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Cal plays tough, but No. 5 USC pulls away late to stay undefeated

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USC’s annual trip to the Bay Area for what is commonly referred to as ‘The Weekender’ is typically a casual affair for the Trojans when they go to Berkeley and their team takes on overmatched Pac-12 rivals Cal. Such was not the case for most of Saturday afternoon however, as the Bears pushed and prodded their in-state rivals before the dam finally broke early in the fourth quarter for a 30-20 win by the cardinal and gold.

The closer-than-it-indicated final score may not have been all that pretty but still allowed USC to capture their 14th straight victory and run their record against Cal to 13 straight wins over nearly a decade and a half.

Part of the reason the Trojans couldn’t pull away until late was an ineffective offense that was a continuation of last week against Texas. Quarterback Sam Darnold had to carry the team at times but wasn’t quite as sharp early in the passing game, forcing several balls while throwing his seventh interception (after having just nine all last year). His numbers improved as the game went on and, in front of a bunch of NFL scouts, he still finished with 223 yards and two touchdown passes against a feisty defense.

The biggest issue for the signal-caller was the lack of a running game. Normal starter Ronald Jones II didn’t even make the trip with the team, while true freshman Stephen Carr had his moments rushing for 82 yards and a touchdown taking the bulk of the carries.

Head coach Clay Helton can once again thank his defense for bailing out the slow starting offense as they forced six turnovers and straight up took over in the final quarter to change momentum. Josh Fatu forced a fumble early in the 4th that was recovered near the goal line to kick the party off and interceptions by Ykili Ross and Jack Jones in the next few series all but sealed the deal in Strawberry Canyon.

As a result, the numbers for Cal signal-caller Ross Bowers looked dreadful on the final stat sheet (303 yards, 1 TD, four interceptions and a fumble). Still, he did help give the team a chance for most of the day and, combined with a solid run game and defensive performance, helped show that things are still looking up for Justin Wilcox’s team despite suffering their first loss of the year to move to 3-1.

That might not be the case for USC as they fly back and look over the game tape from a sloppy victory. While it does put the team up 2-0 in league play, notching another win might prove to be even more difficult if they play like that given they face a stiff test next Friday against a Washington State team that should be ranked in the top 20.

USF nets former SWAC Offensive Player of the Year QB as grad transfer

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USF apparently wanted to make sure Tom Brady isn’t the only signal-caller added to the ranks in Tampa this year.

According to 247Sports, the Bulls landed an intriguing name in Alcorn State graduate transfer QB Noah Johnson on Thursday. The move reunites the 2018 SWAC Offensive Player of the Year with assistant coach Pat White, who used to serve as the quarterbacks coach at the FCS program prior to joining Jeff Scott’s staff at South Florida.

Johnson was apparently granted an extra year of eligibility in order to make the transfer as he was knocked out of his senior year with an injury.

The addition of the former FCS star — he passed for over 2,200 yards and rushed for more than 1,000 in 2018 — makes for an interesting set of names behind center for Scott’s first season whenever college football does resume. Junior Jordan McCloud figures to be the incumbent after starting 10 games last year but, with a new staff, everybody’s job is open. A pair of freshman recruits are slated to arrive in the fall while ex-North Carolina QB Cade Fortin also transferred as the team remakes their 2020 roster even without spring practice or recruiting.

USF is scheduled to open the 2020 campaign at Texas on Sept. 5 but that’s a date that obviously could be in flux due to the coronavirus pandemic. While there’s hope things will go off as originally set, whoever winds up taking the first snaps for the Bulls will be fascinating to watch in the debut of the former Clemson assistant’s new team.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history

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The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on April 2, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Illinois becomes sixth B1G school to allow in-game beer sales
THE SYNOPSIS: Indiana subsequently joined Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue and Rutgers in Big Ten schools permitting alcohol sales at football games.  That’s exactly half of the conference.

2018

THE HEADLINE: LeBron James’ company challenges Alabama football over barbershop videos
THE SYNOPSIS: How I long for the days of inane offseason brouhahas.  Never thought I would miss things like this.  Until now.

2017

THE HEADLINE: New Tennessee AD John Currie says Butch Jones ‘on the right trajectory’
THE SYNOPSIS: Seven months, 10 days after that public vote of confidence, Currie canned Jones.  The head coach finished with a 34-27 record on Rocky Top.  What doomed him, though, was a 14-24 record in SEC play.  At the time of his dismissal, the Vols were 0-6 in the conference.

2015

THE HEADLINE: Cardale Jones comes full circle on playing school, and so should everyone else
THE SYNOPSIS: In October of 2012, the Ohio State quarterback famously tweeted, “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL? we ain’t come here to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.” Three years later, Jones tweeted, “still can’t believe I tweeted something as stupid as this but hey, we live and we learn.” In May of 2017, Jones received his degree from OSU.

2014

THE HEADLINE: FSU’s Nick O’Leary again involved in motorcycle accident
THE SYNOPSIS: The talented Florida State tight end suffered minor injuries in what was his second motorcycle accident in nine months.  O’Leary totaled 1,591 yards and 17 touchdowns on 114 receptions during his time with the Seminoles.  And, I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but his grandfather is golf legend Jack Nicklaus.

2012

THE HEADLINE: Updated: Petrino reportedly not wearing helmet at time of accident
THE SYNOPSIS: The only reason I’m using this?  It affords me to use the greatest.  Photo.  Ever. This was also before the fit hit the shan for Bobby Petrino in Fayetteville.

2010

THE HEADLINE: Irish recruit James dies in spring break accident
THE SYNOPSIS: Offensive lineman Matt James, who signed with Notre dame two months earlier, died after falling from a hotel balcony.  He chose the Golden Domers over his hometown Ohio State.

2009

THE HEADLINE: PISSY PETE SAYS BLASTING SANCHEZ WAS JUST A TEST
THE SYNOPSIS: Ah yes.  The good ol’ days.  When we could refer to then-USC head coach Pete Carroll as “Pissy Pete” for his treatment of Mark Sanchez, who had the audacity to leave the Trojans early for the NFL.

(*Yes, back in the day, we used to scream out our headlines at our readers in all-caps. The move to NBC a couple of months later mercifully ended that practice.)

Rutgers inching closer to Top 10 2021 recruiting class

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Rutgers, of all schools, is killing it on the football recruiting trail. Still.

When last we left Greg Schiano‘s Rutgers football crew, the Scarlet Knights held the No. 12 class in the 2021 team rankings. That upward move was launched by five commitments in a span of roughly a week. The highlight of the recruiting splurge was four-star linebacker Khayri Banton committing to the Big Ten school.

Tuesday, three-star wide receiver Max Patterson committed to Rutgers football as well.

With the flurry of commitments, Rutgers now holds the No. 11 2021 class in the country. Rutgers football.  Nearly a Top 10 school in recruiting.

That ranking, incidentally, puts them ahead of the likes of Georgia (No. 15), LSU (No. 16), Michigan (No. 17), Oklahoma (No. 19), Florida State (No. 24) and Auburn (No. 25), among others.

That No. 11 ranking also leaves Rutgers with the fifth-ranked football recruiting class In the Big Ten. The other four are No. 1 Ohio State, No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 9 Maryland and No. 10 Iowa.

The Scarlet Knights have never had a Top 10 recruiting class. Ever.  Or a Top 20 class, for that matter. For some perspective, the top-ranked Rutgers football recruiting class of the past two decades was No. 23 in 2012. The cycle immediately after Schiano left the school for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it should be noted.

Outside of that, the recruiting finishes have been decidedly pedestrian for the Scarlet Knights. Since the start of the 21st century, 18 of the Scarlet Knights’ 21 classes have finished outside of the Top 30. Of those 18, 15 finished 42nd or worse; 10 came in outside of the Top 50.

Seven of the current members of Rutgers’ Class of 2021 hail from the state of New Jersey. The other three come from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

If Rutgers is to continue making hay on the football recruiting trail, they’ll do so in an extended dead period. Wednesday, the NCAA announced that the ban on all in-person contact between schools and prospects has been extended out through May 31. That extension, of course, is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ed Orgeron, wife Kelly divorcing after 23 years of marriage

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Coming off a high on it, Ed Orgeron is hitting a low off the field.

According to multiple media outlets in the area, Ed Orgeron filed a petition for divorce from his wife of 23 years, Kelly Orgeron.  The petition was filed by Ed Orgeron Feb. 26, two days after the LSU head coach stated in the petition that the couple had separated.

The separation came five days after the couple’s 23rd anniversary.  It also came a little over two months after LSU claimed its first national championship since 2007.

From the Baton Rouge Advocate:

Orgeron states he is entitled to have the exclusive use and occupancy of the former matrimonial domicile in Baton Rouge, and he has no objection to Kelly Orgeron being granted exclusive use and occupancy of a home in Mandeville, “until such time as the community property is settled either by conventional agreement or judicial partition.”

Orgeron and his wife have twin sons, Parker and Cody.   Those two were born a year after the couple was married.  Tyler Spotts-Orgeron, a son from Kelly’s previous marriage, was an offensive analyst for Orgeron this past season.

Two weeks after LSU beat Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship game, Ed Orgeron agreed to a six-year, $42 million contract extension.  The new deal netted the coach a $3 million raise.