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After losing battle with Jacob Eason, Washington QB Jake Haener opts to leave Huskies

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Like a number of other situations around the country, a quarterback battle going one way has resulted in a signal-caller leaving the other way.

In this case the drama is in Seattle, where Washington head coach Chris Petersen not surprisingly named ex-Georgia starter Jacob Eason as the Huskies starter behind center for the opener. Despite the staff insisting that runner-up/top backup Jake Haener would play quite a bit early in the year though, the redshirt sophomore has instead opted to leave the team on Saturday and all but assuredly put his name in the NCAA transfer portal.

Eason, a former five-star and true freshman starter for the Bulldogs, has obvious upside in replacing four-year stalwart Jake Browning for the Huskies but he was pushed during spring practices and fall camp by Haener. The latter, a three-star QB coming out of high school, had impressed those in the program and has limited game experience after completing nine of 13 passes for 107 yards, a touchdown and an interception in 2018.

Not content to be a snap away at Washington however, Haener is now following in the footsteps of others who lost QB battles and will instead suit up for somebody else in 2020.

The move likely leaves another Jacob, Jacob Sirmon, as Eason’s backup with the Huskies in 2019.

Haener had his only Power Five offer from Washington coming out as a prep senior but figures to garner more than Group of Five interest when his name officially hits the transfer portal after spending time under a noted QB-whisperer like Petersen.

Sans Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado upends No. 24 Arizona State behind QB Steven Montez

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Mel Tucker has already delivered a signature non-conference win over a ranked team, now the new Colorado head coach has his first signature conference win over a ranked team.

The Buffs survived the loss of superstar receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. after just two series to notch a surprising road victory over No. 24 Arizona State 34-31 in yet another thriller late at night in the Pac-12.

Bouncing back from a loss last week to Air Force, quarterback Steven Montez played fantastic for CU in throwing for 337 yards and three touchdowns in the upset. The veteran signal-caller didn’t seem to miss his All-American caliber wideout on the outside largely due to the play of opposite number Tony Brown, who turned in a career performance with 150 yards and all three of those scores through the air. K.D. Nixon added six catches for 98 yards as well as the passing game was clicking against a pretty stingy defense coming into the weekend.

Alex Fontenot chipped in with 89 yards rushing and a score despite being banged up himself on a night to remember in the conference opener for both sides.

Freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels did his best to keep the Sun Devils undefeated but it just wasn’t enough as he threw incomplete in the final two minutes to end any hope of a comeback. All told he threw for 345 yards, two scores and a pick while forming a lovely tandem with Brandon Aiyuk, who had 122 of those yards receiving plus a touchdown. Eno Benjamin was mostly bottled up on the ground to force the air show for ASU, with the all-Pac-12 tailback recording a below average 83 yards but finding the end zone twice.

The result left the Pac-12 South without any undefeated teams just four weeks into the 2019 campaign and a surprising USC squad atop the league standings in the division after their win on Friday night against Utah. The Utes and Sun Devils were the South’s only ranked teams but each lost on the same weekend while the Buffs could find themselves back in the polls as a result of the hard fought victory in Tempe.

Just another wild night in the Pac-12 it seems, something Tucker has apparently already gotten used to just four games into his tenure in the Flat Irons.

Chad Morris falls to 2-12 vs. FBS schools as Arkansas’ head coach

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To say that Chad Morris‘ time in Fayetteville hasn’t gone as planned would be an understatement of mammoth proportions.

Hired away from SMU in December of 2017, Morris went 2-10 in his first season as the head coach at Arkansas.  At that point, there were already grumblings that UA had made a hiring gaffe and should cut bait after one year.

That didn’t happen, of course, and Morris “rewarded” that confidence with a 2-1 start to the 2019 campaign.  Unfortunately, those feel-good vibes are a thing of the past as San Jose State, a three-touchdown underdog coming in, looked every bit the part of the better team in every phase of the game as the Spartans got past the Razorbacks 31-24 Saturday night.

In Fayetteville, no less.

Along with the embarrassing 44-17 loss to North Texas last season, Arkansas has now suffered losses to Group of Five schools in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1995-96.

As if that weren’t distressing enough for Hog Nation, Morris is now 4-12 overall at Arkansas.  Even worse?  Two of those wins have come against FCS programs, meaning Morris sports a 2-12 record against FBS competition.

Moving forward, as Morris attempts to salvage something out of this season as well as hold onto his job, he’ll likely have a decision to make at quarterback.

Ben Hicks, a graduate transfer from SMU, began the season as Arkansas’ starter before being benched in favor of Nick Starkel, a graduate transfer from Texas A&M.  Saturday night, Starkel tossed five interceptions to help aid greatly in the losing cause.

To add current insult to future potential injury, Arkansas has the following games left on its 2019 schedule:

  • vs. No. 17 Texas A&M
  • at Kentucky
  • vs. No. 8 Auburn
  • at No. 2 Alabama
  • vs. Mississippi State
  • vs. Western Kentucky
  • at No. 4 LSU
  • vs. Missouri

Good luck making it to Year 3, Coach Morris.

Laviska Shenault Jr. injured but Colorado still locked in a close one with No. 24 Arizona State at half

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Colorado’s best player appears done for the night with an injury but that’s not stopping the Buffs from playing well on the road in a little Saturday night #Pac12AfterDark action, holding tight with a lead against freshly ranked No. 24 Arizona State 24-21 heading into halftime.

CU wideout Laviska Shenault Jr. played in the first series and part of a second one before leaving the field, not returning to action with an undisclosed injury to the superstar receiver who has been the focal point of the team’s offense ever since he stepped on campus. Steven Montez surprisingly didn’t seem phased by the absence however, throwing for 196 yards and two touchdowns as the Buffs were stopped only by a fumble in the first half. The run game didn’t have a ton of sustained success but did wind up with 73 on the ground behind Alex Fontenot’s hard running and short trip to the end zone.

While the defense appeared to be an issue for Herm Edwards‘ Sun Devils, the offense seemed to move the ball a lot better than they did last week at Michigan State (not exactly shocking given the Spartans stellar play defensively). Young QB Jayden Daniels wasn’t super accurate but did put up 202 yards and a touchdown on just 13 completions, the majority of which all went to speedster Brandon Aiyuk (five catches, 97 yards and a score). Eno Benjamin was fairly quiet (29 yards rushing) but did score twice on two short runs, one of which saw him leap toward the corner to sneak it in past the pylon.

While it will be a big storyline to monitor regarding Shenault’s return (or lack thereof), this one is shaping up to be a fun one out in the desert with key Pac-12 South implications for both sides in what is proving to be a wild weekend in the league out West.

No. 3 Georgia holds off No. 7 Notre Dame for 23-17 win

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Before the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in Sanford Stadium, No. 3 Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC) took time wearing down No. 7 Notre Dame (2-1) for a 23-17 victory Saturday night. Despite a handful of injuries before and during the game, Georgia managed to overcome an early special teams mistake and shut down the Irish in the second half. Georgia outscored Notre Dame 13-0 after halftime.

Georgia running back D’Andre Swift led all players with 81 rushing yards and scored Georgia’s first touchdown in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7. Jake Fromm gave Georgia a cushion in the fourth quarter with a 15-yard pass to Lawrence Cager. The touchdown lifted Georgia to a 20-10 lead at the end of an 82-yard drive after Notre Dame had gone three-and-out.

Notre Dame’s second-half drive summary was not good, to put it kindly. After halftime, Notre Dame fumbled on the third play of their first offensive series, which led to a Georgia field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship to tie the game at 10-10. The Irish then went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, leading to another field goal by Blankenship to give Georgia their first lead of the night late in the third quarter. Another punt after losing two yards in three plays led to the Georgia touchdown drive, and Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book was picked off by J.R. Reed on the following possession at the Georgia 33-yard line. That was Notre Dame’s last chance to make things interesting because the Bulldogs began to work the clock. Keeping things on the ground, for the most part, Georgia killed nearly four minutes off the clock before one more field goal by Blankenship to extend the lead to 23-10.

If the atmosphere was a factor, it showed. Notre Dame was called for seven false start penalties in the game. A record crowd at Sanford Stadium of 93,246 was crammed in to watch the events unfold in person. Most of them ended up going home with a smile on their face.

Georgia did suffer some notable injuries in the game. Starting offensive linemen Isaiah Wilson (didn’t play; ankle) and Solomon Kindley (left game; left leg injury) were among the injured Bulldogs, and cornerback Eric Stokes left the game after injuring his knee on the second play of the game.

This all sets Georgia up for a playoff run. With a win against a top 10 opponent under their belts and a favorable schedule the rest of the season, Georgia should be a near-lock for a spot in the SEC Championship Game with a possible 12-0 record. A road trip to Auburn late in the year could be the biggest hurdle remaining, and that could be a nice boost to a playoff profile if things fall just right for Kirby Smart and his program.

While it would be premature to suggest Notre Dame has been eliminated in the playoff discussion, it is a safe bet to say they have a much tougher path back into the playoff mix with a loss. With no conference championship game to fall back on and Michigan getting steamrolled earlier in the day to take some of the luster off their late October showdown in Ann Arbor (note: just some luster), Notre Dame is already in a likely position where they will need to take care of their own schedule the rest fo the way to go 11-1 and then hope for a little help from around the country. The good news for Notre Dame is they likely won’t fall back too far in the polls and there will be teams that take losses the next few months. But it will be tougher on the Irish now.

Georgia will get next week off before jumping into SEC play in October. The Bulldogs will play on the road against a Tennessee program that continues to struggle. The Vols were blown out on the road at Florida earlier in the day. For Georgia, all eyes may be looking ahead to November 2 when Georgia meets Florida in Jacksonville. That game is expected to decide the fate of the SEC East Division, but Georgia must get past Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky first. Those three teams are a combined 4-8.

there will be no bye week for Notre Dame until mid-October, so the Irish will be back at it next week with a home game against No. 21 Virginia. The Cavaliers avoided a home upset to Old Dominion on Saturday. Notre Dame will play their next three games at home with Bowling Green and USC each visiting after Virginia before Notre Dame reaches their next bye week.