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No. 17 Oregon upsets No. 7 Washington in OT to deal Pac-12’s College Football Playoff hopes another blow

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A few weeks ago, No. 17 Oregon let a second half lead slip through their hands and lost in overtime against Pac-12 North rival Stanford.

Thanks to a few clutch plays down the stretch and the luck of a missed kick as time expired, the Ducks did not have history repeat itself as they upset No. 7 Washington 30-27 in overtime to just about knock out the Pac-12 from the College Football Playoff by mid-October.

Quarterback Justin Herbert had all eyes on him with a throng of NFL scouts in attendance but wasn’t quite as sharp as he was coming in. Even though the numbers weren’t great however — 18-of-32, 202 yards and two touchdowns — the lanky signal-caller was still able to come up with some clutch throws when his team needed and most importantly did not turn the ball over against one of the nation’s best defenses.

The story of the game might have been the guy he was sharing the backfield with as tailback CJ Verdell redeemed himself from that loss to the Cardinal by rushing for 111 yards and two touchdowns, the latter of which set off a wild celebration at Autzen Stadium in the extra period. Dillon Mitchell also impressed among the Ducks’ offensive skill position players with 119 yards receiving and a touchdown but it was teammate Jaylon Redd who turned in the highlight of the day with a tip-toe catch in the end zone with 14 seconds left in the first half.

Just as big of a development for the program going forward is the continued toughness up front and improved defensive play in delivering Mario Cristobal his first signature win since taking over in Eugene.

Washington, meanwhile, spoiled their head coach’s birthday on Saturday with a series of regrets and offensive struggles. Peyton Henry missed a 37 yard field goal as time expired that would have won the game and the team scored on just one of their four second half drives.

It was another ugly game numbers-wise for Huskies quarterback Jake Browning as the signal-caller finished just 15-of-25 for 243 yards and a touchdown.  Things got off to a rough start with an interception on the second play of the game before eventually improving as the second half wore on but his limitations once again popped up for the team as they struggled to finish when the moment required.

Tailback Myles Gaskin recorded a nice 69 yards on the ground but missed the bulk of action with an injury and mostly gave way to backup Salvon Ahmed, who had 61 yards and two scores.

The result will almost surely knock the Huskies out of the running to reach the College Football Playoff with their second loss and may have done the same for the Pac-12 as a whole. It also makes the Pac-12 North a bit of a toss up going forward given Oregon’s earlier loss to Stanford and Washington State lurking with a surprising 5-1 start to the season before they host the Ducks next week.

Undefeated Colorado may wind up being Larry Scott’s only hope of reaching the playoff if they win out but the Buffs have a tough test ahead with USC later on Saturday night and a trip to Montlake to face what will surely be an angry Washington team next week.

Lincoln Riley finalizes defensive staff for 2019

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Oklahoma’s defense was flat-out awful in 2018, as we know. The Sooners were 114th in total defense (453.8 yards per game), 102nd in yards per play (6.13) and 101st in scoring (33.3 points per game). Their ineptitude indirectly handed Kyler Murray the Heisman Trophy as the Sooners’ signal caller had to pull his rabbit out of a hat on a weekly basis throughout the fall, but without Murray’s exploits Oklahoma might’ve been a 7- or 8-win team in 2018.

Murray is gone, so the defense has to improve or Oklahoma will take a significant fall in 2019.

Lincoln Riley has spent the past three weeks reshaping his defensive staff, and on Sunday he finalized his staff and their assignments.

New hire Alex Grinch will coach safeties while coordinating the defense. He spent 2018 as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Ohio State. (The Buckeyes’ pass efficiency defense slipped from 13th to 42nd in Grinch’s one season on staff, but Riley hired him for his success coordinating Mike Leach‘s defenses at Washington State.)

Assisting Grinch in the secondary will be cornerbacks coach Roy Manning. He spent 2018 as the outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at UCLA but worked with Grinch at Wazzu from 2015-17.

Brian Odom was hired away from Missouri to coach the Sooners’ inside linebackers, where he’ll team with new outside linebackers coach Ruffin McNeill. Riley’s mentor, McNeill is one of two holdovers from the 2018 staff. He was hired upon Riley’s promotion to head coach as assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach but took over the entire defense following Mike Stoops‘ midseason firing.

The only Oklahoma defensive coach to coach the same position from 2018 to ’19 will be defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux. The OU graduate has been on staff since 2016, when he returned to Norman as defensive ends coach.

Former South Carolina DE announces transfer to TCU

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TCU loses its top two sack artists from 2018 to 2019, but some help just arrived.

Shameik Blackshear (above, top) announced on Saturday he will spend his final year of college football in Fort Worth.

The Bluffton, S.C., native played his first three seasons at South Carolina, where collected 34 tackles and one sack. He appeared in all 13 of the Gamecocks’ games in 2018, including two starts.

He’ll have a chance to compete for an immediate starting role following the graduations of Ben Banogu and LJ Collier plus the departure of Michael Collier. Banogu and Collier combined for 14.5 sacks in 2018, more than 40 percent of the Frogs’ 35 total sacks.

Blackshear is the second Power 5 graduate transfer to pick TCU this week. The Frogs also secured the services of former Kansas State quarterback Alex Delton.

Penn State LB Jarvis Miller announces graduate transfer to UMass

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UMass signed one of its biggest recruits since joining FBS, four years after he left high school.

Penn State linebacker Jarvis Miller has announced he will leave State College to spend his final season in Amherst.

“After much prayer and consideration with my family I have decided to play my 5th year of eligibility at the University of Massachusetts (UMASS), Amherst will pursuing my Masters (sic) Degree,” Miller wrote in a note posted to his Twitter account. “To the Penn State fan base you are the best fans anyone could ask for ! It has been the most memorable 4 years of my life.”

A consensus 3-star recruit, Miller was viewed as a top-10 player in the state of Connecticut when he signed with the Nittany Lions out of Suffield.

Miller redshirted in 2015, then played in 33 career games as a special teams player and reserve linebacker. He collected 23 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack while in blue and white.

Florida State QB James Blackman reportedly not considering transfer after all

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It appears a bad debut season for Willie Taggart at Florida State is not going to get worse.

After it was reported Wednesday that Seminoles quarterback James Blackman had entered his name into the transfer portalWarchant reported that no such entry had been made as of the end of the business week.

Of course, entering one’s name into the transfer portal wouldn’t guarantee a transfer, but it’s simply not possible to transfer without putting your name in, so it appears that — as of this writing, at least — Blackman is intent on returning to Tallahassee for his junior season.

Starting quarterback Deondre Francois also dealt with a similar rumor last month. As of now, he remains a Seminole as well.

While playing for the injured Francois, Blackman completed 58.2 percent of his passes for 2,230 yards with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as a true freshman in 2017. Francois returned to health and the starting lineup this past season, connecting on 57.3 percent of his passes for 2,731 yards with 15 scores against 12 picks. Blackman went 33-of-51 for 510 yards with five touchdowns and one interception as his backup.

As Francois’ numbers indicated, the Seminoles sputtered offensively in Taggart’s debut campaign. Florida State finished 110th nationally in yards per play, 93rd in passing efficiency and 113th in scoring. However, both signal callers would be wise to stick around. Taggart hired Kendal Briles to run his offense. In 1-season stints at Florida Atlantic and Houston, Briles pushed the Owls from 80th to eighth in scoring and the Cougars from 65th to fifth.