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Christian McCaffrey leads Stanford to Pac-12 title, breaks FBS yardage record

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On a night when Derrick Henry and Deshaun Watson made their Heisman Trophy statements, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey would need a big night to stay in the conversation — not to mention beat USC and win a Pac-12 Championship. He did both, and then some.

The all-purpose maven compiled 461 yards and led his seventh-ranked Cardinal to a 41-22 win over No. 20 USC in the Pac-12 Championship Saturday night in Santa Clara, Calif. The win gives Stanford its third Pac-12 championship in four years and — at worst — sends the Cardinal to its 15th Rose Bowl.

McCaffrey’s 461 yards on the night were enough to push him to 3,496 on the season, surpassing Barry Sanders‘ single-season FBS record of 3,250 all-purpose yards set in 1988. And he did it while playing with Sanders’ namesake son in his own backfield.

In a first half claimed 13-3 by Stanford, McCaffrey provided the game’s only touchdown with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Hogan on the first play of the second quarter. USC charged to the lead over the first 10 minutes of the second half thanks to a Cody Kessler touchdown pass to Jahleel Penner and a 27-yard Ronald Jones run.

Faced with its first deficit of the game, the Cardinal turned to McCaffrey and he delivered. After two rushes for four yards, Hogan found McCaffrey for a 67-yard snatch-and-dash, taking the ball from the Stanford 26 to the USC 7. Hogan scored one play later to put the Cardinal on top — for good.

Solomon Thomas gave Stanford a firm hold on the ensuing possession when he returned a Kessler fumble 34 yards for a touchdown, giving the Cardinal a 27-16 lead with four seconds to play in the third quarter.

After a Kessler touchdown run pulled the Trojans within five at 27-22, McCaffrey again answered with a six-yard receptions, runs of six, eight, five and three yards and, finally, a 28-yard touchdown reception.

McCaffrey added a rushing score, this time from 10 yards out, to put the game away for good with 1:38 remaining and give him three scores by way of three different avenues. The sophomore closed the night with 32 carries for 207 yards and a touchdown, four receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown, an 11-yard touchdown pass, five kickoff returns for 120 yards, two punt returns for 29 yards and, if the voters do their jobs correctly, a plane ticket to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

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.

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

WEST DIVISION
1. North Texas (20)
2. Southern Miss (4)
3. Louisiana Tech
4. UAB (3)
5. UTSA
6. Rice
7. UTEP

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.