Pac-12 moves to 3-0 as Trojans (barely) bounce ‘Huskers

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To say that the Pac-12 has seen a successful start to the 2014-15 postseason would be significant understatement.

Utah kicked off the conference’s bowl season with a win over Colorado State Dec. 20.  Arizona State followed that up with a win over Duke earlier Saturday.  Next up was USC, and the Trojans didn’t disappoint.  Barely.

After taking a seven-point lead into halftime, USC (9-4) stretched its lead to 18 points at one point before hanging on for dear life and heading home with a 45-42 win over Nebraska (9-4) in the Holiday Bowl.  With 4:03 left in the third quarter, the Trojans’ lead was a seemingly comfortable 45-27; the Cornhuskers, led by interim head coach Barney Cotton, did not go quietly into the San Diego night, however.

A 65-yard Tommie Armstrong touchdown pass late in the third quarter and an Armstrong 15-yard touchdown run — and two-point conversion — with 6:52 remaining cut the Trojans’ lead to 45-42.  Unfortunately, at least as far as the ‘Huskers are concerned, a failed fourth-down attempt ended their second-to-last drive at the Trojans 30-yard line with 2:31 remaining.  Cotton, likely rightly so, eschewed what would’ve been a 47-/48-yard field goal attempt that would’ve tied the game if successful; kicker Drew Brown‘s long make this season was 44 yards, and he was 2-of-6 from 40-49 yards overall.

The Trojans were forced to punt on their subsequent possession and the Cornhuskers got the ball at their own 32-yard line with :17 seconds remaining.  A Hail Mary on a play that began at the Nebraska 44-yard line was knocked away.

Explosive plays on both offense and special teams played a pivotal role in the Trojans’ second consecutive bowl win and sixth in their last seven — or at least stretching out the lead far enough that they could ultimately hang on.

Adoree’ Jackson opened up the scoring for the Trojans by returning a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, then followed that up with a third-quarter receiving touchdown that covered 71 yards.  Four minutes after the latter score, Buck Allen went 44 yards for a score that pushed USC to a 38-24 lead.

Jackson, a true freshman, was named the Player of the Game after accounting for 204 all-purpose yards while also putting in time at cornerback.

Cody Kessler, who announced after the win that he’ll be returning for his senior season,passed for 321 yards and three touchdowns in the win.  It was his seventh 300-yard game of the season.  Armstrong, meanwhile, passed for a career-high 381 yards and three touchdowns.  The performance marked the first time Armstrong has eclipsed 300 yards in a single game.

Hit total offense output of 422 yards set a Nebraska bowl record, as did his passing yardage.

The two teams combined for 1,040 yards of offense, 525 for the Cornhuskers and 515 for the Trojans.  USC also tied a Holiday Bowl record with 12 penalties.

With the Trojans’ win, the Pac-12 is the only conference that’s played more than one bowl game that’s undefeated.  The SEC is 1-0 after playing its first postseason game Saturday, while the Big 12 won’t play its first bowl game until Monday afternoon (West Virginia vs. Texas A&M in the Liberty Bowl).

The Big Ten, meanwhile, saw its mark dip to 2-2, although, given the fact that many thought the league could toss-up a doughnut as all 10 conference members were/are underdogs, that’s quite the positive start.

Oregon State confirms additions of transfers from Florida State, Washington, Air Force

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Ahead of National Signing Day 2020, the Oregon State football roster has officially been bolstered.

Earlier this month, it was reported that wide receiver transfers from Florida State (HERE) and Washington (HERE), Tre'Shaun Harrison and Trey Lowe, respectively, were set to transfer into the Oregon State football program.  Thursday night, the school confirmed the transfer pair’s addition to the roster.

Additionally, OSU announced that offensive lineman Joe Quillin has signed with the Pac-12 program as well.

It’s expected that all three transfer additions will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  That would then leave Harrison and Lowe with two years of eligibility to use beginning in 2021, while Quillen would have three.

A four-star 2018 signee, Harrison was rated as the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Washington. Harrison was originally committed to Oregon before flipping and following Willie Taggart to FSU.

In 2019, Harrison caught 27 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns.  He was third on the Seminoles in both catches and yards.  All told, he totaled 355 yards and the two touchdowns on his 35 receptions.

Lowe was a four-star member of the Huskies’ 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Oregon. As a senior in high school, he was the 2017 Gatorade Player of the Year recipient for the state of Oregon

The Portland product played in the last two games of his true freshman season. Lowe dealt with an unspecified infection during summer camp and did not appear in any games this past season.

Quillen went to Air Force as a defensive tackle, and took a redshirt for his true freshman season in 2019.  The lineman attended Portland’s Jesuit High School and was teammates with Lowe.

RB Bradrick Shaw granted sixth season, won’t use it at Wisconsin

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The Wisconsin Badgers football program annually churns out highly-productive running backs. Friday, however, one of their current backs has taken the first step to being a former back.

On his personal Twitter account, Bradrick Shaw confirmed that he has been granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA thanks to a medical hardship waiver.  The back won’t be using that additional season with the Wisconsin Badgers football team, however, as Shaw further announced that he is entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.

Shaw, who has already earned two degrees from the university, will be immediately eligible to play for another FBS school in 2020.

“At this point in my life and my football career, it is best for me to pursue opportunities to play football elsewhere,” Shaw wrote. “I will forever be a Badgers and cherish these awesome memories for the rest of my life!”

Shaw came to the Wisconsin Badgers football team as a three-star 2015 signee.  He was rated as the No. 16 player regardless of position in the state of Alabama.  The back took a redshirt as a true freshman, then missed the entire 2018 season because of a knee injury.

In 2016, Shaw was third on the Badgers in rushing with 457 yards and tied for second in rushing touchdowns with five.  The following season, his 365 yards and four scores were both second behind Jonathan Taylor‘s 1,977 and 13 as a true freshman.

Coming off the injury, Shaw ran for 116 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in 2019.  All told, Shaw carried the ball 202 times for 938 yards and 10 touchdowns during his time with the Badgers.

Shaw’s social-media announcement comes exactly three weeks after Taylor confirmed he will be leaving UW early for the 2020 NFL Draft.  With the departures of Taylor and Shaw, the Badgers’ leading returning rushers in 2020 will be freshman Nakia Watson (331 yards) and junior Garrett Groshek (194).  UW also has a commitment from four-star 2020 running back Jalen Berger.

Kansas suspends starting corner Corione Harris following felony arrest

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Thanks to one Kansas Jayhawks football player, it’d be time to reset the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.  If it still existed, of course.

According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Corione Harris was arrested Sunday on a pair of felony charges.  The cornerback is facing one count each of delivery of controlled substance except 35 grams or less of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoid and unlawful use of a weapon.

The specifics of what led to the arrest and charges have not yet been released.

As a result of the off-field incident, Kansas Jayhawks football head coach Les Miles confirmed that the program is aware of the charges “and have suspended him indefinitely from all team-related activities.”

This is Harris’ second brush with the law the past three months.  In October, the defensive back was arrested for failure to appear after missing a July court appearance in connection to a March speeding ticket.

A four-star member of the Jayhawks’ 2018 recruiting class, Harris was rated as the No. 27 corner in the country.  He was also the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Louisiana.  The only player rated higher than Harris in KU’s class that year was running back Pooka Williams.  Williams himself has dealt with  serious off-field issues.

The past two seasons, Harris has started 15 games for the Jayhawks.  He started six of the first nine games in 2019 before missing the last three because of a hamstring injury.

LSU confirms six-year, $42 million contract extension for Ed Orgeron

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LSU has made certain that Ed Orgeron will be rewarded for the football program’s historic 2019 campaign.

Earlier Friday, it was reported that LSU and Ed Orgeron had reached an agreement on a new deal for the head coach.  A short time ago, the school confirmed that an extended deal with Orgeron is indeed in place.

Per the school, the new six-year agreement includes a base annual salary of $6 million. In addition, Orgeron will receive a $5 million split-dollar life insurance policy payable over the first two years of the agreement. In total, the agreement is worth more than $42 million, before bonuses.

This past season, his third full year at the school, Orgeron earned $4 million in total pay.  That was tied for 28th nationally — Chad Morris, fired by Arkansas, was one of them with whom Orgeron was tied — and tied for eighth in the SEC according to the USA Today coaching salary database.

“Coach O has set a new standard at LSU,” said LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement. “He has proven that he is not only a championship coach, but also a leader of a program committed to doing things the right way. He has represented our institution and our state with great pride, on and off the field of play. He is well-deserving of this new contract, which should make clear our commitment to Coach O and the direction of our football program.”

The new deal between LSU and Ed Orgeron is pending the approval of the school’s board of supervisors.

In three-plus seasons with the Bayou Bengals — he served as interim head coach after Les Miles was fired in September of 2016 — Orgeron has gone 40-9 overall and 23-7 in SEC play.  During the run to an undefeated 2019 campaign, LSU beat seven teams ranked in the Top 10 at the time the game was played.  That’s the first time in the history of college football that’s happened.

Along the way to that perfect 15-0 season, Orgeron collected a handful of honors, including being named the SEC (HERE), Home Depot (HERE), Associated Press, Eddie Robinson (HERE) and Walter Camp Coach of the Year (HERE).

“I’m very appreciative of Scott Woodward, the LSU Board of Supervisors and the state of Louisiana,” Orgeron said. “I’m happy to represent LSU and this great state. My family and I are very grateful, and I look forward to working as hard as possible to continue to win championships at LSU.”