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Ronald Jones, Sam Darnold help No. 21 USC bounce back to beat Arizona State

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The month of October was a bizarre one in the Pac-12 as teams zigged while you thought they were going to zag. Nobody embodied that more than No. 21 USC and Arizona State entering the weekend.

The Trojans’ normally high-powered offense was stuck in neutral. The Sun Devils’ defense was punching way, way above their weight. As a pivotal Pac-12 South battle loomed, would these strange trends continue on Pac-12 After Dark? The answer: no, not at all. Sam Darnold and USC broke out of their slump to bounce back and beat ASU on Saturday night in Tempe, using numerous big plays to capture a 48-17 victory that probably wasn’t even as close as the final score line would indicate.

The one time Heisman favorite had one of his best outings of the season after a disastrous result in South Bend last week, tossing three touchdown passes and racking up 266 yards all told against a defense that had stymied some pretty solid passers the past few weeks. Wideout Tyler Vaughns was the recipient of most of those passes and continued his stellar play by posting career highs of 126 yards and two scores. The tandem was so impressive one almost forgot about Rose Bowl hero Deontay Burnett as he had a quiet night despite 49 yards and a trip to the end zone.

Not be outdone, running back Ronald Jones returned to his early season form and racked up 216 yards on the ground. The junior was a big play machine in the dry desert air too, bursting through the line for a pair of 60+ yard scores on the night.

The Trojans’ 607 yards of offense had spoiled a good month on defense for Todd Graham’s Sun Devils. A terrible third down performance (1/12 in the game) and mediocre run game didn’t help their efforts either. Quarterback Manny Wilkins threw for 259 yards but found the end zone, somewhat incredibly, only once under wild circumstances.

That came right at the end of the first half after the signal-caller launched a bomb toward the end zone. The play was initially ruled a catch at the one yard line but was reviewed and eventually ruled as a touchdown on the longest Hail Mary play in recent college football history. The teams were eventually brought back from the locker room to kick the extra point but in the end, it will go down as a footnote in this one.

The victory by the Trojans keeps them in the lead for the Pac-12 South title and presents quite the interesting game in the Coliseum next Saturday. USC is set to host Arizona in what is looking very much like a fascinating battle between some pretty explosive offenses based on how this weekend has turned out.

WR son of Jerry Rice commits to Colorado over Michigan, Oregon, Arizona State

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Next up in the latest installment of “You Know You’re Getting Old”: Jerry Rice.

Or, more to the point, the son of the former San Francisco 49er great and NFL Hall of Famer, with Brenden Rice announcing Tuesday evening on Twitter that he has verbally committed to play his college football at Colorado.  The wide receiver chose Mel Tucker‘s program over three other finalists in Arizona State, Michigan and Oregon.

At one point in the recruiting process, it appeared Rice was ticketed for Oregon; Arizona State then became the front-runner over the summer.  Official visits to Michigan and Colorado further clarified the process, with the trip to the latter, for CU’s come-from-behind win over Nebraska, seemingly sealing the deal.

“Coach Tucker’s enthusiasm really stood out,” Rice told 247Sports.com. “He is only loud when he needs to be and it was great to be able to see him in the locker room at that game against Nebraska. It was just different and it gave me goosebumps. I think I could run through a brick wall for that guy and it definitely makes me feel like that vision is something special.”

The 6-2, 204-pound Rice is a three-star 2020 prospect, rated as the No. 70 receiver in the country and the No. 12 player at any position in the state of Arizona.

West Virginia loses ex-Alabama LB VanDarius Cowan to season-ending injury

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Suffice to say, VanDarius Cowan‘s second season in Morgantown after leaving Tuscaloosa hasn’t gone as planned.

In late August, it was confirmed that Cowan would have to sit out the first four games of the 2019 season because of unspecified eligibility issues.  After serving that suspension, Cowan made his WVU debut in the Oct. 5 loss to Texas; a week later, the linebacker suffered a knee injury in the loss to Iowa State.

Tuesday, first-year head coach Neal Brown announced that Cowan underwent surgery and will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.  The specific nature of the injury wasn’t divulged.

Cowan was originally a four-star member of Alabama’s 2017 recruiting class.  In July of last year, he was dismissed by the Crimson Tide after being charged with misdemeanor assault.  A month later, he landed at West Virginia.

The Florida native sat out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.

In less than two full games this season, Cowan was credited with six tackles and a sack.

Weather postpones Game 4 of Astros-Yankees, pushing Ohio State-Northwestern from FS1 to Big Ten Network

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UPDATED 1:21 PM ET: Due to the weather-forced change in schedule for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, Friday night’s Ohio State-Northwestern game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

The game had originally been scheduled to air on FS1.

Kickoff time for the Big Ten clash is still set for 8:30 p.m. ET.

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This isn’t exactly optimal.

Due to the forecast of inclement weather, Major League Baseball announced that Game 4 of the American League Championship Series Wednesday night between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees has been moved to Thursday night.  That means Game 5 of the ALCS, originally scheduled for Thursday night, has been pushed to Friday night and will be televised on FS1, with first pitch set for 7:08 p.m. ET.

So, why is news on the postseason of a stick-and-ball sport appearing on a college football website?

Ohio State is scheduled to travel to Evanston to square off with Northwestern Friday.  On FS1. With kickoff set for 8:30 p.m. ET.

The ALCS is airing on FS1 because FOX is televising its newly-acquired WWE Friday Night Smackdown franchise, so a network broadcast won’t be possible for the Big Ten matchup.  More than likely, the game will air on either the Big Ten Network or FOX business.

As of this posting, neither the conference nor FOX has offered up exactly where the game will air.

Regardless of how it ultimately plays out, this will be a huge black eye for a league that shouldn’t be hijacking high school football’s night in the first place, regardless of how few games there are on Fridays (for now).

Wake QB Jamie Newman’s status for Week 8 to be determined

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The defense wasn’t the only side of the ball that ran into injury issues during Wake Forest’s first loss of the 2019 campaign.

An injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder knocked Jamie Newman out of the Week 7 loss to Louisville. An on-site X-ray, as well as other further testing, showed no significant structural damage to the joint.

As Wake looks to bounce back from that loss against Florida State Saturday, though, the sophomore’s status is officially to be determined.

“He’s kind of day-to-day,” head coach Dave Clawson said. “He got hurt at the end of the second quarter. We had X-Rays to try and eliminate the worst thing that could have happened to him and that was eliminated. He was able to return. He’s sore and we’ll just take it day-by-day and see how he feels later in the week. It’s been one practice and we’ll have a better feel later in the week.”

“And we won’t share that when we know it. I don’t have to,” Clawson added, presumably in a middle-school-boy-at-recess voice.

This season, Newman leads the ACC in passing yards (1,772), passing touchdowns (17) and passer rating (160.7).  He’s ninth, tied for sixth and 17th nationally in those respective categories.

Should Newman be unable to go against the Seminoles, Sam Hartman would get the nod.  In relief of Newman this past weekend, the sophomore threw two touchdown passes and ran for another as the Demon Deacons nearly pulled off a stunning comeback on the Cardinals.

Last season as a true freshman, Hartman started the first nine games before going down with an injury, opening the door for Newman to take over the job.