Pac-12 by the numbers: Week 9

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
6:30
PM PT
Here's another look at random stats pertaining to the Pac-12.

Friday

No. 6 Oregon vs. California at Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California
  • Oregon has scored 79 points off turnovers, most in the conference.
  • Oregon has gained 61.9 percent of the possible yards on offense, most in the conference.
  • Cal leads the nation in touchdowns in conference games (26).
  • Oregon true freshman RB Royce Freeman has scored 12 touchdowns, most in the conference.
  • Cal QB Jared Goff ranks No. 2 in the Pac-12 with an 80.8 QBR, which ranks No. 6 nationally.
Saturday

No. 25 UCLA at Colorado

  • Colorado is second in the Pac-12 averaging 49.3 pass attempts per game, but allows a conference-low 1.71 sacks per game.
  • The Bruins have had 13 drives of 80 yards or more, the most in the Pac-12.
  • UCLA picks up at least one first down on 82.4 percent of its drive, second-most in the Pac-12 behind Arizona.
  • Colorado has gone for it on fourth down 22 times, the most in the Pac-12.
  • In goal-to-go situations, both UCLA and Colorado have both scored touchdowns on 11 of 13 attempts with two made field goals.
Oregon State at Stanford

  • Stanford is tops in the conference in yard margin per game in Pac-12 play, averaging 113 more yards than its opponents.
  • Stanford has committed four turnovers in the red zone-- six teams in the conference have committed none.
  • Oregon State averages the most seconds of possession per play in the conference (28.3), but is followed closely by Stanford (28.0).
  • Oregon State scores on 37.2 percent of its drives, while Stanford is at 31.4 -- two of the three lowest rates in the Pac-12.
  • Stanford did not lose to Oregon State during its school-record 72-week streak in the AP Top 25 that was snapped this week. The Cardinal's last loss to Oregon State came in 2009, when it was unranked.
No. 15 Arizona at Washington State

  • Opposing defenses have committed 17 penalties against Arizona, the most against any Pac-12 team.
  • Arizona averages the fewest seconds of possession per play in the Pac-12 (20.1).
  • Arizona RB Nick Wilson owns the Pac-12's longest rush of the season -- an 85-yard touchdown run against UTSA. Only two other players have a carry longer than 57 yards yards.
  • Three WSU receivers – Vince Mayle, River Cracraft and Dom Williams – have a reception of 84 yards or longer. Of the rest of the conference, only Arizona (Cayleb Jones and Austin Hill) has more than one.
  • WSU punts on just 29.5 percent of its drives, the third-lowest percentage in the Pac-12.
No. 20 USC at No. 19 Utah
  • Utah averages 4.83 drives per game without a first down, the most in the Pac-12. USC averages 3.86, the second most.
  • Utah RB Devontae Booker averages 187.7 yards rushing in conference games, the second most among Power 5 running backs behind Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon (217) ... and USC's Buck Allen is far behind. He ranks No. 6 (149).
  • USC QB Cody Kessler is among the most accurate quarterbacks in the country. His completion percentage (69.5) ranks No. 5 and his interception percentage (0.4) is No. 3.
  • Utah (5.18) and USC (5.36) rank No. 2 and No. 3 respectively in yards per play allowed in Pac-12 play.
No. 14 Arizona State at Washington
  • Washington has turned the ball over on just 3.4 percent of its possessions, the lowest rate in the Pac-12.
  • Arizona State is one of five teams in the country averaging over 320 yards passing and over 190 yards rushing on offense.
  • Arizona State’s defense has committed 11 penalties that resulted in first downs, second fewest in the country.
  • ASU averages 6.74 yards per play, which ranks second in the Pac-12 and 15th nationally.
  • Washington averages 181.4 passing yards per game, the fewest in the Pac-12.
Past weeks

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8

USC notebook

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
2:29
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With No. 20 USC (5-2 overall, 4-1 Pac-12) set to face No. 19 Utah (5-1 overall, 2-1) in Salt Lake City this Saturday in a crucial matchup in the Pac-12 South Division race, Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian said that his team came out for Tuesday's full-pads practice session focused right from the get-go.

"I thought the guys came out with a good intention to work to improve, to really soak in the game plan, which is what Tuesdays are about -- really getting the meat and potatoes of the game plan installed, working through the kinks of it, and then getting it cleaned up in our meetings this evening and getting back on the field tomorrow for practice," Sarkisian said. "I think these guys understand the value of this game and what it means in conference standings, which is important to know."

At the top of Sarkisian's list of concerns is an attacking Utah defense that ranks No. 1 nationally in both sacks (5.5 per game) and tackles for loss (10.2 per game). Led up front by defensive end Nate Orchard, the Utes figure to provide quite a test for USC's improving, but still young offensive line.

"Utah plays a specific style that, in my opinion, is unique to them," Sarkisian said. "They've had great defensive linemen over the years in Star Lotulelei, and the Krugers and all of those different guys. Now it's kind of Nate Orchard's turn to be the lead guy for them. So, the best way to prepare for them is we have to go out and execute at a high level. We have to understand what we're going up against and the physicality that it's going to take for us to play with, and then we need to be creative with our play calls to make sure that we're taking care of our offensive line and putting them in positive positions to be successful."

Kessler hears from USC passing greats

USC quarterback Cody Kessler said that since throwing for a school single-game record seven touchdown passes this past weekend, he's received a steady flow of congratulatory messages, including from some notable USC signal-callers of the past in Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley.

"It's kind of cool because there's such a long tradition here," Kessler said. "The guys that I got to watch before me, to kind of hear from them and for them to reach out on different types of social media is a really cool feeling."

Kessler said that it was the message from Barkley -- whose record Kessler broke on Saturday -- that made the biggest impression.

"I think the most meaningful one was from Matt Barkley, just because it was his record, and he was like my big brother when he was here," Kessler said. "A lot of the stuff I learned here is from him. He taught me how to play the game here, and how to handle everything, and how to be off the field as well. And to be able to do that, and hear from him after on social media and then get a text was a really cool feeling."

Injury update
  • After heading to the sideline early against Colorado, freshman cornerback/wide receiver Adoree' Jackson (hip flexor) took part in the entirety of practice on Tuesday. "He came out of the game not as bad as maybe we first initially thought, and he's done a good job with his rehab, and he was able to get back on the field and really do quality work, so we're anticipating him good-to-go for Saturday,” Sarkisian said.
  • Wide receivers Ajene Harris (hamstring) and George Farmer (hamstring), who both were sidelined this past Saturday, also participated in the entire practice session.
  • Linebacker Hayes Pullard (knee) and safety Gerald Bowman (foot) suited up but were extremely limited. Sarkisian said that he is "relatively confident" that both will be ready by the end of the week.
  • Fullback Soma Vainuku (hamstring) suited up but was also limited. Linebacker Lamar Dawson (knee) remained limited as well.
  • Andre Heidari kicked field goals along with Alex Wood during the special teams period. Heidari has missed the last two games due to a groin injury.
News and notes
  • With a loud and spirited crowd potentially expected to be on hand in Rice-Eccles Stadium this Saturday, Sarkisian had crowd noise piped in during the Trojans' practice.
  • With Pullard limited in practice, sophomore Michael Hutchings took his place with the No. 1 defense at MIKE linebacker.
  • John Plattenburg and Leon McQuay III were the two starting safeties with Bowman sidelined during 11-on-11 periods.
  • During the field goal period, Heidari connected on 3-of-3 field goal attempts, including a 47 yarder. Wood went 2-for-3, with his miss coming on a 47-yard attempt.
  • Freshman wide receiver JuJu Smith blocked a punt during a special teams period.
  • There was a large number of NFL scouts in attendance on Tuesday, including those from the Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • Sarkisian said that the team will wear the new metallic-tinted helmets again this Saturday when they face Utah.

WeAreSC roundtable: Biggest test at Utah?

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
10:38
AM PT
1. Was the Colorado win the breakout game the USC offense was looking for?

Garry Paskwietz: It was definitely the most dynamic game of the season, and I think a lot of USC fans -- and coach Steve Sarkisian -- would describe that dynamic element as the biggest missing piece of the offense to this point so by that standard you can say it was a breakout kind of game. You had Cody Kessler with his school-record seven touchdowns, you had a pair of running backs around the 100-yard mark and a pair of receivers who broke the 100-yard mark. That's a pretty good offensive night no matter who the opponent.

Johnny Curren: I think Colorado certainly was the breakout game that the USC offense was looking for. After all, just about everything clicked for Sarkisian & Co. Kessler threw for a school-record seven touchdowns, and both Buck Allen and Justin Davis shined on the ground. Still, it's important to take into account the fact it all happened against a Colorado defensive unit that has struggled throughout much of 2014. Because of that, I'm more interested to see if the USC offense can continue to find success against Utah this weekend, as well as through the rest of the schedule. If the offense does continue to perform at a high level, however, I think that everyone will point to the Colorado game as the moment when everything first came together.

Greg Katz: Yes, in terms of showing against a weak defense that the Trojans' offense can be balanced and the passing game can be vertical. We'll find out this Saturday night at Utah if the balanced offense the Trojans showcased on homecoming will be the same we see in Salt Lake City. A word of caution: The opener against Fresno State, with all its offensive fireworks, was an anomaly to a certain extent to what the rest of the season has been prior to playing Colorado.

2. What will be the biggest test on the road this week against Utah?

Garry Paskwietz: Keeping pressure off Kessler. The Trojans' young offensive line has shown growth in the run game lately, now they will get a test against a formidable pass rush that comes early and often. Sarkisian said the Utes' M.O. is to get after the quarterback, and with a nation-leading 5.5 sacks per game, it's pretty obvious that they do it well.

Johnny Curren: I think that the Trojans' biggest test will come up front on offense, as the USC offensive line is set to go up against an extremely talented Utah front seven that has the Utes currently ranking No. 1 nationally in both sacks (5.5 per game) and tackles for loss (10.2 per game). There's no denying the fact that Tim Drevno's young group has made tremendous strides as of late, but they're going to need to come up with their best performance yet in this one.

Greg Katz: To be able to match and sustain the physical aspect that Utah will bring on both offense (rushing) and defense (QB sacking). The Trojans showed at Arizona that they can survive in a major hostile environment. Utah could be the toughest test of the season thus far.

3. Will Allen end up in New York as a Heisman finalist this year?

Garry Paskwietz: To paraphrase a line from "Dumb and Dumber," I'm saying there's a chance. There is a pretty good group at the top of the Heisman pecking order that Buck would need to crack but if he can maintain his per game average, he would end the season with roughly 1,600 rushing yards and that would be a hard candidate to keep away from the Big Apple. There is certainly a long way to go before that can happen and a lot that would need to fall in the right direction but Buck has done his part to give himself a chance.

Johnny Curren: I do think Allen will end up as a Heisman finalist this year, primarily because he just seems to keep getting better and better. He's running with so much confidence right now, and he's so talented not only as a rusher, but also as a receiver. I think that his final numbers at the end of the regular season are going to be really impressive. Of course, one thing that will certainly play a part is what kind of record the Trojans have when it's all said and done. If they keep winning, he's going to start getting a lot more media attention. If they don't, his accomplishments risk getting buried.

Greg Katz: It all depends how he plays against UCLA and more importantly Notre Dame. Ask me today and I say, "No." Buck is having a wonderful season and will be rewarded come NFL draft time. However, he has not been given the preseason publicity push needed to be in the mix.

QB Travis Wilson to start for Utes

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
10:18
AM PT
video

After a one-week hiatus, Travis Wilson will be back at starting quarterback as No. 19 Utah hosts No. 20 USC in a critical Pac-12 South showdown Saturday.

Kendal Thompson, a transfer from Oklahoma, replaced Wilson in Utah's win at UCLA on Oct. 4.

During the subsequent bye week, coach Kyle Whittingham opened up the competition and kept his decision quiet before Utah's trip to Oregon State last Thursday. Thompson got the start, but he struggled in the first half and was replaced by Wilson for the second half.

Neither quarterback performed particularly well in the Utes' 29-23 double-overtime win over the Beavers. Thompson was just 4-of-8 for 17 yards and an interception. Wilson was 5-of-10 for 45 yards. Neither quarterback threw a touchdown.

This time around, Whittingham wasn't waiting to name his guy.

"We think Travis' performance is a little bit better so far this season than Kendal overall," Whittingham said. "When you look at the numbers, it's very close. It's no different than when we came out of fall camp, with it being a tight race."

On the season, Wilson is completing 56.8 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. Thompson is completing 59.6 percent of his throws with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Each has run for one score.

Whittingham didn't rule out the possibility that Thompson could see action against the Trojans.


(Read full post)


video

Recruiting reporter Erik McKinney breaks down the top weekend storylines from the Pac-12.
video

The drama over LenDale White's comments after USC's game is just another strange occurrence in long list of bizarre things to happen to USC this season.

Week 8 Pac-12 QB Power Rankings

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
12:00
PM PT
Cody KesslerKirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsCody Kessler set a USC single-game record with his seven passing touchdowns against Colorado.


The Pac-12 is loaded with talent at quarterback this season to the point where it seems like the conference is a hoarder and really good QBs are in abundance. But this is the way we like it. And the other conferences can keep hoarding whatever they like as long as the signal-callers stay west.

Every week we'll provide you with a power ranking of the conference's top quarterbacks, heavily considering the QB's most recent game.

Drumroll please...

Inactive Week 8: Arizona's Anu Solomon and Washington State's Connor Halliday.

For Week 7's rankings, click here.

Pac-12 morning links

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
8:00
AM PT
The exodus is here, the happy ones are near;
Let's get together before we get much older.

Leading off

The Eliminator blew through the Pac-12 this week with brimstone and hell-fire, slashing its way through a quarter of the league. You can now add Stanford, Oregon State and Washington to the teams officially out of a contention for a spot in the first-ever College Football Playoff. After holding on by their roots, paws and teeth, the Cardinal, Huskies and Beavers all suffered losses that the Eliminator deems too significant to recover from. Her justice is swift, if not fair. Here's some thoughts on the Huskies:
Losing 11 consecutive games to Oregon is pretty bad, but losing in the manner in which they lost to the Ducks was even worse. Oregon dominated in every facet of the game, and Washington proved that Chris Petersen's first season in the Power 5 is not going to be like his first season at Boise State.

So who is left? Arizona and Oregon are the two Pac-12 teams still listed as "In Contention" while Arizona State, UCLA, USC and Utah continue to dangle "On the Fence."

Cardinal seeing red

As noted above, things haven't gone swimmingly for the two-time defending conference champions. Athlon Sports took a look at some of the issues facing the Cardinal. And if you're looking on the offensive side of the ball, there are more than a few. They key in specifically on the offensive line:
The most likely reason Stanford’s offense has been struggling this season may be due to the fact the Cardinal had to start an almost entirely new offensive line this season. Stanford lost four starters up front, as well as a starting tight end from 2013. Good teams tend to have experience and depth on the offensive line, and that does not appear to be the case for Stanford this season and it is showing. Stanford has allowed 15 sacks this season, which ranks 73rd nationally.

Also from Athlon, a look at some crazy Pac-12 stats, and why the Utes must be taken seriously in the South.

News/notes/practice reports
Just for fun (the pucker-up edition)

By now, you've probably seen "The Kiss", a moment of celebratory passion between ASU quarterback Mike Bercovici and his girlfriend, who also happens to be an ASU cheerleader.



Here's a little story on the lip-locking moment. The Pac-12 blog isn't quite ready to place it among history's best kisses ... like this one ... this one ... or this one. But it ain't bad. However, you must remember this ...

Gurley, Allen headline top 10 RBs

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
4:46
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Over the past few weeks, ESPN Insider has featured the top 10 wide receivers and top 10 quarterbacks in college football.

This third part of the series will review the top 10 running backs in college football. The depth of quality candidates at this position is higher than it has been in a few years, so the competition was quite spirited. The list includes strong representation from the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 and varies from speedy breakaway threats to explosive power runners.

Here are the top 10 running backs in college football:

(Note: Unless otherwise noted, all metrics below are from games against Power 5 opponents.)

A slight sense of normalcy returned to the Pac-12 this past weekend, but fear not -- it's still plenty weird out West. Home teams actually posted a winning record (3-2) this past weekend, improving their season season mark to a still-dismal 7-16.

Stanford, the two-time defending champion, is staggering, so Oregon has established a grip on the Pac-12 North. Meanwhile, let's not pretend we have a bead on the minefield that is the Pac-12 South. Four teams are tied at the top in the loss column, and a fifth -- preseason favorite UCLA -- hovers right behind them with two losses. It's a mess of epic proportions.

With USC visiting Utah this weekend, we will see some moving and shaking in the South. Let the horse race continue around the second bend. Here is Week 9:

The delicious appetizer: Oregon vs. Cal (at Levi's Stadium)

A couple weeks ago, Cal enjoyed its time in sole possession of the Pac-12 North lead, but that stay was as short-lived as most expected it to be. Though Jared Goff has emerged as one of the league's elite passers (9.1 yards per attempt, 24 touchdowns, four interceptions), the Bears are hindered by a defense that struggles to tackle in critical situations. That was the story of their 36-34 loss to UCLA, even though a trio of Bruins' turnovers kept that game close. It's also bad news entering a matchup with an Oregon team that is beginning to fire on all cylinders. The Ducks blasted Washington 45-20 behind four touchdowns from true freshman Royce Freeman. He is a six-foot, 230-pound tank -- exactly the type of player who can turn the Bears into falling dominoes.

Goff will need to deliver an epic performance in his duel with Marcus Mariota. Combined numbers for these two: 43 touchdowns, four picks.

Game with the biggest College Football Playoff implications: USC at Utah

Salt Lake City hosts a de facto College Football Playoff elimination game. The Arizona State-Washington battle in Seattle might have shared this designation had the Huskies found a way to get it done at Autzen Stadium, but they were run out of the building. So USC (5-2 overall) and Utah (5-1 overall) square off in the Pac-12's marquee Week 9 game. This one is fun on many levels: The Utes are coming into their own as a rugged defense (allowing 4.7 yards per play), while the Trojans are brimming with offensive confidence following their 56-28 win against Colorado, during which Cody Kessler threw a touchdown pass on 27 percent of his attempts (his seven touchdowns broke Matt Barkley's school record).

This game also features the Pac-12's two most productive running backs: USC's Buck Allen (130 yards per game) and Utah's Devontae Booker (124 yards per game). Buckle up, Rice-Eccles Stadium will be shaking.

The proving grounds game/redemption opportunity: Oregon State at Stanford

Week 8 was bitterly disappointing for these teams. The Beavers lost 29-23 at home in double overtime to a Utah team that managed only 62 passing yards, and Stanford managed less offensive production against Arizona State than Weber State, New Mexico, and Colorado. Talk about a reversal of fortune: The Cardinal's 26-10 loss to the Sun Devils came on the very same field where they dominated offensively and won the Pac-12 championship last season. Judging by margin of victory, that was their worst setback since falling 53-30 to Oregon in 2011.

Unless Stanford figures it out offensively, points will likely be scarce in this game. The Cardinal's defense still leads the nation allowing only 3.8 yards per play, and it has proven to be a rough matchup for the Beavers' offense. Meanwhile, Oregon State's defense has been surprisingly efficient, surrendering 4.9 yards per play (third in the Pac-12), so it's unclear if 13.5 is the spread or the over/under in this one.

Opposing directions bowl: Arizona State at Washington

The Sun Devils delivered a fantastic all-around performance in their 26-10 pounding of Stanford, and the Huskies were on the receiving end of a 45-20 whipping in Eugene. So both clubs are trending in opposite directions here, but they are still a combined 10-3. Washington is desperate to right the ship at home, where its havoc-wreaking defense (nation-best five touchdowns) thrives. Meanwhile, Arizona State has another chance to solidify legitimacy after two straight energizing wins. A week after facing Stanford's anemic attack, the Sun Devils face a Washington offense that is ranked dead last in the Pac-12. That is medicine for a once-struggling ASU defense.

Where great offensive minds meet: Arizona at Washington State

Time to change gears: With Rich Rodriguez and Mike Leach squaring off, there should be no shortage of total offense on the Palouse. The Cougars are desperate; they need to win four of their last five just to make a bowl game. Connor Halliday is already on pace to shatter the FBS single season-passing yards record, and Anu Solomon brings less gaudy numbers but a better 5-1 record into this game. Both teams are coming off bye weeks, so both offensive game plans should be beyond polished Saturday afternoon.

The afterthought: UCLA at Colorado

The Bruins overcame severe sloppiness in their 36-34 win at Cal, and Colorado never had a chance in the 56-28 loss at the Coliseum. At 0-4 in conference play, the Buffs are desperate, and it's tough to spot a win on their remaining schedule. The Bruins must iron out their galling turnover issue (quarterback Brett Hundley has been responsible for eight giveaways -- opponents have scored touchdowns off seven of them) and frequent trouble with defensive breakdowns. Folsom Field might be a good place to start that process, because a home showdown with Arizona waits UCLA after this one.

USC notebook 

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
12:00
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LOS ANGELES -- The World Series commences Tuesday in Kansas City, but the USC Trojans held a little batting practice of their own Saturday afternoon by “homering” all over the Coliseum against hapless Colorado in a very un-baseball-like score of 56-28.

The No. 20 Trojans (5-2, 4-1 Pac-12) should have their swings down, both offensively and defensive, as they come to the Pac-12 South Division plate for a gridiron confrontation with the No. 19 Utah Utes (5-1, 2-1 Pac 12) in Salt Lake City on Saturday night.

If you thought that surviving Arizona in Tucson was a turning point in the season for the Trojans, it just goes to show you that in the Pac-12 South Division every game seems to be a turning point.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Week 8 was great. As always, here are your choices for the Pac-12 Blog's Play of the Week. All were impressive, but which was head and shoulders above the rest?

1. Why use two hands when you only need one?

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With Cal trailing by three, and the Bears with their second attempt at the endzone from the 7-yard line, Cal junior receiver Chris Harper caught a one-handed touchdown pass over UCLA defensive back Ishmael Adams (who's not new to the Play of the Week vote, but usually isn't the one being beat in the play). It was a nice throw from quarterback Luke Rubenzer, but Harper displayed great athleticism in going up for that ball, controlling it and bringing it down with his right hand.

2. Oregon's own [Dwayne] Stanford problem

SportsNation

Who had this week's Pac-12 Play of the Week?

  •  
    15%
  •  
    34%
  •  
    15%
  •  
    22%
  •  
    14%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,304)

Oregon sophomore receiver Dwayne Stanford elevated over both Kevin King and Sidney Jones to come down with his first touchdown against an FBS opponent in his career. It was a perfect ball from quarterback Marcus Mariota and Stanford's leap, catch and spin for the score -- which gave the Ducks a 35-6 lead -- certainly deserves a spot in this week's vote. Stanford's catch was even bigger for the Ducks as Mariota begins to look for new weapons in the receiving game with Bralon Addison still out and Keanon Lowe, his most experienced receiver who returned this season, having sat out the last two games. Stanford finished the day with five catches for 55 yards, including this little 16-yard beaut.

3. No. 7 for No. 6

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USC quarterback Cody Kessler tied the Pac-12's and stole the USC school record for touchdown passes thrown in a game … seven. Yes, this coming from a quarterback who often gets put on the backburner because there are just so many guys to talk about in this conference. Though all seven touchdown passes were impressive, we're going with his record-breaking toss for many reasons:
  • He displayed plenty of calm in the pocket while Colorado had a pretty solid pass rush going on.
  • The throw itself was put in the perfect spot so only his receiver could get it.
  • Steven Mitchell's diving catch for it was just the cherry on top.
4. Book it for Booker

Running back Devontae Booker had a huge night on Thursday for the Utes. With not much happening in the air, he got it done on the ground for Utah, rushing 32 times for 229 yards and three touchdowns. But the vote this week is for his 19-yard rushing touchdown in the second overtime to seal the win for Utah. The play itself might not have featured as many ankle breakings as others this weekend, but to thrive under that kind of pressure and get a road win in the Pac-12 (which seems pretty common these days, I know) is good enough to get on the vote. Booker -- who flew under the radar coming into this season -- is now second in the conference in rushing yards per game (123.7) and third in all-purpose yards (146.2).

5. An Oregon Grand [Byron] Marshall

Technically, Byron Marshall is a wide receiver now for the Oregon Ducks. But don't tell that to the ankles he broke on Saturday as he rushed in a 23-yard touchdown. Though it was a receiving touchdown, it was his performance after the catch that gets him on this vote. His change of speed and direction got two Husky defenders to look silly before he bulldozed his way into the endzone through three more Washington players (and an Oregon player, too). On the day, Marshall accounted for five carries for 30 yards and five catches for 48 yards.

Trojans recruiting notebook

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
8:30
AM PT
Class of 2015 USC commit Christian Rector was in action this past Friday night in a Mission League matchup between his Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola team and Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany. Though Rector provided the Cubs with some solid play up front from his defensive end spot, compiling five tackles and two sacks, the Cubs ultimately fell to the Warriors -- who were led by fellow Trojans commit Desean Holmes -- in a 24-23 heartbreaker.

The defeat dropped Loyola to 4-3 overall, and 0-3 in league play, but Rector is still keeping a positive outlook when it comes to the remainder of the season.

"We still have three more games left," Rector said. "It’s a tough league, but I still think that we’re one of the better teams. We still have a great chance to make the playoffs. We can go 3-0. We just need to take one game at a time."

[+] EnlargeChristian Rector
Johnny Curren/ESPN.comAt 6-foot-4, 231 pounds, 2015 recruit Christian Rector is expected to play rush end for the Trojans.
As far as his long-term future goes, Rector pledged to the Trojans back in early August, and following his game on Friday it was apparent that he still feels just as strongly about his commitment today as he did back when he made it.

"I’m locked in on SC," Rector said, "100 percent."

A strong athlete with 6-foot-4, 231-pound size, Rector is expected to line up at the rush end position for the Trojans.

"I’ll be rushing 50 percent of the time, dropping into coverage 50 percent of the time," Rector said.

Rector has been a regular at USC home games this fall, and he is encouraged by what he has seen, particularly from Chris Wilson's defensive line.

"I like what I see a lot," Rector said. "They’re very active and enthusiastic. They’re able to not only stop the run game, but also be very active in the pass rush."

Excited about his future, Rector plans to step up his recruitment of some other prospects on the Trojans' radar in the coming months, and he believes USC head coach Steve Sarkisian and staff are going to put together a class to remember.

"I’m going to try to talk to Rasheem Green at Serra, and start talking to other guys," Rector said. "I think we can be the No. 1 recruiting class. I think we can do big things at USC when we get there."

Rector plans on taking his official visit to USC in January.

News and notes
  • Clovis (Calif.) North defensive lineman and USC commit Jacob Daniel went to the sideline during the first half of his team’s matchup with Clovis (Calif.) East on Friday with a knee injury, and he did not return. The ESPN 300 standout was playing in just his second game of the season after going down midway through the 2013 schedule with an ACL injury. He is scheduled to see a doctor on Monday to find out the extent of the new injury.
  • The Trojans extended offers to two Class of 2016 stars from Gardena (Calif.) Serra this past Friday -- C.J. Pollard and Brandon Burton. Pollard, whose father Marvin played for the Trojans, is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound safety who has had an outstanding junior season for the Cavaliers. Burton was originally offered by the Trojans as a wideout under Lane Kiffin, but Sarkisian and Co. have re-offered him as a safety -- where he has been spending most of his time this fall.
  • ESPN Junior 300 linebacker Daelin Hayes (Detroit, Mich./Cass Tech) pledged to the Trojans back in July, but that hasn’t stopped a number of other programs from coming after him. LSU, Arizona State and Boston College have all extended offers in recent days, pushing his total to 17. He remains committed to USC.
Visitors this past weekend

A list of some of some of the prospects who were in attendance at the Coliseum this past Saturday to see USC take on Colorado.

Class of 2015
QB Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) -- USC commit
OL Clayton Johnston (Anaheim, Calif./Servite) -- USC commit
ATH Ykili Ross (Riverside, Calif./Poly)
QB Caleb Wilson (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
RB Malik Roberson (Gardena, Calif./Serra)

Class of 2016
S C.J. Pollard (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
LB Lokeni Toailoa (Rialto, Calif./Carter)
DB Leni Toailoa (Rialto, Calif./Carter)
ATH D.J. Morgan (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco)
DB Troy Dye (Norco, Calif./Norco)
WR Michael Pittman (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian)

A look at the stats some recruits recorded in their games this past weekend

Class of 2015
Aca'Cedric Ware (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill) -- USC commit: Rushed for 154 yards and one touchdown on seven carries in a 42-7 victory against Grand Prairie (Texas).

WR Desean Holmes (Mission Hills, Calif./Bishop Alemany) -- USC commit: Had three receptions for 34 yards in the victory over Loyola.

LB Cameron Smith (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay) -- USC commit: had 12 tackles and one interception that he returned 67 yards for a touchdown in a 38-0 victory against Grass Valley (Calif.) Nevada Union.

CB Taeon Mason (Pasadena, Calif./Muir) -- USC commit: Caught a 78-yard touchdown pass and had a 41-yard touchdown run in a 56-16 victory against Arcadia (Calif.).

ATH Isaiah Langley (Pleasanton, Calif/Foothill) -- USC commit: Caught two passes for 54 yards and one touchdown in a 21-14 victory against San Ramon (Calif.) California.

WR Cordell Broadus (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman): Caught four passes for 131 yards and three touchdowns in a 70-13 victory against North Las Vegas (Nev.) Legacy.

WR Christian Kirk (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro): Caught five passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-10 victory against Phoenix (Ariz.) Greenway.

WR DaMarkus Lodge (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill): Had four catches for 35 yards and two touchdowns in the victory against Grand Prairie.

LB Osa Masina (Salt Lake City, Utah/Brighton): Masina had a fantastic all-around game in a 78-76 victory against Sandy (Utah) Jordan. He rushed for 69 yards on five carries, and had two receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 13 tackles (7 solo), one sack and one forced fumble.

CB Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif./Poly): Marshall didn’t allow a reception from his cornerback spot, and he also caught six passes for 91 yards and four touchdowns on offense in a 49-7 victory against Lakewood (Calif.).

ATH Porter Gustin (Salem Hills, Utah/Salem Hills): Had 10 tackles, two tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks on defense, and two rushing touchdowns on offense in a 14-6 victory against Spanish Fork (Utah) Maple Mountain.

Class of 2016

QB K.J. Costello (Coto de Caza, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic): Completed 35 of 48 passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed for two touchdowns in the 42-41 victory against Orange (Calif.) Lutheran.

QB Shea Patterson (Shreveport, La./Calvary Baptist Academy): Completed 6 of 8 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns in a 68-6 victory against Campti (La.) Lakeview.

WR Dylan Crawford (La Canada, Calif./St. Francis): Had four receptions for 51 yards and two touchdowns in a 52-41 victory against Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral.

WR Theo Howard (Westlake Village, Calif./Westlake): Had seven catches for 71 yards in a 30-27 victory against Newbury Park (Calif.).

WR Tyler Vaughns (La Puente, Calif./Bishop Amat): Caught five passes for 102 yards and one touchdown in a 52-22 victory against West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade.

LB Lokeni Toailoa (Rialto, Calif./Carter): In a 42-0 victory against Rialto (Calif.) Eisenhower, Toailoa had six tackles, two tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. He also caught one pass for six yards, and rushed for 18 yards and one touchdown on offense.

ATH Mique Juarez (Torrance, Calif./North): Juarez put on a show in a 49-35 loss to West Torrance. On offense he caught four passes for 197 yards and one touchdown, and also rushed for a score. He added an interception on defense.

ATH Byron Murphy (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro): Had three catches for 73 yards and one touchdown in the victory against Greenway.

ATH Trevon Sidney (La Puente, Calif./Bishop Amat): Caught five passes for 56 yards in the victory against Chaminade.

Class of 2017

QB Tate Martell (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman): Completed 6 of 8 passes for 178 yards and four touchdowns, and also picked up 22 yards on the ground in the victory against Legacy.

WR Tyjon Lindsey (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman): Caught three passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns in the victory against Legacy.

ATH Nathan Tilford (Upland, Calif./Upland): Rushed for 40 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries, and caught one pass for 46 yards in a 28-16 victory against Chino Hills (Calif.).

JUCO

WR De’Quan Hampton (Long Beach, Calif./L.B. City College) -- USC commit: Had six receptions for 70 yards and one touchdown in a 40-36 loss to Chaffey College.

Was this finally USC's breakout game? 

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
8:00
AM PT
It must be the helmets.

Attired in their shiny, new, metallic cardinal helmets and flashy chrome facemasks, USC looked like a different football team on Saturday night. Cody Kessler was throwing record-breaking touchdown passes, Nelson Agholor was sprinting free everywhere, JuJu Smith and Bryce Dixon were emerging as exciting complementary components and footballs were sailing into the far reaches of the Coliseum.

So in the aftermath of that 56-28 romp over Colorado, the question must be asked:

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Pac-12 morning links

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
8:00
AM PT
I like it. What's not to like? Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Good.

Leading off

The biggest news is that Stanford dropped out of the rankings after its 72-week run in the top-25. Sorry, Cardinal. But maybe a sweep of the state of Oregon over the next two weekends will get you back in. Kyle Bonagura went a bit deeper on the subject, which you can read here.

Here are the Pac-12 teams in the rankings. As always, the AP rank is first, followed by the coaches poll.
  • Oregon 6-7
  • Arizona State 14-14
  • Arizona 15-15
  • Utah 19-19
  • USC 20-21
  • UCLA 25-NR

Stanford was the only conference team to pick up any votes in the AP poll and in the USA Today coaches' poll. Washington and Stanford both received votes. Check out the complete rankings right here.

Curious how people who cover the conference teams voted? Glad you asked.
And per usual, Heather Dinich gives you a rundown of the playoff picture following last week's football action. She has interesting thoughts on Stanford. Sorry Cardinal, but Dinich says that a three-loss team -- even if it wins the Pac-12 title -- won't make the playoff. Read on here.

Some streaks extended, others stopped right in their tracks

The Oregon Ducks continued their streak over Washington, winning their 11th consecutive game in the series. This kind of dominance in the series reminded The Oregonian's Andrew Greif of the Ducks of yesteryear as it produced a strong run game, solid QB play and, again, a win over the Huskies.
But in their play, a 45-20 victory against the Huskies at Autzen Stadium, the present-day Ducks instead resembled something closer to the grind-'em-up machine of the last decade that brought this program to prominence.

So, the 1994 throwback uniforms made quite a bit of sense, Greif explains. And speaking of those Oregon uniforms, The Huffington Post decided to go through 50 Oregon uniforms that "changed the way we see college football."

And while the Ducks were having usual success in Eugene, the Bruins had unusual success in Berkeley. UCLA hadn't won there since 1998 and it squeaked out a win over the Bears, breaking that streak.

But despite a win, UCLA isn't exactly looking like the top team many expected it to be coming into this season. Everett Cook of The Los Angeles Times writes that -- among a few other things learned in the Bruins' win over the Bears -- that UCLA continues to play down to the level of its competition.

And can we speak of streaks without at least addressing the ongoing Pac-12 road team streak? Utah and UCLA won on the road but USC, Oregon and ASU got work done at home. Does this mean that the magic of the road is gone? Probably not. With some interesting matchups this weekend (Oregon at Cal, UCLA at Colorado, Arizona at Washington State, Arizona State at Washington ... just to name a few), it wouldn't be too surprising to see some road teams walk out of opposing stadiums with a win.

And some shout outs

Let's give props where props deserve to be given. There were quite a few guys who had career days over the weekend in the Pac-12. News/notes/team reports

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