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Another unbeaten playoff contender falls as No. 20 USC upsets No. 4 Washington

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Sitting at 1-3 at the end of September, panic appeared to set in at USC after such a brutal start to the year.

Now? Not so much.

Head coach Clay Helton and quarterback Sam Darnold have turned the Trojans’ season around and confirmed they’re the hottest team in the country by pulling off another huge upset on Saturday and upending No. 4 Washington 26-13 in Seattle.

Darnold was protected most of the night by his big offensive line and used his legs to run around when he was forced out of the pocket. The redshirt freshman threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns (he also tossed two picks) in the hostile environment to lead USC to their sixth consecutive victory.

Ronald Jones chipped in with 93 yards rushing and a score in a game where yards on the ground were hard to come by for either offense.

Washington’s offense had one of their worst games of the season after assuming their spot in the top four earlier this week. Jake Browning threw two surprising interceptions to star corner Adoree’ Jackson and was relatively ineffective most of the night. The Huskies quarterback finished just 17-of-36 for 259 yards and a touchdown while also getting sacked three times. Tailback Myles Gaskin wasn’t helping bail him out either with the Pac-12’s leading rusher finishing with just 51 yards.

The loss doesn’t completely knock Washington out of the running for a spot in the College Football Playoff as they remain in line to win the Pac-12 North. Fellow top 10 teams Clemson and Auburn both lost earlier in the day to further complicate the postseason picture but the Huskies would get strong consideration for a final four spot if they win out and capture the conference crown.

As for the Trojans, they should see a further bump when the polls come out this week. They’ve been one of the most impressive teams in the country since the beginning of October and remain alive in the Pac-12 South race as well.

Boise State DB DeAndre Pierce opts to enter transfer portal

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The playing career of one injury-plagued Boise State football player has come to an end.  At least, in Idaho it has.

According to 247Sports.com, DeAndre Pierce has made the decision to move on from the Boise State football program.  A BSU football official subsequently confirmed overnight that the defensive back’s name is listed in the NCAA transfer database.

No specific reason for the parting of ways was given.

If Pierce follows through and transfers away from Boise State football, he would do so as a graduate transfer.  That would allow him to play at another FBS school immediately in 2020.  If that’s the tack he chooses, of course.

Pierce was a three-star member of the Broncos’ Class of 2016.  The California native took a redshirt as a true freshman.  In 2017, Pierce started 11 of the 14 games in which he played.  He earned honorable mention All-Mountain West Conference honors for that season.

Then, the injuries hit.

The safety started four of the first five games in 2018 before a lacerated spleen sidelined him for the rest of the season.  In 2019, Pierce started five games… but missed the other nine because of various injuries.

When healthy, Pierce was credited with 144 tackles, seven tackles for loss, six passed defensed, one sack and one interception.

Even with legal case (mostly) settled, WR Joshua Moore’s status at Texas won’t be determined until closer to start of 2020 season

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Even as the off-field aspect was cleared up for one member of the Texas Longhorns football program, there’s still no clarity as it relates to him getting back onto the field.  And likely won’t be clarified for a few months.

In August, Joshua Moore was arrested on a charge of unlawful carrying of a weapon. Thursday, the wide receiver pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor weapons charge. Moore avoided jail time with the plea, with the Austin American-Statesman writing that “[t]he deferred adjudication agreement states [Judge Nancy] Hohengarten will not enter a guilty finding if Moore stays out of further legal trouble over the next year, completes 60 hours of community service and fulfills any counseling conditions the probation department recommends.”

Because of the off-field situation, Moore was not permitted to play in games for Texas Longhorns football last season. He was, though, allowed to practice with the rest of his UT teammates.

A Texas Longhorns football official stated after the player’s plea that a decision on whether Moore will be permitted to play in games in 2020 won’t be determined until closer to the season kicking off.

A four-star 2018 signee, Moore played in the first six games as a true freshman before going down with a season-ending shoulder injury. In that half-season of work, the 6-1, 180-pound receiver totaled 53 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions.

If he’s cleared to play in games — the odds are very much in his favor, provided he doesn’t violate the terms of his plea agreement — Moore is expected to take on a bigger role in the Texas Longhorns football passing game in 2020.

New Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell retains four of Mel Tucker’s assistants

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Karl Dorrell‘s first Colorado football coaching staff will have a decidedly Mel Tucker feel to it.

Feb. 12, Tucker left Colorado football to take over as the head coach at Michigan State.  Eleven days later, Dorrell was the surprise hire as Tucker’s replacement.  Dorrell’s first hirings four days his official hiring will actually be retentions as the program announced that four of Tucker’s former assistants will remain as part of the new coaching staff.

Those four are:

  • Darrin Chiaverini (wide receivers coach/assistant head coach under Tucker)
  • Darian Hagan (running backs coach)
  • Brian Michalowski (outside linebackers)
  • Tyson Summers (defensive coordinator/safeties)

According to the release from Colorado football, the holdovers’ “exact responsibilities will be determined once the remaining six assistant positions are filled, which Dorrell hopes to conclude sometime early next week.” It’s believed that Chiaverini will serve as Dorrell’s offensive coordinator, although, obviously, that hasn’t yet been confirmed.

“It’s always important if you can maintain some continuity during a coaching change,” the new Colorado football head coach said in a statement. “I’ve been around enough college and professional teams where doing so offers some stability. I had great conversations with all four and while I haven’t determined their exact roles as of yet, I am excited that we share the same goals and vision for the program. I am excited about all four and am looking forward to working with them.”

Both Chiaverini and Hagans have been a part of the Colorado football program for the past four seasons.  Both Summers and Michalowski were in their first years in Boulder.

Prior to his departure for East Lansing, Tucker had just completed his first season in Boulder, going 5-7.  Since a 10-4 2016 season, the Buffaloes have gone 5-7 each of the past three seasons.  That 2016 season is the program’s only winning record since 2005.

Former NFL linebacker joins Alabama staff as grad assistant

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Another day, another football staff change with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama added former NFL linebacker Max Bullough to the football staff as a graduate assistant.

Bullough was actually on the staff at Cincinnati last season as a graduate assistant. Bullough got his coaching career undwrway with the Bearcats in 2019 a year after his last dip in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns. Bullough originally signed wiht the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2014.

Bullough did not play for Nick Saban in college, although the former Michigan State Spartans did play for a former Saban assistant, Mark Dantonio. With the Spartans, Bullough was  part of two Big Ten championship runs in 2010 and 2013. In the 2010 season, Bullough and Michigan State lost to Saban’s Alabama in the Capital One Bowl, 49-7. In 2013, Bullough and Michigan State upset No. 2 Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game, 34-24, to hand former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer his first loss with the Buckeyes. The win sent Michigan State to the Rose Bowl, where they were victorious over Stanford.

Alabama recently lost long-time strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran to an on-field coaching role at Georgia. The Tide also lost soecial teams coordinator Joe Houston to the New England Patriots. Alabama did add former Louisville, Texas, and USF head coach Charlie Strong as a defensive analyst. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian ended up sticking around and offensive analyst Butch Jones has been promoted to special assistant to the head coach.