Matt Barkley

SEC Network analyst Tim Tebow to sign with NFL’s Eagles

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In honor of CFT’s all-time comments record being shattered, and because it’s one of those offseason slooowww Sunday news cycle, I’ll just go ahead and offer up an update on the playing career of the subject of the previous record-holder.

FOXSportsJay Glazier and ESPN‘s Adam Schefter are both reporting Sunday evening that Tim Tebow has essentially finalized a contract that will make him a member of the Philadelphia Eagles — coached by former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, if you’ve forgotten.  Tebow had worked out for the NFL organization last month, but most observers of that league felt that there was a slim-to-none chance he’d be signed by the version of Kelly who wears the personnel-boss cap.

As has ofttimes been the case at this level and at the collegiate one, though, most underestimate Chip and how capable he truly is of not giving a spit or a duck (get it?) about your conventional wisdom.

Aside from Tebow winning a Heisman Trophy (2007) and helping to lead the Florida Gators to a pair of national championships (2006, 2008), how this relates to college football is that he is currently an analyst on the ESPN-owned SEC Network.  Tebow was hired for that role in December of 2013 and, to be honest, he’s actually good at it.  Surprisingly good, from my vantage point.

Tebow hasn’t played at any level since an “interesting” season with the New York Jets in 2012, so he certainly faces a difficult row to hoe just to grab a roster spot.  One thing is certain: there won’t be anyone on that roster who outworks him.

Speaking of which, joining Tebow on the Eagles’ quarterback depth chart (at the moment) is a veritable who’s who of recently successful college players: Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, the 2008 Heisman winner who was the No. 1-overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft; USC’s Matt Barkley, a four-year starter who holds most of the school’s all-time passing records; and USC’s Mark Sanchez, who left the Trojans early for the 2009 NFL draft after one season as the Rose Bowl-winning starter, opening the door for Barkley to emerge as the starter as a true freshman.  Not only that, there remains the possibility that Kelly could decide to trade up and nab 2014 Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, who Kelly recruited to Oregon and served as his head coach during the All-American’s first season as the Ducks’ starter in 2012.

As an aside, it’s at this point in the program where I remind readers that I really miss Kelly at the collegiate level…

About college football’s deflated ball scandal…

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The whole deflated ball thing isn’t exactly new, at least at the college level.

As the NFL sorts through allegations of deflated balls in New England’s 45-7 blowout win over Indianapolis last night, now seems like a good time to bring up Oregon’s 62-51 win over USC in 2012. After that game, Oregon alleged USC purposely deflated balls it used on offense in the first half of that game, with coach Lane Kiffin insisting he had no knowledge of a student manager illegally altering the balls.

USC was fined $25,000 for the incident and the student manager in question was fired. From our report from November 2012:

The report adds that officials found and re-inflated three footballs before the start of the game, and two more at halftime. The student manager claims he was not given instruction to deflate the game balls — under-inflated footballs are easier to hold onto, catch and throw, and offenses use their own footballs — if you believe that sort of thing.

Like the Patriots-Colts thing, the deflated balls didn’t have much of an impact on the game — Oregon still managed 34 points in the first half and USC only cut the final score to a respectable (I guess) 11 points when Marqise Lee caught a three-yard touchdown from Matt Barkley with three seconds left.

Kiffin, meanwhile, is reportedly a candidate to leave Tuscaloosa for the 49ers’ offensive coordinator position.

Marcus Mariota remains Heisman favorite, others trying to keep pace

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Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is the runaway favorite to win this year’s Heisman Trophy.

Mariota is considered a 1/10 favorite to win the award, according to odds makers in Las Vegas. And he should be.

The junior signal-caller leads college football with a 190.2 quarterback rating and an average of 10.4 yards per passing attempt. His 36-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio is by far the best of any starting quarterback at the FBS level. As the country’s best dual-threat quarterback, Mariota also ran for 636 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Over his career, Mariota is the NCAA’s leader is average yards gained per play at 8.70. And he surpassed USC’s Matt Barkley as the Pac-12’s all-time leader in touchdowns responsible for with 126.

Mariota’s resume is as good as any top-level quarterback that college football has seen over the last 25 years:

Of the Top 10 on that list, eight of them are former Heisman Trophy winners. Peyton Manning is the lone exception (excluding Mariota), and there are college football fans and analysts that will still argue to this day that the former Volunteer should have won the Heisman Trophy in 1997 over Michigan’s Charles Woodson.

The bottom line: Mariota is nearly a lock to win college football’s most coveted award.

However, the Oregon quarterback won’t be the only player invited to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation. There are three other players likely to be invited, and they still have an outside chance of taking home the hardware:

Melvin Gordon, RB Wisconsin

With 2,260 rushing yards, the junior running back is in the midst of a very special season. Gordon has the best chance to dethrone Mariota, but he may have to do something extraordinary to become the Heisman favorite.

Gordon’s rise as a candidate truly began when he broke LaDanian Tomlinson‘s record for most rushing yards in a single game with 408 yards against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Unfortunately, that special feat was minimized when Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine broke Gordon’s record a week later.

But the Wisconsin running back still has an outside chance to break Barry Sanders‘ single-season rushing mark. Gordon needs to amass 591 yards in the Big Ten Championship game and whatever bowl game Wisconsin eventually plays in to surpass Sanders.

It’s a daunting task and time isn’t on Gordon’s side.

The Heisman Trophy presentation will be held on Dec. 15. Wisconsin’s bowl game will be played at a later date. Thus, Gordon better be within striking distance of Sanders to make a legitimate case for the Heisman Trophy.

Amari Cooper, WR Alabama

Cooper’s case is similar to a few previous Heisman Trophy resumes. He’s the best player on the best team in the country.

Alabama’s talented wide receiver presents strong statistics across the board. Cooper is second in the nation in receptions (103), receiving yardage (1,573) and tied for second with 14 touchdown receptions. All three of those statistics are new records for Alabama football.

Cooper made sure to save his best for his last Iron Bowl with 224 receiving yards and three touchdowns against the Auburn Tigers to leave a lasting impression with Heisman voters.

The last wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy was Desmond Howard in 1991. Over the following 23 years, Cooper made as good of a case as any other player at his position to win the award.

J.T. Barrett, QB Ohio State

Injuries aside, Barrett proved to be the best quarterback in the Big Ten Conference this season, and the redshirt junior was a revelation for the Buckeyes.

While Barrett wasn’t nearly as efficient as Mariota, he was almost as productive with 45 total touchdowns, which was a new Big Ten Conference record. The underclassman also accounted for 3,772 total yards.

Unfortunately, a devastating ankle injury may cost Barrett a legitimate shot to win the Heisman and the Buckeyes’ inclusion into the College Football Playoff.

But Barrett still has three more years of eligibility. Time is on his side to become the seventh Buckeye to win a Heisman Trophy.

And the winner is…

While each of the names listed are very talented and deserve Heisman-caliber recognition, Mariota would have to completely bottom out in Friday’s Pac-12 Championship Game to close the gap between the potential invitees.

It’s possible, too.

Mariota’s worst game of the season came against the Arizona Wildcats during the Ducks only loss of the season. If Mariota repeats his two-turnover effort in the rematch, this conversation becomes much more interesting.

Until then, this is Mariota’s race to lose. After all, the Ducks quarterback struck the pose and everything:

The Fifth Quarter: Week 13 Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

HISTORIC REPEAT
As it turns out, while Samaje Perine made history, the timeframe in which he did it wasn’t historically unprecedented.

In Oklahoma’s win over Kansas, Perine set the FBS single-game rushing record with 427 yards.  That performance broke the record of 408 set a week ago by Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon.  Most assumed Perine’s breaking of a rushing record that was a week old had never happened before; Anthony Thompson would point out what the word “assume” makes out of all involved.

Back on Nov. 11, 1989, the Indiana running back’s 377 yards broke the previous mark of 357 yards.  That record was first set by Washington State’s Rueben Mayes in 1984 and tied by Cal State Fullerton’s Mike Pringle on Nov. 4, 1989, exactly one week before Thompson broke it.

Below is how the FBS rushing record has progressed over the past four-plus decades:

347 — Ron Johnson, Michigan, 1968
350 — Eric Allen, Michigan State, 1971
356 — Eddie Lee Ivery, Georgia Tech, 1978
357 — Rueben Mayes, Washington State, 1984
357 — Mike Pringle, Cal State Fullerton, 1989
377 — Anthony Thompson, Indiana, 1989
386 — Marshall Faulk, San Diego State, 1991
396 — Tony Sands, Kansas, 1991
406 — LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU, 1999
408 — Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin, 2014
427 — Samaje Perine, Oklahoma, 2014

Perine was also second to Thompson in something else — percentage increase of the previous record.  Thompson bested the old mark by 5.6 percent;  Perine, meanwhile, topped Gordon’s week-old record by 4.7 percent.

Some would say, though, the most impressive record belongs to Gordon.  The Badger back did his record-setting damage in three quarters of work and on just 25 carries; the only other players on that list with less than 30 carries were Ivery (26) and Allen (29).  Gordon’s 16.2 yards per carry is easily the best mark among the group, with only Ivery (13.7) within three yards.   Perine did average 12.6 ypc, the third-best among that group of 11 players.

At the opposite end of the yards-per-carry spectrum were Thompson and Sands, who averaged 7.25 yards on 52 carries and 6.8 yards on 58 carries, respectively.

Of course, Perine is the only true freshman to break the record… and he did it in three quarters plus two fourth-quarter plays after not starting a game played in the rain… and he is the only player to rush for 200-plus yards in both halves of a game, all of which makes his performance arguably the greatest of all-time regardless of how you attempt to parse out the numbers.

PROJECTING CFP TOP FOUR
Unlike previous weeks, there was no upheaval around the top of the College Football Playoff Top 25 in Week 14.  The highest-ranked team to lose was No. 8 Ole Miss, and, with two losses, it’s unlikely the Rebels were a realistic playoff option to begin with.

(more…)

Marcus Mariota sets Pac-12 record during Oregon’s 44-10 victory over Colorado

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Move over Matt Barkley. Marcus Mariota now sits atop the Pac-12 record books.

With his four-touchdown performance against the Colorado Buffaloes, Mariota became the Pac-12’s all-time single season leader with 42 total touchdowns.

Mariota was nearly flawless in what could be his final appearance at Autzen Stadium.

The junior quarterback, who could be the No. 1 overall pick in April’s NFL draft, completed 24 of his 32 pass attempts. Mariota added 323 passing yards to his resume and a trio of touchdown tosses. The signal-caller also ran the ball eight times for 73 yards and a touchdown.

One of Mariota’s former teammates took it a step beyond calling him the favorite for the Heisman Trophy:

With the 44-10 victory, the No. 2 Ducks improved to 10-1 overall with only the “Civil War” remaining against the Oregon State Beavers.

On the other hand, Colorado dropped to 2-9 overall. It’s a disappointing season after improving to 4-8 last year during Mike MacIntyre‘s first year as head coach of the program.

For Oregon, this is the season for the Ducks to take the next step as a program. Mariota is playing at an elite level. The team already conquered its previous stumbling block by defeating the Stanford Cardinal. Pac-12 championship and College Football Playoff appearances are within the Ducks’ grasp.

Expectations should be sky high for a program ready to compete for a national championship.