NCAA

No Luck is bad luck

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No Luck is bad luck

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Scott Reiss will be in New York for comprehensive coverage of the awarding of the Heisman Trophy. Follow all the news on SportsNet Central.This Heisman vote is a sham.And before you go accusing the Stanford guy of being a homer, let me state for the record: Robert Griffin III is a deserving Heisman candidate. Hes an electrifying player who has had an incredible season. But if RG3 wins, it will be for two reasons: one good, one ridiculous.The good is obvious: 4,000 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Nine more touchdowns rushing. The ridiculous (and the sham part): The Big 12 had no championship game.Stay with me here. If the Big 12 had a title game, as it did in previous years, Baylor -- which was in the South Division with Oklahoma State -- would not have played in that game. Which means the Bears would have finished their season a week ago. Like Stanford. Like Alabama. And Griffins performance against Texas -- though quite nice -- simply would have been considered a draw with Lucks four-TD effort against Notre Dame and Richardsons 200-plus yards against Auburn.
But because RG3 got to show off his stuff against a mediocre Texas team on Championship Saturday, he got the closing argument. Last change. Final at bat. Pick your metaphor. And again, his team was simply playing a regular-season game.There are two Heisman tracking polls which are considered to be most accurate in predicting the ultimate winner. Prior to Saturday, one had Richardson over Luck by a hair, with Griffin third; the other had Luck over Griffin and Richardson by more than a hair. Yet RG3 was able to completely turn the tide (no pun intended) on the national stage.This is the same phenomenon that occurred in 2009, when Stanford's Toby Gerhart lost out to Alabama's Mark Ingram. Alabama played on the final Saturday, Ingram went for 100-plus yards and three scores, and the tide turned (OK, this time I meant it). Gerhart, by the way, rushed for 200-plus and three scores the week before against Notre Dame. But how can voters be expected to think back that far?Gerharts numbers -- at the same position -- were superior to Ingrams in every way -- by a lot. And dont give me the but Ingram played in the SEC baloney. There were statistical algorithms which accounted for the tougher competition, and Toby still had superior numbers. The result? Ingram by 28 points, the closest vote in Heisman history. You dont think the recency effect (and the fact that Stanford didnt promote its guy at all -- but thats another gripe) might have accounted for that slimmest of margins? Without question it sunk Gerhart, and it might well sink his former teammate.The only silver lining here -- if youre a disgruntled Stanford fan who cringes at the thought of another Alabama running back beating out a Cardinal for the award -- is that this time around, the 'Bama guy is in the same boat. Wisconsin's Montee Ball went nuts in the Big Ten Championship game and surely convinced a bevvy of voters (and rightly so, I would add) that he is, in fact, the best running back in America. The numbers certainly support it (Ball 1,759 yards, 6.4 yardscarry, 32 rushing TDs Richardson 1,583-6.0-20 not even close!), and the recency effect clinches it.The difference between Ball and Griffin is simple: Montee was (unjustly) barely on the grid prior to Saturday; Griffin was already a legit contender. By the way, lest anyone dare try to use my logic against me and argue that, by way of the Ball-Richardson theory, Griffin is more deserving than Luck because his numbers are better, slow your roll (did I really just type that?). The better stats argument is fine for running backs. Quarterbacks need to be evaluated on a completely different level, as there are so many intangibles that come into play. Fortunately, I dont need to make the Luck intangibles argument. David Shaw did a fine job of that last week.So when the announcement is made in Manhattan this coming Saturday, let nothing surprise you. Luck could still win. Richardson could still win. Or Baylor might indeed have its first ever Heisman recipient. And if the latter happens, at least youll know why.

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

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AP

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

BOX SCORE

PALO ALTO — Bryce Love rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown despite missing most of the fourth quarter after aggravating an ankle injury, and No. 20 Stanford held off California 17-14 on Saturday to keep its Pac-12 title hopes alive.

K.J. Costello completed 17 of 26 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, Ben Edwards made a key interception in the fourth quarter and Cameron Scarlett rushed for 49 yards on the final drive in place of Love to help the Cardinal (8-3, 7-2 Pac-12) milk the clock and win its eighth straight Big Game.

Stanford can earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game against USC but needs some help.

The Cardinal can get there if No. 15 Washington State loses to No. 16 Washington next week. If the Cougars — who beat Stanford 24-21 on Nov. 4 — beat the Huskies, they get the nod because of the tiebreaker.

The nation's leading rusher going into the game, Love was held in check most of the game by Cal's defense and sat out the final 11:43 after re-injuring his ankle that has bothered him for the past month. He did stay on the field long enough to score a 57-yard touchdown — his 11th run of 50 yards or longer this season.

Scarlett, Love's primary backup all season, also came up big for Stanford. Scarlett rushed for 61 yards, the majority coming on the Cardinal's last drive that took the final 7:25. Scarlett's 2-yard gain on 4th-and-1 kept the drive going.

Patrick Laird ran for 153 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries while Ross Bowers passed for 182 yards and a touchdown for California. The Golden Bears (5-6, 2-6) need a win in their final game to become bowl eligible in coach Justin Wilcox's first season.

THE TAKEAWAY

California: The Bears made the Cardinal sweat and kept the game a lot closer than many thought possible. Wilcox's defense did a good job bottling up Love most of the game but couldn't stop Scarlett on the final drive which was huge. Still, there are plenty of positives for Cal to take out of this one.

Stanford: It wasn't the best game for David Shaw's team but the Cardinal gritted it out and held off a pesky Cal team that had plenty to play for. The conference title can still happen but before that Stanford has a pretty big game coming up against Notre Dame.

UP NEXT

California: Ends the regular season at UCLA on Saturday.

Stanford: The Cardinal stay home and will host No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday. Stanford has won the last two and six of last eight against the Irish.

Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital

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AP

Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The New Orleans Saints say running back Daniel Lasco has feelings in his extremities after suffering a spinal injury making a tackle on a kickoff return during today's game at Buffalo.

Lasco was loaded into an ambulance on the field and taken to a hospital.

He was hurt six minutes into the second quarter when he appeared to lower his head while tackling Bills returner Brandon Tate. 

Lasco played four seasons at the University of California, Berkeley. He gained 1,471 yards from scrimmage with 14 touchdowns his junior year. In 2015 as a senior, Lasco was limited to nine games and only totaled 355 yards. 

The Saints selected Lasco in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Associated Press contributed to this report