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Chase Young, Ohio State headline list of national award finalists

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A slew of national awards released their finalists on Monday, and, shockingly, Ohio State led the way. Chase Young is a finalist for two separate awards, including the Maxwell Award as the national player of the year.

The Maxwell is typically the Golden Globe to the Heisman’s Oscars, as five times in the past 10 years Maxwell voters have picked a different player of the year than the Heisman electorate. However, it is a good sign that Young will be Ohio State’s representative in New York.

Joining Young was Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields as a Davey O’Brien finalist, running back JK Dobbins as a Doak Walker finalist and defensive back Jeff Okudah as a Jim Thorpe finalist. Former Buckeye Joe Burrow was also a Maxwell and O’Brien finalist.

Maxwell (best player)
Joe Burrow, LSU
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
Chase Young, Ohio State

Chuck Bednarik (best defender) 
Derrick Brown, Auburn
Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
Chase Young, Ohio State

Davey O’Brien (best quarterback)
Joe Burrow, LSU
Justin Fields, Ohio State
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma

Doak Walker (best running back)
Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
JK Dobbins, Ohio State

Biletnikoff (best receiver)
Ja'Marr Chase, LSU
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Michael Pittman, Jr., USC

Outland (best interior lineman) 
Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
Derrick Brown, Auburn
Penei Sewell, Oregon

Jim Thorpe (best defensive back) 
Grant Delpit, LSU
Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
JR Reed, Georgia

Lou Groza (best kicker)
Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia
Keith Duncan, Iowa
Blake Mazza, Washington State

Ray Guy (best punter)
Dane Roy, Houston
Max Duffy, Kentucky
Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse

Each award will be given at the Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, Dec. 12 from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

 

Biletnikoff Award whittles hunt for nation’s top receiver down to 12

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The Biletnikoff Award on Monday announced its list of 12 semifinalists for the 2019 award. The award specifies that any player who catches a pass is eligible to win — not just wideouts — but only wideouts have won the award through its 25-year history.

And for what has to be the first time in Biletnikoff history, both LSU and Alabama have two semifinalists, including 2018 winner Jerry Jeudy.

The semifinalists are:

Rashod Bateman, Minnesota: 44 catches for 945 yards (21.5 yards per) and seven touchdowns
Omar Bayless, Arkansas State: 73 catches for 1,262 yards (17.3 yards per) and 14 touchdowns
Ja'Marr Chase, LSU: 57 catches for 1,116 yards (19.6 yards per) and 13 touchdowns
Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty: 64 catches for 1,244 yards (19.4 yards per) and eight touchdowns
Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State: 73 catches for 1,021 yards (14 yards per) and 13 touchdowns
Justin Jefferson, LSU: 71 catches for 1,010 yards (14.2 yards per) and 11 touchdowns
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama: 64 catches for 867 yards (13.6 yards per) and nine touchdowns
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma: 44 catches for 983 yards (22.3 yards per) and 12 touchdowns
Michael Pittman, Jr., USC: 82 catches for 1,118 yards (13.6 yards per) and nine touchdowns
James Proche, SMU: 88 catches for 1,008 yards (11.5 yards per) and 12 touchdowns
Devonta Smith, Alabama: 56 catches for 1,026 yards (18.3 yards per) and 11 touchdowns
Sage Surratt, Wake Forest: 66 catches for 1,001 yards (15.2 yards per) and 11 touchdowns

The notable snub here is Devin Duvernay of Texas, who is one off the lead for catches (87) but could not crack the voters’ top 12. (Full disclosure: I am a Biletnikoff voter and had Duvernay on my semifinalist list.)

The 12 semifinalists will be chopped down to three next Monday, with the winner announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 12.

Colorado punts on an upset as USC storms back to win in Boulder

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Colorado head coach Mel Tucker was on the verge of delivering a signature and historic victory on Friday night but the team whose motto is ‘Fight On’ just wouldn’t give up on leaving Boulder with a victory. USC avoided what could have been an awful upset as they mounted a comeback to beat Colorado 35-31 in a #Pac12AfterDark special in front of the Flatirons.

Sparking the charge with a 21 point outburst in the second half was none other than Kedon Slovis, the young freshman quarterback for the Trojans who helped his team finally notch a win on the road in 2019 by finding his talented group of wide receivers running free all over the field down the stretch. He finished the night with 406 yards, four touchdowns and an interception but most of the heavy lifting was done by the guys on the other end of the throws. Tyler Vaughns notched 104 yards and a score through the air while Michael Pittman was a big play machine on a night where he recorded 156 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Fellow receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown was also heavily involved in the display, catching five passes for 55 yards while also getting some featured touches at tailback and running for 50 more yards and scoring off a nifty play up the gut.

The outing by the offense helped cover up for a defense that was on the field for over 34 minutes and gave up a number of big plays in the second and third quarters to sound the upset alert on a chilly night of action.

The Buffs took advantage of that tired and banged up Trojans unit to break out of their own offensive slump the past two games, averaging nearly seven yards per play and going 4-for-4 in the red zone. Steven Montez threw for 324 yards and three scores while Laviska Shenault went off for 172 yards and a touchdown of his own to finally look healthy for the first time in weeks.

It wasn’t enough in the end however as the team ran out of steam and lost their aggressiveness late. Despite controlling the game pretty much from the start on both sides of the ball, Tucker’s decision to punt inside the opposing 40 yard line instead of going for it on fourth down was something fans of the black and gold soon won’t forget — especially given that it resulted in an 89 yard game-winning scoring drive going the other way. The result dropped CU to 3-5 on the season, leaving little margin for error the rest of the way if there’s any hope of making a bowl game in the coach’s debut campaign.

The flip side of not notching the program’s first ever victory over USC is that opposite number Clay Helton’s hot seat can simply stay warm instead of being set fully ablaze by cardinal and gold supporters. The Trojans rather improbably remain atop the Pac-12 South thanks to their win over Utah earlier and return home to the Coliseum next week to face what has proven to be the conference’s best team in Oregon. That game wasn’t expected to carry significant national and conference implications but that is the case with the calendar rolling over November.

Many Buffs fans will have to sit back and wonder what if after a few calls down the stretch but the bottom line is that the team that is supposed to fight on did just that to live another day in yet another wild start to the college football weekend out West.

USC receiver looks forward to running up the score on Notre Dame

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The last time USC won a game in South Bend, Indiana against Notre Dame was in 2011. With the Trojans making the trip to Notre Dame Stadium this week, Trojans wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. is not only looking forward to a win over the Fighting Irish, but running away with the game on the scoreboard.

Pittman was asked what advice he is sharing with younger players making their first trip to South Bend, where the game-time temperatures are projected to be in the mid to low-40s. In his response to the question, Pittman said “it’ll be fun when we’re running up the score,” according to Ryan Kartje of Los Angeles Times.

As that quote started making the rounds, Pittman chimed in on his Twitter account to clarify he was not intending that to be a show of disrespect for USC’s opponent.

The last time an unranked USC team won on the road against a top 10 Notre Dame team was 1971. USC finished the 1971 season with a record of 6-4-1 under John McKay. The 28-14 victory over No. 6 Notre Dame snapped a three-game losing streak against Oklahoma, Oregon, and Stanford. The Trojans didn’t lose a game the rest of the season and ended the year with a tie against rival UCLA.

No. 17 Washington clamps down on Matt Fink, holds off No. 21 USC for big Pac-12 win

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No. 17 Washington was trending toward falling in the same old hole they did in a loss to Cal earlier this season, with big drops, lackluster red zone trips and a number of blown assignments holding back the Huskies from taking full control of a pivotal Pac-12 contest. Luckily tailback Salvon Ahmed was back in the lineup and proved to be fully healthy in breaking off a game-breaking 89 yard touchdown run that all but cemented their eventual 28-14 win over No. 21 USC on Saturday afternoon.

Ahmed wound up finishing with 153 yards on the day in his return to action after missing last week’s win over BYU, helping pace an offense that was solid but unspectacular in a situation where they simply didn’t execute up to a level you expect out of a Chris Petersen-coached team. A lot of that had to do with several overthrows and drops in the passing game, which was far from crisp on an otherwise perfect fall day on Montlake. QB Jacob Eason recorded only 180 yards on 16 completions and failed to find the end zone through the air.

Richard Newton chipped in with 20 yards and a score of his own on the ground, while wideout Andre Baccellia complemented two catches for 13 yards by falling on a fumble in the end zone for a big score late in the first half. The Huskies did move into the red zone two other times but had to settle for a pair of Peyton Henry field goals otherwise the final score could have been a lot more comfortable for the purple and gold.

The outcome probably wasn’t too surprising for those that follow the Trojans given how beat up the team was coming in. Matt Fink started for the first time on the road at quarterback in place of Kedon Slovis, who reportedly travelled to Seattle but didn’t play after suffering a concussion last week in the win against Utah. The veteran quarterback had a few moments where he flashed (one long TD pass to Michael Pittmanone scramble for a rushing score) but far more where he didn’t (163 yards passing, three bad interceptions that led to points the other way) against one of the league’s best defenses.

The end result dropped USC to 3-2 on the year, which somehow still allows them to stay in the thick of the Pac-12 South race but makes life difficult overall for head coach Clay Helton. The team heads into their off week with plenty of questions beyond the quarterback position and still has to travel to South Bend to face a Notre Dame squad in the top 10. The loss to the Huskies only further cements the head coach’s spot on the hot seat and the number of penalties and defensive lapses are enough to cause many in the cardinal and gold pining for a change being made sooner rather than later.

As for Washington, they’ll hit the road as well the next few weeks against Stanford and Arizona as that battle with No. 13 Oregon looms in the middle of next month as possibly the game of the year in the Pac-12 North.