College football roundup: Harbaugh wins again; Stanford crushed


College football roundup: Harbaugh wins again; Stanford crushed

The man can coach.

Jim Harbaugh, who turned around a moribund Stanford program and led the 49ers to within five yards of a Super Bowl title, is working his magic again in Ann Arbor. Harbaugh took over a Michigan franchise that had gone 35-40 the previous six years and is 15-3 to date, resurrecting the vise-like Michigan defense that was AWOL under predecessors Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke.

Saturday, the No. 4 ranked Wolverines beat No. 8 Wisconsin 14-7 in a typical smash mouth Big Ten game that wasn’t as close as the score might indicate (Michigan missed three makeable field goals and Wisconsin’s only score was set up by a long interception return). All signs point to the Nov. 26 Michigan-Ohio State game as a faceoff for the playoffs.

There were two other matchups over the weekend between top 10 teams. One was a blowout, the other a nail-biter.

Washington 44 – Stanford 6: No one saw this coming. What was heralded as “the biggest game of the year in the Pac-12” turned out to be no contest. The 10th-ranked Huskies dominated in the trenches, held Christian McCaffrey to 79 yards from scrimmage and gave No. 7 Stanford its worst shellacking since the IPhone 4.

I’m not sure what was more surprising—the ease with which Washington scored, or Stanford’s inability to move the ball. Much has been made of the fact that Stanford’s two starting cornerbacks missed the game with injuries, but the most critical loss may have been fullback Daniel Marx. Marx is McCaffrey’s lead blocker and also fills a crucial role on pass protection. He was sorely missed.

Clemson 42, Louisville 36: In a thoroughly exciting and entertaining game, Deshaun Watson threw five touchdown passes to lead No. 5 Clemson. No. 3 Louisville scored 26 straight points to get back in the game and came up a yard short of first-down yardage inside the Clemson five in the closing seconds. Both teams remain in the playoff hunt.

Elsewhere: Oregon lost its third straight (51-33 to WSU) and must find a defense very quickly with Washington up next. Colorado (4-1) continued its resurgence under former San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre with a convincing win over Oregon State. USC coach Clay Helton may have averted an early morning meeting with Athletic Director Lynn Swann on the LAX tarmac by winning at Arizona State. And No. 22 Nebraska improved to 5-0 with a win over Illinois. The Huskers’ coaches trace their turnaround to an impressive victory over UCLA in last year’s Foster Farms Bowl at Levi’s Stadium.

Cal’s Defense Shines: The much-maligned Cal defense came up big with a last-minute goal-line stand against unbeaten and No. 18 ranked Utah to preserve a 28-23 win. Cal quarterback Davis Webb, the national leader in touchdown passes, added four more and now has 22 in five games. Not surprisingly, a host of 49ers’ scouts were watching Webb from the Memorial Stadium press box.

Where’s Mack? ESPN2 analyst Mack Brown, the former Texas coach, bailed out of Friday night’s BYU-Toledo game with almost 11 minutes remaining and Toledo up 45-42. Apparently, Brown left to catch an early flight so he could make the ESPN studio show Saturday morning in Bristol. Brown missed an amazing finish, as BYU won 55-53 on a last second field goal. He probably wouldn’t have left if it was Oklahoma-Texas.

Heisman watch: It’s still early, but right now the Heisman race is all about quarterbacks.

J.T. Barrett, Ohio State: You’ll recall that Barrett started most of 2014 as a redshirt freshman after returning Big Ten Player of the Year Braxton Miller suffered a season-ending injury in fall camp. All Barrett did was pass for 35 touchdowns, rush for 11 more, and lead the Buckeyes to a 10-1 record before breaking his ankle against Michigan. Last year, he split time with Cardale Jones, who’d led the Buckeyes to the national championship after Barrett went down. This season, with the job all to himself, Barrett has been phenomenal, piloting the No. 2 ranked Buckeyes (4-0) to 57 points per game.

Lamar Jackson, Louisville: Saturday’s loss won’t diminish Jackson’s Heisman chances at all. He brought his team back and was in position to win the game when his receiver was stopped a yard short. Jackson is responsible for 28 TDs in five games—14 passing and 14 running—more than just a handful of teams. Heisman voters have preferred a fresh face in recent years (Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton, Derrick Henry, etc.), which works in his favor.

Deshaun Watson, Clemson: Watson finished third last year behind winner Henry and Stanford’s McCaffrey. After a great performance in the national championship game vs. Alabama, he went into the season as one of the favorites, along with McCaffrey and LSU’s Leonard Fournette. Watson started slowly this year, but his five-touchdown performance vs. Louisville has vaulted him back near the top of the heap.

Rising (with a bullet): Washington’s Jake Browning could get into the mix if the Huskies continue to win and he continues to impress.

Losing ground: The pre-season headliners at running back have all lost ground. McCaffrey must compete with his own incredible numbers from last year, when he broke Barry Sanders’ single season all-purpose yardage record and should have won the Heisman. He’ll need some big performances in the coming weeks. Fournette has missed two games because of injury and his coach was fired after four games. Florida State’s Dalvin Cook is also being hurt by his under-achieving team (3-2).

New AP Top 25: 1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Clemson, 4. Michigan, 5. Washington,    6. Houston, 7. Louisville, 8. Texas A&M, 9. Tennessee, 10. Miami, 11. Wisconsin, 12. Nebraska, 13. Baylor, 14. Ole Miss, 15. Stanford, 16. Arkansas, 17. North Carolina, 18. Florida, 19. Boise State, 20. Oklahoma, 21. Colorado, 22. West Virginia, 23. Florida State, 24. Utah, 25. Virginia Tech. Cal received three votes.

Gary Cavalli is a 40-year veteran of the Bay Area sports scene and was Executive Director of the Foster Farms Bowl and Sports Information Director/Associate Athletic Director at Stanford

WNBA All-Star sues Cal over alleged sexual assault


WNBA All-Star sues Cal over alleged sexual assault

BERKELEY — Former California women’s basketball player and current WNBA All-Star guard Layshia Clarendon has filed a lawsuit against Cal claiming she was sexually assaulted by a longtime member of the athletic department.

The school acknowledged the lawsuit Wednesday night and said the staff member, Mohamed Muqtar, had recently been placed on paid leave. The assistant director of student services, Muqtar has been working for the university for just more than 25 years, the school said. An e-mail to Muqtar’s Cal email account was not immediately returned.

Cal said in a statement “the University is aware of the complaint, but has not received a copy of the lawsuit nor had the benefit of reviewing the allegations.”

Clarendon, who plays for the Atlanta Dream and was at Cal from 2009-13, posted on Twitter her thoughts about the lawsuit.

She said in three separate tweets:

— “Regarding the news today: I want the shame to not be my own anymore, because it’s not my shame to carry, but it’s something that I’ve had to carry. It’s a horrible thing to live in silence, to carry that pain and that weight and the guilt.”

— “My biggest hope is that he never does this to anyone else. That no one else has to suffer under his hand, or him violating their bodies again. That this would be the end of him assaulting people. #TimesUp.”

— “It feels there is a big level of responsibility there for me, to make sure this doesn’t continue. And he doesn’t continue to harm other people.”

Cal explained in its statement that this case goes beyond the athletic department for investigation.

The statement reads: “Our department policy states that once anyone in Cal Athletics is made aware of any instance or allegation of a violation of University policy involving a coach, staff member or student-athlete, those matters are referred to the appropriate departments on campus responsible for investigating them. Athletics does not have its own specific conduct process nor does it investigate allegations or cases on its own, but follows the University’s policy and works in concert with campus professionals who are responsible for those areas. All university staff are also required to complete sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention training, and those programs have increased in recent years. Cal Athletics is and will always be committed to fostering a culture where everyone feels safe, welcome and respected. We encourage anyone who is feeling distressed or troubled to contact the PATH to Care Center and other campus resources.

“Layshia holds a special place in our history for her contributions to Cal women’s basketball both on and off the court and we are saddened to hear of the allegations that are coming to light today.”

Alabama wins national title on epic walk-off touchdown in OT


Alabama wins national title on epic walk-off touchdown in OT


ATLANTA -- To add another championship to the greatest dynasty college football has ever seen, Alabama turned to its quarterback of the future, and Tua Tagovailoa proved that his time is now.

The freshman quarterback, who had played mostly mop-up duty this season, came off the bench to spark a comeback and threw a 41-yard touchdown to DeVonta Smith that gave No. 4 Alabama a 26-23 overtime victory against No. 3 Georgia on Monday night for the College Football Playoff national championship.

Tagovailoa entered the game at halftime, replacing a struggling Jalen Hurts, and threw three touchdown passes to give the Crimson Tide its fifth national championship since 2009 under coach Nick Saban.

"He just stepped in and did his thing," Hurts said. "He's built for stuff like this. I'm so happy for him." The Tide might have a quarterback controversy ahead of it but first Alabama will celebrate another national title.

For the third straight season, Alabama played in a classic CFP final. The Tide split two with Clemson, losing last season on touchdown with a second left.

What was Saban thinking as the winning pass soared this time?

"I could not believe it," he said. "There's lots of highs and lows. Last year we lost on the last play of the game and this year we won on the last play of the game. These kids really responded the right way. We said last year, `Don't waste the feeling.' They sure didn't, the way they played tonight."

Smith streaked into the end zone and moments later confetti rained and even Saban seemed almost giddy after watching maybe the most improbably victory of his unmatched career.

After Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos missed a 36-yard field goal that would have won it for the Tide (13-1) in the final seconds of regulation , Georgia (13-2) took the lead with a 51-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship in overtime.

Tagovailoa took a terrible sack on Alabama's first play of overtime, losing 16 yards. On the next play he found Smith, another freshman, and hit him in stride for the national championship.

Tagovailoa was brilliant at times, though he had a few freshman moments. He threw an interception when he tried to pass on a running play and all his receivers were blocking. He also darted away from the pass rushers and made some impeccable throws, showing the poise of a veteran. Facing fourth-and-goal from 7, down seven, the left-hander moved to his left and zipped a pass through traffic that hit Calvin Ridley in the numbers for the tying score with 3:49 left in the fourth quarter.

He finished 14 for 24 for 166 yards. The winning play was, basically, four receivers going deep.

"After the sack, we just got up and took it to the next play," Tagovailoa said. "I looked back out, and he was wide open. Smitty was wide open." Freshmen were everywhere for the Alabama offense: Najee Harris at running back, Henry Ruggs III at receiver, Alex Leatherwood at left tackle after All-American Jonah Williams was hurt. It's a testament to the relentless machine Saban has built.

But this game will be remembered most for his decision to change quarterbacks trailing 13-0.

"I just thought we had to throw the ball, and I felt he could do it better, and he did," Saban said. "He did a good job, made some plays in the passing game. Just a great win. I'm so happy for Alabama fans. Great for our players. Unbelievable."

Saban now has six major poll national championships, including one at LSU, matching the record set by the man who led Alabama's last dynasty, coach Paul Bear Bryant.

This was nothing like the others.

With President Trump in attendance, the all-Southeastern Conference matchup was all Georgia in the first half before Saban pulled Hurts and the five-star recruit from Hawaii entered. The president watched the second half from Air Force One.

"I don't know how Coach Saban found me all the way in Hawaii from Alabama," Tagovailoa said. "Thank God he found me and we're here right now."

The Tide trailed 20-7 in the third quarter after Georgia's freshman quarterback, Jake Fromm, hit Mecole Hardman for an 80-yard touchdown pass that had the Georgia fans feeling good about ending a national title drought that dates back to 1980.

Fromm threw for 232 yards for a while it looked as if he was going to be the freshman star for the game, the first to true freshman to lead his team to a national title season since Jamelle Holieway for Oklahoma in 1985.

"I mean, if you want to find out about Jake Fromm, go ask those guys on the other side of the ball, and they'll tell you because that's a really good defense he just went against," Smart said.

A little less than a year after the Atlanta Falcons blew a 25-point lead and lost in overtime to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, there was more pain for many of the local fans. Two years ago, Georgia brought in Saban's top lieutenant, Kirby Smart, to coach the Bulldogs and bring to his alma mater a dose of Alabama's Process.

Smart, who spent 11 seasons with Saban - eight as his defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa - quickly built `Bama East. It was Georgia that won the SEC this season. Alabama had to slip into the playoff without even winning its own division.

With the title game being held 70 miles from Georgia's campus in Athens, Dawg fans packed Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but it turned out to be sweet home for Alabama and now Saban is 12-0 against his former assistants.

But not without angst.

Alabama drove into the red zone in the final minute and Saban started playing for a field goal that would end the game and win it for the Tide. A nervous quiet gripped the crowd of 77,430 as `Bama burned the clock. With the ball centered in the middle of the field, Pappanastos lined up for a kick to win the national championship. The snap and hold looked fine, but the kicked missed badly to the left.

For the second straight week, Georgia was going to overtime. The Bulldogs beat Oklahoma in a wild Rose Bowl in double overtime to get here, and after Jonathan Ledbetter and Davin Bellamy sacked Tagovailoa for a big loss on the first play, Alabama was in trouble - second-and-26.

Not for long. Tagovailoa looked off the safety and threw the biggest touchdown pass in the history of Alabama football.