Pac-12: Brandon Gibson

Yards to Glory: 'Apple of Their Eye'

August, 4, 2011
8/04/11
5:30
PM ET
A football field is 100 yards long, and each yard marker has produced immortal memories in college football.

ESPN.com is looking at some of the most famous touchdowns in college football history for each and every yard marker, and Alex Brink's touchdown pass to Brandon Gibson that gave Washington State a 42-25 victory over rival Washington in the 2007 Apple Cup is the choice at 35 yards.

You can check out "Yards to Glory" here.

And here's what I wrote about Brink's pass, which I actually witnessed.

35. Apple Of Their Eye

Washington State takes Apple Cup in last-second fashion

Oct. 24, 2007: Washington State quarterback Alex Brink found Brandon Gibson for a 35-yard TD with 31 seconds left that gave the Cougars a 42-35 victory over rival Washington in the Apple Cup. Brink, who'd also connected with Gibson on a 40-yard scoring strike to tie the game at 35 with 7:30 remaining, threw for an Apple Cup record 399 yards and five TDs and became the first Cougars QB to beat the Huskies three times.

Ranking the Pac-10 receivers

August, 24, 2009
8/24/09
11:38
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

This is the first of our position rankings. On Tuesday, which is Pac-10 day on ESPN.com -- hey, take the day off; it should be a national holiday! -- we will continue with quarterbacks, which is one of our monumental stories for tomorrow's package. Feel free to disagree. This took quiet a while to put together, with lots of shuffling and re-thinking, etc.

USC: Damian Williams and Ronald Johnson are one of the best pairs in the nation. They combined for 17 touchdowns in 2008. There's outstanding depth and athleticism behind them, led by David Ausberry.
Arizona: This is a shaky No. 2 because Delashaun Dean has been hurt almost all of camp, but he and Terrell Turner combined for 86 receptions last year. William "Bug" Wright and Juron Criner ar
e up-and-comers.
UCLA: Terrence Austin and Taylor Embree combined for 93 receptions last year but only one touchdown. Nelson Rosario should be more a factor this fall, while freshman speedster Randall Carroll and Ricky Marvray look ready to contribute.
Arizona State: Chris McGaha, Kerry Taylor and Kyle Williams combined for 81 receptions and eight touchdowns last year, while Gerell Robinson looks a lot better after struggling as a true freshman.
Oregon: This might be a little high, considering the Ducks' top two receivers from 2008, Terence Scott and Jaison Williams, are gone. Jeff Maehl -- 39 receptions, five touchdowns -- is the only returning receiver with double-digit receptions. But speedy Jamere Holland and newcomers Lavasier Tuinei, Tyrece Gaines, and Diante Jackson have opened eyes during practices (though Gaines and Jackson have battled injuries).
California: Everybody from 2008 is back as is talented sophomore Marvin Jones, who missed most of last year with a knee injury. The crew had potential last year, but it wasn't realized. There's more experience now, so it's likely things will trend up at the position for the Bears.
Oregon State: James Rodgers is a great start, but Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales will be the toughest combination to replace in the conference. And this ranking doesn't include the injured Darrell Catchings, which means this is a young and unproven unit. Damola Adeniji, Jordan Bishop, Casey Kjos, Geno Munoz and Markus Wheaton have had their moments this preseason.
Washington: D'Andre Goodwin, Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar combined for 100 receptions last year. The bad news is they scored only three touchdowns. Toss in freshman James Johnson, and this is one of the Huskies strongest positions. They may well be better than eighth, but they've got to prove themselves.
Stanford: The Cardinal is expecting dramatic gains for its passing offense with quarterback Andrew Luck. And the receiving corps might be ready to jump aboard. Ryan Whalen and Doug Baldwin combined for 64 receptions last year, and Chris Owusu and some intriguing young players, such as Jamal-Rashad Patterson, will help. But after averaging 152 yards passing last year, the receivers, like the Huskies crew, need to prove themselves.
Washington State: The Cougars had the worst passing offense in the conference last year -- six touchdowns, 21 interceptions -- and the departed Brandon Gibson represented a third of that production. Speedy Jeshua Anderson could be a more refined receiver this fall, and there's some youngsters who might make an impact. Injuries have hurt during the preseason.

Pac-10 blogger vs. SportsNation

May, 12, 2009
5/12/09
11:42
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Ladies and gentlemen of SportsNation, I'm just a Pac-10 blogger. Your world frightens and confuses me! Sometimes when I get notes in my mailbag, I wonder: 'Did little demons get inside and type them?' I don't know! My primitive mind can't grasp these concepts. But there is one thing I do know: When you participate in a SportsNation poll on the Pac-10, I'm going to comment on it, particularly after doing a Pac-10 spring wrap-up.

Five questions, your take (so far). And mine.

Which team will challenge USC for the Pac-10 title? (6,117 votes)

  • Arizona 7 percent
  • Arizona State 13 percent
  • California 26 percent
  • Oregon 38 percent
  • Oregon State 17 percent

My take: Disagree

My guess is your vote reflects the difference at quarterback between Oregon and California. The Ducks have Jeremiah Masoli, who runs over hapless defenders and leads an offense that often seemed unstoppable last year. The Bears have Kevin Riley, who can't seem to convince Jeff Tedford he's the man to run the Bears' offense. Fair enough. But after that, Cal has far fewer questions than the Ducks, particularly on both lines. That's why I'm not just seeing the Bears as a challenger to USC. I'm still contemplating whether they might deserve to be picked to win the whole chimichanga.

Who will be the starting quarterback for USC at the end of the season? (5,385 votes)

My take: Disagree

Disclaimer: I didn't get to go to USC's spring practices this year, so I didn't get mesmerized by Barkley's 'Matt Stafford Who?' arm. What I do know is Corp has two HUGE advantages: 1. he doesn't make mistakes -- see just one interception all of spring; 2. he's fast. Not just quarterback fast -- fast, fast. I'm imagining that ability to 1. avoid bad plays; 2. turn bad plays into good plays (any USC fans recall a fella by the name of Vince Young?) will earn Corp the job.

Which team is more improved from last season? (5,448 votes)

  • Washington 70 percent
  • Washington State 30 percent

My take: Agree

Washington had better players than the Cougars last year and the Huskies get just about everyone back, including quarterback Jake Locker and linebacker E.J. Savannah, who were injured and suspended, respectively. Meanwhile, the Cougars lost a lot of guys, including some of their best players, such as receiver Brandon Gibson, linebacker Greg Trent, tight end Devin Frischknecht, etc. WSU won the Apple Cup because it played with more heart and focus, while Washington's players were too busy rolling their eyes at Tyrone Willingham. New coach Steve Sarkisian will inject some spirit into the Huskies, and that, plus the best talent an 0-12 team ever welcomed back the following season, should bolster the Huskies' W-L ledger.

Who will start at quarterback for Oregon State? (4,839 votes)

My take: Disagree

Hey, don't just take my word for it. Paul Buker, who knows all things Beaver, chided the Pac-10 blog for describing Canfield's lead as "slight." And the Pac-10 blog probably deserved it. Canfield has always been the more talented passer. Moevao was the scrapper with great leadership skills. It seems that Canfield learned a lot watching Moevao work the huddle and his teammates. Moreover, Moevao is coming back with a surgically repaired shoulder. Canfield can tell him that isn't always easy to do (see last year).

Which team has the conference's best rushing attack? (5,305 votes)

  • California 27 percent
  • Oregon State 24 percent
  • USC 49 percent

My take: Disagree

Gosh. Er. Hello. Yeah ... Oregon fans, feel free to slap your foreheads here.

Yes, Oregon, which ranked No. 2 in the nation in rushing last year (280 yards per game) and No. 6 last year (252 yards per game) -- No. 1 both years in the Pac-10 by wide margins, of course -- is not listed.

So, yeah, I disagree. Oregon has the conference's best rushing attack.

Still, heading into 2009, it will be interesting to see if the Ducks will again run as well with a rebuilt offensive line. With the Beavers also working on issues up front, USC and California may end up pushing the Ducks for the rushing title.

Washington State spring wrap-up

May, 8, 2009
5/08/09
9:00
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Washington State Cougars
2008 overall record: 2-11

2008 conference record: 1-8

Returning starters

Offense 8, defense 5, kicker/punter 2

Top returners

C Kenny Alfred, RB Dwight Tardy, FS Xavier Hicks, LB Louis Bland, LB Andy Mattingly, P Reid Forrest, K Nico Grasu

Key losses

OT Vaughn Lesuma, TE Devin Frischknecht, WR Brandon Gibson, LB Greg Trent, CB Romeo Pellum, DT A'i Ahmu

2008 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Dwight Tardy* (481)
Passing: Marshall Lobbestael* (571)
Receiving: Brandon Gibson (673)
Tackles: Greg Trent (88)
Sacks: Toby Turpin* (3)
Interceptions: Romeo Pellum, Xavier Hicks* (2)

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 Stanford
Sept. 12 Hawaii (in Seattle)
Sept. 19 Southern Methodist
Sept. 26 at USC
Oct. 3 at Oregon
Oct. 10 Arizona State
Oct. 24 at California
Oct. 31 vs. Notre Dame
(in San Antonio, Texas)
Nov. 7 at Arizona
Nov. 14 UCLA
Nov. 21 Oregon State
Nov. 28 at Washington

Spring answers

1. Culture change: Big injury issues within many position groups limited a lot of definitive depth chart moves, so what the Cougars' coaches talked most about at the end of spring was establishing a better team culture, which includes practice tempo, trust among players and staff and off-field responsibilities, both in the classroom and weight room.

2. Tardy and Montgomery running: The Cougars feel good about their depth at running back, with senior Dwight Tardy and California transfer James Montgomery leading the way. If the offensive line can stay healthy -- depth is a big issue -- the running game has a chance to improve dramatically.

3. New faces' chance to shine: The injuries allowed youngsters and newcomers to make statements, and a handful did, including redshirt freshman defensive ends Dan Spitz and Cory Mackay, redshirt freshman tight end Skylar Stormo and junior transfer receivers Johnny Forzani and Jeffrey Solomon.

Fall questions

1. Get healthy: The spring injury list was a who's who of likely starters, and some of the issues will be worrisome. For example, Bernard Wolfgramm was practically penciled in as a starting defensive tackle, but he had back surgery this winter and back problems are tricky. The Cougars suffered epidemic injuries last year; they need to avoid that if 2009 is going to be any better.

2. Is Lobbestael the man? While senior Kevin Lopina showed significant improvement passing this spring, the general feeling is sophomore Marshall Lobbestael will be the quarterback when Stanford comes to town on Sept. 5. But, again, Lobbestael is coming back from a knee injury and didn't get to do any full-go action this spring. He still needs to win the job on the field.

3. Not to be defensive, but ... Washington State lost six starters from a defense that gave up 43.8 points and 443 yards in 2008, and the departed include mainstays such as linebacker Greg Trent, end Matt Mullennix and tackle A'i Ahmu. The Cougars are set at safety with Xavier Hicks and Chima Nwachukwu, and they feel good about linebackers Andy Mattingly and Louis Bland, but there are a lot of questions here that need to be resolved during preseason practices.

Pac-10 lunch links: A guess at UCLA's depth chart

April, 29, 2009
4/29/09
2:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel.

  • Michigan transfer Steven Threet, at worst, means Arizona State might be the nation's tallest team at quarterback. 
  • Oregon's defensive line has looked good this spring, but part of that is injuries to the Ducks' offensive line. Behind them, the Ducks also feel good where they are at linebacker.
  • More on Oregon State's rebuilding offensive line. Beavers cornerbacks coach Keith Heyward has his hands full this spring, with two of his former corners off to the NFL.
  • A good but not great baseball season suggests Stanford will get tailback Toby Gerhart back in 2009.
  • UCLA's depth charts: offense and defense. An uneven performance this spring by the receivers.
  • USC linebacker Chris Galippo is glad to be back, and glad his back is feeling good. Three Trojans opted to stay instead of enter the NFL draft. Two concerns heading into the fall.
  • Chris Defresne considers the rites and wrongs of spring.
  • John McGrath likes all the fulminating and thinks the Apple Cup should be played, like, right now! Washington State athletic director Jim Sterk responds to Washington AD Scott Woodward's chiding.
  • Former Washington receiver Brandon Gibson, a sixth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles, doesn't regret returning for his senior season.
  • Considering the top Pac-10 tight ends.

Big East nips Pac-10 for draft lead

April, 27, 2009
4/27/09
10:23
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

[Note this is a corrected post... apologies for not factoring in the underrated Big East].

The Big East nipped the Pac-10 for the lead among conferences in the 2009 NFL draft.

The eight-team Big East supplied 27 total players in the draft, or 3.4 players per team. The Pac-10 supplied 32 selections (3.2 players per team). The 12-team SEC was third with 37 selections overall, or 3.1 per team. The 12-team ACC was third with 33 (2.8 per team).

Last year, the Pac-10's led with 3.4 per team vs. 2.92 per team for the SEC and ACC (2.75).

USC led the way with 11 players selected, including three in the first round, though many are shaking their heads of linebacker Rey Maualuga's tumble into the second round. Every draft-eligible Trojan who started last season was picked.

Oregon State was second with seven players selected and Oregon was third with six. Arizona State, with a pair of seventh-round selections, maintained a 45-year streak with at least one player drafted.

Not all the news was good: Stanford, UCLA and Washington each had no players selected.

Here's the complete list

Arizona

Eben Britton, OT, Jacksonville, second
Mike Thomas, WR, Jacksonville, fourth

Arizona State

Troy Nolan, S, Houston, seventh
Paul Fanaika, OG, Philadelphia, seventh

California

Alex Mack, C, Cleveland, first
Zach Follett, LB, Detroit, seventh
Cameron Morrah, TE, seventh

Oregon

Patrick Chung, S, New England, second
Jairus Byrd, CB, Buffalo, second
Max Unger, C, Seattle, second
Fenuki Tupou, OT, Philadelphia, fifth
Ra'Shon Harris, DT, Pittsburgh, sixth
Nick Reed, DE, Seattle, seventh

Oregon State

Andy Levitre, OG, Buffalo, second
Keenan Lewis, CB, Pittsburgh, third
Victor Butler, OLB, Dallas, fourth
Slade Norris, OLB, Oakland, fourth
Brandon Hughes, CB, San Diego, fifth
Al Afalava, S, Chicago, sixth
Sammie Stroughter, WR, Tampa Bay, seventh

Stanford

NONE

UCLA

NONE

USC

Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets, first (No. 5)
Brian Cushing, OLB, Houston, first (No. 15)
Clay Matthews, OLB, Green Bay, first (No. 26)
Rey Maualuga, LB, Cincinnati, second
Fili Moala, DT, Indianapolis, second
Patrick Turner, WR, Miami, third
Kaluka Maiava, LB, Cleveland, fourth
Kyle Moore, DE, Tampa Bay, fourth
David Buehler, PK, Dallas, fifth
Cary Harris, CB, Buffalo, sixth
Kevin Ellison, S, San Diego, sixth

Washington

NONE

Washington State

Brandon Gibson, WR, Philadelphia, sixth

Who's going to catch the ball? Rating the receiving corps

March, 11, 2009
3/11/09
4:03
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

I wrote yesterday that defensive ends were our last position to rate, but I forgot receivers and linebackers -- or, actually, I thought this entry and this entry did the trick but they didn't.

Whoops!

So there are two more...

The gist of that entry on receivers tells our story here:

Quick: Name the Pac-10's marquee receivers in 2009?

Don't look to the All-Pac-10 list. All four first- and second-team receivers are gone (Mike Thomas, Sammie Stroughter, Patrick Turner and Michael Jones).

And on the honorable mention list there's only USC's Damian Williams and Washington's D'Andre Goodwin.

In other words, everyone in the conference, other than USC, has a bit of the ole "We'll see."

Great shape

  • USC: Damian Williams is an All-American candidate and Ronald Johnson is a marquee athlete. They combined for 17 touchdown receptions last year -- no other returning combination in the conference is even close. And there's good young depth.
  • Arizona: Mike Thomas is a big loss, but Delashaun Dean and Terrell Turner combined for 86 receptions last year. While depth is an issue, word is David Douglas and William Wright could break though.
  • UCLA: Terrence Austin, Taylor Embree and Domonique Johnson combined for 127 receptions -- but only two touchdowns -- last year. Toss in talented sophomore Nelson Rosario and some touted incoming freshman and the Bruins have the "catch" side of pass-catch mostly covered.

Good shape

  • Arizona State: Michael Jones is gone, but Chris McGaha, Kerry Taylor and Kyle Williams are a good troika to welcome back. They combined for 81 receptions last year.
  • California: This is a case of experience and potential trumping production. Just about everyone is back and the crew, led by Nyan Boateng and Verran Tucker, has a lot of talent. Much depends on guys like Michael Calvin and Marvin Jones breaking through. Injuries are an issue this spring for Calvin and maybe Boateng.
  • Stanford: Starters Ryan Whalen and Doug Baldwin are both back. They combined for 64 receptions in the Cardinal's mostly anemic passing offense. There are high hopes that sophomore Chris Owusu adds some athleticism to the unit.

We'll see

  • Oregon: The Ducks didn't throw that well last year and their two best receivers, Terence Scott and Jaison Williams, are gone. Jeff Maehl -- 39 receptions, five touchdowns -- is the only returning receiver with double-digit receptions. Hopes are high for Chris Harper, Drew Davis, Jamere Holland and the incoming recruits, but that falls under "we'll see."
  • Oregon State: Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales were the Beavers' receiving corps last year -- see 124 receptions, nearly 1,800 yards and 15 touchdowns. They're gone. Slot James Rodgers is mostly a fly sweep guy. The hope is young guys will step up.
  • Washington: The good news is the entire crew is back, led by D'Andre Goodwin, who ranked among the Pac-10 leaders with 60 receptions for 692 yards. But the Huskies only had six touchdown receptions in all of 2008.
  • Washington State: Brandon Gibson's 673 yards and two touchdowns represented a third of the Cougars' passing offense last year. He's gone. Jeshua Anderson caught 33 passes a year ago, but there's a lot of youth and inexperience after him.

Senior Bowl adds Turner and Chung to Pac-10 list

January, 13, 2009
1/13/09
2:18
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

The Senior Bowl, the nation's premier college all-star game, has added USC receiver Patrick Turner and Oregon safety Patrick Chung to its list of invitees.

The game, whose selections are mostly dictated by the NFL, now will feature 14 Pac-10 players, including six from USC.

That means Trojans will have the largest contingent of players from any school for the second consecutive year. Nine Trojans were invited last year.

Kickoff for the January 24th game is set for 6 p.m. (CT) and the game will be televised by the NFL Network.

The Pac-10 Senior Bowl invitees:

California: Center Alex Mack and linebacker Zack Follett

Oregon: Center Max Unger, safety Patrick Chung, running back Jeremiah Johnson

Oregon State: Offensive lineman Andy Levitre and cornerback Keenan Lewis

USC: Linebackers Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews and defensive linemen Fili Moala and Kyle Moore and receiver Patrick Turner

Washington State: Receiver Brandon Gibson

Pac-10 Senior Bowl selections

December, 30, 2008
12/30/08
11:12
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

The Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., is the premier postseason college all-star game. Everyone invited to the game has significant NFL prospects.

And just about every NFL coach and personnel guy will be on hand. Watching. Closely.

So the 12 Pac-10 players invited should feel honored. And a bit nervous.

Here's the list:

  • California: Center Alex Mack and linebacker Zach Follett
  • Oregon: Center Max Unger and running back Jeremiah Johnson
  • Oregon State: Offensive lineman Andy Levitre cornerback Keenan Lewis
  • USC: Linebackers Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews and defensive linemen Fili Moala and Kyle Moore.
  • Washington State: Receiver Brandon Gibson

Washington State season review

December, 19, 2008
12/19/08
4:45
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Washington State will take one uplifting thing away from the 2008 season: At least the Cougars aren't Washington.

The comeback victory in the Apple Cup meant there was at least one more miserable team in the nation than the Cougars, and it certainly felt good to make their rivals that team.

Still, coach Paul Wulff's first season was a mostly dismal affair. See: the Cougars' 31-point average margin of defeat.

WSU, which finished 2-11 overall, was the first team to give up 60 or more points four times in one season, and that doesn't count games in which the defense surrendered 58 and 59 points.

Little went well. After losing the top three quarterbacks on the depth chart to injury, Wulff had to hold open trying outs to add warm bodies at the position.

The Cougars, whose other win came against Portland State, a mediocre FCS team, couldn't score. They couldn't defend. And it didn't help matters that their 38 turnovers were the most in the nation.

Turning point: After getting blown out in their first three games, the Cougars crushed Portland State 48-9. Even though it was just a win over an FCS team, it suggested there was hope for the season. The next weekend, however, Oregon crushed those hopes with a 63-14 victory in which the Ducks outgained the Cougs 507 yards to 271, despite completing only nine passes. It became fairly clear at that point WSU wouldn't be doing much winning in 2008.

Offensive MVP: Wide receiver Brandon Gibson hauled in 57 receptions for 673 yards, both team highs. He completed his career as the Cougars' all-time leader in receiving yards (2,756), and is second on WSU's career receptions list (182).

Defensive MVP: Linebacker Greg Trent, who started 37 consecutive games, recorded a team-high in tackles (88) and tackles for a loss (10.5). He finished his career with 323 career tackles, good for seventh on the school's all-time list.

What's next: Fifteen starters from the final depth chart will be back in 2009, including eight on offense. Nine of those were freshmen or sophomores this year, and 26 different players recorded their first career starts this past season.

So the general feeling is maturity should bring improvement. But how much?

Recruiting seems to be going fairly well. Unless new Washington coach Steve Sarkisian stages a late rally, they Cougars will win the state this winter.

But Wulff didn't inherit much talent. This rebuilding project figures to remain in its early stages next fall.

Pac-10 lunch links: USC should cheer for Oregon State

November, 21, 2008
11/21/08
2:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Links don't stink with a cold drink unless it's pink.

Pac-10 internal affairs: Who'll have a Big Game?

November, 19, 2008
11/19/08
9:31
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Getting deep into this week's games.

Pressuring the quarterback won't be as easy for Oregon State against Arizona: Oregon State's defensive scheme is all about pressure, and it gave California a heavy dose last weekend, sacking Kevin Riley five times and rattling him many others. The Beavers average 2.8 sacks per game, with ends Slade Norris and Victor Butler combining for 13. But Cal was starting a freshman and sophomore JC transfer at the tackles. Arizona this week will offer junior Eben Britton, a potential NFL first-round draft pick, and senior James Tretheway, who plays beside Joe Longacre, a 37-game starter. The Wildcats haven't been spectacular protecting quarterback Willie Tuitama this year, see 23 sacks yielded. But this is one of the Pac-10's more experienced units, and they won't be cowed by the nation's No. 15 defense.

Stop the run, retake the Axe: Stanford relies almost entirely on its running game. USC knew that last weekend, but burly Toby Gerhart & Co. still rushed for 200 yards against the nation's best defense. The Cardinal can run on just about anybody, so they will try to run against California's 3-4 defense, which ranks fourth in the Pac-10. The Bears hardly dominated the action on the line of scrimmage last week against Oregon State as freshman Jacquizz Rodgers piled up 144 yards on 27 carries. On the other side of the ball, Cal got 116 yards rushing from Jahvid Best against the Beavers, but 65 of those came on one spectacular run. On the plus side for the Bears, though, is the potential absence of Cardinal linebacker Pat Maynor, who missed the USC game with a bruised knee. Still, the ledger leans toward Stanford as the team most likely to run consistently.

Brandon Gibson, you're the best player on the field: Combing the depth charts of Washington and Washington State, it's difficult to see where the pressure points are. Both teams have been so weak across the board in all areas that it's hard to find a strength-on-weakness matchup. It's all weakness on weakness. Both teams are bad on offense (national rankings of 117 (UW) vs. 118) and defense (110 (UW) vs. 112). But at the beginning of the season, Cougars receiver Brandon Gibson was an All-American candidate after finishing seventh in the nation with 107 yards receiving per game in 2007. In last year's Apple Cup, he caught the game-tying and game-winning touchdown passes among his six receptions for 137 yards. The Huskies rank 117th in the nation in pass efficiency defense. While Gibson's senior season -- he considered (and probably regrets not) entering the NFL draft last spring -- has been a massive disappointment, no one in the UW secondary can keep up with him. But can the Cougars get the ball to the best player on the field?

  

Which quarterback has a Big Game? Or just not a Bad Game? Neither Cal nor Stanford wants to find itself needing to throw to win the Big Game. In his past two games, Bears quarterback Kevin Riley has completed 15 of 41 passes with two interceptions and a touchdown. Riley has seemed to regress as the year's gone on, even as coach Jeff Tedford finally made him the permanent starter. While Stanford's Tavita Pritchard has improved in fits and starts, he completed only 9 of 22 for 111 yards with an interception against USC last weekend. Riley ranks sixth and Pritchard ninth in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency. Both offensive coordinators want to run the ball and allow their quarterbacks to be game managers and perhaps supply a nice scramble or two. But in games like this, it often seems like a quarterback leaves his fingerprints on the final result, either in a good way or a bad way.

Rodgers can seal up Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year against Arizona: Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers can put an exclamation point on the greatest true freshman season in Pac-10 history over the next two weeks. He is on the cusp of becoming the first frosh to win conference Offensive Player of the Year. He leads the conference and ranks ninth in the nation with 123 yards per game. The next highest true freshman? Houston's Bryce Beall at No. 42. He's a Doak Walker Award semifinalist and an All-American candidate. But can he carry the Beavers to the Rose Bowl? Arizona has a decent but hardly dominant run defense (sixth in the Pac-10). The Beavers probably want to limit the plays the potent Arizona offense gets in its home stadium. Which means Rodgers going for 100-plus for an eighth time this year would leave a rose-fragranced afterburn.

Looking at the weekend ahead in the Pac-10

November, 17, 2008
11/17/08
5:58
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Just three games this week, but two have big bowl implications and the third decides who finishes last in FBS football.

No. 21 Oregon State (7-3, 6-1) at Arizona (6-4, 4-3): Oregon State tries to keep its Rose Bowl dreams alive, but Arizona will be a test. The Wildcats, who are playing for their own bowl positioning, have won six of their past seven at home, the lone loss coming to USC. Last year, the Beavers started their annual second-season run with a dominant 31-16 victory over the Wildcats, the first of seven wins in eight games (the lone loss coming to USC). Oregon State took a 31-3 lead and coasted home. Arizona didn't score an offensive touchdown and had 231 total yards and just nine yards on the ground. The Beavers picked off three passes and posted eight quarterback sacks. So the high-powered Arizona offense, which ran 98 plays and scored 28 second-half points in a losing effort at Oregon, will be looking for revenge. It's noteworthy, however, that the Beavers have won eight of the last nine in the series, including three straight in Tucson.

The Big Game

Stanford (5-6, 4-4) at California (6-4, 4-3): Stanford needs to win the West Coast's oldest rivalry to earn bowl eligibility, and California needs to win to not allow the Cardinal to win two in a row in the series and to move up in the bowl pecking order. Stanford leads the all-time ledger 55-44-11, though the point total -- 1,780 for Cal, 1,755 for Stanford -- is nearly identical. Stanford's win last year snapped a five-game Bears winning streak, and Stanford hasn't won in Memorial Stadium since 2000 (36-30 in overtime). They met at Palo Alto last year and celebrated the 25th anniversary of "The Play." The Cardinal prevailed 20-13, handing Cal its sixth loss in seven games since being ranked No. 2 in the country.

The Apple Cup

Washington (0-10, 0-7) at Washington State (1-10, 0-8): Laugh at the records, sure, but know that this the 101st Apple Cup will be played with great intensity because the winner gets at least one positive memory for the season and the loser gets a national dunce cap. The Huskies lead the all-time series 64-30-6, but the Cougars have won three of four. Washington won the last meeting in Pullman, a 35-32 victory in 2006 that likely prevented the Cougars, who finished 6-6, from earning a bowl invitation. The last six games have been decided by eight or fewer points, including the Cougars 42-35 win in Husky Stadium last year. Cougs quarterback Alex Brink threw for an Apple Cup record 399 yards and five touchdowns, including the game winner to receiver Brandon Gibson -- who was uncovered -- with 31 seconds left.

Arizona State (4-6, 3-4) - open date - next game Fri., Nov. 28 vs. UCLA
UCLA (4-6, 3-4) - open date - next game Fri., Nov. 28 at Arizona State
Oregon (8-3, 6-2) - open date - next game Sat., Nov. 29 the Civil War at Oregon State
USC (9-1, 7-1) - open date - next game Sat., Nov. 29 vs. Notre Dame

Emptying the Pac-10 notebook

October, 10, 2008
10/10/08
6:26
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Factoids, notes and quotes from around the Pac-10...

Curious Stat of the Week...

Which team leads the Pac-10 in third-down conversion rate?

0-5 Washington, at 53.2 percent

Bet you didn't see that one coming.

ARIZONA STATE (2-3, 1-1) at USC (3-1, 1-1)

  • USC is a perfect 8-0 vs ASU this decade, last losing to the Sun Devils in 1999. Over the eight wins, USC has averaged 39.8 PPG.
  • The Trojans are going for their 400th victory at the Coliseum.
  • ASU coach Dennis Erickson has faced USC six times with three different Pac-10 teams, going 1-5.
  • In USC's 44-34 win last year, the Sun Devils mustered just 16 yards rushing and 259 total yards. USC also racked up six sacks.

ARIZONA (4-1, 2-0) at STANFORD (3-3, 2-1)

  • Stanford is only 3-7 at home against Arizona (6-6 in Tucson).
  • Stanford has won four of five in the series.
  • Arizona leads the Pac-10 and is second in the nation in total defense allowing just 226.2 yards per game.
  • Arizona leads the conference in scoring with 43.6 points per game

WASHINGTON STATE (1-5, 0-3) at OREGON STATE (2-3, 1-1)

  • In Oregon State's 52-17 win last year, the Beavers running game accounted for 218 yards and six touchdowns. The Beaver defense picked off seven Cougars passes.
  • Mike Riley is looking for his 50th victory as Oregon State's coach.
  • The Cougars offense has been mostly terrible, but receiver Brandon Gibson ranks second in the Pac-10 in receptions per game (6.0) and third in receiving yards per game (76.7). He's caught at least one pass in 29 straight games, tied with Arizona's Mike Thomas for longest current streak in the conference.

UCLA (2-3, 1-1) at OREGON (4-2, 2-1)

  • UCLA is 14-6 in Eugene.
  • Last year, the Bruins blanked the then-No. 9 Ducks 16-0. The Bruins defense held Oregon -- which lost quarterback Dennis Dixon the week before when it was upset at Arizona -- to 12 first downs and 148 yards total offense and forced four turnovers. UCLA only had 220 total yards.
  • UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft was intercepted four times in the first half of the opener against Tennessee but has thrown just one pick since then and hasn't thrown an interception in three games.
  • UCLA has lost 11 of its last 14 road games and has been outscored 423-160 in those losses, according to the LA Times.

They said it...

Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson on his defense in the second half of last weekend's loss at California.

"We played probably as well as the defense has played since I've been here. We ran to the football, played very physical, very aggressive, created a turnover, did a lot of things and took the run away from them."

USC coach Pete Carroll on Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter

"This guy is going to be a good NFL player. He's going to be a high draft pick I think when guys take a look at him."

Further....

  • Arizona and California own the conference's longest winning streaks: two games.
  • The conference is 13-15 in nonconference games with three remaining (USC and Washington vs. Notre Dame; Washington State at Hawaii)
  • California has intercepted 10 passes in five games -- tops in the conference --matching the Bears total from all of 2007.
  • Oregon State has given up the fewest turnovers in the conference, losing the ball only six times in five games. Washington State has the most, yielding 19 turnovers in six games.
  • Arizona has scored touchdowns in 22 of 28 red zone trips.
  • California freshman punter Bryan Anger is 7th in the nation with an average of 45.1 yards per boot. He's the only freshman ranked among the top-17 punters, 13 of whom are juniors or seniors.
  • Oregon defensive ends Nick Reed and Will Tukuafu are Nos. 1 and 2 in the conference in sacks (six and five) and tackles for a loss (both with 9.5), and the Ducks are tops in the conference with 18 sacks (3.0 per game).
  • Washington defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim had three QB sacks last week at Arizona, the Huskies first sacks of the season.
  • In 12 Pac-10 games, the home team is 9-3.

Afternoon musings: Chung pays tribute to fallen teammate

August, 27, 2008
8/27/08
8:18
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Don't put your game face on just yet. Read these links, then do so.

  • Maybe Arizona's 2008 recruiting class was better than the pundits projected. 
  • Most news conferences are boring, but Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter sometimes can be fairly interesting.
  • Oregon rover Patrick Chung will wear the No. 29 jersey this fall in honor of late teammate Todd Doxey, who drowned this summer.
  • Four players who will make a difference in the Oregon State-Stanford tilt. Previously, Paul Buker wondered if it might not be the Beavers' offensive line that determines the outcome.
  • It's Tavita Pritchard time at Stanford.
  • Chris Forcier is being challenged as UCLA's backup QB. Tennessee is hoping to Chow down.
  • USC tailback C.J. Gable says, "Why not?" to national title talk. Should USC fans be concerned about LB Brian Cushing's left wrist?
  • Jerry Brewer celebrates the return of Washington center Juan Garcia from what was once thought a career-ending foot injury. Huskies new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell probably knows his D is going to have its hands full with Oregon. Jim Moore, meanwhile, gets the Huskies to imitate coach Tyrone Willingham -- and there's video!
  • Wonder if Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy will do anything interesting after the Washington State game? He might want to check out Brandon Gibson. He's a man, too.

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