Tag Archives: Oregon Football

The College Football Playoffs Are Finally Set

For the first time in the history of college football, there will be a four team college playoff to decide who hoists the National Championship Trophy will come January 10th, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The teams that made the final cut are The Ohio State Buckeyes, The Alabama Crimson Tide, The Ducks from the University of Oregon, and The Florida State Seminoles.

The request for a new playoff system has been requested for quite some time now. A lot of the sports world did not like the fact the BCS bowl selection took place.

Now more people than not are for the playoff system. The system is still flawed for some but better from where it was from previous years.

For the most part there was no movement between the first and second placed teams. The Alabama Crimson Tide, and the Ducks from the University of Oregon. They never strayed far from their positions.

The final two spots were a different story. The Seminoles from Florida State did the most movement. Even though, they did not lose one game during the season.

The top two teams have one loss each. The Buckeyes are also undefeated.

The reasoning for the placement is the toughness of the schedule and the conference each team is in respectively. The #1 team is Alabama, coming out of the powerhouse that is the SEC.

Oregon is coming out of another powerhouse from the west the PAC 12 conference, Florida State comes out of the ACC, and finally Ohio State coming out of the BIG 10 (but the conference has 13 teams, different conversation for a different day).

Other notable mentions were the Baylor Bears, and the TCU Horned Frogs. At one point TCU was ranked third a week prior to the final announcement, before Ohio State took the final spot in the last announcement.

With that said the teams are set, and there will be two games played on the first day of the New Year. The first is the Rose Bowl where the #2 Oregon Ducks will face the #3 Florida State Seminoles.

The Seminoles were always in the top four teams, but they struggled the whole season to beat some clearly easy wins against unranked teams. Despite this they were able to overcome this and still remain undefeated.

The Seminoles are the defending National Champions after defeating the Auburn Tigers. They are also led by reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston. This year the Seminoles have struggled to say the least.

Yet they are still undefeated and share an undefeated record with the Buckeyes. This year Winston was not even nominated for a finalist in this year Heisman Trophy.

The Oregon Ducks on the other hand now have this years Heisman winner Marcus Mariota. Mariota was the clear winner gaining more than 90% of the total votes, second highest in the history of the Heisman voting.

This year Mariota was having a standout season. Leading into the bowl games he has 3,783 yards, 38 touchdowns, and only two interceptions.

His competition included another player that is in the College Football Playoff, Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Also included in the list was University of Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. Gordon was coming off a FBS record for single game rushing yards, only to have his record beaten the next week.

The matchups should be action packed, with four different types of high powered offenses.

The first matchup is the Rose Bowl between the #2 Oregon and #3 Florida State. One team has no losses while the other has one loss. Yet the team with the one loss is actually ranked higher than the undefeated team.

Jameis Winston and the Seminoles look to power through the quick play running Oregon. Even though, the Seminoles have struggled their past few games, they have found a way to win each one of those games.

This game will be like no other. It will show off the last two Heisman winners. Two amazing quarterbacks showing off their arm and capabilities on the field.

If the regular college football season is any indication of what will happen on January 1st, then the play of the quarterbacks is quite important.

The way Oregon runs their offense they will be scoring and scoring fast. The Seminoles will have to combat this with Jameis Winston and his arm.

Winston has thrown 17 interceptions this season. That against a high powered offense is definite trouble for the undefeated Seminoles.

The point is not to try to keep up with Oregon, but to combat them with smart offense, and even better defense.

The Florida State defense will probably not completely stop the Ducks, but they can at least slow it down enough for the Seminole offense to make the game competitive and try to come out victorious.

On the side of Oregon, they are already the favorite to win the game. They have their Heisman winner and a great overall offense as well as a defense.

Every game except the game they lost of course has been a dominant win for Oregon. That cannot be said for Florida State, who barely squeaked by in certain games, and in some cases needed overtime to carry them to a win.

In that case Oregon should probably prevail, but given the fight in the Seminoles it is easier said then done.

Next there is the Allstate Sugar Bowl between #1 Alabama and #4 Ohio State. The Crimson Tide has been in the first place spot for quite some time. They have not lost their ranking since they were ranked #1.

They are arguably the most difficult conference in the US next to the PAC 12. Alabama have been putting on clinics on their way to their wins.

They are led by head coach Nick Saban. Saban has four national championships under his belt, while at LSU he won one, at Alabama he has three (2009, 2011-12).

Along with a great coach at the helm they also have Amari Cooper who is having a stellar season and is leading all receivers in yards and points.

On the other side there is the Ohio State University. Leading them is a familiar name in Urban Meyer. Who left the Florida Gators, and tried his luck in his home state of Ohio.

Coach Meyer has led the Buckeyes to a 12 win season for the past three years, after they were not bowl eligible for the previous 2 years.

If the backs weren’t against the wall of the Buckeyes ranked 4th facing Alabama, they have to do it with their back up of the back up quarterback. That’s right they are facing the #1 team in the nation with their 3rd string quarterback Cardale Jones.

Yet with this same quarterback they were able to dismantle the Wisconsin Badgers in the BIG 10 championship. After the game they destroyed the Badgers 59-0.

In total Wisconsin only had 78 total yards on the ground, they held another Heisman hopeful Melvin Gordon who was leading the nation in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns to no touchdowns for the first time this season.

So the likelihood of this game being a great game is more than likely. Both of the games that will be played on New Years Day should be great and the championship January 10th.

No matter what the outcome of the Rose and Sugar Bowl, we are in for a treat when the four best teams in the nation face off against one another, and the final two will battle and claim the first ever College Football National Championship Final.

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Rapid Reaction: No. 2 Oregon 51 – No. 7 Arizona 13 (Pac-12 Championship)

By Ariel Bedford


The Ducks came into Santa Clara looking for revenge. Removing any doubt of their playoff worthiness as Kings of The West Coast, Oregon simply bottled up Arizona—claiming another Pac-12 football crown on a rainy Northern California night.

How Ducks Won: UO ran the ball with more effectiveness, especially from the quarterback position. Marcus Mariota finished the game with 313 yards passing and three rushing scores, including two key touchdown runs in the first half. Oregon’s Heisman front runner was looking to tuck and sprint much more often this time around, unlike early October in Eugene when he tallied only 1 yard on the ground versus the ‘Cats and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Scooby Wright.

X-Factor of Game: OLB Tony Washington, Oregon. The Senior from Rancho Cucamonga made up for the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty he received after a sack on AZ QB Anu Solomon late in the regular season match that may have cost them a close victory. His sack on the aforementioned Solomon in the title game, with 4:03 left in the second quarter for a loss of 6 yards to the Arizona 35, was the signature example of constant pressure applied  by Defensive Coordinator Don Pellum’s unit throughout the battle.

Stat of the Contest: After three quarters of play, Arizona only amassed 45 rushing yards as a team.

Why It Matters: Besides securing a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff by beating a Top 10 opponent, Oregon put the nation on notice—the Ducks are ready to play physical, championship caliber football versus anyone the committee pits them up against. The defense stifled ‘Zona’s version of the zone read attack crafted by Head Coach Rich Rodriguez, forcing the ‘Cats into 3rd and long situations on a very consistent basis.

Offensively, it wasn’t a perfect outing for UO. With 10:16 left in the second quarter OL Doug Brenner committed a false start on 4th and goal from Arizona’s 1-yard line; another false start by DL Erik Armstead made the chip shot field goal try in wet Levi’s Stadium slightly more slippery, with kicker Aidan Schneider missing a 27-yard attempt.

Despite choppy play at times from the offensive line, Oregon washed over the Wildcats to make a legitimate case for the top overall seed. Depending on how the rest of Championship Weekend pans out, the Ducks might be hitting Bourbon Street instead of going back to Cali for the National Semifinals.

Featured Photo Credit: Image via seatvalet.com


Ariel Bedford writes for Scouts Alley. A freelancer from Florida, he also is a contributor for Bleacher Report. Check out his personal media profile page and follow him on Twitter @mpcmi.

 

Where The Wild Things Are: College Football ’14 Mid-Season Recap

By Ariel Bedford


Oct 11, 2014; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver KD Cannon (9) catches a touchdown pass as TCU Horned Frogs cornerback Nick Orr (18) chases during the first half at McLane Stadium.
Oct 11, 2014; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver KD Cannon (9) catches a touchdown pass as TCU Horned Frogs cornerback Nick Orr (18) chases during the first half at McLane Stadium.

Zany 100-plus-point shootouts. Come-from-behind victories within the last seconds of games. Shockwaves being sent through an entire region due to the resurgence of one state’s major programs. These are some of the many storylines within an exciting—and still fresh—college football season for 2014.

Week 6 saw Arizona State spoil USC’s ascension back to the upper room with their shocking 38-34 win in LA. In Week 7, we were blessed with a game straight from the annals of a Sony Playstation computer code; Baylor’s Bryce Petty put up 510 yards on 55 pass attempts and 6 touchdowns to bring the Bears back from a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter. This weekend, we will witness the revival of a ’90s superpower rivalry, pitting Notre Dame against Florida State in Tallahassee.

There is plenty to come, but let’s review some of the headlines of what we have seen so far:

Football is back in the state of Mississippi

It was generally acknowledged that the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Ole Miss Rebels would be good this year, especially considering the latter was ranked 18th in the Associated Press Top-25 Poll when they opened their schedule in Atlanta versus Boise State. Even the Bulldogs’ upset win over LSU was not that surprising. And yet, one weekend in the beginning of October changed everything.

Saturday, October 4th will go down in infamy as the day all Magnolia State alums rejoiced; their flagship schools became serious players in college football again. In Starkville, Mississippi State simply out-gunned the Texas A&M offensive machine by a final of 48-31. Then, with all eyes on Oxford, the Rebels got past the proverbial bullies of the conference by defeating Alabama 23-17.

Both teams followed up their Week 6 upsets with strong showings in Week 7. Mississippi State took down the other big school from the Heart of Dixie, and the Rebels sidestepped past the Aggies with ease. Dak Prescott was unflappable versus Auburn despite a few turnovers, finishing with 246 yards passing and 121 yards rushing on the day. The 12th Man was no match for all the momentum Ole Miss carried into College Station; the Rebels forced a pick-six on Aggie quarterback Kenny Hill that put the contest out of reach before halftime.

Oct 4, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive back Justin Cox (9) and Mississippi State Bulldogs running back Josh Robinson (13) celebrate their teams win against the Texas A&M Aggies at Davis Wade Stadium. The Bulldogs defeated the Aggies 48-31. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 4, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive back Justin Cox (9) and Mississippi State Bulldogs running back Josh Robinson (13) celebrate their teams win against the Texas A&M Aggies at Davis Wade Stadium. The Bulldogs defeated the Aggies 48-31. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss now sits third in the AP Polls—and Mississippi State is No. 1 in the land. In fact, the Bulldogs are the fastest team to go from unranked to the top of the AP in its total history. The question is, can they stay there? Both schools still have plenty of tough opponents from the SEC West to play. If somehow they can remain in their current positions, this year’s Egg Bowl will have not only conference championship, but national championship implications. As impressive as both squads have performed to date, the notion of this still sounds a little odd.

Big Ten is earning its reputation for “toting the rock”

After Braxton Miller’s preseason injury and Week 2 loss by Michigan State to the Ducks of Oregon, your grandfather’s favorite college football conference looked insignificant in the broad scope of things. Alas, there is still something for him to stick that chin out on: the running game!

As of all games through October 14th, the Big Ten sports three of the top-10 rushing offenses in the country. Wisconsin sits at the top piling up on average 343 yards per game; Nebraska and Indiana are fifth and sixth respectively, each compiling over 300 yards on the ground per contest. You could even attribute Arkansas, the school that rounds out the top-10 within the category, and their success at running the ball to the Big Ten.

Their head coach Bret Bielema has basically taken the formula he learned while steering the ship that Barry Alvarez built with the Badgers to Fayetteville. If you listen in on a televised game featuring the Razorbacks, you’re almost certain to hear a commentator gush at how Arkansas’ O-Line is bigger than any college or pro team’s. Recruiting gargantuan bodies for the trenches has been a long-standing staple of Wisconsin football.

Individually, the conference is highlighted on the ground as well. The top rusher in the nation right now is running back Tevin Coleman of Indiana, but Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon is nipping at his heels. Both players have over 1,000 yards rushing on the season. Speedy all-purpose back Ameer Abdullah from Nebraska is fourth with 878 rushing yards; Minnesota’s David Cobb, piling up 819 yards on the ground, is seventh in the country.

Depending on the status of Todd Gurley’s eligibility for Georgia this year, and possible slips in public opinion on high-profile QBs already in contention, the Heisman Trophy winner could very well come from the Big Ten. What would be ironic is if at the same juncture the conference can’t place its eventual champion into a playoff slot.

CFB Playoff will be another case of ‘The Haves and the Have Nots’


The clamor for a solution to “settle it on the field” finally gained steam. Rudy’s proclamation notwithstanding, the powers that be surely assume there will be nothing but approval bestowed upon 2014’s postseason results. We all know that most (besides the athletes themselves) are winning financially, but will we truly crown a worthy champion?

There is little deviation between the AP and Coaches’ Polls so far this season—and both have shown an affinity for the SEC West. But have all of their teams deserved it? LSU, while still highly talented, doesn’t appear to be a team that should have been thought of as a top-10 contender. Alabama is prime for a disappointing multiple-loss campaign, to the chagrin of their iron maiden of a ballcoach.

For that matter, the SEC as a whole is probably overrated. The East Division is simply not good. Florida is lucky to have any wins this year besides a drubbing of Eastern Michigan. UGA is competent but flawed without Gurley. Kentucky and Tennessee are nice stories, but won’t be competing for much besides your typical middle-of-the-pack bowl game bid. Vanderbilt is, well, yeah…

Now compare all of the SEC to the Pac-12. Or perhaps the Big-12. You should notice a difference in that other conferences actually have better teams lower on the rung. Teams like Utah, Washington State, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. Maybe it’s time to start believing the Oregons and Baylors of the world have it tougher than we thought.

The problem is, when forecasting what the College Football Playoff rankings may look like come the middle of November, a prediction of the four coveted spots of interest seems log-jammed with usual suspects. The SEC really should only have one representative—their rightful conference champion after a brawl in the Georgia Dome. Yet, based on the current AP Polls placing half of the Top-10 as Southeastern Conference members, it appears that there could be at least two or more destined to make it in.

Marshall's quarterback Rakeem Cato (12) looks for a receiver in the "Battle for the Bell" against the Ohio Bobcats at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Charleston Daily Mail/Craig Cunningham 9/13/14
Marshall’s quarterback Rakeem Cato (12) looks for a receiver in the “Battle for the Bell” against the Ohio Bobcats at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Charleston Daily Mail/Craig Cunningham 9/13/14

By the way, what about equal representation? After all, there is still Marshall who should be a bigger part of the equation. With a veteran quarterback in Rakeem Cato, the Thundering Herd are 6-0 and showing no signs of stopping. Conference USA doesn’t provide the best resume for the other team from West Virginia, which is why East Carolina is ranked ahead of Marshall despite having lost to South Carolina. But shouldn’t not losing count for something more than a simple nod in cracking the Top-25?

As we look towards the second portion of the college football season, here are three games in Week 9 that standout:

(21) Texas A&M vs (7) Alabama

The Aggies have suffered back-to-back division losses in as many weeks. They’re reeling. The defense looks lost, and the other side of the ball is showing signs of added pressure because of it. If Kenny Hill and the offense can play mistake-free football for four quarters, they can outscore the Crimson Tide. Alabama will be looking to provide a crippling body blow in this knockout match of a game, with the winner still on track for a potential late push into playoff contention.

(15) Oklahoma State vs (12) TCU

The Horned Frogs, coming off a wild-west showdown in Waco, will look to bounce back at home against the Cowboys. Oklahoma State has shown admirable resolve after losing QB J.W. Walsh to injury; Tyreek Hill has the world-class speed to change the outcome of any battle on one play (such as his 99-yard kickoff return TD against Kansas last week). Okie State would set up a huge game versus Baylor towards the end of November with a win over Texas Christian. TCU can stay in the conference title hunt if QB Trevone Boykin can provide a lead for his opportunistic defense.

(5) Notre Dame vs (2) Florida State

Nostalgia reigns supreme in this colossal clash of the titans. The Fighting Irish and Seminoles are similar in many respects—both have playmakers behind center and controversy surrounding their programs. Once you get past all the hoopla and extra chatter not dealing with what happens between the lines, there is a great matchup between the Notre Dame offense and ‘Noles’ defense to look forward to.

The Golden Domers may slow down Jameis Winston and Co. to some degree, but they won’t totally shut FSU down. The key will be if Everett Golson can match his counterpart on the scoreboard long enough for his troops to believe they can pull out a W in hostile territory. If RBs Mario Pender and Dalvin Cook gain around five yards per carry (as they did in the Carrier Dome for FSU), the Garnet and Gold will not make it a close affair.

Tons of change can occur in the next few weeks as we draw closer to the playoff selection committee’s first official rankings release. Look for two to three schools among the Big-12, Big Ten and/or Pac-12 to establish themselves as legit contenders too impressive to ignore by the end of October.

Featured Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports


Ariel Bedford writes for Scouts Alley. A freelancer from Florida, he also is a contributor for Bleacher Report. Check out his personal media profile page and follow him on Twitter @mpcmi.

Rapid Reaction: No. 3 Oregon 46 – No. 7 Michigan State 27

By Ariel Bedford


In the biggest match-up of the college football season so far, the Oregon Ducks pushed the Big Ten bullies back, gaining a key victory and earning some cache come playoff selection time.

 

Why the game lived up to the hype: UO jumped out to an 18-7 lead early, sparked by a 36-yard interception return by FS Erick Dargan that set up the first TD of the game. The Spartans responded with 20 unanswered points to put MSU up 27-18 with 10:55 left in the third quarter. QB Connor Cook rebounded from his pick to orchestrate a patient offensive onslaught for Michigan State, relying on timely run calls and intermediate throws to WR Tony Lippett, who finished with 11 receptions for 133 yards and a score.

With Oregon’s defense showing fatigue due to the time of possession deficit, losing the line of scrimmage battle and not getting pressure on Cook, things looked similar to the Ducks’ previous losses at the hands of physical foes from the SEC and Stanford in big games.

How the contest turned: Oregon’s all-world QB Marcus Mariota had just been sacked to set up a 3rd and 10 at their own 41-yard line. Facing a fierce middle rush, Mariota showed dazzling escape moves to shovel the rock to true freshman RB Royce Freeman near the far sideline, who finished it off by gaining 17 yards for a Duck first down at the Spartan 42-yard line. Easily the play of the game.

Players that stepped up big: CB Troy Hill and wideout Devon Allen. Make no mistake, Mariota won the football game with his arm, ball-security, and decision-making. But timely plays by the two red-shirted Ducks are what allowed them to pull away.

Hill, a senior from Ohio, was targeted more often than Oregon’s All-American Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. He accepted the challenge well, being in the proper place on most passing situations and making strong tackles to stop Spartan receivers on third down. Allen, a freshman track star in the 110-meter hurdles, was the deep threat unleashed on the Sparty D. His three receptions for 110 yards and 2 TDs were all massive plays, especially considering UO couldn’t consistently run the ball until late.

What the win means: Oregon fulfilled their motto. Besides that, a lot in the eyes of the college football world. They finally solved the puzzle of beating a defense equipped at stuffing their renowned spread running game. Mariota was patient, and the Duck offense displayed an advanced passing attack that matched the potency of what they love to do on the ground. Considering Michigan State has excellent corners and a beastly front seven, Oregon should be pleased with the points that they were able to amass.

For the defense, this win is signature. Defensive coordinator Don Pellum’s unit found a second wind in the latter half, and took the fight right to the Spartans. Playing physical, generating pressure to force Cook away from his spots in the pocket, and getting off the field quickly allowed the offense to take over. They got more stingy against the pass, and “drew the line in the sand” against the run.

The Ducks solidified their position as the premier West Coast team with the win today. Moving forward, they should build off this game by getting more unpredictable in their play-calling and not forgetting to utilize Mariota’s running capabilities. Beating the defending Big Ten Champs gets them something even Nike can’t guarantee though: respect.


Ariel Bedford is a writer for Scouts Alley. Follow him on Twitter @mpcmi.