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No. 5 USC opens flat against Cal and it’s all tied up in Berkeley at halftime

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Imagine telling somebody before the season that No. 5 USC would dominate Stanford in the trenches during a blowout, but struggle against the other Bay Area team in a nail-bitter. Up is down, down is up in the Pac-12 apparently.

The Trojans came out flat to start their annual weekend trip to the Bay Area and needed a few defensive stands to keep the score locked at 13-all on a warm California day between the two in-state rivals.

Quarterback Sam Darnold (157 yards, one touchdown) did his Heisman campaign no favors, tossing his seventh interception of the season (after just nine in all of 2016). Things could have been worse for the signal-caller and his inexperienced receiving corps too as the Golden Bears nearly grabbed two others. Part of the issue could be that his terrific tailback Ronald Jones II failed to make the trip up for the game with an injury and true freshman Stephen Carr (36 yards) was forced to carry much of the load.

Cal’s offense had its own moments but was just 2-of-8 on third down conversions to help stall some early momentum. QB Ross Bowers threw for 124 yards but it was big running back Vic Enwere who was the star of the show with 42 yards on the ground and a touchdown he punched in on 4th and goal. The real story for the home team was the continued play of their defense however, pressuring Darnold on a number of snaps, forcing two turnovers and covering exceptionally well downfield to limit big plays.

The performance through two quarters will lead many to question whether USC really should be ranked in the top five and considered the Pac-12 favorite but the cardinal and gold could turn things around with a trip to the locker room and some adjustments. Still, it’s hard not to be impressed with Justin Wilcox’s squad giving everything they can to another big name opponent in Berkeley this month.

Mizzou’s Tre Williams still facing felony domestic violence charge

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Over the weekend, Missouri’s Tre Williams was arrested at his off-campus apartment for suspicion of second-degree domestic assault following an incident involving a woman with whom he was having “an intimate relationship.”  Tuesday, the assistant prosecuting attorney of Boone County (MO), Susan Boresi, told multiple media outlets that the charge, a Class D felony, would not be filed against the defensive lineman.

“Additional information came forward that made it impossible to prosecute the case,” Boresi was quoted as saying.

Wednesday night, however, Boresi’s boss, Boone County prosecuting attorney Dan Knight, confirmed in a statement that Williams is still facing a felony domestic violence charge.

“The case involving Tre Williams has not been dismissed,” Knight said. “Because this is a pending case, no further comment will be made by this office at this time. Please refer to (Case.Net) for any updates. A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch offered up the details of the events leading up to Williams’ arrest:

Williams, 21, was arrested after a verbal argument turned physical early Sunday morning, Columbia Police Department spokesman Jeff Pitts said. Around 1:45 a.m., officers responded to a report of a physical altercation along South Providence Road. The alleged victim, described as an ex-girlfriend by Williams’ mother, Teresa Crews, told police there was a verbal argument with Williams while the victim was driving. Williams became physically aggressive with her in the vehicle, Pitts said. Officers observed physical evidence that supported the claim that the victim gave.

According to the police’s probable cause statement… Williams grabbed the woman’s steering wheel while she was driving to get her to pull over. He also hit her with his forearm and elbow and slapped her on the chest, according to the statement. The woman threw Williams’ phone out the window and when Williams later exited the car, he reached into the driver’s open window and choked the woman with both hands. She then rolled up the window and drove off.

Because Williams was arrested on a felony charge, he was automatically suspended by the football program.

A redshirt sophomore, Williams began the 2018 season as a starting defensive end for the Tigers before losing the job over the last half of the year. Williams’ 2½ sacks are still good for third on the team.

Four-star 2015 lineman Richie Petitbon to transfer from Alabama

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Regardless of the number of stars attached to a name or the recruiting pedigree, sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to.

Case in point: Richie Petitbon.  The touted offensive lineman came to Alabama as a four-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2015 recruiting class.  Three years later, al.com is reporting, and 247Sports.com is confirming, that the offensive lineman has decided to transfer from Nick Saban‘s football program.

Petitbon is on schedule to graduate from UA this coming May.  If that projected course holds, Petitbon would be able to use his final season of eligibility at another FBS school in 2019.

Coming out of high school in Washington D.C., Petitbon was rated as the No. 5 guard in the country and the No. 62 player overall on 247Sports.com’s composite board.  Only one offensive lineman, fellow guard Lester Cotton, was rated higher than Petitbon in a Tide recruiting class that was the top-ranked class in that cycle.

Injuries cost Petitbon early as, after redshirting his true freshman season, he suffered a torn ACL that kept him out of all but one game in 2016.  He played in three games the following season and then six this year.  His appearances in 2017 came at guard, the ones in 2018 at offensive tackle.

Marquise Brown’s status for Oklahoma-Alabama? ‘Not a definite no, not a definite yes’

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If Oklahoma is to knock off top-ranked and heavily favored Alabama, they’ll need all healthy hands on deck.  Whether that will be the case on the offensive side of the ball remains to be seen.

Marquise Brown went down with an unspecified injury to his lower left leg in the Big 12 championship game win over Texas that pushed OU into the College Football Playoff semifinals. The fourth-quarter injury sidelined Brown for the remainder of the game and saw him leaving the stadium wearing a walking boot.

With a date against the Crimson Tide in the Orange Bowl looming in just over two weeks, the wide receiver’s availability for the Sooners is officially up in the air.

“Still too early,” head coach Lincoln Riley said Wednesday when asked about Brown’s status for the game. “Working through it. It’s not a definite no, not a definite yes. We’re hopeful, but he hasn’t done much to this point.”

Brown currently leads the Sooners in receptions (75) and receiving yards (1,318).  His 10 receiving touchdowns are tied for the team lead.

It’s widely assumed by most that Brown will leave his remaining eligibility on the table and make himself available for the 2019 NFL Draft whenever the Sooners’ season ends.

Despite retiring, K-State giving Bill Snyder his $3 million ‘buyout’

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This is, well, interesting.

In August of this year, Bill Snyder and Kansas State reached agreement on a contract extension that would’ve kept the 78-year-old head coach in Manhattan through the 2022 season.  That new deal called for Snyder to be paid $3 million in the form of a buyout should he be fired without cause.

Fast-forward four months and, for the second time, Snyder announced his retirement from the Wildcats earlier in December.  Wednesday night, K-State athletic director Gene Taylor confirmed to the Wichita Eagle‘s Kellis Robinett that the university will pay Snyder the entire $3 million even as the coach was not contractually obligated to receive it as he retired and wasn’t fired.

The $3 million, to which Snyder agreed to accept, will be paid out over the course of the next three years.

“The buyout is just something I wanted to do,” Taylor told Robinett. “I think he deserved it for everything he has done. …

“[H]e deserves every penny for what he has done for this program. I am happy to do it.”

Taylor is certainly correct when it comes to all that Snyder has done for the football program.

Of K-State’s 21 bowl appearances in its 123-year history, 19 have come with Snyder as head coach. In the 27 seasons in which Snyder served as head coach, the Wildcats won 215 games; in the other 96 seasons, the Wildcats have won 316. Or, put another way:

  • Winning percentage with Snyder: .647
  • Winning percentage without Snyder: .379

In addition to the $3 million buyout that Taylor said “really isn’t a buyout,” Snyder will also be paid, as detailed in the August contract extension, $225,000 annually as a special ambassador to the university.

“We don’t know yet exactly what his ambassador role to the university will be,” Taylor said. “It is probably going to be a little bit in athletics and a lot in his leadership studies and then anything else from a donor perspective.”