Friday, November 17, 2017
Around the Nation: College Football 10/26/11
By Robert Gillard (Sports Writer)
Published October 27, 2011

After much speculation, an announcement is made concerning the status of a local college player. Also, a rivalry is renewed, two undefeated teams go down, the conference realignment carousel keeps spinning round, and a look at some of the potential Heisman candidates.

Dillon Baxter is no longer on USC’s football team

Dillon Baxer was a front runner for the starting running backs job in training camp, but he has rarely seen the field since the season started.  Coaches and teammates have said that he has had a bad attitude.  Photo by Jason Lewis

USC running back Dillon Baxter is no longer on the team according to head coach Lane Kiffin. While there was no official condemning word like “dismissal” or “suspension” in his statement, Kiffin did say that the move will allow Baxter to “focus on his academics.”

The move is the latest in the saga of the once highly touted prospect.

Having entered USC as a top recruit out of San Diego’s Mission Bay High School in 2010, Baxter was figured to follow in a long line of elite running backs. Yet suspensions and a crowded backfield stalled his career.

This latest move doesn’t necessarily mean the to end to Baxter’s Trojans career. Several players have returned to the field after prolonged absences, including junior running back Curtis McNeal, who missed last season due to academic ineligibility.

Baxter finishes the season with nine carries for 29 yards, and three catches for one yard — having not played in the last three games.

USC knocks off Notre Dame, but Stanford awaits

Last year against Notre Dame, USC quarterback Matt Barkley didn’t play, having missed the game due to an ankle injury. In his place, fifth-year senior Mitch Mustain got the start — the first of his Trojans career. Notre Dame won that game, 20-16.

This time around Barkley was healthy. The Fighting Irish probably wish he weren’t.

Under the lights of Notre Dame’s first night home game in 21 years, Barkley led USC to victory, 31-17.

Barkley completed 24-of-35 passes for 224 passing yards and three touchdowns, including two to Robert Woods (Gardena Serra High School).

After being criticized much of the season for not creating enough turnovers, the Trojans defense had three takeaways on Saturday, including an 80-yard fumble return for a touchdown by safety Jawanza Starling.

The strong running of Curtis McNeal (Venice HS) and Marc Tyler helped USC keep the ball away from the Notre Dame offense. USC won the time of possession battle 39:41 to 20:19. The Trojans have won nine of the last 10 games in this rivalry.

USC will have to play even better at home this Saturday to get a win against No. 6 Stanford.

BCS watch

Two of the top 10 teams lost last Saturday, and each of the team‘s respective starting quarterbacks hurt their Heisman chances in the process.

Against Michigan State’s second ranked total defense, Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson had an off day, throwing multiple interceptions and completing fewer than 70 percent of his passes — the first time either of those things happened all season.

With the game tied at 31, Spartans quarterback Kirk Cousins secured his spot in Michigan State lore with a miraculous hail-mary pass to Keith Nichol for the game-winning touchdown.

While the praise rained down on Cousins after that game, a different kind of rain was happening in Oklahoma.

Entering Saturday’s game against Texas Tech, Oklahoma had a 39-game home winning streak. Entering Sunday morning, the Sooners were trying to figure out what happened.

The game featured a 95-minute weather delay that probably hurt the Sooners more than they’d like to admit.

After being tied 7-7 after the first quarter, Texas Teach had jumped to a 31-7 lead in the third quarter. Despite a rally by quarterback Landry Jones, Oklahoma didn’t have enough.

While Landry had a good overall game, a loss to an unranked definitely hurts his shot at the Heisman.

The Sooners have the best chance of climbing back up the rankings as three of their six remaining opponents are ranked in the top 20.

Yet both of these quarterbacks may be out of the Heisman race for good.

More conference swapping

The realignment of conferences in college football has become the never-ending story. In the latest chapter, West Virginia could be leaving the Big East for the Big 12. To do so, West Virginia would have to pay a $5 million exit fee.

West Virginia would be the fourth football school to leave the Big East, leaving only  South Florida, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Louisville and Connecticut.

The Big 12 also has to worry about Missouri, which is reportedly interested in joining the SEC.

Heisman Trophy watch

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, above, and Alabama running back Trent Richardson are changing people’s minds about Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck being a shoe in for the Heisman Trophy.  AP Photo

1. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Having spent the first two years of his college career behind 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, Richardson got a decent amount of carries, and offered glimpses of his talent. Now with the spotlight all to himself, the junior has been nothing short of amazing, rushing for 989 yards so far this season.

Through eight games this season Richardson has rushed for 1,016 yards and has 17 touchdowns. A huge against No.1 LSU could be a big factor in the eyes of voters.

2. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
As soon as Cam Newton announced that he was turning pro, Andrew Luck became the odds-on favorite to win the 2011 Heisman.

While his passing numbers are not as high as some other quarterbacks (1,888 passing yards, 20 touchdowns), he isn’t that far behind. A Pac-12 title could definitely help his case.

3. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Clemson’s sophomore quarterback is probably the most under-the-radar Heisman hopeful out there right now. But the first-year quarterback is quickly on the rise. If he continues to improve upon his 2,379 passing yards and 24 touchdowns, he could realistically have Clemson in ACC title game.


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