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QB Justin Herbert returns to lineup for Oregon as Ducks bottle up Khalil Tate and Arizona

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Oregon has been listless offensively the past few weeks without starting quarterback Justin Herbert but his return to the lineup injected plenty of life into Willie Taggart’s team in a 48-28 win over Arizona that also made the Ducks bowl eligible at the same time.

Herbert’s numbers were not flashy or spectacular given the offense he plays in but they were a huge boost given how poorly backups played in his absence after breaking his collarbone early in the year. He finished the night with just 235 yards through the air (along with an interception) and a touchdown pass while also making an impact with his wheels, surprising nearly everybody in Autzen Stadium with a 40 yard scramble for a touchdown in the first quarter.

As nice as it was to have the signal-caller back, his teammate Royce Freeman did most of the heavy lifting as he no longer faced a loaded box full of defenders. The senior made his first trip to the end zone since September (coinciding with Herbert’s injury) to move past LaMichael James as Oregon’s all-time leader in total touchdowns. He also passed TCU legend LaDainian Tomlinson for 10th on the FBS career rushing yards list early in the game and managed to end the night with 134 on the ground and a total of four scores. Backup Tony Brooks-James added another 124 yards as the Ducks’ rushing attack was humming like days of old.

Perhaps the more eye-opening aspect of the victory was the UO defense though. The bottled up dynamic Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate better than just about any Pac-12 defense has this year and held him to only 32 yards rushing. Forcing the dual-threat star to become a passer was the game plan and the Ducks executed it at a high level, limiting him to 159 yards passing with a score and a pair of interceptions.

Running back Nick Wilson rushed for 73 yards and two touchdowns but it wasn’t enough for the Wildcats, whose most notable play was probably a pick-six by Dane Cruikshank that was negated by a taunting penalty in the first half as he finger-waged his way to the end zone. The offense later punched it in but it was emblematic of a frustrating night for Rich Rodriguez and his coaching staff.

Both teams have gone through their up’s and down’s this season and while it looked as though Arizona was on the upswing entering Saturday night, perhaps it’s Oregon who can claim the same thanks to their starting quarterback looking healthy and as back in business.

Wimbush scores three TD’s as No. 8 Notre Dame holds off Navy

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A week after getting embarrassed on the big stage by Miami, No. 8 Notre Dame (9-2) responded by holding off an upset bid from rival Navy (6-4). Notre Dame had to gut this one out, as we have come to expect from these two teams over the years. An incomplete pass on fourth down by Navy turned the ball over to the Irish in the final minutes and Notre Dame escaped with the win.

The play was a running back pass, and Navy appeared to have the play they were hoping for. But the pass intended for Tyler Carmona from Darryl Bonner was probably a split second late and just off the mark as it fell to the ground with the game on the line.

Navy took a 17-10 lead on the Irish in the third quarter after working a nearly eight-minute drive while running 15 plays to travel 72 yards. The drive ended with a touchdown pass from Zach Abey to Craig Scott from 12 yards out on third-and-goal. The lead did not last for very long, however, as Notre Dame answered with a much quicker offensive series. Brandon Wimbush completed a 30-yard touchdown to Kevin Stepherson to tie the game just five plays later.

The Wimbush-to-Stepherson struck again for the go-ahead touchdown on their next offensive series, after Navy missed a field goal.

Wimbush ended his day with 164 passing yards and two touchdowns with 41 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Running back Josh Adams moved into fifth place in the school record book for the most all-time rushing yards as he rushed for 106 yards on 18 carries. Adams still appears to be on the Heisman Trophy’s radar. Notre Dame’s ability to make big plays helped to overcome a draining day for the Navy offense. Navy held the football for 42:42 in the game, leaving Notre Dame the football for fewer than 18 minutes. Navy quarterback Zach Abey led Navy with 87 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown (Anthony Gargiulo also had 87 rushing yards, but no touchdowns) as the Irish gave up 277 rushing yards.

Notre Dame will wrap up the regular season on the road next week against Stanford. After that, the Irish will wait to hear their bowl fate. Notre Dame is still in firm position to be selected for a New Years Six bowl game, although a shot at playing in the playoff appears to still be an incredibly long shot with little time to spare.

Navy will also be on the road next week for one more conference game. The Midshipmen take on Houston on Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving. Navy will not play for the conference championship game, but they will play one more game before the bowl season with the annual Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia on Dec. 9.

No. 8 Notre Dame and Navy knotted at 10-10 tie at halftime

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The key for Navy to score a win on the road against Notre Dame is simple. Work the clock as much as possible and get points at all costs, and capitalize on any mistakes by the Irish. So far, so good? Almost.

Navy is tied with Notre Dame in Notre Dame Stadium at halftime, 10-10. Navy took advantage of a turnover by the Irish special teams unit, but the defense could not hold off a few big plays in the final minute that led to a Brandon Wimbush rushing touchdown to draw the game even at 10-10 just before halftime.

Chris Finke fumbled a punt to give Navy the football at the 39-yard line on the Notre Dame side of the field. Navy then marched 39 yards over 11 plays to take a 10-3 lead with a Zach Abey touchdown push.

Navy has held the football for just over 20 minutes in the first half, which means everything is going according to plan. It will be important for Navy’s defense to avoid giving up some big plays against the Irish. Big plays allowed Notre Dame to move down the field into position to the game just before halftime.

Notre Dame running back Josh Adams moved up the school record book by becoming the fifth-leading rusher in school history in the first half.

Notre Dame still has plenty to be playing for a week after an embarrassing loss at Miami. If Notre Dame has an advantage, it is the depth and strength the Irish should be able to take advantage of in the second half. But if Navy can keep working the clock, utilizing that advantage may not be effective.

No. 3 Miami scores 30 unanswered points to go 10-0 for first time since 2002

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The No. 3 Miami Hurricanes (10-0, 7-0 ACC) overcame a disaster of a first half to keep their undefeated season going. On Saturday against Virginia (6-5, 3-4 ACC), the Hurricanes looked sluggish for one half and allowed Virginia to capitalize on big plays to a 28-14 lead, but Miami roared back with 30 unanswered points to improve on the best start since the last time Miami played for a national championship. Miami topped Virginia 44-28.

Miami players got to wear the famous turnover chain twice in the game, but the biggest turnover may have come with Jaguan Johnson‘s 30-yard interception for a game-tying score in the third quarter. The pick-six knotted the game at 28-28 in a wild third quarter, and Miami never looked back from that point on. Miami took the lead late in the third quarter on a 44-yard field goal by and Malik Rosier and Travis Homer added rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Hurricanes cemented the win.

Rosier was picked off twice in the game, but he ended his day with 210 passing yards and three touchdowns to go with 38 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. His Virginia counterpart, Kurt Benkert, actually had a fantastic afternoon with 28-of-37 for 384 yards and four touchdowns. Until the lone interception thrown by Benkert, he looked more than capable to lead Virginia to an upset on the road. But Virginia needed more out of the running game and could not keep the big plays coming in the fourth quarter as Miami was taking control of the game.

Miami’s 10-0 start is the best start for the Hurricanes since playing for the BCS national championship in the 2002 season. This is also Miami’s first double-digit win season since 2003. That makes this Miami’s first 10-win season since joining the ACC. And they may not be done just yet.

Before making their first trip to the ACC Championship Game in two weeks, Miami will first make a business trip to Pittsburgh for the regular season finale against the Panthers. The Panthers were eliminated from postseason eligibility Saturday afternoon with a road loss to Virginia Tech, dropping Pitt to 4-7 on the year. Virginia will take on the Hokies next week in their regular-season finale on Friday night.

Virginia’s big plays give Cavaliers halftime lead on No. 3 Miami, 21-14

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After winning a big game in the national spotlight a week ago, the No. 3 Miami Hurricanes were faced with the challenge of playing a noon game at home against an opponent that doesn’t bring nearly the same spotlight last week’s opponent did. And for that, Virginia took advantage early on. Miami came back to tie the game at 14-14, but a late touchdown pass has given Virgina the lead at halftime, 21-14.

Virginia used a pair of big pass plays to take a surprising 14-0 lead on the Hurricanes in the first quarter. Kurt Benkert has been nearly flawless in the first half, and two long touchdown plays to Joe Reed and Olamide Zaccheaus caught Miami off guard.

Miami quarterback Malik Rosier eventually warmed up though with a pair of touchdowns of his own. On the ensuing drive after falling behind 14-0, Rosier got Miami on the board with a 10-yard pass to Ahmonn Richards. That came after Virginia attempted a surprise onside kick on Miami, only to have ACC officials controversially rule the ball to be Miami’s when it appeared Virginia may have recovered. Miami was forced to punt on their next offensive possession, but a special teams fumble by Virginia punt returner Daniel Hamm gave the Hurricanes the ball at the 36-yard line, and Rosier went for the tie with a pass to Dayall Harris to tie the game up on the first play from scrimmage following the turnover.

In the final minute of the half, Benkert again took to the air for a big strike, this time to Andre Levrone. After officials ruled the 33-yard pass to the end zone incomplete, a quick instant replay review overturned the call and confirmed Levrone had full possession of the football before the ball came loose at the end of the play. And just like that, Virginia took the lead into halftime.

We now have quite an interesting second half coming up in Miami as far as the College Football Playoff may be concerned.