Getty Images

Washington escapes with a win against Utah to remain undefeated and keep playoff hopes alive

4 Comments

If you want to go undefeated, chances are you need a few breaks along the way.

Washington needed one in a bad way in Salt Lake City and got one from Dante Pettis on a 58-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to escape with a 31-24 win over Utah on Saturday afternoon.

The two teams had gone back-and-forth over four quarters in a great battle between two of the best in their respective Pac-12 divisions. Washington had jumped out to an early lead and appeared poised to take control of the game but Utah responded in the third quarter with an interception that led to a touchdown and a late field goal just before halftime to cut it to a four point game. Eventually they took the lead as a result of a 17 point run.

Huskies quarterback Jake Browning would not be denied however, leading back-to-back scoring drives in the third quarter to re-take the lead. The Heisman candidate wasn’t the sharpest he’s been all season — throwing an interception for the first UW turnover in over a month — but did toss two touchdowns and converted several times on third down thanks to his ability to escape the pocket and make a clutch play.

Tailback Myles Gaskin also found it tough to get going against a stingy Utah defense but wound up with 151 yards and a score to extend his lead in the Pac-12 rushing standings. Counterpart Joe Williams looked much better on the ground and chipped in 172 yards and a score thanks to some tough running for the home team.

Utes signal-caller Troy Williams couldn’t quite complete the rally against his old school but it wasn’t for lack of trying after a dreadful start. His numbers didn’t wind up looking all that great (14-of-31, 163 yards, two touchdowns) but he was much better in the second half and came up with some big throws down the stretch to even get the team in position to make it a game.

Surprisingly it was the Utah special teams who made the key mistake in the fourth quarter however on a play that ultimately proved to be the deciding score. Pettis took a deep punt, ran backwards a bit to avoid a pair of gunners and hit the edge to race up the sideline for the game-winning touchdown. It was a lucky break for the Huskies but one they had to have in order to win the game.

The victory moves Washington to 8-0 for the first time since 1992 and keeps them atop the Pac-12 North standings. While it was the second time the team has struggled in a Pac-12 road game this season, it does keep their record unblemished ahead of the very first College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday.

While many expected the conference to be left out of the final four this season, thanks in part to Washington surviving their big test at Utah, the Pac-12 will be in prime position to land a team in the playoff as a pretty clear path has opened up for the undefeated Huskies.

Kansas suspends starting corner Corione Harris following felony arrest

Kasnas Jayhawks football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Thanks to one Kansas Jayhawks football player, it’d be time to reset the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.  If it still existed, of course.

According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Corione Harris was arrested Sunday on a pair of felony charges.  The cornerback is facing one count each of delivery of controlled substance except 35 grams or less of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoid and unlawful use of a weapon.

The specifics of what led to the arrest and charges have not yet been released.

As a result of the off-field incident, Kansas Jayhawks football head coach Les Miles confirmed that the program is aware of the charges “and have suspended him indefinitely from all team-related activities.”

This is Harris’ second brush with the law the past three months.  In October, the defensive back was arrested for failure to appear after missing a July court appearance in connection to a March speeding ticket.

A four-star member of the Jayhawks’ 2018 recruiting class, Harris was rated as the No. 27 corner in the country.  He was also the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Louisiana.  The only player rated higher than Harris in KU’s class that year was running back Pooka Williams.  Williams himself has dealt with  serious off-field issues.

The past two seasons, Harris has started 15 games for the Jayhawks.  He started six of the first nine games in 2019 before missing the last three because of a hamstring injury.

LSU confirms six-year, $42 million contract extension for Ed Orgeron

LSU Ed Orgeron
Getty Images
1 Comment

LSU has made certain that Ed Orgeron will be rewarded for the football program’s historic 2019 campaign.

Earlier Friday, it was reported that LSU and Ed Orgeron had reached an agreement on a new deal for the head coach.  A short time ago, the school confirmed that an extended deal with Orgeron is indeed in place.

Per the school, the new six-year agreement includes a base annual salary of $6 million. In addition, Orgeron will receive a $5 million split-dollar life insurance policy payable over the first two years of the agreement. In total, the agreement is worth more than $42 million, before bonuses.

This past season, his third full year at the school, Orgeron earned $4 million in total pay.  That was tied for 28th nationally — Chad Morris, fired by Arkansas, was one of them with whom Orgeron was tied — and tied for eighth in the SEC according to the USA Today coaching salary database.

“Coach O has set a new standard at LSU,” said LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement. “He has proven that he is not only a championship coach, but also a leader of a program committed to doing things the right way. He has represented our institution and our state with great pride, on and off the field of play. He is well-deserving of this new contract, which should make clear our commitment to Coach O and the direction of our football program.”

The new deal between LSU and Ed Orgeron is pending the approval of the school’s board of supervisors.

In three-plus seasons with the Bayou Bengals — he served as interim head coach after Les Miles was fired in September of 2016 — Orgeron has gone 40-9 overall and 23-7 in SEC play.  During the run to an undefeated 2019 campaign, LSU beat seven teams ranked in the Top 10 at the time the game was played.  That’s the first time in the history of college football that’s happened.

Along the way to that perfect 15-0 season, Orgeron collected a handful of honors, including being named the SEC (HERE), Home Depot (HERE), Associated Press, Eddie Robinson (HERE) and Walter Camp Coach of the Year (HERE).

“I’m very appreciative of Scott Woodward, the LSU Board of Supervisors and the state of Louisiana,” Orgeron said. “I’m happy to represent LSU and this great state. My family and I are very grateful, and I look forward to working as hard as possible to continue to win championships at LSU.”

Vanderbilt potential landing spot for Clemson transfer QB Chase Brice

Clemson football
Getty Images
1 Comment

A high-profile transfer from the Clemson football team has kicked off in earnest the process of finding a new college football home.

Jan. 16, Chase Brice announced on Twitter that he has decided to transfer out of the Clemson football program.  Almost immediately, speculation turned to USF as a potential landing spot as Jeff Scott, the former Clemson football assistant, is now the head coach of the Bulls.  Georgia was also mentioned as a possibility because it’s his home state, although that would seem highly unlikely as UGA is the new home for Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman.

Thursday, however, the quarterback confirmed to SI.com that he has “been talking with Vanderbilt.” Just how far along the discussions are with the SEC school is unclear.

In a conversation with The State earlier this week, Brice stated that there are “about five, six, seven schools that have a great opportunity for me to go in.” The names of that handful of schools weren’t detailed.

The quarterback also delved into what he’s looking for in a new school.

“The right fit for me that fits my abilities and strengths. An offense that is QB friendly. Not really worried about where it’s at at this point. I’m looking everywhere,” Brice told the newspaper. “A good coaching staff. I’ve been around a great coaching staff for three years, and I want to have the opportunity to continue that. Coaches that will put you in the best position to win, love their jobs and love coaching, enjoy coaching quarterbacks. Someone that I can really learn from and take a lot away from the next two years.”

Brice was a three-star 2017 signee for Clemson football, rated as the No. 17 pro-style quarterback in the country. He was also the No. 40 player regardless of position in the state of Georgia.

The past two seasons, Brice went 75-of-124 for 896 yards with nine touchdowns against four interceptions while adding another 179 rushing yards. He memorably saved Clemson’s 2018 national championship run, stepping in for an injured Trevor Lawrence in the game immediately following Kelly Bryant‘s midseason departure, leading the Tigers from a 23-13 fourth-quarter deficit to a 27-23 win over Syracuse.

As he will play for his next school as a graduate transfer, Brice will have two seasons of eligibility to use wherever he lands.

Report: LSU, Ed Orgeron agree to six-year, $42 million contract extension

Ed Orgeron LSU
Getty Images
1 Comment

For Ed Orgeron and LSU, especially the former, it pays to be king.

Earlier this month, Ed Orgeron and LSU capped off the greatest season in school history, punishing Clemson in the College Football Playoff title game to claim the 2019 national championship.  It marked the school’s first national title since 2007.

Along the way to a perfect 15-0 season, Orgeron collected a handful of honors, including being named the SEC (HERE), Home Depot (HERE), Associated Press, Eddie Robinson (HERE) and Walter Camp Coach of the Year (HERE).  Friday, Ed Orgeron has been rewarded in another way by LSU as Bruce Feldman of The Athletic is reporting that the two sides have reached an agreement on a six-year contract extension worth more than $42 million.

An official announcement from the school is expected in short order.

This past season, his third full year at the school, Orgeron earned $4 million in total pay.  That was tied for 28th nationally — Chad Morris, fired by Arkansas, was one of them with whom Orgeron was tied — tied for eighth in the SEC according to the USA Today coaching salary database.

In three-plus seasons with the Bayou Bengals — he served as interim head coach after Les Miles was fired in September of 2016 — Orgeron has gone 40-9 overall and 23-7 in SEC play.  During the run to an undefeated 2019 campaign, LSU beat seven teams ranked in the Top 10 at the time the game was played.  That’s the first time in the history of college football that’s happened.

While still basking in the glow of an unprecedented season, a repeat will be difficult if not impossible.  Assistant Joe Brady, widely credited with turning LSU’s 18th-century offense into a modern-day, record-setting powerhouse, left to become the offensive coordinator for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.  Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, considered one of the best in the sport, is now the head coach at Baylor.  On top of that coaching upheaval, LSU also lost nine players to early entry into the 2020 NFL Draft.  And Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow is out of eligibility as well.