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Oregon adds another ugly win to the Pac-12 win column with Redbox Bowl victory over Michigan State

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On a day that saw Stanford win an absolutely ugly game to get the Pac-12 a second bowl victory, Oregon added one more. The Ducks (9-4) held on to win a scrappy and ugly Redbox Bowl against Michigan State (7-6) by scoring just one touchdown in a 7-6 win.

Oregon did not score until early in the fourth quarter with a Justin Herbert 28-yard pass to Dillon Mitchell. Michigan State had a 6-0 lead on the strength of a pair of field goals, both of which came in the third quarter following a scoreless first half.

Oregon nearly cost themselves a win in the fourth quarter with a bizarre fake punt, in which the punter never even got off a pass on the fourth down call aimed to catch Michigan State off guard. It failed miserably.

Although Oregon’s gamble did not pay off, it ended up not hurting them either. Michigan State put themselves in position for a potential go-ahead field goal on the ensuing possession, but a botched handle of the snap forced Lewerke to try picking the ball up and getting the ball to any open receiver on a whim, and Oregon stayed in good coverage to prevent any miracle play from developing.

Oregon’s offense could not slam the door shut on the game, however, which led to one last offensive opportunity for the Spartans. But the defense for the Ducks held strong one final time as Brian Lewerke had a fourth-down pass fall incomplete for a turnover on downs.

Lewerke completed 21 of 39 passes for 174 yards and an interception. Herbert completed 19 of 33 passes for 166 yards and the game’s only touchdown. Oregon never got going on the ground but was able to keep the Spartans from posing much of a threat. LJ Scott rushed for a game-high 84 yards on 24 rushing attempts for the Spartans, who combined for 157 rushing yards. Michiagn State out-gained Oregon 331-203 but was unable to win the game where it counts the most.

This is the first bowl victory for Cristobal since the 2010 season as head coach of FIU, when his Panthers won the Little Caesars Bowl. With a record of 9-4, this is now Cristobal’s most successful season in terms of win total, topping the eight wins he previously had at FIU in 2011. His counterpart, Mark Dantonio, suffered his first defeat in a non-College Football Playoff bowl game since the 2010 season. Michigan State had won five straight bowl games in years they played a non-playoff bowl game. The Spartans lost in the Cotton Bowl to Alabama in the College Football Playoff in 2015 and the Spartans did not meet bowl eligibility requirement in 2016.

Next year should be pretty interesting for Oregon. The Ducks, with Herbert coming back and a large number of starters projected to return on top of a solid recruiting class just signed, will likely be one of the top contenders in the Pac-12 next fall. A race between Oregon and Washington could be fun, but the Ducks will start the 2019 season in Arlington, Texas against Auburn, the team Washington’s 2018 started out against. Will Oregon be able to get a win against an SEC team on a neutral field to start the year, unlike Washington? Expect some good preseason hype for Oregon to build in the offseason and a win over Auburn could really raise the bar for the Ducks early on next season.

Michigan State and Oregon locked in scoreless Redbox Bowl

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Michigan State and Oregon are certainly delivering plenty of defense in the Redbox Bowl. The two teams are scoreless at the half in Santa Clara, the final game to be played in Levi’s Stadium before next week’s national championship game between Alabama and Clemson. This has been hardly the worthy appetizer for the main course to come.

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio took a gamble late in the first half when he decided to run a pass play on a fourth and one from the Oregon 23-yard line. Brian Lewerke was unable to get the ball to a wide receiver though and the ball fell incomplete short of the intended receiver for a turnover on downs.

Spartans running back LJ Scott did start the game, as anticipated, but he left the game temporarily to be checked on for a possible injury. He would return to the game late in the second quarter though, giving the Spartans offense a key player to rely on. But offense has been hard to come by against a steady Oregon defense.

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, who announced his decision to return to the Ducks in 2019, has completed 10 of 19 passes for 72 yards. Lewerke’s production is also stumbling with 94 yards on 14/22 passing in the first half with an interception.

CFT Previews: Redbox Bowl

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WHO: Michigan State (7-5) vs. Oregon (8-4)
WHAT: The 17th Redbox Bowl
WHEN: 3:00 p.m. ET on FOX
WHERE: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
THE SKINNY: The moment Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert announced his decision to return for the 2019 season in Eugene, this game immediately became a bit more notable. With Herbert coming back next season, the chances he would sit out of this bowl game were practically eliminated, which means we get to see one of the top quarterbacks in the nation play in a bowl game and attempt to set the tone heading to the offseason leading up to what could be a promising 2019 campaign for the Oregon Ducks.

Herbert will lead an Oregon offense that isn’t quite like the glory days under former head coach Chip Kelly, but one that is continuing to build confidence in their own style under first-year head coach Mario Cristobal. In addition to an efficient passing game with Herbert, the Ducks know how to run the ball as well. Freshmen CJ Verdell and Travis Dye combined for 1,696 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns (Verdell getting a healthy share of the scores with 10 touchdowns).

Michigan State’s season had more than a few bumps in the road with key injuries and tough losses, but the hope for the Spartans is that having a healthy Brian Lewerke at quarterback and running back LJ Scott should give the Spartans a needed boost on offense. If healthy, Michigan State should be able to move the ball on the Ducks, but Michigan State’s offense has come up small at times this season. Michigan State combined for 26 points total in their final three games of the season. They won’t be able to afford a sputtering offense in this matchup.

THE LINE: Oregon -3.0
THE PREDICTION: Oregon 27, Michigan State 24

Lightning causes weather delay of Michigan State-Penn State

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The Big Ten contest in East Lansing, Michigan between Michigan State and Penn State is getting an earlier break than expected. Midway through the second quarter, the game was forced to be interrupted with inclement weather bringing lightning to the area. The teams left the field for their respective locker rooms midway through the second quarter with Penn State leading the Spartans, 14-7.

The announcement of the weather delay came just before an official video review on a Michigan State incompletion could be ruled on. The pass was ruled incomplete as the Spartans appeared to be on the move.

At the weather break, Trace McSorley has passed for 193 yards and two touchdowns with one interception for Penn State, while Brian Lewerke has been effective through the air for the Spartans with 159 yards and a score. The running backs have not been able to get too much going, with LJ Scott leading the way with 18 rushing yards on five carries. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is once again not impressing in the rushing department with just one yard on three carries, however, Barkley completed a 20-yard pass to tight end Mike Gesicki and has caught a couple of passes for 13 yards.

Penn State’s streak of not allowing a touchdown to be scored in the first quarter was snapped this week, a week after seeing its first quarter shutout streak come to an end against Ohio State.

Doak Walker Award watch list highlighted by 2016 semifinalists Barkley and Pettway

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A watch list of the top running backs in the nation has been released by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum on Thursday. The Doak Walker Award watch list is full of great players, including 2016 Doak Walker Award semifinalists Saquon Barkley (Penn State) and Kamryn Pettway (Auburn).

Among those included on this year’s initial Doak Walker Award watch list (more players can be added at any time) are LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, LJ Scott of Michigan State, Mike Weber of Ohio State, and Bo Scarbrough of Alabama, Washington’s Myles Gaskin, and Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin.

D’Onta Foreman of Texas beat out both Barkley and Pettway last season for the award. The Doak Walker Award has been presented to the nation’s top running back annually since 1990. Among the winners over the years have included Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush, and Montee Ball.

To be included on this watch list, the university athletic department must submit a nomination.

2017 Doak Walker Award Watch List

Josh Adams, Notre Dame
Ryquell Armstead, Temple
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Alex Barnes, Kansas State
Jamauri Bogan, Western Michigan
D’Angelo Brewer, Tulsa
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Jordan Chunn, Troy
Justin Crawford, West Virginia
Damarea Crockett, Missouri
Rico Dowdle, South Carolina
D’Andre Ferby, WKU
Kendrick Foster, Illinois
Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
Myles Gaskin, Washington
James Gilbert, Ball State
Derrius Guice, LSU
Damien Harris, Alabama
Kyle Hicks, TCU
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Jon Hilliman, Boston College
Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Chris James, Wisconsin
Ty Johnson, Maryland
Ronald Jones II, USC
Ray Lawry, Old Dominion
Phillip Lindsay, Colorado
Tonny Lindsey Jr., Utah State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Sony Michel, Georgia
Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech
David Montgomery, Iowa State
Jamal Morrow, Washington State
Ryan Nall, Oregon State
Jacques Patrick, Florida State
Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
Demario Richard, Arizona State
Diocemy Saint Juste, Hawaii
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
Jordan Scarlett, Florida
LJ Scott, Michigan State
Bradrick Shaw, Wisconsin
Armand Shyne, Utah
Justin Silmon, Kansas State
Ito Smith, Southern Miss
Rodney Smith, Minnesota
Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky
Terry Swanson, Toledo
Shaq Vann, Eastern Michigan
Akrum Wadley, Iowa
Mark Walton, Miami
Warren Wand, Arkansas State
Tre Watson, California
Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
Mike Weber, Ohio State
Braeden West, SMU
Devwah Whaley, Arkansas
Aeris Williams, Mississippi State
Shaun Wilson, Duke
Marquis Young, Massachusetts