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Oregon expected to hire ex-Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead as OC

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A month after losing their offensive coordinator, it appears that the Oregon Ducks football program has found a replacement.

Dec. 11, coordinator Marcus Arroyo officially left Oregon to take the head job at UNLV.  Exactly 23 days later, Joe Moorhead was fired as the head coach at Mississippi State.

Those two events are coming to a confluence as it’s being reported by college football insider Brett McMurphy that Moorhead will replace Arroyo on the Oregon Ducks football staff.  It’s unclear if, like Arroyo, Moorhead will coach quarterbacks as well.

In two seasons at Mississippi State, Moorhead went 14-12.  Moorhead’s firing was centered on an ugly fight between teammates in the run-up to the Music City Bowl.

The day after Christmas, it was reported that freshman Garrett Shrader, who was supposed to start the bowl game at quarterback, was injured in a post-practice scuffle with a defensive teammate.  The altercation was preceded by an in-practice altercation during a contact drill.  Shrader suffered some orbital bone damage as a result of the incident.

The MSU job was, at the time, the furthest west Moorhead had worked in a three-decade coaching career.

From 2016-17, Moorhead was the coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Penn State.  In the four years before that, he was the head coach at FCS Fordham.  He’s also been on staffs at UConn (2009-11), Akron (2004-2008) and Georgetown (2003).

Moorhead was the coordinator at all three of those latter stops.

College football title odds have Clemson as way-too-early 2020 favorite

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You say the corpse of the 2019 college football season isn’t even cold yet, and we’re already looking ahead to 2020 when it comes to title odds?  We say of course we are.  Because that’s how we roll.  Or something.

Monday night, in New Orleans appropriately enough, LSU landed its magic carpet ride of a 2019 season in seemingly the only way possible, overwhelming Clemson with waves of offensive talent to claim the College Football Playoff championship.  The video game that was Joe Burrow, wobbly early on, righted itself in the romp, with the Heisman Trophy winner setting the single-season record for touchdown passes en route to the ever-elusive ring.

The reality that will set in a day or two from now?  Burrow has played his last down in a Tigers uniform, with the senior expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.  Burrow’s counterpart on the night, Trevor Lawrence, will return to Clemson for one more season before he’s expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

As such, the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has installed Clemson as a way-too-early 9/4 favorite to win the 2020 national championship.  LSU, meanwhile, sits at 8/1.

A year ago at this time?  Clemson, the reigning national champions, was at 7/2, behind Alabama at 3/2.  And LSU?  They were at 50/1 on Jan. 8, 2019.

This year, between Clemson and LSU, Ohio State comes in at an initial 3/1 and Alabama, which will be replacing Tua Tagovailoa, at 6/1.  Georgia’s odds are at 8/1 as well.

Of those five teams, just two — Clemson (Lawrence) and Ohio State (Justin Fields) — will return their starting quarterback.

At 14/1, Florida is the only other team in that neighborhood.  Six others start off at 30/1 — Auburn, Oklahoma, Oregon, Notre Dame, Penn State and Texas A&M.

And as for the Group of Five? At 1,000/1, Houston has the highest odds.

Georgia could be landing spot for Wake Forest transfer QB Jamie Newman

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Given all of the recent attrition for the Georgia Bulldogs football program, there could actually be some positive personnel news on the horizon.

New Year’s Eve afternoon, Jamie Newman stunned most observers by announcing that he is entering the NCAA transfer database.  Not long after, it was reported that there was “mutual interest” between the erstwhile Wake Forest quarterback and Oregon.  Not only that, the Ducks were, at the time, the favorites to land the signal-caller.

A week later, however, there’s been a shift.  A significant shift.

According to 247Sports.com, “the ex-Demon Deacons passer is trending toward landing at Georgia.” Seth Emerson of The Athletic tweeted Thursday evening that “I have been hearing for more than 24 hours that Jamie Newman and Georgia are a likely match and have heard nothing yet to change that.”

Regardless of which direction Newman ultimately heads, a decision could come as early as this weekend.

If Newman were to move on to the Georgia Bulldogs football program, he’d be the early favorite to replace three-year starter Jake Fromm, who announced this week that he is entering the 2020 NFL Draft.

Newman started 16 games at Wake, going 10-6 in those starts.  This season, Newman completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 2,868 yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.  He set a school record in 2019 by throwing a touchdown pass in 12 straight games.

The redshirt junior also ran for 574 yards and six touchdowns.

The 2020 campaign will be Newman’s final season of eligibility, so he will be a one-year rental for whichever FBS school lands him.

Mistakes doom Wisconsin as Oregon QB Justin Herbert caps off career with Rose Bowl victory

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PASADENA, Calif. — The Granddaddy of Them All lived up to its billing. Again.

No. 8 Wisconsin and No. 6 Oregon staged yet another thrilling back-and-forth in the 106th Rose Bowl to ring in the new year in style as the Ducks emerged with an improbable 28-27 victory on a picture perfect afternoon turned evening under the shadow of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Rather fittingly, it was a pair of Oregonians who proved critical to securing the win. Eugene native Justin Herbert closed his career out in storybook fashion, capping off a campaign with a Pac-12 championship and a rose held high in the air after a memorable final start. Though the future NFL draft pick was far from his sharpest throwing the ball (14-of-20, 138 yards, 1 INT), it was the lanky signal-caller’s legs that proved to be the difference in the game as he surprisingly rushed for 29 yards and a trio of memorable touchdowns off the edge.

While he didn’t grow up next to Autzen Stadium like Herbert, fellow in-stater Brady Breeze likewise had an oversized impact on the final result. The safety was all over the field and found the end zone himself, taking advantage of a fumbled punt snap by one-handing the ball off the turf and returning it 31 yards to the house in the third quarter. He also forced a fumble in the fourth quarter that setup up the QB’s go-ahead scamper.

The duo’s MVP-caliber performances helped make up for a fairly mediocre effort overall for the Ducks offense. They took just three snaps in the third quarter (thanks in part to Breeze’s score) and were held to just 204 yards of total offense by the Badgers’ swarming unit on the other side.

Wisconsin will look back on this and marvel that they came up just short on the scoreboard — for a fourth straight Rose Bowl — as a result of that. They can only blame themselves however (though fans may have a bone to pick with the officiating) as they committed nine penalties in the game and turned the ball over four times. QB Jack Coan tossed one of those off an interception but was otherwise solid in throwing for 186 yards and a touchdown against a pretty stout group across the line.

Tailback Jonathan Taylor likely ended his time in Madison in disappointing fashion, as the junior wound up rushing for just 94 yards. Though he topped 2,000 yards for the second straight year, he also contributed a key fumble and failed to find the end zone on one of the sport’s biggest stages. His struggles as part of a ground game that was limited (3.7 yards per carry) were only part of the story for the Badgers on Wednesday evening but a familiar one in many of their four losses on the year.

While the disappointment was palpable for those in red, the elation after the clock hit zeros were very apparent on the joyous celebration on the Oregon sidelines. The senior class had been through three different head coaches before finally settling on Mario Cristobal, who concludes his second season with a conference title and a Rose Bowl. It’s hard to script things any better than that, especially for some of the locals on the roster who powered the program back to the top amid the green and yellow confetti falling at the home of college football’s most memorable venue.

No. 6 Oregon, No. 8 Wisconsin trading blows as Granddaddy of Them All hits halftime

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PASADENA, Calif. — The Granddaddy of Them All didn’t wait long to prove once again why the Rose Bowl holds a special place in every college football fan’s heart.

Amid a glittering backdrop on a picture perfect Southern California day, No. 6 Oregon and No. 8 Wisconsin wasted no time trading blows in the 106th edition of the venerable bowl game. The Ducks struck first on the scoreboard but it was the Badgers who wound up with a 17-14 halftime lead in a thrilling start to the traditional Big Ten/Pac-12 battle.

Oregon QB Justin Herbert (81 yards passing) kicked things off by taking the ball off the coin toss and leading an opening drive that resulted in the Eugene native running it in for the first of his two first half touchdowns on the ground. While that was just the start that Mario Cristobal was hoping for in the game, the quick 7-0 lead lasted all of… 12 seconds.

That flip in momentum came courtesy of ace return man Aron Cruickshankwho took the ensuing kickoff 95 yards up the sideline and into the end zone. It was just the third ever kick return score in the game’s history and the second longest play overall. The Badgers didn’t let up from there either as linebacker Jack Sanborn (whose dad played for the Ducks) picked off a pass on the very next snap. UW eventually converted a field goal on the drive to electrify the red-clad faithful who made the trip West.

The Ducks kept things close thanks to their defense though. They forced a Jonathan Taylor (52 yards rushing on 11 carries) fumble and also saw corner Thomas Graham Jr. come down with a pick to setup a second touchdown. Wisconsin eventually got things going in the final few minutes though, using a late pass interference call to pave the way for Quintez Cephus to haul in an 11 yard strike from signal-caller Jack Coan (88 yards passing).

Needless to say, this has been a very fun back-and-forth game between two very physical teams. The last time they met at the 2012 Rose Bowl they staged a classic that came right down to the wire and have so far given every indication that a similar outcome may be in store for the second half — albeit slightly lower scoring than that Chip KellyRussell Wilson shootout.