The Los Angeles Rams captured the NFC championship yesterday with an overtime victory on the road against the New Orleans Saints. With the win, the Nebraska Cornhuskers saw their record of consecutive Super Bowls with at least one former Husker playing in the game extended to 26.
Former Nebraska standout Ndamukong Suh kept the streak alive for the Huskers as a fixture on the defensive line for the Rams. But even if the Rams had lost the game, Nebraska still would have seen their streak extended to 26 later in the day when the New England Patriots clinched the AFC Championship with their own road overtime victory against the Kansas City Chiefs. Patriots running back Rex Burkhead, a former Nebraska running back, had four catches for 64 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Patriots’ AFC title game victory.
While Nebraska maintains their impressive streak of Super Bowl participants, a number of colleges will be represented by more players in this year’s Super Bowl between the Patriots and Rams. Georgia has a total of five players in the game, edging out Cal, Florida, Miami, and Rutgers for the most players in this year’s Super Bowl. A total of 19 FBS programs will have at least two players in the Super Bowl this season.
As noted by the college football community on Reddit, Georgia could become the second school to have two starting running backs in a Super Bowl if the Patriots start Sony Michel (the Rams would have Todd Gurley). The last team to do that was Cal a few years ago when the Patriots (Shane Vereen) faced off with the Seattle Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch). Cal is also making some Super Bowl history as the Golden Bears will be the first school to have a total of five quarterbacks play in a Super Bowl with Jared Goff. Goff joined former Golden Bear quarterbacks Joe Kapp, Craig Morten, Vince Ferragamo and Aaron Rodgers in that Super Bowl QB lineage.
Goff could also be the second-straight Pac-12 quarterback to win a Super Bowl, following Arizona’s Nick Foles last season. Goff would be the third Pac-10/12 quarterback to win the Super Bowl since 2000, joining Foles and Rodgers.
Despite previously committing to Colorado as a graduate transfer, quarterback Davis Webb will reportedly visit another Pac-12 school this coming week.
According to Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports, Webb will pay a visit to Cal to evaluate one other option before officially enrolling anywhere. At Cal, Webb could potentially be coached by offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, a former assistant of Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, which is reason enough for the former Red Raider quarterback to have some interest.
Landing Webb would be a nice boost for Cal’s offense as well. The Bears are losing junior Jared Goff to the NFL a year early, where Goff is expected to be one of the first two quarterbacks off the board. Cal actually has relatively few holes to plug this year, with quarterback being the most significant exception. Webb may not be Goff, but his size and physical skills would likely help him fit right in with Cal’s offense.
Joining Cal may also provide a better opportunity to win some games this fall compared to the ongoing rebuilding project in Boulder. Cal jumped out to a good start and made an early push for Pac-12 title consideration before running into a wall midway through the season.
Losing Webb to another Pac-12 school would also be a tough draw for the Buffaloes. Colorado will likely be without Sefo Liufau due to a left-foot fracture, so having a sturdy option at quarterback is a luxury for the program.
As expected, California quarterback Jared Goff will enter the 2016 NFL Draft. Goff made his decision official on Thursday and he will skip his final year of eligibility at Cal.
Goff is expected to be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL Draft, which will also include early entrants Paxton Lynch from Memphis. Goff is the first Cal quarterback to leave for the NFL early since Aaron Rodgers left following the 2004 season. Josh Norris of Rotoworld ranked Lynch as his number one quarterback in his quarterback rankings in mid-November. Goff was ranked second.
“Goff’s worst two performances have come against Utah and Oregon, Norris said at the time. “65 percent of his attempts are thrown in the middle of the field, a huge percentage. Part of that could be due to Cal’s tendency to cut block on run/pass reads, forcing Goff to get the ball out of his hands or face plenty of pressure.”
Goff is coming off a record-setting performance in the Armed Forces Bowl victory over Air Force. Goff tossed six touchdowns to set a Cal and Armed Forces record for most touchdowns thrown in a (bowl) game and he passed Oregon’s Marcus Mariota for most touchdown passes in a season.
So Cal head coach Sonny Dykes will need a new starting quarterback in 2016. That could be freshman Chase Forrest, who appeared in just three games this season. Forrest attempted just 18 pass attempts, and he completed 10 for 162 yards and a touchdown with one interception.
A total of 17 of the nation’s top quarterbacks have been named a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award Monday by the Davey O’Brien Foundation. One of a handful of individual awards tailored for quarterbacks, the Davey O’Brien Award is the nation’s oldest of its kind. This year’s semifinalists include some familiar names as well, including Michigan State’s Connor Cook, TCU’s Trevone Boykin and Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott. All three were named semifinalists last season (Boykin and Prescott would later be named finalists). It also includes a handful of passers from the Group of Five, including Memphis’ Paxton Lynch, Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. and Navy’s Keenan Reynolds out of the American Athletic Conference and Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson (MAC) and Brandon Doughty of Western Kentucky (Conference USA).
Oregon’s Marcus Mariota took home the award last season, becoming the first Pac-12 player to win the award since UCLA’s Troy Aikman won the award in 1988. The Pac-12 has some good candidates on the list of semifinalists again this season as well.
2015 Davey O’Brien Award Semifinalists
- Trevone Boykin (TCU)
- Connor Cook (Michigan State)
- Brandon Doughty (Western Kentucky)
- Luke Falk (Washington State)
- Jared Goff (California)
- Kevin Hogan (Stanford)
- Matt Johnson (Bowling Green)
- Cody Kessler (USC)
- Paxton Lynch (Memphis)
- Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech)
- Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
- Dak Prescott (Mississippi State)
- Keenan Reynolds (Navy)
- Josh Rosen (UCLA)
- Seth Russell (Baylor)
- Greg Ward Jr. (Houston)
- Deshaun Watson (Clemson)
California is the last remaining unbeaten team in the Pac-12 North after the developments of this past weekend. Sonny Dykes and his Bears are 2-0 following a nice win at home against San Diego State, in which the defense made some plays and took control of the game while Jared Goff put together one of many 300-yard performances to come this season. This week though Cal loses one wide receiver off the depth chart, as Erik Brown has reportedly decided to leave the program for personal reasons.
A redshirt freshman, Brown did not appear in either of Cal’s first two games. Though he has left the team, Brown will remain on scholarship and attend classes at Cal, according to a report from The San Francisco Gate. Brown was a four-star recruit in Cal’s Class of 2014 according to Rivals. There is no mention of a possibility of Brown returning to the Bears in the future, nor has there been a mention of a potential transfer. If Brown does choose to pursue a transfer at any point, he will be forced to sit out the 2016 season if he lands at another FBS program (he would be eligible right away at a lower division program).
This week Cal heads to Austin, Texas to take on the rebuilding Texas Longhorns. According to the folks at OddsShark, the Bears opened as a 1.5-point favorite and now are a 2.5-point favorite but one other outlet, 5Dimes, lists Cal as a touchdown favorite against the Longhorns. Think about that for a minute. Cal is a seven-point road favorite at Texas. Did you ever think you would see that kind of line in your life? Not even when Cal had players like Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch and DeSean Jackson was that kind of line fathomable. But such is life for the Longhorns it seems.