No. 25 Stanford avoids upset but still has work to do

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It my not have been a great performance by No. 25 Stanford (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12), but the Cardinal will likely take it. Stanford held off an upset bid from Washington State (2-5, 1-3 Pac-12) with a 27-17 victory in Palo Alto Friday night.

Stanford will likely find a way to stay ranked in the top 25 when the new polls come out on Sunday, although the Cardinal still lack what it will take to make a serious challenge in the Pac-12 this season. Although Stanford scored twice inside the red zone, which has been more Kryptonite green than red for Stanford this season, the struggles seemed to continue. A couple of drives had to settle for field goals inside the red zone and another ended with a lost fumble against a team not particularly known for its defense. Kevin Hogan started the game and performed well, completing 23 of 35 passes for 2984 yards and three touchdowns. Remound Wright nearly hit the century mark with 98 rushing yards and a touchdown. Ty Montgomery had seven catches for a team-high 72 yards.

Stanford’s defense did perform well though. The line brought pressure on Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday all night long. A week after rewriting the record book, Halliday was held to 287 passing yards and two touchdowns, with one interception and four sacks for a loss of 56 yards. It was a rough night for the WSU passer, but that should have been expected with Washington State’s offensive line being overpowered by Stanford’s defensive line. Washington State, as a team, was held to -38 rushing yards in the game, with most of that damage coming on sacks of Halliday.

Stanford has quite the schedule still to come. If the Cardinal are going to make any case to be a playoff team with two losses, the results are going to have to be overwhelming to even have a shot at consideration. Stanford is at Arizona State next week and still has road games at Oregon and UCLA to play. A road game at Cal may be no easy task either.

Washington State will be happy just finding a way to slide into the postseason bowl line-up. With just two wins, Washington State will need four more wins in the final five games of the regular season just to become eligible. Next week the Cougars have off, but they return to action the following week against Arizona at home, followed by USC.

Star WR Michael Pittman confirms he’ll play in USC’s bowl game

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(Pardon us as we’ve been catching up on a few things due to some very significant technical difficulties.)

USC fans can assuage their anguish somewhat over the retention of Clay Helton with the knowledge that one of their school’s most explosive weapons on offense will be available during the postseason. There, feel better?

After some uncertainty and speculation, Michael Pittman announced on Twitter this week that he will be playing in the Trojans’ bowl game. USC will face Iowa in Holiday Bowl Dec. 27, the first meeting between the football programs since 2002.

Pittman led the Trojans this season in receptions (95), receiving yards (1,222) and receiving touchdowns (11). The catches and yards led the Pac-12, while the scores were second.

The fourth-year senior was named first-team all-conference and is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award.

FAU makes hiring of Willie Taggart as Lane Kiffin’s replacement official

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A week ago, it was reported that Willie Taggartbadly wants a second act” at USF.  While that job ultimately went to a Clemson coordinator, Taggart still ended up landing yet another gig in the Sunshine State.

With rumors swirling throughout the day, Florida Atlantic confirmed Wednesday evening that Taggart has been named as the Owls’ new head football coach.  Taggart replaces Lane Kiffin, who left shortly after FAU won the Conference USA championship game Saturday for the Ole Miss job.

“I’m grateful to Brian White and President Kelly for their belief in me to lead the football program at Florida Atlantic University,” a statement from Taggart began. “I’m looking forward to long-term success here. I think our players and the university deserve that commitment. Family is extremely important to me. I couldn’t do what I do without their love and support and all of us are looking forward to being here in Paradise for the foreseeable future.”

After four years as the head coach at South Florida, Taggart left USF for Oregon — for one season as it turned out as he pulled up stakes from the Pac-12 school for the Florida State job in December of 2017.  Less than two full seasons later, though, Taggart was shown the door by the Seminoles in early November.

Taggart is a native of Bradenton, Fla. and has deep, extensive recruiting ties in the state, which will only aid him in taking over a football program that has won two conference championships the past three years.

Taggart has never won a conference crown during his 10 seasons as a head coach, although he did claim a division title at South Florida in 2016.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Coach Taggart on board to lead our football program,” FAU athletic director Brian White said in his statement. “Coach Taggart is a proven program builder who will develop strong relationships with our student-athletes and develop them as future leaders. His deep relationships around the state of Florida and the nation will be vital in recruiting as well. The traits he brings to the table will allow us to continue building upon our recent success.”

FAU’s Harrison Bryant named Mackey Award winner as nation’s best TE

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In a change of pace, we come to an award that doesn’t involve either Joe Burrow or Chase Young.

The John Mackey Award winner was announced earlier in the day Wednesday, with Florida Atlantic’s Harrison Bryant claiming this year’s honor.  The Mackey is handed out annually to the nation’s top tight end.

Established in 2000, the 2018 winner was Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson.

This past season, Bryant caught 65 passes for 1,0004 yards and seven touchdowns.  Bryant led all FBS tight ends in both catches and receiving yards.

Bryant beat out seven other tight ends for the 2019 Mackey.

  • Hunter Bryant, Washington
  • Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
  • Brevin Jordan, Miami
  • Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
  • Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
  • Colby Parkinson, Stanford
  • Giovanni Ricci, Western Michigan

Ole Miss announces future home-and-home with Oregon State

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With the 2019 regular season put to bed, there is some future scheduling news on which to hit — and some very rare news at that.

Wednesday afternoon, Ole Miss announced that it had reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series with Oregon State.  The Beavers will travel to Oxford Sept. 18, 2027, with the Rebels making the trek to Corvallis on Aug. 31, 2030.

The 2027 game will mark the first-ever between the football programs.

According to Ole Miss, they have played a current member of the Pac-12 just twice, with both of those games coming against Cal.  Those games, incidentally, came in the last three years, including this season.

Oregon State last played a team from the SEC in 1987 when they traveled to Georgia.  A team from that conference has never played in Corvallis.