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No. 13 Oregon survives three turnovers to top pesky Cal in rough Pac-12 rock fight

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Oregon entered this week with just two turnovers on the season. It didn’t take them two quarters to exceed that total on Saturday night in Eugene as the No. 13 Ducks needed to overcome a sloppy start to sneak out of Autzen Stadium with a 17-7 win over a very pesky Cal team that hung around all game long.

Justin Herbert was guilty of one of those turnovers for the home team as the quarterback threw his first interception of the year on an under thrown pass that was snagged by star corner Ashtyn Davis. The signal-caller bounced back from the early mistake to wind up with 214 yards and a touchdown pass but it was far from the kind of tape he wanted to put on for NFL scouts hoping he’d torch one of the best secondaries in the country.

Of course it was hard for Oregon to do much of anything on offense considering how lackluster their run game was. C.J. Verdell (46 yards) went out early in the game with a lower leg injury and backup Travis Dye fumbled twice in the first half. The latter eventually put up 81 yards on the ground but every play felt like a battle for middle earth given the stout defenses involved.

Though Cal forced all those turnovers, they failed to do a whole lot with them. The Bears mustered just 256 yards of offense and quarterback Devon Modster, making his first start in place of the injured Chase Garbers, completed less than half of his passes in throwing for 178 yards, a touchdown and two picks. There was much of a running game to lean on either as Chris Brown Jr. paced the effort with 42 yards and added a scoring reception to his total. Penalties were also an issue for the visitors from Berkeley, with 11 flags for 98 yards really putting a damper on Justin Wilcox’s rare return to his alma mater as they have now dropped 10 of their last 11 games to the division rivals.

The result does keep the Ducks undefeated in conference play however and atop the Pac-12 North standings ahead of a Friday night game next week against Colorado. Win that one and Oregon will setup a huge matchup that could have College Football Playoff implications against bitter rival Washington down in Seattle. Mario Cristobal’s club still hasn’t played but one complete game this season on both sides of the ball but he’ll have to be happy with moving to 5-1 on the year after gutting out the ‘W’ on Saturday.

No. 13 Oregon turns the ball over three times, trails Cal at halftime

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Duck… Duck… Duck… goose egg.

No. 13 Oregon committed three turnovers in the first half against Cal on Saturday evening to trail 7-0 at the break in a critical Pac-12 North battle for both sides.

Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert (110 yards passing) was responsible for one of those turnovers, tossing his first interception of the season on an ill advised that was undercut by Bears’ star cornerback Ashtyn Davis. The other giveaways came via two fumbles from tailback Travis Dye, who was having a particularly off game despite 48 yards rushing. Fellow tailback C.J. Verdell (46 yards) injured his ankle and Cyrus Habibi-Likio was limited as well so it’s not like Oregon will be able to turn anywhere else on the ground.

The good news is that Cal’s offense didn’t exactly capitalize on all the good field position with the lone score coming via a Devon Modster touchdown pass to Chris Brown Jr. from 22 yards out. The former made his first start at QB for the team in place of Chase Garbers, who was injured last week in the team’s first loss of the year to Arizona State. Brown also led the team in rushing with 26 yards as well.

We’ve seen a number of rock fights in college football this week and after a half of play, it might be time to add this Cal-Oregon game to the pile. A lot of that has to do with the two defenses involved in this one but some lackluster offensive production is a contribution

No. 12 Texas opens Big 12 play by halting home losing streak to Oklahoma State

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In a game that was both as close as the final score and not, No. 12 Texas survived a game effort from Oklahoma State, 36-30.

Sam Ehlinger picked up a battered defense, completing 20-of-28 passes for 281 yards with four touchdowns and an interception while rushing 10 times for 70 yards. Keontay Ingram complimented his quarterback by carrying a season-high 21 times for 114 yards.

Texas (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) snapped a 5-game home losing streak to Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1 Big 12), a Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium opponent record. However, the Cowboys showed flashes of a team that will compete in the Big 12 this year, as Spencer Sanders threw for 268 yards and rushed for 109 yards and a score.

Both teams put up near 500-yard efforts (498 for Texas, 494 for OSU) and were at times their own worst enemies. Oklahoma State kicked two short field goals and came up empty on two deep trips inside Texas territory, while the Longhorns muffed two different punts, both of which turned into Cowboy touchdowns.

Oklahoma State accepted the ball to open the game and, after converting an opening 3rd-and-11 on a 20-yard completion to Tylan Wallace, moved 78 yards to the Texas 1, but two Chuba Hubbard runs were turned away and the Cowboys settled for a 20-yard Matt Ammendola field goal.

Texas moved 35 yards over nine snaps on its first chance, but Texas punted from the Oklahoma State 40. After its defense forced a three-and-out, the Longhorn offense moved the ball again, this time going 66 yards in nine plays to take the lead on a 6-yard toss from Ehlinger to Devin Duvernay on the opening play of the second quarter.

Texas then seized control of the game when safety Montrell Estell caught a Sanders overthrow and returned it 37 yards to the Oklahoma State 28, and two plays later Ehlinger hit freshman Jake Smith for a 17-yard touchdown to put UT up 14-3 with 12:42 left in the first half.

Sanders moved past the interception by finding Wallace for a 35-yard gain to the Texas 38, but the Oklahoma State drive stalled when the Pokes ran Hubbard for a loss of four on 3rd-and-8 from the UT 26, leading to another Ammendola field goal.

Texas looked to increase its lead on its next touch, a 36-yard drive, but Roschon Johnson was stuffed for a loss of one on a 4th-and-3 from the OSU 28. Now trailing 14-6, Sanders hit Braydon Johnston for a 55-yard bomb to the Texas 3, then after two backwards runs, ran it in himself on third-and-goal to pull the Cowboys within 14-13 with 3:07 left in the first half.

That margin wouldn’t last, though, as Ehlinger hit Brennan Eagles for a 73-yard catch-and-run touchdown, pushing the Texas lead to 21-13 with 2:09 left in the first half. The ‘Horns forced an Oklahoma State punt and appeared in position to sit on the ball until halftime, but Smith muffed the Tom Hutton punt at his own 15, which Oklahoma State recovered. Hubbard charged in a 1-yard run with 11 seconds to go to put the score at 21-20 at halftime.

Oklahoma State forced another plus-territory punt to open the second half, then swiftly drove 74 yards. After Sanders was stopped for a 2-yard run a 3rd-and-4 from the Texas 11, Mike Gundy played it safe and called for another short Ammendola field goal, giving Oklahoma State its second lead of the game at 23-21.

It wouldn’t last. Texas moved 75 yards in seven plays, scoring on a 25-yard fake reverse throwback from Ehlinger to tight end Cade Brewer, putting Texas up 28-23 with 5:30 left in the third quarter.

Oklahoma State once again drove into the Texas red zone, but this time they came up empty. Sanders ran for 10 yards on a 3rd-and-11 from the Longhorns’ 13, a spot that seemed favorable to Texas and replay could not overturn. Gundy rolled the dice this time and paid for it when Hubbard was stuffed for a loss of a yard.

Texas quickly moved the ball out of the shadow of its own goal post, but on a 3rd-and-7 from his own 33 Ehlinger’s pass was tipped and intercepted by safety Kolby Harvell-Peel, who returned the ball 22 yards to the Texas 31. Given another chance to take the lead, Oklahoma State again came up empty. This time, after Sanders fired incomplete with room to run on 2nd-and-1 and Hubbard was again stuffed on 3rd-and-1, and the Pokes had been flagged for delay of game, Gundy tried a fake field goal which turned into a fumble that Texas’s Malcolm Roach recovered.

Given a second chance to step on the gas, this time Texas capitalized. A pair of Oklahoma State penalties and a 26-yard Ingram catch-and-run put Texas to the Cowboy 2, and converted quarterback Roschon Johnson punched in the score and then a 2-point conversion, putting Texas up 36-23 with 11:44 to play. The Longhorns had a real chance to put the game in a choke hold when safety Chris Brown caught a tipped interception on Oklahoma State’s next drive and returned it to the Oklahoma State 47, but the Cowboys’ defense forced a three-and-out, stuffing Ehlinger for a loss of a yard on a 3rd-and-1 keeper.

Gundy seemed to wave the white flag by punting with 3:44 remaining, but Texas muffed another punt, this time safety Brandon Jones. Hubbard, on his 37th carry of the night, streaked in for a 13-yard touchdown with 1:37 to go, and all of a sudden Oklahoma State was onside kicking with a chance to win the game. On a 3rd-and-9 with 1:24 to go, Ehlinger clinched the game with a 29-yard run, giving Texas its first win over Oklahoma State since 2008.

Pac-12 After Midnight: Cal upsets No. 14 Washington after long weather delay

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No. 14 Washington and division rival California officially kicked off at 7:40 p.m. PT but their conference tussle ended eons beyond what any normal college football game would have run on Saturday night… into Sunday morning.

Yes, behold folks: Pac-12 After Midnight.

The Golden Bears waited out a nearly three hour weather delay in Seattle to take home a 20-19 upset win at 1:24 a.m. local over the Huskies in the Week 2 action that never seemed to end despite the clock advancing well past midnight on both the East and West Coasts.

As was expected given the lengthy time spent in the locker room due to the delay and the fact that the matchup pitted two of the best defenses in the Pac-12, a low-scoring affair broke out by Montlake. UW quarterback Jacob Eason completed just 18 passes for only 162 yards and tossed an interception — numbers which were actually solid given the conditions and the fact that he wasn’t helped all that much by drops and false starts. Salvon Ahmed added 119 yards and a score on the ground as the home team did just enough to keep things interesting in their first test in Pac-12 play.

The numbers for the Golden Bears were along those same lines in a game could have been mistaken for a throwback to a contest decades before even the coaches were born. Cal was a borderline Wing-T team in rushing for 192 yards, using the punishing style of Chris Brown Jr. to tag team with the two scores from the shifty Marcel Dancy. Maybe the most impressive part, aside from Cal scoring their first offensive touchdown against Washington since 2016, was the fact that they never backed down.

QB Chase Garbers was 11-of-18 for 111 yards through the air but picked up a number of key first downs on the ground in rushing for 42 yards. They also marched 74 yards for the go-ahead field goal and scored on three of their four second half drives.

Neither coach is likely to wake up a few hours later on Sunday all that happy with what transpired deep into the night from Husky Stadium. Things will certainly sting for Chris Petersen, having not only dropped a division game but doing so in painful fashion to one of his old coordinators. Washington was held up as one of the few Pac-12 playoff contenders given their ranking that might be thrown out the window in light of the result while Cal continues to be the thorn in the division’s side with yet another upset.

Cheez-It Bowl sees nine glorious interceptions thrown, one TCU victory over Cal in the process

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The Pac-12 and Big 12 are filled with numerous high-flying offenses but Cal, under Justin Wilcox, and TCU, under Gary Patterson, have hitched their wagons to playing stout defense. The two programs met in the Cheez-It Bowl on Wednesday night in Phoenix and to nobody’s surprise, the pair combined for plenty of the latter and very little of the former as the Horned Frogs snuck out of the desert with a 10-7 win in overtime.

Let’s get this out of the way: this was far from the sharpest of games this postseason and might have been one of the ugliest college football games in all of 2018. There were nine — nine! — interceptions thrown and a combined seven sacks. It took heroic efforts for either side to rise above three yards a play and the two teams had a total of 15 punts between themselves.

So yeah, it was one of those games. That said, there was plenty of entertainment for the college football masochists out there.

TCU quarterback Grayson Muehlstein, whose play ironically had helped his team into this bowl game down the stretch, had a regrettable game throwing the football: completing seven passes to his own team and throwing four to the other side, including one on an absolutely dreadful double-pass trick play in the first half. He finished the evening with just 27 yards passing and just a few more in total if we’re being generous and including the eight yards he had on scrambles.

The Horned Frogs converted just three third down attempts all game long and really would have been dead in the water if not for tailback Sewo Olonilua, who had 194 yards on the ground and powered his way to the team’s lone touchdown. Things actually went from bad to worse in the fourth quarter when Muehlstein was briefly hurt, forcing Patterson to put in Justin Rogers — an emergency move if there ever was one because the freshman has been dealing with drop-foot from an injury he suffered in high school and is not fully mobile (Rogers completed one pass for one yard and took a sack while in the game).

Things were not terribly better on the Cal side of the field offensively either. Chase Garbers started the game and went 12-of-19 for 93 yards… but threw three picks himself and was replaced by Chase Forrest (71 yards, two INTs of course). Senior running back Patrick Laird was the team’s leading rusher for most of the game but left at halftime with a shoulder injury. Chris Brown did put up a team-high 57 yards in relief but yards and points were clearly hard to come by in this one.

Listen, this was no Pitt-Oregon State Sun Bowl from eons ago that ended 3-0 or that Virginia Tech-Wake Forest game that went to overtime sans points but boy did it come close to reach that elusive plane in college football lore. TCU got the victory in the end, however ugly, and we can all tell our kids years from now that yes, we too watched the lackluster Cheez-It Bowl unfold in all it’s glory late on a Wednesday night the day after Christmas.