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Biletnikoff Award semifinalists are heavy on Big 12 receivers

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College football’s award season is coming soon, which means various individual awards are trimming down their massive watch lists to much smaller lists of semifinalists, and soon finalists. The Biletnikoff Award, which honors the nation’s best receiver regardless of position, released its list of 11 semifinalists for its award this season. As expected, some of the nation’s leading receivers managed to make the cut midway through November.

The list of semifinalists includes some of the top receivers from the Big 12 with Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, West Virginia’s David Sills V, Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace, and Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley are among the 11 semifinalists for the award. Wesley leads the nation in average receiving yards per game with 134.7 ypg. Wallace is not far behind with 128.2 ypg. Those two are among the seven receivers who have already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this season.

UMass receiver Andy Isabella, who leads the nation with 1,479 receiving yards was also named a semifinalist for the award. Hawaii’s John Ursua, the nation’s leader in receiving touchdowns (15) also made the cut.

The SEC’s top two receivers, A.J. Brown of Ole Miss (SEC-leading 1,047 receiving yards) and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy (SEC-leading 10 touchdowns and second-most receiving yards, 925 yards). Arizona State’s N'Keal Harry, among the Pac-12 leaders in receiving yards and touchdowns, is joined by Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside as the Pac-12’s semifinalists.

Freshman star Rondale Moore of Purdue is the only player from a Big Ten school named a semifinalist for the award. Among the power conferences, the Big Ten has the longest drought of Biletnikoff Award winners with Braylon Edwards of Michigan being the last Big Ten player to win the award in 2004. The Big 12 has dominated the award over the past decade with seven Biletnikoff Award winners since 2007 including the last three years (Corey Coleman of Baylor in 2015, Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma in 2016, and James Washington of Oklahoma State in 2017) and two back-to-back winners (Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech in 2007-2008 and Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State in 2010 and 2011).

This list of 11 semifinalists will be trimmed down to three finalists on Nov. 19. The 2018 Biletnikoff Award will be presented on Dec. 6 at The Home Depot College Football Awards Presentation on ESPN.

No. 2 Clemson clinches another ACC Atlantic title by beating banged up No. 17 Boston College

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Dabo Swinney was far from happy with his team’s performance on Saturday night. It didn’t matter in the end one bit though as the head coach was still left smiling after No. 2 Clemson clinched another ACC Atlantic division title by topping a beat up No. 17 Boston College squad 27-7 on a chilly night at Chestnut Hill.

Injuries might have been the biggest news to come out of the rather ho-hum game on both sides. Tigers starting left tackle Mitch Hyatt missed most of the second half with what appeared to be a shoulder injury while Eagles starting quarterback Anthony Brown left after just six snaps in the first quarter once he went down awkwardly following a hit. After heading to the locker room, the young signal-caller did not return to the game and probably ended what ever slim chances his team had to pull off the upset in the process.

That’s not to say Steve Addazio’s program gave up though, as they fought an uphill battle on both sides of the ball against a much more talented squad and kept things close for a few quarters. E.J. Perry replaced Brown under center but it was tough sledding on offense to get anything going (113 total yards) as the backup finished 12-of-21 for a respectable 98 yards. His arm was unable to loosen up the box at all for tailback A.J. Dillon though, who did overcome that bum ankle to start the game but rushed for just 39 hard-fought yards.

Two bright spots for the dudes on the hill? Defensive end Zach Allen was everywhere for the Eagles and had four tackles, multiple QB hurries and a pass breakup for good measure. He certainly flashed plenty for the NFL scouts on hand and looked like he could certainly be a player with all those All-Americans on the Tigers’ defensive line. Michael Walker also had a nifty punt return for a 74-yard touchdown that he took back after it hit a defender and bounced into his arms.

As for Clemson, their destruction of conference opponents trailed off a bit in the game but they still dominated nearly wire-to-wire against BC. QB Trevor Lawrence seemed to have the entire offense riding on his shoulders with tailback Travis Etienne limited to 78 yards on the ground and a nine-man box just about every touch. Going to the air though, the freshman passer completed 29-of-40 for 295 yards, an interception and a touchdown while adding a short scoring run as well.

Mix in a stellar effort on the defensive side plus an Amari Rodgers 58 yard punt return for a touchdown and it was overall a routine victory for Swinney and company even if the final score didn’t quite indicate the gap in performance between the two sides. Still, it’s time for those in orange and purple to officially book a trip to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game in a few weeks — and probably eye a trip even further South to a College Football Playoff semifinal as well.

QB Anthony Brown injured but No. 17 Boston College still in it with No. 2 Clemson at halftime

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No. 17 Boston College has had a history of improbable upsets led by a heroic effort from their quarterback but if that’s to be the case against No. 2 Clemson on Saturday night, the Eagles will have to do so with a backup under center as the team trails 13-7 at halftime in a critical ACC showdown.

That’s because BC starter Anthony Brown injured his shoulder after All-American defensive lineman Christian Wilkins landed on him after a hit, driving the signal-caller into the turf in a legal, yet painful way. He wound up retreating into the locker room in the second quarter and was ruled out the rest of the game after completing two passes for six yards in a limited effort for the team’s offense. Jeff Smith did take over throwing the ball but couldn’t find much success moving the sticks after entering the game.

Even with Brown in the lineup though, the Eagles weren’t doing a ton on that side of the ball either way. Tailback A.J. Dillon did start despite an ankle injury he’s been dealing with for several weeks but recorded only 27 yards on the ground and was swarmed on just about every carry. Steve Addazio’s defense was solid in the first half but will need a lot more after returning from the locker room. Special teams were also a bright spot as Michael Walker did take a punt return, after the ball bounced off a Tigers player and into his hands, 74 yards along the sideline to the end zone to fire up the crowd on Chestnut Hill.

As for Clemson, Dabo Swinney can’t be happy at the lack of finishing long drives from his offense. Trevor Lawrence was already up to 216 yards passing (one TD) through the first two quarters and had already hooked up with seven different players for a reception. However the team found the end zone just once in three trips to the red zone and running back Travis Etienne had just 40 yards rushing. Overall, it was pretty clear that yards on the ground were hard to come by with a stacked box on just about every play, but that did allow the freshman QB to take his shots down the field and could be something for the team to build on going forward.

It is still an uphill battle for the home team the rest of the way but the Tigers are not really taking advantage of their opportunities to put this game away. It should all make for a very interesting second half with the ACC Atlantic title on the line between the two.

Stanford’s Arcega-Whiteside to be sidelined vs. Oregon State ‘barring a miracle’

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Times have been tough for Stanford this season, and they could be a bit tougher than anticipated this weekend against Oregon State. Stanford will play this weekend’s game against the Beavers without one of its top wide receivers. JJ Arcega-Whiteside has been ruled out of action this week due to a right ankle injury.

Stanford head coach David Shaw told reporters Arcega-Whiteside will take the week off “Barring a miracle.”

“It’s not terrible. No broken bones. Everybody heals differently,” Shaw said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “We’ll see what happens early next week.”

Arcega-Whiteside suffered the right ankle injury in last week’s game against Washington, and he had to be carted off the field as a result. Although Stanford is taking on one of the Pac-12’s least intimidating passing offenses, the loss of the Cardinal’s top wide receiver still hurts Stanford’s second-ranked passing offense in the conference.

Arcega-Whiteside is Stanford’s leading receiver this season with 48 receptions for 754 yards and 11 touchdowns. The rest of the team has accounted for eight touchdowns in the passing game. With the senior out of action this weekend, Stanford will rely on tight end Kaden Smith and senior receiver Trenton Smith to carry the load as the top targets. Against the Beavers, Stanford should be able to survive this week, but how long the injury lingers for Arcega-Whiteside will be monitored closely.

Arizona tied atop Pac-12 South courtesy of rival Arizona State’s upset of No. 15 Utah

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They may be rivals, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help each other every once in a while.

Thanks to the win Friday night over Colorado, Arizona improved to 4-3 in Pac-12 play, a half-game behind 4-2 Utah.  As the Wildcats exit Week 10, they find themselves tied atop the division thanks to Arizona State’s 38-20 thumping of the No. 15 Utes.

Utah trailed by just a point entering the fourth quarter, but a pair of explosive plays — Manny Wilkins‘ 61-yard touchdown pass to N'Keal Harry, Enos Benjamin‘s 44-yard touchdown run — sandwiched between a field goal put the game away for the Sun Devils.

Wilkins tossed three touchdown passes on the game, with all three going to Harry as ASU moved to within a game of bowl eligibility in Herm Edwards‘ first season at the helm.

Meanwhile, the South is a cluster at the top, with the Utes and Wildcats sitting at 4-3 and USC and, yes, the Sun Devils at 3-3.  USC faces Oregon State later on tonight with a chance to join the tie at the top, while UCLA can get to 3-3 with a win over Oregon in a game being played at the time of this posting.