Pac-12: Charles White

Top 10 Pac-12 seasons

August, 7, 2014
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ESPN.com has been looking at the greatest seasons in college football history this week -- overall and by team.

Today, we look at the 10 greatest seasons in Pac-12 history. And, yes, we made the overall success of a player's team part of our evaluation.

Feel free to disagree.

(Note: It was a management decision to exclude great Utah and Colorado seasons that occurred outside of the conference. So no Rashaan Salaam nor Alex Smith).

1. Marcus Allen, USC (1981): He was the first player in NCAA history to rush for more than 2,000 yards, piling up 2,342 yards in 12 games. Finished with 2,683 yards of total offense and 23 TDs. He won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.

2. Matt Leinart, USC (2004): The Heisman Trophy winner as a junior, he became just the third QB in three decades to lead his team to back-to-back national titles. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,322 yards with 33 TDs and six interceptions.

3. Jim Plunkett, Stanford (1970): Stanford's only Heisman winner, he piled up 3,189 yards of total offense and was responsible for 22 touchdowns. He led the Cardinal to the Pac-8 title and an unset of No. 2 Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.

4. Charles White, USC (1979): White led the Trojans to a Rose Bowl victory and No. 2 final ranking on his way to the Heisman Trophy. He led the nation with an average of 194.1 yards per game, finishing with 2,050 yards and 19 TDs.

5. Terry Baker, Oregon State (1962): He won the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award, passing for 1,738 yards and 15 touchdowns, and producing 2,261 yards of total offense. His 24 total TDs led the nation. The Beavers won their final seven games, finished 9-2 and won the Liberty Bowl.

6. Reggie Bush, USC (2005): While his name is shrouded in controversy and his 2005 Heisman Trophy was officially taken away, you can't take away what he did on the field, which included nearly leading USC to a third consecutive national title. He led the nation with 222.3 all-purpose yards per game and ranked fourth in the nation with 133.85 yards rushing per game, which included a stunning 8.7 yards per carry.

7. Gary Beban, UCLA (1967): UCLA's only Heisman winner, he piled up 1,586 yards of total offense and 19 touchdowns. The only downside is he went 1-2-1, including losing to USC, in his final four games.

8. Ryan Leaf, Washington State (1997): Forget for a moment his NFL flop and post-football shenanigans, he was brilliant in 1997, leading the Cougars to their first Rose Bowl in 67 years. He passed for 3,968 yards and was responsible for a whopping 40 TDs. Finished third in Heisman voting.

9. Steve Emtman, Washington (1991): He was the centerpiece of one of the greatest Pac-10/12 teams of all time, a Huskies crew that dominated foes on its way to a 12-0 record and a split national title with Miami. He won the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy and was the Pac-10 defensive POY. The consensus All-American finished fourth in the voting for the Heisman, leading a defense that yielded 9.58 points per game.

10. Terrell Suggs, Arizona State (2002): Suggs set an NCAA record with 24 sacks on his way to becoming a unanimous All-American, Bronko Nagurski Award winner, Lombardi Award winner and Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. He also had 31 1/2 tackles for a loss and six forced fumbles. The downside is the Sun Devils went 8-6 and weren't terribly good on defense as a whole.

Greatest season in USC history?

August, 5, 2014
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USC Trojans football has been defined by great teams and great individual seasons for decades. How about seven Heisman Trophy winners, starting with Mike Garrett in 1965 and finishing with Reggie Bush in 2005 -- though there is, of course, an asterisk by Bush's name due to NCAA violations.

ESPN.com launched its The Season package Monday, which looked at the best seasons recorded for each major college football team, and we tapped Marcus Allen's 1981 Heisman campaign as No. 1 for the Trojans. That pick, while we feel pretty good about it, wasn't easy.

SportsNation

Who had the best season in USC's history?

  •  
    37%
  •  
    7%
  •  
    3%
  •  
    14%
  •  
    39%

Discuss (Total votes: 5,090)

That's why we're curious about your takes.

In order to narrow our field to five, we dropped Garrett and O.J. Simpson from the running. Garrett's numbers don't hold up, while we'd just as soon not hear Simpson's name ever again.

So that leaves Charles White, Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Bush as choices for you to unseat Allen.

As for Allen, he was pretty spectacular in 1981, becoming the first player in NCAA history to rush for more than 2,000 yards, a number he shattered with 2,427 yards. He also won the Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, finishing with 2,683 yards of total offense and 23 touchdowns. In addition, he was the Trojans' leading receiver and set 14 new NCAA records and tied two others. Further, he beat out a star-studded list of candidates: Georgia's Herschel Walker, BYU's Jim McMahon and Pittsburgh's Dan Marino.

A downside? His team finished 9-3 and No. 14 in the final AP poll. A big finish is where White, Allen's tailback predecessor, has Allen beat.

White's USC teams won the Rose Bowl in 1978 and 1979, splitting a national title in 1978 with Alabama and finishing second behind the Crimson Tide in 1979, his senior season. That year, White led the nation with an average of 194.1 yards per game. In the last 10 games of his senior season, he averaged 201 yards rushing per game. He finished with 2,050 yards (including the bowl game) and 19 TDs. His 6.2 yards per carry bested Allen's 5.6, too.

White unseated Oklahoma's Billy Sims, the 1978 Heisman winner, with a dominant percentage of first-place votes (453 vs. 82).

Leinart and Bush were sort of a tandem during USC's dynastic run under then-coach Pete Carroll, nearly leading the Trojans to three consecutive national titles.

In 2004, Leinart led the Trojans to an undefeated national title run, including a dominant victory over Oklahoma in the BCS Championship Orange Bowl. He became just the third QB in three decades to lead his team to back-to-back national titles. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,322 yards with 33 TDs and six picks. A three-time All-American, he was 37-2 as a starter and placed third in the Heisman race in 2005, when Bush won over Texas' Vince Young.

As for Bush, it wasn't just numbers for him. A human highlight film, he's probably the flashiest of all USC Heisman winners. He led the nation in 2005 with 222.3 all-purpose yards per game and ranked fourth in the nation with 133.85 yards rushing per game. He finished with 1,740 yards rushing and an eye-popping 8.7 yards per carry with 16 TDs. A great receiver, he also had 39 receptions for 481 yards and two scores. He returned punts and kicks as well. He set a Pac-10 record with a spectacular 513 all-purpose yards against Fresno State and earned perhaps dubious honors as the namesake of the "Bush Push" against Notre Dame.

Finally, there's Palmer, a four-year starter who suffered through some lean years before leading the 2002 Trojans to the opening of their dynastic run. He won all Heisman voting regions after he passed for 3,942 yards with 33 TDs and 10 picks, completing 63 percent of his passes.

Palmer also didn't have anyone to lean on while winning over voters. He was the first West Coast winner of the award since Allen. Palmer mostly rewrote the Pac-10's passing record book and went on to become the first pick of the 2003 NFL draft.

That's a pretty scintillating list. So how do you rank them?

Too-early Pac-12 Heisman look

December, 12, 2011
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At this time last year, no one saw Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck as a top 2011 Heisman Trophy candidate, mostly because everyone thought he'd already be in the NFL.

Instead, he opted to return for his redshirt junior year, spent much of the season as the prohibitive Heisman favorite but finished second to Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III on Saturday.

If any of you are worried about Luck being crushed by disappointment, we'd like to reassure you that things will likely be OK for him. Something is sure to come up in terms of career options, we suspect. We hear he's got some real talent as an architect.

[+] EnlargeMatt Barkley
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireMatt Barkley could be next year's Heisman Trophy favorite if he decides to return to USC for another season.
Anyhow, our short list of potential 2012 Pac-12 Heisman candidates includes three that we suspect are headed into the NFL draft this spring. But we trust that you will be able to swipe them off your own list if they should make such an announcement before the Jan. 15 deadline.

Matt Barkley, QB, USC: If Barkley returns for his senior year, he will be on everyone's preseason shortlist. He might even be considered the favorite. He'd have a high-profile team that should win, plenty of name recognition, and a supporting cast that could help him put up big numbers.

LaMichael James, RB, Oregon: Most would project James entering the NFL draft. But perhaps this will intrigue him: If he returns for his senior year and produces a fourth consecutive 1,500-yard season, he'd become the conference's all-time leading rusher, easily breaking USC's Charles White's 6,245 mark, set from 1976-79. That also, of course, would probably get him another invitation to New York for the Heisman ceremony.

Robert Woods, WR, USC: Woods will be a consensus preseason All-American. If Barkley comes back, Woods likely would play second fiddle. But if Barkley leaves, Woods still figures to put up good numbers, even with a first-year starter at quarterback. On the downside -- which is really an upside -- fellow receiver, sophomore Marqise Lee, is also an All-American candidate.

De'Anthony Thomas, WR/RB, Oregon: Thomas was just freak-show good in so many different ways in 2011 as a true freshman that he seems almost certain to become a Heisman candidate. In fact, he might be the most likely player on this list to get invited to New York because he's definitely coming back and a lot of folks already know who he is.

Chris Polk, RB, Washington: Polk is likely off to the NFL, but if he opts to return he and quarterback Keith Price would make plenty of preseason Heisman lists. Polk should put up big numbers as a rusher but his ability as a receiver would also give him a chance to put up big numbers. The Huskies will need to take another step in terms of win-loss record, though, for his candidacy to gain any momentum.

Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State: Wilson has been highly productive for two seasons. But what if new coach Mike Leach helps him put up ludicrous numbers and the Cougars start winning? Hey, you never know.
On Friday, the Pac-10 becomes the Pac-12, and life as we all have known it ends.

But before we move on as a 12-team league, let's look back at the best of a 10-team league.

On Wednesday, we looked at the best players. Thursday, it's the best teams.

We've listed 12 teams because that's the new magic number (Arizona fans, see if you can guess who came in 13th).

Again, no team before 1978 -- when Arizona and Arizona State joined the Pac-8 -- was considered.

1. 1991 Washington: The Huskies finished 12-0 and split the national title with Miami.

Best player: Defensive tackle Steve Emtman won the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award.

Point differential: Washington outscored its foes 495-115.

Best win: Whipped Michigan 34-14 in Rose Bowl. Wolverines finished ranked sixth.

Comment: Four wins over teams that finished ranked in the final top 25, including road victories at No. 15 Nebraska and at No. 8 California. Featured one of the great defenses in college football history, yielding just 9.2 points and 67.1 rushing yards per game. Eight Huskies earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors.

2. 2004 USC: While the NCAA and BCS have nixed it in their own ways, the Trojans finished 13-0 and won the national title on the field.

Best player: Quarterback Matt Leinart won the Heisman Trophy.

Point differential: USC outscored its foes 496-169.

Best win: Crushed Oklahoma 55-19 in the national title game.

Comment: Basically a push for dominance with 1991 Washington. Beat four teams that finished ranked in the top 25, including the bludgeoning of Oklahoma. Eight Trojans earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors.

3. 2003 USC: The Trojans finished 12-1 and split the national title with LSU. Their only loss came in triple overtime at California.

Best player: Receiver Mike Williams was a consensus All-American.

Point differential: 534-239.

Best win: The completely dominant 23-0 victory at then-No. 6 Auburn in the opener set the tone for the season -- and caused many Pac-10 fans to question how good these highly rated SEC teams really are.

Comment: The Trojans finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in both polls but lost out playing in the BCS title game because of the computer polls. LSU fans have been thanking the computers for that glitch ever since.

4. 2005 USC: A 34-game winning streak came to an end with a nail-biting loss to Texas in the national title game. The Trojans finished 12-1.

Best player: Reggie Bush won the Heisman Trophy.

Point differential: 638-297.

Best win: The 34-31 win at Notre Dame -- the "Bush Push" game -- was one of the all-time greats.

Comment: Perhaps the best collection of offensive players in the history of college football: Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Dwayne Jarrett, Ryan Kalil, Sam Baker and Taitusi Lutui earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors. And don't forget LenDale White, Winston Justice, Steve Smith and Dominique Byrd.

5. 1978 USC: Finished 12-1 and split national title with Alabama. Lost to Arizona State, 20-7.

Best player: Charles White was a unanimous All-American.

Point differential: 318-153

Best win: A 24-14 win over the team that "claimed" the other half of the national title.

Comment: Split national title -- coaches liked the Trojans; AP the Crimson Tide -- despite a decisive 24-14 USC at Alabama. So much for head to head.

6. 1979 USC: Finished 11-0-1 and No. 2 behind Alabama. Tied Stanford 21-21.

Best player: Charles White won the Heisman Trophy.

Point differential: 389-171

Best win: The 17-16 win over Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, in which White ran for a record 247 yards, including the game-winning touchdown with just more than a minute remaining.

Comment: Team featured four future College Football Hall of Famers in White, Marcus Allen, Ronnie Lot and Brad Budde. By the way, THAT undefeated, untied Alabama team was really, really good: Outscored foes 383-67. So no sour grapes on that one.

7. 2001 Oregon: The Ducks finished 11-1 and ranked No. 2 in both polls. The only loss was 49-42 versus Stanford (a really, really weird game, if you recall).

Best player: Quarterback Joey Harrington finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Point differential: 412-256.

Best win: A 38-16 win over Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl.

Comment: The Fiesta Bowl victory caused plenty of folks to bemoan the Nebraska-Miami matchup in the BCS title game, considering Colorado had blown out Nebraska the final weekend of the regular season. As for the Stanford loss, the typically straightforward AP noted the game had "everything but aliens landing on the Autzen Stadium turf."

8. 1984 Washington: Finished 11-1 and ranked No. 2 behind BYU. Lost to USC ,16-7.

Best player: Defensive tackle Ron Holmes was a consensus All-American.

Point differential: 352-145

Best win: Shocked Oklahoma 28-17 in the Orange Bowl. Sooners finished ranked sixth.

Comment: A controversial season. Before the Orange Bowl, Sooners coach Barry Switzer lobbied hard for the winner to be declared the national champion. As it was, BYU won the national title after beating a bad Michigan team in the Holiday Bowl. Does anyone believe BYU was better than the Huskies? No.

9. 2010 Oregon: The Ducks finished 12-1 and No. 3 in both polls, losing the national title game to Auburn.

Best player: Running back LaMichael James finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Point differential: 611-243

Best win: The Ducks handed Stanford its only loss, 52-31, after trailing 21-3 early. Cardinal finished ranked No. 4.

Comment: An innovative, exciting team to watch, one that played faster than perhaps any big-time college team in history.

10. 1996 Arizona State: Finished 11-1 and ranked No. 4 in both polls. Lost Rose Bowl -- and potential national championship -- to Ohio State, 20-17.

Best player: Quarterback Jake Plummer finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Point differential: 488-216

Best win: The Sun Devils trounced top-ranked, two-time defending national champion Nebraska, 19-0.

Comment: The Sun Devils lost one of the most dramatic Rose Bowls, when the swashbuckling Plummer was out-swashbuckled by Joe Germaine, who was raised in Arizona as an ASU fan.

11. 2000 Washington: The Huskies finished 11-1 and ranked No. 3, their only loss coming at No. 7 Oregon. They beat Purdue 34-24 in the Rose Bowl.

Best player: Marques Tuiasosopo finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Point differential: 387-270

Best win: Beat Miami, 34-29. Hurricanes finished ranked No. 2.

Comment: This is not the most talented team on the list. In fact, some have rated the 2000 Oregon State team -- see below -- ahead of the Huskies. And based on NFL results, the Beavers were more talented than the Huskies. But head to head matters, and the win over Miami is better than anything Oregon State did.

12. 2000 Oregon State: The Beavers finished 11-1 and ranked No. 4, their only loss a 33-30 decision at Washington, which finished ranked No. 3.

Best player: Running back Ken Simonton was first-team All-Pac-10.

Best win: Beat Oregon 23-13 in Civil War. Oregon finished ranked seventh in the coaches poll.

Comment: One or two more plays at Washington, and the Beavers would have played for the national title. And they, by the way, were more talented than the Oklahoma team that did win the title. Notable Beavers: Ken Simonton, Chad Ochocinco (the Chad Johnson), T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chris Gibson, DeLawrence Grant, LaDairis Jackson, Dennis Weathersby and Eric Manning. They spanked Notre Dame 41-9 in the Fiesta Bowl.
On Friday, the Pac-10 becomes the Pac-12, and life as we all have known it ends.

Kaboom!

Before we start looking forward -- oh, well, guess that's all we've been doing this offseason -- let's take a look back at the 10-team conference that started in 1978 when Arizona and Arizona State joined the Pac-8 (and Pac-8 purist grumbled about life ending as they knew it).

Today, we compile an all-time, All-Pac-10 team (No player who graduated before 1978 was considered). Thursday, we'll rank the best Pac-10 teams.

As for picking the players, you might imagine this wasn't easy. Lots of great players over the past 33 years. This list doesn't include many consensus All-Americans, national award winners and players who won multiple All-Pac-10 honors.

[+] EnlargeMatt Leinart
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesUSC's Matt Leinart is the conference's all-time leader touchdown passes.
I struggled with receiver and offensive line the most. And kicker (UCLA fans will slap their foreheads at my pick). Ten selected players already are in the College Football Hall of Fame.

NFL success wasn't a part of this measure -- just look at the QB. But there were a couple of moments -- tight end and kicker -- when it waved at me from a distance.

As for the per school tally, it should be no surprise that USC led the way with seven players. It might be a surprise that Arizona, with no Rose Bowl berths, was second with four. Neither Oregon nor Stanford have a player on the team.

Feel free to disagree. Or to post your own team.

Offense

QB Matt Leinart, USC (2005): 2004 Heisman Trophy winner. Finished third in 2005. Won two national titles; played for a third. 99 career touchdown passes is 14 more than any other quarterback in conference history.

RB Charles White, USC (1979): 1979 Heisman Trophy winner. Fourth in 1978. Pac-10's all-time leading rusher. College Football Hall of Fame.

RB Marcus Allen, USC (1981): 1981 Heisman Trophy winner. 2,427 yards rushing in 1981 is conference single-season record. College Football Hall of Fame.

WR Dwayne Jarrett, USC (2006): A two-time consensus All-American. Ninth in Heisman Trophy balloting. 41 career touchdown receptions is nine more than any wide receiver in conference history.

WR Mike Hass, Oregon State (2005): Biletnikoff winner. Consensus All-American. His 1,532 yards receiving is a conference single-season record. He also holds the single-game receiving yards record (293).

OL Jonathan Ogden, UCLA (1995): 1995 Outland Trophy winner and consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10.

OL Randall McDaniel, Arizona State (1987): Consensus All-American, two-time first-team All-Pac-10. College Football Hall of Fame.

OL Brad Budde, USC (1979): Lombardi Trophy winner. Three-time first-team All-Pac-10. College Football Hall of Fame

OL Alex Mack, California (2008): Three-time first-team All-Pac-10. Two-time Morris Trophy winner.

OL Lincoln Kennedy, Washington (1992): Consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10. Two-time Morris Trophy winner.

TE Tony Gonzalez, California (1996): Consensus All-American. First-team All-Pac-10.

Defense

DE Terrell Suggs, Arizona State (2002): Bronko Nagurski, Lombardi Trophy and Ted Hendricks Award winner. Consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10. Set NCAA single-season sack record (24).

DT Steve Emtman, Washington (1991): Outland and Lombardi winner. Finished fourth for Heisman Trophy. Consensus All-American. College Football Hall of Fame.

DT Rob Waldrop, Arizona (1993): Outland and Bronko Nagurski winner. UPI lineman of the Year. Two-time consensus All-American. College Football Hall of Fame.

DE Tedy Bruschi, Arizona (1995): Two-time consensus All-American. Three-time first-team All-Pac-10. Morris Trophy winner.

LB Chris Claiborne, USC (1998): Butkus Award. Consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10.

LB Ricky Hunley, Arizona (1983): Two-time consensus All-American. Three-time first-team All-Pac-10. College Football Hall of Fame.

LB Jerry Robinson, UCLA (1978): Two-time consensus All-American. Three-time first-team All-Conference. College Football Hall of Fame.

S Kenny Easley, UCLA (1980): Four-time first-team All-Conference. Three-time consensus All-American. College Football Hall of Fame.

S Ronnie Lott, USC (1980): Consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10. College Football Hall of Fame.

CB Antoine Cason, Arizona (2007): Thorpe Award winner. Consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10.

CB Mike Richardson, Arizona State (1982): Two-time consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10.

Specialists

P Nick Harris, California (2000): A consensus All-American in 2000, he punted a lot and was very good at it. He set NCAA records for most career punts and punting yardage.

K Jason Hansen, Washington State (1991): Consensus All-American (1989). Two-time first-team All-Pac-10. 39 career field goals of 40 or more yards and 20 of 50 or more; both Pac-10 records.

Re-ranking the Pac-10's top-25 players

February, 11, 2011
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Next week, the blog begins a countdown of the Pac-10's top-25 (not Pac-12 when we look back).

Many of you will be outraged.

Why? Because I am outraged at the limits of 25 spots, which means a number of top players -- even high NFL draft picks -- are going to get left off.

A number of players from our preseason top-25 list fall out for no justifiable reason, other than other players are more impossible to not include on the list.

You will send hate mail. I am already sending some to myself.

Just for reference, here's our preseason top-25.

No. 1. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
No. 2. Jake Locker, QB, Washington
No. 3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
No. 4. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
No. 5. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
No. 6. James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State
No. 7. Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
No. 8. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
No. 9. Mike Mohamed, LB, California
No. 10. Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona
No. 11. Mason Foster, LB, Washington
No. 12. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona
No. 13. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon
No. 14. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
No. 15. Cameron Jordan, DE, California
No. 16. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
No. 17. Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
No. 18: Colin Baxter, C, Arizona
No. 19: Chase Beeler, C, Stanford
No. 20. Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State
No. 21. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
No. 22. Owen Marecic, LB/FB, Stanford
No. 23. Kristofer O'Dowd, C, USC
No. 24: Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon
No. 25 Kai Forbath, K, UCLA

Ranking the Pac-10's top 25: No. 1

July, 6, 2010
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Our countdown of the Pac-10's top 25 players concludes.

No. 1. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State

[+] EnlargeJacquizz Rodgers
Rick Scuteri/US PresswireJacquizz Rodgers racked up 1,962 yards rushing and receiving last season.
2009 numbers: The 5-foot-7, 188-pound junior ranked third in the conference with 1,440 yards rushing and ranked second with 78 receptions for 522 yards. He also scored 22 touchdowns.

Most recent ranking: Rodgers was ranked fifth in our final Pac-10 top-30 list last year.

Making the case for Rodgers: Rodgers is the only two-time first-team All-Pac-10 player back for the 2010 season and will be on most preseason short lists of Heisman Trophy candidates. He's earned preseason All-American honors from a number of publications and will be a leading candidate for the Doak Walker Award -- he was a semifinalist in 2009 -- which is given annually to the nation's best running back. Rodgers is an outstanding pure runner, his slashing style became a national sensation when he sliced and diced the touted USC defense for 186 yards and two TDs in 2008. But what ultimately distinguishes him -- and lands him atop this list -- is completeness as a player: He can run, catch and block. Heck, he's also passed for a touchdown. He's also durable -- see 24 career starts, including 14 in a row -- and he never fumbles (His one attributed fumble in 640 career touches in last year's Las Vegas Bowl was on a poorly thrown backward pass that wasn't Rodgers fault). He earned conference Offensive Player of the Year honors as a true freshman -- the first player to do that in conference history --- and enters the 2010 season with 2,693 career yards rushing and 32 TDs. (Both totals rank fifth on the Oregon State career list.) He ranked 23rd in the nation with 150.92 all-purpose yards per game in 2009 and his 22 touchdowns ranked second in the conference behind Toby Gerhart, well ahead of any other returning running back. If Rodgers opts to stay all four years and continues his current rate of production, he would finish second all-time in the Pac-10 with 5,386 career rushing yards behind USC's Charles White (6,245).

No. 2. Jake Locker, QB, Washington
No. 3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
No. 4. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
No. 5. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
No. 6. James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State
No. 7. Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
No. 8. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
No. 9. Mike Mohamed, LB, California
No. 10. Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona
No. 11. Mason Foster, LB, Washington
No. 12. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona
No. 13. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon
No. 14. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
No. 15. Cameron Jordan, DE, California
No. 16. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
No. 17. Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
No. 18: Colin Baxter, C, Arizona
No. 19: Chase Beeler, C, Stanford
No. 20. Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State
No. 21. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
No. 22. Owen Marecic, LB/FB, Stanford
No. 23. Kristofer O'Dowd, C, USC
No. 24: Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon
No. 25 Kai Forbath, K, UCLA

Beavers' RB Rodgers eyes Roses, not Heisman

April, 27, 2010
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It's been a fairly quiet spring for Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers. That's typical and how he likes it.

There are no issues or controversies with Rodgers. Just production. He's established and has little to prove. The only mystery is how spectacular his numbers will be in 2010.


Kirby Lee/US PRESSWIREOregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers wants to break off more long runs for touchdowns this season.
He will enter his junior season needing 1,169 yards rushing and eight touchdowns to move into second place on the Beavers all-time list, numbers he easily eclipsed his first two seasons, once as the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year -- the first true freshman to win the honor -- and the second as a first-team All-Pac-10 running back. At his present trajectory -- if he opts to play two more seasons -- he'll end up second on the Pac-10's all-time rushing list behind former USC Heisman Trophy winner Charles White.

It's not a question of whether Rodgers will be good. He'll be a preseason All-American. Then he'll chew up yardage as a runner and receiver. It's a near-certainty, barring injury.

The question is how good? Will he be Heisman Trophy good?

The Pac-10 has plenty of candidates, though the list was whittled down by one when Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was suspended for the season: Washington quarterback Jake Locker, Oregon running back LaMichael James, USC quarterback Matt Barkley and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, to name the obvious possibilities.

Rodgers mostly shrugs when asked about the Heisman -- "I'm just out here playing football," he said -- but he is aware of Masoli's unexpected absence and what that might mean for the Pac-10 frontrunners, who happen to be the Beavers arch-rivals.

"Anytime you lose anybody that important to your offense, it's going to set you back just a bit," Rodgers said.

More than a few Pac-10 fans see Masoli's absence, as well as USC's 2009 slide, as beacons signaling that the conference is as wide open as it was pre-Pete Carroll, when eight different teams won or shared the title from 1995-2001.

So, does Rodgers see the Beavers stepping to the fore because Masoli is out? Absolutely.

"But even if he was there, I'd feel the same way," he said.

Oregon and USC are still almost certain to be atop preseason predictions for the Pac-10. The Beavers, a solid No. 3 pick, might have received more of a boost among prognosticators after the Ducks off-field woes and the Trojans coaching change if not for the unexpected defection of two starters from their defense: linebacker David Pa'aluhi and end Matt LaGrone.

But the impressive spring produced by sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz appears to be solving the Beavers biggest issue, which is replacing Sean Canfield. That might give rise to a simple query: Why not Oregon State?

And if Oregon State, which welcomes back 17 starters from a squad that was just a few Civil War plays away from earning a berth in its first Rose Bowl since 1965, proves to be a contender, Rodgers' Heisman candidacy will gain legitimacy.

What's not to like? His rushed for 2,693 yards and scored 32 touchdowns over the past two seasons. In 2009, he caught 78 passes, which ranked second -- overall, not among running backs -- in the Pac-10. He's fumbled only once in 640 touches. A year after critics pointed out his lack of explosion plays, he produced at least one run over 20 yards in 10 of 13 games.

But Rodgers wants more. Twenty, 30 or even 40-yard runs? Not enough.

"I need to finish off long runs -- score those 60 or 70-yard touchdowns," he said. "That's what's missing from my game."

Rodgers will get a couple of good early showcases. The Beavers brutal nonconference schedule includes matchups with TCU and Boise State, both likely top-10 or even top-five teams. The Sept. 4 opener against the Horned Frogs will be played on a huge stage -- Cowboys Stadium -- which will represent a homecoming of sorts for the native of Richmond, Tex.

The going might not be easy early on, at least until Katz proves he can making plays in the passing game. Defenses will focus on Rodgers, stack the line of scrimmage with defenders and dare Katz to beat them.

But at least one person thinks the best way to get Katz going is to give Rodgers the ball and allow him to do his thing.

"If we get the running game started, that can help a quarterback get started," Rodgers said.

And if the big-armed Katz makes a few plays downfield, things might play out a bit like they did with Toby Gerhart and quarterback Andrew Luck at Stanford last year.

Which would mean an invitation to New York for Rodgers.

Pac-10 football Mt. Rushmore?

February, 9, 2009
2/09/09
4:08
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Sure some of you folks already have seen this but it may have gotten lost in the recruiting hoopla for many of you: ESPN.com did a state-by-state "Mt. Rushmore" of sports.

You can vote for your favorite here. And here's the index.

It was notable to me that the only two Pac-10 football presences were Don James for Washington and Pat Tillman for Arizona. Pac-10 hoops produced John Wooden for California and Lute Olsen for Arizona.

By way of comparison, two of the four picks from Alabama and Florida emerged from college football.

Wonder how some of you might envision a Mt. Rushmore of Pac-10 football.

To me, the two certainties would be Don James and John McKay.

It would be hard not to include Pete Carroll. Tillman would be a good one -- good granite chin, too.

If it were still 1993, O.J. Simpson would be a possibility.

Who else?

Terry Baker? Terry Donahue?

Frank Kush? Howard Jones?

Marcus Allen? Pappy Waldorf? Carson Palmer? John Elway? Troy Aikman? Jim Plunkett? Gary Beban? Charles White?

Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Pac-10 lunchtime links

December, 11, 2008
12/11/08
3:01
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

• Don Ruiz of the News Tribune doesn't think new Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian will have enough returning experience to show positive strides in his first year.

• And in keeping with the Sarkisian theme ... The Huskies new coach already is making the rounds to local high schools to drum up support and scout out fresh talent.

• Darnell Dickson of the Provo Daily Herald writes that BYU quarterback Max Hall will get to end his 2008 season against the team he despised as a child -- Arizona. Hall started his collegiate career at Arizona State, but never got to play against the Wildcats.

• Former USC tailback Charles White could get his Heisman Trophy back. Los Angeles Times columnist Jerry Crowe writes that John Rogers, a 35-year-old Arkansas memorabilia collector who paid $216,000 this week for the trophy, wants to find a way to give it back.

• Arizona junior linebacker Sterling Lewis was arrested early Thursday morning on suspicion of extreme DUI, Alexis Huicochea of the Arizona Daily Star reported. Lewis' blood alcohol limit was at .15 percent or above, which is considered to be extreme DUI and his car was impounded.

USC shines as Pac-10's 'clutch team past'

August, 1, 2008
8/01/08
11:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

What's clutch? Winning, over and over, through the ages.

That's USC. Or as Pete Carroll would say: "Win Forever."

It certainly feels like that for the rest of the college football world, especially the Pac-10, which has looked up at the Trojans in the conference standings for six consecutive seasons.

Sure, USC took a turn in the doldrums during the '80s and '90s -- heck the '50s weren't so grand either. Sure, the program's lost a number of notable games -- anyone see a 41-point favorite lose at home before?

Sure, many talented USC teams didn't live up to their promise.

But many did.

The record speaks for itself.  The Trojans:

  • Own 11 national titles in five different decades.
  • Own the highest all-time winning percentage in the Pac-10 vs. NCAA opponents of any conference (.704). That percentage ranks seventh among all Division I schools.
  • Own a winning record vs. every Pac-10 team, ranging from 55-8-4 (Washington State) to 42-28-7 (UCLA).
  • Own a winning record vs. every other BCS conference, including a 17-10-1 mark vs. the SEC.
  • Own a 30-16 record in bowl games (.652). Those 30 wins rank second all-time to Alabama, which has 31.
  • Own seven wins over No. 1-ranked teams, second only to Notre Dame's eight.

History? It's not just one great coach; it's four: Howard Jones, John McKay, John Robinson and Pete Carroll.

Clutch teams also produce clutch performers: Seven Heisman Trophy winners.

Recall quarterback Matt Leinart willing the Trojans to victory at Notre Dame in 2005. Or Charles White taking over the 1980 Rose Bowl.

And it's not just the Heisman winners. It's Rodney Peete leading the Trojans to a victory over No. 6 UCLA, despite suffering from the measles. It's Anthony Davis' 11 career touchdowns vs. Notre Dame.

USC is easily the Pac-10's Godfather of Clutch and arguably one of college football's "most clutch" programs of all time.

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