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Virginia Tech QB Josh Jackson set for surgery, out indefinitely

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Virginia Tech’s embarrassing weekend came with a rather substantial personnel loss.

This past Saturday, starting quarterback Josh Jackson went down with a lower-leg injury in then-No. 13 Tech’s historic loss to Old Dominion; it was the Conference USA program’s first-ever win over a Power Five school after nine straight such losses over the last decade.

Monday, the Hokies’ worst fears were realized as Justin Fuente confirmed that Jackson suffered a fractured left fibula during the game and will be sidelined indefinitely.¬† The signal-caller is set to undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair the damage.

This season prior to the injury, Jackson completed a little over 62 percent of his 58 passes for 575 yards, five touchdowns and an interception.¬† His 170.3 pass efficiency rating is currently 18th nationally and second among ACC quarterbacks (Boston College’s Anthony Brown, 175.5).

With Jackson sidelined for the foreseeable future, the keys to Tech’s offense will be handed off to Ryan Willis.¬† The Kansas transfer had to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, and has attempted 25 passes for the Hokies this season.¬† In that limited action thus far, he has thrown for 195 yards and a touchdown.

The good news is that Willis isn’t exactly new to the starting game at the collegiate level.

Willis started two games during the 2016 season; after throwing three interceptions in each of those mid-October starts, Willis was benched and never played another down for the Jayhawks. In his first season in Lawrence in 2015, Willis set a KU freshman record by throwing for 1,719 yards and nine touchdowns as part of his eight starts.

“I feel badly for Josh,” Fuente said in comments distributed by the school earlier today. “He’s a competitive, tough young man. He just kind of got landed on wrong on the play, but know he’ll come back better than ever.

“We turn to Ryan Willis and he performed pretty well last week when he went in there. He’s competitive and he’s been training and working for this opportunity and it’s up to everyone else to step up their game as well and help him out and support him.”

No. 10 Washington rides defense to win over slumping Arizona State

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Take one of the Pac-12’s best rushing attacks, mix in the league’s best receiver on the other sideline and stir after dark to get some wild, offensive-laden craziness in Seattle, right? Uh, not even close.

No. 10 Washington rode their incredible defense and used a handful of big plays from their offensive veterans to secure a bruising 27-20 win on Saturday night and drop the fighting¬†Herm Edwards’ of Arizona State to a slumping .500 on the season.

Huskies QB Jake Browning crossed the 10,000 yard passing plateau for his college career and continued closing in on several school records with an efficient 202 yard game. That included three excellent throws into the end zone for touchdowns, one to Aaron Fuller, another to Ty Jones and the best of the bunch in the fourth quarter to help salt the game away to a tip-toeing Cade Otton.

The signal-caller’s play balanced out another solid (if not quite the usual spectacular) effort from Washington’s one-two punch in the backfield as¬†Myles Gaskin¬†recorded 86 yards on the ground and¬†Salvon Ahmed¬†chipped in with 71 more on limited carries. The team punted just three times all game and probably could have gotten off to a better start had their signature¬†Chris Petersen¬†trick play on the first play of the game — in this case, a double-pass — not been picked off.

The real star of the show might have been the defense though. Linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven looks like a budding All-American and finished with 20 tackles and two forced fumbles while the entire front seven was a load for the Sun Devils to handle. Eno Benjamin had just one long run on his way to 104 yards plus a TD and otherwise had to fight for running room on every carry.

He was still a bright spot for ASU all things considered… namely how rough of an outing it was for¬†QB¬†Manny Wilkins¬†(104 yards passing) and star receiver¬†N'Keal Harry¬†(five catches, 20 yards). The entire group seemingly continued their struggles from last week’s loss against San Diego State and will now need to find some way to regroup with the heart of their Pac-12 slate coming up next month. After grabbing the nation’s attention with a victory over Michigan State, now will really be the time we’ll find out what Edwards can do as a college coach as he tries to rebound from a losing streak for the first time.

The Huskies, meanwhile, can rest easy knowing they didn’t get swept up in the wild nature of the day in college football with so many ranked teams falling to unranked squads. It was by no means a crisp outing for Petersen’s group but it is a precious win nevertheless and does set up a very intriguing game next Saturday night against a ranked BYU squad. At this point late into the night on Saturday, surviving and advancing is nothing to overlook and, thanks mostly to their defense, Washington did just that against Arizona State.

No. 7 Stanford storms back to beat No. 20 Oregon in OT and make huge Pac-12 statement at Autzen

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The faces may change through the years but whenever Oregon and Stanford get together in the Pac-12 era, a classic tends to break out. Such was certainly the case once again on Saturday night in Eugene.

The No. 7 Cardinal had an incredible turnaround starting in the third quarter and stormed back to beat No. 20 Oregon 38-31 in overtime and send a statement to the Pac-12 and the rest of the country that they’re still among the elite in the sport.

Despite Oregon controlling the game convincingly early, Stanford found¬†late life in the third quarter thanks to their defense. After a replay took a touchdown off the board, the Ducks were at their one yard line when they were set to punch the ball in… but fumbled the snap. Linebacker¬†Joey¬†Alfieri scooped-and-scored from 80 yards out to quiet the rambunctious crowd in Eugene and a three-and-out followed. The Cardinal continued to make things interesting after that incredible swing of momentum as Bryce Love then punched it in from 22 yards out to complete the 21-point swing.

While it looked like the Ducks had regained control of things with a 70-yard touchdown drive, the visitors from the Farm would not give up. They answered with a score in less than 90 seconds and then incredibly forced a fumble on the ensuing possession. After some big time passes down the field, Jet Toner knocked home a 32-yard field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime and the team secured an interception to seal the deal in the extra frame.

Love (89 yards) was generally held in check outside of that one scoring run as the Stanford offense mostly had to move the ball through the air. Signal-caller K.J. Costello made several big throws down the field and finished with 327 yards passing. He also threw for three touchdowns, two of which went not surprisingly to jump ball machine JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Tight end Kaden Smith chipped in with six catches for 95 yards and Coby Parkinson found the end zone from 23 yards out in OT for the game-winner.

The stunning comeback ruined what should have been a momentous day for Mario Cristobal at Oregon. Quarterback Justin Herbert managed to insert himself into the Heisman conversation by playing nearly perfect, throwing for 346 yards with just seven incompletions, a touchdown and a pick. He also ran for 35 yards for good measure and his scrambles to keep plays alive were key to sustaining drives throughout the game.

CJ Verdell led the way for the Ducks on the ground with 115 yards rushing and a touchdown but his fumble trying to ice the game was the critical mistake that seemed to doom the team. It also spoiled¬†big play machine¬†Dillon Mitchell‘s¬†huge performance¬†as the junior wideout finished the night with a whopping 14 catches for 239 yards — the most at the school since 2003.

The loss not only sets Oregon back in the Pac-12 North race (with rivals Washington coming to town in three weeks), but also hampers their good start to the year against weaker competition. While there’s plenty of season left to go, defeats like that are never easy to get over and Cristobal in particular still has plenty to prove to the fan base that he was the right choice to replace¬†Willie Taggart¬†last December.

As for Stanford, they will likely tick up some in the polls and can now legitimately enter the College Football Playoff conversation. That clash against Notre Dame in South Bend next week on NBC is one of the biggest games of the young season so far and both teams are no stranger from hard-fought battles over the years themselves. While that will have more national implications going forward, the Cardinal already made an impressive statement in Pac-12 play on Saturday night as they look more and more like the class of the league after quieting the crowd and stunning Oregon at Autzen.

QB Justin Herbert, No. 20 Oregon sharp in jumping out to halftime lead against No. 7 Stanford

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After playing three lackluster opponents to open the season, just about everybody in the country was wondering just how good undefeated and No. 20 Oregon was this season. Turns out, pretty good.

The Ducks struck early and never looked back in their huge Pac-12 showdown against No. 7 Stanford, taking a 24-7 lead into the halftime break and looking every bit like the better team on both sides of the ball so far at Autzen Stadium.

In his first big impression for Heisman voters this year, Oregon QB Justin Herbert was nearly perfect through the air with 170 yards, a touchdown and just a single incompletion. He hit several big plays between the hashes and also chipped in by showing off his mobility with 42 yards on the ground as well. Dillon Mitchell hauled in a 53-yard pass on his way to triple figures (126) receiving while tight end Jacob Breeland found the end zone on one of his two catches. CJ Verdell chipped in with 75 yards and a score running the ball too.

The Cardinal offense was not nearly as explosive in the first half. Tailback Bryce Love was mostly held in check with just 41 yards rushing while K.J. Costello powered offense down the field with several big throws on his way to 114 yards. He also tossed a touchdown pass which came, not surprisingly, on a jump ball in the end zone to JJ Arcega-Whiteside from 13 yards out.

We’ll see how this one will play out but the two Pac-12 North rivals have staged some incredible second half battles over the years and that could be the case once again. Defensive adjustments for Stanford will prove key to making things interesting because the Ducks are certainly proving to be better than advertised just two quarters into their season actually getting underway.

No. 10 Washington too much for Utah as Huskies snag Pac-12 road win

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Washington required a last-ditch punt return for a touchdown to survive their last trip to Salt Lake City but had no need for such heroics this time around as the No. 10 Huskies never trailed in an eventual 21-7 win over Utah on Saturday night that was anything but pretty for either side.

Neither quarterback will want to review tape of the effort as both faced pressure on nearly every snap and compounded problems with bad decisions such as the one Jake Browning made below:

That wild play in the fourth quarter could have been a momentum changer for the Utes but they failed to convert on fourth down near the end zone and wound up empty-handed in the entire sequence. Browning wound up finishing the night with 155 yards and a touchdown throw but it was anything but a sharp performance from the senior who was supposed to play a big role in the team returning to the top of the Pac-12 standings.

Luckily for head coach Chris Petersen he still had a strong running game and a feisty defense to complement it. Tailback Myles Gaskin continued his assault on school and conference record books by racking up 143 yards and scored the first points of the game by diving over the pylon on the opening drive. Safety Taylor Rapp was all over the field defensively and recovered a pair of fumbles, one in each half.

Utah’s defense was also the team’s strength for the most part and did so with at least one starter leaving due to injury and two others getting tossed for targeting. The group continually kept the Utes in the game as it wore on and the entire unit was particularly impressive up front as they seemed to cause some havoc on just about every play.

In the end though, it was once again the offense that proved to be Utah’s biggest issue. QB¬†Tyler Huntley¬†threw for only 138 yards and also had an interception while looking a lot more dangerous on the ground (49 yards rushing). Running back¬†Zack Moss¬†had an early touchdown run and finished with 67 yards on the night but was kept in check for the most part in the second half.

If there was any silver lining for the home team in Salt Lake, it was that the loss by no means wrecks the Utes’ Pac-12 campaign given the state of the South division at the moment. Both USC and Arizona are 1-2 and the rebuilding project¬†Chip Kelly¬†is going through at UCLA looks like it is off to a rough start.¬†Herm Edwards¬†does have a big win at Arizona State under his belt but who knows how things will have played out by the time the two meet in Tempe in November.

Washington will count the game as a win but the effort won’t be encouraging at all to the die-hard Huskies fans out there. While many thought an undefeated run through the Pac-12 slate would still keep those slim Playoff hopes alive, that will not come to fruition at all if the team doesn’t pick things up offensively after such a lackluster effort on the road.