Oklahoma's Kyler Murray becomes favorite to win 2018 Heisman Trophy


Oklahoma's Kyler Murray becomes favorite to win 2018 Heisman Trophy

The College Football Playoff field has been decided. Now, the same goes for the Heisman Trophy finalists.

The Heisman Trust announced Monday that a group of three quarterbacks would form the group of finalists, one of which will take home the 84th Heisman Trophy when the winner is announced on Saturday night in Times Square. The finalists include Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa, and Oklahoma's Kyler Murray. All three signal callers are first-year starters.

Murray -- who was selected by the Oakland A's in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft -- is attempting to follow in the footsteps of 2017 Heisman winner and fellow Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.

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"I thank Baker for sure,” Murray told The Franchise's John Hoover. “He doesn’t know it, but I thank him. … No competitor wants to sit for the time that I did but I don’t think I would be here right now or playing the way that I am if I didn’t get to see how it’s done and watching him doing his thing. … Just competing against him every day, whether he knew it or not, practices were my game day. I’m thankful to have Bake in my corner.”

After a standout performance in Oklahoma's Big 12 Championship Game victory over Texas, Murray appears to have jumped into the pole position for this year's Heisman award. Bovada currently lists him as a -190 favorite, while an ESPN Heisman Expert Poll published Monday saw Murray receive the highest vote total (46) of any candidate. Tagovailoa received 44.

Cal football coach Justin Wilcox gets mic'd up for close look at Bears

Cal football coach Justin Wilcox gets mic'd up for close look at Bears

With Cal's late-night win over 14th-ranked Washington on Saturday, Golden Bears coach Justin Wilcox now has a winning record (14-13) in his two-plus seasons in Berkeley.

After inheriting the program from Sonny Dykes, 42-year-old Wilcox is trying to build a winning culture, and he let NBC Sports Bay Area catch a glimpse of what he's working on, granting exclusive access to Monday's practice.

"We hold them to really high standards, but that's what this place is about," Wilcox said. "You gotta have something to you. You gotta have the 'figure-it-out factor,' as we call it. This place attracts people like that. It's a big draw for us."

Two days after the big win, Wilcox allowed NBC Sports Bay Area to mic him up for Cal's practice, and the relationship with his players was on full display. There was no yelling, no scolding. Only teaching.

"I just love how even-keeled he is. No matter if we do good or do bad, he's always ready to coach us, no matter what," Bears cornerback Camryn Bynum said. "Fix any mistakes, even if we had the best game we ever played -- he's always finding something to fix. As a player, he always holds us accountable to always get better every single day."

The last time the Bears made consecutive bowl appearances was 2008 and 2009. Wilcox is trying to end that drought this season, but he knows his 2-0 team has much work to do.

"To do what we want to do as a team, it's imperative that we improve every week," Wilcox said. "If they continue to practice like this and pour their heart into the meetings, we will improve, but we're a long way from where we could be."

The Bears will host North Texas on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. PT, and then travel to Oxford, Miss., to face Ole Miss before Pac-12 Conference play resumes.

New Aaron Rodgers-gifted locker room has Cal football team fired up


New Aaron Rodgers-gifted locker room has Cal football team fired up

Aaron Rodgers: fashion icon, rocket-armed quarterback, mustache marvel and proud Cal alum.

The Green Bay Packers star quarterback made a seven-figure donation to his alma mater back in June to revamp the football program's locker room and create the Aaron Rodgers Football Scholarship. The scholarship will go to one junior college transfer per season.

Rodgers, a Chico native, transferred to Cal after playing his freshman season at Butte College.

As for the locker room renovations, those recently were completed and this year's Bears were fired up about their new digs. 

Pretty, pretty flossy.

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Head coach justin Wilcox has put together an impressive defense that helped the Bears go 7-5 last season and earn a berth in the Cheez-It Bowl where they eventually lost to TCU.

Cal opens its season Saturday against UC-Davis.