Getty Images

No. 6 Oregon clinches Pac-12 North title with win over Arizona

19 Comments

Justin Herbert stuck around his hometown school for one more season in order to deliver on a few promises and lead Oregon back to conference and, hopefully, national glory. The senior quarterback took a step in that direction on Saturday night in Eugene, helping the No. 6 Ducks thump Arizona 34-6 and lock up the Pac-12 North title in the process.

It was a wire-to-wire victory too, with the home side delighting the Autzen Stadium crowd with a 73 yard touchdown reception by Johnny Johnson III on just the second snap of the ball game thanks to a busted coverage. That was one of four scoring tosses for Herbert, who finished with 333 yards through the air and an interception off a tipped pass in what was his penultimate game at the stadium just a few miles from his childhood home.

While that strike to Johnson was a heck of a way to get the game going, it was another Johnson, Penn State transfer Juwan, who led the team in receiving (93 yards) and had the highlight-reel throw from the potential first-rounder off a lovely reverse flea-flicker he took into the end zone.

UO’s defense also continued their strong run of results in netting six sacks, nine tackles for loss and allowing just five third down conversions while keeping the Wildcats under 250 yards of total offense.

Grant Gunnell actually got the start at quarterback for Arizona but threw for just 82 yards and was mostly sitting on the sidelines during the second and third quarters. That was the time for UO’s normal tormentor in Khalil Tate, who failed to get much of anything going despite some past performances full of big numbers.

While it was going to be a tough task no matter what to knock off a top 10 team at home, the ‘Cats now face an even more difficult task of beating both No. 7 Utah and Arizona State in their remaining two games or risk missing a bowl game for the second straight year under Kevin Sumlin.

A postseason berth isn’t something for the Ducks to worry about as they clinch their first division since 2014 and will be ticketed to Santa Clara for the Pac-12 title game against what they hope is a College Football Playoff quarterfinal against a similarly red-hot Utes team. Oregon has won nine in a row since their season-opening loss to Auburn and outside of perhaps Ohio State, Clemson or LSU, there are few teams in the country playing better football than this one.

That’s just what Herbert and his fellow stars were hoping to do in returning for one last hurrah and they’re certainly living up to those expectations with their play so far in 2019.

Dave Aranda trending in UNLV search

Getty Images
2 Comments

Dave Aranda makes more money in one year as LSU’s defensive coordinator than Tony Sanchez would earn in four as UNLV’s head coach.

But, still, the $600,000 Sanchez earned before his firing in Las Vegas as a living that most of us would deem more than comfortable, especially for a guy who began his career as a JV coach at Redlands High School back in 1995.

So that, and UNLV’s history of losing, are not enough to scare off Aranda from the UNLV job. Multiple outlets reported Tuesday that Aranda has emerged as a strong candidate for the vacant Rebels’ head coaching job. (Full disclosure: I also work for FootballScoop.)

UNLV went 4-8 in 2019 and 20-40 in five seasons under Sanchez. In fact, the last coach to leave the desert with a winning record did so in 1985.

Still, Aranda has been part of the turnaround at previously-moribund Utah State, and UNLV’s history is part of the intrigue for him.

Aranda is not UNLV’s next head coach at this time, but he could be. That alone is cause for celebration in Vegas.

Western Michigan’s Jon Wassink wins Wuerffel Trophy as college football’s top community servant

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Western Michigan quarterback Jon Wassink has been named the 2019 winner of the Wuerffel Trophy as college football’s top community servant, it was announced Tuesday.

The trophy is named in honor of Florida Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel. He will receive the award at the All Sports Association’s annual banquet in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

“We are excited to announce that Jon is this year’s recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy and are thrilled about him joining our family of past winners,” said Wuerffel. “What he has done serving others off the field, along with his work in the classroom and on the playing field, represents what the Wuerffel Trophy is all about. Also, I’d like to say the same about our other two finalists, Isaiah Sanders of the U.S. Air Force Academy and Derrick Brown of Auburn University. The amount of community service that these young men have done is just incredible. Hats off to these amazing student athletes.”

Wassink is also a finalist for the Campbell Trophy as the nation’s top scholar-athlete, which will be awarded Tuesday night during the National Football Foundation’s annual dinner. The Wuerffel Trophy announcement was made in conjunction with the NFF festivities.

Wassink carries a 3.96 GPA as an accounting major. A three-year starter and a two-time MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete, the Grand Rapids native has thrown for 6,289 career yards, rushed for 581 yards and scored 63 total touchdowns.

He led the Broncos to within a game of the MAC West championship and will close his career in the First Responder Bowl against Western Kentucky on Dec. 30, and he’ll do so with one and perhaps two major off-the-field awards in hand.

Mike Gundy calls Texas A&M ‘the best 7-5 team in the history of the NCAA’

Getty Images
5 Comments

Mike Gundy has a dry sense of humor and a delivery flatter than the Stillwater topography, which can make it hard to parse when he’s being serious and when he’s not — which makes his sense of humor all the sharper.

But in this case, it seems like he was giving Oklahoma State’s Texas Bowl opponent a genuine complement, even if it reads on the page (or, uh, screen) as if he was attempting to damn Texas A&M with faint praise.

“I think they are the best 7-5 team in the history of the NCAA in my opinion,” said Mike Gundy on Sunday, via Pistols Firing. “They have lost to No. 1; they have lost to No. 1; they have lost to No. 1; they lost to No. 4; and they lost to No. 12. That’s their five losses.

“They are definitely a top-20 team. I haven’t started watching tape on them. I watched them on TV a couple times. I know that they are very athletic. I know that their quarterback, he’s a third-rated quarterback in the SEC, only behind the Heisman Trophy winner and behind Tua. So it will be a great challenge for us. We’ll have to get to work as soon as possible. We’ll have to have great preparation and we’ll have to play a very good game against a very, very good team.”

Texas A&M became the first team in AP poll era to face three separate AP No. 1 teams — postseason included — and did so during the regular season. The Aggies’ five losses came to then-No. 1 Clemson, then-No. 8 Auburn, then-No. 1 Alabama, then-No. 4 Georgia and then-No. 1 LSU. No. 25 Oklahoma State went 8-4 this season with losses to the-No. 12 Texas, unranked Texas Tech, then-No. 18 Baylor and then-No. 7 Oklahoma.

Gundy and company will attempt to make the Aggies the best 7-6 team in NCAA history come Dec. 27 (6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Buffalo suspends RB Dylan McDuffie after domestic violence arrest

Getty Images
Leave a comment

When Buffalo takes the field for the Bahamas Bowl Dec. 20, the MAC program will do so down a man in its backfield.

Saturday night, running back Dylan McDuffie was arrested on domestic violence charges.  Details of what led up to the arrest and charges have not yet been released, although the school did acknowledge that the alleged victim is not a student at the university.

As a result of the incident, McDuffie has been indefinitely suspended by the football program.

“Whenever there is a serious violation of our program’s code of conduct, we will take immediate action to address the situation, with the understanding that the university and law enforcement has a process that must be respected and followed,” a statement from head coach Lance Leipold read. “Domestic violence will not be tolerated.”

In its release, the school added that “[s]tudents are told in no uncertain terms that they put their academic and athletic careers at risk by breaking the law or violating UB’s Student Code of Conduct.”

A redshirt freshman, McDuffie is currently third on the Bulls in rushing with 150 yards.  His 6.5 yards per carry leads the team.