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Utah’s double-OT loss to Arizona cripples Pac-12’s playoff hopes

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All of the talk heading into Week 11 was how the Big 12 could be on the outside of the playoff window looking in when all of the dust settled.  After Saturday’s events, it’s the Pac-12 whose playoff aspirations are on life support.

The Pac-12 opened Week 11 play with every team but two with at least two losses, the lone exceptions being one-loss Stanford and one-loss Utah.  The Cardinal crippled the conference playoff hopes with a loss to Oregon to fall to 8-2.  A couple of hours later, the likely fatal playoff blow was delivered by Arizona, which dropped Utah in double overtime.

Just like that, every member of the Pac-12 now has at least two losses.

Compare that to the rest of the Power Five conferences, whether it be the ACC with two teams with one of fewer losses; the Big 12 with four teams; the Big Ten with four teams; and the SEC with two.  Add in one-loss independent Notre Dame and unbeaten Houston, and the Pac-12 would seemingly have to hope that north of a dozen teams trip up at least once, and some of them twice, in order for any of that conference’s teams to even get a sniff of one of the four semifinal spots.

Chaos is certainly possible; utter and complete chaos like the Pac-12 needs?  Highly, highly, highly unlikely.

In the end, and thanks to the Pac-12 eviscerating itself, the playoff picture is slowly coming into focus.  At this point, it appears the four playoff participants will be some combination of the SEC champion (likely Alabama-Florida winner), the champions from the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12, and Notre Dame.  And if Stanford should knock off Notre Dame, it’d be the four Power Five conferences that didn’t cripple themselves that will be dancing on New Year’s Eve.

Regardless of how you parse it, the Pac-12 will get to taste exactly what the Big 12 did in 2014: how bitter a playoff-less holiday season really is when you’re in a power conference.

Don’t get too comfortable, though, Big 12; you really need to become dues-paying Stanford fans or else it could very well be back-to-back seasons on the playoff sidelines.  At least this time, though, you’d have P5 commiseration.

Police investigating death of FCS player as a suicide

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Sadly, there’s more tragic news involving a college football player on which to report.

According to multiple media outlets, University of Montana Grizzly football player Andrew Harris was found dead at his residence in Missoula Tuesday.  The Missoulian writes that “police are investigating the scene as a suicide.”

Harris was just 22 years old.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to Andrew’s family and friends at this difficult time,” university president Seth Bodnar said in a statement sent out to the Missoulian. “The entire UM family mourns his loss and our hearts go out to all who knew him.”

A redshirt junior, Harris was a defensive lineman who played in 11 games during his time with the Griz.  Our thoughts, prayers and condolences going out to all of those impacted by Harris’ passing.

And for those in the reading audience: The phone number for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.  Please, pick up the phone and call that number if you ever get to the point where you feel like you just can’t go on.  Or call somebody, anybody.

South Carolina’s third-leading rusher enters NCAA transfer database

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Another day, another trip into the infamous portal.

The latest to put his name onto the free-agent market is Ty’Son Williams, who a South Carolina official has confirmed is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.  If Williams follows through with the move — he can always remove his name from the database and return — it would be the running back’s second transfer as he came to USC in August of 2016 after beginning his collegiate playing career at North Carolina.

As Williams would be leaving as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school if he ultimately decides to leave.

Williams was third on the Gamecocks with 328 yards rushing in 2018, while his four rushing touchdowns tied for the team lead.  The year before, his first on the field at USC after sitting out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, he was second on the team in yards (471) and yards per carry (5.0).

A four-star member of UNC’s 2016 recruiting class, Williams was rated as the No. 21 running back in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.

Four-star 2018 WR Marquez Ezzard leaves Miami

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As Miami continues to collect players with steep FBS experience, they’ve also lost a touted member of last year’s recruiting class.

In a press release sent out late Wednesday morning, Miami announced that Marquez Ezzard has decided to leave Manny Diaz‘s football program.  No specific reason for the unexpected departure was given.

That said, the speculation is that a pair of wideout developments — Jeff Thomas did an about-face and returned to Miami after signing with Illinois, Buffalo grad transfer K.J. Osborn was added earlier this month — played a significant role in the decision.

“Marquez and I talked, and we decided that it was in his best interests to pursue opportunities at another school,” the first-year head coach said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”

Ezzard was a four-star 2018 signee who played in three games as a true freshman, catching two passes for 24 yards.

Medically retired in August, Torrence Brown to transfer from Penn State to Southern Miss

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So much for that.

In August of last year, Torrence Brown announced that, “[d]ue to multiple injuries and surgeries, my career at Penn State has come to an end.” The defensive end spent the 2018 season as a student assistant coach for the Nittany Lions, seemingly kickstarting a career in coaching.

While that may ultimately be his employment lot in life, it’s been put on hold as Brown confirmed Tuesday via Twitter that he has decided to transfer to Southern Miss to continue his collegiate playing career.  The lineman was actually committed to the Golden Eagles before flipping to the Nittany Lions in February of 2014.

Brown started four of 14 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2016 and then started the first three games the following year before going down with a season-ending knee injury.

Because of NCAA bylaws, a player who medically retires while at one school is not permitted to play at that same school if he opts to restart his playing career.  He can, though, transfer and continue it elsewhere.

In January of 2016, Adam Breneman ended his playing career at Penn State and medically retired because of chronic knee issues; seven months later, the tight end resurfaced and continued his playing career at UMass.