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UCLA’s Octavius Spencer granted release to transfer from Bruins with no restrictions

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For roughly the dozenth time since Chip Kelly took over in Westwood, a player has left his UCLA football program.

Wednesday evening, 247Sports.com reported that Octavius Spencer “has been let go by the program due to a violation of team rules.” Wednesday night, Spencer wrote on his personal Twitter account that “it’s time to move on to another chapter and I will now be looking for a new place to call home.”

In the same tweet, the defensive back posted a letter, signed by athletic director Dan Guerrero, that indicates the university “hereby provides permission for you to discuss a possible transfer in the sport of football with any university.”

Spencer was a three-star member of the Bruins’ 2015 recruiting class. The fourth-year senior played in 35 games the past three years, including 13 last season. All three of his career starts came during what turned out to be his final go-around at UCLA.

The Los Angeles Daily News provided a rundown of all of the players, in addition to Spencer, who have left the team since Kelly took the reins:

… defensive linemen Greg Rogers and Ainuu Taua, defensive back Denzel Fisher, offensive linemen Alex Akingbulu, Paco Perez, Stephan Zabie and Sean Seawards, punter Austin Kent, and linebackers Brandon Burton and DeChaun Holiday. Additional players, including tight end Jimmy Jaggers and offensive lineman Jax Wacaser, announced medical retirements due to concussions.

Manning Award features 30 QBs on its preseason watch list

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Don’t quote me on it, but I do believe we have come to the final preseason watch list of the 2018 offseason. Maybe?

Thursday, the Manning Award released its initial list of the top 30 quarterbacks in the country to watch for the upcoming season, although a player not on this initial list is not necessarily precluded from winning the award. This is the only major award, it should be noted, that is handed out after the bowls, and is named in honor of the quarterbacking triumvirate of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning.

Highlighting this latest watch list are four of the finalists for the 2017 award claimed by Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield — Penn State’s Trace McSorely, UCF’s McKenzie Milton, Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham and Arizona’s Khalil Tate.

All 10 FBS conferences are represented, led by the SEC’s five and four each from the ACC and Big Ten. The Pac-12 is next with three, while the remaining leagues — the AAC, Big 12, Conference USA, MAC Mountain West and Sun Belt — come in with two apiece. A pair of football independents, Notre Dame and UMass, are also represented.

Of the 30 watch listers, 17 are seniors and 12 are juniors. The lone sophomore is Virginia Tech’s Josh Jackson.

Below is the complete 2018 Manning Award preseason watch list:

Jake Bentley, Jr., South Carolina
Jake Browning, Sr., Washington
A.J. Erdely, Sr., UAB
Caleb Evans, Jr. UL-Monroe
Mason Fine, Jr., North Texas
Ryan Finley, Sr., N.C. State
Nick Fitzgerald, Sr., Mississippi State
Andrew Ford, Sr., Massachusetts
Ty Gangi, Sr., Nevada
Will Grier, Sr., West Virginia
Justice Hansen, Sr., Arkansas State
Ben Hicks, Jr., SMU
Alex Hornibrook, Jr., Wisconsin
Josh Jackson, Soph., Virginia Tech
Daniel Jones, Jr., Duke
Kyle Kempt, Sr., Iowa State
Brian Lewerke, Jr., Michigan State
Drew Lock, Sr., Missouri
Trace McSorley, Sr., Penn State
McKenzie Milton, Jr., Central Florida
Gus Ragland, Sr., Miami (Ohio)
Malik Rosier, Sr., Miami
Nathan Rourke, Jr., Ohio
Brett Rypien, Sr., Boise State
Kyle Shurmur, Sr., Vanderbilt
Nathan Stanley, Jr., Iowa
Jarrett Stidham, Sr., Auburn
Khalil Tate, Jr., Arizona
Manny Wilkins, Sr., Arizona State
Brandon Wimbush, Jr., Notre Dame

Auburn confirms future home-and-home dates with Baylor, UCLA

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For those who favor Power Five-vs.-Power Five games being played on campus, Thursday was a pretty good day.

Auburn announced earlier in the day today that it has secured future home-and-home series with both Baylor and UCLA.  You will have plenty of time to make travel arrangements, though, as those four games won’t be played until 2025-28.

Going in alphabetical order, Auburn will travel to Waco to play Baylor on Aug. 30, 2025.  The Tigers will then return the hosting favors the following season as the Bears will make the trek to The Plains for a Sept. 5, 2026, date at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“We are excited to announce a home-and-home series with Auburn,” BU athletic director Mack Rhoades said in a statement. “This is an exciting opportunity for our student-athletes to compete against a tradition-rich Power 5 opponent and for our fans to enjoy games against a top out-of-conference team.

“One of our goals is to provide a challenging schedule each and every season. Non-conference games like these, in addition to the Big 12’s true round-robin conference schedule, will help us continue to put our teams in position to compete for championships.”

As for the UCLA series, the Tigers will travel to the historic and iconic Rose Bowl on Sept. 4, 2027.  On Sept. 2, 2028, Auburn will host UCLA.

The 2027 game will mark the first-ever meeting between the Tigers and Bruins.

The Tigers and Bears (oh my!) have met four times previously, the most recent coming way back in 1976 at Auburn.  Those two teams first met in the 1954 Gator Bowl, with Auburn picking up its first and only win in the miniseries as the Bears hold a 2-1-1 lead all-time on the Tigers.

Colorado, Arizona State joining trend to expand alcohol sales at games

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Pac-12 football after dark could take on a whole new meaning going forward in both Tempe and Boulder.

According to the Arizona Republic and The Denver Post, both Arizona State and Colorado are joining in on college football’s latest trend by expanding beer and wine sales to each of their respective stadiums’ general concourse areas.

“Coinciding with the reinvention of Sun Devil Stadium, and aligning with local and national sports and entertainment venues, we are continuing to enhance security measures for the safety of our fans, while also offering expanded concession options,” ASU athletic director Ray Anderson said in a statement. “These impending enhancements, compiled with the most unique stadium setting in college football, continues to transform Sun Devil Stadium into truly a one-of-a-kind fan atmosphere.”

Both venues used to sell alcohol during games but did away with the policy for well over a decade, eventually bringing it back in limited aspects in recent seasons. For example, the Buffs installed two beer gardens in 2014 per the Post.

Now the Pac-12 South schools will join many of their league peers in opening up the taps for the majority of fans at home games. Just this offseason, Arizona, Oregon and Oregon State all expanded beer and wine sales to general seating while also making changes to entry/exit policies to help out with security as well. The moves are no doubt designed to add a new revenue stream to everybody’s coffers but the side effect of less binge drinking during games is certainly part of the equation as well.

That’s all good news to those who like to enjoy a nice beverage during games this season, especially if the Sun Devils and Buffs endure a rough outing or two at home this year.

Oregon unveils new uniforms for 2018 while limiting options

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It truly is a new era at Oregon under Mario Cristobal and the biggest representation of that just might be in the Ducks’ uniforms. Well, perhaps that’s the lack of uniforms more to the point.

On Wednesday, the school unveiled their set of uniform combinations for the 2018 season and while there are certainly some colorful designs, the most notable aspect of the launch was the fact that there were only four –yep, count ’em four — different designs the program will use this year.

“These designs are a representation of Coach Cristobal’s direction for the football program: no-nonsense, discipline, strength and speed,” said Todd Van Horne, Nike’s creative director for football, in a statement. “This uniform reflects those values.”

The school added in their release: “The Ducks continue to zig while others zag; on the field, Cristobal wants to pair Oregon’s speed and explosiveness with punishing, physical play from a mammoth offensive line. Nike looked to amplify that philosophy with uniforms that exude strength and dominance through clean, bold reliance on solid colors.”

So gone are the days where there was a new uniform combination for every single game in Eugene, a “tradition” (if you call it that) that really came into vogue at the program under Chip Kelly. Though the options are more limited in 2018, we certainly can’t say that Oregon went conservative at all with their new look given the big, bold numbering and highlighter colors used.

Still, compared to the past, the program is going down right super conservative under Cristobal based on this.