Next week in the historic Los Angeles Coliseum, two rivals will enter but only one will leave with the Pac-12 South championship banner. Despite a loss today at Oregon, No. 24 USC (7-4, 5-3 Pac-12) will get a chance to win the Pac-12 South Division at home and earn a trip to its first Pac-12 Championship Game. Standing in the way will be rival UCLA (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12), fresh of a road win against No. 13 Utah (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12).
UCLA did what it needed to do to remain in the driver’s seat of the Pac-12 South. Needing a win against Utah to secure a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Utes, UCLA got right to work out of the gate with a game-opening touchdown drive on the road (Josh Rosen to Thomas Duarte) and eventually took a 10-0 lead before letting the Utes wiggle back in with three field goals chipping away at the double-digit lead. Once Utah kicked a third field goal to cut the lead to one point, UCLA responded with a 14-play touchdown drive ending with Paul Perkins scoring a short touchdown run to put the Bruins up 17-9. That would prove to be more than enough, as that score held the rest of the way.
USC’s secondary was picked apart by Vernon Adams and Oregon in Autzen Stadium. Adams finished his day with six touchdowns thrown and 407 passing yards in a 45-28 victory over the Trojans. USC’s offense actually did some good things, outside of protecting quarterback Cody Kessler at times. Kessler avoided throwing an interception and Justin Davis led the running game with 141 yards. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster had to leave the game temporarily in the first half but did return despite having to be helped off the field by trainers. USC’s defense gave up five touchdowns of at least 30 yards through the air, so they will have to find a way to tighten things up in the secondary before taking on UCLA next week. Oregon racked up 578 yards of offense in the win.
The Pac-12 South is now a two-horse race between USC and UCLA, as Utah has now been eliminated from contention. Utah needed to beat UCLA in order to stay ahead of the Trojans, but now the Utes cannot win as tiebreakers go against them. The winner of next week’s crosstown rivalry game will more than likely get a crack at Stanford. Stanford needs a win against Cal later tonight to claim the Pac-12 North title. A loss opens the door for Oregon to grab the North next week with a win over Oregon State. Stanford loses a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Ducks after Oregon upset the Cardinal last week. Stanford’s Pac-12 schedule wraps up tonight and they play Notre Dame next week.
The Pac-12 Championship Game will be played on December 5 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. UCLA appeared in the first two Pac-12 championship game sin 2011 and 2012, although USC won the Pac-12 South and was ineligible for postseason play in 2012 (USC pounded UCLA 50-0 that season).
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 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 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.
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.