Kizer, Prosise lead No. 14 Notre Dame past USC for shootout win

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The backfield battery of DeShone Kizer and C.J. Prosise isn’t what Brian Kelly had in mind two months ago. In fact, if you told him then what you know now, he’d probably shudder and curse under his breath. But, unbeknownst to him, to you, and probably to Kizer and Prosise themselves, the unlikely duo carried Notre Dame to another win in what’s proving to be a successful season in spite of some tremendous odds.

Kizer, the previously untested freshman, hit 15-of-24 passes for 227 yards (plus 47 rushing yards) and two touchdowns and no interceptions and Prosise, the former wide receiver, continued his hey-don’t-you-forget-me Heisman campaign by rushing 19 times for 143 yards and two more scores to lead No. 14 Notre Dame to a 41-31 win over USC on Saturday night in South Bend.

The game was a back-and-forth affair that was essentially three blowouts rolled into one: Notre Dame jumped out to a 24-10 lead through the six minute mark of the second quarter, followed by USC boasting a 21-0 run through the end of the second quarter and the completion of the third, only to see Notre Dame wrestle back control with a 17-0 fourth quarter.

USC opened the scoring with a three-yard run by Cody Kessler, only to see Notre Dame tie the game one play later on a 75-yard throw from Kizer to Will Fuller. Prosise put Notre Dame on top 14-10 with a 25-yard scoring dash, and Amir Carlisle added to the lead by returning a blocked punt five yards for a touchdown at the 5:04 mark of the first quarter.

Typical of a Notre Dame defense the week after facing Navy, the Irish were susceptible to allowing big plays, and that showed in the second quarter as Jalen Greene nailed JuJu Smith-Schuster on a 75-yard double pass for a touchdown, and Adoree’ Jackson scored from 83 yards out on a pass from Kessler.

Kessler (365 yards on 30-of-46 passing) hit tight end Taylor McNamara for a four-yard score at the 9:40 mark of the third quarter to give USC a 31-24 lead, but Brian VanGorder‘s unit closed the door from there.

Prosise tied the game with a six-yard run 40 seconds into the fourth quarter, and Kizer gave the Irish the lead for good when he found Corey Robinson for a diving touchdown catch with 9:06 remaining.

Justin Yoon put the game away with a 32-yard field goal with 5:39 to play.

USC played its first game under interim head coach Clay Helton following Steve Sarkisian‘s firing on Monday. USC athletics director Pat Haden collapsed on the sideline before the game, but reports indicated he was in good health.

USC outgained Notre Dame 590-476 on the evening.

After losing eight in a row from 2002-09, Notre Dame has now won four of the past six and three of the last four. The Irish hold the all-time lead 46-35-5 in a series that dates back to 1926.

USC (3-3) has now lost two in a row and three of its past four – and returns to Los Angeles to face No. 4 Utah on Saturday. Notre Dame (6-1) kept its Playoff hopes alive for another two weeks; the Irish will take next week off before a suddenly important trip to undefeated Temple on Oct. 31.

 

TE Jordan Wilson to transfer from UCLA

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UCLA redshirt junior Jordan Wilson has announced he is leaving the Bruins. In a post on his Twitter account on Friday afternoon, Wilson announced he is entering the transfer portal with the intent of finishing up his collegiate career with some other program.

“[I’d] like to announce that I will be entering the transfer portal, graduating at the end of the Spring quarter, and playing my final year of eligibility somewhere else,” Wilson announced in a statement on his Twitter account.

The decision of Wilson to leave UCLA comes at an unfortunate time for the Bruins. Wilson was likely to be a starter at tight end for UCLA in the fall. Wilson is the third tight end to leave UCLA this offseason. Devin Asiasi previously made the decision to declare for the NFL draft a year early. Matt Lynch also stepped into the transfer portal. Now, UCLA has a wide-open competition for playing time at the tight end spot beginning this spring.

Wilson caught seven passes for 72 yards for UCLA in 2019. He will leave UCLA having caught 25 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the past three seasons. As a graduate transfer, Wilson will be eligible to play his final year of eligibility anywhere he ends up this fall.

USC nabs Todd Orlando from Texas Tech

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USC has a new defensive coordinator. The Trojans announced on Friday the school has officially hired Todd Orlando to fill the role of defensive coordinator. Orlando joins USC after coaching the past three seasons at Texas.

Orlando actually joined the Texas Tech program after being let go by Texas following staff changes with the Longhorns. Despite landing a job with the Red Raiders, Orlando remained a top target for USC head coach Clay Helton.

“We are excited to have Todd join our Trojan football program,” Helton said in a released statement. “He is an experienced and successful defensive coordinator who has made an impact everywhere he has coached. He brings a passion, energy, toughness and discipline to his coaching and those characteristics were evident in our discussions. His defensive system poses an extreme challenge to offenses.”

Orlando replaces Clancy Pendergast, who was let go by Helton amid USC’s own staff changes after a down 2019 season. As previously mentioned (HERE), Orlando actually had worse defensive numbers compared to what Pendergast coached with USC last season. However, a contrast of playing styles and offensive outputs between the schedule Texas faced in 2019 (including games against LSU and Oklahoma) and what USC faced could lead to some skewed figures.

Orlando’s first test as a defensive coordinator will be a monster. USC opens the 2020 season in Arlington, Texas against Alabama.

Cal loses assistant Gerald Alexander to NFL job

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Cal assistant coach Gerald Alexander is leaving to coach with the Miami Dolphins. Alexander confirmed in a message posted on his Twitter account he is heading to the NFL for a coaching opportunity. Multiple reports have confirmed it will be with the Miami Dolphins.

Alexander thanked Cal head coach Justin Wilcox for the opportunity to be a part of Wilcox’s first coaching staff at Cal.

Alexander joined the Cal program in 2017 and spent the past three seasons as a defensive backs coach for the program. He has played a role in helping to coach one of the better defensive teams in the Pac-12. He previously coached at Montana State, Indiana State and with Chris Peterssen at Washington. Alexander played for Petersen at Boise State.

This will mark a return to the NFL for Alexander. He previously played in the league for five seasons with the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, and, appropriately enough, the Miami Dolphins. Alexander was a second-round draft pick of Detroit in 2007.

Tulane officially adds Oklahoma State transfer LB Kevin Henry

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One of the nearly dozen Oklahoma State football players who entered the transfer portal this cycle has found a new collegiate home.

Thursday, Tulane announced that Kevin Henry has officially been added to the program’s roster.  As the linebacker left the Oklahoma State football team as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play for the AAC team immediately in 2020.

The upcoming season will serve as Henry’s final year of eligibility.  Henry had previously been awarded a sixth season from the NCAA after taking a redshirt as a true freshman and then missing all but one game of 2017 because of a torn ACL.

A three-star member of the Oklahoma State football Class of 2015, Henry was rated as the No. 25 safety in the country.  He was also the No. 20 player regardless of position in the state of Louisiana.  Only one signee on the defensive side of the ball in OSU’s class that year, defensive tackle Darrion Daniels, was rated higher than Henry.

Daniels, incidentally, ultimately finished up his collegiate playing career at Nebraska after transferring to the Cornhuskers in December of 2018.

During his time in Stillwater, Henry played in a total of 36 games, including a dozen appearances this past season.  He started one of those three-dozen games, Oklahoma State football’s Liberty Bowl win over Missouri following the 2018 regular season.

In those appearances, Daniels was credited with 51 tackles, two tackles for loss, one interception, one forced fumble, one quarterback hit and one pass defensed.