Mariota, Ducks wrap up Pac-12 title, Heisman Trophy, playoff appearance


It’s been a banner year for the Oregon Ducks, and it’s only going to get better.

The first goal was checked off the list Friday when the No. 2 Ducks (12-1) claimed their second Pac-12 championship in four years with a 51-13 victory over the No. 7 Arizona Wildcats (10-3).

Each year, the primary goal for any team isn’t to win a national championship. It must first secure a conference championship. And Oregon effectively did so while rectifying the team’s only loss of the season.

Team success often comes with individual success.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is the heart and soul of the Ducks program. For three years, he’s led the program while shattering school and conference records.

Mariota posted a monster junior campaign and only added to it Friday with 313 passing yards and five total touchdowns. His performance this year is one of the record books, as FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman illustrated:

Mariota successfully threw a pass in every single game he’s played in as a member of the Oregon Ducks. He’s thrown 101 career touchdowns compared to only 12 interceptions. He broke the Pac-12 career record for most touchdowns accounted for. According to Oregon senior associate athletic director Craig Pintens, Mariota’s 53 total touchdowns are more than any of the previous four Heisman Trophy winners prior to their bowl games.

Just hand Mariota the Heisman Trophy now. Go on.

He’s ready and everything…

But a Pac-12 championship and even the school’s first Heisman Trophy winner — eventually, that is — aren’t the ultimate goal.

With their dominant victory Friday, the No. 2 Ducks clinched a spot among the final four teams in the first College Football Playoff.

The primary discussion heading into this weekend’s slate of games is whether or not Oregon deserves to be ranked No. 1 overall. The Ducks have the best non-conference win against the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans and completely controlled the Wildcats during the Pac-12 Championship Game.

The College Football Playoff committee supposedly resets the rankings each week based on what they saw during the previous weekend’s results. The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide could slide slightly if it struggles against the No. 16 Missouri Tigers in the SEC Championship Game.

In the end, it may not be all that important for the Ducks to be ranked first or second overall.

Oregon still needs two more wins to check off all of the boxes on this year’s wish list.

If the Ducks continue to play like they have over the last five games, the program could lay claim to its seventh Pac-10/12 conference championship, first Heisman Trophy and only national championship.

SMU fills staff vacancy by hiring Texas staffer with Dallas ties

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SMU lost an assistant coach late last week when Brett Diersen left to rejoin Rod Carey at Temple, and now Sonny Dykes has filled that vacancy with a smart hire.

The Mustangs will hire Texas staffer Ra’Shaad Samples to coach the club’s wide receivers, a source tells CFTalk. The news was first reported by Pony Stampede and Inside Texas.

A former wide receiver at Oklahoma State and Houston, Samples has been on Tom Herman‘s staff since last February as assistant wide receivers coach and an on-campus recruiting specialist. The son of Reginald Samples, head coach of the powerhouse Duncanville High School located just south of Dallas, the younger Samples quickly became a key cog in UT’s recruiting machine, establishing ties in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Only 24 years old, Samples will now move on the field for the first time as a college coach, working to tutor the Mustangs’ wide receivers while also bolstering SMU’s recruiting efforts inside its own backyard. Only two of SMU’s 10 commits in its 2020 class hail from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Davey O’Brien Award releases 2019 watch list

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The Davey O’Brien Award released its 2019 watch list on Tuesday and, unlike the Maxwell and Bednarik awards, it did not seemingly include every player in college football. Only half of them.

In truth, 30 players were selected to the 2019 watch list, which means 100 eventual starting quarterbacks were not. Chief among them is Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, possibly because the O’Brien Foundation took the directive from Lincoln Riley that Hurts is not OU’s starter, yet.

On the list are 2018 finalist Tua Tagovailoa as well as semifinalists Ian BookMason FineJake FrommJustin HerbertD’Eriq KingTrevor LawrenceJordan Love and Shea Patterson. The SEC led the way with six representatives, followed by the Pac-12’s five and the Big 12’s four. California had the most native sons with seven, followed by Texas’ six.

The list will be whittled down to 16 semifinalists on Nov. 13 and three finalists on Nov. 25. The winner will be named as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards show on Dec. 12.

The full list:

Jake Bentley, South Carolina
Ian Book, Notre Dame
Alan Bowman, Texas Tech
Charlie Brewer, Baylor
Joe Burrow, LSU
K.J. Costello, Stanford
J.T. Daniels, USC
Sam Ehlinger, Texas
Mason Fine, North Texas
Feleipe Franks, Florida
Jake Fromm, Georgia
Justin Herbert, Oregon
Kelvin Hopkins Jr., Army West Point
D’Eriq King, Houston
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Jordan Love, Utah State
Adrian Martinez, Nebraska
Cole McDonald, Hawai’i
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Steven Montez, Colorado
James Morgan, FIU
Shea Patterson, Michigan
Bryce Perkins, Virginia
Brock Purdy, Iowa State
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Nathan Rourke, Ohio
Nate Stanley, Iowa
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Khalil Tate, Arizona
Zac Thomas, Appalachian State

Marshall, North Texas tabbed as C-USA favorites

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Conference USA released its preseason poll on Sunday, and the league’s media sees some change at the top. UAB topped Middle Tennessee to win the conference crown a year ago, but voters don’t see either team repeating atop their respective decisions this season.

In the East Division, Marshall is a moderate favorite, garnering 14 first-place votes, ahead of FIU’s nine and 2017 C-USA champion Florida Atlantic’s three. In the West, North Texas was far ahead of the pack with 20 first-place votes, far outpacing Southern Miss’ four. Defending champion UAB earned three first-place votes, but Bill Clark‘s Blazers actually came in fourth place overall, behind Louisiana Tech.

1. Marshall (14)
2. FIU (9)
3. Florida Atlantic (3)
4. Middle Tennessee
5. Western Kentucky
6. Old Dominion
7. Charlotte

1. North Texas (20)
2. Southern Miss (4)
3. Louisiana Tech
4. UAB (3)
6. Rice

North Texas has yet to win the conference since joining the league in 2013, though Seth Littrell did guide the Mean Green to the West title in 2017. Marshall won the conference in 2014 and took the East Division in ’13.

One Nebraska DB cited for weed, another for driving under suspension following traffic stop

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One of these days, every single state in the Union — along with the federal government — will fall in line and come to their senses when it comes to weed.  Until then, we’ll continue bringing you stories like this one.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, two Nebraska football players, safety Marquel Dismuke (pictured) and walk-on defensive back Jeramiah Stovall, were cited by Lincoln Police Department officers Friday night. Stovall was cited for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana while Dismuke received a citation for driving on a suspended license.

The twin citations came after Dismuke’s vehicle was pulled over for failing to display  a front license plate.

“We are aware of the incident and are addressing it,” a Nebraska official said in a very brief statement.

After playing in 19 games (one start) the past two years, Dismuke is a front-runner for a starting job entering summer camp. This past season, Stovall was named as NU’s Special Teams Player of the Year.