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Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey starts 2016 Heisman campaign with record-setting show in blowout of Iowa

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If you are looking for your 2016 Heisman Trophy frontrunner, look west. Christian McCaffrey set a Rose Bowl record with 361 all-purpose yards as No. 6 Stanford pounded No. 5 Iowa, 45-16, in the Rose Bowl on New Years Day. McCaffrey got things going on the first play of the game with a 75-yard touchdown reception from Kevin Hogan. It was the longest play from scrimmage of the year and his career for McCaffrey, and he was just getting warmed up.

McCaffrey had a busy afternoon. By the end of the game, McCaffrey became the first player in Rose Bowl history to record 100 rushing and 100 receiving yards in the Rose Bowl. He ended his season with 2,019 rushing yards to become Stanford’s first 2,000-yard rusher in school history. McCaffrey reached these marks by rushing for 172 yards and leading all players with 105 receiving yards in the lopsided victory over the Hawkeyes. If Iowa spent any time focusing on McCaffrey’s and Stanford film, it sure did not show, but that may be just how good McCaffrey and Stanford were. McCaffrey’s performance was definitely worthy of high praise, but he did not do it all alone, if you can believe that.

Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan turned in an admirable performance as well, passing for 223 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for another score. Stanford’s defense held Iowa to 5-of-17 on third down and allowed just 51 rushing yards. Iowa managed just 290 yards of offense and they needed three fourth-down conversions to help get there. Stanford head coach David Shaw is now 3-2 in bowl games as head coach of the Cardinal, and that now includes two Rose Bowl victories. This Stanford program is not going to be going anywhere any time soon in the Pac-12, it continues to be the gold standard college football program in the same state that is home to USC and UCLA.

Stanford was left out of the College Football Playoff, but by halftime the Cardinal had Twitter blazing about reasons why the College Football Playoff selection committee either got the top four teams wrong or why the playoff should be expanded. Given how Alabama and Clemson seemed to handle Michigan State and Oklahoma, respectively, it was pretty easy to make a case that Stanford should have been in the mix. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, and the Cardinal lost two games this season. Many will point to Stanford’s season-opening loss at Northwestern as the main reason why Stanford was left out, but a later loss to Oregon may have been more damaging in a “what have you done for me lately” sport.

This loss should not take away too much from the overall success of the season Iowa experienced. Though the Hawkeyes ended the year with two straight losses, Iowa put together some memorable moments en route to an undefeated regular season, which saw them come up just shy of a likely spot in the College Football Playoff. Kirk Ferentz may not have a program locked and loaded for a repeat performance in 2016, which makes a season like this as special as it coudl be.

McCaffrey was this season’s best all-around player in college football, and he accomplished something no other player had done since the 2010 season by scoring a touchdown with a pass, a run, a reception, a punt return and a kickoff return. Troy’s Jerrel Jernigan was the last player to accomplish the rare feat. LSU running back Leonard Fournette ended his 2015 season on a high note as well with a big showing in LSU’s bowl victory over Texas Tech. McCaffrey and Fournette will be the top two Heisman Trophy candidates in the running over the summer months and as the preseason plays out leading up to the start of the 2016 season. Next year, McCaffrey will no longer be in hiding out west, and nobody will be late to picking up who he is. McCaffrey was not as hidden in the west coast late kickoffs as many believe he was, but he did not have his biggest games when most people were watching (Notre Dame, for example).

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.