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Pac-12 Heisman hopefuls had a less-than-stellar Week 1

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Coming off a disappointing bowl season, the Pac-12 looked to turn the page and begin 2018 on a high note. As a whole, the conference of champions was 8-4, including a record of 1-2 against power conference opponents. There were some highs and some lows scattered throughout. Among the possible surprising disappointments, this weekend may have been the final box score for Heisman Trophy hopefuls Bryce Love and Khalil Tate.

Love, Stanford’s running back and a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2017, entered the new season as Bovada’s betting favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this fall, with 13/2 odds. After rushing for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns last season though, teams will look to clamp down on him a little bit more this season. San Diego State did just that in their Friday night season opener on The Farm. Although Stanford won, 31-10, Love only managed to carry the ball for 29 yards on 18 carries, and he caught three passes for 18 yards. Love, a year after scoring a rushing touchdown in all but one game he played, was held out of the end zone in the season opener. Last year, in a loss to San Diego State, Love rushed for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Is this a sign of what is to come from opposing defenses playing Stanford this season? We’ll see. Next up for Love is a big early-season matchup on national television against USC.

Late last night, against BYU, Arizona’s dynamic QB Khalil Tate (12/1 Heisman odds) ushered in the Kevin Sumlin era with a 28-23 setback at home, and Tate’s final line left room for some improvement as well. Tate completed 17-of-34 passes on an erratic night for 197 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 14 yards on eight rushing attempts. It was the lowest rushing total for Tate in his time at Arizona since back-to-back games against Colorado and Oregon State toward the end of the 2016 season as a backup. Credit BYU for not allowing Tate to get in a rhythm, but that was not the kind of performance that Heisman Trophy voters with a ballot may have wanted to stay up late to see.

Washington quarterback Jake Browning (25/1) had the toughest draw among the Pac-12’s top Heisman favorites according to the oddsmakers at the start of the season. Browning had two costly turnovers against a ferocious Auburn defense in Atlanta, and Browning and the Huskies returned home with a tough loss to open the season.

It has only been one week, and even Heisman Trophy winners have been known to have one letdown performance at times, so it would be unwise to rule out Love or Tate in the Heisman picture after just one full weekend of college football. There was a possible bright spot, however, with Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert (30/1) helping Oregon shrug off a slow start against Bowling Green and celebrate a 58-24 win against the Falcons in Eugene. Herbert completed just 10 of his 21 pass attempts for 281 yards and five touchdowns, and he added 41 rushing yards and a touchdown to help overcome his two interceptions thrown.

Among the Pac-12’s finest, Herbert had the best opening weekend as far as the Heisman race is concerned, but this race is barely even just begun. If a Heisman Trophy cannot be won in early September, then it should not be lost in the first full weekend of college football either.

No. 9 Auburn grinds out 21-16 win over No. 6 Washington, dealing Pac-12 early playoff punch

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No. 9 Auburn (1-0) managed to win a physical and defensive battle against the best the Pac-12 had to offer. The Tigers, fueled by three field goals by Anders Carlson and two key Washington turnovers took home a 21-16 victory over No. 6 Washington in Atlanta in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham completed 26 of 36 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown in the victory. Washington’s Jake Browning had a rough afternoon at times, but he did throw for 296 yards and a touchdown. Browning had one pass intercepted though, and a fumbled football in the third quarter from just outside the goal line came back to bite him and the Huskies.

Washington was primed to take a lead before the Browning fumble, but it was Washington’s defense that kept the game within reach for the entire game. Auburn could never find a true knockout blow against Washington until getting a game-winning touchdown on their last full possession of the game.

With Washington working their way to a 16-15 lead following a field goal, Stidham led the Tigers on a touchdown drive traveling 76 yards over 10 plays. JaTarvious Whitlow finished the drive with a 10-yard run, putting the pressure on Washington to find their way back to the end zone. Washington’s last chance on offense ended on a fourth down with 16 yards to go with Browning being sacked by Smoke Monday.

Much will be made about how this severely damages the Pac-12’s chances of getting a College Football Playoff representative at the end of the season, and it is understandable why that would be. Washington may have needed this win more than Auburn might, given the current standings of the SEC and Pac-12. The margin for error in the Pac-12 has been pretty thin the last few seasons, and a win against a top 10 team essentially on the road would have been a nice feather in the cap for the Huskies. But it’s just one game, and the entire college football season still pretty much has to be played. But Washington may not be able to afford another loss the rest of the season, where Auburn now has one of the top wins of the very early season.

Both Auburn and Washington will play their home openers next week against FCS competition. Auburn will host Alabama State, and Washington plays host to North Dakota.

Auburn kicks their way to halftime lead on Washington in Atlanta

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You want some defensive football? You are getting it in Atlanta this afternoon. No. 9 Auburn holds a 15-13 lead on No. 6 Washington at halftime. Auburn kicker Anders Carlson has converted three field goals to help put points on the board for the Tigers.

Auburn’s defense set the tone on the first series of the game, forcing Washington to go three-and-out without picking up any yards, and the Tigers offense got to work on a short field thanks to a 32-yard punt return by Ryan Davis. Jarrett Stidham connected with Sal Cannella from 10 yards out for a touchdown thanks to an incredible effort by Canella to leap into the air to bring the ball down in the end zone.

Auburn’s Jamel Dean picked off a pass from Jake Browning on the next offensive series for the Huskies, which led to an Auburn field goal to take a 9-0 lead. It was a rough start for Washington, but it could have been worse. Washington got on the board on their next drive with a field goal.

Washington hopes to capitalize on a late momentum swing courtesy of a quick offensive touchdown drive, highlighted by a wonderful sideline catch by Ty Jones on the right sideline and followed immediately by a beautiful pass from Browning to Quinten Pounds for a touchdown.

This is still anyone’s game, and this should be a fun finish.

J.K. Dobbins races past Bryce Love as Bovada’s updated Heisman favorite

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Remember yesterday when we shared the initial 2018 Heisman Trophy odds from Bovada? Well, scrap that already because the people have come in with enough bets to warrant some quick changes to the Heisman odds. Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins soared up four spots to climb into the top spot on Bovada’s board after just 24 hours.

Dobbins was initially given 12/1 odds to win the Heisman Trophy, and the bettors went scrambling for those odds. Bovada’s updated odds see Dobbins as the way-too-early favorite with 6/1 odds. Tied for the best odds with Dobbins is another Big Ten running back, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor. Taylor didn’t move up quite as dramatically to 6/1 after having 8/1 odds a day ago. The short-lived preseason favorite from Bovada and 2017 Heisman Trophy runner-up, Stanford running back Bryce Love, has slipped into third on the board with 7/1 odds. Alabama’s national championship hero, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, tied Love with 7/1 odds.

Some other notable dramatic changes include the addition of Missouri quarterback Drew Lock (25/1). Lock, the SEC’s top passer returning in 2018, was initially left completely off the board. He is the only newcomer to the updated odds from Bovada at this moment. The most notable drop in the odds was from Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver, who fell from 55/1 odds to 66/1. Most other drops were just by a few spots, including Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate falling from 9/1 to 14/1, West Virginia quarterback Will Grier falling from 12/1 to 16/1 and Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley dropping from 18/1 to 20/1.

Here are the updated Heisman odds as relayed by Bovada:

J.K. Dobbins (RB Ohio State) 6/1
Jonathan Taylor (RB Wisconsin) 6/1
Bryce Love (RB Stanford) 7/1
Tua Tagovailoa (QB Alabama) 7/1
Jake Fromm (QB Georgia) 12/1
Khalil Tate (QB Arizona) 14/1
Will Grier (QB West Virginia) 16/1
Jarrett Stidham (QB Auburn) 16/1
Kelly Bryant (QB Clemson) 18/1
Justin Herbert (QB Oregon) 18/1
Trace McSorley (QB Penn State) 20/1
Cam Akers (RB Florida State) 25/1
Rodney Anderson (RB Oklahoma) 25/1
Jake Browning (QB Washington) 25/1
Ryan Finley (QB NC State) 25/1
Drew Lock (QB Missouri) 25/1
McKenzie Milton (QB UCF) 25/1
Travis Etienne (RB Clemson) 35/1
Nick Fitzgerald (QB Mississippi State) 35/1
D'Andre Swift (RB Georgia) 35/1
Brandon Winbush (QB Notre Dame) 35/1
David Sills (WR West Virginia) 45/1
Ed Oliver (DL Houston) 66/1
Nick Bosa (DL Ohio State) 75/1

CFT Previews: PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

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WHO: No. 9 Penn State (10-2) vs. No. 11 Washington (10-2)
WHAT: The 47th PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
WHEN: 4:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
THE SKINNY: A year after a debate was waged on which of these two should be included in the College Football Playoff, Washington and Penn State meet in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. This one could be one of the more entertaining games we see this bowl season with plenty of good talent to go around on both sides of the field. After both teams ended their postseason last season with a loss, both Penn State and Washington are looking to make up for it this year.

The running back duo is terrific with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley capable of a highlight any time he touches the ball, if his offensive line gives him room to work. Barkley is going up against a stingy Washington defense so there may not be much room to work for much of the night. This is expected to be the final game of Barkley’s career before heading off to the NFL, where he is likely to be a top 10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The stats may not tell the full story of just how dangerous Barkley can be, but he can be a factor running the ball, catching the ball, and returning kicks. Barkley has two kickoff return touchdowns this season and he was named the winner of the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most dynamic player.

Penn State will have their hands busy trying to contain Myles Gaskin of Washington, one of the top offensive players the Pac-12 has to offer. The quarterback comparison is a good one too with Penn State’s Trace McSorley a spunky dual-threat and Washington’s Jake Browning a more traditional dropback passer.

Both offenses will be led by new coordinators on the sidelines after the previous coordinators left to take head coach jobs elsewhere this offseason. While Penn State’s James Franklin is looking for his first major bowl victory after not being able to finish off the Rose Bowl a year ago, Washington’s Chris Petersen is looking for his third Fiesta Bowl victory. This should be a good one, but Penn State may have just enough big plays in them to keep the school’s perfect Fiesta Bowl record unblemished.

THE PICK: Penn State 30, Washington 26