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Pac 12 Football: Oregon St. Loses QB, Stanford Goes Against Notre Dame, Heisman Watch

Looking ahead to this week in the Pac-12, a few stories dominate the headlines.

After rising in the polls by knocking off ranked teams, #10 Oregon State finally arrived but could fall thanks to its injured quarterback Sean Mannion.

Can backup Cody Vaz keep this team from losing?

A great rivalry, #17 Stanford travels to South Bend to play #7 Notre Dame. History is on the Cardinals side for the win but Notre Dame keeps knocking off opponents. Is this the week the Fighting Irish get an L?

This is my Game of the Week.

And while West Virginia’s Geno Smiths continues amassing great stats, there’s a few Pac-12 candidates still in the Heisman conversation.

Mannion Out with Knee Injury, Vaz is In

Oregon State QB Cody Vaz

After leading his team to a 4-0, 3-0 record Oregon State quarterback Mannion went down with a meniscus injury last week. How long he is out is a mystery but his coach Mike Riley has emphatically said it won’t be for the season even with his surgery.

It’s a huge loss as the quarterback averages 339.5 yards passing per game–sitting as No. 2 in the conference and No. 6 nationally. To-date, he had 1,358 passing yards, seven touchdowns and four picks.

This week against BYU (4-2), enter backup quarterback Cody Vaz as the starter. Fortunately for the Beavers it’s a non-conference game but junior Vaz hasn’t started since high school.

From his five NCAA games (last played in 2010), he’s six for 17 and 48 yards.

No pressure here as Vaz has said he’s not nervous but excited.

Oregon State’s schedule could be a savior to keep their season alive as they play Utah and Washington in the upcoming weeks. They’ll really need Mannion for the Nov. 3 Arizona State game.

Stranger things have happened with backup quarterbacks but this time, bettors are putting their money on BYU at -6 with a 38 over/under.

#17 Stanford vs. #7 Notre Dame

Stanford QB Josh Nunes

With both teams rebuilding with new quarterbacks this season, they have fared well but still have struggles.

In last week’s 41-3 spanking of Miami, Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson went 17 of 22 for 186 yards and rushed for 51 yards; he had zero touchdowns. His confidence is rising but he’ll go against a tough defense this week.

Stanford’s Josh Nunes, playing against a tough Arizona last week, was 21 for 34, 360 yards, two touchdowns and zero picks in an OT win.

The nod may go to Nunes in Saturday’s battle but he is inconsistent. He will go up against a team that has allowed the fewest number of touchdowns in the country (three) and in its five games to-date, has never fallen behind.

Factor in the noise at Notre Dame and the absence of wide receiver Ty Montgomery and Nunes will have his hands full.

I’m still not convinced the Fighting Irish are really a 5-0 team. The bettors may disagree, giving the Domers -8 with a 44.5 over/under.

Heisman Watch

USC WR Marqise Lee

In this week’s CBS Heisman Straw Poll, USC’s Marqise Lee sits as the sole Pac-12 player in the Top 5 with Oregon’s quarterback Marcus Mariota receiving a vote.

While ranked #11, USC has dropped from the conversation but Lee is still wracking up good stats which unfortunately rest on his quarterback Matt Barkley.

Last week, Lee had a season-high 12 catches for 192 yards, one touchdown and one carry for 11 yards against Utah. This week, the Trojans face Washington, which should pose a greater challenge.

As for other conference players, there’s Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas. Last week against the Huskies, he had 10 carries for 75 yards and one score. He’s versatile but he needs to get his numbers up. His fellow back Kenjon Barner is nipping on is heels with last weeks’ 22 carries for 120 yards.

There’s a lot of talented players in the Pac-12 but Thomas sits at the top with 7 to 1 odds for the Heisman.


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