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No. 8 Washington State destroys Arizona for 10th win, sets up Apple Cup for the Pac-12 North

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There’s Pac-12 After Dark and there’s Pac-12 gone dark. Given what No. 8 Washington State did to Arizona on Saturday night, safe to say the latter applied to one of the last games of a snoozy Saturday.

The Cougars scored a touchdown eight times in the first half as they routed the visiting Wildcats 69-28 in chilly conditions on the Palouse, setting up an Apple Cup that will once again be for all the marbles next week and perhaps clinching a trip to New York for the team’s star quarterback.

That would be Gardner Minshew, who should be no worse than third on every Heisman ballot in the country in the next few weeks. In an effortless performance, he threw for 473 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns (five in the first half). Perhaps the mustachioed maestro of the Air Raid’s best accomplishment was just how well he got everybody involved against a defense disinterested in defending, with some 11 different players catching a pass for the Cougs. Wideout Calvin Jackson caught two scores, Tay Martin had 124 yards and a score through the air, tailback Max Borghi was once again stellar out of the backfield with six catches for 65 yards and James Williams recorded 79 total yards.

It was such a dominating effort for Wazzu, that they even accomplished something rarely seen by a Mike Leach-coached team in winning the time of possession battle.

His opposite number in Kevin Sumlin did not enjoy his return to Pullman, where he first got his start in college coaching. The Wildcats were playing behind the eight-ball all night long and added to their misery time after time. They fumbled at the one-yard line for example and even allowed a muffed kick return to be recovered in the end zone for a touchdown the other way. It was one of those ‘it rains, it pours’ nights for the visitors from the desert.

That said, quarterback Khalil Tate did dazzle at times in throwing for 294 yards and four touchdowns (one INT) while rushing for another 25. JJ Taylor chipped in with another 69 on the ground and wideout Shawn Poindexter continued a streak of his last six catches all resulting in scores. If there is one silver lining for UA, it’s that the game doesn’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things as the team can still become bowl eligible next weekend against rival Arizona State and wash away any memories of this trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Wazzu, meanwhile, can turn their attention to what is shaping up to be yet another epic Apple Cup with plenty on the line. Facing off against rival Washington, the winner of that game will clinch the Pac-12 North and a trip to the league title game. The Cougars still have an outside shot of making into the playoff if they can get a little help and run the table along the way.

Those are thoughts for another day though, as Cougars fans no doubt will revel in that thrashing of Arizona just a bit longer.

Star WR Michael Pittman confirms he’ll play in USC’s bowl game

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(Pardon us as we’ve been catching up on a few things due to some very significant technical difficulties.)

USC fans can assuage their anguish somewhat over the retention of Clay Helton with the knowledge that one of their school’s most explosive weapons on offense will be available during the postseason. There, feel better?

After some uncertainty and speculation, Michael Pittman announced on Twitter this week that he will be playing in the Trojans’ bowl game. USC will face Iowa in Holiday Bowl Dec. 27, the first meeting between the football programs since 2002.

Pittman led the Trojans this season in receptions (95), receiving yards (1,222) and receiving touchdowns (11). The catches and yards led the Pac-12, while the scores were second.

The fourth-year senior was named first-team all-conference and is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award.

FAU makes hiring of Willie Taggart as Lane Kiffin’s replacement official

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A week ago, it was reported that Willie Taggartbadly wants a second act” at USF.  While that job ultimately went to a Clemson coordinator, Taggart still ended up landing yet another gig in the Sunshine State.

With rumors swirling throughout the day, Florida Atlantic confirmed Wednesday evening that Taggart has been named as the Owls’ new head football coach.  Taggart replaces Lane Kiffin, who left shortly after FAU won the Conference USA championship game Saturday for the Ole Miss job.

“I’m grateful to Brian White and President Kelly for their belief in me to lead the football program at Florida Atlantic University,” a statement from Taggart began. “I’m looking forward to long-term success here. I think our players and the university deserve that commitment. Family is extremely important to me. I couldn’t do what I do without their love and support and all of us are looking forward to being here in Paradise for the foreseeable future.”

After four years as the head coach at South Florida, Taggart left USF for Oregon — for one season as it turned out as he pulled up stakes from the Pac-12 school for the Florida State job in December of 2017.  Less than two full seasons later, though, Taggart was shown the door by the Seminoles in early November.

Taggart is a native of Bradenton, Fla. and has deep, extensive recruiting ties in the state, which will only aid him in taking over a football program that has won two conference championships the past three years.

Taggart has never won a conference crown during his 10 seasons as a head coach, although he did claim a division title at South Florida in 2016.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Coach Taggart on board to lead our football program,” FAU athletic director Brian White said in his statement. “Coach Taggart is a proven program builder who will develop strong relationships with our student-athletes and develop them as future leaders. His deep relationships around the state of Florida and the nation will be vital in recruiting as well. The traits he brings to the table will allow us to continue building upon our recent success.”

FAU’s Harrison Bryant named Mackey Award winner as nation’s best TE

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In a change of pace, we come to an award that doesn’t involve either Joe Burrow or Chase Young.

The John Mackey Award winner was announced earlier in the day Wednesday, with Florida Atlantic’s Harrison Bryant claiming this year’s honor.  The Mackey is handed out annually to the nation’s top tight end.

Established in 2000, the 2018 winner was Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson.

This past season, Bryant caught 65 passes for 1,0004 yards and seven touchdowns.  Bryant led all FBS tight ends in both catches and receiving yards.

Bryant beat out seven other tight ends for the 2019 Mackey.

  • Hunter Bryant, Washington
  • Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
  • Brevin Jordan, Miami
  • Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
  • Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
  • Colby Parkinson, Stanford
  • Giovanni Ricci, Western Michigan

Ole Miss announces future home-and-home with Oregon State

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With the 2019 regular season put to bed, there is some future scheduling news on which to hit — and some very rare news at that.

Wednesday afternoon, Ole Miss announced that it had reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series with Oregon State.  The Beavers will travel to Oxford Sept. 18, 2027, with the Rebels making the trek to Corvallis on Aug. 31, 2030.

The 2027 game will mark the first-ever between the football programs.

According to Ole Miss, they have played a current member of the Pac-12 just twice, with both of those games coming against Cal.  Those games, incidentally, came in the last three years, including this season.

Oregon State last played a team from the SEC in 1987 when they traveled to Georgia.  A team from that conference has never played in Corvallis.