The Pac-12 released the full 2015 football schedule Tuesday, which begins the third cycle of scheduling among conference teams since the 2011 expansion.
We've known about most of these games for awhile, but it's still fun to scan them all in one place. Chris Petersen's return to Boise State, Arizona State's trip to Houston to play Texas A&M and the state of Oregon against the state of Michigan (on the same day) immediately stand out.
10 notable nonconference games
- Michigan at Utah
- Arizona State vs Texas A&M
- Washington at Boise State
- Oregon at Michigan State
- Oregon State at Michigan
- Washington State at Rutgers
- BYU at UCLA
- California at Texas
- USC at Notre Dame
- Notre Dame at Stanford
Here is the full schedule:
Thursday, Sept. 3
- UTSA at Arizona
- Michigan at Utah
- Arizona State vs Texas A&M, NRG Stadium, Houston
- Arkansas State at USC
- Virginia at UCLA
- Colorado at Hawaii
- Eastern Washington at Oregon
- Weber State at Oregon State
- Washington at Boise State
- Portland State at Washington State
- Grambling State at California
- Stanford at Northwestern
Saturday, Sept. 12
- Arizona at Nevada
- Cal Poly at Arizona State
- Idaho at USC
- UCLA at UNLV
- UMass at Colorado
- Utah State at Utah
- Oregon at Michigan State
- Oregon State at Michigan
- Sacramento State at Washington
- Washington State at Rutgers
- San Diego State at California
- Central Florida at Stanford
Saturday, Sept. 19
- Northern Arizona at Arizona
- New Mexico at Arizona State
- Stanford at USC
- BYU at UCLA
- Colorado vs. Colorado State, Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver
- Utah at Fresno State
- Georgia State at Oregon
- San Jose State at Oregon State
- Utah State at Washington
- Wyoming at Washington State
- California at Texas
Friday, Sept. 25
- Stanford at Oregon State
- UCLA at Arizona
- USC at Arizona State
- Nicholls State at Colorado
- Utah at Oregon
- California at Washington
Saturday, Oct. 3
- Arizona at Stanford
- Arizona State at UCLA
- Oregon at Colorado
- Washington State at California
Thursday, Oct. 8
- Washington at USC
- Oregon State at Arizona
- Colorado at Arizona State
- California at Utah
- Washington State at Oregon
Thursday, Oct. 15
- UCLA at Stanford
- Arizona at Colorado
- Arizona State at Utah
- USC at Notre Dame
- Oregon at Washington
- Oregon State at Washington State
Thursday, Oct. 22
- California at UCLA
- Washington State at Arizona
- Utah at USC
- Colorado at Oregon State
- Washington at Stanford
Thursday, Oct. 29
- Oregon at Arizona State
- Arizona at Washington
- USC at California
- Colorado at UCLA
- Oregon State at Utah
- Stanford at Washington State
Saturday, Nov. 7
- Arizona at USC
- Arizona State at Washington State
- UCLA at Oregon State
- Stanford at Colorado
- Utah at Washington
- California at Oregon
Friday, Nov. 13
- USC at Colorado
- Utah at Arizona
- Washington at Arizona State
- Washington State at UCLA
- Oregon at Stanford
- Oregon State at California
Saturday, Nov. 21
- Arizona at Arizona State
- USC at Oregon
- UCLA at Utah
- Colorado at Washington State
- California at Stanford
- Washington at Oregon State
Friday, Nov. 27
- Oregon State at Oregon
- Washington State at Washington
- Arizona State at California
- UCLA at USC
- Colorado at Utah
- Notre Dame at Stanford
- Pac-12 Championship Game, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
Kelly was injured during Saturday's game at Colorado and left on crutches and wearing a protective boot.
Senior Mike Bercovici will replace Kelly for Arizona State's game against No. 12 UCLA on Sept. 25, but coach Todd Graham has said he will not update his quarterback's status until after that game.
Kelly is a three-year starter at Arizona State and is the school's all-time leader in completion percentage. He has thrown for 625 yards and six touchdowns in the Sun Devils' first three games, all wins.
Hawaii at Colorado
- WR Nelson Spruce has accounted for 39.7 percent of Colorado's receiving yards, the second-highest percentage in the conference.
- The Buffaloes have picked up 43 first downs from pass plays, second most in the Pac-12.
- Colorado is the only team in the Pac-12 that has been outscored this year (minus-25).
- Nine of Utah's 14 touchdown drives have taken two minutes or less.
- Utah scores on 70 percent of drives where it gets the initial first down.
- QB Travis Wilson is one of 10 players in the country with at least six touchdown passes and no interceptions.
- Georgia State, a second-year FBS program, has never beaten a FBS team.
- WR John Ross is averaging 37.3 yards per reception on six catches -- half of which have gone for touchdowns.
- In two games with Cyler Miles at quarterback, Washington has averaged 51.5 points and 500.5 yards per game.
- Cal has lost 14 consecutive Pac-12 games, the second-longest conference losing streak in the country.
- According to VegasInsider.com, Arizona opened as a 17-point favorite, but dropped to as low as nine points Tuesday morning.
- Cal ranks third in the Pac-12, converting on 51.5 percent of its third-down chances.
- Arizona ranks No. 8 nationally and No. 1 in the Pac-12 on offense, averaging 582.7 yards per game.
- Cal ranks No. 1 in the Pac-12 in rush defense (113 yards per game) and Arizona is No. 3 (116.0)
- Oregon State has allowed one more rushing first down (11) than via penalty (10).
- San Diego State quarterback Quinn Kaehler and Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion played against each other in the same high school league.
- Mannion ranks No. 2 among active FBS quarterbacks with 11,064 career passing yards.
- Oregon has scored at least 14 points in a national-best 68 straight games.
- Both teams rank in the top 15 nationally in total offense: 10. Oregon (573.3); 15. WSU (557.0)
- Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota ranks third nationally averaging 11.35 yards per pass attempt.
- Oregon safety Erick Dargan, who chose the Ducks over WSU, leads the nation with three interceptions -- tied with four others.
- WSU teammates Isiah Myers and Vince Mayle are the only teammates that both rank in the top 15 in receptions -- Myers is No. 5 with 26; Mayle is No. 7 with 25.
t1. Connor Halliday, WSU — 12
t13. Sefo Liufau, Colorado — 8
t13. Marcus Mariota, Oregon — 8
t13. Cody Kessler, USC — 8
t13. Anu Solomon, Arizona — 8
4. Mariota, Oregon — 93.3
6. Taylor Kelly, ASU — 92.1
9. Jared Goff, Cal — 90.1
11. Travis Wilson, Utah — 87.5
14. Cyler Miles, Washington — 85.2
3. D.J. Foster, Arizona State — 510
4. Nick Wilson, Arizona — 449
t8. Royce Freeman, Oregon — 5
t8. Foster, ASU — 5
4. Isiah Myers, WSU — 423
10. Nelson Spruce, Colorado — 346
1. Spruce, Colorado — 6
t2. Myers, WSU — 5
Yards from scrimmage
1. Foster, ASU — 649
9. Wilson, Arizona — 470
1. Danny Shelton, Washington — 6
t3. Hau'oli Kikaha, Washington — 5
1. Shaq Thompson, Washington — 2
3. Casey Skowron, Arizona — 7
Pac-12 team stats
Offensive touchdown drive percentage
1. Oregon — 56.8
2. Utah — 50
3. Arizona State — 45.2
4. Cal — 40.7
5. Arizona — 36.8
6. Washington State — 35
7. Washington — 34.2
8. Stanford — 33.3
9. USC — 30
10. Colorado — 25
11. Oregon State — 23.3
12. UCLA — 23.1
Defensive touchdown drive percentage
1. Stanford — 2.8
2. Oregon — 15.8
3. Arizona — 17.9
4. Arizona State — 18.6
5. Cal — 19.2
6. Utah — 19.4
7. UCLA — 20
8. USC — 20.5
9. Oregon State — 20.7
10. Washington State — 24.4
11. Washington — 26.3
12. Colorado — 35
Offensive 3-and-out percentage
1. Arizona — 5.3
2. Stanford — 6.1
3. Colorado — 10
3. Washington State — 10
5. Cal — 14.8
6. UCLA — 15.4
7. Oregon — 16.2
8. Washington — 18.4
t9. Oregon State — 20
t9. USC — 20
t11. Arizona State — 21.4
t11. Utah — 21.4
Defensive 3-and-out percentage
1. Utah — 45.2
2. Stanford — 38.9
3. Arizona — 35.9
4. Washington State — 31.7
5. Oregon State — 27.6
6. Washington — 26.3
7. UCLA — 25
t8. USC — 23.1
t8. Cal — 23.1
10. Arizona State — 20.9
11. Colorado — 20
12. Oregon — 15.8
That includes every Oregon player and coach, every Ducks fan, every bettor, every single person who has found himself/herself rooting for this quiet Heisman contender. For a few seconds, until Mariota got to his feet with his teammates, stomachs were churning.
As exciting as the play was and as happy as fans were to see another six points added to the scoreboard, all of it seemed minuscule when compared to one detail: Is Marcus OK?
It’s no secret: Oregon’s playoff hopes rest on Mariota’s shoulders ... even when they’re closer to the ground than his feet. And though the Ducks preach the mantra of every school, everywhere -- “backups need to come in and play like a starter” -- Oregon’s postseason dreams will be nonexistent if Mariota is sidelined due to injury. And fans need to look no further than last season to know that is a fact.
Many would like to enclose Mariota in bubble wrap, keeping him safe until they “need” him to make those kinds of plays later on down the road. They want his helmet to wear a helmet and for his Nike jersey to somehow deploy airbags when it senses possible injury within five yards.
But that’s not going to happen, though Phil Knight might be phoning in an idea to Nike manufacturers now.
But Mariota knows one fact: You don’t tiptoe the line toward a national title. It’s not exactly a game that welcomes those who bring fruit baskets and tap politely on the door asking to enter. No, it’s a game for the risk takers and those willing to lay it all on the line, which Mariota, if it wasn't evident before that dive, is certainly willing to do.
Especially this season, with no prior knowledge as to how exactly the committee will choose the four teams or which factors they will give the most weight, teams and players can’t leave anything to chance.
So, would Mariota make that flip again?
Yes. He would. Because he’s not playing it safe and no one should want that. If Oregon wins the title, no one will say it’s because Mariota played it safe until it “really mattered.” Because with this new playoff, no one knows exactly which detail matters. Thus, everything matters.
And so, Mariota throws caution to the wind and his body toward the end zone. And as nervous as it might make fans, coaches and teammates -- wide receiver Keanon Lowe said, “I hope he never does that again. Ever.” -- it’s how the Ducks need to play this season if they want to be in that group of four at the end of the season.
Mariota knows how to get there. Now, everyone needs to just trust his lead.
He has an innate playmaking ability that you just can’t coach. So coach Mark Helfrich certainly isn’t going to un-coach it.
“You can’t sit there and say, ‘Hey, don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t do this,’” Helfrich said. “The way that he plays, the dynamic nature of his play, how he likes to improvise -- that’s one of our biggest strengths.”
“I’ll just let my instincts take over,” Mariota added. “It’s tough as a football player to kind of stop yourself from doing something.”
And so, one of Oregon’s biggest strengths will also be one of its fans’ biggest fears moving forward. Every time Mariota leaves the pocket or throws his body in harm’s way, every time he dives or hurdles, fans everywhere are going to hold their breath until they see their Flyin’ Hawaiian get back on his feet.
It’s the way Mariota wants to win the national title this season. And as much as a national title might mean to Fan X or Fan Y, it means more to Mariota.
He’s a smart player. Any risk he takes is one that’s going to be calculated. And, if he does get injured, then it will happen because it was a risk that he believed was worth it.
Isn’t that the kind of player you’d want to lead your team? Those are usually the kinds of players who are standing on the top of the podium or in the winner’s circle.
“You can’t squelch somebody’s gifts and the stuff that he does,” Helfrich said. “We can’t, we won’t ever approach offense with any kind of handcuffed mentality.”
What does that mean? Well, it means a lot more stomach-churning moments as Oregon fans wait for Mariota to climb from the bottom of the pile or stand and walk without a limp. It means some hesitance as folks let Mariota fly free. It means letting the player make the plays that he believes in.
Because at the end of the day, he’s driving this machine. And no one buys a Maserati to go 30 mph.
Certainly not Oregon.
No worries. We’ve got you covered. Each week, we will provide you a top-five ranking of the Pac-12 QBs.
Now, it won’t always be a 1 to 5 ranking according to the expected pecking order at season’s end or NFL draft lists. It will react heavily to the preceding week. And we’ll try to spread some love.
Honorable mention: Jerry Neuheisel, UCLA; Taylor Kelly, ASU: Neuheisel was a great story this week -- in fact, the story this week -- after stepping in for an injured Brett Hundley and leading UCLA to a win against Texas. His game-winning touchdown pass with three minutes to go won’t soon be forgotten, and the Pac-12 Player of the Week honor was justified. If he’s forced back into action again, he’ll be considered in future weeks. Kelly was his usual self against Colorado -- completing 13 of 21 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns -- before exiting with an injury.
Inactive Week 2: Jared Goff, Cal; Sean Mannion, Oregon State; Travis Wilson, Utah
To see last week’s rankings, click here.
The early weeks of the high school and college football seasons slow things down a bit when it comes to Pac-12 recruiting. Only a handful of official visitors made their way to Pac-12 campuses, while a junior college commitment to Arizona was the first addition to the conference in nearly two weeks. But there were still interesting developments at a number of conference schools as Stanford hosted a huge visitor, UCLA made an important statement, and Colorado looked ahead to the 2016 class.
Around that time, Kyle Whittingham and the Utah Utes were wrapping up their final season as a Mountain West team. Utah, just two years removed from a 13-0 season and No. 2 BCS ranking, was regarded as one of the top non-AQ teams in the country and was headed to the newly-branded Pac-12.
Since leaving their old league in their wake, things haven't exactly gone according to script for these former A-list Mountain West coaches. And when their teams meet Saturday at The Big House, it's possible the outcome could alter the trajectories of their respective careers.
Hoke enjoyed an 11-2 record and a Sugar Bowl victory in his first year with the Wolverines but has seen declining returns after an 8-5 record in 2012 and a 7-6 mark last year. He sits on one of the hottest coaching seats in America.
Meanwhile, Whittingham and the Utes have struggled to adapt to Pac-12 football. The Utes are just 9-18 in conference play since joining the league (a vicious strain of yearly quarterback injuries doesn't go unnoticed) and have failed to reach a bowl game in consecutive seasons. Whittingham's seat isn't as hot as Hoke's, but if the Utes fail to make the postseason for a third straight year, it will be.
"No coach I know of pays any attention to external chatter," Whittingham said. "We're so focused on what we're doing. That's how you have to be. That's how you have to operate. You can't be distracted."
A victory Saturday puts the Utes at 3-0 heading into conference play and gives them a quality road win over a nationally-relevant opponent. A loss sends a signal that the Utes still aren't ready for Power 5 football.
A Michigan win won't make or break Hoke's career. But a loss could re-ignite an already agitated fan base still smarting from a 31-0 loss to Notre Dame in Week 2.
"They all count as one win," Whittingham said. "If the Michigan game counted as two wins, it would be a lot more important. It's not a conference game, so it obviously doesn't impact what happens in our league. But every game is critical and we're not going to approach this one any differently."
Exactly what you'd expect Whittingham to say. However, after beating up on FCS teams, BYU and Mountain West teams the last three years in nonconference play, this is Utah's biggest non-league test since joining the Pac-12. And it's outside the state of Utah, where the Utes have only won once in the last two seasons.
There really isn't a common denominator for why both coaches have struggled in their new surroundings. Hoke went to an already established Power 5 team, rich in success and tradition. Whittingham was shepherding an entire program into a significantly tougher conference.
Still, Hoke inherited a Rich Rodriguez team that was built for the spread and an odd-front defense. His first three years have been spent trying to install a pro-style attack and an even-front defense.
Both coaches concede the obvious -- that the weekly grind in the Power 5 is significantly harder. In the Mountain West, Utah's season usually came down to one big game against TCU. This year they face a four-game stretch of USC, at ASU, Oregon and at Stanford -- four teams currently ranked in the AP top 20.
"Everyone in the Pac-12 has to deal with that, so it's not unique to us," Whittingham said. "It's a big difference from what we experienced at the non-Power 5 level ... The recruiting is better. It's all about players. Coaches are way overrated. It's all about players and personnel. The personnel in the Pac-12 is markedly better than the personnel in the Mountain West across the board."
In their two Mountain West meetings, Whittingham's Utes beat Hoke's Aztecs both times. But given the coaching and personnel changes, those game films are moot. And while Whittingham is trying to bring his team to the next level, Hoke is scrambling to hold on to the position he called his "dream job" a year before he even had it.
"You have to be comfortable with who you are and who you are representing and I think we've got great leadership on this team," Hoke said of the outside noise calling for his ouster. "... We understand how we need to compete every Saturday and go about our business."
For both coaches, Saturday might be just as much about staying in business.
Portland State and Hawaii aren’t exactly the ’85 Bears. But it’s progress. And the Beavers have thus far done it with the split role of Terron Ward and Storm Woods -- which by the way is a great name for a law firm: Ward, Woods & Associates.
Ward has carried 25 times for 162 yards (6.5 average) and two scores. Woods has carried 26 times for 160 yards (6.2 average) with a long of 50, but no touchdowns. He does, however, have one through the air.
As the Beavers face stiffer competition, the emphasis on the ground game will continue to be a vital part of what they want to do on offense. That said, injuries on the offensive line still have to be taken into account. The Beavers were hopeful in the preseason that they might get Isaac Seumalo back this week against San Diego State, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. And Roman Sapolu started in place of Garrett Weinreich at left guard against Hawaii. Weinreich hasn’t practiced during the bye week, so his status for SDSU is questionable.
In two games, San Diego State has only allowed two rushing touchdowns and they rank in the top 50 nationally in rush defense. They gave up a 21-7 second-half lead on the road against North Carolina, before falling 31-27, and cruised in their opener against Northern Arizona.
Keep in mind, too, that the Beavers needed three scores and a pick-six in the fourth quarter to erase a 27-14 deficit last year against the Aztecs in San Diego.
The Aztecs, who are also coming off a bye week, have matured into a pretty good Mountain West team. Should be a good test for the Beavers before conference play ramps up with a trip to USC on Sept. 27.
For the folks out there who were on the fence about whether Todd Graham was really committed to Arizona State, he's given you half a million reasons to get off it.
During a news conference on Monday, it was announced that the Graham family and the family of athletic director Ray Anderson would each pledge $500,000 toward the school's fundraising effort to "reinvent" Sun Devil Stadium. Graham came to Arizona State with a reputation for hopping programs -- especially after a quick departure from Pittsburgh. This move seems to solidify his place in Tempe.
It really wasn’t about that. Obviously this is something that makes a big statement about what our commitment is, as we surely wouldn’t make this kind of commitment if we had anything else in mind.
Sun Devil Stadium will undergo three phases of renovations over the next three offseasons, with construction slated to be complete in 2017. You can watch the complete news conference here.
That's the good news for ASU.
The bad news is that the quarterback Taylor Kelly will miss next week's South Division showdown against UCLA. Several outlets reported the news Sunday night and the Pac-12 blog confirmed from an ASU source Monday. Mike Bercovici told Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic that he's ready for the challenge.
We told you last week if you haven't seen The Eliminator yet, you really should. As of right now, only Washington State and Colorado have been flagged as "eliminated" from the College Football Playoff. Arizona, ASU, Oregon and UCLA are listed as "still in contention" with the rest of the league "on the fence."
But before we get to the playoff, someone has to win their division first. Ted Miller hit on the South on Monday, which is a mess.
- Arizona looks set at QB for the next, say, two or three years. But just in case, they got a commit from a transfer.
- Some more on the ASU donations.
- Handing out "grades" for California's bye week.
- Colorado's offensive line is starting to show some consistency.
- An Oregon practice report.
- Chris Brown is hoping to get a shot in crowded OSU backfield.
- Some Stanford grades from the Army game.
- Josh Rosen can't wait to get started for the Bruins.
- USC's report card for the BC game. It's not good.
- Nate Orchard growing into a leader in many ways.
- Some Cyler Miles quotes from Washington's Monday news conference.
- Some video of Mike Leach's Monday news conference.
If you only watch one video today of a Pac-12 mascot playing charades with Ashley Adamson, make it this one:
Here's a quick look at who each school has waiting in the wings:
Arizona: Jesse Scroggins, senior
The Wildcats’ depth chart lists Scroggins or Jerrard Randall or Connor Brewer as the backups to freshman Anu Solomon, but Scroggins in the only of the three to attempt a pass this season. He started his career at USC, where he redshirted in 2010 before appearing in one game off the bench in 2011, when he took the final snap of a game against Washington and did not attempt a pass. His only other collegiate action came in 2012 at El Camino College, where he threw for 1,148 yards in eight games.
Career stats: 1 for 2, 9 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
As a recruit: Four stars; No. 2-ranked QB; No. 55 player overall; Class of 2010
Arizona State: Mike Bercovici, junior
There was a time when Bercovici was looked at more favorably than Taylor Kelly, but that perception is not but a faded memory, as Kelly won the job in 2012 and asserted himself as a top QB. Bercovici has a reputation for having a strong arm and a quick release. We'll find out.
Career stats: 14 for 24, 112 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
As a recruit: Two stars; No. 80-ranked QB; No. 142 player in California; Class of 2011
California: Luke Rubenzer, true freshman
Rubenzer, who quickly asserted himself as an important part of the Cal offense, has been one of the surprises of this season. As a change-of-pace running quarterback, the Cal coaching staff determined he was too important to redshirt. He's run for 82 yards on 17 carries and a score. He appears capable as a thrower as well.
Career stats: 5 of 9, 103 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
As a recruit: Three stars; No. 43-ranked dual-threat QB; No. 28 player in Arizona; Class of 2014
Colorado: Jordan Gehrke, sophomore
Gehrke remains mostly an unknown after transferring from Scottsdale Community College in Arizona before the 2013 season. While Sefo Lifau is the unquestioned starter, reports out of Boulder indicated that Gehrke did a good job pushing Liufau throughout fall camp. He completing 174 of 366 passes for 2,388 yards and 22 touchdown with 14 interceptions for SCC.
Career stats: 4 for 8, 35 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
As a recruit: Two stars; No. 121-ranked QB; no reported offers in high school; Class of 2012
Oregon: Jeff Lockie, sophomore
Lockie split the non-Mariota game reps with Jake Rodrigues last season, but it became clear this spring that Lockie was the preferred backup moving forward, which led to Rodrigues' decision to transfer. Lockie wasn't a high-profile recruit, but was the MVP of one of Northern California's most competitive high school leagues during his senior year at Monte Vista High.
Career stats: 25 for 33, 242 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
As a recruit: Two stars; No. 105-ranked QB; No. 145 player in California; Class of 2012
Oregon State: Brent VanderVeen, sophomore
VanderVeen emerged from a three-way competition for the backup job, beating out Alabama transfer Luke Del Rio in the process. He's the only backup in the conference that has yet to throw a pass in his career.
Career stats: No pass attempts
As a recruit: Two stars; No. 144-ranked QB; No. 193 player in California; Class of 2012
Stanford: Evan Crower, junior
Before the season began, Stanford coach David Shaw spoke candidly about Crower's future, offering the possibility that Kevin Hogan's backup could transfer after getting his degree in order to play somewhere else next season. Shaw said Crower is "ready to play," so wouldn't fault him for heading elsewhere. Vanderbilt?
Career stats: 18 for 28, 236 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
As a recruit: Three stars; No. 38-ranked QB; No. 58 player in California; Class of 2011
UCLA: Jerry Neuheisel, sophomore
In his first meaningful playing time, Neuheisel stepped up to the challenge, completing 23 of 30 passes for 178 yards and two scores against Texas on Saturday. He's not going to make anyone forget about Brett Hundley, but it was a good enough performance for UCLA fans [and coaches] to feel good about the backup situation.
Career stats: 34 for 43, 302 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
As a recruit: One star; No. 156-ranked QB; No. 233 player in California; Class of 2011
USC: Max Browne, freshman
Without question, Browne is the most high-profile No. 2 quarterback in the conference, arriving at USC as one of the most sought-after recruits in the country. He's still green, having only appeared in one game, but if Cody Kessler were to go down there would certainly be a lot of interest in how Browne performs.
Career stats: 3 for 4, 30 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
As a recruit: Four stars, No. 2-ranked QB; No. 20 player overall; Class of 2013
Utah: Kendal Thompson, junior
Thompson transferred from Oklahoma with hopes to earn the starting job, but Travis Wilson held on to it after a competition throughout fall camp. In two games off the bench so far, Thompson has shown to be an effective weapon. He's completed 10 of 17 passes for 156 yards and ran for 78 yards on 15 carries.
Career stats: 14 for 30, 220 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
As a recruit: Three stars; No. 22-ranked QB; Class of 2011
Washington: Jeff Lindquist, sophomore
The only backup to start a game in the Pac-12 this year, Lindquist played with mixed results against Hawaii in the season-opener. He has the physical skills to be a good starter, but still needs to develop.
Career stats: 10 for 26, 162 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
As a recruit: Four stars; No. 17-ranked QB; No. 3 player in Washington; Class of 2012
Washington State: Luke Falk, freshman
When highly-regarded prospect Tyler Bruggman announced he was transferring immediately cast Falk in a different light. Bruggman saw the writing on the wall: Falk had the leg-up in the backup competition and instead of staying and competing, he opted to try his luck elsewhere. Falk arrived at WSU as a recruited walk-on, but was given a scholarship before the season. He threw an 84-yard touchdown on his second career pass attempt on Saturday.
Career stats: 2 for 2, 86 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
As a recruit: Walked on at WSU after originally committing to Cornell; two stars from Rivals.com
With 52 percent of the vote, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota's diving touchdown was named this week's Pac-12 Blog Play of the Week.
It was certainly a play that made more than a few Duck fans nervous as he launched himself headfirst over five players and soared, upside-down, toward the end zone. But, he bounced up and Mariota gave a Heisman-highlight reel play in a game in which those kinds of plays typically don't happen.
As with every week, we're going to reach out to readers to get some of your reactions as well as some reactions from our team of Pac-12 writers.
Kyle Bonagura: By the time Marcus Mariota gets to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony later this year, most the country will have forgotten Oregon even played Wyoming this season. If that makes you sad for some strange, illogical reason, don't worry because Mariota's Chip-Kelly-Dive-Into-The-Pool impression against the Cowboys is a lock to be featured prominently in his Heisman highlight reel.
It was also one of those plays that can play with the collective emotions of a fan base, which I can imagine went something like this:
"Go, go, go ... he's in! ... Wait, is he in? ... Wait, never mind, is he OK? Get up. ... Yeah, he's ok ... Are we sure he got in? ... [watches replay] Oh, he is definitely in, what a play! ... SHOW IT TO ME AGAIN!”
Kevin Gemmell: The best part about that play was that it didn't have to happen. I get that the Ducks were only ahead 13-7 at the time. But come on, was Oregon really in any danger of losing that game? Of course not. But Mariota doesn't care. He could have stepped out of bounds at the 3.5-yard line instead of going all Evel Knievel. I'll wager dollars to donuts the Ducks would have scored a touchdown one or two plays later. But Mariota was laser focused on delivering a knockout blow. He plays with one speed. And it's pretty fun to watch a guy with no off switch.
Chantel Jennings: The move itself was a bit McKayla Maroney-esque, launching himself up and over a pile of teammates and players, before twisting, turning and landing on his rear end. The feel in the stadium the entire time was "OMG!" but it swayed from a "Oh my gosh, that's so awesome" to "Oh my gosh, is he OK? IS HE OK? SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME HE'S OK!" to a "OK, sweet, he's OK, great. Good score. Wooooo." The only thing Maroney did better was the unimpressed face. Now, if someone can get Mariota to do that, that would certainly win the day.
The best of Twitter:
@ESPN_Pac12blog Go, go, go! He's gonna score! He's in...HOLY CRAP, BE CAREFUL, MARIOTA.— Peter Mertens (@psMertens) September 15, 2014
Dear Marcus, please don't fall on your head.— Cora (@Cora_Bee) September 13, 2014
@ESPN_Pac12blog the sort of play where Gurley stops polishing his Heisman case, swears under his breath, and goes to hit the weight room— Ryder Cochrane (@RyderCochrane) September 15, 2014
Neuheisel’s selection comes after the sophomore replaced starter Brett Hundley in the first quarter when the Heisman candidate went down with an elbow injury. Neuheisel completed 23 of 30 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns without an interception, but the memorable moment came with three minutes left. That is when Neuheisel hooked up with Jordan Payton for a 33-yard touchdown to put UCLA up 20-17, which proved to be the game-winner. He was carried off the field by teammates.
Thompson returned a fumble and an interception for touchdowns in Washington’s 44-19 win against Illinois -- yes, he scored as many touchdowns as the Illini. No one else in the country has two defensive touchdowns this season.
Adams was honored based on his 45-yard fourth-quarter punt return that set up Neuheisel’s game-winning touchdown pass. He totaled 62 yards on three punt returns.
Offense: Arizona RB Nick Wilson; Arizona State RB D.J. Foster; Oregon RB Byron Marshall; Stanford WR Devon Cajuste; Washington State WR Isiah Myers
Defense: Arizona LB Scooby Wright; Arizona State LB Jordan Simone; Oregon S Erick Dargan; Stanford LB Blake Martinez; UCLA DL Eddie Vanderdoes; Washington State LB Cyrus Coen.
The plot certainly thickened in the Pac-12's South Division on Saturday, but not necessarily in a good way.
A week after posting a gritty upset at Stanford, USC was humiliated at Boston College, while UCLA cobbled together a win over Texas behind scrappy, ebullient backup QB Jerry Neuheisel. Neuheisel's services were required because Heisman Trophy candidate Brett Hundley was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with an elbow injury. His status remains uncertain, though there was reasonable hope based on initial reports that his injury wasn't serious.
The UCLA-Arizona State game was one we eyeballed in the preseason as a major measuring stick in the battle for the South. A significant part of the appeal was the quarterback battle. That hasn't changed, only now the intrigue is whether it will be Neuheisel for UCLA and Mike Bercovici for Arizona State. A week ago, that quarterback news would have heavily favored the Sun Devils. While Bercovici isn't the runner Kelly is, he's got one of the best arms in the conference and is well-versed in the Sun Devils offense. He is expected to win the starting job as a fifth-year senior next fall. Neuheisel was widely viewed as a career backup with a well-known father -- former UCLA QB and coach Rick Neuheisel -- but his second-half performance against the Longhorns suggested he can be more than a rudimentary game manager.
Both teams have an off week, when they can either get healthy or retool their plans. The stakes continue to be high, perhaps more so after USC threw up on itself with a wet-noodle performance at Boston College. While a nonconference game doesn't affect the Trojans' Pac-12 standing, it certainly made them look extremely vulnerable heading into a much-needed bye week. Other than USC fans, the most miserable folks watching that game surely root for Stanford, which probably can't believe it lost to the Trojans just a week before.
What this implosion and these injuries reveal in a wider sense is vulnerability in the South. In the preseason, UCLA looked like a decisive South favorite. Then USC made a statement with a win over the Cardinal. Arizona State was lurking with a great offense and a questionable defense. At this point, however, none of these three teams is scaring anyone. And don't look now, but Arizona and Utah remain unbeaten and have shown flashes that suggest they might be factors in a divisional race that previously seemed limited to the aforementioned troika.
The Wildcats play host to California on Saturday. Lo and behold, the Bears also are unbeaten, and this game suddenly possesses some potential meaning it didn't seem to have in the preseason. If Cal gets the upset, it can fully erase last season's misery and start thinking bowl game. If Arizona gets the win, it will be 4-0 and eyeballing the Top 25 with a visit to No. 2 Oregon looming on Thursday, Oct. 2.
Arizona appears suspect on defense, but the offense, with impressive redshirt freshman QB Anu Solomon, a good O-line, deep corps of receivers and breakout freshman running back Nick Wilson, will make the Wildcats a threat to any foe.
Utah visits Michigan on Saturday. While the Wolverines don't look like they'll be hailing in much victory this season, a Utes win would certainly raise more than a few eyebrows. While Utah's trouble hasn't been in nonconference games since joining the Pac-12, a 3-0 start would hint they are not a South afterthought, particularly if the offense continues to shine with QB Travis Wilson.
While Oregon's win over Michigan State coupled with Stanford's loss to USC only boosted the Ducks' status as North Division favorites, the South intrigue has seemingly spiderwebbed since the beginning of the season. The race appears more wide open and complicated. UCLA's visit to Arizona State remains a major measuring stick, but it's just as likely either team would sacrifice that game -- as horrible as that sounds -- to know it will get its starting quarterback back healthy for the rest of the season.
Crank up the Beach Boys, baby;
Don't let the music stop;
We're gonna ride it till we just can't ride it no more.
Yes, that would be "I Love LA." The Bruins and the Trojans were headliners this weekend for two very different reasons.
The Bruins lost their All-America candidate quarterback, Brett Hundley, to an elbow injury. But became the feel-good story of the weekend with Jerry Neuheisel leading a come-from-behind charge in the win over Texas.
The Trojans, however, stumbled on the road against Boston College for their first loss of the season.
Here are some reactions to those games:
- In case you missed it, here's Ted Miller's take on the game and a very cool reaction video from Rick Neuheisel watching his son in action.
- Five things we learned about the Bruins.
- Eric Prisbell of USA Today gives his thoughts from Arlington.
- Gary Klein talks about USC's psychological letdown against BC. Ironically, Klein also wrote a story the day before asking Steve Sarkisian if he was worried about a letdown.
- After a couple good weeks for the USC freshmen, mistakes cost the Trojans in Week 3.
- The trenches faltered for the Trojans.
Finally, Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News offers up some thoughts and reactions from around the league in his weekend wrap.
Rank and file
As a result of USC's loss, the Trojans tumbled out of the top 10 in the AP poll and their "stock is down," per USA Today. Meanwhile, on the strength of its blowout win over Wyoming, the Ducks picked up another first-place vote in the AP poll and are locked into that No. 2 spot. Talking with a couple of voters on Sunday, they told the Pac-12 blog that USC's saving grace -- for now -- was that they still have a road win over an AP top 15 team (Stanford) and that their loss to BC came on the road. That was enough to keep them in the top 20. But another showing like the one they had Saturday will boot them out of the rankings.
Here's where things stand for the Pac-12 teams, with the AP rank first and the coaches poll second:
Arizona State 15-13
- Good grades for the offense, average grades for the defense in this Arizona report card.
- What does Taylor Kelly's injury mean to ASU?
- Cal's odds against Arizona are dropping (in a good way).
- The Colorado defense is encouraged by its effort against ASU.
- Pat Forde projects Oregon as the top seed in the playoff.
- A Q&A with OSU's receivers coach.
- Recapping Stanford's win over Army.
- Don't expect updates anytime soon on Brett Hundley's status.
- Five things we learned about USC in the loss.
- Travis Wilson's comeback is off to a good start.
- Shaq Thompson is his own toughest critic.
- Some thoughts on WSU's first win of the year.
Aren't we past Labor Day?
As noted last week, I'm a sucker for great sports photography.
2:00 PM ET Hawaii Colorado 3:30 PM ET Utah Michigan 6:00 PM ET Georgia State Washington 10:00 PM ET California Arizona 10:30 PM ET 2 Oregon Washington State 10:30 PM ET San Diego State Oregon State