Oregon Ducks make case to be ranked No. 1 overall


The College Football Playoff committee uses each week as an opportunity to reassess its entire rankings.

This week the Oregon Ducks should enter the conversation to be ranked No. 1 overall.

While a 47-19 victory during the Civil War against the Oregon State Beavers isn’t exactly a major resume builder, cracks were revealed in the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide’s exterior during this year’s vision of the Iron Bowl.

Alabama dug deep and earned an impressive 55-44 victory against the No. 15 Auburn Tigers. But the Crimson Tide was exposed in areas where the Ducks excel.

First and foremost, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is the best player in the country. Even if an argument breaks out that Mariota isn’t the nation’s top player, he’s clearly a superior quarterback to Alabama’s Blake Sims.

Sims threw three interceptions against Auburn, and Alabama head coach Nick Saban considered pulling him from the contest. Sims redeemed himself during the second half, but Mariota hasn’t even thrown three interceptions all season.

The Heisman favorite was nearly flawless against the rival Beavers. Mariota only threw six incomplete passes. The Ducks quarterback also accounted for six touchdowns.

Oregon clearly owns an advantage at the game’s most important position.

Second, Auburn wore down Alabama’s defense by playing with constant tempo. Gus Malzahn‘s offense racked up 630 yards against Alabama’s vaunted defense. If Auburn capitalized on three early red zone trips instead of kicking field goals each time, the complexion of the game could have been very different.

Like Auburn, Oregon can play at a breakneck pace and cause plenty of problems for Alabama’s defense.

Oregon also has the play-makers to exploit the Crimson Tide’s lack of talent at cornerback. Auburn’s pair of starting wide receivers combined for 327 receiving yards.

While the Ducks’ skill players don’t present the same size mismatch outside, they are quick and difficult to cover in small areas if Mariota is given time to throw. Byron Marshall accounted for 165 total yards on only eight touches Saturday.

Finally, Oregon should have been ranked higher than Alabama initially.

Prior to the Crimson Tide defeating then No. 1 Mississippi State, Alabama was ranked fifth overall, while Oregon was sitting at the second slot. A loss to the No. 1 overall team usually allows the program just behind them to take over the top spot. Instead, the committee found a way to rationalize placing Alabama at No. 1 overall and leapfrogging the Ducks. However, Mississippi State is now a two-loss team after losing to the Ole Miss Rebels in the Egg Bowl. Alabama’s best win is not as impressive today as it was last week

Oregon’s only loss came at the hands of the Arizona Wildcats. The Ducks will have an opportunity to avenge their line defeat in next weekend’s Pac-12 Championship Game and roll into the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Thankfully, all of this will finally be settled on the field, whether Oregon and Alabama eventually meet in a a semifinal contest or the National Championship Game (as long as they don’t falter in their conference championship games).

WR Weston Bridges is fourth Michigan State player to enter portal

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In the offseason, Weston Bridges changed positions.  Midway through the 2019 season, it appears Bridges is now set to change schools.

On his personal Twitter account Monday afternoon, Bridges indicated that he has decided to take his leave of Michigan State and transfer to an undetermined elsewhere.  It has subsequently been confirmed that the wide receiver is headed into the NCAA transfer database.

A three-star member of the Spartans’ 2017 recruiting class, Bridges was rated as the No. 31 running back in the country and the No. 24 player at any position in the state of Ohio.  During the spring this year, Bridges moved from running back to receiver.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Bridges carried the ball 16 times for 53 yards last season.  He was suspended for a late-September game because of unspecified violations of team rules.

Bridges is the fourth MSU football player to enter the portal since the 2019 season kicked off, joining linebacker Brandon Bouyer-Randle (HERE) as well as a pair of running backs in Connor Heyward (HERE) and La’Darius Jefferson (HERE).

Louisville’s season-opening QB starter to undergo year-ending surgery

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Jawon Pass began the 2019 season as Louisville’s starter under center.  After a couple of weeks of uncertainty, the redshirt junior will end it on the sidelines.

Pass suffered what turned out to be diagnosed as a case of turf toe in the season-opening loss to Notre Dame.  It wasn’t severe enough, however, to keep the starting quarterback out of the Week 2 win over Eastern Kentucky.

The past four games, though, Pass has been sidelined because of the injury.  Tuesday, it was confirmed by the football program that, as some have speculated, Pass will undergo surgery and, as a result, miss the remainder of the 2019 season.

With Pass sidelined, Malik Cunningham had started all four games in his place.  The redshirt sophomore, though, has been dealing with his own injuries, including a knee issue, that at least temporarily knocked him out of a pair of games.

True freshman Evan Conley replaced Cunningham both times, and was even named as the ACC’s Quarterback and Rookie of the Week for his performance in the upset of Wake Forest this past weekend.

For the season, Cunningham has completed 44-of-66 passes (66.7 percent) for 820 yards, seven touchdowns, one interception.  Conley is at a 64.9 completion percentage on his 37 attempts, throwing for 422 yards, four touchdowns and a pick.  Cunningham is the Cardinals third-leading rusher with 226 yards, while Conley is fifth with 84.

As of today, head coach Scott Satterfield has not named a starter for this weekend’s game against No. 3 Clemson.

USC’s leading rusher set for knee surgery

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Vavae Malepeai tolerated the pain as long as he could, until he couldn’t.

A knee injury sidelined Malepeai for most of USC’s summer camp.  Even as he had played — and played well — in all six games, the issue lingered on into the regular season; this weekend, the pause button was hit on Malepeai’s year as Clay Helton confirmed that the running back will undergo surgery to repair the damage to his knee.

No timetable for a return was given.

“Vavae is a warrior,” the head coach said according to the Los Angeles Times. “[He was] dealing with a sore knee and really fighting through it for his team. It’s just gotten to the point where it’s gotten too sore, so we’re going to go ahead and take care of it now.”

Malepeai’s 406 yards rushing and four touchdowns currently lead the Trojans.

With Malepeai out for the foreseeable future, Markese Stepp and Stephen Carr will see their opportunities in the running game increase.  Stepp is second on the team with 241 yards rushing, Carr third at 233.  Both players have a pair of touchdowns each on the ground.

Mike Leach banned Wazzu players from social media

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With this development, just how Washington’s State’s “fat, dumb, happy and entitled” football players will communicate with their “fat little girlfriends” is the great unknown.

After starting the 2019 season 3-0, dropped two straight games heading into the bye — the first an embarrassing collapse against UCLA and then a 25-point beating on the road against then-No. 19 Utah.  Following the loss to the Utes, Tracy Claeys stepped down as Wazzu’s defensive coordinator.

Leading into this past weekend’s game against Arizona State, the Pac-12 Network confirmed, Mike Leach banned his players from using social media late last month because of the distractions such activities bring.

“I think we entertain too many distractions,” the head coach explained to the network, by way of the Yakima Herald, “and if I had it to do over again, I would’ve done it when we started camp. But no, I think we entertain too many distractions. I think we’re a little too distracted right now, but I think there is a team-wide determination to be less distracted.”

The social media ban wasn’t an immediate elixir for what ails Wazzu, however, as they fell to No. 18 Arizona State 38-34 in Week 7.  The Cougars jumped out to a 10-0 lead and held leads of 31-24 (early in the fourth quarter) and 34-31 (late in the fourth quarter) before allowing the game-winning touchdown with less than 40 seconds left on the clock.

With the loss, Wazzu now sits at 0-3 in Pac-12 play.