The Oregon-Washington Pac-12 football game, which had been scheduled for Saturday in Eugene, Ore., has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns within the Huskies’ program, the conference announced on Thursday.
“This decision was made under the Pac-12’s football game cancellation policy due to Washington not having the minimum number of scholarship student-athletes available for the game due to a number of positive football student-athlete COVID-19 cases and resulting isolation of additional football student-athletes under contact tracing protocols,” the statement read, adding the game will be declared a no contest.
If Oregon (3-2) had defeated the Huskies (3-1), they would have won the North Division and advanced to the Pac-12 title game on Dec. 18. The Ducks would have faced No. 15 Southern California (4-0) or Colorado (3-0), who are atop the South Division.
“Not contesting this game is very disappointing to our student-athletes and our fans,” the statement read. “While all of us want to see our student-athletes on the field competing, our number one priority must continue to be the health and safety of all those connected to Pac-12 football programs.”
It is unclear how this impacts who will play in the conference’s championship game since the Trojans and Buffaloes could both be undefeated following this week. The conference could amend its rules to have the league’s lone unbeaten teams meet, according to ESPN.
USC and Colorado had their meeting earlier this month declared a no contest after it was canceled because of COVID-19 issues within the Trojans’ program.
USC and Colorado face UCLA and Utah, respectively, on Saturday.
Austin Jones rushed 31 times for 138 yards and two touchdowns against the Pacific-12 Conference’s top-ranked defense as Stanford upset No. 22 Washington 31-26 Saturday in Seattle.
Davis Mills completed 20 of 30 passes for 252 yards and a score for the Cardinal (2-2), who held on after building a 24-3 halftime lead.
The Huskies (3-1) nearly rallied from a 21-point halftime deficit for the second consecutive week, after defeating Utah 24-21 the previous Saturday at home.
Sean McGrew’s 2-yard touchdown run, his second score of the game, pulled Washington within 31-23 with 11:03 remaining.
The Huskies’ Trent McDuffie forced Jones to fumble near midfield on Stanford’s next possession and Edefuan Ulofoshio returned it 39 yards to the Stanford 10-yard line.
Two plays later, a touchdown pass from Dylan Morris to Ty Jones that could have tied the score with a two-point conversion with 9:59 left was called back by a holding penalty. Another holding call pushed Washington back to the 29-yard line before Peyton Henry’s 45-yard field goal made it 31-26 with 7:54 remaining.
The Huskies never got the ball back, as Jones helped the Cardinal run out the clock.
Stanford was 10 of 13 on third-down conversions and 2 for 2 on fourth down.
Morris completed 15 of 23 passes for 254 yards, without a touchdown or interception. McGrew rushed for a team-high 65 yards on 16 carries.
The Cardinal scored on their first five drives of the game, with four of those ending in touchdowns.
Jones scored on runs of 3 yards and 1 yard in the first quarter to give Stanford a 14-0 lead.
After a Henry field goal, Nathaniel Peat scored on a 3-yard run and Jet Toner kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired in the half to make it 24-3.
Washington scored TDs on three straight drives in the second half to pull within 31-23. McGrew scored on rushes of 6 and 2 yards and Morris tallied a 1-yard TD sneak.
Washington coach Jimmy Lake was asked if there’s any chance his undefeated Huskies, No. 22 in the College Football Playoff rankings, might be looking past Saturday’s opponent, the visiting Stanford Cardinal.
The Huskies, after all, have a game against No. 23 Oregon for first place in the Pacific-12 Conference’s North Division looming.
“The North, for the last six years, has been Stanford, Washington, Stanford, Washington for most of those years. I believe it’s four or five of the last six years. I’m sorry, but this is Stanford we’re talking about here. This is a powerhouse in the North Division. This is a huge game. This is a storied program that we have a lot of respect for, a big-time opponent. That thought is not going into one person in this whole building’s head. … This is a game that is a fistfight as well every single year, because of their style of play and our style of play. Stanford and Washington have run the North for years.”
The Ducks, who have played in three conference championship games since 2011 and won the title last year, might dispute that, but Lake’s point is that only the nomadic Cardinal matter this week.
Stanford (1-2, 1-2 Pac-12), which will spend the next two weeks in the Pacific Northwest because of COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County in California, and Washington (3-0, 3-0) are both coming off emotional victories.
The Cardinal won the Big Game against Bay Area rival Cal 24-23 last Friday as Austin Jones ran for a pair of touchdowns, Davis Mills threw for 205 yards and a score, and Thomas Booker blocked the potential tying extra point with 58 seconds remaining to take back The Axe.
“We still didn’t play our best, but we needed to win a close game,” said Cardinal coach David Shaw, whose team’s game next weekend against Oregon State has already been moved to Corvallis, Ore. “We want to be a great football team, and we’re getting closer to good.”
The Huskies, who had their Apple Cup rivalry against Washington State canceled because of the Cougars’ coronavirus concerns, instead got an unscheduled matchup against Utah last Saturday.
The Utes took a 21-point halftime lead before the Huskies clawed back for a 24-21 victory on Dylan Morris’ 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cade Otton with 36 seconds left.
It was only the fifth time in program history the Huskies rallied from a deficit of 21 or more points to win, and it was the first since 1989.
“That was probably the first comeback I’ve ever been a part of,” said Huskies linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui, who had three sacks. “I just had to take in the moment.”
Morris, a first-year starter, was 23 of 38 for 272 yards and two touchdowns but threw three interceptions. He was 6 of 9 for 71 yards on the final drive, including a play on which the snap was botched but Morris recovered to complete a pass to Otton.
“That’s the type of calm that he has through adverse situations,” Lake said.
The Huskies hope to take advantage of a Stanford run defense that’s allowing a conference-worst 229.0 yards per game.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Dylan Morris completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Cade Otton with 36 seconds left in regulation to complete Washington’s 24-21 comeback win Saturday over Utah in the impromptu Pac-12 game at in Seattle.
Washington (3-0) overcame a 21-0 deficit at halftime behind the play of Morris, who finished with 272 yards and two touchdowns on 23 of 38 passing. He was intercepted three times.
The last time Washington overcame a 21-0 halftime deficit was on Nov. 12, 1988, when the Huskies beat California 28-27.
The Huskies’ game-winning drive covered 88 yards in 12 plays in just under four minutes. Morris completed 6 of 9 pass attempts for 71 yards in the drive. Otton finished with eight catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns.
The Utes (0-2) were originally scheduled to play at Arizona State, but that game had to be canceled because of lingering COVID-19 issues with the Sun Devils.
Washington became available when its Apple Cup rivalry game with Washington State was canceled because of COVID-19 cases within the Cougars’ program.
South Carolina graduate transfer quarterback Jake Bentley started for the first time for Utah after redshirt sophomore Cameron Rising suffered a season-ending shoulder injury last week against USC.
In the first half, Bentley completed 9 of 11 pass attempts for 87 yards with a touchdown, and he rushed for a touchdown to lead Utah to its 21-0 halftime lead.
The Huskies were limited to 127 yards of total offense in the first half. They finished with 360.
Morris and the Huskies came to life in the second half, scoring on the first possession. Kamari Pleasant’s 2-yard touchdown run, set up by Morris’s 38-yard pass to Terrell Bynum, cut Utah’s lead to 21-7 with 12:01 left in the third quarter.
Bentley was then intercepted by Elijah Molden, who returned the ball 24 yards to Utah’s 27-yard line. Peyton Henry eventually made a 26-yard field goal, and Utah’s lead was down to 21-10 with 7:21 remaining in the third quarter.
After Utah turned the ball over on downs at the Washington 41, the Huskies drove for another score. A 21-yard pass from Morris to Otton trimmed the lead to 21-17 with 2:49 left in the quarter.
Utah drove to the Washington 12 before Ty Jordan fumbled, and linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui made the recovery.
The Apple Cup rivalry game between Washington and Washington State, set for Friday, has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns in the Cougars’ program.
Washington State couldn’t play last Saturday’s game at Stanford because it did not have the minimum number of scholarship players available under Pac-12 regulations due to positive tests and contract-tracing isolation.
On Sunday, the Pac-12 cited the same reason for calling off Friday’s home game in Pullman for Washington State.
“As we work through the remainder of our schedule, we will continue to communicate with the Pac-12 Conference and UW if any scenario would emerge that would allow us to reschedule the game at a later point in the season,” WSU athletic director Pat Chun said in a statement.
The game could be played Dec. 19, if neither team qualifies for the Pac-12 title game a day earlier. Other cancellations before then could create mutual openings on the same weekend.
Washington (2-0, 2-0 Pac-12) is coming off Saturday’s 44-27 win over visiting Arizona. Washington State (1-1, 1-1) last played Nov. 14, a loss to Oregon.
“This is so disappointing for our players, coaches and staff, as well as Husky Nation as we were all looking forward to the Boeing Apple Cup this week,” Washington athletic director Jen Cohen said in a statement.
“This is one of the best rivalries in college sports and every year we circle this game at the start of the season. We will work with (the) Pac-12 to prioritize this game and look into any opportunities to play it should there be an open date for both schools down the road.”
The Pac-12 last week changed its policy, allowing its teams to play nonconference games in case of cancellations. Washington has contacted No. 8 BYU about playing this week, but the Cougars have not been receptive to the offer, according to ESPN.
The Apple Cup has been played in every year dating to 1945, following a two-hiatus when Washington State didn’t field a team due to World War II.
Pac-12 North counterparts coming off opening weekends that were disappointing for much different reasons meet Saturday night when Washington welcomes Oregon State to Husky Stadium in Seattle.
After having already pushed back the season opener two months, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed Washington’s debut another week. Contact-tracing protocols the city of Berkeley mandates forced Cal to call off last Saturday’s game with the Huskies.
“Disappointing, but this is the reality we’re living in in 2020,” Washington coach Jimmy Lake said in his Monday press conference. Lake also had his first game as head coach delayed as a result. “We had an emergency team meeting about 45 minutes after (learning of the cancelation). They were extremely disappointed, but I’m proud of them. They did not flinch.”
Lake lauded the team’s adjustment to its schedule shakeup, citing the Huskies’ “energy” in practices held in lieu of the game.
Washington explored moving its Nov. 21 game with Arizona, which had its game at Utah canceled, but Lake said the logistics were too difficult.
“This isn’t like pickup basketball where it’s just like, ‘Hey, let’s go play,’” he said.
Oregon State (0-1, 0-1 Pac-12), meanwhile, endured a sluggish start in its opener against Washington State. The Beavers nearly completed a rally from a three-touchdown deficit in the second half, clawing within three points before losing 38-28.
Running back Jermar Jefferson powered the comeback with three rushing touchdowns, punctuating a 120-yard game. Quarterback Tristan Gebbia settled in during the second half and finished with 329 passing yards and a touchdown.
The slow start and strong finish provide Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith and his staff some data around which to work heading into the Washington contest. The situation is one the Beavers coach said had benefits and drawbacks.
“It’s a little bit unique,” Smith said. “It’s some good and some bad. We’ve played a game and now we’ve got some things to clean up and work on. They’ve got a new offense over there we’ve got no tape of.”
John Donovan is making his debut as Washington’s offensive coordinator, a role Smith held from 2014-2017. Under Smith’s direction, the Huskies’ offense reached its peak with a 41.8-point per game average.
Last year, in his second season at his alma mater, Oregon State, Smith oversaw a jump from 26.1 to 31.2 points per game. Washington dipped to 26 points per game in 2018 after Smith’s departure.
The Huskies improved in 2019, but nonconference games in which they scored 45.5 points per game boosted the average. Washington’s yield in Pac-12 games remained around 26 points per game, including 19 in a win over Oregon State.
Establishing a more consistent pace is Donovan’s primary challenge in 2020. He will begin that process with a new starting quarterback, Washington’s third different opening-week starter in as many seasons.
Just who exactly that will be is a mystery. Lake had not declared a starter among the four competitors for the job: Jacob Sirmon, Dylan Morris, Ethan Garbers and Sacramento State transfer Kevin Thomson.
“You can’t prep for four different skill sets,” Smith said.
Regardless who takes the snaps, though, Smith noted the 229 rushing yards Oregon State surrendered to Washington State. The Huskies come in with a talented platoon of ball-carriers: Richard Newton, Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant.
“We’ve got to do better against the run game,” Smith said. “We’re going to play, we think, an entirely different offense, but we’ve got to shore up the run game. That’ll be first and foremost.”
After an interminable wait since Alabama’s exciting 28-23 win over Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship, the 2018-2019 college football season is just weeks away. With that, many sportsbooks have posted over/under win totals for all 129 FBS teams and I have attempted to identify some of my “best bets” in this article.
In making these types of plays, I historically try to both “buy low and sell high” depending on the public perception of teams and also pay close attention to marquee coaching changes at schools with large big fan bases. Shopping around for the best number is also key, as the lines are not as tight as a typical full slate of heavily bet games.
Note below that I have “shopped” for lines both at the Westgate SuperBook and the SouthPoint in order to recommend a play that best suits my projections.
College Football Picks, Predictions For Win Totals: Top 5 ‘Best Bets’ and Honorable Mentions
1. Texas Longhorns (8.5, o -130/u +110 at the Westgate SuperBook)
While my allegiances lie with my alma mater, the University of Texas, I have not been high on the Longhorns since the disappointing end to the Mack Brown era and the disaster that was Charlie Strong. Speaking of Mack Brown, while Texas hasn’t won the nine games it will take to cover this total since Brown’s final season in 2012, most publications have the Longhorns ranked in the mid-teens in their preseason top 25 polls. I think the Longhorns are a sleeper to make the College Football Playoff this season.
Despite only posting a 7-6 record in 2017, the Longhorns defense was vastly improved and the team suffered an overtime loss to a heavily-favored USC team in Los Angeles and had the ball in Oklahoma’s territory (as 14.5 point underdogs). Texas had a chance to win in the final minutes in the Red River Showdown.
This season Texas will be double-digit favorites and should net four easy wins against Maryland (currently -11, while noting the loss as a double digit favorite to Maryland at home last season), Tulsa, Baylor, and Kansas (currently -7.5). The Horns should actually be favored in every game this season, the lone exception being against Oklahoma (currently +5 after opening at +12).
If Texas can beat USC (currently -4.5 after USC opened as the betting favorite) at home in Week 3, then the College Football Playoff hype machine will be in full effect for Longhorns’ annual tilt with Oklahoma in Dallas, with both teams potentially entering the game with 5-0 records. Even if Texas loses to both USC and OU (which I don’t think will happen), there is still a decent chance that they run the table to secure 10 wins.
Projected regular season record: 10-2.
The play: Over
2. Baylor Bears (6, o -110/u -110 at the SouthPoint)
The Baylor Bears would like to forget a rocky 2017 both on and off the field. Following a tumultuous offseason rocked by the deplorable sexual assault scandal and ultimate firing of head coach Art Briles, the 2017 Bears mustered only a single win — over perennial Big 12 doormat Kansas, and suffered home losses to Liberty, the University of Texas and San Antonio (UTSA).
Charlie Brewer emerged as a legitimate candidate for quarterback of the future in Waco; however, this Baylor team is still very young and inexperienced at most positions and 2019 looks like the more likely year for any turnaround story. While Baylor could conceivably start the season 4-0 with wins over Abilene Christian, UTSA, Duke and Kansas, it is equally conceivable that the Bears fail to win another game, much less the three additional wins that it would take to push the Bears over the 6 win total.
Projected regular season record: 5-7.
The play: Under
3. Washington Huskies (10.5, o +115/u -135 at the SouthPoint)
With Heisman candidate QB Jake Browning entering his senior season, and just one season removed from an appearance in the College Football Playoff, the oddsmakers have made Washington one of the betting favorites to reach this season’s College Football Playoff. It won’t take long to find out if Washington is a contender or a pretender this season, as the Huskies start the season against at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta against Auburn in a de facto home game for the Tigers. Washington is currently a 3-point underdog in this game and a loss would mean that the Huskies would need to run the table to eclipse the 10.5 win mark.
While Washington is fortunate to avoid USC for the second consecutive season, the Huskies always seem to lose a game or two that they shouldn’t, particularly on the road (see their 13-7 road loss as -17.5 favorites at Arizona State last year). The odds are good that Washington falters in at least one of its road games at Utah, UCLA, Oregon, California or Washington State.
Projected regular season record: 10-2.
The play: Under.
Bonus note: If you like the Huskies to cover the total, the Westgate SuperBook is offering the Huskies total at 10 (o -145/u +125). In lieu of taking both sides and paying significant juice on both plays, a simple “hedge” opportunity to consider if you like the under is to take the Huskies +3 against Auburn or even on the money line at +140 and hope that they drop a couple more games down the road.
4. Texas A&M aggies* (7.5, o +110/u -130 at the Westgate SuperBook)
The arrival of Jimbo Fisher as head coach has not only caused hopes to skyrocket in College Station for the 2018 season, but has also secured the aggies a token appearance at the tail end of many preseason Top 25 polls. While Texas A&M has talent on the offensive side of the ball, their defense allowed 35 points or more in half of its games last season (and another 55 to Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl) en route to a 7-6 overall record. It will take more than bringing in a big-named coach to correct these problems.
A&M is known for scheduling patsies and 2018 is no exception with “pay to lay down” wins already inked in the books against Northwestern State, Louisiana Monroe and UAB. Finding the next 5 wins needed to go over the win total will be a far greater challenge for Fisher’s squad. The aggies will be heavy underdogs underdog in at least five of their games, including at home against Clemson (currently +12.5) and in three road games Alabama (currently +24), Auburn (projected +7) and Mississippi State (currently +4).
Texas A&M projects to be a small favorite on the road at South Carolina (currently -2), at home against LSU (currently -1.5) and their annual meeting with Arkansas in Dallas always seems to come down to which team has the ball last. In sum, there are plenty of “almost guaranteed” losses and “quite possible” losses on what is a gruesome schedule for the 2018 aggies.
Projected regular season record: 6-6. The play: Under.
*Note: as a Longhorn graduate, I am ethically prohibited from capitalizing the word “Aggies.”
5. Nebraska Cornhuskers (6.5, o Even/u -120 at the Westgate SuperBook)
Similar to the changing of the guard at Texas A&M, Scott Frost (coming off a “National Championship season” at UCF) has the Nebraska faithful believing that the Huskers will rebound from its 4-7 campaign in 2017. Nebraska should have no problem with picking up non-conference wins over Akron and Troy, but will also play a very losable game at home in Week 2 against Colorado.
Like the aggies, the Huskers will be double-digit underdogs at Michigan (currently +16.5), at Wisconsin (currently +16.5) andat Ohio State (currently +21). Absent a massive upset in those 3 games, Nebraska can only suffer two additional losses and hit the over. The Huskers are likely home underdogs against Michigan State (currently +2), road underdogs at Iowa (currently +3) and will undoubtedly go off as underdogs in other several other games once posted. Combining this and the arrival of a trendy new coach seems like the recipe for a disappointing season in Lincoln.
Projected regular season record: 5-7.
The play: Under (Best Bet)
Others receiving votes:
Iowa State Cyclones (6.5, o -120/u EVEN at the Westgate SuperBook and SouthPoint) Projected regular season record: 5-7 The play: Under
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9, o -115/u +110 at the SouthPoint) Projected regular season record: 8-4 The play: Under
BYU Cougars (5, o -140/u +120 at the SouthPoint) Projected regular season record: 6-6 The play: Over
Oklahoma State (8, o -110/u -110 at the Westgate SuperBook) Projected regular season record: 9-3 The play: Over
Barry McFadden is a co-founding partner of Greathouse Holloway McFadden PLLC in Houston, Texas and has significant experience representing clients in the gaming and sports betting industry. In addition to his legal practice, Barry and a partner finished in 3rd place in the prestigious Westgate Las Vegas NFL SuperContest in 2015, besting nearly 1800 other entrants for a payday of $181,335.