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Stanford upends No. 15 Washington to keep Huskies winless on the Farm the last decade

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If you can make sense of the Pac-12 season, by all means takes yourself to the desert and place a few wagers. Because in the league where there’s no elite program at the moment, just about anything could happen and it wouldn’t be surprising at all.

Case in point came Saturday night on the Farm, where Stanford’s one-time dormant offense came alive in a 23-13 win over No. 15 Washington that is bound to shake up the Pac-12 North further than it already is.

The Cardinal set the tone early with three straight scoring drives to open the game and jump out to a lead they would never relinquish. Despite injuries to key offensive linemen and starting quarterback Davis Mills (293 yards, one touchdown), David Shaw’s group still kept ticking in one of their most impressive games of the season when they were pretty much backed into a corner at 2-3 coming into the weekend.

Cameron Scarlett rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown to help take the pressure off third string QB Jack West, who entered down the stretch in the second half after Mills was relegated to the sidelines for an undisclosed injury. Up to that point the offense was averaging nearly eight yards a play and putting up their best numbers of the season despite facing off against one of the best defenses, statistically, on the West Coast.

While that unit let Chris Petersen down with occasional penalties, blown coverages and third down conversions, it was the offense that seemed to be unusually stuck in neutral all night. Jacob Eason threw for just 206 yards with a touchdown and an interception but was under 50% passing and moved the sticks on third down just twice. Tailback Richard Newton rushed for 64 yards but left with a significant injury and Salvon Ahmed seemed limited as well (six carries, 28 yards) on the ground.

Aaron Fuller did have nine catches for 171 yards as one highlight for the purple and gold but that was balanced out by top threat Hunter Bryant standing on the sidelines with one catch for eight yards as the team remains winless on the Farm dating back to a rare victory in 2007.

Add it all up and the Pac-12’s already thin College Football Playoff hopes are basically down to a Hail Mary that Oregon, which struggled against Cal and their own backup QB earlier in the night, running the table. The Ducks and Huskies still have to play in Seattle in two weeks but that once marquee matchup is not quite as big on the league slate after this loss.

As for Stanford, they badly needed a victory to even their record at 3-3 on the year. While they still seem tough to truly take serious in the North Division race, their chances of making a bowl game have improved significantly after looking a little questionable after blowouts to USC and UCF. They’ll be able to rest up on an off week before hosting a lackluster UCLA squad and then play Pac-12 South leading Arizona after that at home.

Up is down and down is up sometimes in the Pac-12 and that appears to be the case again this weekend as yet another bizarre result shakes things up after dark on the West Coast.

Nebraska, Illinois to open 2021 season in Ireland

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Nebraska and Illinois will open their 2021 seasons in Dublin, Ireland, the programs jointly announced Monday.

“The University of Illinois, our football program, our alumni and fans, and the entire Fighting Illini family are in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the Emerald Isle,” Illini AD Josh Whitman said. “When first approached about this game almost two years ago, we had immediate interest. This game will provide an incredible educational opportunity for our football student-athletes who, because of their schedule, generally do not receive the same international experiences as many of our other student-athletes. For our fans, I hope they will journey with us across the Atlantic for a wonderful trip and a major football game, all set against the beauty of Ireland.”

The game will take place Aug. 28, 2021 at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, the same site that hosted Notre Dame vs. Navy in 2012 and will host the Irish and Midshipmen again in 2020. College GameDay will broadcast from the Notre Dame-Navy game in 2020. Penn State and UCF played in Ireland in 2014, and Georgia Tech and Boston College did the same in 2016.

“It is a privilege to be here at the University of Illinois for the announcement of the teams for the 2021 Aer Lingus College Football Classic,” Dublin mayor Paul McAuliffe said. “I welcome the news that both the University of Illinois and University of Nebraska teams and fans will travel to Dublin in 2021 and I look forward to seeing the colour and energy that they will bring to the city of Dublin. Dublin and Ireland are ready to welcome you! This fixture is an important date in our calendar and showcases Dublin as a destination for hosting major international sporting events.”

The game was originally scheduled to be played Nov. 13, 2021 in Champaign, and likely will not be the last in Ireland, as the nation works to make Dublin the European capital of American college football.

Clemson moving forward with $70 million renovation for Death Valley

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Clemson’s building spree around campus for the football program isn’t slowing down anytime soon thanks to the Tigers winning two of the last three national titles.

The school’s Board of Trustees on Friday approved a massive $68.7 million renovation of Frank Howard Field at Clemson Memorial Stadium — better known as Death Valley — and a further $7 million devoted to expanding the already impressive football operations building.

“We haven’t had a major redo of the west end since 2006 so it’s time to pay some attention to that side [after] we redid the suites on the north side and created the south club on the south side,” Athletic Director Dan Radakovich told WNCT.

The stadium renovations are pretty typical of schools nowadays as it will add premium seating (i.e. suites), a new video board and upgraded LED lighting that peers like Georgia and Alabama have used to rave reviews in recent years.

New locker rooms at the stadium are also set to be the first thing accomplished in the project, which officials hope will be completely wrapped up prior to the 2021 season.

Given everything the school is doing for the program lately, ‘If you win it, they will build it’ might just be the unofficial motto at Clemson nowadays. Sure seems more accurate in 2019 than ‘BYOG.’

Thanks to alcohol sales, UNC made over $1 million from concessions in just three home games

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The state of North Carolina opening up beer and alcohol sales at sporting events has had a big impact on the flagship university’s bottom line so far this year.

According to WTVD ABC 11, UNC sold over 43,000 “units” of alcohol (beer/wine/hard seltzers) in the Tar Heels’ first three home games of the year. The end result to all those purchases? The team took in over $1 million in concessions in games against Miami, Appalachian State and Clemson, with all three contests selling more alcohol than soda (and nearly as much booze as water).

The school confirmed a number of figures, including roughly $325,000 in concession sales for the home opener against the Hurricanes and $393,000 against the in-state rival Mountaineers. The defending national champions’ visit on Sept. 28 was the high point however, with $416,000 worth of goods sold and some 15,737 units of alcohol bought.

WRAL reports that all three games exceeded the previous record amount UNC took in from concessions, set back in November 2016 against local rival N.C. State.

Kenan Stadium will host three more home games in 2019 against Duke, Virginia and FCS Mercer. Safe to say all three can already get counted as wins for the bottom line regardless of the result on the field for Mack Brown’s team.

Baylor LB Clay Johnston to miss rest of the season with knee injury

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If No. 18 Baylor is going to continue their remarkable pursuit of a Big 12 title in 2019, they’re going to have to do it without their best defensive player.

A school official confirmed to the Dallas Morning News on Sunday that senior linebacker Clay Johnston will miss the rest of the season after injuring his knee in the Bears’ double overtime victory over Texas Tech on Saturday.

The news is a huge blow to Matt Rhule’s defense, which was tops in the Big 12 in a number of statistical categories and the No. 17 scoring defense nationally. Johnston was all over the field against the Red Raiders, racking up 10 tackles (1.5 TFL) and an interception to help edge their conference rivals and remain undefeated.

For the season, which will sadly be Johnston’s last as a senior, he had 58 tackles, 2.5 sacks and that lone pick from Saturday. Freshman Matt Jones is listed as the next man up on the depth chart though given his youth and inexperience, it’s possible the Bears coaching staff will shift over a more veteran option to man the middle of the defense going forward.

Baylor doesn’t ease into the second half of the schedule either as they’ll hit the road to face a dangerous Oklahoma State offense in their first game without Johnston on Saturday.