- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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Some notes to get you through the hours until Saturday. Many thanks to ESPN Stats & Information.
The Duel in the Desert. Arizona has won three of the last four meetings, but Arizona State has won four of the last six meetings played in Tucson. Expect a close game, too, as four of the last five meetings have been decided by four points or less.
Arizona RB Ka'Deem Carey leads the nation in rushing at 144.1 rush YPG. In his last two games Carey has rushed for 570 yards and six TD. Only one player in Arizona history has ever led the nation in rushing -- Art Luppino (1954 and 1955). Carey also needs just 18 yards to set the single-season school record for rushing (Trung Candidate -- 1,602 yards in 1999).
Arizona State leads the nation in sacks (47) and is second in tackles for loss (98).
A win would give Arizona State its first season with at least seven victories since 2007 (10-3).
First-year Arizona State head coach Todd Graham was a co-defensive coordinator at West Virginia under Rich Rodriguez in 2001 and 2002.
Notre Dame is No. 1 in both the BCS standings and AP poll and trying to avoid doing something that’s only happened once before. The AP No. 1 team has fallen in each of the last two weeks. Only once in history has AP No. 1 lost on three consecutive regular-season weekends. That came in 1960 when Iowa lost at No. 3 Minnesota 27-10. The Gophers then turned around and lost 23-14 at home to Purdue. Lastly, Missouri, coached by future Notre Dame head coach Dan Devine, lost 23-7 to Kansas.
This is the 21st time that Notre Dame enters the USC game undefeated in a series that began in 1926. USC has ended a Notre Dame undefeated season six times before, the last coming in 1980. But in each of the last three times it’s happened, Notre Dame came away with the win (1993, 1989, 1988). The only other time Notre Dame entered this game unbeaten with double-digit wins was in 1988. The Irish would claim the national championship that year.
Is there any precedent for an unranked USC team knocking off a highly-ranked Notre Dame team? There sure is. Even for an unranked USC beating No. 1 Notre Dame. That happened in 1964, denying Notre Dame a national championship in coach Ara Parseghian’s first year. Notre Dame’s loss gave the national championship that year to ... Alabama.
Notre Dame beat USC in 2010, its last road game at USC. But other than that the Trojans have dominated the Irish lately. USC has won nine of the last 10 meetings and seven of those nine wins have come by double digits.
With a 7-4 record and in danger of picking up a fifth loss, USC is in range of some poor markers for a team that was preseason No. 1 in the AP poll. USC isn’t ranked in this week’s AP poll. The last preseason No. 1 to finish unranked in the final AP poll was Ole Miss in 1964. Back then, the poll only ranked 10 teams so all Ole Miss had to do was fall out of the top 10.
The last time both teams were ranked in the AP poll for the Civil War was 2009, when Oregon State was No. 13 and Oregon was No. 7. The Ducks won in Eugene 37-33. This year will be the fourth time since 2000 that both teams are ranked for the Civil War; Oregon is 2-1 in those games.
The Civil War has been all Oregon lately. Oregon has won four straight and those wins came by an average of 19.0 points. A win would give Oregon a five-game win streak in the series, the second-longest Oregon win streak in the history of this rivalry. These teams have played each other 115 times with the first meeting in 1894.
Oregon might lose once, but twice in a row? Not lately. The Ducks are 4-0 within a season following a loss under Chip Kelly, 7-0 since the start of the 2008 season and 8-0 dating back to the 2007 Sun Bowl. The last time Oregon lost back-to-back games came in 2007 when it lost three straight late in the season.
Oregon averages more points in the first half than 87 FBS teams average in a game. Entering the Stanford game, the Ducks’ average halftime lead was 25.8 points, and they had never trailed after the first quarter. Against Stanford, Oregon scored a season-low seven points and gained 231 yards in the first 30 minutes of play.
Kenjon Barner’s Heisman Trophy hopes took a big hit the last two weeks when he was held under 70 rushing yards in both games. The task doesn’t get much easier this week. Oregon State is second in the Pac-12 in rushing defense behind Stanford, the team that bottled up Barner last week.
Stanford has won the last three meetings, its longest win streak in the series since a five-game stretch from 1925-31. Two years ago in Pasadena, the Cardinal walloped UCLA 35-0.
After a stunning upset of Oregon last week, Stanford must again go on the road against a ranked opponent. Could this game be a preview of things to come? If Stanford wins (or if Oregon loses), these two will meet again on Friday, Nov. 30, for the Pac-12 championship. If UCLA beats Stanford this week and Oregon beats Oregon State, the Ducks will play UCLA in the title game. If both Stanford and Oregon lose, Stanford wins the Pac-12 North based on its head-to-head wins over Oregon and Oregon State. The site of the title game is also up for grabs this week.
Stanford slowed down Oregon’s potent offense last week, holding the Ducks to a “mere” 405 total yards (158 below its season average) and allowed them to score just 14 points (Oregon’s fewest since a 19-8 loss in the 2009 season opener to Boise State). Now the Cardinal face a UCLA team that has averaged 48.3 PPG in its last four games (all wins).
Stanford’s stout rushing defense will be put to the test again this week. The Cardinal are second in the nation in stopping the run, allowing fewer than 72 yards per game on the ground. Meanwhile, UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin is fifth nationally, averaging 131.0 YPG on the ground. Franklin torched USC for 171 yards and two touchdowns last week and the UCLA offensive line dominated.
Jim Mora has already won nine games in his first year as UCLA head coach and could notch a 10th win in this one. He’s the first UCLA head coach to win as many as nine games in his first year since UCLA coaching legend Terry Donahue in 1976, who went 9-2-1. No UCLA coach has ever won 10 games in his first season.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has been hot during UCLA’s current five-game win streak. Over that stretch, Hundley is completing 75.2 percent of his passes (97-129) with 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He has 249 completions this season, a new UCLA single-season record. With three games remaining, UCLA has its sights set on breaking the school record for most wins in a season (10, done several times -- most recently in 2005). But the Bruins are trying to win 10 games in the regular season for just the third time in school history.
Franklin has been at his best in three games against AP Top 25 opponents. In those games, Franklin is averaging 183.3 yards per game and has gained almost half of his yards after contact. Against unranked opponents, Franklin is averaging 111.4 yards per game and has gained just over a third of his yards after contact.
This is the 105th edition of the Apple Cup. Washington has won the last three meetings in the series by an average of 18 points per game.
The series has been extremely close lately when Washington State has been the home team. The last five games in Pullman have been decided by seven points or less and the winning team has won by a combined 19 points.
Washington has won seven games in a season for the third straight year. The Huskies haven’t had an eight-win season since 2001.
Washington State is winless in Pac-12 play. With a loss, the Cougars would be winless in conference play for the second time in four seasons (2009). Over the last five seasons, Washington State is 4-40 in Pac-12 games.
Washington State leads the Pac-12 and is 10th nationally in passing, averaging more than 328 yards per game through the air.
Colorado leads the series with Utah 31-24-3, including a 17-14 upset victory in 2011, which prevented the Utes from winning the Pac-12 South Division title.
Both teams have had disappointing seasons. Utah won't play in a bowl game for the first time since 2002. And Colorado has posted probably the worst season in school history.