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No. 23 Stanford too much for Oregon as Cardinal wins fourth straight in a blowout

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Oregon and Stanford have combined to produce some of the most memorable and nationally relevant Pac-12 games over the past few years. On a weekend filled with upsets and improbable results, could the two get together for one more?

Not quite.

No. 23 Stanford did just about whatever they wanted on offense and powered to a 49-7 victory over their Pac-12 North rivals to win a fourth straight and look a lot like the team many thought could win the division in the preseason.

Running back Bryce Love was once again the star of the show, breaking off a 67-yarder that adds to his highlight reel and finishing a rather ho-hum night with 147 yards and two scores. More pressing for the Heisman candidate is how he’s feeling, as he didn’t play much in the second half after limping off with what looked to be an ankle injury. Though it could just be precautionary, the issue is something to monitor for one of the most explosive runners in the country.

Surprisingly though, the running game wasn’t the only threat for the Cardinal offense. Quarterback Keller Chryst was an efficient 15-of-21 for 181 yards, three touchdowns and one interception before giving way to backup K.J. Costello. Most of those yards and scores were thrown toward massive wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who was an uncoverable threat in the red zone and finished with 112 yards and two touchdown catches.

The nearly 500 yard effort also overshadowed another quality defensive job by Stanford as well. Oregon running back Royce Freeman did manage to rush for 143 yards but the Ducks scored only once and were little to no threat with their backup quarterbacks in action once again. Braxton Burmeister started behind center but completed just four passes for 25 yards and threw two interceptions. Taylor Alie replaced him in the second half but didn’t fare much better.

It marked a rough return to the Farm for new Oregon coach Willie Taggart, who was a former assistant with David Shaw under Jim Harbaugh at the school several years ago. Shaw probably won’t apologize however, as the impressive outing by the Cardinal may — combined with other upsets — make them the team to beat in the Pac-12 given how well they’re playing at the moment.

Jackrabbit invades field, Bryce Love invades end zone as Stanford leads Oregon at half

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Things got weird as the sun set on the Bay Area on Friday and Cal pulled off the upset of No. 8 Washington State on Friday night. A day later and much further South, things were equally strange even if the ranked team didn’t look like it was quite on upset alert.

No. 23 Stanford wound up with a 28-7 lead into halftime over Oregon down on the Farm, but the locale lived up to its nickname in Palo Alto as a jackrabbit found its way onto the field late in the first quarter in one of those incredible moments that could only happen late into the night out West:

In actual game action though, Cardinal running back Bryce Love was once again adding to his Heisman highlight reel by ripping off a 67-yard touchdown run early on and finishing the half with 142 yards and a total of two scores. Wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside added another score through the air as Stanford’s normally hectic offense seemed to do what it pleased against the Ducks.

That also included special teams, as Brandon Simmons scooped and scored off a punt block in the second quarter.

The lopsided score was a little surprising considering how well Oregon ran the ball in the half. Royce Freeman wound up with 121 yards on just 12 carries and three others managed at least 25 on the ground too. The flip side was backup quarterback Braxton Burmeister managed just one completion for four yards.

Things figure to get even tougher for the young signal-caller as Stanford gets back two of its best defenders for the second half in Harrison Phillips and Peter Kalambayi after each returns from a targeting penalty from their last game.

Air quality concerns grow for Friday night game between Cal and Washington State

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Raging wildfires in California continue to do serious damage in northern California. Concerns about the air quality are on the rise and that poses a threat to the health and safety of anyone attending Friday night’s Pac-12 game between Cal and Washington State. For now, there is no reason to call of or reschedule the game or transplant it to another location, but the Pac-12 and Cal are monitoring the situation as best they can to be prepared to make any adjustments necessary.

“There’s a level that they keep us updated on and what’s appropriate to work out in, so we were good,” Cal head coach Justin Wilcox said, per The Mercury News. “Obviously, (we’re) watching that and monitoring constantly.

According to NCAA guidelines, all athletes should be removed from the field if the air quality rating is 200 or above. As of Wednesday, the AQI in Berkley, California was 187. Per the NCAA, all athletes should be closely monitored in environments with an AQI rating over 150.

Stanford is also paying close attention to the air quality as they prepare for a Saturday night game against Oregon. As of now, Stanford expects their game to be on as scheduled against the Ducks.

Air quality issues were monitored earlier this season on the west coast, but no Pac-12 teams needed to adjust their schedules, although Oregon did re-locate a practice to a safer location.

The wildfires sweeping through northern California have claimed 24 lives so far.

Stanford running back getting serious Love from Bovada in Heisman race

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Penn State running back Saquon Barkley was held in check for much of the afternoon on Saturday by Northwestern, but that wasn’t enough to change Barkley’s Heisman odds this week. The latest Heisman Trophy odds form Bovada held firm with the 5/4 odds placed on Barkley last week, which keeps him atop the Heisman board for now.

The most notable development in the Heisman odds this week may be the rise of Stanford running back Bryce Love. Love rocketed up the board this week by going from 14/1 odds last week to 4/1 odds this week. The only two players ahead of Love right now are Barkley and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. After a home loss to Iowa State, Mayfield’s Heisman odds moved from 9/4 to 13/4.

Love leads the nation with 206.67 yards per game and is the only running back in the nation to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark so far. Love leads the nation with 1,240 rushing yards, which is roughly 240 yards than the next leading running back, San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny. For reference, Barkley’s rushing total stands at 649 yards, although Barkley’s all-purpose yardage adds up to 1,302 yards, which is ahead of Love’s all-purpose yardage so far.

Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, saw his odds dip from 10/1 to 16/1 after a road loss at NC State on Thursday night.

No. 11 Washington State too much for undermanned Oregon

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Imagine reading this sentence as recently as, oh, 2014: an undefeated and top-15 Washington State team went to Eugene and beat an unranked Oregon by 23 points, and it was kind of an underwhelming performance. Such is life in the Pac-12 now, where Mike Leach‘s 11th-ranked Cougars cruised to a 33-10 win over an Oregon playing without its top two quarterbacks.

Washington State looked like it was going to cruise early. After forcing a turnover on downs inside Oregon territory to open the game, the Cougars grabbed the lead on its first snap of the game, a 41-yard strike from Luke Falk to Jamal Morrow.

From there, though, Oregon settled in. The defense forced three straight three-and-outs, and the offense mounted two straight scoring drives, a 20-yard Aidan Schneider field goal and then a 30-yard touchdown pass from third-string quarterback Braxton Burmeister to Jacob Breeland, giving the Ducks a 10-7 lead with 3:37 to play in the first quarter.

That would be the high point for Oregon’s offense, though, as the game proved to be too much, too soon for Burmeister. He finished the night 12-of-24 passing for 131 yards with the touchdown and two interceptions. Royce Freeman led Oregon (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) with 62 yards on 12 carries.

Erik Powell gave Washington State a 13-10 halftime lead with two second quarter field goals, and Falk put some distance between the Cougars and Ducks with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Renard Ball on the opening drive of the second half.

Falk would fire a third touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and Powell would kick in one more field goal to provide the final score. Falk finished the night with a ho-hum 24-of-42 passing for 282 yards with the three scores and no interceptions. Gerard Wicks and James Williams combined to rush 18 times for 106 yards.

In its first trip outside Pullman this season, the win pushed Wazzu to 6-0 on the year (3-0 Pac-12) and 16-5 in conference play since the beginning of the 2015 season. That 16-5 mark includes a 3-0 record against Oregon, Wazzu’s first 3-game winning streak over the Ducks since 1982-84.