Heisman Trophy Watch

Voting for the Heisman Trophy ends at 2 p.m. (PT) today. The award should announce the players invited to the ceremony in New York a couple hours later. Will Adoree Jackson be included?

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Morning Buzz: USC, Penn State Owe Steve Sarkisian For Success

sarkisian-2015In my column on the Rose Bowl, I look at how three schools (USC, Penn State, Washington) owe Steve Sarkisian for the success they experienced this season.

Excerpt: When Sarkisian left Washington for USC, it allowed the Huskies to hire Chris Petersen and become one of the nation’s top four teams. When Sarkisian was fired by USC, it allowed Clay Helton to calmly restore the Trojans to their current top 10 status.

So how did Sarkisian shape Penn State? Nittany Lions coach James Franklin was identified by former USC athletic director Pat Haden as a candidate to replace Lane Kiffin the summer before Kiffin was fired in 2013. But Franklin coached at Vanderbilt, which might as well have been another country for the myopic coaching searches run by Haden (and he was hired at Penn State).

Full column here

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A USC Rose Bowl Streak Survives

nixon-rose-bowlWith USC being selected in the Rose Bowl today, it keeps a streak intact: The Trojans have played in a Rose Bowl game during the term of every U.S. President since 1929.

Above, President Richard Nixon attends 1969 Rose Bowl between USC and Purdue, three weeks before officially taking the office. Also with him is California Gov. Ronald Reagan.

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The Latest Line

USC opens as a 6.5-point favorite over Penn State according to bookmaker.eu, which offers this analysis: “The Trojans are already a public team, and over the course of the last month or so, the sharps pounded them almost every week. USC may have been the hottest team at the book during the second half of the season. I doubt this closes under a touchdown.”

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Who Is USC’s Backup QB?

jalen-greenUSC goes into the Rose Bowl without Max Browne, which means if Sam Darnold got hurt, what would happen? I asked Clay Helton today and he declined to name a No. 2. Helton said Matt Fink is available, mentioned two walk-ons and then said Jalen Greene was also possible.

My guess is USC will prepare Greene (pictured), who has the most experience, as the backup for the Rose Bowl.

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Yes, It Really Did Matter Sam Darnold Did Not Start Sooner

darnold-ucla-3Here is what Kirby Hocutt, who is the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee, said today about USC:

“Obviously, Southern California’s a team that impressed the selection committee over the last eight weeks. Probably one of the most talented teams in the country. Had they not lost three early games, they probably would have been in the conversation for participation in the semifinals.”

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USC v. Penn State In Rose Bowl

sanchez-rose-bowlIt’s official: USC plays Penn State in the Rose Bowl. The game is on Jan. 2 so you can stay out late on New Year’s Eve. USC finished No. 9 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Colorado was No. 10.

UPDATED: Here’s Clay Helton’s statement: “It is a great reward for our football team after a very strong finish to the 2016 season.”

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