Saturday, November 23, 2013
Week 13 Pac-12 primer
By Ted Miller
With a win over Utah on Saturday, Connor Halliday and Washington State would become bowl-eligible and put themselves in position for the program's first bowl berth since 2003.
Here's a quick look at Week 13 in the conference. All times are ET. All games are Saturday.
Utah (4-6, 1-6) at Washington State (5-5, 3-4), 3:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network: Utah leads the series with Washington State 7-5 and is 4-1 in Pullman, including an overtime victory the last time they met in the Palouse in 2011. Utah has a 2-0 series lead since joining the Pac-12, including a 49-6 win last season. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson is out for the season after suffering a concussion against Arizona State on Nov. 9. It marks the fourth straight season that Utah has lost its starting quarterback to injury. The Utes have not had the same quarterback start and complete a season since Brian Johnson led the Utes to a 13-0 record in 2008. Sophomore Adam Schulz, a former walk-on, will get his second start this week. Behind Schulz is true freshmanConner Manning. Washington State needs one victory over its final two games to become bowl eligible. The Utes need to win their final two. The Cougars rank last in the nation in rushing with just 57.0 yards per game, eight fewer than the next worst team. Utah is tied for the second-toughest schedule in the country with Tennessee. The combined FBS record of Utah's 10 opponents to date is 55-21 (.724). Utah leads the nation in total sacks (36) and sacks per game (3.60). Despite no running game and 577 pass attempts, second most in the Pac-12, the Cougars have yielded only 22 sacks.
No. 5 Oregon (9-1, 6-1) at Arizona (6-4, 3-4), 3:30 p.m., ESPN2: Oregon leads the series 24-14. The Ducks have won five in a row and 12 out of the last 14, including a 49-0 win last year in Eugene. The Wildcats' last win in the series -- 34-24 in 2007 -- was meaningful, however. The Ducks entered that game ranked No. 2 with QB Dennis Dixon the leading Heisman Trophy candidate, but Dixon blew out his knee in the first quarter, and the Ducks wilted. Oregon has scored at least 40 points in 9 of 10 games this season (all except Stanford). Arizona RB Ka'Deem Carey ranks second in the nation in rushing with 150.3 yards per game. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota has a passing TD in 23 straight games, tied for third-longest active streak in FBS. Oregon is second in the nation in total offense (580.2 yards per game) and third in scoring offense (50.9 points per game). The Ducks are eighth in the nation in scoring defense, giving up 18.2 points per game.
California (1-10, 0-9) at No. 9 Stanford (8-2, 6-2), 4 p.m., Fox Sports 1: Stanford leads the Big Game rivalry 53-44-10 and has won three in a row, including a 21-3 victory last year in Berkeley. Stanford ranks 18th in the nation in scoring defense, giving up 19.5 points per game. California ranks 121st in scoring defense, yielding 44.4 points per game. The Bears are last in the Pac-12 in both pass efficiency defense and passing efficiency. Stanford is second in the Pac-12 in sacks with 32. Cal is last in the Pac-12 having yielded 33 sacks. Stanford RB Tyler Gaffney is 12th in the nation with 120.1 yards rushing per game. Stanford OLB Trent Murphy is making a strong case for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. He leads the conference in both sacks (12) and tackles for a loss (18). Cal is looking to avoid a winless league record for the first time since 2001, and just the second time since 1964.
No. 17 Arizona State (8-2, 6-1) at No. 14 UCLA (8-2, 6-2), 7 p.m., FOX: UCLA leads the series 18-10-1, and has won three of the last four against the Sun Devils, including the last two matchups in Pasadena. The Bruins won 45-43 in Tempe last year, with UCLA kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn kicking a game-winning, 33-yard field goal as time expired. The Sun Devils played that game without starting DT Will Sutton. This season's matchup serves as a miniature Pac-12 South championship battle, considering an ASU victory would lock up the Pac-12 South and seal a spot in the Pac-12 Championship game. The Bruins need to win their two remaining games (Arizona State this week and at USC next week) in order to take the division and play in the Pac-12 championship game. ASU has reached six Pac-10/12 wins for just the fourth time in 36 seasons since it joined the league in 1978. It was 8-0 in 1996. 6-2 in 1997 and 7-2 in 2007. The Bruins have never lost to a Pac-12 South team under Jim Mora (8-0). ASU is one of only five teams in the nation to rank in the top 20 in both total offense and total defense this season, alongside Florida State, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Baylor. Arizona State S Robert Nelson has an interception in four of the last five games and has five in that span overall, with two against Oregon State. That is the most for the Sun Devils since Troy Nolan had six in 2007.
No. 23 USC (8-3, 5-2) at Colorado (4-6, 1-6), 10:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network: USC leads the series 7-0 and has outscored the Buffaloes 230-47 in those games, which includes three wins in Boulder. The Trojans beat the Buffs 50-6 last year. In that game, Trojans QB Matt Barkley threw a USC single game record-tying six touchdown passes, including a school record-tying five in the first half, to become the Pac-12's career TD pass record holder (102, breaking Matt Leinart's mark of 99). He completed 95.0 percent of his passes (19-of-20, with a drop on the incompletion) to set the Pac-12 game mark for highest completion percentage (minimum 20 attempts), just 0.8 percent shy of the NCAA record. Colorado WR Paul Richardson is fourth in the country with 120.1 yards receiving per game. USC QB Cody Kessler has completed 75 percent of his passes over the past three games. USC RB Javorius Allen has seven TDs in the last three games. Colorado ranks 114th in the nation in scoring defense, yielding 38.8 points per game. It also is last in the Pac-12 in run defense, yielding 210 yards per game on the ground. USC's defense is ranked in the nation's top 25 in total defense, rushing defense, scoring defense, pass efficiency defense, sacks, tackles for loss, interceptions, red zone defense and third down conversion defense. That Trojans defense only used two subs in the 20-17 upset of Stanford. The Buffs need to win their final two games to become bowl eligible.
Washington (6-4, 3-4) at Oregon State (6-4, 3-4), 10:30 p.m., ESPN2: Washington leads the series 59-34-4, having won 17 of the last 25 meetings and 27 of the last 36 dating back to 1975. Last season, Washington handed a 6-0 Oregon State squad its first loss in a 20-17 victory at CenturyLink Field. They have split their last four meetings. Washington QB Keith Price is doubtful after injuring his shoulder against UCLA. If he can't go, redshirt freshman Cyler Miles will make his first career start. Price won't attempt to throw until Thursday. Oregon State ranks second in the nation in passing with 396.3 yards per game. The Huskies rank 16th in the nation in pass efficiency defense. Washington RB Bishop Sankey enters the week as the nation's No. 4 rusher with 139.6 yards per game. He also ranks No. 6 in the nation in rushing touchdowns with 14, and his 32 career rushing TDs are third in UW history, just three shy of Napoleon Kaufman's record. Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks leads the nation in receptions (100) and receiving yards (1,443) and is second in touchdown receptions (14). Junior quarterback Sean Mannion leads the nation with 3,860 yards passing and 33 touchdown passes.