Sep 17, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary (13) hands off to  running back Jordan Houston (3) during the first half against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 NC State trying to avoid trap game vs. UConn

There’s lots to like for No. 12 North Carolina State after its most impressive result of the season.

Now it’s a matter of maintaining the proper focus for Saturday night’s home game against UConn in Raleigh, N.C.

After that, it could become much more interesting for the Wolfpack (3-0).

“The good thing for us is that there’s been enough of these examples out there this year in college football to point to where you don’t have to just talk about it,” coach Dave Doeren said of avoiding a trap game. “It seems like every week somebody is losing a game like that.”

The trap is set because this is NC State’s final outing before an Oct. 1 date at No. 5 Clemson.

UConn (1-3) has had a tough couple of weeks with a 48-14 home loss to Syracuse and a 59-0 whipping at No. 4 Michigan. It doesn’t get any easier with a matchup against another nationally ranked team.

“We have to find those hidden victories,” Huskies coach Jim Mora said of searching for positives. “The situation that we’re in, it’s important we concentrate on ourselves as we build this thing.”

The Wolfpack, fresh off a 27-14 victory against Texas Tech, are an overwhelming favorite against UConn.

“For us, I think this is a great opportunity to get better,” Doeren said. “We’ve really emphasized weekly improvement with our roster individually and collectively. We’ve identified areas with each player for them to focus on.”

NC State quarterback Devin Leary has spread the ball on scoring plays. The Wolfpack’s seven touchdown passes this season have gone to seven different players.

At other times, the Wolfpack haven’t been all that opportunistic on offense and seem to still be adjusting in the early weeks of the season.

“Sometimes the receivers are getting good separation, and we’re overthrowing them,” Doeren said. “Sometimes they’re not, and they’re in contact-catch situations. … You’re still seeing some young players and inexperienced players who just need to make the routine plays and execute at a little bit higher level.”

Defensively, Aydan White gained quite a bit of attention with two interceptions in the Texas Tech game. He returned one for a touchdown and became the first NC State cornerback with two picks in a game since 2014. He was named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week.

UConn likely will be without running back Nate Carter, who suffered a shoulder sprain at Michigan. If running back Devontae Houston isn’t ready to return after missing the Michigan game, the Huskies are going to be hurting in the offensive backfield.

Mora said freshman Cam Edwards has switched from defensive back to running back to help shore up that area.

UConn managed just 24 passing yards in the Michigan game, marking the fewest the Huskies had in a game in October 2018.

“We’re trying to identify better ways to put players in position to have success, guys who are doing it the right way,” Mora said. “We’re trying to identify guys who aren’t doing it the right way and figure out why.”

The Huskies have received good defensive production from linebacker Jackson Mitchell. He has posted double-figure tackle totals in three games this season despite not playing in the fourth quarter against Michigan.

This is the third UConn-NC State meeting, with the Wolfpack winning in 2003 and 2012.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) raises his helmet before kickoff against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 Michigan State a familiar foe for Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.

Michael Penix Jr. has faced Michigan State before.

The Washington quarterback will know what to expect when the Huskies play host to the No. 11 Spartans on Saturday in Seattle.

Penix — who transferred from Indiana to Washington (2-0) to be reunited with coach Kalen DeBoer — led the Hoosiers to a 24-0 victory at East Lansing, Mich., in 2020. The left-hander nearly broke a Big Ten record with 20 consecutive completions in the loss, falling two shy.

“That’s one of those games where Mike was just on,” DeBoer said. “He made some big throws and it came down to the wire … We were very confident about what we could be with him at quarterback.

“That same thing is going to be the case here. He’s not going to be in awe. He’s played in many of these games. So, you’re comforted, having one of your team leaders and your quarterback in particular being a guy that has played in big games and understands the color of jersey that’s across from him. It’s nothing new to him.”

Penix has guided the Huskies to lopsided victories against Kent State (45-20) and Portland State (52-6), completing 46 of 66 passes for 682 yards and six touchdowns with one interception.

The Spartans (2-0) opened the season with a pair of victories at home against Mid-American Conference teams in Western Michigan (35-13) and Akron (52-0).

Last year, Michigan State used a nonconference victory at Miami as a springboard to an 11-2 season. Could a win at Washington do the same?

“We’re building the story of this year’s team right now,” Spartans coach Mel Tucker said. “Last year’s team is gone. That’s a different team. This is a new team; this is a new season.”

Tucker is familiar with Husky Stadium from his days coaching at Colorado.

“That place is like a hornets’ nest going in there to play,” Tucker said. “I expect it to be a really hostile environment.”

Michigan State QB Payton Thorne — who threw a school-record 27 touchdown passes last season and had four more in this year’s opener — wasn’t at his best last week, when he was picked off twice and failed to throw a touchdown against the Zips.

“Obviously the two things that stick out are the two interceptions and that’s unacceptable. Can’t have those,” Thorne said. “It almost seems like sometimes I’m almost trying to place it a little too much instead of just ripping it.”

One intriguing subplot Saturday is that of MSU freshman receiver Germie Bernard, who caught a 44-yard touchdown pass in the season opener.

Bernard signed with Washington in December. But after wide receiver coach Junior Adams left for Oregon, Bernard asked out of his national letter of intent and ended up at Michigan State.

“He’s a great kid, and it was a crazy time that he was going through,” DeBoer said. “He was an early enrollee, and I’m going to wish him nothing but the best … except for this week.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Fresno, California, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs head coach Kalen Deboer looks on from the sideline against the Cal Poly Mustangs in the third quarter at Bulldog Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Washington to hire Fresno State’s Kalen DeBoer

Washington is close to hiring Fresno State’s Kalen DeBoer as its new head coach, multiple outlets reported.

Yahoo Sports said an announcement could happen as soon as Monday.

DeBoer, 47, is in his second year at Fresno State. The Bulldogs went 3-3 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign and finished the 2021 regular season with a 9-3 record, including 6-2 in the Mountain West Conference.

He previously was the offensive coordinator at Indiana (2019), Fresno State (2017-18), Eastern Michigan (2014-16) and Southern Illinois (2010-13). Before that, he guided the University of Sioux Falls to a 67-3 record from 2005-09, winning three NAIA championships and earning three NAIA Coach of the Year awards.

DeBoer would replace Jimmy Lake, who was fired on Nov. 14 after compiling a 7-6 record in less than two seasons in Seattle.

Bob Gregory served as the interim head coach for the final three games for Washington (4-8, 3-6 Pac-12), including last Friday’s 40-13 Apple Cup loss to rival Washington State.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Jayden de Laura (4) passes against the Washington Huskies during the second quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State rolls past Washington to snap Apple Cup losing streak

Max Borghi rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns as Washington State snapped a seven-game losing streak against rival Washington and kept its hopes alive for a berth in the Pacific-12 Conference championship game with a 40-13 victory Saturday in the Apple Cup in Seattle.

The Cougars (7-5 overall, 6-3 Pac-12) could finish in a three-way tie for the North Division title if Oregon State were to upset Oregon on Saturday. WSU would have the tiebreaker against the Beavers and Ducks on the basis of its 4-1 record in divisional play and would advance to next week’s Pac-12 championship game in Las Vegas.

Quarterback Jayden de Laura was 27-of-32 for 245 yards against the Huskies’ nation-leading pass defense.

Freshman Sam Huard got his first start for the Huskies (4-8, 3-6), who failed to qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2009. Huard was 17 of 31 for 190 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions, one of which was returned for a score.

After leading 13-7 at halftime, the Cougars pulled away by tallying the first 17 points of the second half.

Borghi scored on a 1-yard run midway through the third quarter and Dean Janikowski added a 41-yard field goal, his third of four in the game.

Deon McIntosh scored on a 2-yard run with 14:23 remaining to make it 30-7.

Huard threw a 16-yard scoring strike to Rome Odunze with 11:55 left.

Janikowski kicked a 39-yarder and Armani Marsh returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown to cap the scoring.

The Cougars opened a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, outgaining the Huskies 153-2.

WSU took the opening kickoff and went 75 yards in seven plays, with Borghi scoring on a 32-yard run around the right end as he eluded four defenders inside the 10-yard line.

Janikowski kicked field goals of 31 and 25 yards, the latter making it 13-0 midway through the second quarter.

Huard then directed a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped by Kamari Pleasant’s 10-yard run.

Janikowski missed a 48-yard field goal attempt wide left on the final play of the half, leaving WSU with a 13-7 lead.

The Cougars finished with a 454-200 edge in total offense and had 26 first downs to UW’s 11. WSU possessed the ball for 41:25.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Jimmy Lake signals for his players to go to the locker room following a 26-16 loss against the Oregon Ducks at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Washington fires coach Jimmy Lake

Washington fired head coach Jimmy Lake before the end of his second season at the football program’s helm, Yahoo Sports and The Athletic reported Sunday.

Lake was suspended for one game after a sideline altercation with one of his players, Ruperake Fuavai, on Nov. 6. That game, a 26-16 loss to then-No. 4 Oregon, turned out to be Lake’s last game in charge of the program.

Reports said Lake was terminated without cause and Washington therefore owes him a $9.9 million buyout.

Lake appeared to strike Fuavai in his facemask as a scrum between Washington and Oregon players was subsiding. Lake also was seen on the national television broadcast pushing Fuavai.

“I didn’t strike him. I separated him,” Lake said after the game, but he later posted an apology to social media.

Washington athletic director Jen Cohen said the university investigated the incident and determined that Lake’s actions weren’t “intentional or deliberate,” but still thought his conduct required a suspension.

Lake was a defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator for six seasons at Washington before being elevated to head coach before the 2020 season. The Huskies went 7-6 under Lake, including 4-5 this season (not counting Saturday’s loss to Arizona State, when Lake was suspended).

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils running back Rachaad White (3) dives for a touchdown over USC Trojans safety Xavion Alford (29) in the second half at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

ASU meets Washington, continues its run of going against interim coaches

For the third straight game, Arizona State will face an interim coach when the Sun Devils travel to Washington for a Pacific-12 Conference matchup Saturday.

UW coach Jimmy Lake was suspended for a week by athletic director Jen Cohen for a sideline altercation with one of his players in a 26-16 home loss to No. 4 Oregon last Saturday. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory will act as head coach for the Huskies (4-5, 3-3).

The Sun Devils (6-3, 4-2) previously went up against Washington State’s Jake Dickert and USC’s Donte Williams.

“The coaches basically decide what kind of plan you want to present to the players, but you still have the same players,” Arizona State coach Herm Edwards said about facing an interim coach.

“I think whoever sits in that coach’s seat, you gotta realize the players don’t change, and you have to put them in the best position to be successful. The system’s in; you’re not going to change the system in a week. It’s all about the players.”

The Huskies also will have an interim offensive coordinator after John Donovan was fired Sunday after UW had just 166 yards against the Ducks. Wide receivers coach Junior Adams will call the plays.

“We’ve had a lot of adversity this year. We’ve had some tough times, but our team has fought the entire time,” Gregory said. “We’ve been close. We’ve just got to get over the hurdle.”

Lake’s altercation came as he tried to diffuse a sideline scrum between walk-on linebacker Ruperake Fuavai and an Oregon player. Lake appeared to make contact with Fuavai’s facemask with the coach’s play card and then shoved the redshirt freshman in the back.

“They’re college kids, and they hear all the outside noise, and they know that this is a challenging time for us,” Gregory said. “But they also are competitors, and they want to go out and practice and win. So all that being said, I’m not sure if it matters if I’m the interim guy or whoever it is — these guys are going to compete and play hard.”

The Sun Devils snapped a two-game losing streak with a 31-16 victory against visiting USC last Saturday as Rachaad White rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries.

ASU continued to struggle through the air, however, as Jayden Daniels was 11-of-20 passing for 145 yards with two interceptions.

Asked about the benefit of a strong passing game, Edwards said, “It’s easier to fly to California than it is to drive. The plane is easier.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Travis Dye (26) rushes against the Washington Huskies during the second quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Travis Dye’s career day fuels No. 4 Oregon

Travis Dye rushed for a career-high 211 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries to help No. 4 Oregon better its chances of qualifying for the College Football Playoff with a 26-16 win against Washington on Saturday evening in a Pac-12 game in Seattle.

Anthony Brown passed for one touchdown and ran for another for the Ducks (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12), who were ranked fourth in the initial College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday night.

The Ducks should move up after No. 3 Michigan State lost to Purdue 40-29 on Saturday.

Washington (4-5, 3-3) took an early 9-3 lead and only trailed by a point at halftime, but ultimately was held to 166 total yards on the day and finished 3-for-12 on third down.

Dye carried the ball five straight times for 68 yards on Oregon’s first drive of the second half, and Brown capped it with a 2-yard touchdown run to make it 17-9 with 9:38 left in the third quarter.

Dye scored on a 19-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter to stretch the lead to 24-9.

Washington running back Sean McGrew scored his second rushing touchdown of the game from 2 yards out to cut it to 24-16 with 11:13 left.

The Ducks reached the Washington 5-yard line with about three minutes left, but penalties backed the Ducks out of field-goal range, and the Huskies got the ball back at their 10 with 2:14 remaining.

After three straight incompletions, Washington opted to punt the ball away with 1:59 left, but the ball was snapped out of the end zone for a safety to increase the lead to 26-16.

McGrew scored on a 1-yard run to give Washington a 7-0 lead with 12:14 left in the first quarter.

The Ducks answered with a 46-yard field goal by Camden Lewis on their second drive to make it 7-3.

Dye was tackled in the end zone for a safety to make it 9-3 with 7:01 left in the opening quarter. However, Brown found Devon Williams in the back of the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown pass to move the Ducks ahead 10-9 with 5:08 left in the first half.

–Field Level Media

Oregon running back Travis Dye celebrates his second quarter touchdown against Colorado Saturday Oct. 30, 2021.

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No. 7 Oregon seeks to continue recent dominance over Washington

The remaining four games No. 7 Oregon involve an added degree of difficulty, starting this Saturday when the Ducks visit unranked Washington in a bitter rivalry game in Seattle.

The two teams did not meet last season — Washington didn’t have the minimum number of scholarship student-athletes available for the game due to a number of positive COVID-19 cases and the necessary isolation of additional players for contact tracing – but the game is back in 2021.

Oregon (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) has won 14 of the last 16 meetings and each of the last two against Washington (4-4, 3-2 Pac-12). The Ducks come into Husky Stadium with three straight wins, including last Saturday’s 52-29 romp over Colorado.

Washington has won two straight and comes into the Oregon game with confidence, but head coach Jimmy Lake might have provided the Ducks with some added motivation after a comment he made during his Monday press conference.

Lake was asked if Oregon, with its nationwide recruiting net and 2022 class that is ranked No. 1 in the Pac-12, is Washington’s biggest recruiting rival. Lake went the academics route with his response.

“No, I don’t think so. I think that is way more pumped up than it is. Our battles are really, the schools that we go against… have academic prowess, like the University of Washington. Notre Dame. Stanford. USC,” Lake told reporters. “We go with a lot of battles toe-to-toe all the way to the end with those schools. So I think that’s made up in your world. In our world, we battle more academically prowess teams.”

No matter the standard, Oregon will test a tough Washington defense that has kept the team in games. But the Huskies haven’t seen an offense with as much talent as the Ducks. And Oregon’s defense features sack specialist Kayvon Thibodeaux and a group that has intercepted 11 passes this season.

Huskies quarterback Dylan Morris has thrown 11 touchdown passes with eight interceptions in 2021.

Running back Travis Dye, whose older brother Troy famously flashed Washington’s ‘W’ hand sign then mockingly turned his hand upside down during a postgame interview after the Ducks rallied to beat the Huskies in 2019, leads the conference in touchdowns with 11.

Quarterback Anthony Brown has been steady with 10 touchdown passes to three interceptions and is 16 completions away from his college career high, set with 158 in 2018 as a sophomore at Boston College.

On top of that, freshman running back Byron Cardwell had his breakout game last week with seven carries for 127 yards and his first collegiate touchdown.

“The stuff that had been showing up in practice showed up in the game. He’s just really patient. He understands how to set up his runs, how to read his blocks,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal said.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) runs the ball against Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back Chase Lucas (24) during the first half at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA prepares for loud Washington crowd

As UCLA began preparing for its game at Washington, a grunge-themed playlist of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow” and the Foo Fighters’ “My Hero” blared through the speakers on the practice field.

It was a nod to Seattle being the home of the genre and the loud crowd the Bruins will have to deal with Saturday night at Husky Stadium.

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson said he didn’t even notice the music because he was “so locked in to practice and what we’ve got going on.”

That should be a relief for the Bruins (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12), as Thompson-Robinson is coming off his worst game of the season. He completed 8 of 19 passes for 82 yards as UCLA didn’t pull away until late in a 34-16 victory at winless Arizona.

“I don’t know (how) you can prepare for that; maybe turn the music up loud at practice,” Thompson-Robinson said of an anticipated sellout crowd for Washington’s homecoming, when it will be celebrating its 1991 national championship. “It’s pretty quiet when you’re tuned in, locked in to your assignment.”

Despite the quarterback’s struggles against Arizona, teammate Brittain Brown rushed for a game-high 146 yards on 12 carries (a 12.2-yard average) and Zach Charbonnet added 117 yards on 21 attempts as the Bruins amassed 329 yards on the ground.

UCLA might need to repeat that feat Saturday as the Huskies (2-3, 1-1) have the top-ranked passing defense in the conference.

Washington had a bye last weekend after absorbing a last-second, 27-24 loss at Oregon State.

The break gave the Huskies a chance to get healthy. Preseason All-America linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui might make his 2021 debut after tearing his left Achilles during spring practice.

It also has given them an extra week to prepare for UCLA coach Chip Kelly’s offense.

“I have a lot of respect for Chip,” Washington coach Jimmy Lake said. “I think he really changed football — not just college football. He changed football with all the different schemes he was running years ago, even when he was back in New Hampshire and of course his run at Oregon.

“Now you can see he’s doing some different things schematics-wise that cause defenses problems. And then throw in there they have talented players. … They present a lot of challenges.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; East Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies interim head coach Lou Spanos watches from the sideline against the Wyoming Cowboys during the first quarter at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Three UConn coaches, two players test positive for COVID-19

Three members of the UConn football coaching staff, including interim head coach Lou Spanos, and two players have tested positive for COVID-19.

Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Frank Giufre, tight ends coach Corey Edsall, senior left tackle Ryan Van Demark and freshman offensive lineman Will Meyer have also tested positive, per the team website on Friday.

All five members of the program are fully vaccinated and are currently isolating. Two unvaccinated team members were identified as close contacts and quarantined.

The Huskies (0-6) are scheduled to visit UMass (0-5) on Saturday afternoon in Amherst, Mass.

The school announced that defensive line coach Dennis Dottin-Carter will assume head coaching responsibilities during Spanos’ absence. Dottin-Carter is in his fifth year on the Huskies’ coaching staff.

–Field Level Media