Pac-12 Notes – Oregon

October 12th

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Washington State will play CU on a three-game losing streak after loss to ASU

From ESPN … Jayden Daniels scored on a 17-yard scramble with 34 seconds left and threw three touchdown passes to ailing Brandon Aiyuk, leading No. 18 Arizona State to a 38-34 comeback victory over Washington State on Saturday.

Arizona State (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) trailed by three after Blake Mazza made a 31-yard field goal with 2 1/2 minutes left. Taking over at their own 25-yard line, the Sun Devils moved quickly down the field behind Daniels’ pinpoint passing.

The freshman capped the drive with his scramble, helicoptering off a defender into the end zone.

Daniels threw for 363 yards on 26-of-36 passing. Aiyuk had seven catches for 196 yards despite an illness that kept him out for portions of the game.

Anthony Gordon threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns, but Washington State (3-3, 0-3) was again let down by its defense.

The Cougars lead the nation in passing yards per game, are fourth in total offense and eighth in scoring.

Washington State was good against Arizona State from the start.

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October 11th – Game Day!

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USC interim AD says he won’t make a decision on Clay Helton

From the Los Angeles Times … With the search firm “just getting underway” in its effort to find USC’s next athletic director, Dave Roberts is still uncertain how long he’ll stay in his interim role.

But while he remains atop the department temporarily, Roberts made clear in an interview with The Times that he won’t be the one to make a decision on the future of embattled football coach Clay Helton. Or anyone else, for that matter.

To make such a major move, Roberts said, would be “unfair” to whomever is hired as Swann’s replacement.

“If a change was to be made, it would probably be the province of a new athletic director, not Dave Roberts,” the interim athletic director said of Helton. “But like I said, Clay is going to stand or fall on his record. So I mean, if he has a very successful season, I think he’ll be in good stead. If he doesn’t have a great season, the new AD is going to have to make that determination.

“I think it’s a fair statement to say that between now and the end of the season, unless something extraordinary happened, Dave Roberts isn’t going to be stepping in there, making the decision that really I think would be the province of a new AD.”

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Wilner Pac-12 picks: Oregon a “too easy” choice over Colorado

From the San Jose Mercury News … This is it for the teams that reside at the top of the Pac-12 conference and the bottom of the North division.

The last stands for Washington and Washington State will unfold over the course of 10 hours Saturday in venues that have been inhospitable for both.

Washington State has lost five of its past six in Tempe.

Washington has lost four of its last five in Tucson.

The Cougars are 0-2 in the North after a meltdown against UCLA and roll-over at Utah, after a week of soul-searching and coordinator axing.

Lose Saturday afternoon — temperature at kickoff should be in the 90s — and the bowl math gets tricky for a team that opened the season with three consecutive wins.

The Huskies are 1-2 in the North and looking up at Oregon State after their no-show at Stanford.

Lose Saturday night, and they would likely be three games back of Oregon in the division and lifetimes away from their run of dominance through the conference.

Colorado (+21) at Oregon (Friday): Seems too easy: The Buffaloes have a short week, injured stars, and no defense. If the Ducks can’t do whatever they please on offense, something’s wrong. Hard to envision CU scoring more than 14 or 17 points on what just might be the best defense in the conference. Pick: Oregon.

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UCLA wide receiver Theo Howard enters transfer portal

From ESPN … UCLA receiver Theo Howard announced Thursday he will redshirt this season and enter the transfer portal.

Howard, who caught 107 passes between the 2017 and 2018 seasons, has appeared in one game this year but has not recorded a catch. He will have one year of eligibility remaining.

Howard came into the season with a catch in 28 straight games. He was considered one of the jewels of UCLA’s recruiting class under former coach Jim Mora in 2016, when Howard was ranked No. 288 in the ESPN 300.


October 10th 

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ESPN Bottom Ten: Pac-12 Parity makes the list 


5. Pac(it in)-12

Washington went down at Stanford, and Oregon slogged through Cal, all while the Ducks’ best résumé-building loss, Auburn, also lost. Oh, and the UCLA Boo-ins lost the Pac-12 Pillow Fight to Ore-gone State. All of that means the Conference of Champions is already looking at missing out on a shot at a College Football Playoff championship. Again. The Pac-12 is not the worst conference in the land (wassup, ACC?), and the truth is that it might very well be college football’s most internally competitive league. But in the era of the four-team postseason, ye who dost not have thine dominant brand name program within thy final four teams shall not be includeth in thine national collegiate football conversationeth. By the way, this is the third Power 5 conference to hold down the Coveted (Power) Fifth Spot this season. C’mon, Big 12 and Big Ten, get in on this party while there’s still time! And bring chips. Randy Edsall ate them all.

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QB Kedon Slovis cleared, will start for USC against Notre Dame

From CBS Sports … USC is heading into a massive showdown Saturday night in South Bend, Indiana, when it takes on No. 9 Notre Dame, and will be doing it with one of its injured quarterbacks back in action.

Coach Clay Helton confirmed Tuesday that Kedon Slovis has been cleared to return by the Trojans’ training staff and will start vs. the Fighting Irish. Slovis has been out with a concussion since the first quarter vs. Utah on Sept. 20.

Slovis began the season second on the depth chart and stepped in for a injured JT Daniels in the season-opening win over Fresno State when Daniels went down with a season-ending knee injury. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound true freshman went 60-of-77 for 732 yards, five touchdowns and four touchdowns in four games, including three starts. He was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week in Week 2 when he went 28-of-33 for 377 yards and three touchdowns in at 45-20 win over Stanford.

Slovis was a three-star prospect in the Class of 2019 who enrolled early with the Trojans. He beat out Matt Fink and Jack Sears to become Daniels’ primary backup prior to the season. His early-season emergence is a big reason why the Trojans jumped out to a 3-1 start.

Fink stepped in for Slovis after the freshman was injured on the Trojans’ first drive vs. Utah. He went 21-of-30 for 351 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the 30-23 win, but he threw three interceptions in the 28-14 loss at Washington the following week.

Slovis’ return to the lineup Saturday is an enormous development for the 3-2 Trojans. Helton was retained following a 5-7 record last season, and a win over the Fighting Irish would help the 2019 Trojans get back on track and Helton stay off the hot seat heading into mid-October.


October 8th

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Larry Scott: Report Card after ten years on the job

From the San Jose Mercury News … Our series on commissioner Larry Scott’s decade in charge of the Pac-12 began with a look at Scott reinventing his management style (with comments from the presidents) and his own account of the 10 years (via a podcast).

Now, it’s the Hotline’s turn to weigh in … with a report card.

I’ve graded Scott’s performance on specific topics using a tweaked version of the baseball metric WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

WAR attempts to value an individual player by determining how many more wins he’s worth than a replacement-level option from the minor leagues or available free agent.

Scott was hired in the spring of 2009. As the president of the Women’s Tennis Association — and possessing no professional background in college sports — he was an outside-the-box choice by the presidents and chancellors.

An unconventional evaluation seems like the best means of providing context on his performance.

To that end, we’ll use Commissioner Above Replacement (CAR) to determine how he has performed compared to a “replacement-level” (i.e., traditional) commissioner.

In contrast to the WAR metric, the Hotline doesn’t have an established formula to set the baseline value for ‘replacement’ commissioner.

So excuse the subjectivity applied below.

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October 7th

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Pac-12 parity good for football (if not Playoff eligibility)

From The Athletic … The Pac-12 is a punching bag because of its lack of College Football Playoff success, having missed three of the first five Playoff fields. It is on the verge of missing the sixth, barring a one-loss team like Oregon running the table. It has lacked elite teams, but it has typically boasted solid depth, with a large middle class that has created more parity than other Power 5 conferences. That means it has produced a lot of teams that have flirted with the top 25 but have often lacked staying power.

Already, eight of the 12 teams in the conference have been ranked for at least one week this season. Only Oregon State, UCLA, Colorado and Arizona have not, and 4-1 Arizona could soon be ranked and make it nine if it beats Washington at home on Saturday. In the past five seasons, an average of 8.4 Pac-12 teams have been ranked for at least one week each year, including nine last year. The average of 70 percent of the conference’s teams entering the poll at one point or another is the highest among the Power 5 conferences in that span (compared to 67.9 percent for the SEC, 64 percent for the Big 12, 51.4 percent for the ACC and 41.4 percent for the Big Ten).

The parity in the Pac-12 has been especially prevalent this season, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, the highest-ranked team in the preseason was No. 11 Oregon, which is No. 13 now. Only three Pac-12 teams are ranked, but seven received votes this week.

In other words: The Pac-12 is exactly what we thought it would be. It has depth but a dearth of national championship contenders.

In an era in which Playoff debates drown out most other conversations, the conference is inevitably going to face criticism. But college football isn’t solely about winning the national championship. In a system with 130 teams, conference championships matter, too, as does the Rose Bowl — especially for teams in the mix like Arizona State and Utah. In that sense, the Pac-12 has offered us some of the most entertaining football of the season, and its championship race has the potential to be as compelling as any, even if Playoff stakes fade way altogether.

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October 6th 

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Oregonian: A victory without style points is still a victory

From the Oregonian … A couple things …

— It’s beginning to look to me like the Oregon Ducks can ride their defense all the way to the Pac-12 North Championship.

The Ducks beat Cal 17-7 yesterday in Autzen Stadium. For those accustomed to the full-throttle offenses of the Mike Bellotti-Chip Kelly years, it seemed a little underwhelming.

To which I say, the key numbers here are 2-0.

At the time, Oregon’s 21-6 victory over Stanford last month felt underwhelming too. It looks better after the way Stanford ground up Washington last night. Oregon (4-1, 2-0) exits the weekend alone in first place in the division.

The O’s John Canzano was in Eugene and he wasn’t completely sold on what he saw.

I think Canzano’s points about the UO offense are valid. The Ducks aren’t getting NFL-level performances from quarterback Justin Herbert, possibly because the offensive scheme seems to be more about pounding defenses than compiling flashy passing statistics.

It could be when the Ducks play, say, Washington State on Oct. 26 in Autzen, they will need more offense than they displayed last night.

We’ll see what happens then. At the moment, Oregon coach Mario Cristobal is doing what he was hired to do: win games.

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No. 13 Oregon struggles, but defeats Cal, 17-7

From ESPN … When Oregon found itself uncharacteristically scoreless at halftime against California, senior linebacker Troy Dye took it upon himself to deliver a halftime speech.

The No. 13 Ducks went on rally for a 17-7 victory over California on Saturday night.

“Before I could say anything Troy Dye had addressed the team, with words that were powerful, that made it really clear we were not playing up to our standard, what we are capable of and what we must do,” coach Mario Cristobal said.

Oregon (4-1, 1-0 Pac-12) trailed until Cyrus Habibi-Likio’s 1-yard touchdown run with 1:38 left in third quarter made it 10-7. Justin Herbert extended his streak to 33 consecutive games with a touchdown pass, connecting with Jaylon Redd with 7:14 to go in the game.

The Ducks, whose only loss this season came in the opener against Auburn, were held scoreless in the first half by the surprisingly resilient Golden Bears (4-2, 1-2).

“It wasn’t our brand of football,” said Herbert, who was 20 of 33 for 214 yards.

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USC football behind the numbers: Midway to “meh” 

From … There are lies, damn lies . . . and statistics, that old line goes. But get enough statistics over time and those numbers tell you something. And they’re probably not lying.

And when you’re nearly midway through this USC season, they definitely tell you something.

For us, they’re pretty much an exact expression of where USC football is these days. Sure, it’s 3-2 with a Top 10 win over Utah and a Top 40 loss to BYU.

And with one more Top 10 opponent coming up in Notre Dame to conclude USC’s tough first half schedule next Saturday in South Bend, the Trojans pretty much have to win there to have the kind of special season Clay Helton & Co. needed to wipe last season’s 5-7 memory from USC fans’ memory banks.

Because all they have right now is an unranked and unpredictable Trojan team, down at No. 7 this week in the not-all-that-special-at-the-top Pac-12 power rankings.

What we thought we’d do here is build on what our Chris Trevino documents in his weekly “Stat Pack” for the Trojans.

We’re going to go with the numbers from the folks and analyze them, compare them and talk about what they say about where this USC football program is headed. Or where it is.

Which is?

With the longest of long-shot chances to make this season special if it runs the table and wins out beating the Irish and Oregon’s Ducks while hitting the road trifecta at Colorado, Arizona State and Cal for a Pac-12 South title and a spot in the Pac-12 title game it will then be expected to win.

But when you put all the numbers posted thus far, this team sadly, seems like it’s going nowhere — nowhere special that is unless it picks things up considerably.

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7 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes”

  1. Go Buffs. 3 and 3 (1-2). Not good. But what is really not is good is there are only 6 games left in this season. Only 6 unless by the luck of the Buff-God a bowl game is found. Sheesh!!

    Tough break for the Mighty Buffs in the first 6 games. Some playing issues and some coaching issues. One out-talented game (play and coach).

    It is interesting watching some of those top ten teams and wishing “what could be.” Mein Gott, AZ’s Porsche for a qb………….. (I believe they have one coming……………..HCMT says he will play the best even if it is a freshman….Bet on it)

    Go Buffs eh??

    Note: 6 games left………..3 at home……………3 on the road……..tough to see 3 wins……………
    Note 2: 3 is the magic number………………….good things always come in 3’s……. That’s what i heard.
    Note 3: Half the season is done:
    Note 4: Grades
    qb d+
    OL c-
    WR c-
    TE incomplete
    DL b-
    lb c-
    st b+
    cs c—-

    Note 5: Really would like to see the big jump in improvement that we were supposed to have seen by now (injuries okay fine injuries) Been wating 4 years for the qb jump………….not here.

    Note: 6 Lotta hype about how Mickey left the cupboard full for HCMT. Actually not so much. In most cases HCMT had no choices………..Note the freshman playing…………..Note the position switches.

    Note 7: Now I have to throw in here that the over all D is well not good. Now HCMT is supposedly a D-Master and designs the defense so his players can have a chance to win. Gotta tell ya, i am not quite seeing that…………..Really
    Note 8: Gonna throw this out there just for grins……………..How many staff members will be here next year? Asking for ep!!!!!

    Worst note: kornholers are 4 and 2 and have 2 more very winnable games on their schedule. Just makes me sick those lousy fans just suck.

    1. Maybe you can point out when the roster was better in a transition from one coach to the next, since rick to Gary, than from macintyre to tucker. I can’t. Granted, that may not be saying much about the overall roster strength of the last 25 years, but… that is sort of the point, isn’t it?

      Go Buffs

      1. The point is there was a lot of hype about how good Mickey was at recruiting DB”s etc and that the cupboard was full and it was going to be much easier for HCMT. Hmmmm. Don’t see it. Other than a couple of players especially in the WR ranks and at lb and a couple of linemen and some running backs (who recruited them) most are prospects still developing. Note the youngness of the team. HCMT will get them ready.

        Lotta people were on the band wagon of how good this 2 year 5 and 7 team really was. You were. I was not.

        But anyway the good news is Mickey (who snuck out of town with out saying one word) is gone. Praise the lord eh? He left and all is forgiven.


        Even HCMT made comments like that.
        Being kind to the Mickey man.
        That is all.

        1. Oh. So you didn’t address the question of finding any transition since Neuheisel to Barnett that had a better roster than the last guy to this one? Who knew?

          Instead, you point to one position – DB’s – that certainly is hurting. Why are they hurting? What was it, one dismissal, one out for personal reasons, and four leaving? Oh, those four weren’t of the right caliber to keep? Oh. Ok. I thought it was about coaching ’em up? No? Now, are the DB’s the only woes of this defense? Nope. Injuries haven’t helped. And, all is far from lost.

          I just asked you a simple question about the entire roster Tucker inherited vs. any other new coach coming in, since Barnett. You dodged it, and punted.

          Hopefully we don’t see as many punts from Kinney this Saturday.

          Go Buffs.

    2. I’d give the WRs a solid B. OL maybe a B for blocking and a D for stupid penalties, so overall a C, so agree with you there.

  2. Stuart, Speaking of QB’s as in USC’s and CU’s sole QB recruit………what kind of HS season is Brendon Lewis having down in Melissa, TX?

    1. He is having a great season (hopefully not too great, where he gets the attention of too many other schools).
      Against fellow 4A school Paris the other weekend, Lewis had seven touchdowns in a 54-46 win.
      He had over 300 yards passing (with three touchdowns) and over 200 yards rushing (and another four touchdowns).
      If you aren’t on one of the recruiting sites, you can follow @hwy5sports on twitter, and find highlights there.
      You can also find highlights on MaxPreps here.

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