Pac-12 Notes

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Pac-12 Notes

November 23rd

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Rivalry weekend has some interesting point spreads

Colorado, according to vegasinsider.com, is a ten-point underdog at home against Utah (11:00 a.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks).

Other Pac-12 odds:

- Washington is a four-point favorite on the road against Washington State in the Apple Cup

- Cal is a 4.5-point favorite at home to earn a sixth win and a bowl invitation against BYU

- USC is a seven-point favorite at home against Notre Dame

- Oregon is an 18-point favorite on the road against Oregon State in the Civil War

- UCLA is a four-point favorite to win the Pac-12 South title at home against Stanford

…  The line for the Arizona State game at Arizona has not yet been set …

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UCLA back into top ten in latest AP poll; USC and Utah out

Oregon’s “as expected” 44-10 rout of Colorado neither hurt nor helped the Oregon Ducks, who remain No. 3 in this week’s AP poll, coming in behind Florida State and Alabama.

UCLA, 38-20 victors over cross-town rival USC, moved up two spots in the poll, to No. 9, while USC, the former No. 24 team, dropped out. Arizona also ousted a fellow Pac-12 South team, Utah, with a 42-10 win in Salt Lake City. The Wildcats moved up to No. 12, while the Utes, the former No. 20 team, fell out of the poll.

The only other Pac-12 team ranked this week is Arizona State, which held at No. 13 despite its 52-31 romp over Washington State.

In the new poll, Utah received enough votes to come in tied for the 28th spot, while USC is in 30th position.

The full AP poll this week:

1 Florida State (37) 11-0 1458
2 Alabama (21) 10-1 1445
3 Oregon (2) 10-1 1393
4 Mississippi State 10-1 1301
5 Baylor 9-1 1234
6 TCU 9-1 1233
7 Ohio State 10-1 1163
8 Georgia 9-2 1002
9 UCLA 9-2 998
10 Michigan State 9-2 971
11 Kansas State 8-2 898
12 Arizona 9-2 807
13 Arizona State 9-2 790
14 Wisconsin 9-2 764
15 Auburn 8-3 597
16 Georgia Tech 9-2 581
17 Missouri 9-2 525
18 Ole Miss 8-3 398
19 Marshall 11-0 384
20 Oklahoma 8-3 363
21 Colorado State 10-1 346
22 Minnesota 8-3 232
23 Clemson 8-3 198
24 Louisville 8-3 191
25 Boise State 9-2 96

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November 22nd

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No. 9 UCLA wins third straight over No. 19 USC

From ESPN … Brett Hundley’s first pass was intercepted by USC linebacker Anthony Sarao, who returned it up the UCLA sideline for a shocking touchdown. Red-clad fans rocked the predominantly blue Rose Bowl, hoping this rivalry was undergoing a seismic shift.

Hundley never wavered or wilted, and his Bruins spent the rest of a celebratory night educating USC about city dominance.

“UCLA runs L.A., if you guys didn’t hear last year,” Hundley said with a grin.

Hundley passed for 326 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another score, leading No. 9 UCLA past No. 19 USC 38-20 on Saturday night for the Bruins’ third straight victory in the annual crosstown showdown.

Hundley stayed perfect in three starts against USC, throwing scoring passes to Devin Lucien, Thomas Duarte and Eldridge Massington as the Bruins (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12, No. 11 AP) confirmed their Los Angeles supremacy and closed in on the Pac-12 South title with a one-sided romp.

The Bruins scored all their points in less than 30 minutes, and their defense limited the Trojans to just 200 yards and seven points in the first three quarters. Hundley punctuated his final scoring drive with a 15-yard TD run straight up the middle midway through the third quarter, flexing both arms in celebration.

“It’s hard to express how it feels to win three times in a row versus your rival,” Hundley said. “Everything that goes into the game, each year it gets bigger and bigger, and this year was to top it off. This was the biggest — the Pac-12 South [standings], everything was on the line. And to come in our house, have everybody there and to pull out a victory like that at home, it says a lot to this team.”

 

No. 17 Arizona runs away from Utah … after starting quarterback Anu Solomon goes out with an injury

From ESPN … Nick Wilson ran for 218 yards and three touchdowns as No. 15 Arizona overcame an injury to quarterback Anu Solomon to beat Utah (No. 17 CFP, No. 20 AP) 42-10 on Saturday.

In heavy rain at times, Wilson topped the 1,000-yard mark this season.

Arizona (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) reached nine wins for the first time since its 1998 Holiday Bowl team went 12-1 and was ranked No. 4. The Wildcats retain slim hopes for a berth in the conference championship game as a matchup with rival Arizona State looms next week.

The Wildcats ran for 298 yards, the most allowed by Utah (7-4, 4-4) this season.

Solomon threw for 58 yards and got his first career rushing touchdown in the first half. He was fitted for a walking boot at halftime because of an apparent injury to his right foot.

Arizona backup quarterback Jesse Scroggins only threw five times, completing three.

Arizona State overcomes 21-7 deficit and 601 yards passing to defeat Washington State

From ESPN … — Taylor Kelly passed for four touchdowns in his final home game, D. J. Foster rushed for three and No. 13 Arizona State converted all five Washington State turnovers into touchdowns to beat the Cougars 52-31 on Saturday.

Arizona State’s Cameron Smith caught six passes for a career-best 131 yards and two touchdowns for the Sun Devils (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12), who can still win the Pac-12 South title, with some help.

Redshirt freshman Luke Falk of Washington State (3-8, 2-6), passed for 601 yards but was intercepted four times and fumbled the ball away once. Vince Mayle caught 15 for 265 yards.

The Sun Devils scored 31 straight points in the second half before the Cougars managed a touchdown with 24 seconds to play.

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November 21st

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CSU Advisory committees recommend going ahead with new stadium

Full story at the Coloradoan … CSU will move forward with its plans to build an on-campus stadium if it follows the recommendations made public Wednesday afternoon by two advisory committees and the university’s athletics and facilities departments.

All four groups were opposed to renovating Hughes Stadium, the aging 32,500-seat facility 3 miles west of campus that has been home to Colorado State University’s football team since 1968. A summary of public input on the four options that CSU President Tony Frank put forth last month also was strongly in favor of building a new facility, with 378 respondents favoring the on-campus options compared to 193 who favored the two options involving Hughes.

Remainder of the article can be read here

 

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November 19th

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USC reinstates cornerback Josh Shaw

From ESPN … USC cornerback Josh Shaw has been reinstated to the team, the school announced Tuesday.

Shaw had been suspended since late August, when he fabricated a story to explain how he suffered two high ankle sprains as a result of jumping from the balcony of his third-story apartment following an argument with his girlfriend. He initially — and repeatedly — told USC officials the injury occurred as a result of a leap from a balcony in an effort to save his drowning nephew. That story was shared on USC’s website and quickly became a national story before Shaw admitted he had made it up.

His reinstatement was announced on the USC website.

“For several months, local authorities have been investigating the August 23 incident involving Josh Shaw. They have now concluded that investigation and determined that no action will be taken against him,” USC athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement. “USC also conducted its own internal investigation of Josh, evaluating both athletic department code of conduct and potential NCAA compliance issues.

“Based on these investigations and their conclusions, and the 10-game suspension Josh has served for code of conduct violations, we have made the decision to reinstate him. The role Josh will have in any remaining games is now in the hands of Coach [Steve] Sarkisian.”

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November 18th

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Alabama jumps from No. 5 to No. 1 in playoff rankings; Oregon holds at No. 2

… Colorado is 0-10 all-time in games against the No. 1 team in the nation. Chance No. 11 won’t come this weekend …

From ESPN … Alabama is the new No. 1 team in the College Football Playoff rankings, but the first four still includes Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs slipped from No. 1 to No. 4 in the rankings released Tuesday, following their 25-20 loss to Alabama on Saturday. Oregon and Florida State held steady at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.

Alabama’s move up from No. 5 last week pushed TCU out of the first four. The Horned Frogs, who held off Kansas 34-30 on Saturday, are ranked No. 5 this week.

Mississippi State had been ranked No. 1 in the three previous CFP rankings. This marks Alabama’s debut in the first four.

The 12-person selection committee will choose the four playoff teams on Dec. 7.

Ohio State (No. 6) leapfrogged Baylor (No. 7) in this week’s rankings. Ole Miss, UCLA and Georgia rounded out the top 10.

Arizona State, after being upset by Oregon State 35-27 on Saturday, fell seven spots to No. 13. Auburn dropped five spots to No. 14 after its 34-7 loss to Georgia.

Michigan State and Kansas State moved up to No. 11 and 12, respectively. Arizona moved down to No. 15 after narrowly defeating Washington, 27-26.

Wisconsin (No. 16) and Utah (No. 17) both moved up. Georgia Tech, USC and Missouri were ranked No. 18 through 20, respectively.

Nos. 21 through 25 include Oklahoma, Clemson, Nebraska, Louisville and Minnesota.

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November 17th

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A little Schadenfreude … Nebraska meltdown after Wisconsin beatdown

There are those of us who will never be able to cheer for Nebraska, no matter how distant the Big Seven/Eight/12 memories become.

There are those of us who believe that Nebraska, which has not won a conference championship, has never been the same since the Buffs beat the Cornhuskers, 62-36, in 2001.

If you belong to either or both camps, then the 59-24 massacre of Nebraska by Wisconsin last Saturday was a delight.

In case you missed it, No. 16 Nebraska took a 17-3 lead early against No. 20 Wisconsin … and then imploded. In the second and third quarters, Wisconsin had 476 yards and seven touchdowns in 34 snaps. Running back Melvin Gordon, in three quarters of work, went for 408 rushing yards, besting by two yards the record set by Ladainian Thomlinson for TCU in 1999.

The writers for the Omaha World Herald had a field day at the expense of head coach Bo Pelini (I’ll leave it to you to check out the comments, or go to some of the fan boards for the true anger).

Dirk Chatelain, “As snow falls, so Does Huskers Image“:

“… Bo Pelini’s team didn’t just lose the biggest game of the season by 35 points. It didn’t just lose any realistic shot at a Big Ten West title. It lost all credibility and dignity. Friday the Huskers were still considered a candidate for the college football playoff. Saturday they were a laughingstock.

“… Nebraska is a beat-up car that runs fine in the spring, summer and fall. Then every winter, the temperature dips below 20 and it won’t start. Every winter.

” … This is not even close to being a Top-10 program. If NU had played in the Big 12 or SEC or Pac-12 the past three seasons, there’s no way its record would be 27-10. The Big Ten has hidden Husker weaknesses and watered down Husker standards”.

Tom Shatel, “Latest Embarrassment adds to the suspicion that Bo doesn’t know“:

” … This is sad now. There are no more words. There are no more excuses. There’s only a Nebraska football program that can’t stop spinning its wheels, keeps driving itself into the same ditch.

” … There’s one giant hurdle there. It’s hard to know how the Huskers will respond to this one, but if they beat Minnesota and Iowa they would post a 10-2 regular-season record. The thought of dismissing a coach who goes 10-2 is crazy, even in today’s instagram world. But the definition of insanity would be to do this another year and expect different results. To be sure, it’s a dilemma for Husker fans, who crave national relevance, a team that chases championships. What they’ve got is a team that knows how to beat Illinois and Purdue but can’t win under the bright lights. And not just lose, but absolutely melt.

” … The issue here cuts to the core of the program. When you get there, as these big games often do, you see that Pelini’s program is fragile in the center. At some point you need to bow up and take a stand when a big game starts to flip. This isn’t about X’s and O’s. It’s about pride. It’s about fight.

” … The snow fell and the Huskers walked slowly, expressionless, out of the locker room. They stopped to grab their postgame snack. A couple stopped to talk to the media. Most didn’t. There was not much left to say. As they headed to the team buses, they walked past the big Nebraska football truck, with the lists of conference championships and the pictures of five national championship trophies plastered on the side. That equipment truck would soon begin the long, long drive back home, down snowy highways, down the road to nowhere” .

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November 15th

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Oregon State derails Arizona State’s national title dreams with 35-27 upset

From ESPN … Michael Doctor summed up Oregon State’s mentality in the fourth quarter against No. 6 Arizona State.

“We knew we didn’t have anything to lose,” he said.

Doctor returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown with 1:38 left to seal the Beavers’ 35-27 upset win over the Sun Devils (No. 7 AP) on Saturday night.

Oregon State had pulled in front 28-27 on Sean Mannion’s 66-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Villamin with 10:55 to go. Mannion finished with 251 yards passing and two touchdowns as the Beavers (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) snapped a four-game losing streak.

Afterward, the crowd that stuck around despite the sub-freezing temperatures rushed the field.

Mannion, a fifth-year senior who came back to the Beavers rather than bolt for the NFL, was asked if it was the high point of this career.

“Absolutely, absolutely,” he said. “I put this as high as anything.”

The Sun Devils (8-2, 5-1) snapped a five-game winning streak. The loss to the slumping Beavers hurt Arizona State’s shot at a second straight berth in the Pac-12 championship game.

“Heck, we’re still playing for a conference championship. We’ve still got an opportunity to win the South,” Arizona State coach Todd Graham said. “Win the next two games, I believe we’ll be there Dec. 5th. That’s all we can do. We can’t worry about anything else.”

Taylor Kelly threw for 264 yards and two scores for the Sun Devils. He was intercepted twice as temperatures dropped into the upper 20s.

“Our plan was to win the national championship,” Kelly said. “We didn’t come out and execute.”

The Mike Riley-led Beavers have a tradition of pulling off surprise wins against high-ranked opponents at home. In 2012, the Beavers upset No. 13 Wisconsin — which went to the Rose Bowl that season — at Reser. In 2008, the Beavers were 26-point underdogs when they knocked off then-No. 1 USC 27-21 on a Thursday night in Corvallis. Two years earlier, Oregon State topped the then-No. 3 Trojans at Reser 33-31.

No. 14 Arizona survives on Washington gaffe

From ESPN …  Casey Skowron gained redemption on a wild Saturday afternoon in Tucson.

Skowron kicked a 47-yard field goal as time expired to lift Arizona (No. 14 CFP, No. 17 AP) to a 27-26 victory over Washington.

The junior had received Internet death threats after he missed a go-ahead 36-yarder in the final minute of a loss to Southern California.

“Every time I kick, I think about the USC game,” he said. “But part of being a great kicker is being able to come over things that have happened in the past and just go on to the next kick.”

Skowron, who also had an 18-yard touchdown run on a fake field goal, was wide right on his first attempt at the winning kick but said he heard the whistle when the Huskies called timeout right before the play. He converted his second try.

It was the fifth time this season that Arizona (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12) had to make a late play to win.

“We talk a lot about not being average because we want our guys to feel special and elite,” Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez said. “As a football player or football program, your status is based on wins. No matter how you win, you’re considered better than average when you do.”

That the Wildcats got the ball to even attempt the field goal was remarkable.

Washington (6-5, 2-5) was trying to run out the clock but decided to hand the ball to running back Deontae Cooper rather than take a knee.

Tra’Mayne Bondurant knocked the ball out of Cooper’s hands and Derrick Turituri recovered for Arizona at the Washington 45 with 1:23 to go. Bondurant also recovered a fumble.

If the Huskies took a knee for three downs, there would have been 10 seconds or less left when they had to punt.

No. 23 Utah takes down Stanford in double-overtime

Utah and Stanford were only able to score one touchdown apiece in regulation, heading into overtime with a 7-7 tie.

In the first overtime, both teams scored touchdowns. In the second overtime, it appeared that Stanford had dodged a bullet when the Cardinal went backwards in its possession, but still posted a 51-yard field goal. Undeterred, Utah scored a touchdown on its possession, posting a 20-17 victory when Travis Wilson hit Kenneth Scott for a three yard touchdown on third-and-goal.

Stanford fell to 5-5, 3-4, and will have to defeat either Cal or UCLA on the road just to become bowl eligible. The Cardinal has now lost six straight games to ranked opponents (including all five this year), after beating ten straight ranked opponents.

Utah raised its record to 7-3, 4-3, with a home game against Arizona to be followed by a road game against Colorado to close out the regular season.

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November 14th

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USC runs out to 31-2 lead, holds on for 38-30 win over Cal

From ESPN …  Nelson Agholor and Cody Kessler turned the Coliseum into their personal playground in the first half, throwing and catching all over the field while Southern California romped to a big early advantage.

By the time California nearly caught up under a November rain, Agholor and Kessler had built just enough of a lead to keep the Trojans rolling toward a big finish to their season.

Agholor caught a career-high 16 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns, and Kessler passed for 371 yards and four scores in USC’s 38-30 victory over California on Thursday night.

Agholor and Kessler shredded Cal’s porous pass defense while USC (7-3, 6-2 Pac-12) jumped to an early 31-2 lead before holding on for its fourth win in five games. Although both stars lamented the Trojans’ second half, they felt good about their connection heading into season-ending games against UCLA and Notre Dame.

“We got out early and got a comfortable lead, but they’re a real good team,” Kessler said. “They fought back. Our guys really fought through it and kept working hard.”

Agholor had another spectacular night under the Coliseum lights, becoming the first receiver in USC’s storied history to post back-to-back, 200-yard games. The Trojans’ lower-key successor to Robert Woods and Marqise Lee had nine catches for 139 yards after the first snap of the second quarter.

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November 13th

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Oregon getting ready to move on without star tight end

From the Oregonian …  – Pharaoh Brown was en route to one of the best statistical seasons by a tight end in Oregon Ducks history before a traumatic right leg injury ended his season against Utah.

But during the Ducks stretch run toward a Pac-12 and national title, Brown will be missed for more than just his receptions.

The junior from suburban Cleveland had become a consistent blocker, a key development given the injuries along Oregon’s offensive line, and was magnetic for defenders forced to honor his routes, which in turn relieved pressure on a receiving corps that was young and unproven entering the season.

Brown remains hospitalized in Salt Lake City at the University of Utah Hospital, with family and Oregon staff members by his side. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham — whose own team lost two players in Oregon’s 51-27 win Saturday night to similarly devastating injuries from no or little contact — has said he will visit Brown, too.

At 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, receiving came easiest for Brown. Blocking took much more improvement, a leap the Ducks felt he’d made this season.

“Nothing is perfect, of course,” tight ends coach Tom Osborne said Nov. 3, five days before Brown’s injury. “You want consistency but Pharaoh’s done a really good job this year at the line of scrimmage, whether it be next to the tackle or if he’s in movement off the ball a little bit or whether he’s detached in space. Those are huge plays.”

… The injury is the latest blow to what has been a most unstable position in recent seasons.

In 2013, while Brown and Evan Baylis recovered from injuries, true freshman Johnny Mundt was thrust into the starting job after Colt Lyerla was suspended in September and left the team in early October.

Brown finished with 10 catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns in nine games. Injuries delayed his debut, but Brown’s role in a campus snowball fight in early December also prematurely cut it short. He was suspended for Oregon’s victory in the Alamo Bowl against Texas.

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November 12th

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ASU head coach Todd Graham – There should be eight teams in the playoffs

From azcentral.com … Arizona State head coach Todd Graham believes that there should be an eight-team playoff instead of four, with the Power Five Conference champions all guaranteed a bid.

That way, Graham said, teams could schedule strong non-conference games without worrying whether a loss might cost them a playoff spot. In addition, there would be less concern that some conferences have nine-game conference schedules, and others eight.

“One of the things I think is left out with this playoff system, which is better than what they had last year, and I’m excited about it and don’t want to be negative about it … I hope they would recognize the conference champions,” Graham said Tuesday. “That way the fans can get what they want. We’ll play Texas A&M and Michigan State, we can play whatever non-conference we want.

“I really think the conference championships should mean something. It does in every other league and in every other sport”.

 

Oregon jumps Florida State in playoff standings; Arizona State 6th

… Four weeks out from deciding the first-ever college football playoff pairings, the Pac-12 is in good shape. Oregon jumped over undefeated Florida State for the No. 2 spot, while Arizona State rose to No. 6. While the Sun Devils are currently on the outside looking in, if they run the table – at Oregon State; Washington State; at No. 14 Arizona; vs. Oregon in the Pac-12 title game – they are all but assured of making the playoffs. Oregon’s path … Colorado; at Oregon State; vs. Arizona State – is much easier …

From ESPN … TCU still has Baylor beat in the College Football Playoff rankings — even though the Bears got the better of the Horned Frogs on the field.

The Horned Frogs moved up to fourth in the rankings released Tuesday night, while the Bears were up to seventh, closing the gap between themselves and their Big 12 rivals.

“For the third consecutive week, the committee looked at the overall body of work, their strength of schedule, and looked at the number of top 25 wins,” committee chairman Jeff Long said. “TCU has two top 25 wins and Baylor has one. And TCU’s loss is a top-10 loss. When you put all those factors together, we still think at this time TCU has a better resume and was voted that way ahead of Baylor. ”

Oregon (9-1) jumped undefeated Florida State and moved into second. The Seminoles (9-0) slipped to No. 3. Mississippi State remained No. 1.

The Ducks now have three wins against teams currently in the top 25 (Michigan State, UCLA, Utah). Florida State has beaten two teams in the top 25 (Notre Dame and Clemson).

Long said the committee had a long discussion about the merits of the Ducks and Seminoles, and decided to look beyond the record.

“It was a very close call, but the committee placed significant value on Oregon’s quality of wins against three top 25 teams, two of which were on the road,” Long said.

The 12-person selection committee will choose the four playoff teams on Dec. 7.

Alabama (8-1) is No. 5 and Arizona State (8-1) is sixth, and both appear to be in good shape to secure a spot in the playoff if they can keep winning.

Alabama hosts Mississippi State on Saturday. If Arizona State wins out, it would have to go through Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game.

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November 10th

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Both Oregon and Utah lose players for the season

From the Deseret News … Utah and Oregon suffered season-ending losses in Saturday’s game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Injuries sidelined starters, all juniors, for both teams. The Utes lost quarterback Kendal Thompson (knee) and wide receiver Tim Patrick (lower leg), while the Ducks lost tight end Pharaoh Brown (leg injury).

“I feel bad for these kids. They lay it on the line,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “They lay their bodies on the line every week and there’s going to be some serious injuries that occur and unfortunately we had some on Saturday night.”

Whittingham also told reporters at his Monday press conference that injuries are the worst part of what he called “a brutal game.” He said collisions that take place and the things that go on in major college football can be “very violent” and “it’s the most unfortunate part of the game.”

Oregon’s Brown did not accompany his team back to Eugene after the 51-27 victory and is receiving care at University Hospital. Whittingham tried to visit him Sunday but Brown was in surgery. He plans to make another attempt to see Brown soon.

“Unfortunately that was a significant injury,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich told The Oregonian. “If you’re a prayerful person, a thoughtful person, obviously our thoughts and hearts are with Pharaoh as well as a couple Utah guys who had unbelievably significant noncontact injuries in that game.”

…. Brown’s season ends with 25 catches for 420 yards and six touchdowns.

Utah’s injuries brought a premature end to the inaugural campaigns of two transfers.

Thompson, who came to Utah after graduating from Oklahoma, appeared in seven games and made two starts. The dual-threat quarterback completed 32 of 52 passes for 324 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He had 192 yards and one TD rushing.

Travis Wilson has reclaimed the starting quarterback job. Redshirt freshmen Brandon Cox and Conner Manning are competing for the backup spot.

“They’ve got to be ready and we’ve got to decide early this week which one we’re going to sink the majority of the reps into — who’s going to be the backup and who’s going to be No. 3,” Whittingham said. “That’s got to be something that’s a top priority for us early in the week and that’s where we’re at quarterback-wise.”

The loss of Patrick, who played in all nine games this season and made 16 catches for 177 yards, weakens a receiving corps that lost Dres Anderson to injury two weeks ago.

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November 9th

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Oregon up to No. 3 in latest AP poll; Arizona up to No. 7

With the only regular season games left for Oregon being against Colorado and Oregon State, Pac-12 North Division winner Oregon can start looking forward to the Pac-12 title game in Santa Clara in December. The matchup for the Ducks, up two spots to No. 3 in the latest AP poll, might well be Arizona State, up to No. 7 after taking out previous No. 8, Notre Dame.

The remainder of the Pac-12 South, which at one point had five teams in the top 25, still has three other representatives. UCLA, which took out Washington, 44-30, moved up four spots in the volatile week, coming in at No. 14. Arizona, 38-20 winners over Colorado, also moved up four spots this week, to No. 17. Utah, 51-27 losers to Oregon, dropped from 20th to 25th.

Colorado State, which continues to wind its way through the mediocre Mountain West, climbed into the polls for the first time this season, coming in at No. 23.

Two other Pac-12 schools received votes, with USC in at No. 29 in the poll; Stanford at No. 33.

The full AP rankings this week:

RK TEAM RECORD PTS
1 Mississippi State (48) 9-0 1488
2 Florida State (12) 9-0 1446
3 Oregon 9-1 1334
4 Alabama 8-1 1326
5 TCU 8-1 1273
6 Baylor 8-1 1193
7 Arizona State 8-1 1142
8 Ohio State 8-1 1086
9 Auburn 7-2 981
10 Ole Miss 8-2 948
11 Nebraska 8-1 830
12 Michigan State 7-2 782
13 Kansas State 7-2 742
14 UCLA 8-2 691
15 Notre Dame 7-2 630
16 Georgia 7-2 622
17 Arizona 7-2 471
18 Clemson 7-2 457
19 Duke 8-1 431
20 LSU 7-3 429
21 Marshall 9-0 297
22 Wisconsin 7-2 225
23 Colorado State 9-1 128
24 Georgia Tech 8-2 127
25 Utah 6-3 87

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November 8th

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Arizona State races to 31-3 lead over Notre Dame … gives up 28 unanswered before running away late, 55-31

It wasn’t exactly like the Colorado game, but Arizona States did experience a bit of deja vu against Notre Dame.

Against Colorado, the Sun Devils raced out to a 17-0 lead, early, only to see the Buffs come back to make it a game. Against No. 10 Notre Dame, No. 9 Arizona State had its way in the first half, sprinting out to a 31-3 lead late in the second quarter before watching the lead evaporate. The score was 34-31 Arizona State, with 6:37 to play, before a late score a pick six, and a final scoring drive of nine yards giving the Sun Devil nation reason to celebrate.

Notre Dame opened the game with a field goal, but then things fell apart for the Irish. An ASU field goal tied the game, and then Notre Dame started turning the ball over. A fumble led to a one-play, 13-yard touchdown to make it 10-3. An interception on the next play from scrimmage led to a 23-yard touchdown drive and a 17-3 lead for the Sun Devils. On Notre Dame’s next drive, the ASU defense did all the work, with a 56-yard interception for a touchdown making it 24-3 early in the second quarter.

The Irish did try to make a game of it. Down 31-3 late in the second quarter, Notre Dame picked up what appeared to be a consolation touchdown with 11 seconds to play before halftime. The score, though, ignited a 28-0 Irish run, making it a 34-31 game midway through the fourth quarter.

Arizona State, though, responded to the pressure. A five-play, 75-yard scoring drive gave the Sun Devils a two score cushion with 4:29 to play. ASU’s second pick-six of the afternoon  few moments later, this one going for 58 yards, ending any hopes of an Irish miracle finish. With the score 48-31, Arizona State picked up a questionable touchdown late. Notre Dame turned the ball over on downs, giving the ball to Arizona State inside the Irish ten yard line. Arizona State scored with less than a minute to play, making the final look like a rout.

Washington State red-shirt freshman Luke Falk passes for five touchdowns in 39-32 win over Oregon State

Connor Who?

In an otherwise forgettable season, Washington State (3-7,2-5) fans now have good reason to look forward to the future.

Connor Halliday, who owns almost all of the Cougars’ passing records – and several NCAA marks – was lost for the season last weekend in a 44-17 loss to USC.

No problem for the Cougs.

Red-shirt freshman quarterback Luke Falk, making his first career start, threw for 471 yards and five touchdowns in leading Washington State to a 39-32 win on the road over Oregon State (4-5, 1-5). Falk went 44-for-61 win no interceptions in out-dueling the Pac-12′s all-time leading passer. Oregon State’s Sean Mannion went 31-for-41 for 419 yards but only one touchdown.

Oregon State posted a 10-0 lead early, but Washington State to take a 21-16 lead at halftime. Early in the fourth quarter, Oregon State regained the lead, 25-24, on a 46-yard field goal. Washington State, though, scored on Falk touchdown passes on its next two possessions to make it a 39-25 lead. Oregon State scored on a one-yard run to cut the lead to one touchdown with 3:00 to play, but Washington State was able to run out the clock to preserve its second road Pac-12 victory of the season.

—-

 

November 7th

… Foe Pause …

No. 9 Arizona State has an advantage over No. 10 Notre Dame … Navy

From ESPN … How difficult is it for opponents to prepare for Navy’s triple-option spread offense? So much so that there seems to be a hangover for teams that had to defend the Midshipmen’s unique offense.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, six of the seven teams that faced Navy and then played the next week lost the second game. No. 10 Notre Dame is coming off a 49-39 victory over the Midshipmen and plays at No. 9 Arizona on Saturday.

Over the past seven seasons, the Fighting Irish are only 2-5 in games played the week after facing Navy, including a 2010 loss against Tulsa, which was coached by current ASU coach Todd Graham.

Shocking revelation! … Nebraska player admits to receiving extra benefits

From Sports Illustrated … Several former Nebraska football players say that a now-convicted financial advisor and stockbroker gave them illegal benefits while they were in school and then later stole money from them, reports Julie Steinberg of The Wall Street Journal.

Steve Octavien, who played for the Huskers from 2005 to 2007, says that Mary Wong, who resided in Omaha, paid his rent, cellphone bills, car insurance and other expenses while he was in school.

The NCAA defines extra benefits as “any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a representative of the institution’s athletic interests (including fans) to provide a student-athlete or the student-athlete’s relative or friend a benefit not expressly authorized by the NCAA legislation.”

A Nebraska spokeswoman says the school will take action if warranted if they find that any current or former student-athlete broke NCAA rules.

…. Yeah, I’m sure the Cornhuskers will get right on that … just a few minutes after Tom Osborne apologizes for voting Colorado sixth in the final coaches’ poll in 1990 …

Shocking Revelation! (Part Two) … Senior Transfers don’t actually transfer to enhance their education

The NCAA has been allowing players who have graduated early to transfer to play their senior years (or, in the case of some players, like UMass quarterback Blake Frohnapfel, who will get to play the Buffs again in 2015, two years) at a different school. The criteria being that the player has graduated, and that the new school to which the player is transferring offers a graduate program not found in their present school.

While many players have taken advantage of this rule, it doesn’t appear that the players are actually transferring with any real interest in their graduate studies …

From the NCAA … Division I student-athletes who earn a bachelor’s degree prior to exhausting their athletics eligibility may go on to compete as graduate students for another school provided they meet certain criteria (NCAA Bylaw 14.6.1) or obtain an NCAA waiver. The NCAA identified 353 graduate transfers from 2011 and 2012, and was able to track academic outcomes for 258 (73%).

What did we learn?

After two years, only one-quarter of the graduate transfers in football and one-third in men’s basketball had earned a graduate degree. Completion percentages were higher outside of those two sports, especially among women. Nearly 40% of the football players in this sample departed by the end of their first graduate term. Non-completers typically withdrew at the point when athletics eligibility was exhausted.

… Another idea which sounded good on paper, but had nothing to do with reality upon implementation …

—–

 

November 6th

… Foe Pause …

Washington dismisses top defensive back … Five days after game against CU (sigh!)

From the Seattle TimesMarcus Peters, the Huskies’ standout junior cornerback, has been dismissed from the program, multiple sources have told The Seattle Times.

Peters got into an argument with an assistant coach during practice Wednesday, a source said, apparently the final straw in a series of run-ins with Washington’s new coaching staff. He also got into an argument with coaches during UW’s victory at Colorado on Saturday and then missed practice on Tuesday, sources said.

In his third year as a starting cornerback, Peters had been suspended for one game in September after his sideline outburst, in which he threw his helmet and gloves, a week earlier against Eastern Washington. That outburst followed what UW coach Chris Petersen called a “stupid” personal-foul penalty against Peters, who had head-butted an EWU receiver.

Peters is considered a potential first-round NFL draft pick.

He is the ninth player Petersen has either suspended or dismissed from the team since February. Through a team spokesman, Petersen declined to comment Thursday morning. He is scheduled to meet with the media after practice later in the morning.

Peters was one of two players, along with senior cornerback Travell Dixon, spotted laughing on the UW sideline in the final minutes of the Huskies’ blowout loss at Oregon last month.

Peters, a 6-foot, 190-pound junior from Oakland, Calif., led the Huskies with three interceptions and 10 passes defended this season. He earned second-team all-Pac-12 honors last season after leading the Huskies with five interceptions. He was also suspended for the opening quarter of UW’s Fight Hunger Bowl victory last December.

—-

November 4th

… Foe Pause …

Oregon moves into top four in college football playoff rankings

From ESPN … Mississippi State, Florida State and Auburn held the top three spots in the second College Football Playoff rankings, with Oregon joining them in the top

Oregon moved up a spot from fifth in the initial poll by the 12-member selection committee. This was the second of seven Top 25 rankings until the end of the regular season and conference championship games.

Mississippi slid from fourth to 11th after its second consecutive loss, 35-31 to Auburn. But the Rebels remained ahead of four one-loss teams from power-five conferences.

Auburn is the highest ranked of the 12 one-loss teams in the rankings that will ultimately determine the national semifinals, and set matchups for the other four marquee New Year’s Day bowls that are part of the playoff rotation.

Alabama was fifth, giving the SEC West three of the top five spots.

TCU was sixth, a spot ahead of Big 12-leading Kansas State. The Horned Frogs are home Saturday night against the Wildcats.

K-State was up two spots to seventh, jumping over Michigan State, which remained eighth. The biggest advancer was Arizona State five spots to No. 9, while Notre Dame stayed 10th.

four Tuesday night.

—–

 

With Oregon coming to town, Utah re-opens starting quarterback race

From the Deseret News … Utah’s on-again, off-again quarterback battle is officially on-again. Juniors Travis Wilson and Kendal Thompson are listed as co-starters on the depth chart as the 20th-ranked Utes prepare to host No. 5 Oregon (8:00 p.m., MT, ESPN).

“It’s a competition this week. It’s opened back up,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said at his weekly press conference on Monday. “So we’ll have them compete in practice and see what transpires and go with the guy that we feel will give us the best chance to win.”

Whittingham’s announcement followed remarks about Utah’s anemic passing attack. The Utes rank last in the Pac-12 and 109th in the nation with 175.3 yards per game. They netted just 57 — on 12-of-22 passing by Wilson — in Saturday’s 19-16 overtime loss at Arizona State.

“We’d like to throw the ball a lot better than we have been and I say throw the ball — not literally the quarterback throwing the ball — but more production in the throwing game,” Whittingham said. “That’s really been … if you had to put one, or determine one thing that’s really held us back this year, it’s the lack of production throwing the football.

“So that’s been an ongoing problem and we’ve got to get that solved,” he added.

Wilson has made seven starts and played in all eight games this season — completing 93 of 165 passes for 1,084 yards with nine touchdowns and no interceptions.

Thompson, meanwhile, has made one start and appeared in six games overall. The Oklahoma transfer has completed 28 of 47 passes for 301 yards with two TDs and a pair of picks.

—–

 

November 3rd

… Foe Pause …

Arizona players named Pac-12 defensive and special teams Players-of-the-Week

From the Arizona Republic … Arizona State kicker Zane Gonzalez was named the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week, while Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright earned the conference’s defensive award on Monday.

Gonzalez, a sophomore from Deer Park, Texas, kicked a game-winning, 36-yard field goal in overtime to secure ASU’s 19-16 victory over Utah on Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium. Gonzalez made 4 of 5 field-goal attempts, including a 30-yarder that tied the score at 16 with less than six minutes remaining in regulation.

Wright, a sophomore from Windsor, Calif., took the honor for the second-consecutive week after racking up a career-high 19 tackles and a career-best 4.5 tackles for a loss in the Wildcats’ 17-7 loss at UCLA on Saturday night in Pasadena, Calif. Wright also registered three sacks to match the career high he set in Arizona’s previous game at Washington State.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was named the Offensive Player of the Week.

Pac-12 television schedule for November 15th set

Colorado will have a bye next weekend, getting an extra week to prepare for its game against Oregon (the Ducks will also have an bye week).

The television schedule for the eight Pac-12 teams which have games next week (Washington State and UCLA also have the week off):

- Cal at USC – 7:00 p.m., MT, ESPN (on Thursday, November 13th)

- Washington at Arizona – 1:30 p.m., MT, Fox

- Utah at Stanford – 4:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

- Arizona State at Oregon State – 8:45 p.m., MT, ESPN

—–

Oregon loses another offensive lineman to injury

From the Oregonian … The injury bug has hit Oregon’s offensive line again after starting right tackle Matt Pierson hurt his left knee in the No. 5 Ducks’ 45-16 win against Stanford on Saturday night.

Pierson walked uneasily into the team’s locker room and told a staffer he’d injured the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

A team source confirmed that the MCL was Pierson’s believed injury, but said its severity would not be known until Pierson underwent an MRI on Sunday.

Pierson could return in two weeks in a best-case scenario.

With Pierson’s status unclear, freshman Tyrell Crosby is slated to step into the starting role at right tackle, though there is a possibility that veteran Andre Yruretagoyena — who was injured Sept. 6 against Michigan State — could be available within the next month, too. Yruretagoyena was taken off crutches about two weeks ago and no longer is wearing a cast on his right leg.

Connor Halliday’s broken leg leads to opportunity for freshman quarterback

From the Spokane Spokesman-Review … There is little that could have gone wrong for the Cougars in this or any game to compare with quarterback Connor Halliday getting carted off the field after completing a 14-yard pass to Vince Mayle in the first quarter.

Star USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams slipped past WSU center Sam Flor on a twist. As Flor tried to push the likely first-round NFL draft pick away from his quarterback, Halliday tried to spin away from the oncoming mass of linemen and his right leg was ultimately trapped under both players.

Reports came out shortly after that Halliday suffered a broken leg. Mike Leach couldn’t confirm the exact nature of the injury but did say that Halliday was undergoing surgery after the game.

Regardless, the injury almost certainly ends the collegiate career of a quarterback that set college football ablaze this season and became a bright spot that made a struggling WSU (2-7, 1-5) team always worth watching.

More importantly he was an unapologetic competitor for a program that sorely needed one.

“Connor’s contributions to this program, most of them are ones that the public doesn’t fully have an appreciation for,” Leach said. “But Connor’s contributions to this program are gigantic.”

Backup quarterback Luke Falk – a walk-on last season who got his scholarship shortly after fall camp back in August – played well and it’s unlikely Halliday would have made the difference with the Trojans already leading 14-0 when he was injured.

He likely would have been as hampered as Falk was by a normally steady receiving corps that suffered dropped passes, often in key situations.

“They hit guys right in the chest, hands and gut and if they were bullets it would have killed them,” Leach said.

Halliday couldn’t have helped the secondary keep up with Nelson Agholor and Juju Smith, freak receivers who put up 294 receiving yards and four touchdowns by themselves for USC (6-3, 5-2).

“It’s an over simplification to say a guy’s a young guy but everybody says ‘I want to start as a freshman,’ ” Leach said. “Well, if you want to start as a freshman, if you get the chance, go out there and play like you belong there.”

The Cougars did hold USC scoreless from midway through the second quarter until midway in the third. The defense held while Falk found his rhythm, eventually completing 38 of 57 passes for 370 yards and a pair of touchdowns despite the conditions and the drops.

He also picked up a couple first downs with his legs, and showed very good awareness in the pocket in his first live action against a good team since high school.

Utah gets a “C” for overtime loss to Arizona State

From the Deseret News … In what has become rather normal, Utah was again in a game decided on the last play of the contest. The Utes had come out on top in three straight, but the late-game magic ran out Saturday night in the desert as Utah fell 19-16 to Arizona State in overtime.

Offense: A week after quarterback Travis Wilson sparked hope into Utes fans’ hearts with an improved passing game, the Utah air attack was once again grounded. The Utes’ play-calling was conservative and it didn’t help Utah receivers couldn’t get separation.

Utah really missed wide receiver Dres Anderson in this one. Without its leading receiver and deep threat to draw attention away, Utah’s receivers were stymied.

After the contest Utah coach Kyle Whittingham admitted Utah should have tried to go over the top a couple times in an attempt to loosen up the Arizona State defense. Without a true deep-threat wide out and an offensive line that struggled to keep the pocket clean, that is easier said than done. Still, the attempts should have happened. Even a few slant routes — or at the very least some play-actions — could have forced the Sun Devils to ease up the pressure on the line of scrimmage.

Utah running back Devontae Booker found some seams and behind his powerful brand of running the Utes moved the chains a few times, but the offense as whole struggled and struggled badly.

Grade: D-

Overall: Honestly this game played out much like other Utah conference games, but it feels much worse because of the outcome. The winning has masked the fact Utah hasn’t gotten much out of its offense this season. The Utes can’t keep relying on special teams and their defense to win games and it might have taken a critical late mistake by one of those units to fully realize that.

Looking at face value Utah just took the No. 14 team in the country to overtime on the road. This is an improved team, even a really good team. This one might just sting more because with an offense that can’t move the ball it’s hard to imagine it ever becoming a great team.

Grade: C

—–

 

November 2nd

… Foe Pause …

Connor Halliday knocked out in Washington State loss to USC

From ESPN … Cody Kessler threw for 400 yards and five touchdowns and Southern California beat Washington State 44-17 in rainy, foggy conditions on Saturday.

JuJu Smith caught three touchdown passes for Southern California (6-3, 5-2 Pac-12), which became eligible for postseason play. Nelson Agholor caught eight passes for 220 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.

Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday, the nation’s passing yardage leader, was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with an unspecified injury and did not return. Washington State (2-7, 1-5) does not publicly discuss injuries.

Freshman Luke Falk replaced Halliday. He threw for 370 yards and two touchdowns, but it was not enough to prevent the Cougars from suffering their second consecutive home loss and fourth in a row.

Southern Cal, coming off a last-second 24-21 loss at Utah last weekend, had 527 yards of total offense to 444 for Washington State. Kessler completed 21 of 32 passes.

Washington State has surrendered 60, 59 and 44 points in its past three home games.

No. 22 UCLA holds No. 12 Arizona to seven points in 17-7 victory

From ESPN … Brett Hundley passed for 189 yards and ran for 131 more, and UCLA (No. 22 CFP, No. 25 AP) pulled its season back from the brink with a 17-7 victory over Arizona (No. 12 CFP, No. 14 AP) on Saturday night.

UCLA (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) held the Wildcats scoreless for the final 57 minutes and limited them to 255 yards — nearly 287 below their season average. It wasn’t flashy, but it was incredibly effective.

“Today was the first game that I felt defensively like we did what we were supposed to do on every play,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. “Don’t pop a gap. Just do your job. Trust your teammate. We did that. You saw the result. … It was a big win for us, and it keeps us alive, and that’s what we’re after.”

Arizona (6-2, 3-2) hadn’t scored fewer than 26 points in any game this season, but the Bruins finally turned into the defensive powerhouse that Mora hoped they could be — even if the Wildcats blamed themselves for the least productive offensive performance in coach Rich Rodriguez’s three seasons.

“The offense was poor,” said Rodriguez, who hasn’t beaten UCLA in three tries. “It was poorly called, poorly executed, poorly played. You can start with the coaching staff.”

October 31st

… Foe Pause …

Colorado men’s cross-country team makes it four-for-four in winning fourth consecutive Pac-12 title

From the Pac-12 … Oregon’s Edward Cheserek might have won the battle, but the Colorado men’s cross country team won the war.

On a soggy course at the Oakland Metropolitan Golf Links, Colorado claimed the team title at the 2014 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships on Friday, marking the fourth straight year the Buffaloes have brought home the conference title.

This might be Mark Wetmore’s 19th season at the helm of Colorado’s program, but the veteran coach said the feeling of winning the Pac-12 never gets old.

“I’ve been at this long time and we’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of good things happen to us,” Wetmore said. “It feels great, but I always put it in big perspective and know that we have more work to do in the next couple of weeks.”

The top-ranked Buffaloes made good on their quest to go wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the nation heading into the NCAA Division I Mountain Regional on Nov. 14 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and NCAA Nationals on Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind.

While Cheserek, the reigning NCAA individual champion, defended his Pac-12 crown with a time of 23:23, Colorado senior Blake Theroux (23:42) led his team with a fourth-place finish. Theroux was the first of five straight Buffaloes to cross the finish line, as Colorado posted an impressive team score of 30. Second-place Oregon (57) and third-place Stanford (60) had a close battle on the podium, while Washington (87) and UCLA (168) also finished in the top five.

CU women finish third in Pac-12 cross country championships

From the Pac-12 … The No. 3-ranked Oregon women claimed its second team conference cross country title in three years.

Oregon (54 points) claimed a sizable victory over second-place Stanford (74) in the team competition, while Colorado (82), Washington (93) and UCLA (143) rounded out the top five. Freshman Frida Berge led the Ducks with her sixth-place finish and time of 20:25, while teammates Waverly Neer (10th), Molly Grabill (11th) and Alli Cash (12th) soon crossed the finish line in quick succession to help bolster Oregon’s score.

—–

 

Utes “stunned” and “heavy hearted” after losing star wide receiver

From the Salt Lake City Tribune … Rewind the tape and there’s Utah wideout Dres Anderson, lined up on the game-winning play, and then there he is again, galloping down the sidelines to celebrate Utah’s win over USC.

All of this after sustaining a season-ending knee injury.

Sunday, without the adrenaline coursing through him, he “wasn’t feeling quite right,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. Monday, it was worse, and an MRI revealed an unspecified knee injury that required surgery and three to four months of rehabilitation for Utah’s leading receiver and senior captain.

Anderson’s playing days at the U. are now over.

Junior wideout Tim Patrick describes the receivers as “heavy-hearted” when that was explained to them at their position meeting. “It was quiet for a cool five minutes, and [Anderson] came in and just let us know that we’ve got a game this weekend, and we’ve just got to step up as a receiving corps”.

—–

Marcus Mariota’s Heisman hopes rest in finally beating Stanford

Two pieces on the quarterback battle which will take place between Oregon and Stanford on Saturday (5:30 p.m., MT, Fox).

From the Oregonian … The spotlight will be on the quarterbacks Saturday when Stanford and Oregon meet in a 4:30 p.m. game in Autzen Stadium.

I know, when isn’t it?

But in this case, perhaps, it’s more true than ever.

…. Mariota had a particularly tough time with Stanford last year, a game in which the Cardinal won 26-20. He rushed for an un-Mariota like minus-16 yards, and was sacked three times. To be fair, he was playing on a gimpy knee.

Kevin Hogan, by contrast, has had two of his best games as a starter against the Ducks in an up-and-down career. When coach David Shaw opened up the offense last week against Oregon State and gave Hogan some operational discretion, he seemed to thrive.

It’s too simple to suggest that Stanford’s two-game winning streak in the series is due completely to the play of the two quarterbacks.

The ability of the Stanford offense to set a tone by controlling the ball is a factor. And so is Stanford’s bone-crunching defense, which is a smart, physical bunch.

But the two quarterbacks have the ball in their hands on virtually every offensive play.

It will be interesting to see how the Mariota/Hogan storyline changes this time, if indeed, it does change.

From ESPN … Kevin Hogan’s legend was born on Nov. 17, 2012, at Autzen Stadium. Still in a post Andrew Luck haze and unsatisfied with the results of Josh Nunes, Stanford turned to Hogan to make his first career start at home against Oregon State. A week later, he made his first road start in Eugene and helped engineer an unlikely 17-14 overtime win over the No. 1 Ducks. It was not a game the Cardinal were expected to win.

A year later at Stanford Stadium, the Cardinal knocked off the No. 2 Ducks 26-20. Again, Oregon was the favorite.

“Kevin has played probably two of the best games of his career against us,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said.

Against Oregon, Hogan is completing 65 percent of his throws with one touchdown, one interception and a pair of rushing touchdowns.

Conversely, Mariota has completed 57 percent of his throws against the Cardinal with three touchdowns, one interception and zero rushing touchdowns. Stanford — the only Pac-12 team Mariota hasn’t beaten in his decorated career — has been his Great White Buffalo (said in a whisper).

“Last year Marcus certainly didn’t play his best game, nor did everybody around him contribute to his best game,” Helfrich said.

Fair to assume, too, that his knee injury had something to do with it.

The quarterbacks once against take center stage this weekend as the No. 5 Ducks look to move up in the College Football Rankings. Stanford, the two-time defending league champs, is looking just to stay in the North Division race.

“It goes without saying our game plans are completely geared around Marcus,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “We have that much respect/fear of him. It is respect. He is the focal point of what we do and the focal point of what they do. At times we’ve been able to contain him. We’ve been able to harass him.

“But in every game, there’s a streak where you can’t do anything about it. He gets out of the pocket and takes off. He makes a couple of great throws. He moves the team down the field in three plays and scores a touchdown. It’s understanding that that’s going to happen at some point during the game. And when it does happen, we give respect to a great player and we come back and try to get after him again.”

Stanford’s best weapon against Mariota the last couple of years has been its offense’s ability to sustain drives and the defense’s ability to get off the field. In the two previous meetings, Stanford converted 52 percent on third down, while the Ducks converted just 25 percent.

It’s that same consistency Hogan has shown the previous two years that Shaw is hoping for out of him on Saturday.

—-

 

October 30th

… Foe Pause …

Utah loses wide receiver Dres Anderson for the remainder of the season

From the Deseret News … Utah wide receiver Dres Anderson’s college career is over. The senior, who injured his knee in the final drive of the Utes’ 24-21 win over USC on Saturday, underwent successful surgery Wednesday morning and faces three to four months of rehab.

“We feel bad for Dres. It’s heartbreaking for that kid. He’s a fifth-year senior. He’s poured everything he had into this program for five years,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “Nobody’s outworked him. Nobody’s done more for us than Dres during that period of time. He’s taken care of business on and off the field. He’s got his degree already in hand.”

Whittingham noted that Anderson was injured on a deep cross dig route on the final drive — the ball didn’t go to him — and he remained in the game for several more plays.

“He’s a tough kid,” Whittingham said. “He finished out.”

Anderson wasn’t feeling quite right on Sunday but didn’t think much of it. On Monday, however, Whittingham said things were a little bit worse. Team trainers then put Anderson through the procedure and an MRI and discovered that he needed surgery.

“The positive news is he should have a full recovery and should be ready to work our for the scouts when that time rolls around and I believe he’s got a future playing this game,” Whittingham continued. “So we’ll miss him and we feel bad for Dres but as far as the team, itself, we’ve got to move forward and keep going and the next guy has got to step up.”

Anderson, who is a team captain, finishes his Utah career with 2,077 receiving yards — one of just five players in team history to reach the 2,000-yard milestone. He played in 44 games, making 134 catches and scoring 17 touchdowns.

… This season, Anderson had 22 catches for 355 yards and three touchdowns … In the 2013 game against Colorado, Anderson led the Utes with seven catches for 94 yards …

—–

October 29th

… Foe Pause …

Pac-12 South race up for grabs

The Pac-12 North race comes down to this weekend. Oregon will play Stanford, with the winner the likely Pac-12 North representative (every other team in the North has a losing conference record).

The Pac-12 South, though, remains a five (sigh!) team race.

Ted Miller at ESPN has put together an interesting article on each team’s chances. The full article can be found here.

“Just about everybody controls their own destiny — almost,” said Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez. “We probably could have predicted — we did predict it — in the preseason because there’s so much parity in our league, particularly in the South. Everybody is going to beat up on everybody else and it’s going to be a wild race.”

The six-team South has become a five-team race, with only Colorado out of contention. Four of those teams are ranked, and USC is the equivalent of 27th in the AP Poll. Three teams have just one conference loss, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah, and each of them controls its own destiny. They also have yet to play each other, though the Utes visit the Sun Devils on Saturday.

USC and UCLA have two conference defeats. Both lost to Utah, but USC beat Arizona and UCLA beat Arizona State. So there’s plenty of room for us to end up with a labyrinthine tie-breaking procedure to decide who plays the North champion in the conference title game on Dec. 5.

…. USC has the best chance to win the rest of its game, according to evaluative metric FPI, at 13.9 percent. Utah’s chances to win out according to FPI are just 0.6 percent. As for the ultimate picture, FPI rates Arizona State as having the best chance to win the division at 34.2 percent. Arizona is next at 21.6 percent, while UCLA is last at 12 percent.

Best Chance to Win Pac-12 South

According to FPI:

Team Percentage
Arizona State 34.2
Arizona 21.6
Utah 18.8
USC 13.5
UCLA 12.0

 

——

October 28th

Oregon fifth in very first Playoff Poll

From ESPN … The College Football Playoff selection committee has spoken — and it likes the SEC.

At least for now.

Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Mississippi are the top four teams in the first College Football Playoff rankings.

The first of seven Top 25 rankings compiled by a 12-member selection committee was released Tuesday night. The selection committee will ultimately pick the four teams to play in the national semifinals and set the matchups for the other four big New Year’s Day bowls that are part of the playoff rotation.

“It was extremely difficult, more difficult than any of us had expected having gone through our mock selections before,” Arkansas athletic director and committee chairman Jeff Long said. “There are 18 one-loss teams in FBS at this point in time, and the difference between many of them is very slim.”

Oregon was fifth and Alabama was sixth, giving the Southeastern Conference’s West Division four of the top six teams. There are still four games remaining matching those SEC West rivals, starting with Saturday’s matchup of Auburn and Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi.

The final rankings will be released Dec. 7, the day after the most of the conference championships are decided.

“Everyone on the selection committee recognized that our rankings will change over the next six weeks,” Long said. “I think that’s important for us to emphasize. We expect our rankings to change over the next six weeks. One week’s rankings won’t influence the next week’s rankings.”

TCU was seventh, Michigan State was eighth, Kansas State ninth and Notre Dame was 10th.

The rankings …

1 Mississippi State 7-0
2 Florida State 7-0
3 Auburn 6-1
4 Ole Miss 7-1
5 Oregon 7-1
6 Alabama 7-1
7 TCU 6-1
8 Michigan State 7-1
9 Kansas State 6-1
10 Notre Dame 6-1
11 Georgia 6-1
12 Arizona 6-1
13 Baylor 6-1
14 Arizona State 6-1
15 Nebraska 7-1
16 Ohio State 6-1
17 Utah 6-1
18 Oklahoma 5-2
19 LSU 7-2
20 West Virginia 6-2
21 Clemson 6-2
22 UCLA 6-2
23 East Carolina 6-1
24 Duke 6-1
25 Louisville 6-2

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott quotes on Pac-12 reforms

The Pac-12 press release concerns the sweeping reforms adopted by the Presidents and Chancellors of the conference schools is re-printed below.

Here are Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott’s comments on those changes, from CBSSportsline.com:

Guaranteed four-year athletic scholarships while in good standing. “What it is clearly saying is there’s been concern out there within the media and otherwise that a scholarship could be taken away by a coach if he or she doesn’t like the way the student-athlete is performing,” Scott said. “The perception and reality have been vastly different. But this is making clear aid cannot be pulled for athletic performance or by the whim of a coach.”

Return to school for athletes who don’t graduate.

Starting in 2016-17, if a Pac-12 athlete leaves a university in “good standing” and has completed half of his or her degree, the athlete can return and receive “necessary educational expenses” for remaining terms of the scholarship agreement.

Enhanced medical support for current and former players.

“This is meant to respond to concerns that have been expressed that student-athletes put their bodies on the line and there’s not good enough care for them after school,” Scott said. “This is saying for four years or until a student-athlete is 26 years old, they’ll have medical expenses. “Essentially, all schools have a process they go through when an athlete gets ready to leave school where they document what injuries they occurred while there,” Scott said. “That will be the process by which they then determine what they treat and cover financially over the ensuing four years.”

Liberalized transfer rules within the Pac-12.

“We’re not going to have a rule to withhold aid if you transfer within the conference,” Scott said. “They don’t have to worry about any economic hardship.” This rule does not allow athletes who transfer within the Pac-12 to play immediately. That is an NCAA rule that would have to be changed nationally through the association’s new autonomy or shared governance structure. “We haven’t had in any substantive way those conversations yet,” Scott said of eliminating the NCAA’s one-year transfer rule. “But it’s something we believe should be discussed. We are encouraging a national discussion about those transfer rules.”

Increased athlete representation at Pac-12 meetings

“I’m not opposed to it at all,” Scott said. “We haven’t yet figured out whether we’ll have a fourth representative per school or add a student-athlete vote. We’re going to look at different models.”

—–

October 27th

Athletic scholarships will be guaranteed for four years for student athletes in all sports

From the Pac-12 … Sweeping reforms for student-athletes, including guaranteed four-year athletic scholarships, continuing education, improved health care, liberalized transfer rules, and more, were adopted today by the Pac-12 Conference in a vote of the presidents and chancellors of the Conference’s 12 member universities. The changes made today follow closely the reform principles the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors outlined in a letter written to their peer conferences in May 2014.

“This fulfills a promise we made when we announced our agenda for reform earlier this year,” said chairman of the Conference’s CEO Group, Dr. Elson S. Floyd, who is president of Washington State University. “These reforms assure better support for all our student-athletes, reinforce that academics come first, and address the financial and health needs of our students.” The Conference’s new rules apply to Pac-12 student-athletes across all sports, and include:

  • Athletic scholarships will be guaranteed for four years for student-athletes in all sports.
  • Student-athletes who leave school before graduating will be able to use the remainder of their educational expenses later to earn their degrees.
  • Medical expenses for student-athletes who are injured during their college athletic careers will be covered for up to four years after a student-athlete leaves the institution.
  • Student-athletes who transfer between Pac-12 institutions will be able to receive athletic scholarships immediately.
  • Student-athletes will be represented in the Conference governance structure.

Praising the reform package was University of Washington gymnast McKenzie Fechter, the chair of the Pac-12 Student Athlete Advisory Committee: “I’m proud to be a part of a conference that is pushing reform and doing more for student-athletes,” said Fechter. “These reforms are positive steps not only for those of us who are current student-athletes, but also for those who aspire to be Pac-12 student-athletes in the future.”

The Pac-12 presidents and chancellors also reaffirmed their support for incorporating the full cost of attendance for Pac-12 scholarship student-athletes. The 65 institutions that compose the five major conferences and 15 representative student-athletes will vote on this important issue at the inaugural meeting of the five major conferences in January.

Also discussed were next steps to strengthen protections for student-athletes against excessive time demands of intercollegiate athletics. The Conference will continue to examine this subject with its Council and fellow major conferences.

Conference Commissioner Larry Scott hailed the reform package: “As a former student-athlete myself, I believe these reforms will mean a great deal to student-athletes in the Pac-12. These reforms will ensure they enjoy a positive collegiate sports experience, and graduate with a meaningful college degree. This set of reforms also addresses various health and financial concerns that student-athletes have expressed to me in the many conversations I’ve had with them, while preserving the essence of the collegiate experience that has served so many student-athletes so well. I am very proud of the national leadership position our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, senior women administrators, faculty athletic representatives, and other administrators have taken.”

PAC-12 STUDENT-ATHLETE REFORM PACKAGE

(i) Guaranteeing four-year scholarships that can neither be reduced nor canceled provided the student-athlete remains in good standing and meets his/her terms of the agreement. Effective in 2015-16, all financial aid agreements offered to incoming student-athletes will be multi-year agreements for no less than four academic years.

(ii) Financially supporting student-athletes who do not graduate in four years and return to school to complete their degrees. Effective 2016-17, if a student-athlete departs the institution in good standing and has completed a reasonable portion of their degree (50%), the student-athlete can return and receive necessary educational expenses for the remaining terms of the agreement.

(iii) Enhancing medical support for both current and former student-athletes. Effective in 2015-16, Conference schools will be required to provide direct medical expenses for documented athletically related injuries to former student-athletes for a period of four years after separation from the team or institution.

(iv) Liberalizing Transfer Rules within the Conference. The CEOs approved elimination of the financial aid penalty of the intra-conference transfer rule. Effective immediately, a student-athlete who transfers between Pac-12 institutions can receive an athletic scholarship from the second school without restriction, provided he or she is otherwise eligible to receive the aid.

(v) Increasing student-athlete representation in Pac-12 governance. The CEOs supported including student-athletes in Council meetings and giving them a meaningful role in its deliberations. Final recommendations will be determined June 2015.

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8 Responses to “Pac-12 Notes”

  1. buffnaustin

    Good! Without Thomas we can keep The Ducks under 70.

  2. JW Blue

    underwater treadmill?
    holy moly
    the rich get richer

  3. JW Blue

    Does anyone feel sorry for USC?
    not me
    Even with 56 schollies every kid who will be on the field this weekend for USC will be at least 4 star talent.
    Coach em up Kiffin, if you can, and quit cursing Pete Carrol

  4. buffnaustin

    The good news is we are not ranked #120 like we were last year. Steady upward progress is all I am asking.

  5. JW Blue

    after watching both teams play this weekend, I think Fresno at #25 could handle #1 alabama

  6. BuffLady

    I wore my blue shirt (since Buffs were not playing) just to piss off my neighbors and cheer for the Bruins. Sad day for Husker fans but good day for me! Note: I thought it was classy of the NU fans at the stadium to honor the Bruin who was killed last week with his number and blue and gold balloons. In light of what happened in Boulder last week, some things are more important than football.

  7. Dan

    Iowa State lost to UNI (University of Northern Iowa)


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