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Wisconsin climbs to No. 9, Notre Dame remains in top 10 of latest Coaches Poll

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A number of top 10 teams went down on Saturday but the latest Coaches Poll didn’t see a ton of movement at the top for the most part exiting Week 4 of the season.

In the updated Amway Coaches Poll, Wisconsin moved up to No. 9 after their beatdown of Michigan (which dropped to No. 20), Notre Dame remained in the top 10 after their close loss at Georgia (and are the highest ranked one-loss team), and Utah dropped eight spots to No. 19 after being upset by USC on Friday. The Trojans returned to the top 25 in the last position while Wake Forest was the only new name to make the cut.

Washington State and Arizona State both dropped out of the poll following some wild losses late on Saturday while Cal was the biggest riser, up seven spots to No. 16 after beating Ole Miss.

The full Coaches Poll Top 25:

  1. Clemson (62 first place votes)
  2. Alabama (2)
  3. Georgia (1)
  4. Oklahoma
  5. LSU
  6. Ohio State
  7. Auburn
  8. Florida
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Notre Dame
  11. Penn State
  12. Texas
  13. Oregon
  14. Iowa
  15. Boise State
  16. California
  17. Washington
  18. Virginia
  19. Utah
  20. Michigan
  21. Texas A&M
  22. Kansas State
  23. UCF
  24. Wake Forest
  25. USC

Pac-12 commish Larry Scott open to College Football Playoff expansion, but nothing imminent

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Week 4 was yet another weekend of the Pac-12 cannibalizing itself on the football field as the conference’s highest ranked team lost (No. 10 Utah to USC on Friday), No. 24 Arizona State fell at home to a Colorado squad without its best player and the only undefeated team left out West is now the rather surprising story of Cal, which emerged from Oxford with a win at an SEC program.

Given the strength of the elite teams at the top of the other Power Five conferences right now, one would hardly be surprised if the Pac-12 missed out on the College Football Playoff yet again as a result of everything that’s happened the past month. While that’s not a driving force in the league possibly seeking changes to the postseason structure in the sport, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has apparently softened his stance on expansion beyond four teams in the Playoff — telling the San Jose Mercury News that conversations are being had over increasing the CFP’s size while noting that the bottom line is his conference simply has to play better regardless.

“I don’t care if it’s four teams, six teams, eight teams or 12 teams, if we’re not elite and winning regularly, I don’t think that really changes fundamentally the overall, because we’ll be compared to our peers, and we need to do better compared to our peers,” Scott said. “I’ve started conversations with my peers that make up the management committee of the College Football Playoff. I don’t think there’s anything imminent. We’ve got contracts through 2026 with ESPN. That doesn’t mean something couldn’t happen earlier, but there are some significant impediments…

“I’m engaged in those conversations. I’m open to the fact that there could be a better mousetrap, even though the move from the BCS to the playoff has been really good overall.”

Scott said just this summer that it’s still too early for the playoff expansion talk but it seems pressure from the league’s fans, AD’s and coaches to make the annual postseason event is only growing stronger. There are few conferences who would benefit more from the move beyond four slots than the Pac-12 but the folks out West have been somewhat resistant to leading the charge for change.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s about to change.

No. 16 Oregon ends losing streak to Stanford with all around ugly duckling of an outing on the Farm

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If Oregon wants to get back to the top of the Pac-12 this season, the No. 16 Ducks will have to get past a few programs that have proven to be more than a roadblock the past few years. On Saturday in Palo Alto, Mario Cristobal’s squad knocked down the first of those thanks to a 21-6 victory over a reeling Stanford side that had won three straight in the series.

The game was mostly a slow cooker of a victory for the visitors from Eugene on an off night all around. Quarterback Justin Herbert was efficient with the limited number of chances he had with the ball in his hands, throwing for 259 yards and a trio of touchdowns. He had just five incompletions during the entire contest and often dropped back looking for a reliable target in tight end Jacob Breeland (78 yards, two scores).

While the Heisman Trophy candidate could walk away having played well, the Ducks still needed improvement in other areas against a Pac-12 North rival that had been blown off the field the past two weeks. C.J. Verdell mustered 82 yards rushing but luckily the team’s defense more than made up for things (no touchdowns allowed for three straight games) despite being on the field an extended amount after losing the battle for the clock by nearly 10 minutes.

David Shaw, who is off to a rough 1-3 start in 2019, had to at least be happy that his offense showed signs of being able to run the ball better than they have in weeks — rushing for 126 on the ground all told. Cameron Scarlett nearly topped the century mark (97 yards) and the offensive line only gave up three sacks to a good pass rush.

But it was still more of the same for Stanford all told, which could not capitalize on the handful of sustained drives they had on the evening and saw quarterback K.J. Costello regress to the point where he threw for only 115 yards and a second half interception that all but sealed the outcome. The defense did play well for the most part against a program that has piled up points since the opener but that does them no favors given how uneven the team has performed through the first quarter of the season.

At least Oregon can take solace in the fact that they return to the Pacific Northwest for an off week with a victory to open their conference campaign. Herbert kept another clean sheet in terms of turnovers and tossed a score for the 32nd straight game of his career. Perhaps most importantly for the Ducks, they got past a thorn in their side from the past few years as they aim to return to the top of the mountain out West with dreams still alive of sneaking into the College Football Playoff too.

Stanford continues to look lackluster as No. 16 Oregon leads at halftime on the Farm

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For much of the past decade, Stanford has been as much of a thorn in Oregon’s side as any program in the Pac-12. That, however, does not appear to be the case in 2019 so far.

The Cardinal notched an early field goal then proceeded to struggle on the offensive end against the No. 16 Ducks as the visitors from Eugene took a 14-3 lead into the halftime locker room on the Farm in a game that was far more lopsided than the score would suggest.

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert was efficient as ever in the team’s first true road game of the season, throwing for 155 yards and two scores against just two incompletions all half. Those marks pushed him over 8,000 yards for his career and resulted in his 32nd straight game with touchdown pass. The offense managed only five (and really just four) drives through two quarters against a side playing keep away but could stand to run the ball a bit better in order to take a bit of pressure off their Heisman Trophy candidate behind center as C.J. Verdell mustered only 35 yards on eight carries.

Stanford, meanwhile, was actually decent on the ground (96 yards total) to win the time of possession battle by a solid margin. The problem was the normally reliable passing game for the Cardinal was nowhere to be found. K.J. Costello was under siege behind his makeshift offensive line, throwing for only 44 yards on seven completions and the team managed just over four yards per play at home.

The Ducks have a lot more on the line in this one as they look to stay tied with Cal atop the Pac-12 North standings but we’ve seen surprise turnarounds from Stanford over the years in this series. There would have to be quite the reversal in Palo Alto for that to play out this year but needless to say there’s a huge second half coming between the old rivals.

Jalen Hurts, Joe Burrow surge past Trevor Lawrence in Heisman odds

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When the 2019 campaign kicked off, most assumed that the 2019 Heisman Trophy would be a two-player race. Three weeks in and that number has more than doubled.

In odds released by one offshore sportsbook, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is listed as a 2/1 favorite to win this year’s Heisman. The other preseason co-favorite, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, whose odds now sit at 15/2 — they were at 3/1 a week ago — after a start to the season has seen him throw more interceptions in three games (five) than he had in 15 games (four) as a true freshman a year ago.

Lawrence was actually leapfrogged in this latest odds release by a pair of quarterbacks: Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, who went from 7/2 to 3/1, and LSU’s Joe Burrow, up to 4/1 from 18/1.

Another quarterback also made an upward move as Ohio State’s Justin Fields climbed from 16/1 to 10/1.

The only non-quarterbacks on the list?  Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor sits at 20/1, while fellow running backs Travis Etienne of Clemson and D’Andre Swift of Georgia, along with Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy,  are sitting at 33/1.  Another running back, Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins, is listed at 100/1.

Other quarterbacks that were listed include Georgia’s Jake Fromm at 14/1 (12/1 a week ago), Oregon’s Justin Herbert at 18/1 (25/1), Texas’ Sam Ehlinger at 18/1 (16/1), Notre Dame’s Ian Book at 50/1 (50/1), Michigan’s Shea Patterson at 66/1 (22/1) and Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez at 100/1 (off the board).