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QB Justin Herbert sharp as No. 13 Oregon routs Colorado but injuries pile up for the Ducks

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The formula for No. 13 Oregon is a simple one each week: play swarming, lockdown defense and let quarterback Justin Herbert cook in the passing game. When it works to perfection, as it did on Friday night in a 45-3 rout of visiting Colorado, it makes you think that all that talk about the Ducks being the Pac-12’s lone College Football Playoff hope has something to it.

Not everything went Oregon’s way with a host of key players going down along the way but it was still the team’s best overall effort of the season against a Power Five opponent and could carry a lot of weight going into a huge matchup against rival Washington next weekend in Seattle.

In front of a number of NFL general managers and over two dozen scouts, Herbert was sharp in throwing for 261 yards and two touchdowns. His numbers would have been better had there not been a few drops and the score not gotten out of hand early but he once again looked like the first round caliber signal-caller many expected to see this season. His strong start helped loosen the Buffs defense and allowed UO’s offensive line to take over the rest of the game, paving the way for a ground attack that rolled over their opponent as things wore on.

C.J. Verdell played a big role in that as the tailback racked up 171 yards on just 14 carries, looking quite healthy after leaving last week’s game against Cal with a minor injury. Cyrus Habibi-Likio vultured three touchdowns from his fellow tailback while Jaylon Redd scored on the ground and through the air (four catches, 75 yards and the score receiving).

Defensively, the Ducks were as good as they have been all season in posting four turnovers (leading to 21 points the other way) and limiting a pretty good Colorado offense to just 299 yards. There was some concern on the injury front however, as Herbert’s top target in TE Jacob Breeland was injured going out of bounds (later seen on crutches) and safety Jevon Holland (seen with a boot on in the second half) got hit by his own man and exited the field on a cart.

There was actually some good news for the Buffs despite the final score as they got back top receiver Laviska Shenault from injury. His impact was limited to just four catches for 70 yards in limited action though as the passing game was tough to watch at times. QB Steven Montez tossed a career-high four interceptions (on just nine throws over the 2nd and 3rd quarters) and finished with just 131 yards passing. The rushing attack did average close to five yards a carry at one point but the margin was so great that it didn’t really matter as the team dropped to. 500 on the year.

Oregon, meanwhile, improved to 5-1 on the season to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the Pac-12 North. They remain the league’s best hope of making a dint in the national radar, even if the injury report wound up being a little longer than Mario Cristobal would like coming out of an easy win over a conference rival.

Jerry Jeudy, AJ Dillon, Eno Benjamin and more set for State Farm All-Star Football Challenge

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It may fly under the radar for most, but the 22nd annual State Farm All-Star Football Challenge is set to take place on Jan. 31 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The skills competition will pit 24 college football stars in a team event. Among those participating in this year’s challenge will be Boston College running back AJ Dillon, Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray, and Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

Five teams representing each of the power five conferences will consist of players from those respective conferences: ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC. A sixth team of “wild card” players will be comprised of players from the Group of Five or below. This year’s wild card players will come from the Mountain West Conference (Utah State QB Jordan Love, Boise State DE Curtis Weaver), Conference USA (FAU TE Harrison Bryant) and the South Atlantic Conference of Division 2 (Lenoir-Rhyne S Kyle Dugger).

The individual events included in the competition are a quarterback accuracy contest, obstacle course, strength challenge, and a hands competition. A team event will complete the overall event.

TEAM ACC
Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
Bryce Perkins, QB, Virginia
Jason Strowbridge, DL, North Carolina

TEAM BIG TEN
Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa

TEAM BIG 12
Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Carter Stanley, QB, Kansas

TEAM PAC-12
Salvon Ahmed, RB, Washington
Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah
Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State

TEAM SEC
Nick Coe, DE, Auburn
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Terrell Lewis, LB, Alabama
Riley Neal, QB, Vanderbilt

TEAM WILD CARD
Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic
Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State

TE Jordan Wilson to transfer from UCLA

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UCLA redshirt junior Jordan Wilson has announced he is leaving the Bruins. In a post on his Twitter account on Friday afternoon, Wilson announced he is entering the transfer portal with the intent of finishing up his collegiate career with some other program.

“[I’d] like to announce that I will be entering the transfer portal, graduating at the end of the Spring quarter, and playing my final year of eligibility somewhere else,” Wilson announced in a statement on his Twitter account.

The decision of Wilson to leave UCLA comes at an unfortunate time for the Bruins. Wilson was likely to be a starter at tight end for UCLA in the fall. Wilson is the third tight end to leave UCLA this offseason. Devin Asiasi previously made the decision to declare for the NFL draft a year early. Matt Lynch also stepped into the transfer portal. Now, UCLA has a wide-open competition for playing time at the tight end spot beginning this spring.

Wilson caught seven passes for 72 yards for UCLA in 2019. He will leave UCLA having caught 25 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the past three seasons. As a graduate transfer, Wilson will be eligible to play his final year of eligibility anywhere he ends up this fall.

USC nabs Todd Orlando from Texas Tech

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USC has a new defensive coordinator. The Trojans announced on Friday the school has officially hired Todd Orlando to fill the role of defensive coordinator. Orlando joins USC after coaching the past three seasons at Texas.

Orlando actually joined the Texas Tech program after being let go by Texas following staff changes with the Longhorns. Despite landing a job with the Red Raiders, Orlando remained a top target for USC head coach Clay Helton.

“We are excited to have Todd join our Trojan football program,” Helton said in a released statement. “He is an experienced and successful defensive coordinator who has made an impact everywhere he has coached. He brings a passion, energy, toughness and discipline to his coaching and those characteristics were evident in our discussions. His defensive system poses an extreme challenge to offenses.”

Orlando replaces Clancy Pendergast, who was let go by Helton amid USC’s own staff changes after a down 2019 season. As previously mentioned (HERE), Orlando actually had worse defensive numbers compared to what Pendergast coached with USC last season. However, a contrast of playing styles and offensive outputs between the schedule Texas faced in 2019 (including games against LSU and Oklahoma) and what USC faced could lead to some skewed figures.

Orlando’s first test as a defensive coordinator will be a monster. USC opens the 2020 season in Arlington, Texas against Alabama.

Cal loses assistant Gerald Alexander to NFL job

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Cal assistant coach Gerald Alexander is leaving to coach with the Miami Dolphins. Alexander confirmed in a message posted on his Twitter account he is heading to the NFL for a coaching opportunity. Multiple reports have confirmed it will be with the Miami Dolphins.

Alexander thanked Cal head coach Justin Wilcox for the opportunity to be a part of Wilcox’s first coaching staff at Cal.

Alexander joined the Cal program in 2017 and spent the past three seasons as a defensive backs coach for the program. He has played a role in helping to coach one of the better defensive teams in the Pac-12. He previously coached at Montana State, Indiana State and with Chris Peterssen at Washington. Alexander played for Petersen at Boise State.

This will mark a return to the NFL for Alexander. He previously played in the league for five seasons with the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, and, appropriately enough, the Miami Dolphins. Alexander was a second-round draft pick of Detroit in 2007.