Postseason #CFBrank: 21-30

January, 18, 2015
Jan 18
11:04
AM ET

We're wrapping up the 2014 season by ranking the top 100 players in college football, just like we did before the season. As the rankings are announced, you can also find them here on the pages of ESPN.com.

What is #CFBrank?

#CFBrank is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along.

How did we rank the players?

We asked 32 of ESPN's college football writers and editors to rate players on a scale of 0-10 based on their performance during the 2014 season.


(Read full post)


Postseason #CFBrank: 31-40

January, 18, 2015
Jan 18
10:46
AM ET

We're wrapping up the 2014 season by ranking the top 100 players in college football, just as we did before the season. As the rankings are announced, you also can find them here on the pages of ESPN.com.

What is #CFBrank?

#CFBrank is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along.

How did we rank the players?

We asked 32 of ESPN's college football writers and editors to rate players on a scale of 0-10 based on their performance during the 2014 season.


(Read full post)


QB recruits turned recruiters

January, 17, 2015
Jan 17
6:00
PM ET

When it comes to college football recruiting, there are quarterbacks and then there's everybody else.

Postseason #CFBrank: 51-60

January, 17, 2015
Jan 17
12:39
AM ET

We're wrapping up the 2014 season by ranking the top 100 players in college football, just like we did before the season. As the rankings are announced, you can also find them here on the pages of ESPN.com.

What is #CFBrank?

#CFBrank is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along.

How did we rank the players?

We asked 32 of ESPN's college football writers and editors to rate players on a scale of 0-10 based on their performance during the 2014 season.


(Read full post)


Happy Friday. Or not, seeing that it's the first Friday of the offseason.

Of course, there is no offseason.

Follow me on Twitter.

To the notes!

Joe Bruin from Los Angeles writes: Can UCLA's season really be called a huge disappointment? A top 10 finish, 5-2 record vs ranked teams and 7-0 away from home against what was a much tougher schedule than expected seems like a decent season, even if it doesn't match the national title hype we got.

Ted Miller: It can be. People say overheated things all the time. My guess is individuals who would describe UCLA's 2014 season as "huge disappointment" are not saying something they actually believe but are looking for a reaction. And we all know that getting a reaction is the raison d'etre for a lot of folks in the punditry and on social media.

Now I am operating here almost entirely on the adjective "huge." As a person who considered the Bruins a darkhorse national-title contender in the preseason, it's factually accurate to say that the Bruins didn't live up to my -- or many others' -- expectations. In fact, seeing they were ranked No. 7 in the preseason and finished 10th, that sentiment can be quantified.

UCLA's season being considered a disappointment of more than moderate burn rests almost entirely on one game: The shocking 31-10 loss to Stanford on the final weekend of the regular season that cost the Bruins the South Division title. If the Bruins had won that game and won the South, things might have felt different, even if they went on to lose to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game.

But you can't assess most seasons on one game. It's about the totality of what happened and then placing that into a sober, objective-as-possible perspective of reasonable expectations as well as historical precedent.

Fact: UCLA's No. 10 final ranking is the team's highest since 1998, and that squad lost its final two games. So, yeah, highest final ranking in 16 freaking years is not a "huge disappointment."

Fact: UCLA won 10 games for the ninth time in SCHOOL HISTORY.

Fact: UCLA has now won 10 games in back-to-back seasons for just the third time in school history.

Fact: UCLA went 10-3 against a schedule that featured seven teams that finished the season ranked and saw 10 opponents play in bowl games. Twelve games were against Power 5 conference teams, and the 13th, Memphis, finished 10-3. No team on the Bruins' schedule other than Colorado won fewer than five games, and eight won at least eight games.

Fact: UCLA has won three in a row over USC. To clarify, the Bruins have whipped the Trojans three consecutive years under coach Jim Mora. Let that marinate for a few moments.

Sure, the Bruins often won ugly. The offensive line struggled most of the season. QB Brett Hundley was good but didn't live up to preseason Heisman hype. The talent-laden defense underachieved. Who can forget Mora and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich barking at each other on the sidelines during the Oregon game? And even the bowl win over a good Kansas State team featured a blown lead and some post-game controversy.

It wasn't always a pretty season. But it was a good season -- 16 years! -- that continued to suggest the Bruins are rising under Mora.

But, sure, if someone wants to be hugely disappointed, have at it.

David from Calgary writes: With Mariota off to the draft, UO has to open the chapter on a new QB. While there won't ever be a replacement for the best QB to don the Green & Yellow (And Black, Silver, White, Neon, etc...) who should Helfrich turn to? Should he look for a game manager who can get the ball to the play makers (Freeman, Tyner, Addison, Nelson) or should he try to replicate Mariota as close as possible (Braxton Miller transfer)?

Ted Miller: Mark Helfrich and offensive coordinator Scott Frost are going to pick the QB who they think will win the most games. It won't be a "type." It will be the guy who plays the best and best leads the offense.

But I see where you are coming from and I am not trying to patronize the question. It's highly likely whoever wins the job next season will be more of a game manager than Marcus Mariota, but that could also be a function of him being a first-year starter. Mariota was obviously a different QB this season than he was his first season as a starter in 2012.

What is certain is the offense -- assuming everyone gets healthy -- will be loaded. The O-line is better off than many think, and the Ducks are as deep at the skill positions as they have ever been. Lining up with Bralon Addison, Darren Carrington, Charles Nelson and Pharaoh Brown as receiving options will severely stress any defense, particularly when it also has to contend with RBs Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner.

As for who will win the job, I have no idea. From what I've gathered among the Ducks, backup Jeff Lockie will get the first snaps of spring practices, but the competition will be wide open.

AKCoug73 from Eagle River, AK writes: And now we know why the Cougs didn't announce the new DC during the holiday season. What's your take on the Grinch? The football Grinch that is...

Ted Miller: Mike Leach announcing on Christmas Day he'd hired Alex Grinch to run his defense was a headline writer's wildest dream.

Word on the street is Grinch has all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile and his brain is full of spiders, but that doesn't matter because he's taking over a defense that could be best described as Stink! Stank Stunk! He also got a glowing recommendation from Cindy Lou Who -- or, as he prefers to be called, "Chip Kelly."

I don't know much about Grinch. At 34, he's young. He was the safeties coach for a good Missouri defense the past three seasons, though the Tigers ranked 39th this season in pass efficiency defense after ranking 43rd the year before. He's also coached at Wyoming and crossed paths with Kelly at New Hampshire.

This from Bud Withers seems to be a pretty good assessment of what Grinch faces:

Grinch has considerable work ahead of him, complicated by the fact three putative starters are no longer on the team. Defensive tackle Xavier Cooper is leaving early for the NFL, linebacker Darryl Monroe is transferring, and cornerback Daquawn Brown was booted from the roster.


This feels like another off-the-radar hire from Leach, just as previous defensive coordinator Mike Breske was. The Cougars have lots of questions heading into 2015, the defense being a chief one. We shall see.

Oregonian in Exile (Belgium) writes: I woke up at 2AM to watch the Ducks take on the Buckeyes, and despite Oregon's loss I'm glad I was able to watch that historical contest. Ohio State was impressive in all aspects -- speed, power, offense, defense, coaching. Lots of respect for that team, with one minor objection. Ohio State is up 15, 1st and goal, less than a minute to play, and no chance of an Oregon comeback. Take a knee, coach.

Ted Miller: I know what you're saying but I don't get too worked up about the Buckeyes running the ball five consecutive times and scoring. If they'd tried to be tricky, that would have been something else.

It's not what I would have done if I were coaching, but Urban Meyer's M.O. is not taking a knee there.

Moreover, I suspect Ohio State, which had been decided underdogs in the two games of the College Football Playoff, probably wanted to make a final, decisive statement. It was up to the Ducks to stop them.

Bryce from San Francisco writes: Ted, objectively I know this game wasn't your fault. You guys do great work at the Pac-12 blog. But please please PLEASE, for the sake of every Oregon fan, never ever predict that Oregon is going to win a big game again. Your jinx is simply too powerful.

Ted Miller: No, it was my fault.

Sorry.

Marcus Mariota wins Manning Award

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
4:35
PM ET
Marcus Mariota
Alex Goodlett/Getty ImagesOregon quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota on Friday added the Manning Award to his lengthy list of postseason accolades.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has added another award to his collection.

The Heisman Trophy winner was honored with the Manning Award for the nation's top college quarterback Friday. The winner is determined by a vote from a panel of local and national media, as well as Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning.

Mariota announced Wednesday that he had decided to forgo his final season at Oregon and declare his eligibility for this year's NFL draft.

The 6-foot-4 dual-threat quarterback led the 13-2 Ducks all the way to Monday's national championship game, but Oregon ultimately fell 42-20 to Ohio State.

In addition to the Heisman, Mariota has also won the Maxwell and Walter Camp awards for player of the year, the Davey O'Brien award for quarterback of the year, Pac-12 offensive player of the year, and the AP Player of the Year award.


(Read full post)


By a conservative count, more than two dozen true freshmen made significant impacts for their teams during the 2014 season, with players such as Oregon running back Royce Freeman and USC do-it-all talent Adoree' Jackson stealing headlines all season. The possibility of earning playing time as a true freshman is now a recruiting pitch that must be used by every coach across the country. Pac-12 prospects are taking advantage, as seemingly more and more young players are making impacts each year. Looking ahead at the 2015 season, here are 10 prospects committed to Pac-12 programs who could make their presence felt on the field as true freshmen.


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Pac-12 all-bowl team

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
11:00
AM ET
The Pac-12 finished the season with the best bowl record among the Power 5 conferences -- 6-3 -- and generally is regarded as displacing the SEC at the No. 1 conference in 2014, even if Oregon got run over by Ohio State in the national title game.

Here's how things went.

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: No. 22 Utah 45, Colorado State 10
Hyundai Sun Bowl: No. 15 Arizona State 36, Duke 31
National University Holiday Bowl: No. 24 USC 45, Nebraska 42
Foster Farms Bowl: Stanford 45, Maryland 21
VIZIO Fiesta Bowl: No. 20 Boise State 38, No. 10 Arizona 30
Rose Bowl: No. 2 Oregon 59, No. 3 Florida State 20
Valero Alamo Bowl: No. 14 UCLA 40, No. 11 Kansas State 35
TicketCity Cactus Bowl: Oklahoma State 30, Washington 22
CFP National Championship Game Presented by AT&T: No. 4 Ohio State 42, No. 2 Oregon 20

[+] EnlargeByron Marshall
Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesOregon's Byron Marshall notched his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season in the Ducks' 42-20 loss to Ohio State on Jan. 12.
So who were the Pac-12 stars of the bowl season? Too many for this list, so apologies in advance for leaving off many of the fine performances.

OFFENSE

QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon: Completed 26 of 36 passes for 338 yards yards with two TDs and rushed for 62 yards and a TD in the Ducks' win against FSU in the Rose Bowl. Passed for 333 yards and two scores in the loss to Ohio State in national title game.

RB Thomas Tyner, Oregon: Rushed for 124 yards on 13 carries (9.5 yards per carry) and scored two TDs in the win against Florida State.

RB Paul Perkins, UCLA: Rushed for 194 yards on 20 carries (9.7 ypc) and scored two TDs in the win against Kansas State.

WR Darren Carrington, Oregon: Caught seven passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns in the win against Florida State.

WR Byron Marshall, Oregon: Caught eight passes for 169 yards with a 70-yard TD in loss to Ohio State.

OL Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah: The Utes rushed for 359 yards and didn't allow a sack against Colorado State.

OL Jake Fisher, Oregon: The Ducks dominated FSU up front, not allowing a sack and rushing for 301 yards.

OL Andrus Peat, Stanford: The Cardinal line led a 206-yard rushing attack in a win against Maryland and yielded just one sack.

OL Jake Brendel, UCLA: The Bruins rushed for 331 yards against Kansas State.

OL Toa Lobendahn, USC: Held All-Big Ten end Randy Gregory to four tackles and no sacks in the Trojans' win over Nebraska.

K Casey Skowron, Arizona: Went 3-for-3 on field goals with a long of 42 and good on all three PATs vs. Boise State.

DEFENSE

DL Nate Orchard, Utah: Sack and forced fumble in win against Colorado State.

[+] EnlargeLeonard Williams
Jake Roth/USA TODAY SportsTrojans defensive end Leonard Williams tackles Cornhuskers running back Ameer Abdullah in the National University Holiday Bowl.
DL Leonard Williams, USC: Had nine tackles and a sack in the win against the Cornhuskers.

DL Deon Hollins, UCLA: The outside linebacker -- yes, we are fudging here -- had three sacks in the win against Kansas State.

LB James Vaughters, Stanford: Had five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in win over Maryland.

LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA: Had 10 tackles, two sacks and three tackles for a loss in win over Kansas State.

LB Tony Washington, Oregon: Had four tackles and a sack against Florida State. Also forced a fumble from FSU QB Jameis Winston and returned it 58 yards for a TD.

LB Antonio Longino, Arizona State: Had a game-high 17 tackles in the Sun Devils' win against Duke.

DB Tra'Mayne Bondurant, Arizona: Had 11 tackles -- 10 solo -- with a sack, two tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery against Boise State.

DB Adoree' Jackson, USC: Had seven tackles and a deflection on defense against Nebraska. Also caught three passes with a 71-yard TD and returned a kickoff for a 98-yard TD. Played 103 plays, 78 on defense.

DB Kweishi Brown, Arizona State: Grabbed the game-clinching interception in the Sun Devils' win.

DB Troy Hill, Oregon: Led the Ducks with nine tackles against FSU with a tackle for a loss and two pass breakups.

P Drew Riggleman, Arizona: Averaged 43.1 yards on seven punts, killing three inside the Boise State 20-yard line.

Top recruiting targets in the Pac-12 

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
10:30
AM ET
With a little more than two weeks before signing day, a number of uncommitted prospects remain who could greatly alter both the college football landscape as well as the way recruiting classes are perceived on Feb. 4. Remaining “must get” recruits don’t check all the same boxes for every program, as some schools already have commitments from their must gets (for example, Arizona with Keenan Walker, or UCLA with Josh Rosen) and some of these prospects won’t exactly break a class if they don’t wind up there. But whether it’s keeping a local prospect at home, landing a five-star standout or filling a position of need, these are the uncommitted must-get recruits for every Pac-12 program between now and signing day.


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As usual, the Pac-12 experienced some significant star drain from players opting to enter the NFL draft before their eligibility was over -- seven first-team all-conference performers amid the crew of 16 -- and, as usual, USC was hit the hardest.

The Trojans lost four players, including their best receiver (Nelson Agholor), running back (Javorius Allen) and defensive lineman (Leonard Williams). The lone quasi-surprise was receiver George Farmer, who apparently is counting on his raw talent to overcome his notable lack of production and injury-prone nature.

While USC welcomes back quarterback Cody Kessler and a talented crew around him, that's a drain of 3,607 yards and 26 TDs from a team that is expected to be ranked in or near the top 10 to begin the 2015 season.

Overall in the conference, there were few surprise decisions. While Oregon and UCLA lost elite quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley as expected, two A-list running backs opted to return in Utah's Devontae Booker and Arizona State's D.J. Foster, who will switch positions to slot receiver.

Oregon got good news on defense when end DeForest Buckner decided to return, but Ducks fans might note that their marquee nonconference game at Michigan State on Sept. 12 will be against a Spartans team welcoming back quarterback Connor Cook and defensive end Shilique Calhoun.

While USC lost four players to lead the Pac-12, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and Washington each lost two, though that counts Huskies cornerback Marcus Peters, who was kicked off the team during the season.

Arizona, Colorado and Oregon State didn't lose any players early to the NFL draft. The Buffaloes were relieved that wide receiver Nelson Spruce decided to stick around, while the Wildcats' group of receivers remains deep after Cayleb Jones decided to return for his redshirt junior season.

Here is the Pac-12's early-entry list:

Arizona State
WR Jaelen Strong

California
WR Chris Harper

Oregon
QB Marcus Mariota
DE Arik Armstead

Stanford
CB Alex Carter
OT Andrus Peat

UCLA
QB Brett Hundley
DT Ellis McCarthy

USC
WR Nelson Agholor
WR George Farmer
RB Javorius Allen
DE Leonard Williams

Utah
OT Jeremiah Poutasi

Washington
LB Shaq Thompson
CB Marcus Peters

Washington State
DT Xavier Cooper

Pac-12 morning links

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
9:00
AM ET
Happy Friday!

Leading off

The end of the college football season also means it's time for the NCAA convention. Having covered it last year in SoCal, I can tell you it was a non-stop laugh riot. OK, I kid. It can be a little dry. But it's also very important.

And as the Power 5 conferences (Pac-12, SEC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten) move into the age of their newly-granted autonomous governance model, there are going to be some significant changes. Chief among them is full cost of tuition. That's just one of the topics that's on the table at this year's convention near Washington D.C.

Part of the restructuring also involves student-athlete feedback. Here are the three Pac-12 representatives.

Luke Cyphers put together a really informative Q&A style article for espnW that's worth your read if you have any interest in the future of collegiate athletics. And it's not just football-centric, it's men's and women's sports across the board.
On Saturday afternoon, the Power 5, their pockets filling with new FBS playoff cash, will propose several new rules under a new voting system. A group of presidents, athletics directors, faculty and athlete representatives will decide on new concussion protocols, boosting scholarship grants to cover the "full cost of attendance," extending scholarship guarantees beyond a one-year commitment, and increasing players' options to buy insurance to hedge against career-killing injuries.

George Schroeder of USA Today has a nice summary of the first day here.

News/notes/team reports
Just for fun

Utah kicker Andy Phillips is ready for the preseason watch lists to come out.

video

Recruiting reporters Erik McKinney, Derek Tyson and Tom VanHaaren join ESPN's Phil Murphy to update where the six uncommitted top-10 recruits stand in their college decision processes.

Mailbag: New QB starters?

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
6:30
PM ET
Welcome to the mailbag. It happens every week, so it's never way-too-early.

Jim in Los Angeles writes: Which team replacing a historical quarterback (Oregon, UCLA, Oregon State, Washington State) has the most intriguing quarterback competition? Who wins each job?

Kevin Gemmell: You’re not going to like my answers:
  • Oregon: I don’t know.
  • UCLA: I don’t know.
  • Washington State: I don’t know.
  • Oregon State: I don’t know.

Does that help? No? Oh well.

Each of those four are fascinating for their own reasons. In Oregon, you are replacing a Heisman Trophy winner and the new QB commands one of the nation’s most potent offenses.

At UCLA, you could conceivably have Jerry Neuheisel running the show while Josh Rosen develops. So that would be another year with a Rick Neuheisel quarterback at the helm. Not that Jim Mora cares about perception (Neuheisel recruited Hundley, but Mora & Co. developed him) but there are those curious to see what he does with his own quarterback. I remember chatting with Mora during the QB competition in his first season. He wanted to make a point of naming a guy early -- not just so the quarterback could start being a leader -- but so the rest of the players could learn and accept their roles.

At Oregon State you have a completely new coach to go with a completely new quarterback. So you’re starting from scratch. Sometimes that’s a good thing. But it usually comes with the condition of patience.

And at WSU we’ve seen what the offense is capable of. Luke Falk gained some valuable experience in the wake of Connor Halliday's injury, so you have to think he’s got at least a tiny advantage. Then again, Bryan Bennett had playing experience ahead of Marcus Mariota. Different schools and coaches, but a reminder nevertheless that the past doesn't always dictate the future.

The Oregon competition, confirmed by Mariota’s announcement Wednesday that he’s going pro, will obviously draw the biggest attention nationally.

Worth noting this could mean another step backward for the Pac-12 North as half the teams replace a quarterback and at least one more doesn’t know who its quarterback will be in 2015.

The South is in a much stronger position at the position. Mike Bercovici’s transition should be seamless and Cody Kessler and Anu Solomon are already in place. We have to see if the competitions open up at Utah and Colorado, but there are experienced options available to those schools.




Peter in Vancouver writes: If Oregon had won the National Championship, I would have expected that the Pac12 would have been considered the top conference-for at least this year. Oregon lost. But the Pac12 won most of their bowl games, and, in fact, most of their games against the other Power-5 conference teams this year. At worst they are the second best conference (still above the SEC), and at best they are ahead of the Big10 (only 3 teams in the top 25).

Kevin Gemmell: If you look at the final rankings, I think it’s pretty clear the Pac-12 was the No. 1 conference in college football this season. The league placed six teams in the final rankings … along with the SEC (which has two more teams). The ACC had four and the Bigs had three each.

I wrote last week that regardless of what happens in the title game, the Pac-12 was the strongest conference this season by virtue of what it did against the rest of the Power 5s, which was significantly stronger than any other conference.

Chantel reiterated that point with her column Wednesday morning and it’s evidenced by the final power rankings from ESPN Stats & Information.

I thought the Big Ten, which was an underdog in every postseason game, finished impressively strong -- beyond winning the national championship.

I fear that when July and August roll around, the “poll mentality” will once again take over. Voters will look at, say, Alabama, and call their loss in the semifinals a glitch and place them in the top two or three spots. The Pac-12 will get its recognition in numbers, but likely in the 10-20 range more so than the top 10. And as the league picks itself apart again -- because we all know it’s going to happen -- the poll mentality will again dominate until we see playoff rankings. Team X lost, therefore team Y must move ahead of it.

We’ll deal with that when it pops up next season. But for now, take comfort in the fact that the Pac-12 was by almost every definition, the strongest league in college football in 2014.




Pac-12 Fan in Reno writes: Unfortunately, Kevin lost significant credibility in his final Pac-12 power rankings for 2014. First, he states that Todd Graham has gone 34-19 at ASU. Really? 53 games in three years? Actually, Graham has compiled a 28-12 record at ASU, I believe. Unfortunately, this same oversight continued when Kevin ranked Arizona 3rd in the final rankings. How can a team whose last two games consisted of an embarrassing beat-down by Oregon and then an embarrassing shellacking by a Moutain West team (who earlier lost to Air Force?) -- in Arizona's own backyard, no less -- be the third best team in the Pac-12 at this point of the season? Arizona should have been ranked behind Utah, or more appropriately USC (to whom they lost at home). Sigh. The love-fest from ESPN for all things RichRod continues unabated ....

Kevin Gemmell: You are absolutely right on Graham’s record. I’m going back through my notes and I have no clue where that number came from. Maybe I carried an extra one? Maybe it was just a brain-flatulence typo because I was writing it during the championship game. I try hard to avoid those, but they happen. Mea culpa.

Now, on to Arizona. The final 2014 rankings were voted on by all members of the Pac-12 blog. I’m just the lucky sap who typed it up. But we all had Arizona at No. 3. So if I’m losing credibility, so should my colleagues.

I caution you, assuming you're an ASU fan, not to be too harsh on the Wildcats and consider the body of work. We showed the same respect to ASU last season and weren’t too harsh on the Sun Devils, who likewise folded in their bowl game and were beat down by Stanford in the Pac-12 title game. ASU only dropped from No. 2 to No. 3, despite losing to a Texas Tech team that, and let’s not kid ourselves, the Sun Devils should have beaten by a couple touchdowns. A two-game skid to close out the year doesn’t stain the entire season, but it warrants a slight drop in the rankings.

It has nothing to do with a Rich Rodriguez love fest. But rather the fact that the Wildcats won arguably the toughest division in college football in 2014. ASU wasn't ranked behind Oregon State. It’s not just about one game. It’s taking stock of the entire season.

Apologies again for Graham mistake. I’ll work hard to win back some of that credibility.

Elliott headlines All-Bowl team

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
5:12
PM ET
video

Ohio State became the first team to win the College Football Playoff after running over Alabama in the semifinal and then Oregon in the championship game.

It should be no surprise that the Buckeyes are well represented on ESPN.com's All-Bowl team with four selections. Leading the way is tailback Ezekiel Elliott, who ran for a combined 476 yards with six touchdowns against the Crimson Tide and Ducks.

Quarterback Cardale Jones, linebacker Darron Lee and safety Tyvis Powell also made the team.

Elliott was one of four running backs to make the squad, along with Georgia's Nick Chubb, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and LSU's Leonard Fournette, who was an all-purpose selection.

Here's the ESPN.com All-Bowl team:

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Cardale Jones, Ohio State


(Read full post)


Oregon has long faced a national perception that it is a finesse team, that it lacks physicality, that its lineman aren’t as strong as those in, say, the Big Ten or SEC.

And through a lot of the season the Ducks did their best to prove that perception wrong. The Ducks beat up on Stanford, which in the past had provided some of the prime examples of how Oregon was soft. The Ducks destroyed Arizona in the Pac-12 championship game. The Ducks commanded Florida State in the Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual.

Leading into the Rose Bowl, coaches and players did their best to put those questions to bed both in press conferences and on the field.

[+] EnlargeEzekiel Elliott
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesEzekiel Elliott's dominating performance in the championship game only reinforced the perception that Oregon was soft.
Offensive coordinator Scott Frost was asked about fighting off the perception of being a finesse team and he responded by saying, “the more people say that we struggle against physical teams, I think the more motivated our kids will be.”

Heading into the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T, the Ducks had seemingly done everything they could to really shake that soft perception, including that thumping of the Seminoles.

But then -- on the biggest stage, on the biggest night of college football -- the Ducks confirmed everyone’s perception by laying a physicality egg against Ohio State.

This doesn’t mean Oregon is soft -- anyone who has watched them all season knows that’s not the case -- but what it does mean is that 33 million viewers saw a team get manhandled and that’s going to perpetuate the perception of Oregon football.

It doesn’t matter necessarily what reality is as long as those 33 million people know what they saw. And what they saw was a team that, defensively, couldn’t stop the run to save its life. It saw a team that allowed Ezekiel Elliott to collect 171 yards before contact. Does that sound physical to anyone? Anyone other than the Charmin bear?

Oregon allowed the Buckeyes to rush for 227 yards inside the tackles, while its own offense could only manage to put together 67 yards of the same stuff.

The country saw a team that, offensively, couldn’t be physical. It saw a team that was stuffed on its own goal line. It saw a team that couldn’t convert on third downs. It saw a team that got bullied by Ohio State’s pass-rushers.

None of that looked or sounded physical. So while folks who’ve watched Oregon all along can say, “Well, that wasn’t really how they’ve been playing” or “That was very out of character,” the truth of the matter is that people are going to take that with a grain (or five-pound bag) of salt considering they know what they actually saw.

It’s like people who haven’t seen a certain award-winning movie.

They heard it was great. But they don’t actually know whether it was until they take the time to watch it themselves.

Then, they watch it but it doesn’t deliver. It was overhyped. How is that any different than what Oregon did?

People said they were great. People said they were physical. The word on the street was all about getting this monkey off their back.

Then, when 33 million people finally tuned in with no other competition for viewing (OK, fine, "The Bachelor" was on), the Ducks go out and roll over. The reviews were bunk. The word on the street that Oregon was physical this season was just fallacy and what people saw backed up the previous months and years worth of words that Oregon wasn’t, in fact, physical.

For Oregon fans, that might hurt even more than not winning the national title. But it’s easy to get pushed around by these types of things when you're soft -- just ask the Buckeyes.

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