No. 12 Oregon Ducks return to national spotlight after 42-30 victory over No. 18 UCLA Bruins

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After falling to the Arizona Wildcats last Thursday, the No. 12 Oregon Ducks (5-1)  regained the lost momentum by defeating the No. 18 UCLA Bruins (4-2) 42-30.

The score wasn’t as close as the 12-point spread indicated. Oregon dominated the game through three quarters and surrendered 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter after it took its collective foot off the gas pedal.

The victory against UCLA was vital with the heart of Oregon’s divisional schedule looming. The Ducks reemerged against the Bruins as the favorites in the Pac-12 North. Oregon controls its destiny with an opportunity to make an appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game and potentially be a part of the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Oregon’s remaining schedule against the Washington Huskies, Cal Golden Bears, Stanford Cardinal, Utah Utes, Colorado Buffaloes and Oregon State Beavers should be impressive enough to warrant national consideration as one of the nation’s Top 4 teams should the Ducks run the table.

The biggest difference in Oregon’s play during the past 10 days was improvement along the offensive line.

Senior left tackle Jake Fisher returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games due to a knee injury. His presence proved to be a massive addition to the Ducks’ offense.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota wasn’t under undue pressure throughout the contest like he was during the previous two weeks. The Bruins didn’t register a sack, and it showed in the signal-caller’s play.

Mariota’s Heisman campaign is alive and well after contributing four touchdowns against the Bruins. The Ducks quarterback was 17-of-7 passing for 210 yards and 75 rushing yards.

Mariota’s second rushing touchdown was especially exciting after the ball was fumbled and the quarterback picked it up while slicing through the Bruins’ defense.

UCLA’s Brett Hundley, who was considered a preseason contender for the Heisman Trophy, proved to be nearly as effective as Mariota, but his team didn’t make the plays needed to stay in the game. Hundley threw for 216 yards and ran for 89 more. The Bruins, though, are now 1-2 in conference play and will require plenty of help to earn a possible berth is the Pac-12 Championship Game as the league’s representative from the South division.

LSU opens as double-digit favorites on Oklahoma; Ohio State slight underdog to Clemson

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While definitely subject to change, the initial wagering odds for the degenerates in the reading audience are out.

Earlier Sunday, and in a surprise to absolutely no one, the four semifinalists for the 2019 College Football Playoff were released.  LSU was given the No. 1 seed by the selection committee and will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl.  No. 2 Ohio State, which came into Championship Saturday ranked first in the country, will square off with No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, LSU is a 7/5 favorite to win the 2019 national championship.  Clemson is next at 2/1, while Ohio State sits at 3/1.  Oklahoma, which won its way into the playoffs at the expense of Georgia, is a decided underdog at 16/1.

Speaking of underdogs, the SEC Tigers are currently listed as a 12½-point favorite in their matchup with the Sooners.  Despite being the higher seed, the Buckeyes have opened as a two-point underdog to the ACC Tigers.

The over/under for Ohio State-Clemson opened at 63; for LSU-Oklahoma, it’s at 75.

LSU and Oklahoma have squared off just twice previously, with the most recent matchup coming in 2004.  Clemson and Ohio State have met three times in their collective histories, the most recent meeting coming in the 2016 College Football Playoff — a 31-0 win for the Tigers.

Arkansas confirms hiring of Georgia OL coach Sam Pittman as head coach

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When it came to replacing the fired Chad Morris, Arkansas, as it turned out, didn’t have to look outside of the SEC.

Sunday, with one of its top targets, Lane Kiffin, already having been locked up by SEC West rival Ole Miss, Arkansas reportedly pivoted its attention to Georgia’s Sam Pittman.  A few hours later, the Razorbacks confirmed that Pittman has been hired as the school’s next head football coach.

“Sam Pittman has been an integral part of successful teams that have competed at the highest levels, including for SEC and NCAA Championships,” UA athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “As one of the nation’s premier offensive line coaches, he has built a remarkable body of work thanks to his tremendous passion for his student-athletes, including teaching the fundamentals and developing his players on and off the field. Sam instills in his players the motivation, grit and determination required to compete and win. Throughout this process, I heard from many of his former players about the tremendous influence he had on them as a player and as a man.

“Sam knows the Southeastern Conference inside and out and is one of the nation’s best recruiters. His connections throughout football will enable him to build a quality coaching staff. In his previous tenure, Sam and his wife Jamie fell in love with the state of Arkansas and with Razorback fans. They know what a special place this is and are excited for the opportunity to come back to the Home of the Razorbacks.”

The hiring marks a return to Fayetteville for Pittman as he was a member of Bret Bielema‘s first coaching staff in 2013. In 2016, he left for Georgia, where he spent the past four seasons as the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach.  He also served as Kirby Smart‘s associate head coach.

The 58-year-old Pittman will be officially introduced as the Razorbacks’ 34th head coach Monday afternoon.

Mizzou zeroing in on Eli Drinkwitz as next head coach

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Once again, it appears a Power Five program will pilfer a Group of Five school for its next head football coach.

Sunday afternoon, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported that Applachian State’s Eli Drinkwitz “has emerged as a strong candidate” for the vacancy at Missouri.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Drinkwitz has reached an agreement to become Missouri’s next head football coach and a deal is being finalized.”

An official announcement of Drinkwitz becoming the permanent replacement for Barry Odom, who was fired late last month after four seasons at his alma mater, is expected no later than Monday.

The 36-year-old Drinkwitz is in his first season as the head coach of the Mountaineers, his first head-coaching job at any level of football.  App State stands at 12-1 on the season after claiming its second-straight Sun Belt Conference championship Saturday with a win over Louisiana.

Dec. 21, App State will face UAB in the New Orleans Bowl.

Georgia WR Dominick Blaylock reportedly suffered ACL tear in SEC title game loss

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A rough weekend for Georgia was underscored on Sunday as reports surfaced saying one of their key young players is done for the rest of this year and likely part of the next one.

As per Rivals’ Radi Nabulsi and a host of other beat writers in Athens, Bulldogs receiver Dominick Blaylock suffered a torn ACL in the loss against LSU in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.

The freshman from Marietta, Ga. had to be carted off the field in the first quarter after making a short catch and planting his knee awkwardly. The team’s top receiver, Lawrence Cager, was already out after undergoing knee surgery on Nov. 29.

Blaylock had made 18 catches for 310 yards and five touchdowns at UGA this season.