We know what one half of the Pac-12 championship game is going to look like. This week, we'll find out who fills out the South bracket. And in the meantime, we'll get you caught up on what you missed in Week 12 so you won't have to hang your head in shame at the water cooler when everyone is talking about all of the potential plays of the week.
Offensive player of the week: No surprise here. Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. absolutely gutted USC during the Ducks’ 48-28 victory. Adams was 20-of-25 for 407 yards with six touchdowns to one interception. During Oregon’s current five-game winning streak, Adams has 18 touchdowns to four picks.
Defensive player of the week: Adams’ teammate Joe Walker had an equally productive day on the other side of the ball. The linebacker led all Pac-12 players this week with 15 tackles -- a career high – that included a sack and tackle for a loss.
Special teams player of the week: As part of his 389-yard all-purpose effort, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey posted 148 kickoff return yards -- which included a 98-yard touchdown -- in Stanford’s 35-22 win over Cal in the Big Game.
Team of the week: Few teams in the country are hotter than the Ducks. Unfortunately, with Stanford wrapping up the North with its win over Cal, there’s not much that can be done for Oregon on the national stage. But during their aforementioned five-game winning streak, the Ducks have averaged 43.4 points per game, running back Royce Freeman is at a clip of 136 yards per game (including seven straight 100-plus rushing games) and the defense has shown improvement. Over the first six games, the Ducks allowed 38.6 points. Over the last five, that number has dropped to 33.4.
Trend of the week: Last week we were talking about the lack of non-offensive touchdowns in the league. Week 12 bucked that trend. There were non-offensive scores in four of the six games, including three special teams touchdowns and three defensive touchdowns. All three defensive scores came in the Territorial Cup where the Sun Devils had two pick-sixes and the Wildcats had one. Besides the McCaffrey kick return, USC’s Adoree’ Jackson and Washington’s Dante Pettis each had punt returns for scores. That pushes the Pac-12 into a tie with the Sun Belt for most defensive scores this season with 25.
Play of the week: A lot of really, really good contenders. There was McCaffrey’s screen-turned-49-yard touchdown. That Charles Nelson touchdown was pretty amazing. If you watch it frame-by-frame, he actually leaps just before the 2-yard line and carries all the way into the end zone. Trey Griffey’s 95-yard touchdown in a losing effort was dizzying. That Dwayne Stanford touchdown catch, though. And I just have a thing for really instinctive defensive plays. And Cam Denson’s pick-six was brilliantly read. So once again, I’ll leave it to you to decide. (And note, none of the aforementioned special teams touchdowns were mentioned, which goes to show what a ridiculous week this was for outstanding plays).
Theme of the week: It’s all about the South. For the second straight season, the South will come down to the final week, and it will come down to a rivalry game. It doesn’t get any more simple than this: The winner of the USC-UCLA game will win the division and face Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game. The Bruins have won all three games in the rivalry since Jim Mora took over in 2012. And interestingly enough, he’s seen three different USC head coaches. This week will be his fourth in four years. His Bruins have bested Lane Kiffin, topped Ed Orgeron and beat back Steve Sarkisian. Can Clay Helton get the Trojans over the hump? And if he does, is a spot in the Pac-12 title game enough to drop the “interim” from his title?
Random non-football thought of the week: Huge Christmas gift score. Was able to find Ted the adult footie pajamas he’s been begging for since last Christmas.