Pac-12 Football Seasons: 2019 Oregon Ducks Week 6

Johnny Johnson III Oregon Ducks wide receiver 2019

For the 2019 Oregon Ducks football team, a bye week in college football’s week five is just what the doctor ordered. After a slew of injuries to the wide receiving corps in the preseason and the absence of standout center Jake Hanson against Stanford, Oregon enters the week six healthy and ready for a tough gauntlet of Pac-12 games.

They also enter week six with a record 3-1, their only loss coming in week one to a still undefeated Auburn Tigers program. This is good news for Oregon football and its fans, as the Ducks have disposed of Stanford and flashed signs of why they should be considered a favorite to win the Pac-12.

After a narrow loss to the Tigers in week one, the Ducks obliterated Nevada, made easy work of Montana and triumphed on the farm. Yet it has not been the offense — a signature of Oregon’s college football reputation — that has secured victories.

Allowing zero touchdowns in the past three games, Oregon’s defense under new defensive coordinator Andy Avalos has been the most impressive. The Ducks have been aggressive, disciplined and used a shutdown secondary to be one of the most impressive defenses in 2019 so far. And while the level of opponents they’ve faced in recent weeks leaves more to be desired, no touchdowns allowed in three games is no joke.

The Oregon offense, meanwhile, has shown flashes of greatness and vulnerability. Their performance against Auburn is an outstanding representation of both.

After jumping out to a 14-3 lead and looking the dominant team, the Ducks scaled-back against the Tigers and failed to forward early momentum. They lost their muster and eventually the game, scoring just once more while Auburn mounted a comeback.

Some of this has been blamed on offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo, who attempted to prove doubters wrong with a 77-point explosion against Nevada. Yet the Ducks looked inconsistent against Montana and failed to get anything going against Stanford, instead relying on scoring drives sprinkled here-and-there.

Is this the beginning of a new era for Oregon? One in which the defense commands attention and the offense plays more conservative? If the Ducks are to be serious contenders in the Pac-12 and have a shot at the College Football Playoff, they’ll need to figure that out soon.

2019 Oregon Ducks Strengths

Defense: No surprise here. Oregon’s defense has been its biggest strength in 2019. With an experienced secondary and front seven, the Ducks have stifled opposing offenses throughout the young season. Most impressive has been the play of Oregon’s corners and the way they’ve adapted to the nickel position and STUD position Andy Avalos loves to incorporate. The Oregon defense has been aggressive, instinctive and dominant. If they continue to hold ground, they could be the top defensive unit in the Pac-12 at year’s end.

Wide Receivers: Big surprise here. After suffering a number of injuries to key wide receivers before the season began, Oregon’s healthy receivers have been nothing but impressive throughout 2019. Johnny Johnson III and Jacob Breeland (technically a tight end) are particular standouts.

Now that the Ducks are healthier at wide receiver and expecting Juwan Johnson, Mycah Pittman and Brenden Schooler back this week, they may have almost too many standouts to distribute to. Poor Justin Herbert.

2019 Oregon Ducks Weaknesses

Consistency: The Ducks have been frustratingly inconsistent in 2019. At times they’ve looked like a top-10 team while at others completely lost. Oregon has failed, outside Nevada, to really separate from teams as they have in the past. If they’re going to challenge for the Pac-12 crown, they’ll need to put together more dominating quarters and halves of play.

Running Game: As surprising as Oregon’s dominant receivers has been the Ducks’ less-than-dominating rushing attack. Neither C.J. Verdell or Travis Dye has emerged as a lead back, each flashing speed but consistently looking hesitant to hit holes and take charge. With as lauded as Oregon’s offensive line is, the backs need to do a better job of hitting holes and running with confidence.

Offensive MVP: Offensive lineman Penei Sewell

You read that right. Sophomore offensive lineman Penei Sewell has been the offensive MVP for the Oregon Ducks so far in 2019. Already establishing a name for himself as a true freshman, Sewell has continued to impress both a Pac-12 and national audience. He has been dominant, tenacious and consistently rated as one of the best offensive linemen in the nation.

Defensive MVP: Safety Jevon Holland

Jevon Holland will be a first-round pick in a future NFL Draft. A true sophomore, Holland has imposed his will against opposing receivers and been confident in stepping into the nickel position when called upon. Showcasing a knack for reading the quarterback, Holland has two interceptions and been critical in preventing big plays. Even more, Holland uses his speed and physicality to step up and help stuff the run and short passing game, posting 21 tackles on the year (15 solo).

Most Surprising Player: Wide receiver Johnny Johnson III

Those in the Oregon program are not surprised by wide receiver Johnny Johnson III’s numbers but the rest of the nation may be. After taking a backseat to other receivers in the past, Johnson’s work ethic and drive have clearly paid off. He has been Oregon’s best true receiver and leads the group in targets and yards. And though his production may drop with the addition of Juwan Johnson, Mycah Pittman and Brenden Schooler, look for Johnson III to be a consistent force for the Ducks throughout 2019.

2019 Oregon Ducks Bye Week

Oregon is rightfully the highest-ranked team in the Pac-12. They have looked the most impressive, been the least vulnerable and are returning key players from injury. That said, the Ducks being ranked behind two other one-loss teams in the current college football rankings is also justified. For all their strengths they have shown a few weaknesses that could hurt them down the road, inconsistency being the big one.

The Ducks will need to shore up those issues fast, as they are entering the toughest part of their schedule. With a big game against California this week, Oregon then hosts Colorado, heads to Washington and hosts Washington State to finish a tough October schedule. Games against California and Washington may prove the toughest of these matchups.

If Oregon manages to showcase their abilities and put together more consistent play, the Ducks could continue to shoot up the college football rankings and establish themselves as a legitimate College Football Playoff contender.

Top 5 Candidates for 2019 PAC-12 Offensive Player of the Year Through Week 4

Easop Winston WSU Houston 2019

The PAC-12 may run the risk of beating each other up this season, but there’s no doubt the conference has a ton of talented players on both sides of the ball.

The quarterback play in the PAC-12 has been arguably as good as ever this season, and a QB is likely to win the coveted 2019 PAC-12 Offensive Player of the Year.

Here are five candidates – not all quarterbacks – who could win that award by the end of the 2019 season.

Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon

Long considered a Heisman favorite and potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert has not disappointed in his senior campaign so far.

Herbert has completed a whopping 74.4% of his passes for 1,127 yards and 14 touchdowns through four games this season. He has yet to throw an interception, and his passing efficiency rating is a staggering 183.1.

Herbert is on pace to shatter most of his accomplishments from the last few seasons, and not only has a great chance to be the offensive player of the year in the conference, but he could become the next Oregon quarterback to win the Heisman.

Anthony Gordon, Quarterback, Washington State

Herbert has been a machine of efficiency for the Ducks, but it’s hard not to ignore the staggering volume of statistics that have been posted by Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon through three games.

Gordon has thrown for 1,894 yards already this season, with a stellar 74.9% completion rate and 21 touchdowns – lead of course by his nine touchdown game against UCLA.

Gordon does have four interceptions, his biggest knock so far, but if he keeps playing like this it will be really hard to not give him the award

He is on pace for nearly 6,000 yards through the air, which would shatter the NCAA record of 5,833 set by B.J. Symons at Texas Tech back in 2003. If he even places in the top-five, the award is probably his.

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Washington State Cougars wide receiver Easop Winston Jr. (8) scores on a 39-yard touchdown reception during an NCAA football game between the Houston Cougars and the Washington State Cougars at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, on September 13, 2019.

Easop Winston, Wide Receiver, Washington State

The man on the receiving end of so much of Gordon’s damage done this season has been Washington State receiver Easop Winston, who himself has made a pretty compelling case to the offensive player of the year in the conference.

Winston already has 348 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns on the season, putting him on pace for just over 1,000 yards and 24 touchdowns. While he probably won’t reach those lofty totals, if he continues to produce big time numbers he has a chance to be recognized at the end of the season.

Jacob Eason, Quarterback, Washington

The former Georgia quarterback is having a very solid start to his career as a Husky, and while he’s behind both Herbert and Gordon statistically, it’s not impossible to imagine him getting the nod if he continues to play well and the Huskies go undefeated from here on out.

Eason has recorded 1,063 yards and 10 touchdowns through four games this season, along with a nice 73.1% completion rate and just two interceptions.

He has some catching up to do if he wants this award, but stranger things have happened.

Isaiah Hodgins, Wide Receiver, Oregon State

A true dark horse for this award, Hodgins plays receiver for a bad PAC-12 team, but the numbers he has put up so far indicate he could be a wildcard candidate for offensive player of the year.

As Oregon State’s only real threat offensively, Hodgins has already hauled in 23 receptions for 347 yards and five touchdowns on the young season. While he has a long, long way to go to move past Herbert and Gordon to win the award, he does have a lot going for him in a relatively inept Oregon State offense.

It will be hard for anyone to top Herbert or Gordon for this award, but there’s no question that the PAC-12 has a lot of talented offensive players in the 2019 season. Still, with no true offensive standouts in the Pac-12 South, will the 2019 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year’s best candidates only come from the Pac-12 North?

Oregon vs. Stanford 2019 – The Ducks fly past sinking Stanford

Pac-12 Football Review: Oregon leads 2020 recruiting, BYU Games, KJ Costello

Oregon vs. Stanford 2019 was another in the series of two relatively new Pac-12 heavyweights. And yet, this iteration felt different.

The Stanford Cardinal have had a nightmarish start to the season, after winning the opener to Northwestern the Cardinal have lost three straight games including a 21-6 loss at home to the University of Oregon.

First Half

Facing a Ducks team ranked #16 in the nation and led by Heisman candidate Justin Herbert, the Cardinal would attempt to right the ship. Receiving the opening kickoff, the Cardinal drove 61 yards in 12 plays in 6:21 seconds, primarily off the legs of running back Cameron Scarlett. Unable to punch the ball into the endzone Stanford would settle for a field goal, taking a 3-0 lead.

The Cardinal defense was the one of a few bright spots on the day, keeping Herbert under 300 yards passing (19/24 259yards 3TDs). The Stanford defense also held Oregon’s rushing attack to 61 total yards. They harassed Herbert all game long, totaling four sacks and piled up seven tackles for loss.

On the Ducks third possession, however, Oregon found something exploitable in the Cardinal defense. Herbert hit wide receiver Jaylon Redd on a crossing route and he outraces the coverage for 36 yards and a lead changing score. Oregon went 55 yards on 2 plays, using only :35 off the clock to take a 7-3 lead. With his second completion, Herbert broke 8,000 yards passing. He also extended his streak of games with a passing TD to 32.

Still, the Cardinal were not out. Unfortunately their offense couldn’t get going, or even out of its own way. Osiris St. Brown was called for a chop block, costing Stanford 15 yards and seriously impairing the momentum. Two runs and an incompletion later and the Cardinal had to punt on 4th and 12 from their 33.

Stanford’s defense, meanwhile, continued to smother the gun and pistol stretch runs which the Ducks are known for. However, getting off the field on third downs remained a major problem. On two consecutive third-and-longs the Cardinal allowed the Ducks to convert. This led to an eventual score.

On the next possession the Cardinal found momentum as halftime approached. But on the eighth play of the drive at the Oregon 39 yard line, quarterback K.J. Costello was sacked. And after the original play was ruled a fumble returned for a TD, upon official review it was ruled Costello’s knee and elbow were down. The sack counted but the scoop and score did not.

With the offense stifled by Oregon’s defense, the Ducks had another shot. Herbert threw for gains of 24 yards, 16 yards, and 16 yards. The final was a TD pass to tight end Jacob Breeland on a back shoulder throw and catch to open up the lead. 14-3 Ducks.

2nd Half

Heading into the second half the Cardinal had hope. Their first drive showed they could play against Oregon’s stout defense and a 14-3 score was not insurmountable.

But after stopping the Ducks’ offense on their first drive of the second half, Stanford started the third quarter moving backwards.One false start, one delay of game penalty, a completion for 0 yards, a sack of 8 yards, and a 6 yard run. All preceded an opening drive punt for the Cardinal.

The Ducks, believing in either their defense or Stanford’s offensive futility — or a combination of the two — were content to continue running the clock. Stanford had 181 yards of total offense with no touchdowns heading into the 4th quarter. Scarlett, the lone offensive bright spot, had 91 yards on 17 carries. Only Austin Jones and St. Brown had more than 20 yards of receptions for the Cardinal.

This offensive futility was highlighted by a Costello interception that led to Oregon’s third TD of the game. After Oregon safety Jevon Holland intercepted Costello, Herbert marched the Ducks down the field. He connected with Breeland once again for a 24-yard TD, the second of Breeland’s day and 172nd of Herbert’s career.

Now down 21-3, Stanford needed something to get any momentum back.

Moving the offense down the field, Costello had his biggest play of the game on a 25 yard pass to M. Wilson. After Scarlett added 6 yards on a run, Costello once again hit Wilson for 14 yards on another slant, bringing the Cardinals into the redone for just the second time of the afternoon. An incompletion into the end zone was followed by a loss of three on a screen. Costello was then sacked on 3rd and 13 by Lamar Winston Jr., forcing a field goal attempt. Fortunately for Stanford, kicker Jeff Toner connected. With time bleeding away, Stanford was down 21-6.

Needing to score quickly and get the ball back, Stanford attempted an onside kick. They did not convert, and saw Oregon drive 41 yards on 7 plays. This put the Ducks in field goal range. Fortunately for the Cardinal, Oregon missed. With 5:35 seconds left in the game the Cardinal took possession at their 20 yard line down 21-6.

But after starting out with a nice pass on first down for a first down, the Cardinal offense failed to convert a fourth down, giving the Ducks the ball and the opportunity to run more off the clock. And while they did punt to Stanford, Costello and Stanford had no time. He was sacked for the last play of the game, an appropriate ending for the way the game played throughout.

Oregon vs. Stanford 2019 Final Thoughts

Costello finished the game 16/30 for 120 yards 0TDS and 1 INT. Scarlett carried the ball 19 times for 97 yards and 0 TDs. Stanford’s leading receiver was Michael Wilson with 61 yards on 5 catches. The Cardinal are in desperate need of offense and help doesn’t appear to be on the way.

Pac-12 Football Seasons: 2019 Oregon Ducks Football Week 3

Nevada’s demolishing at the hands of the Oregon Ducks last Saturday will be forever known as the Arroyo flex. Coming off a season-opening loss where Arroyo was criticized for conservative play calls, the Ducks unleashed their frustration on a motivated Wolfpack team. Now, as college football hits its stride and the 2019 Oregon Ducks football team enters week 3, Oregon is primed to have a special season. And with a calming breath in the Montana Grizzlies before the Pac-12 storm, now is the Ducks’ chance to focus and prepare.

The Arroyo — and Avalos — Flex

The 2019 Nevada vs. Oregon football matchup was one of contrast.

Nevada had just dispatched Purdue. They rode a surge of early season momentum into Autzen Stadium and had confidence aplenty. With an offense that could put up points and a defensive front seven who could present Oregon problems, some had this game marked as an upset special.

The Ducks, meanwhile, were coming off a tough week one loss to Auburn. They needed to get their offense firing on its proper cylinders and show the college football world they would not go silently into the night.

What happened was everything the 2019 Oregon Ducks football program needed.

Taking some time to get rolling against Nevada in their 2019 home opener, once Oregon got rolling they did not stop.

First scoring on a 66-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Justin Herbert to tight end Jacob Breeland with 3:56 to go in the first, the Ducks went on to outscore the Wolfpack 28-3 the rest of the half, and would not stop there.

Allowing Herbert to remain in the game for the opening drive of the second half, the Ducks put another 42 on the board in impressive fashion. 11 different players scored, redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Shough made an impressive debut, and the 2019 Oregon Ducks looked like the team they’re expected to be.

More impressive than the offense, however, was Oregon’s defense. Holding Nevada to just 6 points — all in the first half — the Andy Avalos led defense put consistent pressure on Nevada’s offense and forced four turnovers. It was an effort that will go down as one of Oregon’s best in recent years.

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Nitpicking the Negatives for the 2019 Oregon Ducks Football team in week 3

Not much went wrong against Nevada. Oregon excelled and the score reflected such. There were, however, some issues of concern.

Oregon did not get off to the start it wanted. After an impressive start to the Auburn game, the Ducks opened the Nevada game with two non-scoring drives. This was concerning, especially for Marcus Arroyo. Against a team like Nevada the Ducks should have put points on the board fast. They should have had long drives that proved they were the better team. Starting the game with drives of 25 yards and 18 yards did not accomplish that. If Oregon is to be the team it’s supposed to be, they’ll have to be more consistent.

Sticking with the offense, Oregon’s running game didn’t really get on track against the Wolfpack. While the quarterbacks picked the Nevada secondary apart, Oregon’s once potent rushing attack was held in relative check. After a so-so performance against the Auburn Tigers, the 2019 Oregon Ducks football team still needs to solidify their running game entering week 3. And with the likes of Stanford and Cal looming, they’ll need to do so fast.

A Game Filled with Positives

What Oregon did to Nevada was outstanding. At least if you’re not a Wolfpack fan. The Ducks did what they needed to do to get back on the map. However they also showed the Pac-12 and college football that they may have one of their best defenses in recent memory. Yes, there is still a lot of football to play, but what the Ducks have done of defense in the first two weeks is not something to ignore. Oregon’s secondary is better-than-advertised and after some shaky play against Auburn, the defensive line looks impressive.

Furthermore, Oregon’s offense showed what it is capable of. It spread the ball to a long list of playmakers and got young talent fresh looks at college football. The wide receiver corps looks to be in great hands despite being depleted and Justin Herbert is a complete quarterback.

This shouldn’t all be news. Oregon was expected to be special this year, and a 77-6 win over Nevada helped prove why. Though they may have one loss to their name, it is a quality loss and one that won’t define their season. There’s plenty of football to play, and Oregon showed it is ready for a special season.

Moreover, they recaptured that special attitude and atmosphere the program had been searching for in the past few years. Autzen Stadium rocked, the fans were into the game and the players were having a blast on the sidelines. No moment was greater than when senior linebacker Troy Dye danced around the field while the sounds of “Shout” filled the air.

Moving Forward with 2019 Oregon Ducks Football Week 3

Montana has no chance against Oregon, it’s as simple as that. Coaches and players will want to give their respects but let’s not kid: Oregon should destroy the Grizzlies. Now, crazier things have happened in college football. Bigger upsets have happened and there is always the slim chance Montana could down the Ducks.

Montana has a good quarterback in UNLV transfer Dalton Sneed, and receivers Jerry Louie-McGee, Samori Toure and Samuel Akem are equally impressive. They spread the ball out and are somewhat of a FCS version of Washington State. For teams with shaky secondaries the Grizzlies present a problem. This is not the case with Oregon.

Though two games is a small sample size, Oregon’s secondary may be the defense’s forte. As such the Ducks matchup well against Montana’s offensive strengths and will have no problem putting up points against a smaller FCS-level defense. The keys for the 2019 Oregon Ducks football team in week 3 will be cleaning up minor errors, finding more reliable play from their running backs and staying healthy.

While it is never a good thing to look ahead, Oregon has two tough tests immediately following Montana. First they’ll travel to Stanford before a date with Pac-12 sleeper California. Look for the Ducks to make quick work of Montana and focus on the Pac-12 play ahead.

The Best and Worst from each Pac-12 North Football Program in Week 3


The PAC-12 North had an up-and-down second week of the season, finishing with a 3-3 record.

No. 15 Oregon, No. 20 Washington State and Cal (surprisingly) took care of business this week. Stanford, Oregon State and No. 23 Washington all faltered.

Here is a quick look at the highs and lows from each team in their Week 2 games.

Oregon (1-1)

Last Week: (W) 77-6 Nevada

Oregon absolutely demolished the Wolfpack of Nevada in week 2, avenging their heartbreaking loss to Auburn with a 77-6 destruction. 11 different players scored a touchdown for the Ducks in what was a nearly perfect game of football.


Just about everything. Oregon got a chance to play their first, second and even third stringers in this contest, and virtually everyone found success.

Justin Herbert completed 19 passes for 310 yards and five touchdowns, while backup quarterback Tyler Shough went 8/9 with 92 yards and two touchdowns of his own.

The team ran the ball well, with six different players totaling 39 carries for 210 yards and three touchdowns.

The receivers did even better, with 14(!) different players hauling in at least one reception, for a grand total of 410 yards in the air and seven receiving touchdowns. Wow.

The defense was excellent as well. Brady Breeze recovered a fumble for a touchdown, and the team had two interceptions, five sacks and 13 tackles for loss.

Heck, even the kick and punt return games did well, and the kickers didn’t miss a single extra point. Hard to find anything wrong in this one.


Uh, I guess the fact that Nevada wasn’t a great opponent was a low? The starters didn’t play long enough to get experience playing a full 60-minute game? Haki Woods fumbled the football?

Really, I think my editor gave me this article assignment to see if I could find anything bad about the Oregon game, which I could not. It was an all-around demolition.

Washington State (2-0)

Last Week (W) 59-17 Northern Colorado

WSU’s 42 point margin of victory would normally be the talk of the town in the PAC-12 North, but Oregon takes that cake. Still, the Cougars really took care of business against Northern Colorado.


The air-raid offense marches on even without Gardner Minshew. New QB Anthony Gordon looked great, completing 31-of-39 passes for 464 yards and four touchdowns. His lone blemish was an interception, but it was an otherwise excellent performance.

The team had 481 total yards through the air, with both Brandon Arconado and Easop Winston, Jr. hauling in over 100 yards receiving.

Defensively the team recovered four fumbles, and on the special teams kicker, Blake Mazza made his one field goal and went a perfect 8/8 on extra points.

WSU is now 2-0 and could move into the top-15 this week.


WSU’s run defense was pretty suspect. They allowed Northern Colorado to rush for 216 yards and two touchdowns, and that would have been higher had they not brought down second-string quarterback Connor Regan twice for a total of negative 18 yards.

WSU will need to shore up the run defense if they want to make a push for a championship season.

The pass defense was a little better, although the lack of pressure is also a concern. They only had one sack on the evening, and only hurried quarterback Jacob Knipp twice. Another area the team will need to grow this season.

Cal (2-0)

Last Week (W) 20-19 Washington

Cal earned an absolutely huge victory over the No. 23 ranked Huskies of Washington last week, in their first conference matchup of the year. They now sit atop the Pac-12 North. So they got that going for them, which is nice.


It was an incredibly sloppy game. A 2.5 hour thunder and lightning delay really made it so neither team played well, but Cal was still able to find some advantages – namely in the running game.

Cal rushed for 192 yards and two touchdowns, often finding ways to extend drives by driving through UW’s maligned defensive front.

Defensively, Cal generated four sacks and seven tackles for loss, often making QB Jacob Eason uncomfortable for the Huskies. Evan Weaver had a monster game for the Golden Bears, recording 18(!) combined tackles.

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If you’d told me Cal would beat UW with their quarterback, Chase Garbers, posting a 29.8 QBR, I’d have told you you were crazy. But Garbers didn’t look great, completing 11 of 18 passes for just 111 yards and no touchdowns.

Again, the crazy weather and the lengthy delay made passing the ball a challenge for both sides, but for this team to have any level of success their QB play will need to improve.

It’s hard to find too many faults when you upset a ranked team, but Cal didn’t do a great job of stopping UW’s running attack, as they allowed the Huskies to rush for 186 yards on the ground. Now granted that was on 46 carries (4.0 ypc) and they did get stops when they needed to, so it’s not a great criticism, but the defense does need to tighten up.

Stanford (1-1)

Last Week (L) 45-20 USC

It was a tale of two halves for the Cardinal against USC last week. They went into the second half only down 24-20, but got outscored 21-0 in the final two quarters, leading to the lopsided final score. It was a tough loss for Stanford and the Pac-12 North.


Stanford had a respectable 237 yards through the air, although the efficiency wasn’t there for QB Davis Mills, as he only completed 22 of 36 passes.

Still, the short-yardage passing game had its benefits, and kept Stanford in the game for the first half.

Defensively Stanford was able to force a fumble, and on the special teams they did have a 60 yard kick return from Connor Weddington.


Stanford’s efficiency on offense was nearly non-existent, and they were unable to get anything going on the ground – which allowed USC to play the passing game well.

Stanford only rushed for 98 total yards, for an average of just 3.3 yards per carry.

Defensively, the team allowed USC QB Kedon Slovis to throw wherever he wanted, as he completed 28 of 33 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns. For them to have any success this year, the pass defense will need to tighten up – quite a bit.

Oregon State (0-2)

Last Week (L) 31-28 Hawaii

Oof. This is a rough one. Oregon State was not expected to be good this year, but blowing a lead against an Mountain West Conference school – even a good one like Hawaii – is not a good look.


Oregon State ran the ball really well. Star RB Jermar Jefferson had 31 carries for a whopping 183 yards on the ground, including a touchdown. They totaled 263 yards and three touchdowns in the running game, an excellent, well-rounded attack.

The passing game was less successful, but Isaiah Hodgins still had seven receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown – another solid outing.

The Beavers also had two takeaways, a fumble recovery and an interception.


Oh boy. We all knew Hawaii was going to throw the ball a lot, but Oregon State’s defense still seemed unprepared. Hawaii QB Cole McDonald completed 30 of 52 passes for 421 yards and four touchdowns in what was a blitz through the air all game long.

Oregon State did stop the run effectively, but they did not generate nearly enough pressure to prevent Hawaii from making a quick comeback through the air – an issue that will no doubt plague them all season long.

Washington (1-1)

Last Week (L) 20-19 Cal

The weather delay that took the stadium from a full 66,000 rapid fans to somewhere around 15,000 really sucked the air out of Husky Stadium, and the UW football team as a whole. That led to an embarrassing 20-19 loss at the hands of Cal, and likely cost them a shot at a playoff bid this season.


Salvon Ahmed had an excellent day running the football, rushing for 119 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, good for a 5.7 yards per carry average.

The rushing game overall was successful, with a total of 186 yards on the ground. In an environment that made passing the ball nearly impossible, it was good that UW was still able to attack on the ground despite Cal stacking the box.


More or less everything else. Eason was awful, only completing 18 of 30 passes for 162 yards and no touchdowns, along with an interception. He never got comfortable, and took a big step backward from his promising start.

Defensively, UW struggled to contain Cal’s running game, and the defense was not able to force Cal into many mistakes – allowing them to dictate the tempo and keep UW’s offense off the field.

The defense also only had four tackles for loss. In a sloppy game, that number needs to be higher.

Pac-12 College Football Playoff Chances Entering Week 2

2019 UW Football Washington Huskies

College football week one was a mixed-bag of results for the Pac-12 Conference. Not counting Arizona’s tough humiliating loss to Hawaii, the Pac-12 went 8-3 in week one. Not bad. The conference did, however, see the Oregon Ducks fall to Auburn, potentially hurting the chances of having a Pac-12 College Football Playoff representative.

Fortunately there’s a lot of football to be played. Oregon is by no means eliminated from the playoff, and most of the other conference contenders took care of business appropriately.

Pac-12 teams enter week two with no big headline non-conference matchups outside of Nebraska vs. Colorado. There are, however, huge games in California vs. Washington and Stanford vs. USC. Both of these will have conference and College Football Playoff ramifications.

That said, here are the teams will the best chances of being a Pac-12 College Football Playoff representative entering week 2.

1. Utah Utes

Utah’s defense looked scary good against BYU. Limiting the Cougars to 300 yards total (208 yards passing, 92 yards on the ground), the Utes were stifling, exciting and showed why they’ll be what carries Utah through the season.

A defensive battle for much of the game, Utah scored twice off interceptions returned for touchdowns. The first came with 10:17 left in the first half, and the other with 12:25 left in the fourth. While both were crucial, the second came moments after the Utes executed a 3-play, 22 yard touchdown drive after recovering a fumble. The back-to-back scored put Utah up 30-6 and the game away for good.

If Utah’s defense is as tenacious as they looked against BYU, their lofty expectations to win the Pac-12 may be justified. And if Zack Moss can carry the offensive load, they may very well be the conference’s best shot at a Pac-12 College Football Playoff team.

2. Washington Huskies

Give credit where credit is due. There were plenty of questions surrounding Washington quarterback Jacob Eason heading into week one. A Georgia transfer who beat out Jake Haener, some questioned Chris Petersen’s decision to roll with Eason at QB. He has the arm talent, but are the other skills there? A 349 yard, four touchdown performance was his answer.

Now, this was against Eastern Washington. They’re a decent program but shouldn’t compete with the best of the Pac-12. Still, Eason’s outstanding debut can’ be ignored. The quarterback was impressive.

More impressive, however, was Washington’s defense. They held the Eagles to just 63 yards on the ground and despite no turnovers they commanded much of the game. The Huskies and Eason now face the tough task of navigating California’s not-so-secret secondary in week two. If they’re able to take care of the Golden Bears, the confidence surrounding this team will improve.

3. Oregon Ducks

Oregon should have won their game against Auburn. For much of the contest they were the better team. Unfortunately for the Ducks and the rest of the Pac-12, almost doesn’t cut it and the Tigers emerged victorious. Despite the loss, however, Oregon showed the nation it can compete with the big boys once again. Their defense was impressive, offensive line powerful, and with a little less conservative play calls the Ducks could have run away with the game.

Yet Oregon will now need nearly flawless performances the rest of the year. Unless Auburn finds itself in the SEC Championship Game, Oregon’s shot at being a Pac-12 College Football Playoff representative rests in their ability to run the table.

After how they played against the Tigers, that’s not impossible. The talent is there and what mistakes were made were more mental than physical.

4. Stanford Cardinal

If Stanford is going to represent the Pac-12 in the College Football Playoff, they’re going to need a big win over USC on Saturday night. Dispatching the Northwestern Wildcats in a classic Stanford way, the Cardinal looked impressive on defense but shaky on offense. Quarterback K.J. Costello was precise but unremarkable, and running back Cameron Scarlett was simply serviceable.

Fortunately Stanford flashed an impressive defense, forcing three fumbles (recovering two) and coming away with two INTs. With Costello still questionable for their game against USC, it’s clear Stanford’s defense must lead the way. For the Cardinal to have any shot at the College Football Playoff they’ll need to grind it out and hope a star emerges on offense.

5. Washington State Cougars

The Pac-12 North may eat itself alive this year, and not because there is a lack of talented teams. The problem in the North may be that there are too many quality teams for any to emerge with a record impressive enough to qualify a Pac-12 College Football Playoff team.

That’s exactly what could happen to the Washington State Cougars, who once again showed why Mike Leach’s offense is a godsend for quarterbacks looking to pad their stats. Quarterback Anthony Gordon completed 29-of-35 passes for 420 yards and five touchdowns. While this came against New Mexico State, those are still numbers you can’t ignore.

More impressively, Washington State’s defense forced three turnovers and held the Aggies to just seven points. Regardless of opponent that’s an impressive effort. The Cougars now face another low-level opponent before an interesting matchup against Houston that should be a great barometer for just how good Washington State could be. They’re still in consideration for being a Pac-12 College Football Playoff team, but they need to show a little more first.

6. USC Trojans

Most Pac-12 insiders understood the dangers of Fresno State vs. USC. The Bulldogs were a good team in 2018, Fresno State head coach Jeff Tedford knows the Pac-12 and there were still plenty of uncertainties surrounding USC. Would they finally be able to live up to the talent on their roster?

For some that begins with a resounding yes. Running back Vavae Malepeai burst onto the scene with a 23 carry, 134 yard performance and was complimented by an explosive effort from Stephen Carr (6 carries for 56 yards, 6 receptions for 43 yards). Wide receiver Tyler Vaughns also impressed, catching 11 balls for 150 yards.

But the bad news for USC is that they lost starting quarterback J.T. Daniels for the season, paving way for true freshman Kedon Slovis to command the offense. A three-star prospect, Slovis will be immediately tested against Stanford’s defense. If USC is to make a College Football Playoff statement early on, this Stanford game is it.

Pac-12 Football Seasons: 2019 Oregon Ducks Week 2

Oregon Ducks Week 2 Pac-12 football

Revenge had and reputation improved. Those are the headlines that should have come Sunday morning for both the Oregon Ducks Week 2 and Pac-12. There should have been articles written about a relentless first half by the Oregon offense and a tenacious defense throughout, and coverage surrounding the Pac-12’s ability to play with the big bad SEC. Others might have said the conference wasn’t so soft. But Oregon’s 27-21 loss to Auburn in the 2019 Advocare Classic did not do that, at least not entirely.

Oregon should have won that game. They should have converted multiple scoring opportunities and surged to a confident lead. Mario Cristobal should have managed his timeouts better, perhaps giving the Ducks more of a chance at the end. Oregon offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo should have made use of his thin yet impressive wide receiver group. 

Football, however, is not a game of should-haves. It’s a game of results. And while fans will speculate as to what could have been made better to change the outcome, what the Oregon football program needs to do is focus on the future. There is still a lot of football to play starting with week 2.

That said, there’s no doubt that this one hurts. Time to explain why.

Setting the Table for Oregon Ducks Week 2

There was a lot put on Oregon’s plate as they headed to face the Auburn Tigers in Arlington, Texas. Not only would they represent their program, university and its fan base, but they would also represent the Pac-12 Conference in the nation’s biggest week one game. 

For years the Pac-12 Conference has been seen as soft, especially in the eyes of the SEC. No respect has been given to the west, and it was expected of the Ducks to flip the script. This was meant to be the game where Oregon would come away with a key victory for themselves and the conference. No pressure, right? 

On an individual level expectations for the Oregon football program were just as high. This was meant to be a justification of the lofty preseason expectations for a team some have just on the peripheral of the College Football Playoff. Led by Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert and the nation’s top offensive line, many expected the Ducks’ offense to explode, impress and overwhelm. The defense, meanwhile, was expected to improve and hold their ground, especially against Auburn’s true freshman quarterback Bo Nix.

And after a few unexpected down years, fans of the Ducks were ready for the program to get back on track. What began as the Decade of the Duck could still finish in spectacular fashion. A win over Auburn in the opener would be proof that Oregon football was headed towards that.

An Ominous Start and Other Negatives for the Ducks

If there was anything that would be indicative of the end result of Oregon’s game against Auburn, it was their first play. Or rather, lack thereof. 

Electing to receive the kickoff, the Ducks took the field on offense first. Out came Herbert, his vaulted offensive line, an up-and-coming running back in sophomore CJ Verdell and a wide receiver corps that was injury-ridden yet talented. But before they would take the first snap the Ducks found themselves caught in the headlights. Confused about what play to run and what personnel to line up where Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal was forced to call a timeout. 

A less than ideal start to the 2019 season but appropriate for how the Ducks would play much of the game.

While Oregon dominated much of the game, they constantly found themselves fumbling — both literally and figuratively — in key moments. The Ducks missed a chip-shot field goal, dropped a touchdown pass that would have extended their lead, fumbled the ball in the red zone, mismanaged timeouts on a crucial fourth-and-one and allowed Auburn to hold on to just enough hope that they were still in the game. The Oregon football program many expected, while vastly improved, had not yet completely arrived. Too many missed opportunities.

Oregon offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo, meanwhile, took much of the blame. Impressing fans with a diverse selection of play calls early on that had Auburn second-guessing, Arroyo was unable to adapt to the Tigers’ defensive adjustments, choosing conservative plays rather than those that could quickly extend Oregon’s lead. He played right into Auburn’s arms to the dismay of Duck fans nationwide. This isn’t the first time Arroyo has been criticized in such fashion, and how he manages the coming games may determine his future career. 

Positives from the Auburn Loss

It’s hard to see positives in any loss. But for the Oregon football team, there was plenty to take away from their game against Auburn.

First, the 2019 Oregon defense looks like the real deal. Under new defensive coordinator Andy Avalos the Ducks were fierce upfront and impressive in the secondary. They played intuitively — for the most part — and showed an ability to match up with some of the best talent in the nation. While they did react too quick in a few crucial moments, what mental mistakes they made can be cleaned up with improved focus and coaching. Those adjustments are easier to make than those based on a lack of talent or personnel. 

Second, Oregon’s depleted wide receivers no longer look so depleted. Johnny Johnson III emerged as a breakout candidate. Jaylon Redd found a nice presence in the slot. Redshirt freshman Spencer Webb made the nation know his name with a statement touchdown early in the game. What these receivers did is prove themselves physical and talented enough to hold down the position group until the addition of the highly-anticipated senior transfer Juwan Johnson and true freshman Mycah Pittman. Once they are added, Oregon’s wide receivers could be one of the best units in the Pac-12.

Next, Oregon’s tough loss to Auburn wasn’t conference crippling for the Pac-12. In fact, it was just the opposite. It may seem hard to argue the strength of the conference in a losing effort. What the Ducks showed was the gap may not be as big as some think. Oregon’s defensive front seven managed penetration. Their offensive line held steady against the best defensive front seven in the nation and their personnel constantly looked more talented. It’s the execution that suffered. Don’t be surprised if Oregon’s performance against Auburn provides a confidence boost for other Pac-12 teams in non-conference games.

Moving Forward with the Oregon Ducks Week 2

The beauty of college football — and sports in general — is that you must move on fast. Learn from mistakes and use them to improve the future. And with 11 games left on the schedule, there is still a big opportunity for the Oregon football program to make 2019 a special season. Next up? The Nevada Wolfpack, a team that brings with it a potent offense and the momentum of a last-second win over the Big Ten’s Purdue Boilermakers. 

Unlike the Auburn game, the Ducks are not only favored to win, but they’re also expected to. Nevada is a Mountain West Conference opponent, and while threatening in their conference, they should not present Oregon a problem. That in itself can be a problem, however. Overlooking opponents, especially one as talented as Nevada, often spells doom.

Don’t think the Ducks will overlook the Wolf Pack, however. They’ve been spoiled by the Mountain West Conference in the recent past (Boise State). A loss in the home opener would derail the rest of the season. A win, meanwhile, would be the first step towards a still promising year. Some of Oregon’s best years have come after a week one loss. 

They’ll be hoping 2019 follows suit. It starts with the Oregon Ducks Week 2.

These Games Could Land the Pac-12 on ESPN College Gameday

Pac-12 ESPN College Football gameday

College football is back, and with it comes the return of the best sports show in all of sports: ESPN College GameDay. Now in its 26th year of the live show format (the program technically began in 1987 as an in-studio show), College GameDay kicked-off the season in proper fashion at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, highlighting the huge Miami vs. Florida ‘Week 0‘ matchup. And while the atmosphere was outstanding, next week’s feature of Auburn and Oregon in the Advocare Classic is bound to be something special, and is just one of the many college football matchups that could feature the Pac-12 on College GameDay.

Having national attention shift to the Pac-12 is critical, especially as the conference looks to bolster its reputation. There’s no better way of doing this than a featured matchup on College GameDay. Yes, the conference has to win on the field and yes, many of the games listed below could have their “watchability” change as the season progresses, but there’s no denying the influence ESPN College GameDay has in drawing national attention.

Here are the games that could get the Pac-12 on College GameDay throughout the course of the year.

Weeks Ruled Out

Before taking a dive into what weeks and games could see Pac-12 teams featured on College GameDay, there are a few weeks where the show is pretty much booked sans Pac-12.

  • Week 2: Texas A&M vs. Clemson
  • Week 4: Michigan vs. Wisconsin OR Notre Dame vs. Georgia
  • Week 9: Auburn vs. LSU OR Notre Dame vs. Michigan OR Penn State vs. Michigan State
  • Week 10: LSU vs. Alabama
  • Week 14: Ohio State vs. Michigan

With just five weeks out of contention to feature the Pac-12 on College GameDay, the conference could see itself attract a fair share of national attention, even if this means Rece Davis and the gang will have to wake up a bit earlier.

Stanford vs. UCF OR Oklahoma vs. UCLA (Week 3)

After College GameDay’s undoubted visit to Clemson for Texas A&M vs. Clemson, the Pac-12 has a legitimate shot at seeing one of its teams featured on the show in week three, with Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA all in play. Much of this will depend on the outcome of UCLA’s week one matchup against Cincinnati and Stanford’s brutal first two weeks (vs. Northwestern, at USC), but should both those teams head into week three undefeated, their matchups are attractive enough for a College GameDay appearance. Oklahoma vs. UCLA, in particular, could be an outstanding matchup. The backdrop of the Rose Bowl would be a welcomed bonus.

PASADENA, CA – SEPTEMBER 15: Head coach Chip Kelly of the UCLA Bruins talks with Dorian Thompson-Robinson #7 during the second quarter against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Rose Bowl on September 15, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Biggest Competition: Iowa vs. Iowa State, Clemson vs. Syracuse

Washington State vs. Utah OR USC vs. Washington (Week 5)

The Washington schools have a great shot at seeing the Northwest’s best on College GameDay come week 5 of the season, especially if their opponents can play to some lofty expectations. Washington State vs. Utah is particularly intriguing and would be a great feature of the Pac-12 on College GameDay, giving Utah a shot to showcase its passionate fan base and WSU to continue its upward trajectory.

Biggest Competition: Ohio State vs. Nebraska

California vs. Oregon OR Washington vs. Stanford (Week 6)

Both of these games could be pivotal in the outcome of the Pac-12 North. With the California Golden Bears being a sleeper pick in the conference, should Cal surprise the Huskies in week two and hold steady at Ole Miss, their visit in Week 6 to Eugene could be a big matchup in the Pac-12 and in the College Football Playoff Picture.

Conversely, if the Huskies play to expectations and Stanford survives its brutal start to the season, their matchup in Palo Alto could see the Pac-12 on College Gameday. While The Farm isn’t the most raucous atmosphere for the show, the matchup between these two Pac-12 heavyweights does more than makeup for the fans (or lack thereof).

Biggest Competition: Iowa vs. Michigan OR Auburn vs. Florida OR Georgia vs. Tennessee OR Purdue vs. Penn State

USC vs. Notre Dame (Week 7)

One of the classic matchups in all of college football, USC vs. Notre Dame is an attractive week 7 matchup the producers of ESPN College GameDay will hope happens. With USC’s roster filled with talent that just needs to see its potential realized, this could be a statement game for USC, especially if they manage tough games against Stanford (Week 2), Utah (Week 4) and Washington (Week 5).

Sports Illustrated Notre Dame USC Cover
USC and Notre Dame have had some classic matchups throughout college football history.

Biggest Competition: Alabama vs. Texas A&M OR Florida vs. LSU

Oregon vs. Washington OR Arizona State vs. Utah (Week 8)

Don’t sleep on Herm Edward’s Arizona State Sun Devils in the Pac-12 South. They’re a talented squad and freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels is ready to turn some heads. A week 8 matchup with Utah is another opportunity for the Utes to be on college football’s national stage, but they’ll face stiff competition from Oregon vs. Washington in the Pac-12 North.

Likely the game of the year in the Pac-12 North, Oregon vs. Washington is the conference’s fiercest rivalry and the unique atmosphere of Husky Stadium is going to be an attractive option for College GameDay.

Biggest Competition: Michigan vs. Penn State

Oregon vs. USC OR Utah vs. Washington (Week 10)

For a few years, a game featuring Oregon vs. USC was an easy feature for the national stage. With both their 2009 and 2010 matchups on College GameDay, when Oregon and USC clash in week 10 of this year, the teams could once again see Los Angeles serve as the backdrop for College GameDay. Known to Oregon fans as the ‘Storm LA’ game, this could be an opportunity for each program to reclaim college football glory and capture national attention in a big way.

Utah vs. Washington is another outstanding option, with Husky Stadium once again proving an attractive option to see the Pac-12 on College GameDay. Both these games could easily be previews of the Pac-12 Conference Championship.

Biggest Competition: Georgia vs. Florida

Week 11 – UCLA vs. Utah

UCLA is another one of the Pac-12 South teams a little under-the-radar this year. With Utah not having any defined competition in the division, this week 11 matchup between UCLA and Utah could be a game that determines the Pac-12 South crown.

Biggest Competition: Georgia vs. Auburn, Michigan State vs. Michigan

Week 12 – Oregon vs. Arizona State

Another potential preview of the Pac-12 Conference Championship, Oregon vs. Arizona State in Tempe could provide an outstanding stage for the Pac-12 on College Gameday. By this time in the year, we’ll know where each team stands and freshman QB Jayden Daniels will have had plenty of time to establish himself. Oregon, meanwhile, will be hoping senior quarterback Justin Herbert is forwarding a Heisman Campaign by leading the Ducks through a difficult road schedule. Their final road test? This big matchup against the Sun Devils.

Biggest Competition: Penn State vs. Ohio State, TCU vs. Oklahoma, Texas A&M vs. Georgia