SOU heads back to NAIA final

Raiders beat top two teams to earn right to defend national title
Dec. 6, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

A year after stunning the small college football world, the Southern Oregon Raiders are primed to defend their national title.

After a second road win over a national power, the Raiders will play for the NAIA title Dec. 19, in Daytona Beach, Fla., against their opponent from last year.

SOU and Indiana's Marian University will meet a year after the Raiders earned their first title with a 55-31 win in the 2014 championship game. The final will be televised on ESPN3, which is a web-streaming service.

Southern Oregon earned its way into the title game as the seventh seed in the 16-team playoff bracket, beating the top two seeds along the way. After a 52-8 win over Kansas Wesleyan in Ashland, the Raiders beat second seed Baker, Kan., 24-19, powered by 451 yards of total offense, and then top seed Morningside, Iowa., 30-27, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 1:15 left. The Raiders rolled up 527 yards of offense in that win.

Marian won its semifinal 45-14 over St. Francis, Ind.

Junior quarterback Tanner Trosin led the semifinal victory by throwing for 391 yards and a touchdown, and rushing for two other scores, including the deciding touchdown.

The championship has featured the same two teams in consecutive years several times before, including 2007-08.



PSU goes for top billing

Vikings might have best chance for Big Sky glory in improbable season
Oct. 15, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

With both Oregon and Oregon State struggling to become bowl-eligible at the NCAA FBS level, the Portland State football team has a rare opportunity to steal the Div. I spotlight from the downstate schools, at least within Portland, Saturday with a crucial Big Sky Conference game against Montana State.

Every game is crucial for the Vikings within the Big Sky, as it's that competitive of a conference, but Saturday's game is heightened by this week's announcement that interim coach Bruce Barnum was signed to a five-year contract following a 4-1 start. And, the game is at home: Providence Park, where fans have been sparse and most informed observers expect MSU fans to outnumber PSU fans.

Montana plays at Providence Park on Oct. 31, and those same observers expect the same from Grizzlies fans then, too.

But, wait, this is Barney Ball - the name given to the Vikings' offense this season in which there's not a focal figure and the team scores in droves.

Droves. In fact 66-7 last week in Denton, Texas (Texas!), which crushed a Conference USA team, North Texas. In Week One, the Viks beat Washington State 24-7, which made the program the first FCS team to beat two FBS teams in the same season.

Good stuff, but easily played off as being the season opener against WSU (FCS teams regularly beat FBS teams in Week 1), and North Texas is suffering through a horrid season.

Good stuff, but hollow wins without the follow-through of Big Sky wins that will propel the program to the FCS Playoffs, somewhere it has never been even remotely close to.

Saturday, that journey truly begins with the idea that the Vikings can actually play their way into a spot among the top 16 teams in FCS.


Providence Park, 12:30 p.m.


What's Michigan got to do with it?

The Wolverines might be a model for what can happen to a top FB program
Oct. 12, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

Was that the Oregon football team just a fourth-and-goal conversion from being ranked in the Top 4 earlier in the season?


Heading into Saturday’s game at Washington, a program the Ducks haven’t lost to in 11 years, the Ducks are three-point underdogs.

Underdogs to Washington. That’s how much the 2015 season has turned over in two months.

That’s a key part of the Sportsland, Oregon episode for this week, recorded at Pour Sports in Southeast Portland.

The Ducks head to Seattle off a two-overtime loss at home to Washington State in which they failed to stop the Cougars the final four times they had the ball and scored just once themselves in spite of fielding a tailback, Royce Freeman, who ran for 246 yards.

Co-hosts Cliff Pfenning and Derek Weber take on what the state of the UO program is in mid-season and how the rest of the country might be looking at the team as is struggles forward from 3-3 and needing three wins to become bowl eligible - three combined against: Washington, ASU, California, Stanford, USC and Oregon State.

The Blazers get some time, Major League Baseball, the Timbers and, oh yes, roofball.

Episode 27.

Raiders still riding victory wave

Southern Oregon, Linfield lead in-state small college programs
Oct. 8, 2015 / By Jeremy McDonald

Replacing the national player of the year hasn't been easy for the Southern Oregon University football team, so the Raiders have taken to using two players to accomplish the task.

Quarterback Austin Dodge led the Raiders to the NAIA National Championship last season as a senior, and the team has used two players in his place: Tanner Trosin and Kamerun Smith. Both have combined to lead the team to a 3-1 record and No. 2 national ranking midway through the season.

Here's a look at how the state's eight smaller schools might be ranked according to the success of their seasons:

1. Southern Oregon (3-1, 3-1 Frontier Conference)

The Raiders have a three-game win streak heading into a road game with No. 16 Montana-Western Saturday. That's two weeks after an 82-9 win against Montana State-Northern. Next week is a rematch of the season-opening loss at Carroll College of Helena, Mont. That game ended 26-20. Carroll is up to No. 4 in the NAIA poll, and the Raiders have a home game Nov. 7 against No. 17 Montana Tech, which handed Carroll a 19-10 loss.

2. Linfield College (3-0, 1-0 Northwest Conference)

The Wildcats are right back where they've been seemingly forever - nera the top of the NCAA Div. III rankings, this week at No. 4. Coming off a 73-0 win over Lewis and Clark, the team plays host to Pacific having allowed only 21 points all season.

3. Pacifc (3-1, 1-0 NWC)

The Boxers hope to give Linfield a game through the air, averaging 321 yards per game. Their one loss came at home to to Dubuque, Iowa, 31-29. Next week, Pacific meets Lewis and Clark.

4. Western Oregon (2-3, 1-1 Great Northwest)

The Wolves recovered from a well-played loss at Portland State to beat Dixie State in Utah, and now face No. 6 North Alabama at home Saturday in the return game from last season when the Lions won 30-10. Western leads the GNAC in passing at 260 yards per game.

5. George Fox (2-2, 0-1 NWC)

In their second season of rebirth, the average margin of victory in four games is 0.25 points, so excitement has been a key to the year. Saturday, the Foxes get Lewis and Clark, who they beat last year for their first win.

6. Eastern Oregon (1-4, 1-3 Frontier Conference)

The Mountaineers might be at the bottom of the conference, but they haven't been boring. Following an upset of Montana Tech, they lost in double-overtime to Rocky Mountain, two weeks after losing 38-35 to SOU due to a field goal with four seconds left in a game EOU led 35-14. This week, Eastern, which played at the Big Sky's Sacramento State, gets its chance to rally its season at Carroll.

7. Willamette (0-3, 0-1 NWC)

The Bearcats fell to conference rival Puget Sound 24-20 Saturday when they gave up a touchdown with 1:17 left. That's a week after a 17-point rally fell short to Cal Lutheran - 27-24. This week they get winless Pacific Lutheran, which lost to Pacific last week.

8. Lewis and Clark (0-3, 0-1 NWC)

The Pioneers have scored just three touchdowns all season, but two were in a 20-14 loss in Week 2.




Can Oregon still reach the playoffs?

SPORTSLAND - College football might be crazy enough for that to happen
Oct. 6, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

Imagine if the Oregon football team went unbeaten the rest of the season, and beat unbeaten Utah in the Pac-12 Conference title game. Would that be enough for the Ducks to reach the College Football Playoffs?

Even though Oregon would have two losses at the time, while there may likely be more than four other teams with just one loss.

That's a subject for Sportsland, Oregon co-hosts Cliff Pfenning and Derek Weber in this week's episode. Will there be a two-loss team among the four teams that reach the playoffs.

And, is that even something the Ducks should be focused on at all? Once upon a time, the Rose Bowl was a big deal - remember?

The NFL's crazy season as well gets some time, as does the upcoming Major League Baseball playoffs. Sure the American League has some prime contenders, but will anyone watch the Toronto Blue Jays play the Kansas City Royals if they win their division series? And, just who's on the Yankees these days other than A-Rod?

Fortunately, there's five outstandings options for the World Series on the National League side, so an audience for that series seems assured.

The Timbers get a few moments, too, as do the Oregon football uniforms for this week.

All recorded Monday at Pour Sports Restaurant in Southeast Portland.


What next Mighty Oregon?

Oregon falls from rankings for first time since 2009
Sept. 27, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

All the scenarios that had the Oregon football team playing its way back into the College Football Playoffs with an undefeated run through the remainder of the season went up in smoke Saturday, and a new reality hit Autzen Stadium - this is now fully Mark Helfrich's team, and he's got a lot of work to do to keep the program up to its expectations.

Wow, a lot of work.

Forget about the 62-20 home loss to Utah - on national TV via FOX - Saturday, as in the actual score and that the result knocked the Ducks out of the Top 25 for the first time since 2009 - 98 straight weeks.

That's quite a turnaround for a team that was just a couple key plays away from a road win over current No. 2 Michigan State just three weeks ago.

And played in the national title game last season.

Let's focus on the future, starting with recruiting.

As was mentioned throughout the game, Oregon has a young starting defensive backfield, which leads to the question "why is that?" For a program with such national exposure, one that has a $100 million facility just for football players, there should seem to be an endless supply of NFL-caliber players waiting to get onto the field.

Yet, Oregon has a freshman cornerback.

And, not so diminish quarterback Jeff Lockie, but having two years experience in the program still didn't impress his coaches enough to avoid bringing in a quarterback from another school who claimed the starting job after less than a month of workouts.

Ohio State beat the Ducks in the National Championship game with its third-string quarterback.

How much Vernon Adams' broken index finger figured into the debacle Saturday is up for debate, but the team should definitely scored more than 20 points with one of the receivers running the offense. That would have gone a long way to keeping Utah from scoring 62 points by just keeping its offense off the field.

Utah scoring 62 points in Autzen Stadium. No one saw that coming.

Helfrich said Sunday he would work to refocus his team, not work on rebuilding, but that seems to be on the mind of more than just a few fans and supporters Monday. If Utah can roll into Autzen and put up 62 points - nothing against Utah because it was a helluva team - what might USC do? And, Stanford has looked very impressive with an injured quarterback.

Oregon has road games three of the next four games, which is a good way to refocus becase it won't have the comfort of home during those weekends which should lead to that refocusing. Hopefully, it works because if it doesn't there's a huge rebuilding task at hand.



Viks roll into Big Sky play

PSU beats Western Oregon 31-0 and is 3-0 on the season
Sept. 26, 2015 / PSU Media

PORTLAND - Great defense and special teams continues to be the trademark for the Portland State Vikings football team in the 2015 season. The result in Saturday’s home opener was a 31-0 shutout of Western Oregon.

The Vikings moved to 3-0 on the season for the first time since 2000. That sets up a key Big Sky Conference game with North Dakota (3-1, 1-0) at Hillsboro Stadium. The winner of that game will remain at the top of the Big Sky standings.

For the third straight week, Portland State got the job done with excellent defense and special teams play. The defense forced nine three-and-outs by the Wolves, and made two key interceptions in the first half on the Western’s only sustained drives. A fake field goal also resulted in a 25-yard touchdown run.

“You will win a lot of games if you win the special teams battle and the turnover battle. The (defense and special teams) are fun to watch and letting us play with confidence because they have challenged everybody so far. I know where we are at with them,” said Vikings Coach Bruce Barnum.

“We knew (Western’s) defense was a strength so that was a battle for us,” said Barnum. “Our tempo was down a little on offense early on. We never really clicked for whatever reason. But they scrapped, like a bunch of mudders, and put some points on the board.”

In the end, the Vikings produced enough offense - 383 yards, including 256 rushing - to come up with a relatively easy win over the Division II Wolves. Western Oregon had 224 total offensive yards and dropped to 1-3 on the season.

The first quarter was simply an exchange of punts as neither team could get anything going.

It was a defensive play that finally ignited the Vikings. Senior safety Patrick Onwuasor made his second interception of the season, picking off Trey Shimabukuro at the Viking 3 and returning it 37 yards to the Viking 40. A 46-yard Alex Kuresa to Darnell Adams pass, and a 15-yard run by Nate Tago soon had the Vikings in scoring position. Kuresa scored from two yards out on a read-option run at the 9:51 mark of the second quarter.

That series seemed to spark the Vikings the rest of the way. After another 43-yard offensive march, the Vikings faked a field goal and holder Josh Kraght scampered around the left end for a 25-yard touchdown.  

A 24-yard field goal by Jonathan Gonzales rounded out the first-half scoring as PSU led 17-0.

PSU’s defense continued to dominate the Wolves in the third quarter. A methodical nine-play, 60-yard drive midway through the third quarter pushed the Vikings to a 24-0 lead and on their way to victory.

Steven Long added a 22-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring.

PSU held Western Oregon to just 3.3 yards per play in the game. In all, the Vikings intercepted three passes, including two by Xavier Coleman. His interception in the end zone late in the first half helped hold Western Oregon scoreless.

The Vikings forced a remarkable 12 Western Oregon punts and also had seven tackles for loss, two sacks and four pass breakups.

Nate Tago led the Viking running game with 15 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown. Kuresa added 55 yards rushing and one score. Long ran for 54 yards on nine carries and scored a TD. David Jones also had seven carries for 38 yards.

Kuresa completed 8-18 passes for 127 yards.

Beavers pass on big win

Stanford upends Oregon State under the lights, 42-24
Sept. 25, 2015 / Associated Press

CORVALLIS -  Oregon State’s opportunity to pull off an impressive upset in coach Gary Andersen’s first season came and went Friday night.

Quarterback Kevin Hogan, nursing an injured leg, completed nine of 14 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 21 Stanford past the Beavers 42-24 at Reser Stadium in a nationally-televised game.

Hogan was a game-time decision, and had his left foot in a boot quickly following the game.

“I’m out there, the adrenaline is kicking in,” Hogan said. “I feel good. I feel no limitations.”

Christian McCaffrey ran for a career-high 206 yards and ended up with 303 all-purpose yards for Stanford (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12), which held just a 21-17 lead at the half over the Beavers (2-2, 0-1) before a pair of third-quarter touchdowns.

Oregon State true freshman Seth Collins hit Jordan Villamin with a 40-yard scoring pass to open the fourth quarter and the Beavers pulled within 35-24, but Stanford answered with Barry Sanders’ 65-yard touchdown run and Oregon State couldn’t catch up.

Collins passed for 275 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for another score. Villamin caught seven passes for 138 yards.

Sanders rushed for 97 yards and two scores for the Cardinal.

Oregon State first-year coach Gary Andersen said Stanford was the more physical team in the end.

“Not effort,” he said of his team. “But we got worn down.”

Hogan was a question mark for the game after injuring his left ankle in the second half of last week’s upset of then-No. 6 USC. He threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns in that one, gritting out a 41-31 win that put Stanford back in the rankings.

“Our training staff and doctors, they flushed it out right after the USC game. They got all the swelling down and was really able to get my rehab going,” Hogan said after the Cardinal’s Friday win.

He deftly moved the Cardinal downfield on the opening series of the game against the Beavers. Remound Wright capped the drive with a 1-yard scoring run.

“Kevin did a great job. No issues with the ankle. He wasn’t as fast and explosive as he’s used to being, but he was still mobile, able to move around the pocket, keep his eyes downfield,” Stanford coach David Shaw said.

Collins answered for the Beavers with a 1-yard touchdown run after finding Victor Bolden in traffic with a 7-yard pass to get close.

After Hogan hit Austin Hooper with a 42-yard TD pass to make it 14-7, Collins again led Oregon State on a successful drive that ended with redshirt freshman Ryan Nall’s 5-yard scoring run, the first touchdown of his career.

Stanford went up 21-14 in the second quarter on Wright’s 2-yard scoring run. But Cardinal starting defensive end Aziz Shittu was injured before the half and had to be helped from the field.

OSU soccer program on rise

Beavers lead in-state schools in early-season rankings
Sept. 14, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

The Oregon State soccer program is quickly replacing the University of Portland as the in-state power as both the men's and women's teams are undefeated after the first third of the season.

The Beavers are 5-0 and No. 8 in the men's coaches poll, while the women at 4-0-2 and are among teams that have received votes in the national poll. The men's ranking is the highest ever for the program with the team heading to Merlo Field to play the Pilots Thursday night.

The state's other four teams NCAA Div. I teams all have losing records, including the UP women. Portland is 2-5 and plays at Washington Thursday.

Portland is coming off a season in which it missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999, and lost an early-season game to Michigan 5-0.

The school's men's team started thie season at 1-4-1, which has it on pace to miss the tournament for a sixth-straight year.

Oregon's women's team is 2-5 with a match against Portland State Thursday.

Portland State opened at 2-4.

Sophomore Timmy Mueller leads the Beavers having been named the Pac-12 Player of the Week after scoring a pair of game-winning goals last week.


Oregon narrowly misses a huge win

Ducks lose 31-28 at Michigan State, but show they're title contenders
Sept. 12, 2015 /

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Connor Cook threw for two touchdowns, and No. 5 Michigan State held on to beat No. 7 Oregon 31-28 on Saturday night in college football's marquee game of the week.

The Spartans stopped the Ducks four times on fourth down, including one key stand in the second quarter near the Michigan State goal line.

The Spartans (2-0) led for most of the second half, and it was 31-21 before Oregon's Vernon Adams, Jr. threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Byron Marshall with 3:25 remaining. After a Michigan State punt, the Ducks (1-1) drove to the Spartans 33 before Adams overthrew Marshall, who had beaten his defender on second down. A sack moved the team out of field goal range and Adams missed on the pass that effectively ended the game.

Michigan State avenged last season's 48-27 loss at Oregon, which will play Georgia State at Autzen Stadium Saturday.

It was the first time two teams in the AP top 10 met at Spartan Stadium since 1966, when No. 2 Michigan State and No. 1 Notre Dame played to a 10-10 tie.

Adams, who threw two interceptions – half of the team's total from all of last season, nearly rallied the Ducks. His scoring pass to Marshall marked the 70th consecutive game Oregon has thrown a touchdown pass, breaking a record the Ducks had been sharing with Texas Tech.

In what overall was a shaky performance, Adams completed 22 of 39 passes for 309 yards and the scoring pass. Most of the yards were picked up after the initial completion by receivers Braylon Addison, Charles Nelson and Byron Marshall.

Addison, in addition to his seven catches for 138 yards, returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown.


RSS feed