKick Australia, was the program’s first incoming punter recruit to land a scholarship since [Jake] Hartbarger.” Bouwmeester was a three-star 2019 signee, rated as the No. 9 punter in the country.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman after not playing in any games.

Hartbarger served as the primary punter for Michigan State last season.  As a sixth-year senior, Hartbarger’s eligibility has expired.

Baringer is one of three punters currently on the Michigan State roster.  The others are redshirt junior walk-on Tyler Hunt and redshirt freshman walk-on Evan Morris.  Hunt was the second of the two punters injured during that 2018 season.  Hunt, who replaced the injured Hartbarger that year, started five games, punting 36 times for an average of 40.1 yards per.