NCAA

Heisman Watch: R...G...3

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Heisman Watch: R...G...3

We began this journey with the first Heisman Watch on September 11, and today the journey ends with Heisman Watch No. 14.

Earlier today, at around 3:15 PST, Eddie George, the 1995 Heisman Trophy winner, announced the five Heisman finalists.

On Saturday, the winner will be announced in New York City.

It's becoming clear that Robert Griffin III is the favorite, and deservedly so.

Rank Player, Position, School Recent Game Stats Season Stats 1 Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor 15-22, 320 yards, 2 TD, INT, 2 rush TD in 48-24 win over No. 22 Texas 267-369 (72.4), 3998 yards, 36 TD, 6 INT, 644 rush yards, 9 rush TD 2 Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford Idle 261-373 (70), 3170 yards, 35 TD, 9 INT, 2 rush TD 3 Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama Idle 263 rush, 1583 yards (6.0 YPC), 20 rush TD, 327 rec. yards, 3 rush TD 4 Tyrann Mathieu, DB, LSU 62-yard punt return for TD, 4 tackles, TFL, fumble recovery in 42-10 win over No. 14 Georgia 2 punt return TD, 2 fumbles return TD, 70 tackles, 2 INT, 6 forced fumbles 5 Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin 27 rushes, 137 yards, 3 rush TD, rec. TD in 42-39 win over No. 13 Michigan State 275 rushes, 1759 yards (6.4 YPC), 32 rush TD, 255 rec. yards, 6 rec. TD
Snubbed: Matt BarkleyQBUSC, Kellen MooreQBBoise State, Case KeenumQBHouston

Analysis:

1) Robert Griffin III: Back on September 2, in front of a national TV audience, Robert Griffin III completed 21 of 27 passes, for 359 yards and five touchdowns as Baylor upset No. 14 TCU. It was Baylor's first win over a ranked opponent since 2004. Although Griffin continued to put up big numbers in practically every game, the Bears lost three of four games in October, including blowout losses at Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. As a result, Griffin didn't break into the top 5 in our Heisman Watch until just two weeks ago on November 21. Why? Because the trophy isn't just about statistics. Your team needs to win as well. Well, after Griffin completed 21-34 passes for 479 yards, four touchdowns, rushed for 72 yards, and completed a 34-yard touchdown pass with 8 seconds left to upset No. 5 Oklahoma, the Baylor Bears were 7-3, and ranked No. 18 in the country. Griffin became practically a household name over night, and became the "sexy" pick to win the award. The following week against Texas Tech, Griffin wasn't able to play in the second half after suffering a concussion right before halftime. Although he accounted for 168 yards and three touchdowns in the first two quarters, not playing in the second half hurt his chances. He needed a monster performance in Baylor's final game against No. 22 Texas to have a shot. He didn't disappoint. Robert Griffin III has singlehandedly turned Baylor football around, he's been the most exciting player to watch all season long, and deserves to win the award.
- Note: Griffin will become the third player since 1998 to win the award despite the fact his team is not playing in a BCS bowl game (Ricky Williams in '98, and Tim Tebow in '07)2) Andrew Luck: In our Heisman Watch from October 31, Luck had such a big lead in the race he was considered a virtual lock to win the award. He was coming off a "Heisman moment" in which he led the Cardinal back to a triple-overtime win over USC after throwing a pick-six with 3:07 left in regulation to give the Trojans a 34-27 lead. But two weeks later came the 53-30 home loss to Oregon, in which Luck threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a TD (Yes, I know it was a dropped pass and completely not Andrew's fault, but still -- it didn't help his cause). He had great games against Cal and Notre Dame to finish the season, but he simply didn't do enough to win the award. There are three reasons as to why he won't win: 1) The preseason hype was out of control to the point that no matter what he did, he couldn't live up to the expectations 2) Stanford is a run first team 3) He didn't have the weapons around him -- injuries to Chris Owusu, Zach Ertz, and Levine Toilolo handicapped his ability to put up big numbers and make deep throws down the field. At the end of the day, Andrew Luck may be the best player in Stanford football history, spearheaded a turnaround that saw Stanford improve from 1-11 in 2006 to back-to-back BCS appearances in '10 and '11, and will most likely wind up finishing second in the Heisman two straight years. Unbelievable stuff.3) Trent Richardson: As Scott Reiss noted in "No Luck is bad luck," Richardson, like Luck, was hurt by not having the opportunity to play on "Championship Saturday." Robert Griffin III wasn't playing in a "championship" game, but he took advantage of the schedule and did what he needed to do against Texas in Baylor's regular season finale. Last week, we had Richardson and Luck tied for the top spot, and Richardson certainly didn't do anything to lose the award. Robert Griffin III stole it away from him. The junior has had an unbelievable career at Alabama, and will trade a victory over LSU in the BCS title game for the Heisman any day of the week. 4) Tyrann Mathieu: The last time a defensive player finished in the top 5 of the Heisman voting was Ndamukong Suh in 2009. The last defensive player to win the award was Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson in 1997 (he did register 11 catches for 231 yards, two TDs, and also rushed for a TD). Mathieu has been nothing short of amazing in 2011, and has made some plays that literally made your jaw drop. His defensive exploits are one of the main reasons LSU is playing in the national championship game, and his punt returning capabilities resemble that of a certain Patrick Peterson -- who anchored LSU's secondary a season ago, was drafted No. 5 overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2011 NFL Draft, and has tied Devin Hester's NFL single-season-record with four punt returns for touchdowns this season. The bad news for the SEC: Mathieu is a true sophomore and will be back in purple and gold next season, terrorizing opposing quarterbacks. 5) Montee Ball: If the award was based solely on numbers, Montee Ball would hear his name called on Saturday night. His 38 total touchdowns leaves him one behind Barry Sanders' all-time-single-season-record of 39, and there's no reason to believe he won't break that record when Wisconsin takes on Oregon in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2. Ball is hoping to become the first Badger to win the award since Ron Dayne did so in 1999. It's amazing that a guy with so many touchdowns, who plays at a big-time program like Wisconsin, was able to fly under the radar for so long. In fact, after Wisconsin thumped Nebraska 48-17 back on October 1 (Ball rushed for 151 yards and four touchdowns) it was quarterback Russell Wilson who became a serious Heisman contender, not Ball. However, on Monday, not only did Ball find out he will be in New York City this weekend, but he can legally buy himself a drink to celebrate because he turned 21 on Monday. A day to remember to say the least.

Thank you for following the Heisman Watch all season on CSNBayArea.com. Already looking forward to next season.
Drew Shiller is a Web Producer at CSNBayArea.com. You can follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

WNBA All-Star sues Cal over alleged sexual assault

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AP

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

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AP

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

BOX SCORE

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.