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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.

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.

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.

Depleted Oregon hanging tough with No. 11 Washington State

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Oregon is playing without its top two quarterbacks but not backing down, trailing Washington State 13-10 at the half in Eugene.

Oregon turned the ball over on downs in its own territory to open the game, and Washington State immediately capitalized with a 41-yard scoring strike from Luke Falk to Jamal Morrow.

The Ducks, though, rallied to take the lead with a 20-yard Aidan Schneider field goal and a 30-yard touchdown toss from third-stringer Braxton Burmeister to Jacob Breeland

Washington State regained the lead on a pair of Erik Powell field goals, a 25-yarder at the 11:54 mark of the second quarter and a 52-yard blast with 6:59 to play.

Oregon advanced the ball to the Wazzu 34 after falling behind 13-10, but Taj Griffin‘s 4th-and-1 run was short of the line to gain.

After starting hot, Falk completed the half hitting 14-of-22 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown, or 109 on 21 attempts after his first throw. Washington State hasn’t tried to run the ball, amassing 44 yards on 10 carries.

Burmeister is 9-of-14 for 59 yards and a touchdown with six carries for 24 yards. Royce Freeman leads all runners with 54 yards on eight totes.

Washington State will receive to open the second half.