Oct 21, 2023; Stanford, California, USA; A view of the Pac-12 logo on the field as Stanford Cardinal wide receiver David Kasemervisz (80) warms up before the game against the UCLA Bruins at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Washington court issues stay regarding control of Pac-12

The court ruling putting Washington State and Oregon State in control of the Pac-12 Conference was blocked Thursday when the Washington State Supreme Court issued a temporary stay.

The latest decision came after the University of Washington, representing the 10 universities that will exit the conference at the start of the next school year, sought to block the Tuesday ruling made by Whitman County (Wash.) Superior Court Judge Gary Libey.

The emergency stay blocks the two remaining schools from having the only votes on league matters.

According to ESPN, the sides were asked to submit briefs on the case by Nov. 28 and replies by Dec. 8.

Representatives for Oregon State and Washington State wrote in a joint statement, “The departing schools are only delaying the inevitable because the superior court clearly got it right: Under the bylaws, the Conference’s future must be decided by the schools that stay, not those that are leaving.”

After the Superior Court ruling on Tuesday, CBS Sports reported that Oregon State and Washington State intend to compete as a two-team football league next year, though the schools were in contact with representatives of the Mountain West Conference, Sun Belt Conference, American Athletic Conference, Conference USA and Mid-American Conference in the search for games in 2024.

Southern California, UCLA, Washington and Oregon are set to join the Big Ten next season, while Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah will head to the Big 12. Cal and Stanford will move to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Stanford, California, USA; A view of the Pac-12 logo on the field as Stanford Cardinal wide receiver David Kasemervisz (80) warms up before the game against the UCLA Bruins at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Court grants Oregon St., Wazzu control of Pac-12

Oregon State and Washington State earned a legal victory on Tuesday that gives them control of what remains of the Pac-12 Conference.

Whitman County (Wash.) Superior Court Judge Gary Libey granted the schools’ request for a preliminary injunction that strips representatives of the conference’s other 10 schools — all of whom are leaving for other conferences next season — of votes on the Pac-12 board.

Libey said he made his ruling, after a 2 1/2-hour hearing, based on the fact that Oregon State and Washington State could experience “irreparable harm” if the exiting universities would remain in control of the Pac-12’s assets.

“Voting will be by the remaining two board members, but this is not a shutout,” Libey said, according to The Athletic. “The preliminary injunction will be modified or whatever you want to call it to make sure that the other 10 schools are still treated in a fair, open manner. Nobody is going to take advantage of somebody else. If that starts to happen, I’ll either hear about it here or somebody down the street will. I do not believe that the two plaintiffs here, the two members of the board that are left, will do anything directly to harm the other 10 members.”

Washington State president Kirk Schulz and athletic director Pat Chun said in a joint statement, in part, “It has always been our view that the future of the Pac-12 should be determined by the remaining members, not by those schools that are leaving the conference.”

Oregon State president Jayathi Murthy and athletic director Scott Barnes added in a statement, “We look forward to charting a path forward for the Pac-12 that is in the best interest of the Conference and student-athletes. Our intentions are to make reasonable business decisions going forward while continuing to seek collaboration and consultation with the departing universities.”

The schools departing the Pac-12 — Washington, Oregon, Cal, Stanford, Arizona State, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Southern California and UCLA — responded in a statement: “We are disappointed with the decision and are immediately seeking review in the Washington Supreme Court and requesting to put on hold implementation of this decision. As members of the Pac-12, participating in ongoing and scheduled competitions, we are members of the board under the Pac-12 bylaws.

“We have the right to the revenue earned by our schools during the 2023-2024 academic year, which is necessary in order to operate our athletics programs and to provide mental and physical health services, academic support, and other support programs for our student-athletes.”

According to CBS Sports, Oregon State and Washington State plan to compete as a two-team football league next year, though the two schools have contacted representatives of the Mountain West Conference, Sun Belt Conference, American Athletic Conference, Conference USA and Mid-American Conference as they seek games for 2024.

–Field Level Media

Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders before the game against the Arizona Wildcats at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado, Washington St. racing to escape nosedive

Back in September, a primetime matchup between Colorado and Washington State would have been off the charts.

The Buffaloes, under first-year coach Deion Sanders, won their first three games of the season and were ranked 18th in the Top 25.

The Cougars opened with four straight victories and reached No. 13.

Those good times are long gone and Friday night in Pullman, Wash., the Buffaloes and Cougars meet to see who can escape the Pacific-12 Conference cellar.

Colorado (4-6 overall, 1-6 Pac-12) has lost four games in a row and six of seven, the lone victory in that span a 27-24 decision against Arizona State.

Washington State (4-6, 1-6) has dropped six in a row.

Both teams came close to snapping out of their downturns last week but couldn’t eject the continued nosedive.

The Buffaloes took a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter at home before losing 34-31 to Arizona.

“We’re so close is what I told the team, but yet so far,” Sanders said. “We just simply, truly don’t know how to win yet and it’s not for lack of effort, not for lack of coaching with the staff and the support staff. … Everybody around is doing a phenomenal job. We just can’t get over that hump.”

Quarterback Shedeur Sanders, the coach’s son, was 22 of 35 for 262 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score.

Despite being banged up often while being sacked 48 times this season, the younger Sanders has thrown for 3,144 yards and 26 touchdowns, just shy of Sefo Liufau’s school records of 3,200 yards and 28 TDs set in 2014.

But he seems more focused on helping the Buffaloes win their final two regular-season games to become bowl eligible.

“You can’t go in a dark tunnel when you’re having a season like this because nothing will ever be perfect in life,” said Sanders, who was 23-3 as the starting QB at Jackson State before transferring to Colorado. “So you’ve got to take the good, you’ve got to take the bad. So that’s what I take from all this … is just keep being consistent, keep playing the game, keep doing my job, keep doing everything we could do to be able to have success.”

The Cougars nearly rallied from an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter against host California on Saturday, but kicker Dean Janikowski missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt with 50 seconds remaining in a 42-39 defeat.

“Saturday was just another snapshot into our season and the past six games,” Cougars coach Jake Dickert said. “We haven’t won the ball battle, the turnover margin. When you don’t do that, it’s hard to win games in this league. … It’s a conglomerate of things. Unfortunately, finding different ways to lose is very frustrating. We’re still working on getting that corrected.”

WSU quarterback Cameron Ward threw for 358 yards and three touchdowns but lost three fumbles – two of which were returned for scores.

“I feel like I’ve grown in ball security, especially these two years once I first got here to Washington State,” Ward said, “but it showed up again (Saturday) that it’s something that I gotta continuously work on. Any time you put your team in a situation like I did, it’s hard to fight out of, and we did. We did end up doing that. But we didn’t execute enough plays as a whole to win this game.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears running back Jaydn Ott (1) rushes for a touchdown against the Washington State Cougars during the second quarter at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Cal snaps four-game skid, edges Washington State

California snapped a four-game losing streak when Washington State kicker Dean Janikowski missed a 48-yard field goal with 50 seconds left that could have tied the game, helping the Golden Bears post a 42-39 victory on Saturday at Berkeley, Calif.

California (4-6, 2-5 Pac-12) almost blew an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Washington State (4-6, 1-6) and the Golden Bears must win their last two games be eligible for a bowl.

The Cougars have lost six straight games.

Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward got the Cougars into field-goal position, to the Cal 31-yard line, after completing a 16-yard pass to Josh Kelly.

After an incomplete pass, setting up fourth down, Janikowski missed the 48-yarder wide left. He failed on a 42-yard attempt earlier in the fourth quarter.

Washington State used its three timeouts to force California to punt with 28 seconds left.

The Cougars got the ball to their 47 after two pass plays.

Ward’s Hail Mary attempt at the end was intercepted at the goal line by Cade Uluave, who had a 51-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first quarter.

Ward attempted a career-high 60 pass attempts and completed 35 of them for 358 yards. He threw three touchdown passes and was intercepted once.

With 9:26 remaining, Ward fumbled while being sacked and Nohl Williams returned the ball 52 yards for a touchdown, increasing California’s lead to 42-24.

Ward then led the Cougars 70 yards in seven plays on a touchdown-scoring drive that took only 1:49 left in the clock.

His 21-yard scoring strike to Kelly and subsequent successful 2-point conversion pass to Djouvensky Schlenbaker with 7:33 remaining cut the lead to 42-32.

California running back Jaydn Ott fumbled on the ensuing possession and Washington State’s Sam Lockett III recovered it at the California 37 with 6:38 remaining.

A 20-yard pass from Ward to Lincoln Victor set up a 5-yard scoring connection between Ward and Schlenbaker with 5:23 left to cut the lead to 42-39.

California had a three-and-out possession, forcing it to punt to Washington State with 3:42 remaining.

Janikowski’s missed field goal came at the end of the possession.

Ott rushed for 167 yards on 27 carries to lead a California offense that mustered 327 total yards.

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils running back Cameron Skattebo (4) breaks a table attempt by Washington Huskies safety Makell Esteen (24) while rushing during the fourth quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona St. leans on rushing attack to down Washington St.

DeCarlos Brooks had three rushing touchdowns to headline a strong performance on the ground that carried Arizona State to a 38-27 victory over Washington State on Saturday night in Tempe, Ariz.

The Sun Devils (2-6, 1-4 Pac-12) rushed for 239 yards on 39 carries as a team to give first-year coach Kenny Dillingham his first conference victory. Cam Skattebo led the rushing attack with 121 yards and a TD on 11 carries, while Brooks went for 67 yards on 11 touches.

Meanwhile, the Cougars (4-4, 1-4), who have lost four consecutive games, tallied 88 yards on 21 carries against the Sun Devils.

Washington State scored on the first drive of the game, going 75 yards in 15 plays, with Cameron Ward finding the end zone on a 3-yard quarterback keeper. But Arizona State’s offense continuously put pressure on the Cougars’ defense after that.

The hosts proceeded to score on five of their next six possessions.

The Sun Devils had a lengthy opening drive of their own — going 75 yards in 10 plays — capping it with a 13-yard rushing TD from Brooks.

Brooks’ second touchdown gave Arizona State a 14-7 lead with 7:14 left in the second quarter.

The game was tied at 21 with 42 seconds remaining in the first half after Ward completed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Lincoln Victor.

Arizona State quarterback Trenton Bourguet then drove the Sun Devils into field-goal range, and Dario Longhetto made a 51-yard field goal as time expired to put Arizona State ahead 24-21 at halftime.

Bourguet completed 19 of 26 passes for 274 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

Arizona State opened the second half with a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive that took 6:34. It ended when Elijhah Badger rushed for a 6-yard touchdown that put the Sun Devils ahead 31-21.

Brooks scored his third touchdown and Washington State was held to two field goals of 31 and 34 yards by Dean Janikowski in the second half.

Ward completed 35 of 50 passes for 315 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils running back Cameron Skattebo (4) rushes for a touchdown against the Washington Huskies during the second quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State, Arizona State move on from heartbreaks

Washington State and Arizona State are both coming off competitive losses last week on the road against two of the Pac-12’s best teams, Oregon and Washington, respectively.

The struggling teams will meet on Saturday in Tempe, Ariz.

The Cougars (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12) fell 38-24 to the then-No. 9 Ducks after trailing by only a touchdown until 3:56 remained in the third quarter.

The Sun Devils (1-6, 0-4) took the No. 5 Huskies down to the final minutes before succumbing 15-7.

Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham’s program remains competitive despite being on a one-year, self-imposed bowl ban for alleged recruiting violations under previous coach Herm Edwards.

“We’re building the right culture here,” Dillingham said. “We can see how close we are in year one, through all of this, all the banged up, all the negative, we’re this close.”

Washington State and Arizona State have significant injury issues with linemen.

The Sun Devils are so thin on the offensive line, especially with their field-goal unit, that Dillingham put out a call to students to possibly join the team.

“I don’t know if there are big bodies at ASU who just go there that want to play (special teams) for us,” Dillingham said. “If you weigh 330 pounds, and I mean it, reach out to our team.”

The lack of healthy offensive linemen forced Dillingham to try a passing play on fourth-and-3 at the Washington 12-yard line instead of kicking a field goal to lengthen a 7-6 lead in the fourth quarter.

The ensuing play was an 89-yard interception return for a touchdown that put Washington ahead 12-7 with 8:11 to go.

Washington State will be without starting edge rushers Quinn Roff and Raam Stevenson for the Saturday game.

Cougars coach Jake Dickert said Roff is out after experiencing a “medical emergency” and that Stevenson is “nicked up.”

Dickert is leery of defending 5-foot-10, 225-pound Arizona State running back Cam Skattebo, who has rushed for 413 yards and six touchdowns on 104 carries.

“Skattebo is as physical as it gets — downhill,” Dickert said. “They’re physical, downhill, run behind their pads, and he’s getting everything extra, and you’re not going to bring them down just with one guy.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Washington State Cougars at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Craig Strobeck-USA TODAY Sports

Bucky Irving stars as No. 9 Oregon knocks off Washington State

Bucky Irving rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns and also scored on a reception as No. 9 Oregon rebounded from its lone loss of the season to defeat Washington State 38-24 Saturday afternoon in a Pacific-12 game in Eugene, Ore.

Bo Nix, who broke the Football Bowl Subdivision record for a quarterback with his 54th career start, completed 18 of 25 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for a score for the Ducks (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12), who lost 36-33 last week at Washington in a top-10 showdown. UO’s Jordan James added 103 yards rushing.

The Cougars (4-3, 1-3), who were ranked No. 13 earlier this month, suffered their third consecutive defeat.

WSU’s Cameron Ward was 34-of-48 passing for 438 yards and a touchdown. Lincoln Victor made a school-record 16 catches for 161 yards.

After leading 17-13 at the half, the Ducks pulled away in the third quarter.

A screen pass to Irving turned into a 42-yard touchdown as he raced down the left sideline.

After Washington State’s Dean Janikowski kicked a 50-yard field goal, the Ducks responded with another TD, with Irving rushing 43 yards up the middle to make it 31-16.

Nix tossed a TD pass to Tez Johnson on third-and-goal from the 17 with 8:53 remaining. Johnson had a team-high six receptions for 94 yards.

Ward threw a 16-yard scoring strike to Isaiah Hamilton with 52 seconds left to cap the scoring.

The Ducks stopped WSU on fourth down three times, including on consecutive possessions in the second half.

The first half went back-and-forth.

The teams traded field goals in the first quarter, with Janikowski kicking a 36-yarder and the Ducks’ Camden Lewis answering from 27 yards.

The Cougars regained the lead on a 4-yard touchdown run by Nakia Watson.

Oregon pulled ahead on a pair of 2-yard TD runs, by Irving and Nix, the latter with 44 seconds left in the half.

Ward drove the Cougars down the field and Janikowski booted a 33-yarder with one second remaining to trim Oregon’s lead to four points.

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) looks to pass the ball during the first half against the Washington Huskies at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

No. 9 Oregon seeks better execution vs. Washington St.

Washington State and No. 9 Oregon will both try to rebound from difficult losses when they meet in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday afternoon.

Which defeat was more devastating remains to be seen.

The Ducks fell 36-33 at then-No. 7 Washington last Saturday as Camden Lewis’ last-second, 43-yard field-goal attempt sailed just wide of the right upright.

Meanwhile, Washington State was blown out 44-6 by Arizona the same day in Pullman, Wash. It was the second consecutive defeat for the Cougars (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12), who dropped out of the Top 25 after being ranked No. 13 before a 25-17 loss at UCLA on Oct. 7.

Oregon coach Dan Lanning’s play-calling came into question after the Ducks (5-1, 2-1) thrice failed to convert on fourth-and-3, twice in the red zone and once near midfield with 2:11 left in the game. The Huskies needed just two plays to score the go-ahead touchdown, as Heisman Trophy hopeful Michael Penix Jr. threw an 18-yard scoring strike to Rome Odunze.

“At the end of the day, they made a couple of more plays than we did,” Lanning said. “We made some decisions we probably could have made differently throughout that game, but our guys battled to the end (and) I thought they showed some resiliency.

“This game’s 100 percent on me. I don’t think you guys have to look anywhere else but me.”

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix, whose Heisman hopes took a shot in the showdown with Penix, defended his coach and teammates in the wake of the defeat.

“A lot of people, they want to see how we respond, and I’m excited for that,” said Nix, who produced 337 yards and two touchdowns on 33-of-44 passing against the Huskies. “I think that’s the challenge that I can’t wait for, and this group is going to be able to write its own story, write its own journey. And I think if it was easy, everybody would do it.

“If there was no failures, then everybody would be playing football, you know? So, I think that’s part of it. You win and lose. You go out there and play your best. You go out there and enjoy the process. Even though I hated the outcome of (Saturday), it was one heck of a football game that I loved playing.”

The Cougars scored on their opening drive against Arizona, their homecoming opponent, but failed to score again.

Quarterback Cameron Ward was 22 of 30 for 192 yards with one interception and a lost fumble. The Cougars gained just 35 yards on 22 rushing attempts.

“I think the biggest thing is we gotta get back to getting the ball out decisively — and quickly,” Washington State coach Jake Dickert said. “I think you see a little bit of hesitation in Cam (Ward) sometimes. But like I said, coverage-wise, we did get what we expected to get. So make the correct play.”

Last year in Pullman, the Cougars had a 12-point lead with just under seven minutes remaining before Oregon scored three consecutive touchdowns for a 44-41 victory.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Jedd Fisch reacts during the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Noah Fifita helps Arizona overwhelm No. 19 Washington State

Noah Fifita passed for 342 yards and the Arizona defense forced three turnovers as the Wildcats got a breakthrough victory with a 44-6 upset of No. 19 Washington State on Saturday in Pullman, Wash.

The Cougars (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the game, but Arizona (4-3, 2-2) was in control after that. Fifita finished 34-of-43 passing with no interceptions while the defense clamped on Cameron Ward, who finished with 192 yards on 22 of 30 passing.

Jonah Coleman rushed for three touchdowns and also had a 69-yard reception to the WSU 1 that set up Arizona’s first touchdown. The Wildcats, who had close calls against then-No. 7 Washington (31-24) and then-No. 9 Southern California (43-41 in triple overtime) during the past two weeks, outgained the Cougars 516-234.

Washington State, which was coming off a loss at UCLA, managed only 35 rushing yards. The Cougars had nine consecutive possessions in which they failed to take a snap on Arizona’s half of the field.

Fifita was making his third consecutive start for an injured Jayden de Laura, who was dressed and available if needed Saturday.

But the mistake-free Fifita led Arizona to a 20-6 halftime lead, and the Wildcats kept pouring it on. Coleman’s 23-yard touchdown run finished the scoring with 6:52 left. He ran for 70 yards on 11 carries and added 98 yards on four catches.

In the first quarter, the Wildcats got a stop on downs at the WSU 34 and their first interception of the season — on an ill-advised downfield throw after a backward pass — as they took a 10-6 lead. Arizona made it 17-6 on the first play of the second quarter when Rayshon Luke burst through the middle of the line for a 40-yard touchdown run.

Arizona added a 40-yard field goal from Tyler Loop to take a 20-6 lead at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Jul 21, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; The Pac-12 Conference logo during Pac-12 Media Day at Resorts World Las Vegas. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Washington comes to Pac-12’s defense in lawsuit

A month after Oregon State and Washington State filed a legal complaint against the Pac-12 with the aim of solidifying their position as voting members of the collapsing conference, the University of Washington on Monday filed a motion to join the lawsuit, multiple outlets reported.

Washington’s intent is to become a party to the suit, then file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Neither Washington nor any of the other nine universities that have announced their intent to leave the conference can currently file such a motion as none are a party to the suit.

“UW has a significant stake in opposing WSU and OSU’s claims and preventing the Court from granting the relief requested,” Washington reportedly stated in the filing. “True, UW is leaving the Conference after the 2023-24 academic year. But, in the meantime, UW remains a member of the Conference, and board participation and voting power affects the experience of UW’s athletics teams and student-athletes for the 2023-24 academic year as well as UW’s bargained-for contractual rights and financial interest.”

The other nine schools planning to leave the conference at the end of the academic year reportedly filed a brief in support of Washington’s motion.

Shortly after Oregon State and Washington State’s initial complaint, a judge granted the universities a temporary restraining order and scheduled a Nov. 14 hearing for a preliminary injunction. That hearing could likely determine who would hold voting rights on the Pac-12 board.

Both the initial complaint and Monday’s filing were made in Whitman County (Washington) Superior Court, where Washington State is located.

Among the issues at hand in the suit is distribution of the conference’s assets.

If the conference is disbanded permanently, assets from the Pac-12 Network, the College Football Playoff in January, the men’s basketball tournament at Las Vegas in March and the Pac-12 brand itself all come into question.

There has been no decision on whether the Pac-12 will cease to exist or if Washington State and Oregon State will remain in a conference that will need to be reconstructed.

–Field Level Media