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No. 10 USC fights off No. 12 Stanford to capture first Pac-12 title since 2008

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If this is how championship week is going to start, we could be in for a doozy of a finish on Saturday to close out 2017.

No. 10 USC used a fourth quarter goal line stand and a few key plays from their star quarterback to hold off a pesky No. 12 Stanford squad for the second time this year and capture the conference title 31-28 in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game on Friday night.

The Trojans looked as though they were going to give away another game in the second half but showed why they were a near consensus pick in the preseason to win the league by showing a bit of championship level grit when it mattered most. On their heels following a shanked punt midway through the fourth quarter, the USC defense came up big with a fourth and goal stop from the one yard line when speedy linebacker Uchenna Nwosu tackled Cardinal back Cameron Scarlett just inches outside the goal line to prevent the go-ahead score from the North Division representatives.

That crucial stop then turned into a massive 14 point swing as golden boy Sam Darnold game up big on the ensuing possession, leading a 99-yard touchdown drive that all but locked up the title. The quarterback may not have had the 2017 many predicted he would have after that historic run last year (and the thrilling Rose Bowl victory back in January) but his 325 yards and two touchdowns were the result of one of his best games all year. Most of that yardage and a huge number of the big plays USC had at Levi’s Stadium came courtesy of the signal-caller hooking up with wideout Michael Pittman (146 yards, one touchdown) who was running free in the secondary on nearly every other play.

Not to be left out, Ronald Jones proved why he is one of the best running backs in the country and likely to return to the stadium on Sunday’s by rushing for 132 yards and a pair of scores against one of the Pac-12’s best defensive units.

That all helped spoil the previously perfect 3-0 record that the Cardinal had in the Pac-12 Championship Game coming into the night. Running back Bryce Love ran for 125 yards and a touchdown but was clearly still bothered by his banged up ankle injury, limping off late in the game and simply not having that extra gear we’re used to seeing. Even so, the likely Heisman finalist still put up another 52 yard run and really helped the offense get going starting in the second quarter.

With Love hobbled, QB K.J. Costello stepped up with his arm and finished with 192 yards and a pair of incredible on-the-money touchdown throws to Kaden Smith.

It wasn’t enough in the end however as the Trojans finished the season as many expected them to: as Pac-12 champions. That marked the first time the powerhouse team had won the league since 2008, when the trophy said Pac-10 on it and Pete Carroll was the head coach doing the heavy lifting on the sideline.

Whether all that will ultimately be enough for USC to sneak into the College Football Playoff with a historic move into the top four on Sunday remains to be seen but, on Friday night at least, all the postseason talk didn’t mean much for a program that has been through a lot and can once again lay claim to being the best in the West.

Kansas settles David Beaty lawsuit for $2.55 million when they could’ve just paid his $3 million buyout two years ago

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Our long national nightmare when it comes to a former Kansas football coach is over.  Or something like that.

In early November of 2018, Kansas announced that David Beaty would be fired as head football coach upon the conclusion of that regular season.  At the time, athletic director Jeff Long stated that the university would honor the terms of Beaty’s contract, which included a $3 million buyout payable over a six-month period.  That never actually happened.  And led to a contentious lawsuit.  One that involved the school needing to euphemistically find “a dead hooker” in Beaty’s past.  Because of minor NCAA violations.

Friday, the university announced that it has reached a settlement with Beaty.  For $2.55 million.  Which means, after nearly two years worth of lawyers fees and such are factored in, the university likely ended up… costing itself money they could’ve saved if they had just paid Beaty the money he was contractually owed in the first place.

Kudos, KU.  Below is the university’s attempt at a face-saving statement:

Today, Kansas athletics entered into a $2.55 million financial settlement with former head football coach David Beaty, ending all litigation and disputes. Despite the settlement, the University maintains that the facts and principles behind its position remain intact.  For the betterment of KU, and driven by a willingness to move forward during a time of uncertainty in college athletics, the University has now put this matter behind us.  All funds to be paid as part of the settlement will come from the original amount placed in escrow during the 2018-2019 fiscal year following Beaty’s separation from KU.

In four seasons as the Jayhawks head coach, Beaty went 6-42 overall and 2-34 in Big 12 play.  In mid-November of 2018, Kansas confirmed that former LSU head coach Les Miles would be taking over for Beaty.

Former North Carolina standout Tommy Davis killed in motorcycle accident

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A North Carolina football program running on an offseason high is now mourning the loss of one of its own.

According to multiple media outlets, Tommy Smith died Thursday from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.  Details surrounding the accident are not known.

The Goldsboro, North Carolina, native was 37 years old.

From 2002-05, Smith was a standout defensive lineman for the Tar Heels.  In a statement, the North Carolina football program addressed his passing.

We are shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic death of one of our Tar Heel brothers, Tommy Davis. The Carolina Football Family extends its deepest condolences to Tommy’s family and friends.

His first two seasons in Chapel Hill, Smith was a part-time starter.  In his last two seasons, Smith started every game for the ACC school.  Smith combined for 18 tackles for loss and 11½ sacks his junior and senior seasons.

The 6-2, 257 Smith went undrafted in 2016.  Over the next three years, he spent time on practice squads with New Orleans Saints, New York Giants and Washington.

In 2011, he returned to North Carolina as a graduate assistant.  He spent the 2012 season in that capacity as well.  In 2013, Smith served as the defensive line coach at Saint Joseph’s, a Div. II program in Indiana.

Iowa confirms addition of Northern Illinois grad transfer Jack Heflin

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Iowa has officially added a talented and experienced Group of Five player to its roster.

In May, Jack Heflin was one of three Northern Illinois starters to enter the NCAA transfer database the same day.  A little over a week later, the defensive tackle announced on Twitter that he’s headed to Iowa football.

Friday, Iowa football confirmed Heflin’s addition to the Hawkeyes as the lineman signed with the program.  As a graduate transfer, Heflin is eligible to play immediately for the Big Ten school.  The upcoming season, though, will serve as his final year of eligibility.

Based on his resume, Heflin should contribute immediately to the Hawkeyes.

Heflin was a two-star member of the 2016 recruiting class for the Huskies.  NIU was his only FBS offer coming out of high school in Indiana.

In leading NIU in tackles for loss with 8½, sacks with three and forced fumbles with three, Heflin started all 11 games in which he played in 2019. MAC coaches named him second-team all-conference this past season.  He was also third-team All-MAC the previous season.  All told, Heflin started 28 of the 38 games in which he played.

In those appearances, Heflin was credited with 72 tackles, 17½ tackles for loss, nine sacks, three forced fumbles and one blocked kick.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, including USC officially being stripped of its 2004 BCS championship

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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 that stretch back to 2009 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 June 6, 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 college football hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Three West Virginia safeties now in transfer portal
THE SYNOPSIS: And two of those were starters.  Even for the portal, this is a bit of overkill.

2017

THE HEADLINE: USC QB Sam Darnold remains prohibitive Heisman favorite according to latest odds
THE SYNOPSIS: This is exactly why, while fun, preseason Heisman odds are utterly useless.  In 2017, Darnold didn’t even finish in the Top 10 in the voting.  The voting, incidentally, that earned Baker Mayfield the stiff-armed trophy that year.

2015

THE HEADLINE: Jeff Gordon to drive Penn State car at Pocono
THE SYNOPSIS: This post had a surprisingly healthy number of comments.  For whatever reason.

2014

THE HEADLINE: Incoming Tar Heel charged for stealing $53,000 in watches and jewelry
THE SYNOPSIS: Just gotta get this off my chest.  It’s charged “with.” Not charged “for.” You’re arrested “for.” And as “for” the player?  Tight end Avery Edwards ended up catching 19 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns.  At Maryland.

2012

THE HEADLINE: Bobby Bowden would serve on playoff selection committee
THE SYNOPSIS: The former Florida State head coach and College Football Hall of Famer never did serve.  Because he wasn’t asked.  Dadgummit, though, they should’ve asked the coaching legend.

2011

THE HEADLINE: USC stripped of ’04 BcS title
THE SYNOPSIS: This headline won’t pick any Trojan Nation scabs, will it?