Friday the 13th met #Pac12AfterDark and… you absolutely expected things to get freaky. Shovel passes getting picked off. Touchdowns with :00’s on the scoreboard. One yard punts. Protesters with stuffed pigs. Eight minute field goal drives. Triple-tipped interceptions.
Yes, there was a little bit of everything on a freaky Friday night in Berkeley as No. 8 Washington State became the second top 10 team in as many games to get upset, falling 37-3 to a Cal team that punched far above their weight but looked like the better side for four quarters.
The outcome doubled as head coach Justin Wilcox’s first conference win and a signature victory to hang his hat on as just the second ever upset of a top 10 team in school history. The Bears paved the way with his trademark defense and looked nothing like the squad that was ranked in the 100’s in most defensive categories last year. Cal was feisty from the opening kickoff, recording nine sacks, seven turnovers and a trio of three-and-outs all told.
Taking the brunt of that effort was quarterback Luke Falk. The Cougars’ prolific signal-caller had a hand in his face all night long in an offense that never seemed to click and he put up only 291 yards, with no touchdowns and five — yes five — interceptions. While his receivers made a few catch and runs, there was never much in the way of sustained drives outside of a lone eight minute field goal effort that resulted in the only points of the game for Wazzu.
Counterpart Ross Bowers looked like he was the one setting a host of Pac-12 career records instead, as the sophomore threw for 259 yards and a touchdown while coming up with a key play whenever it was needed. That included a memorable play-action toss to the end zone just as time expired in the first half and this incredible scramble-and-flip across the goal line that might be one of the plays of the year:
Though he didn’t stick the landing, Bowers did do so in pulling off a similar move back in high school and has plenty of experience considering his mother is a former Washington gymnastics coach. His buddy in the backfield, tailback Vic Enwere, also chipped in with 102 yards rushing and a score as well.
The blowout loss ends a hot 6-0 start for Mike Leach’s side and comes as part of a rough second half of the season that sees them hit the road in five of their final seven. Despite the setback inside the conference, the Cougars do still control their own destiny inside the Pac-12 North but likely saw those whispers of being a dark horse College Football Playoff contender go away.
But those are thoughts for another time as the Bears lifted plenty of spirits in the Bay Area with a historic win in Strawberry Canyon on a night where strange doesn’t even begin to describe things.
Baylor linebacker DeMarco Artis and wide receiver Rajah Preciado have left the team, according to a report from SicEm365. The site reports that the pair leave the program on good terms; both players are still on the online roster as well as the paper roster that was distributed at Big 12 media days on Monday.
Artis was a rising sophomore from Sanford, Fla. He appeared in six games as a true freshman in 2017, recording one tackle and one hurry.
Preciado was a junior from College Station, Texas. Appearing in 18 games over his freshman and sophomore seasons, Preciado did not record a catch but posted 14 career tackles and returned one kickoff for 10 yards.
Former Ohio State defensive end Mike Kudla passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, according to a Facebook post from his high school alma mater, Highland High School in Medina, Ohio. Kudla was 34.
Kudla signed with Ohio State in 2002 and immediately helped the Buckeyes to their first national championship since 1968. He would go on to become one of the top 15 sack artists in Ohio State history, a First Team All-Big Ten performer and Ohio State’s defensive MVP in 2005. He recorded 41 tackles, 11.5 TFLs and 9.5 sacks.
Kudla worked in business after football and eventually returned to Ohio State in 2012 as managing director of development for the Fisher College of Business. At the time of his death, Kudla worked as the owner of Core Plex, which “built medical facilities all over the country.”
“Despite his success on and off the football field, Mike remained humble and was extremely generous with his time and resources,” Highland school district director of communications Dawn Marzano wrote in the Facebook post. “He was always willing to share his experience and mentor youth. He was loved and respected by many and will be missed terribly.”
It’s a standard procedure for a head coach to suggest there is an open competition for any number of positions on a football team, but nobody seems to be buying the idea there is a competition at Oklahoma to replace Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. And when one of the players supposedly in the running for the job has a lucrative baseball career on the table, the idea is a little more comical.
Kyler Murray was drafted by the Oakland A’s with the No. 9 overall pick in the recent amateur MLB amateur draft. His contract with the A’s guarantees him $5 million and still allows for him to play one more year of football, which Murray has stated is his plan at Oklahoma. Still, Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley addressed the quarterback situation at Big 12 media days on Monday and suggested Murray will have to win the job against redshirt sophomore Austin Kendall.
“Kyler’s not the quarterback yet,” Riley said when asked how the offense will change with Riley at the position following the departure of No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Mayfield to Cleveland. “There’s a really good competition going on and Kyler’s gonna have to fight like crazy to win this job.”
Sure. OK. Whatever you say, Riley.
It is worth noting Murray appeared in seven games for the Sooners last season with 18-of-21 for 359 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in backup duty for Mayfield. Kendall redshirted last season and was named one of the team’s Offensive Scout Team Players of the Year. Kendall did make appearances in two games in 2016 in a back-up role. While Kendall may have a bright future in Norman, few are willing to accept Oklahoma is welcoming back Murray to potentially be a back-up quarterback when he could jump right into his pro baseball career right now.
But this could just be nothing more than the latest example of a coach simply setting the tone for the offseason and holding the bar high for even the most talented of players on the roster. Riley may be blowing smoke, but it could also pay off in the long run of the 2018 season.
Tennessee defensive lineman Ryan Thaxton has been suspended by the football program after being arrested and charged for an alleged domestic assault of his girlfriend. The incident leading to the arrest and charge occurred over the weekend.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Thaxton was arrested Sunday night and charged with domestic assault and false imprisonment. According to police records, Thaxton is accused of pushing his girlfriend to his dorm room while she refused to follow him. It is reported Thaxton than carried the unidentified woman to his dorm room and blocked the door so she could not leave as an argument continued inside the room.
“We are aware of the incident,” a statement from Tennessee read. “The student-athlete has been suspended from all team activities while law enforcement and the university investigates.”
Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt is scheduled to address the media at SEC Media Days on Wednesday.