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Auburn loses 2nd center, Tate Johnson, to injury Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses CFP expansion talks head toward October after 7-hour meeting

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AUBERN, Alabama. Auburn lost second center of the season with Tate Johnson scheduled surgery on the left elbow.

tiger trainer Brian Hars said Johnson is undergoing elbow surgery and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks, but could miss the season. Jalil Irwin replaced him after Johnson was injured against Missouri.

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Avery Jernigan also worked at the center.

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Johnson took over after a six-year center Nick Brahms retired from football shortly before the opening of the season after trying to come back from knee surgery.

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Harsin said the defender TJ Finley will train this week after missing a game in Missouri with a right shoulder injury. Robbie Ashford started with a 17–14 overtime win and is listed as a starter on the depth chart ahead of the game against LSU.

With Oregon being choked out by leading Georgia and Utah losing to Florida, it looked like the Pac-12 was headed for another college football playoff miss.

The week before the start of the season, the top two teams in the conference had already failed big early tests.

Fast forward three weeks and it looks like Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and the Utes took the win with big wins, and the conference leader looks strong with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but Pac-12 is positioning itself to take the team to CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

Watch how the Pac-12 peak stacks up on the first weekend in October:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. Former Oklahoma Coach Brought Quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they did well in the first four games.

Williams threw for 1,054 yards and threw for nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scoring shots. USC’s defense was opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions and tied for the lead with 14 clearances.

The Trojans survived a panic against the bully Oregon State over the weekend and started 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC is scheduled to play in Utah on October 15 but has avoided Washington and Oregon this season.

UTAH

12th-place Utes opened the season with a heavy road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but won three lopsided games in a row.

Short of a costly interception against the Gators, the quarterback cam height was sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has physical defense and is third in FBS with 132.8 yards per game.

The Cliff also has a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. Bad news: hard ending Brant Kuittheir lead wide receiver, out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah will play Oregon State this weekend and have tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.

OREGON

The Ducks’ playoff chances plummeted after a 49-3 loss to defending national champion Georgia in the first game.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive victory over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks couldn’t match the Bulldogs in any way – there aren’t many of them – but they’ve averaged 51.6 points in their last three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is his pass defense. The Ducks allow 72.5% of passes to be completed, the third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest test left this season will come in back-to-back games against Washington and Utah.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies quickly changed in their first season under a coach. Kalen DeBoer.

defender Michael Penix Jr. Now that he’s healthy, he’s been great, throwing a top 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) has a solid home win over Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

On Saturday, the Huskies will play their first road game at undefeated UCLA before facing Oregon on November 12.

University of California at Los Angeles

After winning in Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have the longest winning streak since winning their first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a victory over the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on October 22.

ROSEMONT, Illinois. On Tuesday, the conference commissioners, who run the college football playoffs, spent nearly seven hours working on expanding the postseason system from four to 12 teams by the 2024 season.

There is still a lot of work to be done.

“We won’t be summarizing this week,” the CFP chief executive said. Bill Hancock said.

The CFP Steering Committee, consisting of 10 conference commissioners and the Notre Dame Athletic Director, is scheduled to meet again at the Big Ten offices for a few hours Wednesday morning. They are going to meet again in person in Dallas on October 20th.

“It will be important,” Hancock said.

Expansion talks have been reopened by university presidents and presidents who oversee the College Football playoffs last month.

By adopting a 12-team plan that has been on the table since the spring of 2021, the presidents pushed panel members to try to implement the new format before the current CFP contract with ESPN expires. This deal ends after the 2025 season.

The expansion from four to 12 in 2024 and 2025 will require rescheduling the semi-finals and championship games, for which dates and locations have already been set, as well as adding four new first round games in mid-December to be played on campus.

Squeezing it all in about a month and working with the NFL for TV is going to be tough.

Hancock said the idea of ​​moving the start of the college football season to a week before Labor Day was discussed to create more room at the end for the playoffs, but was discussed more after the 2025 season.

“I think most people see it as the subject of the future. As a long-term issue, not an urgent one,” Hancock said. “Remember, there are so many details here.”

Hancock said CFP officials have spoken to bowl partners and host cities due to host semi-finals and championship games after the 2024 and 25 seasons, but have not been given exact new dates.

Atlanta has already been selected to host the championship, which will take place after the 2024 season on January 6, 2025. If the playoffs grow from four teams to 12, the game will have to be postponed by about two weeks.

“(The Atlanta organizers) have a lot to work on because of other businesses in the community,” Hancock said. “Another business related to the organization of meetings, the hotel business and the conference center. It was great to work with them.”



Source: collegefootball.nbcsports.com

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