Pac-12: Marcus Mariota

video
If Oregon wins the inaugural College Football Playoff, the Pac-12 will cap the greatest season in its history, including iterations as the Pac-8 and Pac-10. Perhaps we should toss an "arguably" in there, particularly if the conference's seven other bowl teams go belly-up in some form or fashion, but why be wishy-washy?

After Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was the overwhelming winner of the Heisman Trophy on Saturday, the Pac-12 completed a sweep through the award season like some morphing of "Titanic," "Ben Hur" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" at the Oscars. Combine Mariota with Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright, and the Pac-12 has produced the season's most decorated offensive and defensive players. Not since 2002, when USC QB Carson Palmer won the Heisman and Arizona State LB Terrell Suggs swept most defensive awards has this happened.

[+] EnlargeMarcus Mariota
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesMarcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks have a chance to make this a historic season for the Pac-12.
Mariota also won the Maxwell and Walter Camp player of the year awards, as well as the Davey O'Brien and Unitas awards as the nation's top QB. Wright won the Lombardi, Bednarik and Nagurski awards. Further, UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks won the Butkus Award, Utah defensive end Nate Orchard won the Hendricks Award and Utah punter Tom Hackett won the Ray Guy Award.

Toss in eight players on the ESPN.com All-America team -- from seven different schools -- and six teams ranked in the final pre-bowl CFP rankings and it feels like an unprecedented season for national recognition in the Pac-12.

Well, at least if the Ducks take care of business.

The season Palmer and Suggs were college football's most celebrated players, just two Pac-10 teams ended up ranked, though both were in the top 10 (USC and Washington State), while Colorado, then in the Big 12, also finished ranked. In 2004, USC won the national title, Trojans QB Matt Leinart won the Heisman and California finished in the top 10. Arizona State also finished ranked, while Utah went undefeated, though as a Mountain West Conference member. Obviously, if you fudge with conference membership issues, you can make things look better retroactively than they were in their present time.

In 2000, three teams -- No. 3 Washington, No. 4 Oregon State and No. 7 Oregon -- finished ranked in the top seven. In 1984, the Pac-10 won the Rose (USC), Orange (Washington) and Fiesta (UCLA) bowls and finished with three top-10 teams, including No. 2 Washington, which was victimized by BYU's dubious national title.

So there have been plenty of impressive seasons, just not anything as scintillating as 2014 if Oregon wins the title.

Oregon, of course, hoisting the new 35-pound, cylindrical trophy as the last team standing is hardly a sure thing. First, the Ducks get defending national champion Florida State in the Rose Bowl Game Presented By Northwestern Mutual. While many have questioned the Seminoles this season because every game has been a nail-biter, that doesn't change the fact the nation's only unbeaten Power 5 conference team -- winners of 29 games in a row, no less -- own the fourth quarter. In football, owning the fourth quarter is almost always a good thing.

If Oregon manages to win that CFP semifinal game, the good money is on it getting a shot at top-ranked Alabama in the national title game, though throwing funereal dirt on Ohio State this season has proved difficult. Ohio State is the Count Dracula of college football this season -- perennially undead. That duly noted, knocking aside Alabama -- the game's most dynastic program, led by its most celebrated coach in Nick Saban -- while the Crimson Tide also stand as the bell cow of the dominant SEC would be the ultimate achievement for a team and conference eager to solidify its super-elite standing.

The simple fact that Oregon has not won a national title in football -- and the Pac-12/10 hasn't claimed one since 2004 -- stands out on both literal and symbolic levels. There has not been a first-time national champion since Florida won in 1996, while a Pac-12/10 team other than USC hasn't won one since Washington in 1991. Before that, if then-Big 8 member Colorado's 1990 title doesn't count, it's UCLA in 1954.

So Oregon taking that final step into the light would represent a pretty dramatic development, particularly after the school already upgraded its trophy case with its first Heisman. It would complete a climb started in the 1990s and show other mid-to-low-level Power 5 teams that all they need to transform into a superpower is good coaching, strong administration and a sugar-daddy billionaire booster.

As for the conference in general, it would be a big deal to have a non-USC national title in the coffers, and it would be further validation of the depth and quality of the conference. Last season, for the first time since 2009, the conference didn't finish with a top-five team, but for the first time ever it finished with six teams ranked in the final AP poll. So the Ducks at the top would provide some nice symmetry.

As for the entire postseason, the Pac-12 is favored in seven of its eight bowl games, with UCLA being only a slight underdog to Kansas State, with the line trending down since opening at 3 1/2 points. So the conference is set up for success. Anything fewer than six wins -- including Oregon in the Rose Bowl -- would be a disappointment, an underachievement.

You know, not unlike last season, when the conference went 6-3 and graded a mere "Gentleman's C" from the Pac-12 blog.

While Washington and Oregon State fans will be hard-pressed to force out a "Go Ducks!" and USC fans probably aren't ready to admit a new member to the college football penthouse, if Oregon can make its tide rise to the top -- and roll the Tide along the way -- it will boost all Pac-12 ships.

Marcus Mariota's numbers add up to Heisman

December, 13, 2014
Dec 13
9:09
PM ET

Steve Dykes/Getty ImagesMarcus Mariota has led Oregon to a Rose Bowl berth.

Marcus Mariota was arguably the second-best quarterback in college football in each of the previous two seasons.

This year, he’s not only been recognized as the best quarterback, but the sport’s best player as well.

Mariota easily won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, topping Melvin Gordon and Amari Cooper. Mariota had 2,534 total points, including 788 first-place votes. He received 90.9 percent of the possible points, the second-most in the trophy’s history. Gordon earned 1,250 points, and Cooper 1,023.

The history
Mariota is the first Heisman winner in Oregon history and the only Ducks player to finish first or second in the voting.

He’s the eighth player to win the Heisman in a season in which a previous Heisman winner at that position (in this case, Jameis Winston) also played.

He’s the first winner from a school in the Pacific Northwest (encompassing Oregon, Idaho and Washington) since Terry Baker of Oregon State in 1962.

Mariota became the ninth quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien Award in the same season, the third to do so in the last eight seasons, joining Tim Tebow (2007) and Cam Newton (2010).

Mariota and Winston will meet in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. It will be the fourth time two players with Heismans will have faced each other in a game. The last instance was in the 2005 Orange Bowl when Matt Leinart and USC crushed Jason White and Oklahoma.

Quarterbacks have won each of the last five Heismans and 13 of the last 14 (excluding Reggie Bush's vacated award).

What Mariota does best
One of Mariota’s most lauded traits is his ability to find the end zone without turning the ball over. He has been responsible for 53 touchdowns this year and has committed five turnovers, the second-best margin (+48) by any Power 5 player over the last 10 seasons. Tebow (+49 in 2007, including +4 in the Citrus Bowl) is the only player with a better differential in that span.

Two of Mariota's 372 passes have been intercepted this year, just a shade above half a percent. If he can maintain that in the College Football Playoff, he would break the FBS single-season record (minimum 350 passes) that Kellen Moore set in 2009, when three of his 431 passes (0.7%) were intercepted.

Mariota does this and still throws the deep pass accurately. His 54 completions on throws 15 or more yards downfield are the most among Power 5 players. His completes 56 percent of those throws, a mark that ranks second.

Mailbag: South shall rise again!

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
5:30
PM ET
Happy "Mariota wins the Heisman" Eve!

Follow me on Twitter by clicking here.

To the notes!

Stu from Seattle writes: I know you all posted this week that the Pac-12 South will be wide-open next year -- and I agree completely -- but if you had to handicap the division, based on players returning, plus those likely to go pro early (a lot of critical 'SC players on that list, it seems), who do you favor RIGHT NOW to end up on top? No pressure.

Ted Miller: At first, I thought I could just pop something out there when I picked this question. It was like a fat fastball coming at me just where I like it. Swing! Then I did some depth-chart reviews. Ah, Stu, you got me with the ole changeup.

Honest answer is I have no clue how to stack things up right now. You could make a compelling case for five teams, and the sixth, Colorado, stacks up like a potential bowl team if things fall favorably here and there. My initial intention, in fact, was to pick Utah, knowing that would flummox many of you traditional Pac-10 sorts. And you know how I enjoy flummoxing you traditional Pac-10 sorts.

Things are very interesting in the South, but we can't truly stack things up until we know who's entering the NFL draft early. We can make assumptions on some guys -- Arizona State WR Jaelen Strong and USC DE Leonard Williams seem sure to bolt -- but you just never know. There are going to be some surprise players staying and some surprise players going.

[+] EnlargeNelson Agholor
Harry How/Getty ImagesThe draft decision of Nelson Agholor and others will likely tip the balance of power in 2015 in the Pac-12 South.
At this point, I'm a slight lean to Arizona State. No, USC. No, ASU. Hmm. OK, I'll say the Sun Devils, but I might change my mind. In an hour.

How do things stack up?

Arizona: Lots of skill and name players returning, but BIG hits on O-line and on defense. Still, QB Anu Solomon, RB Nick Wilson, LB Scooby Wright and a deep crew of receivers is a good place to start.

Arizona State: Mike Bercovici is pretty much like a returning starter at QB, and the defense will be much more experienced next fall. There is not a significant area that stands out as a weakness.

UCLA: While most will focus on QB Brett Hundley leaving -- and there could be other early defections -- the Bruins could potentially welcome back 18 starting position players. So the big question is whether touted incoming QB Josh Rosen will be ready, or is there some other answer behind center?

USC: We can't judge the Trojans until guys announce whether they are staying or going. If it's just one or two guys -- Williams? WR Nelson Agholor? -- then USC will be in the thick of things. And maybe the favorite.

Utah: I've got Utah with potentially 17 position players coming back, though RB Devontae Booker bolting for the NFL would be a big hit. The offensive line will be a huge strength and there's good talent coming back on defense. Will the QB position -- I know: broken record -- take a step forward?

This, obviously, is a topic we will revisit. A lot.


Tim from Salt Lake City writes: Do you expect the strength and depth of the Pac-12 South to last? Everything is about balance. For one team to win, another has to lose (not a terribly profound statement, I know). This year, that balance came in the form of several teams underachieving in the North, but Cal and Washington are trending up. Plus, I'm not ready to declare Stanford's reign over based on one underwhelming season. Could things be more balanced next year and, if so, which South team is most likely to regress?

Ted Miller: I don't see any South regression. It might, actually, end up stronger in 2015 than it was this year, particularly if players stick around instead of entering the draft and UCLA solves its QB question adequately.

The North, actually, is a better candidate for regression. Perhaps a significant one. I think Oregon will slip post-Marcus Mariota, but the Ducks still welcome back a strong core of talent. I expect them to be a slight favorite again in 2015, particularly with Stanford taking some huge hits on defense.

As for Cal and Washington trending up, I'm with you on the Bears, but I don't know about the Huskies, who take some monster losses on defense and aren't really scintillating on offense either. Oregon State will be breaking in a new coach and quarterback and rebuilding its defense, while Washington State fills me with uncertainty after I just knew last August the Cougars would take a big step forward this year.

I actually think the Cougs could be dangerous in 2015, but I'm not going to type that because it surely would throw the jinx on them, and Coug fans would blame me for doing that.


Brian from Boston writes: Looking at Cody Kessler's upcoming decision, I can't help but wonder, would he be off leaving after this year? It pains me to say it but, although his stock is not nearly as high as Matt Barkley's was after his junior year (even though his numbers are better), if he leaves now he will be a second-day pick but will probably end up on a better team, with less expectations. However, if he stays, he could get hurt, his numbers could decline and his stock could drop, or he could end up having much higher expectations.

Ted Miller: I think Kessler wants to come back, though I think he's more torn at present than he was several weeks ago, when he was talking about lobbying other Trojans considering the NFL to stick around.

You could make a case either way. Kessler has certainly boosted his stock this season, but he could play his way solidly into the first round next year.

I don't think he'll be fretting playing his way into a high draft pick and then ending up on a bad team. I've never heard a college player say he left early to avoid being drafted sooner the next year, fearing an early first-round pick could become his ruin.


David from Beaverton, Oregon, writes: Fun/hypothetical question -- you guys like those, right? For each Pac-12 team if you could take one player from another Pac-12 team and add them to said team, who would you take and why? And maybe we need some boundaries on this, like no QB's or something like that, because it would be boring if everyone chooses Mariota. The player can either make the new team better or more interesting. For example, as an Oregon fan, while I like our front seven a lot, I think we could really take it up a notch with a top-flight pass rusher like Hau'oli Kikaha. But wouldn't it also be really interesting if Nelson Agholor,was on the team even though he's probably not needed as much? Imagine him in space with the other Ducks playmakers. Anyway, what do you think?

Ted Miller: I actually do this all the time. My favorite in 2014 was imagining what Utah might have been this year with Marcus Mariota at quarterback.

(Inserting pause here for Utah fans to emerge from their swoon, though Washington fans are surely noting the Huskies were the only other Pac-12 team to recruit Mariota).

I'm not going to go through each team because every team could benefit from a Strong or Agholor or a Williams or an Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. But I do have one.

What if Arizona defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and his 3-3-5 scheme could get a monster nose tackle, such as a Danny Shelton? You think Scooby is productive now? Imagine what he could do with a massive, demands-a-double-team presence in front of him.


Michael from Steubenville, Ohio, writes: When the Rose Bowl hosts the semifinal between Oregon and Florida State, will the winner receive the Leishman Trophy?

Ted Miller: Yep. The Rose Bowl folks are treating this one just like any other Rose Bowl, though obviously it's not a traditional Pac-12-Big Ten matchup. It's the 101st Rose Bowl, quasi-pure and simple -- or the Twitter-unfriendly "College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual."


Mike from Dublin, California, writes: This is a great video that was made by UCLA covering the point when Eric Kendricks won the 2014 Butkus Award. It's a real tear-jerker and something worth watching and sharing.

Ted Miller: Yes, that is very cool.


Kevin from San Francisco writes: Win or Lose, Buffs forever.

Ted Miller: So it's cool video day.

Mariota miles ahead of other Heisman contenders in total value

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
1:00
PM ET
Marcus Mariota has been “Super Mariota” this season. He has been responsible for a Pac-12 record 53 touchdowns, leads the FBS in Total QBR (91.9) and has five turnovers in 489 passing and running plays.

We often point to Total QBR as an all-encompassing measure of quarterback success. After all, the leader in Total QBR has won the Heisman Trophy in four of the past seven seasons.

There is another metric, however, that could be an even better gauge of a quarterback’s value to his team. Quarterback points above average (PAA) accounts for efficiency and the number of the plays in which a quarterback is involved. (Total QBR accounts only for efficiency).

So, while QBR is based on per-play efficiency, QB PAA measures total production of a quarterback. QBR is similar to yards per attempt (a rate stat) and QB PAA is similar to total yards (counting stat), while both account for efficiency and defenses faced. To derive the “above average” part of PAA, a quarterback’s performance is compared to that of an average quarterback (average = QBR of 50).

It makes sense that a quarterback who is both efficient and involved in a lot of plays would receive greater consideration for the Heisman Trophy. Five of the past six Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks led the FBS in QB PAA before bowls.



According to QB PAA and based on recent history, Mariota is in a strong position to win the Heisman Trophy. Entering bowl season, he leads the FBS in QB PAA by more than 35 points. That means that over the course of the season, Mariota has added 35 more points to his team’s net scoring margin than any other FBS quarterback, when compared to the baseline of an average QB. Trevone Boykin, the No. 2 quarterback on ESPN’s Heisman Watch, doesn’t rank in the top 10.



As Mariota continues to lead the most efficient offense in the nation, remember that he not only is operating at top-level efficiency, but also is involved in a large number of plays, pushing his value higher. This may be good omen for Mariota -- the past four quarterbacks who were the most efficient (No. 1 in Total QBR) and most productive (No. 1 in QB PAA) entering bowls went on to win the Heisman Trophy fairly easily.

Marcus Mariota's Oregon career has included decidedly few interceptions and decidedly little drama. The Ducks' quarterback has been machine-like in his efficiency, providing superb stats but not much suspense.

Suspense should be in short supply Saturday night in New York during the Heisman Trophy ceremony. Mariota and fellow Heisman finalists Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin and Amari Cooper of Alabama will sit nervously next to each other as the winner is announced. But deep down, all three know it will be Mariota, who picked up two more honors -- the Maxwell Award and the Davey O'Brien Award -- Thursday at the Home Depot College Football Awards at Disney World.

As a Heisman voter, I'm not allowed to reveal my vote until after the ceremony. But I can make predictions about the voting: it'll be Mariota in a landslide.

The Heisman was a legitimate two-man race entering championship weekend, as Mariota and Gordon both had strong cases. Then Mariota had his typical performance in the Pac-12 championship (313 pass yards, five total touchdowns), while Gordon was bottled up in the Big Ten title game (76 rush yards, no touchdowns).

video
NO. 2 OREGON DUCKS (12-1) vs. NO. 3 FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (13-0)
JAN. 1, 5 P.M. ET, ROSE BOWL, PASADENA, CALIFORNIA (ESPN)


OREGON BREAKDOWN

Season highlight: Winning the Pac-12 championship. The Ducks' 38-point win against Arizona made up for the fact the Wildcats gave the Ducks their only blemish of the season. But when you come back and absolutely dominate that opponent in the most important game of the season, those wounds seem to heal pretty quickly. Quarterback Marcus Mariota had more than one Heisman moment and finished the day with three rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns.

[+] EnlargeMarcus Mariota
Brian Davies/The Register-Guard Marcus Mariota and the Ducks face a tough test in the defending national champions.
Season lowlight: That Oct. 2 loss to Arizona. The Ducks could've been undefeated had they not laid an egg against the Wildcats in their first encounter. The Ducks' defense looked confused and scatterbrained, giving up 495 yards of offense and letting redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon and freshman running back Nick Wilson look like All-Americans.

Player to watch: Mariota. He's not just the player to watch for Oregon or the Pac-12. He's the player to watch nationally as the front-runner for the Heisman (and folks who say otherwise probably haven't spent enough time -- or any time -- watching him play). This season he has thrown 38 touchdowns while being picked off just two times. Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty is the only QB who has thrown more touchdown passes, with 44. But he also has eight more interceptions than Mariota. There's no quarterback more efficient in college football right now.

Motivation factor: This is the season. The Ducks almost have it all -- including the big names, and their flashy style -- but what they don't have is a national title. And in the first year of the College Football Playoff, it's within their reach. The chances Mariota returns next year are similar to that of an iceberg's chances in Hades. He's surrounded by huge playmakers on offense and a defense that has made major strides in the second half of the season. This roster has the talent to win a national title, and if Oregon wants a chance at glory anytime soon, this seems to be the season.
-- Chantel Jennings

vs.
FLORIDA STATE BREAKDOWN

Season highlights: It begins with the fact that the Seminoles were the only team to finish the regular season undefeated, and they did it with three nonconference games against Power 5 opponents. While FSU had to sweat out nearly all of its victories, the Seminoles received every team's best shot. Their ACC season was littered with come-from-behind wins and it began with an overtime win against Clemson without quarterback Jameis Winston. After he returned to the lineup, Winston orchestrated game-winning fourth-quarter drives against Notre Dame, Louisville, Miami and Boston College -- all of which came over a five-game period.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesJameis Winston and the Noles have a chance to win titles under both the old BCS and the new playoff.
Season lowlights: With an undefeated record, all of the lowlights came off the field. Winston was suspended for screaming a sexually charged phrase near the hub of the campus. Karlos Williams was investigated for assaulting his live-in ex-girlfriend, who was pregnant with the couple's second child. And the ruling from Winston's student code of conduct hearing should come down soon. The other lowlights came every Tuesday after the midway point of the season. Each week the College Football Playoff rankings were released, the Seminoles walked away from the television feeling slighted.

Player to watch: The player to watch is Winston any time he is on the field. Although the reigning Heisman Trophy winner didn't match the numbers from his redshirt freshman season, he rose to the occasion every time the Seminoles needed him. No matter the deficit, and Florida State has seen many this season, it's foolish to count out Winston. What's also worth watching is whether Winston has the opportunity to play in the remainder of the postseason. The code of conduct decision is still pending and could jeopardize his eligibility.

Motivation factor: Florida State has become a polarizing program over the past 13 months with Winston's transgressions, coach Jimbo Fisher's public defense of Winston and the selection committee's opinion of a team on a 29-game winning streak. That has generated the popular us-against-the-world mentality in the FSU locker room. That's been the source of motivation much of the season for the Seminoles. On top of that, the team is chasing history. Never has Florida State posted back-to-back undefeated seasons or national championships. It can do both.
-- Jared Shanker
video

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Oregon had a Stanford problem. And then it didn't. It had an Arizona problem. And now it doesn't after stomping the Wildcats 51-13 in the Pac-12 championship game.

The Oregon program had a Heisman Trophy problem, but that likely ends Dec. 13 when quarterback Marcus Mariota takes home the bronze statue after a brilliant season capped by his MVP performance Friday night against Arizona. His five touchdowns against the Wildcats -- two passing, three rushing -- gave him 53 for the season against just two interceptions.

The Ducks have solved problems and touched -- or will touch -- the lofty places in college football. Just about all of them. Save one: The program has never won a national title. It's finished a season ranked second -- twice. It's played for a BCS national title and fallen just short against Auburn after the 2010 season.

Now, its win over the Wildcats is certain to secure either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the inaugural College Football Playoff. The Ducks, ranked second in the rankings this past week, will be playing in the Rose Bowl Game Presented By Northwestern Mutual on Jan. 1, semifinal opponent TBD on Sunday when the selection committee makes its final announcement.

[+] EnlargeMarcus Mariota
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsMarcus Mariota's performance against Arizona all but handed him the Heisman, which would leave Oregon with just one final frontier to conquer.
Oregon improved to 12-1 on the season and took revenge for its only blemish, a 31-24 home defeat to Arizona on Oct. 2. At the time of that defeat, more than a few folks pronounced Oregon dead and questioned the leadership of coach Mark Helfrich, who was still laboring under the shadow of former coach Chip Kelly. Helfrich and the Ducks began the process that got them to the top of the Pac-12 for the first time since 2011 by showing up on Oct. 3 ready to get back to work.

"The next day, every single guy in our program was on the practice field 25 minutes before they had to be fixing it," Helfrich said. "It wasn't, 'Hey, you screwed this up. You did this wrong.' It's, 'How do we get better?'"

Oh, Oregon got better. A lot better. Since that loss, the Ducks are 8-0 with an average winning margin of 26.0 points per game. They have scored at least 40 points in eight straight games and gained at least 500 yards in seven straight. Both are the longest active streaks in the FBS, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Mariota and the Ducks offense started slowly and didn't really get in sync until the second half, but the defense made things easy, as it dominated the Wildcats, who had just 25 total yards and two first downs at halftime. When the offense caught up, it was lights-out.

And Mariota's final numbers were Heisman-esque. He completed 25 of 38 passes for 313 yards. For the season, he has 3,783 passing yards and 669 rushing yards.

"If this guy isn't what the Heisman Trophy is about, I'm in the wrong profession," Helfrich said.

For Arizona, it was just an ugly night, one that might knock it out of a major bowl. To cut to the chase, nothing worked. The Wildcats scored their first touchdown on a 69-yard strike against broken coverage to make it 30-7 and added a second tally on the game's final play.

"They played well and we didn't," coach Rich Rodriguez said. "They outcoached us and outplayed us."

Oregon appears to be peaking at the right time. After battling injuries all year, it's got three weeks to get healthy, starting with center Hroniss Grasu.

The only place Oregon hasn't reached is No. 1. The Ducks have positioned themselves to obtain that elusive prize. The question now is: Can they finish?

Oregon's shocking 42-16 loss at Arizona in 2013 was explained away by the usual suspects of excuses. Oregon was flat after losing to Stanford two weeks before. The planets curiously aligned and Arizona played a perfect game. All the bounces went toward the Wildcats and away from the Ducks.

In fact, that loss was widely viewed -- at least among the chattering classes -- as fuel for the Ducks against Arizona on Oct. 5 in Eugene. Then-No. 2 Oregon was playing inside the friendly confines of boisterous Autzen Stadium, and Wildcats redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon was making his first road start in the Pac-12. In their previous game, the Wildcats needed a Hail Mary pass to beat California. Oregon was expected to exact revenge -- in spades.

Of course, we all know what happened. Arizona, without playing a perfect game and without a series of "lucky" breaks, won 31-24. It outrushed, outgained and outplayed the Ducks. Sure, Oregon has some injury issues. Sure, the game was horribly officiated. But egregious calls went both ways. The Wildcats just played better.

Since that loss, the Ducks are 7-0 and again ranked No. 2. Their average winning margin has been 24.3 points per game. They have scored at least 40 points in seven straight games and gained at least 500 yards in six straight. Both are the longest active streaks in the FBS, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“They’ve been rolling right by people," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. "In all three phases, they’ve been dominant. I think our guys see that. They know they are a better team.”

Ah, but Rodriguez and defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel seem to have some secret sauce for cooking the Ducks. While Stanford was once viewed as Oregon's nemesis, now the Wildcats are that team.

Take Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who is trying to lock up the Heisman Trophy, the Pac-12 title and a berth in the College Football Playoff with a win over No. 7 Arizona on Friday night in Levi's Stadium. Since the start of last season, Mariota has a 62.0 Total QBR in two games against Arizona, 30 points lower than against all other FBS opponents. Since the start of last season, two of Oregon’s three lowest-scoring games have come against Arizona.

Over the past two years, Mariota and the Ducks have averaged 47.9 points per game and 7.6 yards per play. Against Arizona, that total falls to 20 ppg and 6.2 ypp.

So Arizona has twice put together a plan that has thwarted the heavily favored Ducks. The question is whether they stick to the basics of the previous plans that worked before or make significant tweaks in anticipation of Oregon making adjustments?

“You don’t want to confuse your own players too much," Rodriguez said. "You don’t want to have them out there thinking. You want them to play fast, especially when you’re playing a team as fast as Oregon.”

That means Arizona plans to stick to the schemes that won it the South Division championship and earned it 10 regular season wins, including one over the Ducks. Oregon also probably wants to be itself, as in playing like the team it has been the past seven games.

Recall that the loss to Arizona was supposed to have exposed Oregon's Achilles' heel: its offensive line. It was decimated by injuries and, combined with the preceding game against Washington State, had surrendered 12 sacks in two games. The return of offensive tackle Jake Fisher and, to a lesser extent, Andre Yruretagoyena, has bolstered the Ducks' line significantly. It has yielded just 17 sacks in the Ducks other 10 games.

Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said the Ducks had to make adjustments within their schemes and with the personnel to get the line to gel. The unit has been playing significantly better, though it has to be a concern that All-America center Hroniss Grasu is still out with a knee injury.

One line of thinking is the Ducks' desire for vindication should provide extra fuel. If so, Helfrich is fine with that. Whatever increases focus.

“The thing we always talk about is channeling your energy to preparation," Helfrich said. "Whatever it is, if it’s getting beat the last two times we’ve played these guys, if that motivates you to have a great practice today, perfect. Use it.”

That said, you'd think the Pac-12 championship and a potential berth in the playoff would be motivation enough.

Oregon expected to be here when the season began. No one predicted the Wildcats would crash the party. Yet it's Arizona that comes in with the favorable head-to-head ledger. That suggests both teams should be plenty confident in their personnel and plan when they strap it on for the 2014 conference crown.
As expected, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III and Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez were honored with the Pac-12's three major individual awards.

Mariota, a heavy favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, was named the conference's Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 3,470 yards and 36 touchdowns with just two interceptions in the regular season. A junior, Mariota was the first-team all-conference quarterback in each of the past two seasons and the Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2012.

Wright III, the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year, turned in one of the most impactful seasons in all of college football. The sophomore led the conference in forced fumbles (6), ranked third in the nation in sacks (14) and his 139 tackles helped the Wildcats win the Pac-12 South for the first time. He was a Pac-12 honorable mention selection a year ago.

Rodriguez is the first Arizona coach to named Pac-12 Coach of the Year since Dick Tomey in 1992. In his third season in Tucson, Rodriguez has led the Wildcats to their third overall 10-win season in school history and first since 1998.

Oregon running back Royce Freeman was named the Freshman Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,185 yards during the regular season. USC's Adoree' Jackson, who also saw time on offense and special teams, was honored as the Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.

Plenty of grumpy teams in Pac-12

December, 1, 2014
Dec 1
11:00
AM ET
It's been another banner year for the Pac-12, one that might even get better if the conference wins its first national title since 2004. Five teams are ranked, eight are bowl-eligible and seven won eight or more regular-season games.

Yet there's a lot of grumpiness out there. As in: The only two fan bases that seem completely satisfied with their seasons belong to the South and North division champions, and Oregon's satisfaction is entirely contingent on getting revenge against Arizona on Friday in Levi's Stadium.

The Ducks were the overwhelming preseason pick to win the North, as they received 37 of 39 votes in the preseason media poll. Oregon also was the decisive favorite to win the conference title, earning 24 of 39 votes. So it's no surprise that the Ducks, led by bell-to-bell Heisman Trophy favorite Marcus Mariota, are eyeballing a spot in the College Football Playoff, the program's first national title twinkling on the horizon.

[+] EnlargeRich Rodriguez
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesRich Rodriguez's Arizona Wildcats weren't expected to be a Pac-12 contender, but are playing for the championship on Friday.
Meeting high expectations is rarely easy, and second-year coach Mark Helfrich is on the cusp of doing so. Those who questioned whether Helfrich was up to replacing that Magical Football Coaching Leprechaun Chip Kelly have quieted down a bit, though Helfrich's true measure might best come post-Mariota.

As for Arizona, the team that will square off with the Ducks for the Pac-12 title, nobody picked the Wildcats to win the South Division, much less the entire conference. The Wildcats were relegated to fourth in the South in the preseason poll, closer to fifth-place Utah than third-place Arizona State.

Dramatically exceeding expectations is rarely easy, and third-year coach Rich Rodriguez already has done so. When he wins Pac-12 Coach of the Year, as he most certainly should, it will be a gleaming vindication for him after his unfortunate tenure at Michigan. The man -- and his A-list staff -- can flat-out coach, and that's why Wildcats fans might want to reposition border patrols to the east in order to prevent suitors from invading Tucson, most notably Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley.

After those two teams, however, everyone else seems to have at least a harrumph or two, though odds are good this will be a rare season without a firing.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham started the season on some hot seat lists, but the Utes' 8-4 mark, which includes their first winning record in Pac-12 play, has reignited optimism in Salt Lake City and hushed Whittingham's critics. The season was far from perfect or devoid of "what-ifs?" But there's no question it was successful after consecutive losing campaigns, particularly if the Utes cap it with a bowl victory.

Arizona State, which flashed playoff potential during a five-game winning streak, didn't finish strong. It was upset at Oregon State, and Sun Devils fans have a hard time being happy about any season that includes a loss to That Team From Down South. Still, the Sun Devils entered 2014 with plenty of questions and were burdened with youth and injuries but still finished 9-3. Hard to believe too many clear-thinking folks are truly disappointed with the direction of the program under Todd Graham.

You can pretty much draw a line there between the satisfied and aggrieved, though there's a wide range between disgruntled and DISGRUNTLED.

California and UCLA are interesting cases for different reasons. Cal went 1-11 last year and was pretty much the worst Power 5 conference team. So you'd think a 5-7 finish with four losses by eight or fewer points would rate as significant improvement. UCLA went 9-3 and beat USC, which would qualify as a huge success most years in Westwood.

Yet Cal started 4-1, and Bears fans clearly envisioned bowl eligibility ahead. Also, with Stanford apparently swooning, they anticipated retaking the axe in the Big Game. But after being blown out by the Cardinal, getting clipped at home by BYU to conclude the season and suffering through atrocious defense only a little better than last season, there was hardly a warm glow coming from Bears fans Saturday about progress under Sonny Dykes.

Jim Mora's rebuilding job at UCLA has been justifiably celebrated, but the Bruins began the season as Pac-12 co-favorites and were widely viewed as the conference's second-most-likely team to make the playoff behind the Ducks. In the Pac-12 media poll, they received 37 of 39 votes to win the South and 13 votes to win the conference.

While the season had ups and downs, the Bruins nonetheless were still in position to meet preseason expectations until they went belly-up Saturday against Stanford. The reaction among Bruins fans afterward was a combination of deflation and aggravation, which might actually be better than previous seasons of resignation. But it also shows you how fine the line between success and seeming failure is in the college football paradigm, particularly for teams with championship hopes.

[+] EnlargeMike Riley
AP Photo/Troy WayrynenMike Riley and Oregon State lost to Oregon for the seventh consecutive season.
Many Oregon State fans have risen up against coach Mike Riley after a seventh consecutive loss to Oregon, which ensured a third losing season in five years. His once-secure status is now precarious. While Colorado under second-year coach Mike McIntyre was vastly more competitive this year than the previous two, the Buffaloes actually regressed in terms of overall record, going 0-9 and 2-10 compared to 1-8 and 4-8 a year ago.

Speaking of zigzagging rebuilding projects, Mike Leach was once viewed as Washington State's savior. Now, after a 3-9 finish in Year 3, it's fair to ask if he'll be on the hot seat in 2015. It took just one year for some USC fans to put Steve Sarkisian on the hot seat, and Chris Petersen's 8-5 finish in his first season at Washington rates as a disappointment to most Huskies fans.

How quickly can things turn negative? Just a year ago, at the end of the 2013 regular season, Stanford's David Shaw was the hottest Pac-12 coach and generally rated among the nation's best. He was widely viewed as coveted by the NFL. Now, after a 7-5 finish, more than a few fans -- and pundits -- are wondering whether Stanford's run among the nation's elite is over.

While it's easy to counsel against overreaction one way or the other or to recommend patience, soothing, measured words don't seem to stick the way they used to. Coaching has always been about "What have you done for me lately?" only now that's practically become a week-to-week judgment. The old five-year plan for recruiting and development and scheme adoption is pretty much gone.

The Pac-12 has surged in terms of revenue and national significance since expansion. But despite that -- perhaps because of it -- these are days of angst. Coaches often talk about learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and that's becoming relevant advice for most conference fan bases.

What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 14

November, 30, 2014
Nov 30
1:47
AM ET
A few things we learned this week in the Pac-12.

And when the smoke cleared, Arizona emerged with the South Division title: In the preseason, UCLA was all the talk in the South Division. Some folks liked USC's overall talent. Others thought Arizona State would have enough on offense to compensate for a rebuilt defense and couldn't be counted out as the defending champs. No one picked Arizona to win the South. The Wildcats were replacing their quarterback and running back Ka'Deem Carey. The defense was still highly questionable. The O-line and receivers looked pretty good, but that was about it. And yet, in Year 3 under Rich Rodriguez, it's the Wildcats who endured and then conquered what might be the toughest division in college football, with apologies to the SEC West, with a 42-35 victory over Arizona State on Friday. Oh, and when they square off with North champion Oregon for the Pac-12 title on Friday in Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, it will be the Wildcats owning a two-game winning streak in the series. And with an upset over the Ducks, the Wildcats might still end up entering the College Football Playoff discussion.

[+] EnlargeRich Rodriguez
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesRich Rodriguez and Arizona snuck up on everyone in the Pac-12 South to qualify for the Pac-12 championship game.
UCLA has not arrived: Most years, a nine-win regular season that included a victory over USC would be a good season for UCLA. But not this year. Not when the Bruins were widely viewed as a contender for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Not when two of the Bruins' losses came to teams they -- at least on paper -- should have beaten. Not when your QB is Brett Hundley and the depth chart reveals few weak areas. Jim Mora has made UCLA relevant again. He's pushed the Bruins back into the Pac-12 and national conversation. But that brings with it a new set of challenges. The next step for the program is to shrug off these challenges and legitimately enter the national title discussion -- in November instead of August.

Mariota wins the Heisman: Oregon QB Marcus Mariota completed 19 of 25 for 367 yards with 4 touchdowns in Oregon's 47-19 Civil War win over Oregon State. He also rushed for 39 yards and 2 scores. So that's six more TDs, giving him 47 total TDs for the season -- not to mention a receiving TD -- with just two interceptions. He's the best player in college football bar none. He's put up huge numbers against a schedule complete with a rugged Pac-12 slate and a nonconference win over a top-10 Michigan State team. Go ahead and engrave his name on the Heisman Trophy.

Kevin Hogan has awakened: Stanford and Hogan, in particular, were having a season that could be charitably termed as highly disappointing. Yet after a strong performance against California in the Big Game, Hogan was simply brilliant in Stanford's 31-10 upset of UCLA. He completed 16 of 19 passes for 234 yards -- two passes were dropped -- with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. That gave him a scintillating 98.6 Adjusted QBR, easily a season high. He also rushed 7 times for 46 yards. He wasn't sacked, so that means his O-line, also disappointing this season, dominated a front that recorded five sacks in a blowout win over USC the previous week. There has been some talk over whether Hogan, a fourth-year junior, might enter the NFL draft, talk that included some smirks from observers. He looked like an NFL QB against UCLA.

Sark gets a boost: It has not been an easy first season at USC for Steve Sarkisian, and getting blown out last weekend by UCLA started the outraged hyperventilation among some Trojans fans. Well, stomping on Notre Dame typically turns USC frowns upside down, at least partially, so a 49-14 victory should calm folks down. While an 8-4 regular season won't ever be acceptable for USC, if Sarkisian can get a ninth win in a bowl game and then sign a top-10 recruiting class, his critics will quiet a bit -- at least until the first defeat of 2015.

No ninth Pac-12 bowl-eligible team: With California losing 42-35 to BYU and Oregon State falling, both finish 5-7 and are not eligible for a bowl. Cal went 1-11 last year, so five wins is a significant improvement. But that mark for the Beavers has some folks in Corvallis wondering about the direction of the program.

Mariota inadvertently strikes Heisman pose

November, 30, 2014
Nov 30
12:50
AM ET
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota entered Saturday as the Heisman favorite, and he ended Saturday as the Heisman favorite.

That's what happens when you pile up six touchdowns and more than 400 yards and your team wins a rivalry game 47-19 on the road, as the second-ranked Ducks did against Oregon State.

During that stellar performance against the Beavers, Mariota made a move during a play that made it look like he was posing as a certain trophy. And Register-Guard photographer Brian Davies captured it perfectly.

Marcus MariotaBrian Davies/The Register-Guard
Two clear front-runners have emerged in the 2014 Heisman Trophy race: Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. Which player should win the award? Pac-12 reporter Kevin Gemmell and Big Ten reporter Brian Bennett debate it.

Brian Bennett: Kevin, to prove there is no anti-West Coast bias, I'll let you go first. State your case in 150 words or fewer why Mariota deserves the Heisman.

[+] EnlargeMarcus Mariota
Brian Bahr/Getty ImagesOregon QB Marcus Mariota's 42 total touchdowns -- with still a game to go in the regular season -- is a spectacular feat.
Kevin Gemmell: Awww, that's really generous of you B-squared. But I don't need 150. I need only seven: "He's the best player in college football." This could be an exercise where we go back and forth listing the merits of both players. Of which there are many. And I like the fact that a non-quarterback is getting deserved Heisman hype. Unfortunately, this is the wrong year for it. So rather than listing all of the reasons why Gordon should win the Heisman (we can do that later, if you really want), I want to know why you think Mariota shouldn't.

BB: You're right that Mariota might well be the best player in college football. But if the Heisman simply went to the best player, we'd just give it to the NFL's No. 1 draft pick every year. It's supposed to go to the player with the best season. And Gordon is putting up one for the ages.

He rushed for 2,000 yards faster than anyone in history. His current 8.3 yards-per-carry average would be the highest ever. He will soon become one of just three running backs ever to record 2,000 yards and 30 total touchdowns (he needs only three more TDs). And he might just eclipse Barry Sanders' hallowed single-season rushing record.

At the very least, Gordon will likely finish with the second-best season by a running back of all time. How do you not give the Heisman to someone who does all that? And has Mariota created any "Heisman moments" like Gordon's 408-yard day vs. Nebraska?

KG: I'm glad you brought up single-season performance. Because with four more touchdowns last week, Mariota has accounted for 42 total this season -- the most of any player in Pac-12 history. You want to talk about a season for the ages? Think of all the offensive talent that has strolled through the Pac-12 over the years. Annually it's the most prolific offensive conference in the country -- and this guy (with one more regular-season game left) has already put up the most prolific offensive season in league history.

I'd call his 318 yards and three touchdowns against Michigan State Heisman-esque ... or have you B1G guys forgotten about that one? But we both know the Heisman isn't about a "moment." You said yourself it's about the best season. And 32 passing touchdowns with just two interceptions -- while playing against some of the most pressure-heavy defenses in the country, is how you build a Heisman season. Not a moment.

And since you're tapping into some history, let's go back a decade and look at how Mariota's current season stacks up. Our QBR metrics -- which measure how well a quarterback has performed against his competition -- go back only 10 years. But Mariota already has a better season than Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton (all Heisman winners, by the way), Colin Kaepernick, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Pat White and on and on. I bet if we had the historical data, it would show Mariota is having one of the best quarterback seasons in the history of college football.

[+] EnlargeMelvin Gordon
AP Photo/Morry GashWisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, who rushed for 408 against Nebraska, is averaging a phenomenal 8.3 yards per carry.
And if we can agree that quarterback is the most important position in the game (and I think we can agree on that much), how then can you not give the Heisman to the guy having one of the best historical seasons ever at the most important position?

BB: Mariota is a spectacular player. No argument here on that. (Though I might point out that Ohio State's J.T. Barrett also has 42 touchdowns in a much less offense-friendly league. Hmm.) But it bugs me that the Heisman has become the sole province of quarterbacks. Defenses stack as many men as possible in the box against Wisconsin, which doesn't throw the ball well, yet Gordon is still averaging 9.95 yards per carry in his past seven games against ranked teams -- basically a first down every carry! It's much harder to tailor a defense around stopping a dual-threat quarterback.

We may never see a season quite like Gordon's 2014 again, and his numbers speak for themselves. I think one thing we can both agree on is Mariota and Gordon are both otherworldly players. Any way we could split the Heisman in half this year?

KG: I'm with you 100 percent. I too get peeved that the past few years the Heisman has devolved into the dual-threat quarterback of the year award. And a lot of that has to do with the advancement of the spread offense. These quarterbacks are putting up numbers that seemed unreachable even 10 years ago.

I hear you loud and clear on Gordon. And I can come up with 2,109 reasons why he's the runaway Doak Walker winner. Not even close. He's spectacular. And most years, I'd probably be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you because I do believe the award has become too quarterback-driven.

This year, however, the voters should and will get it right by handing it to a dual-threat quarterback. From statistical measurables, legacy numbers and team success, Mariota is without equal.


A great mystery has been lost amid the jocularity surrounding celebrity journalist and sixth-grader Charlie Papé's quizzing Oregon coach Mark Helfrich about the future of Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota. While we can all appreciate that top topics of conversation at Papé's O'Hara Catholic School in Eugene are "Jesus, girls and Marcus Mariota," what has been over looked is Papé mentioned four topics of interest but never provided that final topic.

While Papé's life story is certain to shortly be developed into a movie -- think one part "Network," one part "Frozen" and one part "Wonder Years" -- we feel certain that elusive No. 4 concerns who will be the Pac-12's South Division champion, for that is a potential and worrisome foil for his troika of topics. It is against whom Oregon fans -- girls and boys, of course -- could see their prayers answered (or not) and against whom Mariota could secure the Ducks' first Heisman Trophy (or not).

After all, there has to be a villain menacing Papé's sixth-grade trinity, right?

[+] EnlargeJim Mora
Ric Tapia/Icon SMIIf Jim Mora's Bruins beat Stanford on Friday, UCLA will meet the Ducks in a conference title game that is setting up to have major national significance.
A lot became clear in college football this weekend, and not just that Helfrich clearly enjoys sixth-graders more than adult reporters. For one, the Heisman race is now down to two outstanding athletes: Mariota and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, who is posting a historically good season. The only problem with Gordon's candidacy is not a person in the world would select him over Mariota in a football draft, and that includes all those Badgers jumping around in Madison. With Mariota, Wisconsin would be unbeaten.

Second, the once-muddled South picture will be resolved with finality on Friday before nightfall.

If UCLA beats Stanford at home, the Bruins will not only play Mariota and the Ducks for the conference title on Dec. 5 in Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, they also will be well positioned to play themselves into the College Football Playoff. Their case for the CFP could be decisively made, in fact, with the opportunity to erase one of their two losses by beating the No. 1 or No. 2 team on the final day of the season.

Ah, but down in the desert of Tucson they will be rooting hard for the Cardinal while simultaneously renewing the love fest that is the Territorial Cup. If the Bruins fall, the winner between Arizona and Arizona State captures the South title. Both teams figure to be ranked near the top-10 when the selection committee announces its rankings on Tuesday. The Wildcats and Sun Devils haven't met as ranked teams since 1986. Further, with both sitting at 9-2, this is the first meeting in which both will have at least nine wins since 1975. So, yeah, this is a big Territorial Cup.

And guess what? If the Territorial Cup winner paired that quality victory with a win over Oregon, it also would have a good case for the CFP, though it's likely a couple of dominoes would have to fall ahead of the Wildcats and Sun Devils in the rankings.

Though we should make no assumptions of any kind for Saturday, which includes what the Ducks do at Oregon State in the Civil War, Friday should be a great fun, a joyous conflagration of rivalry and national relevance.

Last year was a breakthrough for the Pac-12. Six teams finished ranked and nine played in bowl games. Five teams posted double-digit wins. There were no naysayers -- at least credible naysayers -- to the conference's overall depth and strength.

Yet there was a chink in the 2013 armor: Just one team, No. 9 Oregon, was ranked in the final AP top 10. The conference was highly respected and completely out of the national picture, though obviously Stanford, ranked No. 5 after winning the Pac-12 title, could have made some noise if it had beaten Michigan State in the Rose Bowl.

That is the step forward the conference can take as we hit the home stretch of 2014, with winning the conference's first national title since 2004 being the biggest and most elusive prize. The Pac-12 title game is setting up to have major national significance, so fans from all corners of the country as well as many in flyover and frozen states will tune in. Some folks out West will be agitating for the Pac-12 title game to become a de facto CFP play-in game, even with a two-loss champion, and fans from other regions need to watch in order to make themselves into educated trolls so they can best fight against this position on Twitter afterward.

Oregon, as a 12-1 Pac-12 champ, by the way, would have the strongest case for the No. 1 overall seed.

This past week, a reader and Arizona fan questioned the idea of Pac-12 collectivism -- the idea that a fan of a Pac-12 team should also root hard for the conference in general. He made a fair and not uncommon point, one that aligns with the big-city vibe of the Pac-12 and its pro sports towns.

But college football isn't set up like pro sports, even with this new playoff. It's still a beauty contest and whom you hang out with matters. You can't just root for one team and wish ill on all others. Six teams ranked in the top-20 and more than one perceived national title contender bolsters Colorado just like it bolsters Oregon. It also pays better when they distribute cash from the new playoff/bowl model.

Further, it's fun to know that a prominent TV in a Jackson, Mississippi, sports bar will be tuned to the Pac-12 on Friday, or that a crew of Ohio State students will be marinating in a Columbus apartment checking out the Territorial Cup, or that a dad in Dallas will shush his children so he can better counter the arguments stacked against his TCU/Baylor team by these darned, overrated Pac-12 squads.

Now what we really need is for Papé to contact a friend at Holy Spirit Catholic School in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and get him to tell Nick Saban about the gospel of Jesus, girls, Marcus Mariota and the Pac-12 South.

Pac-12 helmet stickers: Week 13

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
9:00
AM ET
All six Pac-12 games on Saturday were decided by at least three scores. For that, Pac-12, I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul ... but here are some helmet stickers.

Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State: Kelly and the Sun Devils got off to a horrible start against Washington State, but that's but a distant memory after the senior finished strong in a 52-31 victory. He completed 12 of his final 14 passes for 188 yards and four touchdowns.

Nick Wilson, RB, Arizona: The freshman ran for a career-high 218 yards on 20 carries with three touchdowns, including a 75-yarder, in Arizona's 42-10 victory over Utah. As Wilson goes, so do the Wildcats. Arizona is 8-0 when Wilson rushes for 19 or more yards.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: In his final game at Autzen Stadium (probably), Mariota turned in a typical performance: 24 for 32, 323 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and ran for 73 yards and another score on eight carries in a 44-10 victory over Colorado. His 42 touchdowns this year (passing and rushing), breaks Matt Barkley's single-season Pac-12 record from 2011.

Blake Martinez, LB, Stanford: Martinez recorded two interceptions and forced a fumble to help Stanford force five turnovers in a 38-17 victory against California -- the most it has forced in a game since Nov. 27, 2010 against Oregon State. He's the first player with two interceptions in the Big Game since Cal's Nnamdi Asomugha in 2001.

Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA: Hundley threw for 326 yards, accounted for four touchdowns and broke Cade McNown's school record for total offense (now at 11,353) in the Bruins' 38-20 victory over USC. He's also the first UCLA quarterback since McNown to win three consecutive games against the Trojans.

Cyler Miles, QB, Washington: Miles turned in his best performance of the season, completing 18 of 23 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns without an interception to help the Huskies become bowl eligible with a 37-13 victory over Oregon State.

Vince Mayle, WR, Washington State: Mayle showed why he's a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award with 15 catches for 252 yards -- his sixth 100-yard receiving game of the season. He cracked the 100-catch mark in the game (101) and set WSU's new single-season receiving record (1,404 yards).

SPONSORED HEADLINES

PAC-12 SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/27
Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12