No. 17 Arizona State beats No. 23 Stanford, takes control of Pac-12 South

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No. 17 Arizona State wasn’t going to win the Pac-12 Championship under third-year head coach Todd Graham until it beat No. 23 Stanford. The Cardinal had beaten the Sun Devils four straight times, including a 38-14 stomping in last year’s Pac-12 Championship in Sun Devil Stadium.

Arizona State did just that Saturday night, out-Stanfording Stanford to a 26-10 win.

The same defense that surrendered 62 points, an even 10 yards a play and approximately three million broken tackles in its last home game, a 62-27 drubbing to UCLA, held Stanford to 288 yards, 14 first downs and one touchdown in the win. Which should tell you more about the Stanford offense than the Arizona State defense.

Seven Cardinal runners, led by Remound Wright and Barry Sanders, mustered only 76 yards on 3.5 yards per carry, placing Kevin Hogan in a position where he’d have to win the game with his arm. One thing to know about Kevin Hogan: he doesn’t need to be in a place where he has to win a game with his arm. He didn’t turn the ball over, but he didn’t create many plays either, completing 19-of-39 passes for 212 yards and rushing four times for 17 yards.

Bad as the offense was, it wasn’t the worst unit of the night for Stanford. That would be the special teams. Ty Montgomery fumbled a punt, setting Arizona State up directly for a touchdown that pushed the Sun Devil led to 14-0 just before the half, and Christian McCaffrey fumbled a kickoff that directly led to a field goal which pushed the score to 26-10.

D.J. Foster led the way for Arizona State, opening the scoring midway through the second quarter with a one-yard plunge and rushing 24 times for 59 yards while also leading the club with seven grabs for 92 yards. Mike Bercovici garnered his third straight start and hit 23-of-33 throws for 245 yards and a touchdown to Jaelen Strong (eight grabs, 75 yards).

After taking a 14-0 lead into halftime, Arizona State was never seriously threatened in the second half. Stanford pulled within 14-3 early in the third quarter and 20-10 with 11:23 to go, but that was as close as they came. It was the rare Stanford loss where David Shaw’s team went out with a whimper.

Stanford still controls its own destiny in the race for its third straight Pac-12 title with a trip to Oregon waiting Nov. 1. Stanford returns home to meet Oregon State on Saturday.

Arizona State technically sits half a game behind USC in the Pac-12 South, but owns the tiebreaker over the Trojans thanks to last week’s Hail Mary victory. Arizona State visits Washington on Saturday.

CB Tony Butler posts classy, heartfelt goodbye in announcing transfer from Nebraska

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Thanks to a Nebraska football player, we won’t have to go through an entire day without a portal post.  Hurray?

Late this past week, Tony Butler announced in a very classy, heartfelt post on Twitter that he will be entering the NCAA transfer database.  The move would serve as the first step in a departure from the Nebraska football program.

The cornerback could also return to the Nebraska football team if he so desires.

That said, Butler would be leaving the Cornhuskers as a graduate transfer.  The 2020 season will be his final year of collegiate eligibility.

“In 2016, I came here as an 18-year-old kid lost and looking for a home.  Nebraska, you became my home and brought me in with open arms,” Butler wrote. “This place became very special. …

“Nebraska, you have done an incredible job at helping a lost boy become a man.  My family and I are forever grateful for this opportunity.”

A three-star 2016 signee, Butler was rated as the No. 22 player regardless of position in the state of Ohio.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

The past three seasons, Butler played in 27 games.  Four of those appearances came in 2019, which was likely the trigger for the decision to transfer.  Most of the games played came on special teams.

Butler is the third player to leave the Nebraska football program in a week.

Linebacker Pernell Jefferson, a three-star 2016 signee, entered the portal Wednesday.  Days before that, offensive lineman John Raridon decided to retire from football to pursue a career in architecture.

Five-star Penn State WR Justin Shorter tweets transfer to Florida

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The Florida Gators football program is the latest to benefit from Ye Olde Transfer Portal.

In late November, Justin Shorter took the initial step in transferring from Penn State by entering the NCAA database.  Two months to the day later, the wide receiver took to Twitter to announce that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career as part of the Florida Gators football team.

As of yet, UF has not announced Shorter’s addition to the roster.

A five-star member of the Nittany Lions’ 2018 recruiting class, Shorter was rated as the No. 1 receiver in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of New Jersey; and the No. 8 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only defensive end Micah Parsons was rated higher than Shorter in Franklin’s class that year.

Limited to four games as a true freshman in large part because of injuries, Shorter caught three passes for 20 yards in 2018.  In 11 games this season, Shorter caught 12 passes for 137 yards.

Barring the unexpected, Shorter will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  He would then have two seasons of eligibility beginning in 2021.

World of college football reacts to tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant, 13-year-old daughter in helicopter crash

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As is the case across the entire world of sports, college football is reacting to the devastating news involving Kobe Bryant.

Sunday morning, Bryant was one of nine people killed — initial reports had the number at five — in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on his way to a travel basketball event.  The former NBA superstar, who retired from the sport following the 2015-16 season, was 41.

Adding to the devastation, one of Bryant’s daughters, who was also a player on her father’s travel basketball team, 13-year-old Gianna Maria Bryant, was killed in the crash as well.

Kobe and Gianna are survived by wife/mother Vanessa and three daughters/sisters.  The oldest is 17, the youngest will turn one in June.

In the hours after the heartbreaking news was confirmed, the world of college football mourned the passing of Kobe Bryant. Below is just a sampling.

 

Georgia state rep. proposes pay-for-play legislation with a twist that will make no one happy

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Ever since California’s SB 206 passed last September, more than a dozen states followed with their own versions of the Golden State’s Fair Pay to Play Act, to go along with a number of concurrent pushes in Washington. No matter your stance on the pay-for-play issue or what side of the political aisle you sit on, it seems we can all agree that politicians are not the people to solve this issue, and yet the NCAA kept dragging its feet, and dragging its feet, and draaaaggging its feeetttt and, well, here we are. And Sandra Scott‘s bill a large reason why.

Scott, a state representative in Georgia (D-Rex) has introduced HB 766, a type of compromise bill that will make no one happy.

The appeal, at least from the outside, of California’s SB 206, is that it would allow college athletes to capitalize on their popularity during the lifetime of that popularity while costing the school very little money, since the money would come from third-parties.

Scott’s bill does neither. In fact, it goes out of its way to do the opposite.

According to HB 766, Georgia would require its schools to set aside a third of all monies earned in postseason play into an escrow account, which would then be given to players upon graduation.

Read for yourself below.

To recap, Scott’s bill would cost the schools millions of dollars and also shut out a lot of the players who generate those millions. Why should, say, Jake Fromm be barred from having a hand in the money he produced for Georgia just because he went pro?

In short, Scott’s (well-meaning) bill would anger both schools and athletes while continuing the overly paternalistic attitudes adults have adopted toward college athletes that applies to no other demographic in college sports.