Getty Images

No. 19 Colorado knocked from unbeaten ranks as USC scores wild Saturday’s final upset

4 Comments

It was a wild Saturday in college football filled with top 25 upsets across the board. Pac-12 After Dark was sure to get a pelt on the wall as well.

USC quarterback J.T. Daniels threw two first quarter interceptions but bounced back in a big way as the Trojans knocked No. 19 Colorado from the ranks of the unbeaten 31-20 on Saturday night and managed to reinsert the defending champions back into the driver’s seat of the Pac-12 South.

Daniels, who tossed one of those picks on the first play of the game, basically was the Trojans offense on the night as the program known for ‘Student Body Right’ had just seven yards rushing at halftime and didn’t improve much on that number as the game wore on. The freshman signal-caller wound up with 272 yards passing and three touchdowns when all was said and done in the game, giving the half-full crowd a few things to cheer about while keeping head coach Clay Helton a perfect 19-0 at the L.A. Coliseum as head coach of the cardinal and gold.

Michael Pittman Jr. led the way as Daniels’ best friend, recording 144 yards on just five catches — two of which went for scores, one from 65 yards out. Tyler Vaughns also found the end zone through the air in an encouraging sign for USC’s receivers breaking out at the right time as they hit a critical stretch in conference play.

Defensively, the Trojans were able to put together one of the best efforts of the season. Ajene Harris recorded a pick-six in the second half that essentially put this result to bed and they held the Buffs to one of their worst performances on the offensive end in some time. That they did so without captain and star middle linebacker Cameron Smith spoke volumes and especially so given that his replacement, freshman Palaie Gaoteote, suffered a concussion (on a questionable play that also could have been called for targeting) and the team was forced to put a walk-on in the middle of the field.

As for Colorado, it was a night to forget for the program as they finally slipped up against a team with a winning record on the season. The big plays defensively were one thing but the lack of any real productivity on offense all but doomed Mike MacIntyre’s group in a game they generally had control of until a few minute stretch before halftime turned things on its head.

Quarterback Steven Montez threw for only 168 yards and one interception on a night where he mostly had to check it down whenever he wasn’t being pressured (which was quite often). He didn’t get any help from the rushing attack and the score made the Buffs one-dimensional as things wound down.

All-purpose star Laviska Shenault scored on a wild 49 yard run out of the wildcat formation to help lead the team in rushing and receiving (72 yards) but it wasn’t enough. He was one of a number of key players who got banged up during the game too, missing most of the fourth quarter with an injury that isn’t too concerning going forward but did keep him out down the stretch.

The end result not only gives CU their first loss of the season and keeps them from hitting bowl eligibility at the midway mark, but also shakes up the Pac-12 South race and all but certainly drops the Pac-12 out of the College Football Playoff race at the same time given events elsewhere in the league. The flip side is it makes USC the team to beat once again as they try to defend their crown following another slow start to the year. The trip to Salt Lake City next weekend to play Utah very well could determine the division and who makes that trip to Santa Clara as a result.

The Trojans seem to have a knack for getting better as the year gets going and the Buffs found that out first hand to cap off another crazy Saturday night.

J.T. Daniels bounces back to help USC to halftime lead over No. 19 Colorado

Getty Images
Leave a comment

USC’s true freshman quarterback bounced back from a rough first quarter to throw a trio touchdown passes and help the Trojans secure a 21-7 lead at halftime in a pivotal Pac-12 South battle with No. 19 Colorado at the Coliseum on Saturday night.

After an extremely ugly (and slow) start for both sides, it was the Buffs that started to get things going in the second quarter thanks to, who else, all-everything star Laviska Shenault. The receiver not only led his team in yardage through the air, but he was also CU’s leading rusher thanks to a 49 yard rushing touchdown for the game’s first points. QB Steven Montez couldn’t find his favorite target as much as he would have liked to, being forced to check down plenty while completing 14 passes for only 60 yards and taking a number of sacks.

Opposite number J.T. Daniels wasn’t any sharper early for USC but rebounded as the game went on deep into the cool Los Angeles night. Following two first quarter interceptions (one of the first offensive snap of the game), the freshman signal-caller started launching bombs to his wideouts down the field and seemed to find plenty of success as a result. All told, Daniels threw for 255 yards in the half and found both Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman Jr. (twice) for a trio of touchdowns all told.

The Trojans didn’t have any sort of ground game to lean on at all with a paltry seven yards rushing, making the throws their quarterback was making even more impressive. They also limited the Buffs’ ground attack, aside from the Shenault run, despite the absence of senior linebacker Cameron Smithwho was in street clothes for the game with an injury.

This is the biggest test yet for undefeated Colorado against the defending conference champions and doubles as the first of several key games in the South Division for both sides. There was already a shakeup in the North earlier in the day and as #Pac12AfterDark started setting in L.A., it appears one on the other side of the league is starting to take hold as well given the way this one is trending.

Butkus Award names 51 linebackers to 2018 watch list

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Leave a comment

College football watch list season resumed Monday with the release of the Butkus Award and Jim Thorpe Award watch lists. The Butkus Award watch list named 51 linebackers to its preseason list, including players from 41 different schools.

This year’s watch list is highlighted by finalists for the 2017 Butkus Award in Devin Bush of Michigan and T.J. Edwards of Wisconsin. Josh Allen of Kentucky and Cameron Smith of USC are also on the list after being a semi-finalist last year. Former high school Butkus Award winners Caleb Kelly of Oklahoma and Dylan Moses of Alabama also were named to the list.

Alabama and Wisconsin lead the nation with three Butkus Award watch list players each. Ryan Connelly and Andrew Van Ginkel join Edwards of Wisconsin and Anfernee Jennings and Mack Wilson of Alabama are also included.

The list will be trimmed down to a list of semi-finalists on October 29 and then down to a smaller list of finalists on November 19. Georgia running back Roquan Smith won the award last year.

2018 Butkus Award Watch List

Curtis Akins, Memphis
Otaro Alaka, Texas A&M
Josh Allen, Kentucky
Jeffrey Allison, Fresno State
Azeez Al-Shaair, Florida Atlantic
Joe Bachie, Michigan State
Markus Bailey, Purdue
Thomas Barber, Minnesota
Bryton Barr, Massachusetts
Tevis Bartlett, Washington
Devin Bush, Michigan
Josh Buss, Montana
Te’von Coney, Notre Dame
Ryan Connelly, Wisconsin
Deshaun Davis, Auburn
Troy Dye, Oregon
Koa Farmer, Penn State
Paddy Fisher, Northwestern
Joe Giles-Harris, Duke
Dre Greenlaw, Arkansas
Porter Gustin, USC
Nate Hall, Northwestern
Terez Hall, Missouri
Terrill Hanks, New Mexico State
Darius Harris, Middle Tennessee
De’Jon Harris, Arkansas
Khalil Hodge, Buffalo
Justin Hollins, Oregon
Oluwaseun Idowu, Pitt
Anfernee Jennings, Alabama
Gary Johnson, Texas
Kendall Joseph, Clemson
Caleb Kelly, Oklahoma
Jordan Kunaszyk, California
Tre Lamar, Clemson
Dylan Moses, Alabama
Bobby Okereke, Stanford
Justin Phillips, Oklahoma State
Germaine Pratt, N.C. State
Shaq Quarterman, Miami
David Reese, Florida
Cameron Smith, USC
Ty Summers, TCU
Jahlani Tavai, Hawaii
Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame
Andrew Van Ginkel, Wisconsin
D’Andre Walker, Georgia
Devin White, LSU
Mack Wilson, Alabama
Juwon Young, Marshall

Bednarik Award watch list led by Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, and USC

Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images
3 Comments

There are plenty of new faces gracing the 2018 Bednarik Award watch list form the Maxwell Football Club. After three 2017 finalists for the award all moved on to the NFL, there will be some new names to keep a close eye on for the top defensive player award in college football from the Maxwell Football Club.

Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, and USC all landed three players on the watch list for the award. Alabama has also had a player win the Bednarik Award each of the past two seasons, becoming the first school with two consecutive Bednarik Award winners since LSU had back-to-back winners in 2010 and 2011 (Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, respectively). Jonathan Allen won the Bednarik Award in 2016 and Minkah Fitzpatrick took home the award last fall for the Crimson Tide.

Some key names to note on this year’s Bednarik Award watch list include Houston’s Ed Oliver, Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, Clemson’s Dexter Lawrence, Duke’s Joe Giles-Harris, Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons, and NIU’s Sutton Smith. All were semifinalists for the award a year ago.

Here is this year’s Bednarik Award watch list:

LB Curtis Akins, Memphis
LB Dakota Allen, Texas Tech
LB Josh Allen, Kentucky
DE Zach Allen, Boston College
LB Jeffrey Allison, Fresno State
LB Azeez Al-Shaair, Florida Atlantic
DE Bradlee Anae, Utah
LB Joe Bachie, Michigan State
LB Markus Bailey, Purdue
CB Deandre Baker, Georgia
DE Ben Banogu, TCU
LB Thomas Barber, Minnesota
DT Terry Beckner, Missouri
CB Julian Blackmon, Utah
DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
DE Brian Burns, Florida State
LB Devin Bush, Michigan
LB Te’von Coney, Notre Dame
DE Maxx Crosby, Eastern Michigan
CB Javaris Davis, Auburn
DE Raekwon Davis, Alabama
S Lukas Denis, Boston College
LB Joe Dineen, Kansas
S D’Cota Dixon, Wisconsin
LB Tyrel Dodson, Texas A&M
LB Troy Dye, Oregon
S Mike Edwards, Kentucky
LB T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin
DE Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech
DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
LB Paddy Fisher, Northwestern
DT Greg Gaines, Washington
DE Rashan Gary, Michigan
DE Joe Gaziano, Northwestern
CB Mark Gilbert, Duke
LB Ulysees Gilbert, Akron
LB Joe Giles-Harris, Duke
DE Carl Granderson, Wyoming
LB Porter Gustin, USC
LB Breckyn Hager, Texas
LB De’Jon Harris, Arkansas
DT Trysten Hill, UCF
LB Khalil Hodge, Buffalo
CB Alijah Holder, Stanford
CB Tyler Horton, Boise State
DE Jalen Jelks, Oregon
LB Anfernee Jennings, Alabama
LB Gary Johnson, Texas
S Jaquan Johnson, Miami
DT Kingsley Keke, Texas A&M
DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
LB David Long, West Virginia
DE Shareef Miller, Penn State
DE Anthony Nelson, Iowa
LB Bobby Okereke, Stanford
DT Ed Oliver, Houston
CB Brian Peavy, Iowa State
LB Justin Phillips, Oklahoma State
LB Shaquille Quarterman, Miami
S Delvon Randall, Temple
S Taylor Rapp, Washington
LB Malik Reed, Nevada
LB David Reese, Florida
DT Dontavius Russell, Auburn
NG Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
LB Cameron Smith, USC
DE Sutton Smith, NIU
LB Ty Summers, TCU
LB Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
S Marvell Tell, USC
S Jalen Thompson, Washington State
S Juan Thornhill, Virginia
NG Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
DT Ricky Walker, Virginia Tech
S Nigel Warrior, Tennessee
LB Devin White, LSU
DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson
CB Greedy Williams, LSU
LB Mack Wilson, Alabama
S Andrew Wingard, Wyoming
DE Chase Winovich, Michigan
DT Daniel Wise, Kansas
DE D.J. Wonnum, South Carolina
LB Charles Wright, Vanderbilt
DE Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion

Pac-12 defensive stars headline Lott IMPACT Trophy semi-finalists

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
1 Comment

The semifinalists for this year’s Lott IMPACT Trophy have been announced, and it is quite an impressive short list of some of college football’s finest defensive talents. Among the semifinalists for the award are Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and Iowa linebacker Josey Jewel. The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three semi-finalists.

The Lott IMPACT Trophy honors the nation’s best player that exhibits the qualities of former NFL All-Pro Ronnie Lott; integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community, and tenacity.

In addition to three players from the Pac-12, this year’s semifinalists include two players from the Big 12, and one player each from the ACC, Big Ten, and SEC. Notre Dame is also represented by safety Drue Tranquill. A Big Ten player has won the award each of the past two seasons with Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib winning the award in 2015 and Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers receiving the award last season.

The 2017 Lott IMPACT Trophy Semi-Finalists

Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Malik Jefferson, DE, Texas
Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa
Micah Kiser, LB, Virginia
Hercules Mata’afa, DL, Washington State
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, LB, Oklahoma
Harrison Phillips, DL, Stanford
Cameron Smith, LB, USC
Drue Tranquill, S, Notre Dame