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Mistakes doom Wisconsin as Oregon QB Justin Herbert caps off career with Rose Bowl victory


PASADENA, Calif. — The Granddaddy of Them All lived up to its billing. Again.

No. 8 Wisconsin and No. 6 Oregon staged yet another thrilling back-and-forth in the 106th Rose Bowl to ring in the new year in style as the Ducks emerged with an improbable 28-27 victory on a picture perfect afternoon turned evening under the shadow of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Rather fittingly, it was a pair of Oregonians who proved critical to securing the win. Eugene native Justin Herbert closed his career out in storybook fashion, capping off a campaign with a Pac-12 championship and a rose held high in the air after a memorable final start. Though the future NFL draft pick was far from his sharpest throwing the ball (14-of-20, 138 yards, 1 INT), it was the lanky signal-caller’s legs that proved to be the difference in the game as he surprisingly rushed for 29 yards and a trio of memorable touchdowns off the edge.

While he didn’t grow up next to Autzen Stadium like Herbert, fellow in-stater Brady Breeze likewise had an oversized impact on the final result. The safety was all over the field and found the end zone himself, taking advantage of a fumbled punt snap by one-handing the ball off the turf and returning it 31 yards to the house in the third quarter. He also forced a fumble in the fourth quarter that setup up the QB’s go-ahead scamper.

The duo’s MVP-caliber performances helped make up for a fairly mediocre effort overall for the Ducks offense. They took just three snaps in the third quarter (thanks in part to Breeze’s score) and were held to just 204 yards of total offense by the Badgers’ swarming unit on the other side.

Wisconsin will look back on this and marvel that they came up just short on the scoreboard — for a fourth straight Rose Bowl — as a result of that. They can only blame themselves however (though fans may have a bone to pick with the officiating) as they committed nine penalties in the game and turned the ball over four times. QB Jack Coan tossed one of those off an interception but was otherwise solid in throwing for 186 yards and a touchdown against a pretty stout group across the line.

Tailback Jonathan Taylor likely ended his time in Madison in disappointing fashion, as the junior wound up rushing for just 94 yards. Though he topped 2,000 yards for the second straight year, he also contributed a key fumble and failed to find the end zone on one of the sport’s biggest stages. His struggles as part of a ground game that was limited (3.7 yards per carry) were only part of the story for the Badgers on Wednesday evening but a familiar one in many of their four losses on the year.

While the disappointment was palpable for those in red, the elation after the clock hit zeros were very apparent on the joyous celebration on the Oregon sidelines. The senior class had been through three different head coaches before finally settling on Mario Cristobal, who concludes his second season with a conference title and a Rose Bowl. It’s hard to script things any better than that, especially for some of the locals on the roster who powered the program back to the top amid the green and yellow confetti falling at the home of college football’s most memorable venue.

Highest-rated signee in Texas A&M Class of 2018, Leon O’Neal, enters transfer portal

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For nearly the dozenth time this cycle, a Texas A&M football player is looking to leave College Station.  And this one was a huge 2018 get.

On his personal Twitter account Thursday evening, Leon O’Neal announced that he has decided to leave the Aggies and continue his playing career elsewhere.  No reason for his decision to enter the NCAA transfer database was given.

“I want to thank Texas A&M for everything,” the defensive back wrote. “Every game was one I’ll never forget. Win, lose or draw The 12th Man never lost [their] spirit. I want to thank my brothers for the love and support. Our bond will last forever.”

A four-star member of the Texas A&M football Class of 2018, O’Neal was the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Texas.  He was also the No. 8 safety in the country.  Most notably, O’Neal was the highest-rated member of the Aggies’ class that year.

O’Neal was part of Jimbo Fisher‘s first recruiting class after taking over as the A&M football head coach in December of 2017.

As a true freshman, O’Neal appeared in all 13 games for Texas A&M football.  Most of that action came on special teams.  This past season, the safety started eight of the 12 games in which he played.

Boise State DB DeAndre Pierce opts to enter transfer portal

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The playing career of one injury-plagued Boise State football player has come to an end.  At least, in Idaho it has.

According to, DeAndre Pierce has made the decision to move on from the Boise State football program.  A BSU football official subsequently confirmed overnight that the defensive back’s name is listed in the NCAA transfer database.

No specific reason for the parting of ways was given.

If Pierce follows through and transfers away from Boise State football, he would do so as a graduate transfer.  That would allow him to play at another FBS school immediately in 2020.  If that’s the tack he chooses, of course.

Pierce was a three-star member of the Broncos’ Class of 2016.  The California native took a redshirt as a true freshman.  In 2017, Pierce started 11 of the 14 games in which he played.  He earned honorable mention All-Mountain West Conference honors for that season.

Then, the injuries hit.

The safety started four of the first five games in 2018 before a lacerated spleen sidelined him for the rest of the season.  In 2019, Pierce started five games… but missed the other nine because of various injuries.

When healthy, Pierce was credited with 144 tackles, seven tackles for loss, six passed defensed, one sack and one interception.

Even with legal case (mostly) settled, WR Joshua Moore’s status at Texas won’t be determined until closer to start of 2020 season

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Even as the off-field aspect was cleared up for one member of the Texas Longhorns football program, there’s still no clarity as it relates to him getting back onto the field.  And likely won’t be clarified for a few months.

In August, Joshua Moore was arrested on a charge of unlawful carrying of a weapon. Thursday, the wide receiver pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor weapons charge. Moore avoided jail time with the plea, with the Austin American-Statesman writing that “[t]he deferred adjudication agreement states [Judge Nancy] Hohengarten will not enter a guilty finding if Moore stays out of further legal trouble over the next year, completes 60 hours of community service and fulfills any counseling conditions the probation department recommends.”

Because of the off-field situation, Moore was not permitted to play in games for Texas Longhorns football last season. He was, though, allowed to practice with the rest of his UT teammates.

A Texas Longhorns football official stated after the player’s plea that a decision on whether Moore will be permitted to play in games in 2020 won’t be determined until closer to the season kicking off.

A four-star 2018 signee, Moore played in the first six games as a true freshman before going down with a season-ending shoulder injury. In that half-season of work, the 6-1, 180-pound receiver totaled 53 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions.

If he’s cleared to play in games — the odds are very much in his favor, provided he doesn’t violate the terms of his plea agreement — Moore is expected to take on a bigger role in the Texas Longhorns football passing game in 2020.

New Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell retains four of Mel Tucker’s assistants

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Karl Dorrell‘s first Colorado football coaching staff will have a decidedly Mel Tucker feel to it.

Feb. 12, Tucker left Colorado football to take over as the head coach at Michigan State.  Eleven days later, Dorrell was the surprise hire as Tucker’s replacement.  Dorrell’s first hirings four days his official hiring will actually be retentions as the program announced that four of Tucker’s former assistants will remain as part of the new coaching staff.

Those four are:

  • Darrin Chiaverini (wide receivers coach/assistant head coach under Tucker)
  • Darian Hagan (running backs coach)
  • Brian Michalowski (outside linebackers)
  • Tyson Summers (defensive coordinator/safeties)

According to the release from Colorado football, the holdovers’ “exact responsibilities will be determined once the remaining six assistant positions are filled, which Dorrell hopes to conclude sometime early next week.” It’s believed that Chiaverini will serve as Dorrell’s offensive coordinator, although, obviously, that hasn’t yet been confirmed.

“It’s always important if you can maintain some continuity during a coaching change,” the new Colorado football head coach said in a statement. “I’ve been around enough college and professional teams where doing so offers some stability. I had great conversations with all four and while I haven’t determined their exact roles as of yet, I am excited that we share the same goals and vision for the program. I am excited about all four and am looking forward to working with them.”

Both Chiaverini and Hagans have been a part of the Colorado football program for the past four seasons.  Both Summers and Michalowski were in their first years in Boulder.

Prior to his departure for East Lansing, Tucker had just completed his first season in Boulder, going 5-7.  Since a 10-4 2016 season, the Buffaloes have gone 5-7 each of the past three seasons.  That 2016 season is the program’s only winning record since 2005.