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Palouse Power: No. 25 Washington State’s magical Saturday continues with upset of No. 12 Oregon

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From GameDay to game time, dawn until dusk — and well afterward, no doubt — a magical Saturday in Pullman is now complete and the western hills of Washington may never be the same for it.

Though it wasn’t easy at times, No. 25 Washington State held the lead from start to finish of a 34-20 upset over No. 12 Oregon to set off a raucous celebration for the Cougars across Martin Stadium as Mike Leach’s band of underdogs temporarily took control atop the Pac-12 North and capped off a historic day for the school.

Following up a historic visit from ESPN’s College GameDay in the morning for the first time ever in the show’s history, the Palouse was rocking for one of the biggest games in years and the Cougars didn’t disappoint outside of an early interception on their first drive. Aside from that mistake though, QB Gardner Minshew was phenomenal running the Air Raid under the primetime lights and introduced the rest of the country to his amazing ‘stache and quick release with a 323 yard effort with four touchdowns and a final tally of two picks. While his opposite number came in as the darling of NFL scouts, it was the East Carolina graduate transfer who took center stage and was able to spread the ball around quite effectively with nine different players recording a catch.

His two teammates in the backfield also played a big role too as Max Borghi had 91 total yards (one receiving score) and starter James Williams added 95 more with a touchdown on the ground where he missed a good six tackles before diving past the pylon. All-in-all, an incredible effort for Wazzu on both sides of the ball even if things slipped a bit in the second half after heading into the locker room at the break up 27 points.

While the Cougars celebrated amid a full on field storming after the game, their opponents have to rue another missed opportunity to make a move in the conference just a week after celebrating a massive win of their own against Washington. QB Justin Herbert threw for only 270 yards and a touchdown (along with one on the ground) but essentially was the entire offense for the Ducks and was unable to lean at all on any sort of run game. CJ Verdell rushed for only 55 yards and star receiver Dillon Mitchell had one of his quietest nights of the year with just seven catches for 47 yards.

Factor in the loss to Stanford earlier on and the result likely ended any hopes of making it to Santa Clara for the conference title game for Mario Cristobal’s club and certainly put to bed that faint talk of the team being a College Football Playoff sleeper.

While it’s too early to start dreaming of a visit to Levi’s Stadium just yet for Leach’s squad, the team will make the trek to the Bay Area next weekend in a big test to see just how well they can handle this kind of success. The Cougars have now won four straight over Oregon and that Apple Cup to end the regular season is looming larger and larger both in the Pac-12 and nationally given the way October has shook up the standings in one of the wilder divisions in college football.

Coug fans can ponder all that later — Saturday night in Pullman was all about celebrating a day that will be fondly remembered in school history for years to come.

No. 25 Wazzu up big against No. 12 Oregon heading to halftime

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Gardner Minshew threw an interception on No. 25 Washington State’s first drive of the game against No. 12 Oregon, leading many in the frenzied crowd at Martin Stadium to wonder if the team had Coug’d it before they even could get going. As it turns out, there was nowhere to go but up on a wild day-turned-night on the Palouse.

Wazzu wound up getting back on track in a big way, bouncing back to the tune of a 27-0 lead at halftime and a growing national profile in the process as they look to take control of the Pac-12 North.

Minshew, the mustache-sporting grad transfer behind center, finished the half with 231 yards and three touchdowns on 36 attempts — one of which was a dime to Easop Winston just before the end of the second quarter that officially signaled upset alert. As is typical of Mike Leach’s Air Raid, the ball was spread around quite a bit to the tune of nine different receivers with a catch, including two tailbacks in James Williams and Max Borghi with six apiece.

The Cougars even got the ground game going, with Williams managing to break out of at least six tackles for a 24 yard scamper to the end zone that included him tight rope-walking along the sideline before diving past the pylon.

As a result of all that, Oregon QB Justin Herbert hardly looked like the guy many were touting as the top draft pick in the spring as he failed to develop much consistency on any of the team’s drives and finished just 4-of-11 for 36 yards in the half. Running back CJ Verdell did have 17 yards rushing but it was other wise four straight three-and-outs for the offense to open the game and go into the locker room in search of answers.

This game is far from other when you factor in both #Pac12AfterDark vibes and Leach’s penchant for throwing the ball at all costs so there’s still plenty of intrigue going on in Pullman. After a rough start though, the Cougars have to be feeling good about the direction the team is taking as their Pac-12 rivals suddenly find themselves in a deep hole with quite the fight on their hands.

Minnesota RB Rodney Smith lost for year to knee injury

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Minnesota running back Rodney Smith will miss the remainder of the season after sustaining a knee jury against Fresno State, the program announced Monday.

“I am devastated for Rodney, but I know he will keep his oar in the water and continue to move forward and attack his rehabilitation process,” Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck said in a statement. “He is a leader on this team and I look forward to him working with our young players as we continue to grow this season.”

A senior from Jonesboro, Ga., Smith entered the season ranking fifth in Gophers history in career carries (651) and seventh in yards (2,959). He earned the Bronko Nagurski Award as the team’s MVP in 2017 after carrying 299 times for 977 yards and three touchdowns. Smith was also named MVP of Minnesota’s 2016 Holiday Bowl win over Washington State, rushing 17 times for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Smith was off to a promising start to his senior campaign, rushing 24 times for 153 yards in a 48-10 win over New Mexico State last Thursday. He carried one time for one yard in Saturday’s game with Fresno State. Smith was injured on the third play of the game after catching an 11-yard screen pass and remained on the turf after being tackled.

Minnesota went on to win the game, 21-14.

Smith has already used his redshirt season, but Fleck said Monday that Minnesota will apply for a waiver to get its running back a sixth season.

With Smith out, Minnesota figures to turn a pair of freshmen — Bryce Williams and Mohamed Ibrahim — to carry the load at running back.

Biletnikoff Award watch list highlighted by 2017 finalist David Sills

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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  Yet another watch list.

The latest to release theirs is the Biletnikoff Award, with the honor going to the nation’s top receiver issuing a list consisting of 50 players from all nine FBS conferences as well as one independent (UMass).  Headlining this year’s preseason list is West Virginia’s David Sills, who was a finalist for the 2017 award claimed by Oklahoma State’s James Washington.  One other 2017 semifinalist is included as well, Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown.

A total of seven teams placed two receivers each on the watch list: Cal (Kanawai Noa, Vic Wharton III), Louisville (Dez Fitzpatrick, Jaylen Smith), Nebraska (Stanley Morgan Jr., JD Spielman), North Texas (Jalen Guyton, Michael Lawrence), Oklahoma (Marquise Brown, CeeDee Lamb), Toledo (Diontae Johnson, Cody Thompson) and West Virginia (Gary Jennings Jr., Sills).

Three conferences totaled seven players apiece, the ACC, Big 12 and MAC.  That trio is followed by five each from Conference USA and four apiece for the AAC, Pac-12 and Sun Belt.  The Big Ten and Mountain West each placed three.

Below is the complete list of 2018 Biletnikoff Award preseason watch listers:

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
Tyre Brady, Marshall
A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
Trevon Brown, East Carolina
Ryan Davis, Auburn
Greg Dortch, Wake Forest
Terren Encalade, Tulane
Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville
James Gardner, Miami-Ohio
Jonathan Giles, LSU
Marcus Green, ULM
Jalen Guyton, North Texas
Emanuel Hall, Missouri
Justin Hall, Ball State
Kelvin Harmon, North Carolina State
N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Penny Hart, Georgia State
Justin Hobbs, Tulsa
Andy Isabella, Massachusetts
Gary Jennings Jr., West Virginia
Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
Collin Johnson, Texas
Diontae Johnson, Toledo
KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Michael Lawrence, North Texas
Ty Lee Middle, Tennessee
McLane Mannix, Nevada
Scott Miller, Bowling Green
Denzel Mims, Baylor
Stanley Morgan Jr., Nebraska
Kanawai Noa, California
James Proche, SMU
T.J. Rahming, Duke
Ahmmon Richards, Miami
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
David Sills V, West Virginia
Steven Sims Jr., Kansas
Jaylen Smith, Louisville
Kwadarrius Smith, Akron
JD Spielman, Nebraska
Cody Thompson, Toledo
John Ursua, Hawaii
Teddy Veal, Louisiana Tech
Jamarius Way, South Alabama
Nick Westbrook, Indiana
Vic Wharton III, California
Malcolm Williams, Coastal Carolina
Olamide Zaccheaus, Virginia

AFCA lists 146 players to Good Works Team watch list

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It’s watch list season, and we all know the deal with watch lists. “These guys had good years last year,” the organizations say, “now pay attention to us because it’s the dead of July.”

Usually the watch lists simply consist of every FBS player who started at that position a year ago — or, in the case of positions with multiple starters, the best returning starter from each team. Which makes sense. No one’s being excluded here.

And then there’s the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. The Good Works team has nothing to do with what happens on the field — its 22-member team will be released in September. “The student-athletes nominated for this esteemed award embody the true spirit of teamwork and selflessness, donating their limited free time to helping and serving others,” the press release reads.

But, still, the Good Works Team and its sponsor need publicity just like everyone else — and, thus, we have a list of the 146 best dudes in college football.

“After looking at the bios of the 146 nominees we received for 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, it really shows that there are great football student-athletes all over this country who just don’t care what happens between the sidelines, but they also care about their community and giving back to others,” AFCA executive director Todd Berry said in a statement. “The AFCA has been proud to partner with Allstate these past 10 years to honor football players who give more of themselves to help others in need.”

View the 146 watch list members below.

Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS)

Arizona State – Tashon Smallwood

Arkansas – Frank Ragnow

Arkansas State – Blaise Taylor

California – Raymond Davison

Auburn – Daniel Carlson

Central Florida – Shaquem Griffin

Baylor – Taylor Young

Connecticut – Vontae Diggs

Boise State – Brett Rypien

Georgia – Aaron Davis

Bowling Green – Nate Locke

Houston – Steven Dunbar

BYU – Fred Warner

Illinois – Nick Allegretti

Clemson – Christian Wilkins

Kansas – Joe Dineen, Jr

Colorado State – Zack Golditch

Kentucky – Courtney Love

Duke – Gabe Brandner

Louisiana-Lafayette – Grant Horst

East Carolina – Jimmy Williams

Louisville – Lamar Jackson

Florida State – Mavin Saunders

Maryland – Adam Greene

Georgia Tech – Matthew Jordan

Memphis – Spencer Smith

Georgia Southern – Myles Campbell

Miami – Demetrius Jackson

Indiana – Rashard Fant

Minnesota – Eric Carter

Kansas State – Dalton Risner

Mississippi – Javon Patterson

LSU – Danny Etling

Missouri – Corey Fatony

Marshall – Ryan Yurachek

Nebraska – Chris Weber

Middle Tennessee – Brent Stockstill

Nevada – Austin Corbett

Mississippi State – Gabe Myles

North Carolina – Austin Proehl

North Carolina State – A.J. Cole, III

Notre Dame – Tyler Newsome

Northwestern – Justin Jackson

Oklahoma – Nick Basquine

Ohio State – J.T. Barrett

Pittsburgh – Brian O’Neill

Oklahoma State – Mason Rudolph

South Alabama – Tre Alford

Old Dominion – Josh Marriner

USC – Jordan Austin

Penn State – Brandon Smith

Tennessee – Todd Kelly, Jr

Rutgers – Sebastian Joseph

Texas – Naashon Hughes

San Jose State – Nate Velichko

UTEP – Ryan Metz

SMU – Justin Lawler

Toledo – Cody Thompson

Stanford – Harrison Phillips

Tulsa – Willie Wright

Syracuse – Zack Mahoney

Utah – Chase Hansen

TCU – Shaun Nixon

Virginia – Quin Blanding

Texas A&M – Koda Martin

Wisconsin – Derrick Tindal

Texas State – Gabe Schrade

Utah State – Jontrell Rocquemore

Tulane – Parry Nickerson

Vanderbilt  – Tommy Openshaw

UCLA – Kenny Young

Virginia Tech – Joey Slye

Alabama – Minkah Fitzpatrick

West Virginia  – Rob Dowdy

UAB – Shaq Jones

Western Kentucky – Marcus Ward

Combined Divisions (FCS, II, III & NAIA)

Amherst College – Reece Foy

Moravian College – Nick Zambelli

Aurora – Kurtis Chione

Murray State  – Zach Shipley

Berry College – Michael Wenclawiak

Norfolk State  – Kyle Archie

Bethel (Minn.) – Josh Dalki

North Greenville  – Johnny Burch

Butler – Isaak Newhouse

Northwestern College (Iowa) – Jacob Jenness

Carnegie Mellon – Sam Benger

Notre Dame College – Justin Adamson

Carson-Newman – Antonio Wimbush

Ohio Dominican – Austin Ernst

Chadron State College – Steven Allen

Ohio Wesleyan – Jerry Harper

Chapman – Diano Pachote

Peru State College – Gunnar Orcutt

Colorado State-Pueblo – Zach Boyd

Princeton – Kurt Holuba

Dakota State – Jacob Giles

Saint Augustine’s – Justin Shaw

Davidson College – Ryan Samuels

Saint John’s (Minn.) – Will Gillach

East Stroudsburg – Larry Mills

Samford – Deion Pierre

Eastern Kentucky – Jeffrey Canady

South Dakota State – Jake Wieneke

Edinboro – Ryan Stratton

Southern Arkansas – Stacy Lawrence

Ferris State – Jake Daugherty

Southwestern Assemblies of God – Stephen Lawson

Fordham – Manny Adeyeye

Stephen F. Austin – Marlon Walls

Franklin & Marshall College – Tyler Schubert

Stonehill College – Jermel Wright

Frostburg State – Jordan Procter

Susquehanna – Tommy Bluj

Georgetown College (Ky.) – Kody Kasey

Texas A&M-Commerce – Luis Perez

Grinnell College – Carson Dunn

Catholic U.– Patrick Vidal

Harding – Gavin De Los Santos

The College of Wooster – Patrick Mohorcic

Hillsdale College – Danny Drummond

U. Chicago – Chandler Carroll

James Madison – Jonathan Kloosterman

Mount Union – Alex Louthan

Kalamazoo College – David Vanderkloot

Puget Sound – Dwight Jackson

Kennesaw State – Luther Jones

Saint Mary – Kyle Dougherty

Liberty – Trey Turner

St. Thomas (Minn.) – Matt Christenson

Manchester – Jared Bourff

South Dakota – Stetson Dagel

Marist College – Lawrence Dickens

Wartburg College – Matt Sacia

Mercer – Thomas Marchman

Wayne State (Mich.) – Deiontae Nicholas

Michigan Tech – Cayman Berg-Morales

West Texas A&M – Dillon Vaughan

Millersville (Pa.) – Kevin Wiggins

Western Carolina – Keion Crossen

Minot State  – Logan Gunderson

Western New England – Garrett Jones

Mississippi College – Chris Manning

Wingate – Lawrence Pittman

Montana State – Mitchell Herbert

Youngstown State – Armand Dellovade