Pac-12: Jim Thorpe

Pac-12 viewer's guide: Week 9

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
10:00
AM ET
video (All times Pacific)

Friday, 7 p.m.

Oregon at California, Fox Sports 1

[+] EnlargeMariota
Jaime Valdez/USA TODAY SportsMarcus Mariota and Oregon figure to be in a shootout against California.
This is a matchup between the two Pac-12 leaders in scoring offense: The Ducks average 43.6 points per game, and the Bears are at 41.6. The difference on paper -- and likely on the field, too -- comes on defense. Cal sports the conference's second-worst unit (38.4 points per game), and the Ducks have upped their defensive play to reach fourth in the conference rankings (23.6 points per game). This will be the first college football game at Levi's Stadium and comes on a massive sports night in the San Francisco Bay Area: Game 3 of the World Series will be happening there, too.

Saturday, 11 a.m.

UCLA at Colorado, Pac-12 Network

It's turned into another long season for the Buffs, and the journey certainly doesn't become any easier with UCLA's explosive bunch coming to town. Turnovers, though, have been a major issue for the Bruins this season. Cal scored 21 points off UCLA miscues to keep the game close last week, and that might well be Colorado's formula to have a puncher's chance at Folsom Field. For Brett Hundley's squad, this should be a chance for a tuneup before a challenging finishing stretch: vs. Arizona, at Washington, vs. USC, vs. Stanford.

12:30 p.m.

Oregon State at Stanford, ESPN2

The Beavers will certainly be sniffing upset in Palo Alto. Stanford is a very vulnerable team right now: The offense is faltering, and that supersonic defense has taken two gut punches with injuries to linemen David Parry and Aziz Shittu. That being said, the Cardinal have been excellent when faced with adversity in the David Shaw era. The fourth-year coach has yet to lose consecutive games in his tenure, and Stanford is desperate to right the ship at home.

3 p.m.

Arizona at Washington State, Pac-12 Network

The Cougars won 24-17 in Tucson last season, but we will likely see more points this Saturday in Pullman when Rich Rodriguez and Mike Leach resume battle. Arizona and Washington State are the Pac-12's two top teams when it comes to total offense. They are averaging a combined 1,091 yards per game. Since both defenses are ranked in the conference's bottom half, expect fireworks and an intriguing duel between senior Connor Halliday (who is on an NCAA record-smashing pace) and freshman Anu Solomon.

7 p.m.

USC at Utah, Fox Sports 1

This Utah squad reminds our Kevin Gemmell of the 2012 Stanford squad that won the Pac-12 championship, and I agree with him: The Utes don't ask for much out of their quarterback (62 pass yards last week), they run the ball with vigor (229 yards from Devontae Booker last week) and they set up frequent shop in opposing backfields (nation-leading 5.5 sacks per game). Both teams have also established a hashtag for their pass rush: 2012 Stanford had #PartyInTheBackfield, and 2014 Utah has coined #SackLakeCity. So USC is tasked with beating this rugged Ute team in a raucous road environment. This game is a significant step in figuring out the convoluted Pac-12 South puzzle.

7:45 p.m.

Arizona State at Washington, ESPN

There is a 70 percent chance of rain in Seattle. They call that "Dawg Weather" in the Pacific Northwest, and Washington hopes that will aid in its quest to win the turnover battle -- the Huskies are ranked second nationally in turnover margin even after last week's substandard performance at Oregon. Taylor Kelly returns to the quarterback role for Arizona State, but Todd Graham expects Mike Bercovici will also get snaps. Washington's offense has sputtered this season (league-worst 5.0 yards per play), and it will be interesting to see who gets the upper hand in its matchup with the Sun Devils' unremarkable defense.

Jordan Poyer named Thorpe DB of the week

October, 10, 2012
10/10/12
12:30
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Oregon State cornerback Jordan Poyer has been named the Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week after he grabbed three interceptions in the Beavers' 19-6 win over Washington State.

From the news release:
Poyer’s three interceptions were the most by an Oregon State player in nearly a decade and his final interception sealed the win for the Beavers. With Washington State driving in Beaver territory late in the fourth quarter, Poyer intercepted a Cougar pass and returned it 50 yards that allowed Oregon State to run out the clock. He also added four tackles including one for a loss.

Poyer was a member of the 2012 Jim Thorpe Preseason Watch List released this past summer after a sensational junior season that saw him receive second-team All-Pac-12 honors.

California cornerback Kameron Jackson also grabbed three interceptions in the Bears' win over UCLA. The Thorpe Award made him an honorable mention.

Oregon's 'IEO' is Thorpe DB of the week

September, 26, 2012
9/26/12
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After recording two interceptions in No. 2 Oregon's 49-0 win over No. 22 Arizona, sophomore cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (Chino Hills, Calif.) was named the Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week.

All together now: Ifoooooo!

(Yes, his name is fun to say).

Ekpre-Olomu returned one of the picks 54 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. He also added three pass breakups.

He was part of an Oregon defense that held Arizona to just 332 total yards and zero points, which was far below the Wildcats’ 46-point and 605-yard averages coming into the contest. It was the Ducks' first shutout in conference play since 2003.

Two Pac-10 DBs on Thorpe Award watch list

August, 11, 2010
8/11/10
6:59
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A big year for Pac-10 quarterbacks? Based on the watch list for the 2010 Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's best defensive back, there is more good news for Pac-10 passing games.

Just two conference players made the 35-man list: UCLA safety Rahim Moore and Arizona cornerback Trevin Wade.

Guess here is USC cornerback Shareece Wright has a chance to get added to the list this season, as might Arizona State cornerback Omar Bolden, Oregon free safety John Boyett and Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant.

The Thorpe committee will meet on the Monday before Thanksgiving to select the three finalists, who will be submitted to a national panel of about 50 sports writers, sportscasters, coaches and former players who vote to determine the winner. The three finalists are invited to the ESPN College Football Awards Show, and the winner is announced during the show.

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