No. 24 Spartans eye 11th win in Military Bowl

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No. 24 Spartans eye 11th win in Military Bowl

Mike MacIntyre engineered a stunning turnaround at San Jose State that allowed him to move to a more high-profile job.

Dave Clawson went backwards a bit after a solid first season with Bowling Green, but the fourth-year coach now has his program on the upswing.

Teams that combined for three victories two years ago meet Thursday in the Military Bowl when the No. 24 Spartans face the Falcons for the first time.

Neither of these teams could have been expected to be headed to bowls in 2012 based on how MacIntyre fared at San Jose State in 2010 and Clawson did at Bowling Green that same year.

MacIntyre inherited a program that won two games in 2009 and guided the Spartans to a 1-12 mark in his first season. A 5-7 season followed before San Jose State went 10-2 this year to finish in second place in the Western Athletic Conference and clinch the program's first postseason game since the 2006 New Mexico Bowl.

"It's all new for all of us," senior tight end Ryan Otten said. "I was here on teams when we won one game, two games. We were toward the bottom of college football. Now, to crack the Top 25, we've come so far."

MacIntyre has moved on as he was named the coach at Colorado. Defensive coordinator Kent Baer will be the team's interim coach for this game.

"We want to thank Mike for the tremendous job that he did," San Jose State athletic director Gene Bleymaier said. "He turned the program around and did it the right way with character kids and by stressing academics. Mike provided us with a nice model moving forward for our next head coach to follow."

The Spartans have won six straight and can reach the 11-win plateau for the first time since the 1939 team went 13-0.

Clawson, meanwhile, took over at Bowling Green in 2009 and went 7-6 with a trip to the Humanitarian Bowl his first season. Campaigns of 2-10 and 5-7 followed before the Falcons went 8-4 this year - their first eight-win season since 2007 - and their coach is eager for this trip to RFK Stadium.

"We really hope all of Falcon nation, as many people as possible will come out and support us and hopefully make it a home-field advantage for us," Clawson said. "It's a much easier trip from Bowling Green, Ohio, than San Jose, California."

Although this will be a longer journey for San Jose State, it visited Washington earlier this season and beat Navy 12-0 on Sept. 29. The Spartans actually went through some of their plays on the National Mall.

Both teams feature the respective defensive players of the year in their conferences.

San Jose State lineman Travis Johnson earned the honor in the WAC after finishing with 12 sacks and leading the conference with 19 tackles for loss.

The 19 tackles for loss is the same total recorded by Bowling Green tackle Chris Jones, the Mid-American Conference player of the year. Jones finished third in the nation with 12 1/2 sacks for a defense ranked seventh nationally, allowing 289.7 yards per game.

Jones is the third Falcon to earn the honor, joining Vince Palko in 1993 and a name familiar to Bay Area football fans - former Oakland Raiders great Phil Villapiano - in 1970.

Bowling Green's defense was the top-ranked unit in the MAC. Linebackers Gabe Martin (69 tackles), Dwayne Woods (60) and Paul Swan (60) are other linchpins for the Falcons.

Woods is the only linebacker among that group who will be playing his final game.

"I've struggled this season with a back injury, ankle injury," Woods said. "It finally feels good to really be healthy and just really push through everything."

The Falcons will try to slow down David Fales, a junior college transfer in his first year as the Spartans quarterback. Fales finished seventh in the nation with 3,798 passing yards and tied for the WAC lead with 31 touchdown passes.

Fales has inviting targets in receivers Chandler Jones and Noel Grigsby. Jones led the team with 10 TD receptions while Grigsby had nine and 1,173 yards.

Bowling Green was not known for offense, finishing 11th in the MAC with 373.9 yards per game. Anthon Samuel gained a team-best 966 yards rushing, although eight of his team-high 10 touchdowns on the ground came in the first six games.

Three-year starter Matt Schilz is third in school history with 7,673 passing yards. He had 2,426 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season.

This is the first time in the five-year history of the Military Bowl that it has featured a ranked team.

Seton Hall slips past Cal basketball at Pearl Harbor Invitational

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AP

Seton Hall slips past Cal basketball at Pearl Harbor Invitational

HONOLULU Jabari Bird nearly notched his first collegiate double-double with 22 points and a career-high nine rebounds, but just as his effort fell short, so did California men's basketball's efforts against Seton Hall. The Pirates slipped past the Golden Bears, 60-57, at the Pearl Harbor Invitational to hand Cal its second loss of the season. The Bears are now 7-2.

Seton Hall's Angel Delgado scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Delgado, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward, made 6 of 9 shots from the field in a game-high 36 minutes played.

Desi Rodriguez scored 15 points and Khadeen Carrington had 14 points with four assists for the Pirates (7-2).

Carrington tied it at 45 with just under 12 minutes to play on a 3-pointer from the right wing, which ignited a 7-0 Seton Hall run. California never regained the lead.

Ivan Rabb's putback pulled the Golden Bears (7-2) within 58-57 with 31.1 seconds remaining, but Carrington and Delgado each hit a free throw to extend the Pirates' lead to 60-57 with 2.7 seconds left.

Bird had a chance to sent it into overtime, but his 3-pointer from about 25 feet as time expired was no good.

California closed out the first half with an 11-4 run to turn a four-point deficit into a 34-31 lead.

It was just the second meeting between the teams with California winning 81-76 on Dec. 8, 1973.

BIG PICTURE

California: Rabb, a 6-11 sophomore, struggled for the second consecutive game. He made just 3 of his 8 shots from the field and finished with eight points after being held to a season-low six points against Princeton Tuesday. Rabb, who has been playing with a left wrist injury, entered Wednesday's game averaging 17.5 points per game.

Seton Hall: The Pirates reeled off their third straight win despite making just 9 of their 20 attempts (45 percent) from the free-throw line. They shot just 46.6 percent (21 of 45) on free throws for the two-day tournament.

UP NEXT

California will host UC Davis Saturday, its seventh home game in 10 contests this season.

Oregon hires former Harbaugh assistant as new head coach

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AP

Oregon hires former Harbaugh assistant as new head coach

Oregon has hired Willie Taggart, who spent the last four seasons as head coach at South Florida, to take over the Ducks following the dismissal of Mark Helfrich.

Oregon formally announced Taggart's appointment Wednesday.

Taggart has led USF to an 18-7 record over the last two seasons, including a 10-2 mark this year. He also spent three seasons as coach of Western Kentucky, his alma mater, and was an assistant coach at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh.

Oregon fired Helfrich last week after the Ducks went 4-8. A news conference to formally introduce Taggart was set for Thursday.

"Oregon has a strong national presence and a proud recent history of playing among the nation's elite, and I look forward to the challenge of upholding the excellence," Taggart said in a statement. "I can't wait to get started."

Taggart, 40, is the first coach Oregon has hired from outside the program since 1976. The Ducks' previous three coaches, Mike Bellotti, Chip Kelly and Helfrich, were all assistants who were promoted.

Taggart will be the first black head football coach at Oregon. The length and terms of his contract with the Ducks were not immediately released.

Taggart was 16-20 at Western Kentucky, taking over when it was first transitioning to FBS. He went 7-5 in his last two seasons with the Hilltoppers and then moved to USF, not far from where he grew up in Bradenton, Florida.

It took two seasons and a change in offensive philosophy from more pro-style, West Coast schemes to a spread, but he now has the 25th-ranked Bulls rolling. They finished second in the American Athletic Conference East Division to Temple and will play South Carolina on Dec. 29 in the Birmingham Bowl.

Wednesday was the second straight day the AAC has lost one of its best coaches, and the third the conference has lost since Thanksgiving weekend. Temple's Matt Rhule was hired by Baylor on Monday and Tom Herman left Houston for Texas on Nov. 26.

Taggart had support from former NFL player and broadcaster Tony Dungy, whose son Eric played at USF in 2014 after transferring from Oregon.

Taggart served as running backs coach for Harbaugh at Stanford from 2007-09 and is credited with helping to recruit Andrew Luck. Harbaugh had recruited Taggart, a quarterback, to play at Western Kentucky under father Jack Harbaugh from 1995-98.

After taking over when Kelly left in 2013, Helfrich went 37-16 in his four seasons as head coach of the Ducks. He signed a contract extension in early 2015, and had an $11.6 million buyout.

Just two seasons ago, Oregon went to the first College Football Playoff championship game, led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota.

But the Ducks struggled this season with a five-game losing streak - the program's longest since 1996 - and finished at the bottom of the Pac-12 North with just two conference wins.

In a statement after his dismissal, Helfrich thanked his own family, the campus community, the fans, and his coaches and their families.

"Finally, to the players - thank you, and I love you," he said. "The future is bright for this young, talented team, and we will be supporting them and their new leadership."

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens also reportedly interviewed Boise State's Bryan Harsin and Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano before settling on Taggart. Kelly, now with the San Francisco 49ers, had said he was not interested in the job, as did former offensive coordinator Scott Frost, now at Central Florida.

For the immediate future, Taggart will need to reach out to Oregon's recruits. Defensive back Deommodore Lenoir and defensive end Langi Tuifua both previously withdrew verbal commitments. Offensive lineman John Vaka said he was no longer committed via Twitter on Tuesday.