Pac-12 Players Perform Well At The 2020 Senior Bowl

Senior Bowl Justin Herbert Pac-12

The 2020 Senior Bowl presented an opportunity for many Pac-12 players to help their draft stock. In what would be a 34-17 victory for the North team over the South team in Mobile, Alabama, some players were able to take advantage of their opportunity while others struggled.

Pac-12 players that played in the Senior Bowl:

Arizona State: RB Eno Benjamin, WR Brandon Aiyuk

California: S Ashtyn Davis, LB Evan Weaver

Colorado: QB Steven Montez, LB Davion Taylor

Oregon: QB Justin Herbert, OL Calvin Throckmorton

UCLA: RB Joshua Kelley

USC: WR Michael Pittman Jr.

Utah: DE Bradlee Anae, LB Francis Bernard, DB Terrell Burgess, DT Leki Fotu

Washington: C Nick Harris

Washington State: QB Anthony Gordon

Justin Herbert Leads Way for Pac-12

Justin Herbert started for the South team coached by Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor. Herbert went 9-of-12 for 83 yards and threw a touchdown on the game’s opening possession. He also added 22 yards on the ground. Herbert won MVP honors for his performance. Showing poise throughout the first quarter, Herbert was able to put on a performance that should help his case for being a top pick in the first round of April’s NFL Draft.

Many expect the Bengals to select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first pick of the NFL Draft. However, Herbert and Burrow have similar games, and both can be threats running the football. If Herbert can add to his Senior Bowl performance with a great NFL Combine and Pro Day, he could be picked within the top five-seven picks. The Dolphins, Chargers, and Panthers (picks five, six, and seven) are all expected to strongly consider drafting a quarterback. Herbert separated himself from Jordan Love, another projected first-round pick and starter for the North team, in the Senior Bowl.

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Joshua Kelley and Anthony Gordon Also Impress on Offense in Senior Bowl

UCLA running back Joshua Kelley and Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon were the standout Pac-12 offensive players for the North team. Kelley had 15 carries for 105 yards, and Anthony Gordon had two touchdown passes in the third quarter. When Gordon went in, the game was tied at 10, but after the third quarter, the North was leading 31-10. Gordon could build off his senior bowl performance to possibly be a Day 2 pick at the NFL Draft.

Joshua Kelley was able to show that he can be physical inside, but can be explosive in space. He also could make a case for being a Day 2 or early Day 3 draft pick if he builds off his performance in the Senior Bowl.

Bradlee Anae Steals the Show on Defense in Senior Bowl

Utah defensive end Bradlee Anae had a huge day at the Senior Bowl for the North team. He recorded three sacks on the day, and wreaked havoc against the South offensive line. Anae was the best defensive player on the field in Mobile and made his case to be a Day 2 pick at the draft.

Steven Montez, Calvin Throckmorton Have Uneven Performances in Senior Bowl

Colorado quarterback Steven Montez entered the game to start the second half and had a very uneven performance. Montez finished 3-of-8 for 22 yards and an interception. He took a sack on a 3rd-and-1 as he scrambled back and made a five-yard loss into a 15-yard loss on the sack.

However, Montez and fellow South quarterback Jalen Hurts did not get the protection from their offensive line to be fairly evaluated based on their performances. Calvin Throckmorton, an offensive lineman for Oregon, played for a big portion of the game and had trouble blocking Bradlee Anae on the few occasions they were matched up against each other. None of the tackles for the South fared well against Anae, but Throckmorton’s stock did not go up based on his performance.

Pac-12 Had Some of the Best Performances at 2020 Senior Bowl

The Pac-12 had a positive 2020 Senior Bowl. Justin Herbert, arguably the premier player in the conference this past season, was able to win MVP. Bradlee Anae made a great impression nationally. There is talent in the Pac-12, and future recruits can see that players that play on the west coast in the Pac-12 can be successful.

Pac-12 Conference Needs To Get Six Teams Into NCAA Tournament

2020 Pac-12 Basketball Season: Setting Up for a Crazy Finish

The 2020 College Basketball season has already brought the madness that is usually seen in March. There is no clear-cut favorite, and the AP Top 25 constantly changes from week-to-week. Pac-12 Basketball has brought the craziness in the 2019-20 season, as unpredictability has been the theme of the conference so far.

The Pac-12 only had three teams in the NCAA Tournament in 2019 (Washington, Arizona State, and Oregon) and one team in the National Invitation Tournament (Colorado). This season, the conference is looking to have far more teams in the tournament.

Joe Lunardi, the most prominent “Bracketologist”, had five teams in his NCAA Tournament field for 2020 as of January 21. These five teams include Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, Stanford, and USC.

The Pac-12 Basketball Favorites: Oregon, Colorado, Arizona

The Pac-12 conference could end up making an argument to have six or seven teams make the tournament come Selection Sunday, which is March 15.

Oregon is widely regarded to as the best team in Pac-12 basketball. Currently, the Ducks are 15-4, with a 4-2 mark in Pac-12 play. Led by senior Payton Pritchard, the Ducks have impressive non-conference wins against Memphis and Seton Hall at neutral sites. They also won an overtime thriller against Michigan. However, Oregon lost to Washington State this past Thursday. The Ducks have not always been consistent but should be at least a top-4 seed come tournament time.

Colorado is one of the most experienced teams in the Pac-12, led by junior McKinley Wright IV. The Buffaloes have an effective supporting cast with Tyler Bey, D’Shawn Schwartz, and Evan Battey to name a few, but sometimes the offense looks stagnant, especially in losses against Kansas and this past Saturday against Arizona. The Buffaloes have wins against Oregon and Dayton which should help their cause. If they can build upon their 14-4 (3-2 Pac-12) record, they should be strongly considered to be a top-4 seed come March.

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The Arizona Wildcats are having a bounce-back season in wake of the bribery scandal involving DeAndre Ayton a few years ago. The Wildcats are 13-5 (3-2 Pac-12) this season, but also have been inconsistent thus far in conference play. They have defended home court in conference play, defeating opponents by an average of 21.7 points per game. However, they lost to both Oregon and Oregon State.

Pac-12 Basketball NCAA Tournament Hopefuls: Stanford and USC

USC and Stanford are currently the top two teams in the conference standings, with each having a 4-1 conference record, respectively. USC won against Stanford in Los Angeles this past Saturday 82-78. The Trojans and Cardinal have both not been shown any respect nationally. Neither team is ranked, but they are both 15-3 this season.

Stanford is USC’s most notable win, however. The Trojans lost by 32 to Washington in conference play, and Oregon will be the first ranked team they play this season. The only ranked team Stanford has played was Kansas, and they lost 72-56.

Non-Conference Schedule Hurting Pac-12 Basketball

The Pac-12 as a conference needs to work on their non-conference schedule in basketball, especially given how the conference was perceived at tournament time last year. Larry Scott’s goal should be to have at least half the league in the NCAA Tournament each season.

The conference needs to have a partnership with one of the other major conferences. The Big Ten/ACC Challenge and Big 12/SEC Challenge are both great for college basketball and bolster both conference’s resumes. The Pac-12 should look to possibly partner with the Big East or even one of the other conferences to help with the non-conference schedule.

Best Non-Conference Win For Pac-12 Basketball: Washington Over Baylor

Washington beat Baylor 67-64 in the Armed Forces Classic on November 8 in Anchorage, Alaska. Baylor was just awarded the number-one spot in the AP Poll on Monday. Washington has struggled in conference play with a 2-4 record. The Huskies will be the most prominent Pac-12 teams that will be living life on the bubble until March because they beat Baylor.

In the end, there should be at least four teams in the NCAA Tournament for the Pac-12. USC should end up getting in if they end with a winning record in conference play. Beyond that, Washington is the conference’s best hope to get half the teams from the “conference of champions” into the tournament. The Pac-12 needs to live up to its slogan and accomplish this feat. The season has been crazy, but hopefully the committee will take notice of the product the Pac-12 is putting out there this season.

Colorado Basketball: Time to Beat Everyone else like Oregon in Boulder

colorado buffaloes Pac-12 basketball vs oregon

The Colorado Buffaloes basketball team has started the 2019-20 season 12-3. This start has helped the Buffaloes attain the 25th spot in the latest AP Poll. Their most noteworthy win was when they beat Oregon, who was ranked 4th in the nation at the time, 74-65 on January 2 in Boulder.

Colorado Basketball Has Dominated Oregon In Boulder

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From the outsider’s view, this win should bolster the Buffaloes’ resume. While it does, it has become commonplace for Colorado to beat Oregon in Boulder. It is one of the greatest unofficial traditions Colorado Athletics has to offer.

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Since the Buffaloes have joined the Pac-12 in 2011, they have gone 9-6 against Oregon, with a 7-0 mark when the teams meet at CU Events Center in Boulder. Here is the list of the scores in the Boulder games:

2012: Colorado 72, Oregon 71

2013: Colorado 76, #19 Oregon 53

2014: #20 Colorado 100, #10 Oregon 91

2016: Colorado 91, Oregon 87

2017: Colorado 74, #10 Oregon 65

2019: Colorado 73, Oregon 51

2020: Colorado 74, #4 Oregon 65

The Buffaloes have won by a whopping 11 points per game against the Ducks in Boulder. For a basketball program as prominent as Oregon, not being able to win in Boulder is one of the biggest head-scratching dilemmas facing the program.

Lack of Overall Success Frustrating Considering Colorado Basketball’s Success Versus Ducks

For the Buffaloes, the lack of success they have had in the big picture compared to Oregon is frustrating considering their success against them in Boulder. Oregon has made four Sweet 16’s and one Final Four since Colorado joined the conference in 2011, while the Buffaloes have won just one NCAA Tournament game.

Tad Boyle has an overall record of 201-126 at CU, and he is arguably the best coach in the history of Colorado basketball. However, the team has not truly made the leap into national prominence despite having Oregon’s number. Colorado has had better games against Oregon in Boulder, but Oregon has always had better seasons than Colorado. For the Buffaloes to be respected nationally, they have to show that they can play the way they play against Oregon more often and not lay eggs at home like they did against Oregon State on January 5.

Fans Should Have Higher Expectations Because of Success Against Oregon

Boulder is always hyped up when Oregon comes into town. Because of this, people not as familiar with Colorado Basketball will think it is a huge victory for the Buffaloes. While fans are happy when Colorado beat Oregon, the hype surrounding the team is exaggerated, especially when they lose to teams they should beat at home like Oregon State.

It is starting to get a little ridiculous that fans seem to always storm the court when the Buffaloes pull off victories against Oregon because of how commonplace beating Oregon at home has become. While these types of victories are significant for the Buffaloes, it will take them consistently competing for Pac-12 championships to be thought of as up there with Oregon and Arizona as the top basketball teams in the Pac-12.

The 2019-20 Colorado Basketball Team Should Make the NCAA Tournament

The good news is that this season the Buffaloes have a chance to do just that. Despite losing to Oregon State, they have wins against Oregon and also Dayton, who is currently ranked 15th in the latest AP Poll. Oregon is currently ranked 9th.

Their only two blemishes on the Buffaloes’ resume were home losses. Losing to Oregon State in the fashion they did was not good. However, losing to Northern Iowa in non-conference play was not the worst loss, as they are expected to compete for the Missouri Valley Conference title. Winning a tournament game is a must for the Buffaloes this year to build the reputation they want among Pac-12 and national pundits. Beating Oregon at home is nice, but it simply has not done enough for the Buffaloes to be taken seriously on the national level.

Justin Herbert’s Rose Bowl Win and 3 Rushing TD’s Saved His NFL Draft Stock

Justin Herbert NFL Draft

Justin Herbert’s First Drive was Phenomenal

12 plays, 75 yards and a rushing touchdown highlighted by a Justin Herbert stiff-arm.

It was a near-perfect opening drive for Herbert and the Oregon Ducks. Herbert’s first possession stats included:

  • 4-of-5 completions for 49 yards
  • 2 rushes for 7 yards and a touchdown

With ease, Justin Herbert and company carved through the Wisconsin Badgers. Although Oregon fans have become accustomed to high-scoring outings by their Ducks, this was against Wisconsin’s ninth-ranked defense in the nation, per Football Outsiders DFEI. To start like that was incredible. If Herbert kept his play at that high of a level, his 2020 NFL Draft stock would have risen substantially.

However, that didn’t happen.

Stalled Offense and Poor Decision Making

On his very next drive, Justin Herbert erased his flawless first possession. Tied at 7-7, following a Wisconsin kick-return touchdown, Herbert threw a horrible throw into traffic. Granted, most of the time passes near lineman are batted down. Few are intercepted like this. But, this throw was different. It was oddly low, into a cluster of players and Wisconsin’s Jack Sanborn was sitting there, waiting with eyes on Herbert. Herbert didn’t even try a different read.

Either he didn’t see the Sanborn or the Wisconsin cluster, threw the ball far lower than he wanted to or thought he could force a football through too tight a window. Regardless of why the interception happened, it grades very poorly for Herbert.

After opening the game with a 12 play, 75 yard touchdown drive, Oregon’s offense faltered for five consecutive drives. Justin Herbert couldn’t get anything going. Interception, punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs.

It wasn’t until the final four minutes of the first half when Herbert was able to lead any significant drive. But, that wasn’t solely because of him. Instead, it was mostly due to the Oregon Ducks’ defensive plays.

Relying on Defensive Turnovers

At the end of the game, Oregon forced four turnovers. Three fumbles and one interception. Considering Brady Breeze took one fumble to the house, Herbert doesn’t get credit for those seven points. However, two of Herbert’s three touchdown drives came off of turnovers. His team got him the ball at the Wisconsin 36, the Wisconsin 33 and the Wisconsin 30.

With field position like that, Herbert’s scoring drives were less impressive. Ignoring drives after turnovers and his first-half kneel, Justin Herbert’s nine remaining drives included:

  • One Touchdown
  • One Interception
  • 6 Punts
  • One Game-Sealing Drive to Run out the Clock

Not great. Yes, we can’t take away his touchdowns. He had two, critical touchdowns in the game that came off of turnovers. He didn’t lead them to field goals on those. They came away with 14 points because of him. However, a top-NFL scout needs to be able to create his own success and not rely so heavily on his defense.

Justin Herbert Shows Off Stiff Arm and Dual-Threat Ability

Thankfully, for Justin Herbert’s case, he chose to run. His three rushing touchdowns displayed the NFL’s newest delight: dual-threat ability. In the NFL, the game is evolving. Quarterbacks are running more read-options and designed quarterback runs. It’s a new era. NFL play-callers desperately want quarterbacks with versatility.

With successful stiff-arms and a game-winning 30-yard rushing touchdown, Herbert showed off that versatility. It changed the way scouts will look at him.

Although he’s no Lamar Jackson, Herbert’s athleticism in the Rose Bowl saved his lack of throwing success.

Just Enough to Cover-Up Mistakes and Maintain Draft Stock

While some saw an erratic passer, others saw a leader with grit and the clutch-gene. Herbert’s three rushing touchdowns displayed his athleticism. His 30-yard rushing touchdown showed his athleticism and game-winning ability. Then, at the end of the game, his poise on a game-sealing drive demonstrated his “winning effort”. Like Bucky Brooks said, his play “wasn’t always pretty”. But, Herbert did just enough to erase his mistakes.

At the end of the day, the Rose Bowl is still just one game. Justin Herbert’s four-year career for Oregon has been iconic. Some would even put him above the likes of Marcus Mariota in Ducks’ fame. With his highlight-reel three-touchdown scamper and the Rose Bowl “W”, Herbert kept himself in the top-three quarterback discussion.

Oregon Ducks Should Win First Rose Bowl Since 2015 Versus Wisconsin

Oregon Ducks Rose Bowl vs Wisconsin

The Oregon Ducks are going back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2015. They have been tasked with playing the Wisconsin Badgers from the Big Ten.

Oregon Didn’t Make Playoff, But Should Cherish Rose Bowl Opportunity

Oregon had playoff aspirations going into the season, but hit a roadblock in College Football Week 1, losing 27-21 to the Auburn Tigers. If the Ducks had won out after losing to Auburn, they would have been strongly considered for the College Football Playoff. Their resume would have been better than Oklahoma’s. However, being upset by Arizona State late in the season derailed their title aspirations.

Fans of teams like Oregon and Wisconsin may be disappointed that their team did not make the College Football Playoff. Complaints about being in the Rose Bowl Game, however, are not warranted. The Rose Bowl has arguably the most pageantry out of all of the major bowl games. The game is always the main football attraction on New Year’s Day, when the game is usually played.

How Important is it for Oregon to Win the Rose Bowl?

A Rose Bowl victory will bolster recruiting and will give the Pac-12 a major bowl win. There is always criticism about the Pac-12 playing some of their major games too late on Saturday nights, but this game will be on at 5 p.m. on the east coast. Beating a Big Ten team such as Wisconsin would be noticed nationally, and it would make some of the people who might have an east coast bias rethink it a little.

The Pac-12 has been criticized in years past because of the perceived lack of defense in the conference. Oregon’s defense ranks 23rd nationally, while Wisconsin’s is 8th. Andy Avalos has been praised in Eugene for the defensive improvements that have been seen, especially this season. It will be important for potential recruits and conference prestige for the Ducks to stop Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor. Oregon has the 10th best run defense in the country. The Ducks can legitimize this ranking by stopping someone who received Heisman Trophy votes.

Justin Herbert Can Punctuate His Oregon Career With a Victory

Oregon has a rich history with college quarterbacks. Justin Herbert is well-regarded nationally and may be a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He has won a Pac-12 championship, but a Rose Bowl victory could elevate him in the pantheon of Oregon quarterbacks. Marcus Mariota is revered by the Oregon faithful, and Herbert has to win a Rose Bowl to even think about being compared to Mariota. Mariota won the 2015 Rose Bowl against Florida State, 59-20, in what was a College Football Playoff Semifinal game.

Herbert is 1-1 in his career in bowl games. Last year, the Ducks beat Michigan State 7-6 in the Redbox Bowl last year. Oregon lost to Boise State 38-28 in the Las Vegas Bowl to end the 2017 season.

Rose Bowl Important for Mario Cristobal and Recruiting

Oregon is currently 18th in 247Sports’s 2020 Composite Team Rankings as far as recruiting. Cristobal earning his first major bowl win would give the Ducks brand more exposure to a national audience. There were more expectations for Oregon this decade, but they can start off the new decade with a win that will instill optimism into the program and the fanbase.

For as big of a brand as Oregon is, they should be higher than 18th in any recruiting rankings of any kind. Oregon’s win against Florida State in the 2015 Rose Bowl Game was the last major victory for the program. Recruits need to be reassured that the Ducks will be competing for national championships, and ending the season with a possible top-5 ranking would help this cause.

Prediction for Oregon Versus Wisconsin

ESPN’s FPI gives Oregon a 53.9% chance to win the Rose Bowl. If the Ducks are able to mix up the passing attack with the running of C.J. Verdell, they should be able to win. The defense needs to make Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan beat them. If the defense contains Jonathan Taylor, they should not have too many problems with containing the Wisconsin offense. If the Oregon offense can replicate what they did in the Pac-12 championship against Utah, they should have no problem beating Wisconsin.

Final Score Prediction: Oregon 31, Wisconsin 21

Pac-12 Needs To Have First Winning Bowl Season Since 2015

Pac-12 Bowl Games

It is vitally important for the Pac-12 to put together a good bowl season. The conference has not had a winning bowl season since 2015 and has not sent a team to the College Football Playoff since 2016. The Pac-12 went 3-3 in 2016, 1-8 in 2017, and 3-4 in 2018. Having a good bowl season will help elevate the league’s perception to start the 2020 season.

The Pac-12 is sending seven teams to bowl games in College Football 2019. These teams are USC, Arizona State, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Washington State, and California.

Preseason Rankings and Not Winning Big Games Have Hurt the Pac-12

Utah vs USC on a Friday Night is Another Pac-12 Conference Bad Idea

Preseason rankings play a role in how the final standings play out. The Pac-12 has only been represented in the College Football Playoff twice in the six years of the tournament. Going into the 2019 season, the Pac-12 did not have a single team in the top 10 in either the Associated Press or USA Today Coaches Poll. Oregon was the highest-ranked Pac-12 team in both preseason polls (No. 11 in AP Poll). However, they lost their first game to Auburn in College Football Week 1. This loss put the Pac-12 behind the 8-ball right away as far as their hopes to make the College Football Playoff.

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In the last three seasons, the Pac-12 champion has lost their bowl game (Washington twice and USC once). The last time the Pac-12 champion won their bowl game was when Stanford beat Iowa 45-16 in the Rose Bowl to end the 2015 season. Washington lost in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Peach Bowl to Alabama 24-7 in 2016. USC only scored once and got beat around by the Ohio State Buckeyes 24-7 in the Cotton Bowl to end the 2017 season. In the 2018 Rose Bowl, the Washington Huskies’ rally from down 28-3 against the Buckeyes and fell short, losing 28-23.

Pac-12 Can Gain a Lot If Oregon Beats Wisconsin

Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 13: Time to Win the Beauty Pageant

If Oregon, the newly minted Pac-12 champion, can beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2020, it would help Oregon’s and the Pac-12’s standing heading into 2020. Their champion would win a game on the national stage on New Year’s Day, and the conference could feed off showing that their champion could have been competitive in the College Football Playoff. As a conference, the Pac-12 needs to get a team into the playoff. The conference is not spoken of in the same breath as the SEC or Big Ten. Winning the Rose Bowl would help the Pac-12’s cause.

Pac-12 Could Take Image Hit If Utah Loses to Texas

The Utah Utes are better than the Oregon Ducks

However, the Pac-12 has a lot to lose from bowl season also. The Utah Utes are currently ranked 11th in the country. They are playing the Texas Longhorns in the Alamo Bowl. If the Pac-12 runner-up loses to the team that finished tied for third in the Big 12 conference it would be devastating. Utah has been the better team all year, but some may give the Longhorns a slight edge because they simply have better recruits.

If Utah loses this game, an outsider who may not follow the Pac-12 conference may think, “Wow, one of the best two Pac-12 teams is not as good as a team that finished 7-5 in the Big 12”. People will tune into this game nationally because of Texas’ brand. Utah needs to show the nation that they are deserving of their ranking. They need to take care of business against an unranked Longhorns team.

USC Needs Bowl Win to Help Embattled Head Coach Clay Helton

Another bowl game that will generate interest within the Pac-12 and nationally because of “the brand” is the Holiday Bowl, which features the USC Trojans against the Iowa Hawkeyes of the Big Ten. USC hired new athletic director Mike Bohn in early November, and he has endorsed head coach Clay Helton. Many believed Helton was coaching for his job at numerous points throughout the season.

Beating Iowa in the Holiday Bowl would cool all the seats Clay Helton will be sitting in during the offseason, whether that is on an airplane during the recruiting cycle or in his office after spring practice. There is still the pipeline dream that Urban Meyer may eventually take over at USC, but for now, it is Helton’s team. USC simply gets better recruits than Iowa. On paper, USC should beat Iowa. It would help with recruiting because it would show the nation that Clay Helton can beat an equal opponent. After a 5-7 season in 2018, many thought Clay Helton could have been gone. With the new athletic director, Clay Helton could have been gone. He needs this game so there is more certainty around the program entering 2020.

Pac-12 Needs Winning Bowl Season

The Pac-12 needs to go a minimum of 4-3 in their bowl games this bowl season. As a conference, they are suffering in terms of national image because of their inability to get their champion to the College Football Playoff. The conference can show that their teams are able to compete with the best programs. Going 4-3 would be decent, but the conference should be hoping for at least a 5-2 mark this bowl season. Also, Utah needs to absolutely win for the Pac-12 to look positively on this bowl season.

Oregon had Auburn on the ropes in College Football Week 1, and it hurt the conference that the Ducks were unable to finish the job. However, Oregon’s loss to Arizona State and Utah’s loss to Oregon were the main reasons the Pac-12 did not get a team into the College Football Playoff. The Ducks have a huge non-conference game against Ohio State next season.

Other schools have also scheduled tough non-conference games in 2020, such as the Colorado Buffaloes scheduling the Texas A&M Aggies. Many will choose Oregon and CU to lose these games. However, maybe a few pundits will have more confidence if the conference can have a positive end to a decade where more was expected for the conference.

How the best Pac-12 Offenses Stack Up with the Rest of College Football

Best Pac-12 Conference Offenses

Last week we talked about how the PAC-12 had roughly five teams ranked among the top 30 in the NCAA in defense, while four other teams were near the bottom – making the conference as a whole a league-average defensive group.

The PAC-12 offenses are actually roughly average across the NCAA as well, although that’s primarily because most of the teams in the NCAA are roughly league average.

Funny how that works.

However, there are some exceptions. Washington State is once again proving to be absolutely elite at moving the ball through the air, while Cal and Stanford are struggling to move the ball, well, at all.

Here is a quick look at some of the best – and worst – offenses in the PAC-12 and how they stack up around the rest of the college football landscape.

Pac-12 Offenses Anthony Gordon WSU QB 2019

Pac-12 Top Tier Offense: Washington State Cougars

Under coach Mike Leach, Washington State has once again constructed an absolutely elite passing attack.

WSU is averaging 440.7 passing yards per game, an absolutely staggering number. It leads the NCAA by a wide, wide margin and is actually a higher average than seven PAC-12 schools are averaging in TOTAL OFFENSE.

Think about that.

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Anthony Gordon is off to a ridiculous start to the season, completing 70.2 percent of his passes for a whopping 2,981 yards and a 29/7 touchdown to interception ratio.

WSU’s record will likely keep him out of the Heisman conversation, but even though this isn’t the magical Gardner Minshew-team, this is still a high-octane offense and one of the very best in the entire college football landscape.

Bottom Tier: Cal Golden Bears

The Golden Bears got off to a hot start this season, going 4-0 and even sneaking into the top-25 conversation. Although the offense never exploded in any of those games, they scored 27, 20, 23 and 28 through those four victories, displaying enough to beat teams like UW and Ole Miss.

However, things have really fallen off the rails since then. Cal is 0-3 in the last few weeks, including an embarrassing loss to Oregon State last week. The offense has faltered slightly, only scoring 17 against Arizona State and Oregon State and mustering just seven against Oregon.

All told, Cal has the fewest points per game average in the PAC-12, at just 19.9 points per game. They are the worst passing team in the conference by a considerable margin, averaging just 193.7 passing yards per game. Even Stanford, known for stubbornly running the ball, is averaging 216 yards through the air.

All told, there are only 14 teams in the entire NCAA, and only two in the Power-5, who are averaging less than Cal’s 324 total yards of offense per game.

After that hot 4-0 start, Cal is proving, more or less, that they are who we thought they were.

Oregon Ducks Pac-12

Top Tier: Oregon Ducks

No surprise here. The Oregon Ducks have had an elite NCAA offense for nearly a decade now, ever since Chip Kelly and his high-octane offense graced the field in Eugene.

The Ducks average 457.1 yards of offense per game, second in the PAC-12 behind Washington State, and are scoring 35.9 points per game, also second in the PAC-12 behind WSU and just ahead of UW, who is at 35.8.

Oregon has a decently balanced offensive attack, although it’s not a huge surprise that they do most of their damage through the air. The team is averaging 283.6 yards per game in the air, thanks to Heisman trophy candidate Justin Herbert and his sparkly 21/1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

They are doing their fare share of work on the ground as well, with a tidy 173.6 rushing yard per game on average.

Oregon’s balanced attack and ability to avoid turnovers has made them one of the best teams in the Nation, and their chances at a CFB playoff spot remain intact at this point in the season.

Stanford Quarterback Stanford Offense

Bottom Tier: Stanford Cardinal

Stanford is averaging a measly 20 points per game, barely above Cal’s 19.9 mark.

The team’s trademark run-heavy offensive attack has not been effective this year, as they are only generating 114.1 yards on the ground per game, which is among the worst marks in the entire NCAA and only tops Washington State in the conference.

The passing attack, frankly, hasn’t been much better – as QB’s David Mills and K.J. Costello have only been able to average 216 yards per game, and combined have a combined 7/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

It’s been a rough year for the Cardinal, and one that has them squarely among the worst offensive teams in the PAC-12 – and the nation.

What Oregon’s comeback win means for the Huskies

Washington Huskies 2019
University of Washington Block W logo RGB brand colors

A Stunning Loss for the Huskies

Heartbreak. At half, the Washington Huskies led the Oregon Ducks 21-14. Then, Jacob Eason and the UW offense marched down the field to open the third quarter. They were up 28-14 against a formidable Oregon football team. The Huskies were at home, up by two touchdowns and playing well.

Honestly, it was incredible, considering how strong the Oregon Ducks’ defense is. In their previous five games, Oregon held its opponents to a combined 25 points. Washington had it.

But, tragically, Oregon came back from a 14-point deficit and defeated the Huskies 35-31. Heartbreak and tragedy aside, here are the big takeaways from the loss.

Any Hope of a Huskies 2019 Pac-12 Title is Lost

Any chance the Huskies had of a Pac-12 title in 2019 is now gone. Against the Oregon Ducks, they needed to win. It was their only hope. And while they, for the most part, followed the keys to winning against Oregon, they lost. And with that loss, Washington lost their Pac-12 title berth.

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Jacob Eason and the Huskies Offense Finally Showed Up Against Competition

As most Huskies football fans will lament, Jacob Eason’s 2019 play is up and down. Against quality defenses, the offense collapsed. But somehow, against a stout Oregon Ducks defense, Eason and company rolled. Even with top-prospect Justin Herbert on the field, Eason was the better quarterback of the night. 23 of 30, 289 yards, 3 touchdowns and exceptional play against an incredible defense.

Against an Oregon Ducks team that only allowed 25 points in five games, the Huskies racked up 414 yards, 20 first downs, and 31 points. Although they failed in some areas, it was a bright game for Eason and the Huskies offense.

Young Talent Emerges Again

Surprisingly, this was without Sean McGrew, Richard Newton and Aaron Fuller. Even without some of their regular contributors, Washington made due and baffled Oregon with 31 points.

Without McGrew, Newton, and Fuller, the Huskies got to see some of their younger playmakers get involved. Alongside senior standout Hunter Bryant, Washington’s most utilized receivers were:

  • Puka Nacua – Freshman – Wide Receiver
  • Terrell Bynum – Sophomore – Wide Receiver
  • Cade Otton – Sophomore – Tight End

The Huskies Went for it

Finally, Chris Peterson and the Huskies attempted multiple fourth-down conversions. Ignoring the final play of the game, the Huskies two earlier fourth downs were critical. Deciding to attempt fourth downs, rather than punt or kick, gave the Huskies an offensive advantage. They were good calls and it was nice to finally see a coach confident in his offense.

Now, back to that last fourth down. Obviously, as Huskies fans will attest, the fourth down was controversial. Was it pass interference?

Yes, it was obvious pass interference. To anyone that actually knows football, it was an easy flag. With the correct call made, the Huskies drive would continue. However, they still had a quarter of the field to go and the win wasn’t guaranteed.

Third Down Efficiency Killed the Huskies

But, as with many games, there were plenty of opportunities for the Huskies to win it earlier. On third down, the Huskies were atrocious. Just awful. They went 3 for 13. The play-calling on third down needs to improve.

While Eason isn’t perfect and does miss occasional reads and throws, he is an excellent quarterback. Great offensive play-callers optimize their talent. Unlock Eason with better schemes, routes and talent configuration. With more open looks and crafty play-calling, the Huskies win this game. This loss isn’t on Eason.

Growing Pains and Bowl Games

To say this season is a letdown for Huskies football fans is to say the least. They expected a Pac-12 Title game, another Rose Bowl and a possible College Football Playoff berth. However, with the losses to staggeringly different levels of talent, Washington’s high hopes are gone.

Still, there is good for the Huskies. They are only one win out of bowl eligibility. Will they get a Rose Bowl again? Not a chance. But at least they can end up in the Alamo Bowl, Holiday Bowl or Redbox Bowl. And, if Jacob Eason decides to come back in 2020, he’ll be the best quarterback in the Pac-12. Hands down.

How the Best PAC-12 Defenses Stack Up with the Rest of College Football

Best pac-12 defenses

The PAC-12 may not be nationally known for having elite defenses, but this season it has become clear that many of the best overall defensive teams reside on the west coast, along with some of the best individual defensive players.

Four teams – Oregon, Utah, Arizona State, and Cal – are among the top 20 in all of college football in scoring defense, with another (Washington) coming in at No. 28.

Of course, the other side of that coin is that four other teams are actually among the 33 worst defenses in the NCAA at preventing scoring: Washington State, Arizona, Oregon State, and UCLA, who is allowing opponents to score a whopping 37.7 points on average.

So, as one might expect, the PAC-12 is actually pretty average defensively – at least when evaluating them based on points allowed.

Let’s take a look at those elite defenses though, and how they are getting it done in 2019.

Best Pac-12 Defenses 2019

Troy Dye Oregon Pac-12 defenses 2019

Oregon Ducks

The Ducks have long been stigmatized as a speedy, offense-oriented team with little attention or care for their defense – a stigma that has lasted well past the Chip Kelly era despite a reality that contradicts that narrative.

This season, Oregon is allowing the third-fewest points per game on average, at just 8.7 points per game. They are successful at limiting both the run game (107.5 rushing yards per game – 23rd in the nation) and the pass game (196.2 passing yards per game – eighth in the nation) which of course means they are in the top 10 in fewest yards allowed per game – eighth to be exact, at just 267.7 yards per game.

Linebacker Troy Dye, a potential first round pick, has been perhaps their biggest performer on defense, with 33 combined tackles and one sack.

Mase Funa and Kayvon Thibodaux are getting it done off the edge with 5.5 combined sacks, and safety Jevon Holland already has three interceptions.

The Ducks still have an outside chance at a college football playoff appearance, and while their strength is still their quarterback, Justin Herbert, their defense will have played a big role if they make it that far.

Utah Utes

The Utes are probably the PAC-12’s most impressive defensive team, although they are limited somewhat against the pass.

Led by a flurry of playmakers, including Devin Lloyd, Francis Bernard, Julian Blackmon, and Bradlee Anae, the Utes have held opponents to just 13.2 points per game on average.

Their run defense is elite, and would be the best in the entire NCAA were it not for the ridiculousness that is the University of Wisconsin’s defense.

While their pass defense still leaves something to be desired, they do have seven interceptions as a team, including three that have been returned for touchdowns.

Utah will contend for a Rose Bowl appearance this season, thanks primarily to their defensive prowess.

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Arizona State Sun Devils

Arizona State Sun Devils

Arizona State may not have the playmakers that Utah or Oregon have, but as a team, they have allowed just 17.7 points per game on average, good for 16th in the nation.

They are considerably better against the run than the pass, giving up big games to Washington State and Colorado who both like to attack through the air.

Still, it’s been a wildly successful season for the Sun Devils, who held the Michigan State Spartans to just seven points and only gave up 17 to Cal.

The team still has Utah and Oregon on their schedule, however, so they’ll need to really tighten up if they want to contend for the Rose Bowl this year.

Cal Bears Evan Weaver pac-12 defenses

Cal Golden Bears

Cal has one of the most exciting playmakers in the nation in linebacker Evan Weaver. Weaver leads the entire nation with 83 combined tackles, an absolutely ridiculous total through just six games.

Cal has only allowed one team to score over 20 points this season, in their 24-17 loss to Arizona State.

As such, their 18.3 points per game allowed ties them with Auburn for 18th in the nation – despite only average numbers in run and pass prevention.

The PAC-12 may not be known for their defensive prowess, but there are still a handful of elite defensive teams that can manhandle any opponent on any given night.

Pac-12 defenses are some of the best in all of college football in 2019.

UW Huskies Get Big Win Over Wildcats, but Stay in Ducks’ Shadow

Washington Huskies

Huskies Get Another Bounce-Back Win

University of Washington Block W logo RGB brand colors

After a tight loss against Cal in Week 2 of college football, the Huskies bounced back in a big way against Hawaii. They ousted the Rainbow Warriors 52-20. Similarly, UW’s football team had another dominant performance against Arizona after an upset loss to Stanford. Even though the Wildcats were on a four-game win-streak, the Huskies beat them 51-27.

For Washington fans, the pendulum swung back into favor and joy. But, unfortunately for UW football, the Ducks had a more impressive win against the Colorado Buffaloes. With Oregon coming to town this week, does Washington have a shot?

Post-Game Notes from the Huskies Victory

Defense and Special Teams Carried the Huskies

Yes, the UW offense scored five touchdowns and three field goals. But in the first half, against an Arizona team on a four-game win-streak, the offense didn’t show up. Instead, the Dawgs made numerous big plays on defense and special teams. In the first half, the defense and special teams had:

  • 2 Sacks
  • 4 Tackles for a Loss
  • One blocked punt
  • Two forced fumbles and recoveries
  • One touchdown

At the end of the half, the Wildcats still led the Huskies. Despite incredible defensive play, the Huskies were still down 13-17 at half.

The Huskies Offense isn’t Perfect, even with 51 Points

Again, Washington decided to go for field goals. Early in the game, they played it safe. In the first quarter, they opted for two field goals instead of going for it. Fourth and five at the Arizona 10. Kick. Fourth and three at the Arizona 3. Kick. It’s unbelievable how often Chris Peterson and the Huskies exchange field goals for touchdowns. Think about it, if the Huskies converted just 50-percent of those fourth downs, they’d be better off. Yes, they tried to convert a fourth down on their first drive. They failed. But, math and analytics still show that it is optimal to go for it on the opposing half. After all, seven points is more than six.

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Additionally, the Huskies offense was sedentary, out-of-sync, and inconsistent in the first half. In fact, the Husky defense outscored the offense 7-6 in the first half. Their six drives yielded results of:

  • Turnover on Downs (4 plays, 9 yards AFTER STARTING AT THE ARIZONA 36)
  • Field Goal (8 plays, 62 yards)
  • Punt (3 plays, 5 yards)
  • Field Goal (4 plays, 0 yards AFTER STARTING AT THE ARIZONA 8)
  • Punt (6 plays, 43 yards)
  • Punt (3 plays, 4 yards)

Granted, the Huskies offense got rolling in the second half. They scored five touchdowns and a field goal in the second half. Eason and company got rolling. Sean McGrew and Salvon Ahmed showed consistency. Ahmed scored three rushing touchdowns and McGrew showed his efficient and explosive skill-set.

Arizona couldn’t stop them. However, the 2019 UW offense continues to be risk-averse and inconsistent. They need to find rhythm quicker and be willing to go for it on fourth down.

Huskies Finally Involve Puka Nacua

It is about time. In 2019, the Huskies continued to pepper their senior receivers with targets. With Aaron Fuller and Hunter Bryant making plays, that’s understandable. However, with a quality option like Puka Nacua on the bench, it didn’t make sense to keep putting Andre Baccellia on the field.

After getting his chance, Nacua let his name be known. The 6-1, 204-pound freshman caught three passes for 97 yards. Considering Jacob Eason only threw for 243 yards against Arizona, Nacua accounted for 40-percent of the team’s receiving yards. Excellent. It was a breakout performance for the freshman.

Huskies vs Ducks

Next up, the Huskies face off against the Oregon Ducks. Currently, the Ducks rank 12th in AP polls and 7th in Unafraidshow’s Power Rankings. They are impressive. So impressive, in fact, that they are 3.5 favorites in Seattle.

Against Oregon, the Huskies will be tested. The Ducks defense is elite. They’ve held opponents to 52 points in 6 games. But, more impressively, the Ducks haven’t let anyone score more than 7 points in their last five games. Because the Huskies offense has been hit-or-miss this season, Eason and company have to be on point.

Additionally, Justin Herbert and the Ducks offense continues to play well. Herbert has a touchdown in his last 34 games and Oregon has a top-5 offensive line in the nation. In Week 7, two Ducks offensive lineman were featured on PFF College’s Week 7 national team. So, it’s not going to be as easy for the defense to make big plays as they did against Arizona.

Last, it’s important to remember that Oregon’s only loss is against Auburn. In a close game. Since week 1, they’ve won each game handily. The Huskies, on the other hand, have swung back and forth between impressive and unimpressive. In order to win or even compete against the Ducks, the Huskies need to:

  • Create open looks for Jacob Eason
  • Give snaps to young talent like Puka Nacua
  • Make clean tackles and capitalize on turnover-opportunities
  • Attempt fourth down conversions early and often

If the Pac-12 is anything, it’s a conference of cannibals. So, an upset win is certainly possible for the Huskies.