The Best Pac-12 NFL Players: Week 11 Top Performers From Each School

New Pac-12 NFL Blood

This wee, only one Pac-12 NFL player repeated from Week 10’s Best Pac-12 NFL list. Finally, we get some fresh faces and new players on here. Let’s see who joined the ranks of the best!


Nick Folk – New England Patriots

It’s not often that a place-kicker joins the best of Pac-12 NFL players. Yet here we are. With the New England offense moving slowly, their defense and special teams are picking up the slack. 

In a tight, 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Nick Folk scored the majority of the Patriots’ points. He went three-for-three with field goals of 35, 22 and 39 yards.

Arizona State

Lawrence Guy – New England Patriots

Although his three tackles don’t seem like much, Lawrency Guy was a key-cog in the Patriots’ defensive win. Against the Eagles, his two biggest were:

  • Penetrating tackle on Miles Sanders on the one-yard line (shown in above Tweet)
  • Fumble recovery after the strip-sack by Danny Shelton

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Cameron Jordan – New Orleans Saints

Through 10 games, Cameron Jordan’s racked up:

  • 18 quarterback hits
  • 8 tackles for a loss
  • One fumble recovery (and one should-be touchdown)
  • And 10 sacks

On Sunday, he managed to hit quarterback Jameis Winston four times, get 1.5 sacks and add a tackle for a loss. It was another All-Pro game for Cameron Jordan. His stats and 82.0 PFF grade are why he is still among the best Pac-12 NFL players in the league.


Josh Tupou – Cincinnati Bengals

Although the Cincinnati Bengals lost to the Oakland Raiders, Josh Tupou played very well. It was by-far his best game of the season. Tupou compiled seven tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, one stuff and one forced fumble.

In his third season, he’s regularly seeing playtime. Keep in mind, Tupou accounted for just 10 defensive snaps in 19-percent of defensive snaps in Week 1. In Weeks 10 and 11, he earned 30 (67-percent) and 39 (56-percent) snaps. It’s a mild breakout for the Colorado product.


Kenjon Barner – Atlanta Falcons

Honestly, is there anything better to watch than a special teams touchdown? They are rare, special and should be treated as such.

In the first quarter, up 3-0, Kenjon Barner fielded the punt from Younghoe Koo at the Atlanta 22. He then took it 78 yards to the house. The seventh-year journeyman just earned his first, NFL punt/kick return touchdown. Of course, his highlight-touchdown is worthy of praise.

Oregon State

Jordan Poyer – Buffalo Bills

Yes, their game was against the hapless Miami Dolphins. Nonetheless, the Buffalo Bills won by 17 and Miami finally couldn’t cover the spread. 

In this game, Jordan Poyer did his usual damage as a reliable tackler. He totaled six tackles (four solo) and also added a fumble recovery. On the season, Poyer now has 72 tackles, one sack, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and an interception. 


Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers

Somehow, even though he compiled nearly 200 yards from scrimmage, the Carolina Panthers only scored three points. How on Earth is that possible? What else does Christian McCaffrey have to do?

In their Week 11 matchup, our Pac-12 NFL superstar turned 14 carries into 70 rushing yards and also caught 11 balls for 121 yards. 191 yards from scrimmage. Yet, only three points for the Panthers. This team needs to get a viable quarterback or send the Stanford star to another team. His play deserves the playoffs.


Eric Kendricks – Minnesota Vikings

Eric Kendricks is elite. Right now, he’s playing the best football of his career. He currently owns a 90.5 PFF grade. Last week, he earned a spot on the top Pac-12 NFL list with his fourth-down heroics. 

Because of his stellar form, the Vikings have utilized Kendricks in pass coverage this season. He’s stepped up to the challenge with 12 pass break-ups. Eric Kendricks, with 85 tackles and 12 pass breaks-ups, is playing like a top-three linebacker.


Sam Darnold – New York Jets

Though his 43.7 (No. 25) QBR on the season is uninspiring, Sam Darnold played his best game this week. He displayed an excellent passing ceiling with 293 yards and 4 touchdowns. Yes, he still took two sacks and threw an interception against Washington. But, this was one of the better games for Darnold and his 6-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio since returning from illness is promising.

Also, keep in mind these two things before putting down Darnold:


Marcus Williams – New Orleans Saints

Heading into Week 11, Marcus Williams already was PFF’s top safety. That’s already praise enough for a Pac-12 NFL player. But then, he went and showed out in Week 11. Games like this show why he is the best of the best. Not only did he record three tackles and two pass break-ups. But, he also took an interception to the house.

There’s nothing like a pick-six for football fans. Especially defense enthusiasts. Marcus Williams is having a career year.


Danny Shelton – New England Patriots

Down ten to six with just over two minutes left in the first half, Danny Shelton came up big. His strip-sack of Carson Wentz put the Patriots in excellent field position. Unfortunately, as is the case this year with the Patriots’ offense, they came away with three points. Though they started at the Eagles 22, they couldn’t score a touchdown. It’s a shame.

But, what isn’t a travesty is the New England Patriots’ defense. They look like one of the greatest defenses of all time. If players like Danny Shelton can keep bailing out the offense, they might win yet another Super Bowl.

Washington State

Jalen Thompson – Arizona Cardinals

As most know, the Arizona Cardinals need help in their secondary. Their pass-defending is among the worst in the league. However, Jalen Thompson got his first interception this week.

Additionally, he also had his first pass break-up. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the rookie out of Washington State.

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The 2019 Colorado Buffaloes Need a Miracle to Make a Bowl Game

Pac-12 football news

The 2019 Colorado Buffaloes season has been a roller coaster ride. Tough losses at home and blowout losses on the road have made this season tough, but there have been bright spots. The goal from the start was to make a bowl game. It may take a miracle for the Buffaloes to achieve that goal, but Mel Tucker has laid the foundation for a successful tenure in Boulder.

First Up: Washington

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The Buffaloes host the Washington Huskies in College Football Week 13 next week on ESPN at 8 p.m. mountain time (7 p.m. pacific time). CU has never beat the Huskies since joining the Pac-12. In the 2016 Pac-12 Championship Game, the Huskies beat the Buffaloes 41-10, and the Buffaloes have never been the same since.

Washington has looked more vulnerable in 2019, as they sit at 6-4 (3-4 Pac-12 North). They are led by quarterback Jacob Eason, who will look to further expose the Buffaloes secondary. Eason, a transfer from Georgia, had high expectations from the Husky faithful. However, Washington ranks only sixth in offensive pass efficiency in the Pac-12. Eason is ready to have a breakout game against a Buffaloes defense who is second to last in defensive pass efficiency this season. For all the progress many believe the Buffaloes have made in Mel Tucker’s first year, the defense has been a weak spot.

However, the Buffaloes have a chance to win this game. That chance is larger than most may think. ESPN’s Football Power Index only gives the Buffaloes a 17.1% chance to win this game. Despite the Buffaloes being 4-6, the respect that they have been given nationally is nonexistent. The team has played hard in every game at home. With the emotions of it being senior day and the possible last home game for star receiver Laviska Shenault, one should expect the Buffaloes to show up and possibly win this game.

After Washington, Buffaloes head to Utah

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With a win against Washington, the Buffaloes would sit at 5-6. In the last week of the College Football regular season game, they have to go to Rice-Eccles Stadium to play Utah. In the latest College Football Power Rankings As They Should Be, Utah was ranked 7th. They are on a collision course with Oregon, as they will most likely be the two teams playing for the Pac-12 title at Levi’s Stadium.

ESPN’s FPI gives the Buffaloes only a 4.3% chance to win this game. It may take a miracle for the Buffaloes to do just that. After beating CSU 52-31 in Denver and Arizona State 34-31 in Tempe, the Buffaloes have lost their past three road games by an average of 30 points. They lost to UCLA 31-14, and they just lost to Utah 49-3 in College Football Week 12.

Bowl Eligibility Longshot Due to Missed Opportunities

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My prediction for the Buffaloes is that they will have a 50-50 chance to beat Washington, but it will take a miracle for them to beat Utah and make themselves bowl eligible. The games that they will look back on as the main reasons for not making a bowl game are their home losses to Air Force, Arizona, and USC.

Against Air Force in College Football Week 3, the Buffaloes jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, but then they had to rally from down 23-10 to force overtime. The Falcons would score on the first play of overtime, and the Buffaloes would lose 30-23. One of Mel Tucker’s main goals as the Buffaloes’ head coach would be to show recruits in Colorado that CU was the best team in the state. Losing to Air Force was a bad look for the program, and Air Force also beat CSU in College Football Week 12.

Next, the Buffaloes lost a 35-30 heartbreaker to Arizona in College Football Week 6. They were unable to contain Khalil Tate through the air, as he threw for 404 yards and gashed the Buffaloes defense. Against USC in College Football Week 9, the Buffaloes relinquished a 31-21 fourth quarter lead. This loss was extremely frustrating because Montez got hurt, but then he came back into the game and was ineffective in the fourth quarter. The defense had chances to possibly end the game, but let USC get chunk plays and eventually score to take a 35-31 lead.

The Legacy of the 2019 Colorado Buffaloes

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The 2019 Colorado Buffaloes will have a complicated legacy when they are talked about in the future. They will be remembered most for their comeback at Folsom Field against Nebraska, but will also be remembered for having narrow losses to teams that, at least from their perspective, they should have beat.

People will remember Steven Montez as a quarterback who showed flashes at times, but sometimes left Buffaloes fans wanting more. Montez is first in CU history in touchdown-to-interception ratio. Still, CU being 11th in quarterback efficiency this season shows how Montez was never able to have legendary moments as the Buffaloes’ quarterback. Along with Laviska Shenault and Nate Landman, Montez was a key leader of this team. It is frustrating that the Buffaloes have not been able to make a bowl game the last two seasons with the talented leaders they had.

With the hype surrounding recruiting for the Buffaloes, the future does look bright for them. They can lay a foundation for future success by being able to win their last two games. However, this task is close to insurmountable, and there is no real expectation that the Buffaloes will win out. If they are somehow able to do the impossible, it could bring out a new wave of enthusiasm for the Buffaloes now and into the future.

UW Football is set up to finish the 2019 season in spectacular fashion

It’s not the season we hoped for UW Football

Obviously, this season is a letdown for UW football fans everywhere. After starting the season with high hopes, the Huskies dropped four games. Even worse, the Dawgs have to watch Oregon rise the ranks each week. Oregon is now 9-1 (7-0 in Pac-12 games) and has a good chance to make the College Football Playoffs. Die-hard Huskies are quickly becoming Utah fans in hopes that Oregon gets knocked out of playoff contention.

Apple Cup Victory

While Oregon’s reign is particularly annoying to UW football fans, the Apple Cup is the ultimate save-face. Yes, the Washington-Oregon rivalry is certainly up there, but it doesn’t hold a candle to UW-WSU hatred.

Since childhood, kids know where they stand. Household banners and decorations let the neighbors know where they stand. Jeers and taunts abound throughout the year. Because, unlike the Washington-Oregon rivalry, Huskies and Cougars see each other all the time. Family, friends and coworkers have to hold back their loathing whenever they see the enemy’s logo.

Ironically, as I write this in a local cafe, another coffee-drinker across from me is wearing a WSU sweater. I, too, must remain calm and keep my detest to myself.

So, regardless of UW Football falling off the playoff rails, a win against Washington State is still pure satisfaction.

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Bowl Eligibility

Currently, there are Pac-12 teams that are bowl eligible: Oregon, Utah, USC and Washington. There are also four Pac-12 programs just one win away from eligibility: Arizona State, Cal, Oregon State and Washington State. Of note, it would be a delight if Washington State lost to Oregon State in Week 13. Then, in the Apple Cup, the Huskies could stomp out any bowl chances for the Cougars.

Back to UW, they look good in bowl eligibility. Last season, seven Pac-12 teams made bowls appearances. If they can get wins against both Colorado and Washington State, they solidify their bowl claim. And though it won’t be another Rose Bowl, fans will still appreciate any bowl victory.

UW Football is the best recruiting program in the Pac-12

According to 247 sports, UW ranks first in the Pac-12 in 2020 recruiting. This is a jump from their second-place rank in 2019 and their third-place rank in 2018. Additionally, the Huskies also rank 14th nationally.

Of their hard commits, UW Football nabbed eight 4-Star recruits and one 5-Star Recruit:

  • Sav’ell Smalls – OLB – 5-Star
  • Jalen McMillan – WR – 4-Star
  • Myles Murao – OC – 4-Star
  • Roger Rosengarten – OT – 4-Star
  • Sam Adams II – ATH – 4-Star
  • Geirean Hatchett – OG – 4-Star
  • Ethan Garbers – PRO – 4-Star
  • Rome Odunze – WR – 4-Star
  • Mark Redman – TE – 4-Star

Yes, it’s a off season for the Dawgs. But, their commitment to recruiting is impressive. UW Football’s coaches and staff never stop recruiting. They get young stars to buy-in to their program and it’s a great look for the Huskies. Continual recruiting is how top programs stay top programs.

They aren’t perfect, but the Huskies can end the year on a high note

At 6-and-4, there are still plenty of reasons to enjoy the Huskies. Even though they’ve struggled to finish games, UW Football knows how to finish a season. To fully please the fans, donors and future recruits, the Dawgs need to:

  • Beat Colorado
  • Win the Apple Cup
  • Claim a Bowl Victory
  • Recruit additional four and five-star 2020 recruits

Unafraidshow Bold Prediction: Call football beats USC

California Golden Bears win debut against UC Davis

What the odds say about Cal Football’s chances

Per Vegas sports-books, Cal Football opened as 6.5-point underdogs. ESPN’s Football Power Index gave USC a 63.1-percent chance of winning, while numberFire’s Win Probability gave USC a 59.2-percent chance. Adding to that, USC is ranked fifth in Unafraidshow’s Pac-12 Power Rankings, while Cal is seventh. Almost everyone has USC claiming the victory.

Why USC Should Win

It’s for good reason, too. Don’t get me wrong. USC is a good team. They are 6-and-4, bowl eligible and have a breakout quarterback.

USC’s Offense

Currently, USC’s offense averages:

  • 30.5 points-per-game
  • 444 yards-per-game (311 passing, 133 rushing)
  • 45-percent success rate on third down (59 of 131)
  • 56-percent success rate on fourth down (5 of 9)

In nine games this season, Kedon Slovis looks like a future-star.

His 156.1 Passing Efficiency Rating and 20-9 touchdown-interception ratio are both good. In the seven games he’s started and finished, Slovis has four wins, three losses. His wins came against Stanford, Arizona, Colorado and Arizona State. When he started, USC lost to BYU, Notre Dame and Oregon. All in all, he’s played well for a rookie.

Star Wide Receivers

With all the praise given to Slovis, it’s important to remember that USC’s wide receivers are the stars of the show. In the Pac-12 conference, USC’s top-three wide outs are each top-ten in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

  • Michael Pittman Jr.
    • 71 (No. 1) receptions
    • 938 (No. 1) receiving yards
    • 8 (No. 3) receiving touchdowns
  • Tyler Vaughns
    • 62 (No. 3) receptions
    • 752 (No. 4) receiving yards
    • 5 (No. 8) receiving touchdowns
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown
    • 55 (No. 5) receptions
    • 666 (No. 7) receiving yards
    • 5 (No. 8) receiving touchdowns

USC’s Defense

On defense, they’re holding teams to 28.1 points-per-game and 418 yards-per-game. That’s not ideal, considering they’re only averaging 30.5 points-per-game. But, it highlights why they are 6-and-4 and not 8-2.

Why Cal Football will win

Injuries to USC

Unfortunately, USC’s recent health hasn’t been good. Running backs Stephen Carr, Merkese Stepp and Vavae Malepeai were all out. Hopefully Carr and Malepeai can play against Cal. But if not, USC plays without three, key running backs.

More importantly, USC’s Brett Neilon left last week’s game with a calf strain. That calf strain sidelines him for multiple weeks, while Justin Dedich takes over. Adding to that is the health of Kedon Slovis. Again, during the same game against WSU, Slovis dealt with cramps that briefly sidelined him. While he sat out two series, they had to use an IV pump.

After starting out the game 15 of 17 for 297 yards and 4 touchdowns (on the first four drives), USC slumped. They only scored three points the rest of the game. Following the four touchdowns, their drives ended:

  • 5 punts
  • One fumble
  • One interception
  • One turnover on downs
  • One field goal

If USC isn’t in better health, Cal football takes the W.

Cal Football’s Defensive Strength

While not elite anymore, the Cal football defense is still good. They rank 30th in DFEI, according to footballoutsiders. Their .38 DFEI best USC’s .25 DFEI. Additionally, the strength of Cal’s defense directly challenges the strength of USC’s offense. Cal’s secondary is their best feature, while USC’s talent is in their receiving corps. They’ll have their work cut out for them guarding Michael Pittman Jr., but if anyone can do it, Cal can.

Chase Garbers is back

Remember Chase Garbers?

Back when the Cal football program was winning and ranked, Garbers was their guy. Before his Week 5 injury, Garbers led Cal to four straight wins. In five games (one partial), Garbers showcased a 148.1 Passing Efficiency Rating, alongside an 8-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. After years of poor play, Cal actually had an offense. Following his injury, they lost four straight games.

But now, finally throwing without limitations, Chase Garbers is good to go. Even if Justin Wilcox won’t name him as the starter yet, he should be. Garbers played well enough at the start of the season to earn the job. Moreover, Garbers brings a running dimension. Oh, and let’s not forget that Garbers led Cal football to a victory last season against USC.

Recap of the Pac-12 Referee Debacle during WSU vs Cal

Pac-12 Referees at it Again

Wow. That was the worst call of the season. Every Washington State fan should be infuriated. It is despicable what the Pac-12 referees and officials did to their team. While mistakes happen every game, this was without a doubt a horrible penalty. But, even worse, this poor call and what ensued after uncovered pure incompetency by the Pac-12 conference.

For those that missed it, here’s what happened:

Saturday (An Egregious Mistake)

  • Down 20-11 in the third quarter, WSU’s Travell Harris returns kickoff to the 50-yard line.
  • WSU penalized for illegal hands to the face. Football placed at WSU 8-yard line.
  • Referee realizes he made an error. Because the penalty was against WSU, it should have been placed at Cal’s 35-yard line. The drive results in a field goal.
  • WSU loses to Cal 20-33

Sunday (Incorrect Apology)

Pac-12 Statement
  • First, the Pac-12 releases the above statement acknowledging “mechanics error”.
  • In that statement, they claim that WSU was informed of the mistake “After the next play was run”.
  • In punishment, the Pac-12 suspends referee for one game and crew is “downgraded”.

Tuesday (Where is No. 15???)

Wednesday (6:38 of Game Clock)

  • In review, the Pac-12 corrects its statement that they informed Washington State “after the next play was run.”
  • After realizing his mistake, Matt Richards (referee) decided to wait until the next media break to inform Washington State. Their drive took up 6 minutes and 38 seconds of the game clock…

What this all means for Pac-12 refereeing

Among college football, the Pac-12 is not respected. It’s the ugly duckling of the Power Five. Because of mistakes like this, and other failures of Larry Scott, Pac-12 football is taunted.

For Pac-12 fans, it’s clear that Pac-12 referees are inconsistent and consistently make poor judgment calls. But, it’s one thing to make a mistake as an official. It’s an entirely other issue to have no measures to correct it.

Is this not 2019? Don’t we have booths, staff and video replay? The Pac-12 should utilize on-site and off-site video assistants to make sure that errors like this don’t happen. Honestly, it’s pathetic. Absolutely depressing. Football programs shouldn’t endure Pac-12 referee mistakes that ruin a game. We are better than this.

It’s about time that the Pac-12 owns up to its faults, corrects its mistakes and takes action for the future. Apologies aren’t enough.

What are the Worst Pac-12 Referee Mistakes?

If you remember an official error that is bigger than this one, comment below or Tweet at us!

A Look at PAC-12 Revenue Distribution with Bowl Season Coming Up

The PAC-12 has come under fire in recent years for commissioner Larry Scott’s handling of the budget, his personal pay bumps and a lot of other things. The conference needs a good bowl season for a lot of reasons, the least of which is to recoup some money for the member schools to aid them in facility improvements and other areas that could help with recruiting, coach hiring and putting a better product on the field.

The PAC-12 reported a $12.5 million dollar drop in the 2018 fiscal year. This came in part because the Rose Bowl, which is normally a big source of income for the conference, was part of the College Football Playoff semifinal, something that will happen every third year. The Rose Bowl normally features the PAC-12 champion, so the 2019 season will feature a PAC-12 team and help recoup some of that loss from last year.

As for the rest of the league, well they need to step up and get some high-quality bowl game wins if they want to be in a cleaner financial situation next year.

According to the college football playoff’s website; “A conference will receive $6 million for each team that is selected for the semifinal games. There will be no additional distribution to conferences whose teams qualify for the national championship game. A conference will receive $4 million for each team that plays in a non-playoff bowl under the arrangement.

The Oregon Ducks and Utah Utes are the only remaining PAC-12 schools that even have a slight chance of making the semifinals, and neither school is projected to do so at this point. If Oregon wins out they have the best chance of sneaking into a top-four spot, which would make the conference $6 million per team, or $72 million in total.

Other bowl games pay out roughly $4 million to the conference for each team, which will net the PAC-12 somewhere between $8 million and $48 million.

Pac-12 bowl revenue

Too many .500 schools

Right now it’s guaranteed that Oregon and Utah will make the conference at least $4 million each. However, every other school in the PAC-12 has a record between 6-4 and 4-6, meaning that all or none of them will be bowl-eligible (at least as many wins as losses) by the end of the season.

That makes it fairly hard to predict how the finances will shake out for Larry Scott and company this year, although it’s probably safe to assume that at least 2-3 other PAC-12 schools will get bowl bids, giving them a $20 million buffer.

The final few weeks of the college football season will be entertaining for a lot of reasons, but the PAC-12’s bowl placement is rarely this wide-open in mid-November, making for a fun yet also heart-attack-inducing few weeks for the commissioner’s office as they try to plan their budgeting going forward.

Pac-12 Football Seasons: 2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 11

Pac-12 football news

The Colorado Buffaloes had an opportunity to resurrect their bowl hopes against the Stanford Cardinal at Folsom Field in College Football Week 11. Despite the offense being held in check and the defense giving up another long touchdown pass to start the fourth quarter. They did just that, as Evan Price kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give the Buffaloes a much needed 16-13 victory. This result may have come as a surprise to people who may not follow the Buffaloes as closely. For Buffaloes fans, it was relieving to see the Buffaloes finally pull out a victory in a close home game after the heartbreaking losses to Arizona and USC earlier in 2019.

Three Phases Complement Each Other From the Onset

Colorado Buffaloes Buffs

The Buffaloes did a good job playing complementary football across all three phases in the first quarter. The offense had not scored an opening-drive touchdown since College Football Week 4 against Arizona State. Mel Tucker took the aggressive approach and chose to receive the football. He did the same against Washington State when it went woefully bad for the Buffaloes, but the opposite would occur this time. Offensively, the Buffaloes looked like the more aggressive team. They were winning the line of scrimmage on their first drive with tough running by Alex Fontenot. Montez would score on a 13-yard scramble, and Tucker’s decision paid off greatly. Montez would become the second player in Colorado Buffaloes history to go over 10,000 total yards on the touchdown run.

Stanford was also able to run the ball on their opening possession. However, once they were knocking on the redzone, the defense tightened and was able to hold them to a field goal.

The special teams recovered a muffed punt after the Buffaloes stalled on their next offensive possession. Unfortunately, they were called for holding on the play, nullifying the fumble. However, the Buffaloes defense would force Stanford into a three-and-out. It finally seemed like the Buffaloes were excelling at playing complementary football.

A Big Mistake for Montez, but the Defense Gets Timely Turnover

On the next drive, the Buffaloes got to Stanford territory. Montez would make a big mistake on a first down. He saw his receiver open to his left, but Stanford senior safety J.J. Parsons picked him off. Fortunately for the Buffaloes, the defense stepped up and only allowed a field goal on the ensuing Stanford possession. The Buffaloes still had the 7-6 lead.

Stanford would get the ball back, and the defense got back to their calling card early in the season: a timely turnover. Safety Derrion Rakestraw would pick off Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello on a deep pass to give the ball back to the Buffaloes. They had 3:42 left to score before halftime. The offense would follow through, as Evan Price kicked a 34-yard field goal. As was the case with the last two home games against Arizona and USC, the Colorado Buffaloes entered the halftime locker room with the lead.

Third Quarter Uneventful, but Defense Falters to Start 4th

Stanford and Colorado were playing their game at the same time as what many in the media were pinning as the “Game of the Year” in College Football 2019. Fans may have had one eye on the Buffaloes while having another eye on how the LSU-Alabama contest was unfolding. With how boring the third quarter was, it would not have been to anyone’s surprise if watching Joe Burrow picking apart the Alabama defense was more entertaining even to die-hard fans of the Buffaloes or Cardinal.

The Buffaloes were able to shut Stanford down the whole game when they crossed the 50-yard line. Stanford had a chance to make it 10-9, but Ryan Sanborn missed the field goal try. The offense was unable to muster much offense on their two third-quarter possessions and did not do much of anything. They punted twice, and Stanford had the ball to start the fourth quarter trailing 10-6.

Colorado had gone a full three quarters without giving up a big play to the Cardinal. However, all Buffaloes fans’ worst fears were realized one minute into the fourth quarter. The defense forced Stanford into a 3rd-and-15 from their own 21-yard line. Unfortunately, they faltered as they let receiver Simi Fehoko pop open. He went through the entire CU secondary to give the Cardinal a 13-10 lead. The defense has given up so many big plays this season to lose games.

The Offense, Able to be Methodical, Does Enough to Win

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The offense was able to be the defense’s best friend after the big play. They kept the ball for 12:31 in the fourth quarter. Moving the football methodically, the offensive line started winning the war in the trenches again. Alex Fontenot gained 36 yards on seven carries on the ensuing possession. The Buffaloes had a 3rd-and-2 from the Stanford six yard line. However, Montez missed a wide-open K.D. Nixon for a touchdown to take the lead. Despite being pressured, it was still a throw that a senior quarterback is expected to make. Instead of taking the lead, the Buffaloes had to settle for a field goal to tie the game at 13.

The defense did their job on the ensuing Stanford drive, forcing them into a three-and-out. After the offense held the ball for 6:31 on their last possession, this stop was huge. The Stanford defense was forced back onto the field. The Buffaloes got the ball back with six minutes to play. They had a win in front of them. After fans left Folsom Field disappointed the past three home games, it was time for them to experience the joy of winning.

The Buffaloes were able to methodically get into Stanford territory, but the Cardinal defense stood up and forced them into a 4th-and-1 at the Stanford 34-yard line. It was time for the Buffaloes to let their star player, Laviska Shenault, get the ball. They handed it to him on an inside sweep play, and he muscled his way for a five-yard gain. Stanford did not use any of their remaining timeouts, and the Buffaloes had a win right in front of them. 

Evan Price would deliver on a 37-yard field goal, and the Buffaloes finally broke their five-game losing streak. The defense finally broke their 14-game streak of giving up 30+ points, and they did this emphatically. The Buffaloes needed to win one of these close in-conference home games. They finally got a sense of relief at home for the first time since beating Nebraska.

A Momentum Boost for the Buffaloes Heading Into Bye Week

The Buffaloes sit at 4-6 now, and they still have a chance at a bowl game. However, some may argue that it may take a prayer for them to make it. Winning against a name-brand school such as Stanford is a huge momentum boost for Mel Tucker. It improves team morale and is great for recruiting. Next week, the Buffaloes are on bye, but they will play Washington on November 23, which will be senior day. Steven Montez will have one more chance to build upon his legacy in front of the Folsom faithful. 

Washington sits at 6-4 and also is on bye before the play the Buffaloes. Both teams will be well-rested. If any of the Buffaloes’ home games are any indication, fans should be ready for a tightly knit affair. It is up to the Buffaloes to build upon finally winning a close conference home game and continue to show they belong with the name brands of the Pac-12. 

The Best Pac-12 NFL Players: Week 10 Top Performers From Each School

Searching for the Best Pac-12 NFL Players Around

Each week, Unafraidshow staff scours box scores, articles, advanced stats, and social media to find the best Pac-12 NFL performances. Which players had the biggest moments in week 10? Which Pac-12 NFL players made the largest impact on their team?

While the Pac-12 is considerably frustrating due to Larry Scott and officiating, Pac-12 NFL players remind us that there’s still football after college. So, enjoy our school by school breakdown no matter where your program is on the Pac-12 Power Rankings.


Reggie Gilbert – Tennessee Titans

Honestly, there aren’t many Arizona alumni currently playing in the NFL. Therefore, any Arizona alum getting snaps instantly pops on the list. In their win impressive win against the Kansas City Chiefs, Gilbert played 24-percent of defensive snaps. He logged two tackles.

Is Reggie Gilbert one of the best Pac-12 NFL players in the league? No. But, he’s the best that Arizona has right now.

Arizona State

Terrell Suggs – Arizona Cardinals

Ageless. Against Father Time, Pac-12 NFL superstar Terrell Suggs is still winning. And what a career! He has the opportunity to join Reggie White and Julius Peppers if he sacks one more quarterback. Or, if he somehow can pull it off, Terrell Suggs could leapfrog them and sit atop the list. Incredible.

Even though they lost to Tampa Bay, it wasn’t because of Suggs. In their loss, Suggs racked up:

It was another great game for an all-time player.


Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers

While not epic, Aaron Rodgers does a great job at leading scoring drives. Most of the time quarterbacks are judged by touchdowns alone. But, it’s important to remember that Aaron Jones ran three touchdowns in.

No, Rodgers didn’t throw a touchdown. This wasn’t one of his highlight games that makes Cal fans scream. However, his team scored three touchdowns and won 24 to 16. It was another one of his “elite game-managing” games. No one does it like Rodgers. He can minimize mistakes, play it safe, all while leading his team to scoring drives.


Isaiah Oliver – Atlanta Falcons

In Week 10, the Atlanta Falcons were without their top cornerback, Desmond Trufant. Additionally, they had to compete against a healthy Drew Brees. Everyone thought it was going to be an easy blowout.

Against the odds, the Falcons and their secondary held up. Especially because of players like Isaiah Oliver. Oliver racked up six crucial tackles in the second level. Oliver and the Falcons held Drew Brees and company to three field goals. No touchdowns. It was an impossible task, but they carried it out anyway.


DeForest Buckner – San Francisco 49ers

It’s the fourth quarter. The Seattle Seahawks are up 21 to 10 and they’ve got the ball back. All of a sudden, DeForest Buckner recovered a fumble and ran it in for a touchdown. It was exactly what the home team needed to get back into the game.

He finished the game with 5 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries and a big touchdown. The 49ers didn’t get the win, due to a shanked kick, but Buckner got hit.

Oregon State

Steven Nelson – Pittsburgh Steelers

Who would have thought that the Pittsburgh Steelers, without Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, could make their way back to playoff contention? Somehow, they are. The Steelers are five and four. They’re wildcard hopefuls now.

However, it’s not because of their offense. Their offense still isn’t what it used to be. Nevertheless, Steven Nelson and the Steelers defense is great. They shut down Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams. 


Eric Kendricks – Minnesota Vikings

Yet again, Eric Kendricks came up big. On fourth down, with 43 seconds left, Kendricks dove and deflected the pass to Ezekiel Elliott. He cemented the win against the Cowboys in a big way.

For the Vikings, Kendricks’ pass coverage is exceptional. His ability to cover tight ends and running backs is truly valuable for the Vikings. Because he’s a sure-tackler and impressive in coverage, he’s one of the best Pac-12 NFL linebackers around.


Ronald Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ronald Jones can’t catch. Well, at least that’s what everyone thought prior to this game. Jones had a breakout performance as a receiver. Because of this, turned heads and the Buccaneers finally have a running back to match their high-powered offense.

On the day, Jones caught 8 passes for 77 yards. Moreover, Jones found the pay-dirt. His breakout performance earned him a spot on our Pac-12 NFL list. But, it should more-importantly earn him a bell-cow role on his team.


Matt Gay – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Perfect. Matt Gay was perfect (if we don’t count his nulled miss because of an offsides call) in Tampa Bay’s win. Three for three for extra points. And, three for three from distances of 30, 45 and 41. 

With so many missed kicks in the NFL, it’s nice when a kicker executes his job without mistakes. Kicking is a tough job without glory, but they’re players too. It’s okay to give them credit every now and then.


Budda Baker – Arizona Cardinals

Budda Baker was… EVERYWHERE! 

  • 10 tackles (9 solo)
  • 2 passes defended
  • One fumble recovery

This was Baker’s fourth game this season with at least 10 tackles. On the season, he now has 86 tackles. It is a monster season for Baker.

Washington State

Jalen Thompson – Arizona Cardinals

With Deionte Thompson out, Jalen Thompson played 96-percent of snaps. Against playmakers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, the Cardinals had their work cut out for them.

But, Thompson played well. They didn’t get the win and Thompson didn’t get any turnovers. However, it was an impressive game for the rookie out of Washington State.

Miss Week 9’s Top Pac-12 NFL Performances?

Two Ways to Improve College Football Playoffs and the Pac-12

Pac-12 College Football Playoff

Recently, Larry Scott said it was “painful” that the Pac-12 once again missed College Football Playoffs. It’s a regular lament because it seems like the Pac-12 is always left out. Every college football fan, athlete or staffer knows that the Pac-12 is the odd one out. Washington and Oregon are the only teams from the Pac-12 to make it. Just 2 out of 24. Not good for the Pac-12.

So, the idea of expanding the college playoffs or bringing more parity to the selection process sounds perfect. First off, College Football Playoffs are a huge success. It was a long time coming and fans of all programs and divisions love it. With a four-team playoff, rather than selecting just two teams, college football moved to greater competition. From that, it was easier to conclude with the rightful champion.

Now, in its sixth year of success playoffs, the FBS needs to evolve further. For the sake of fans, collegiate programs and football itself.

Expand College Football Playoffs to Eight Teams

First off, the easiest way to increase the likelihood of crowning the just champion is to increase the sample size. Honestly, the NFL has 32 teams and still lets 12 into the playoffs. On the other hand, the FBS has 130 football programs (64 from Power-Five conferences) and only selects four. From such an abundant source of talent and diversity, the current four-team playoffs is restrictive.

Considering how slow and/or unwilling college football is to change, it’s best to keep an expansion small. Adjusting College Football Playoffs from four teams to six or eight is ideal. With six teams, the first and second-ranked teams are afforded a bye. Essentially, With eight teams, playoffs would be similar to the NCAA basketball tournament seeding. But, drastically smaller.

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With each set up, there would be three rounds of College Football Playoffs. This would work best for multiple reasons. First, as said above, expanding to more teams gives college football a clearer, less controversial champion. Additionally, it would add to revenue. As everyone knows, the NCAA loves money (even though it only pays college athletes more than a 550 dollar gift for bowl participation). So, instead of just three playoff games, there would be five to seven. Fundamentally doubling the amount of big-time matches and viewers.

Does Larry Scott support expansion?

Yes. But also no.

“I completely get that it would really release the pressure of being the one that’s been on the outside looking in the most in the first six years to say that automatically we’ve got our champion [in],” Scott said Thursday. “But we also have agreements through 2026 [the championship game] that I think will be very challenging for us to all agree how we’re going to amend and change.”

Larry Scott

Even though expanding playoffs to six or eight teams increases the odds the Pac-12 makes it in, Larry Scott needs a guarantee. He supports an eight team expansion only if each Power-Five conference champion gets a spot in the tournament. This makes sense for Scott because he wants to end the Pac-12’s embarrassing record of playoff participation.

However, he’s wrong in his idea. For two major reasons. First and foremost, expanding the playoffs automatically helps the Pac-12. It lowers the risk of a Pac-12 snub. Because the Pac-12 has little leverage in the situation, he can’t ask for more. Additionally, he’s misguided because mandating that each Power-Five conference champion gets in lowers college football parity. What if the overall competition of the ACC or Big Ten was significantly lower than Pac-12, SEC or Big 12? That hurts the playoff picture.

Granted, an eight-team playoff model like Ross Dellenger depicted would be extremely exciting. Five auto-bids, two at-large and one group of five sounds excellent. Nonetheless, greater freedom in selection creates a chance for greater competition.

Larry Scott refuses to give up the Rose Bowl

Also, of note, Larry Scott and the Pac-12 would be protective of the Rose Bowl. Yes, history is on his side. The Rose Bowl and the Pac-12 have over a century of history together. Nonetheless, Scott needs to be willing to change, to adapt and to give in order to gain. Yes, the Rose Bowl means a great deal for Pac-12 fans. It’s a monumental bowl game. With that being said, the audience would grow substantially if the Rose Bowl had greater competition. If the FBS combined the Rose Bowl, college football’s oldest bowl game, with playoffs each year, ratings and excitement would follow.

Yes, Scott and the Pac-12 have every right to be protective of the Rose Bowl. It’s ours. However, in order to increase the chance of a Pac-12 champion, the Pac-12 must be willing to sacrifice it’s most historic safety blanket. Keep in mind, there could also be a happy medium. If a Pac-12 team gets into the playoffs, they could get automatic entry into the Rose Bowl game. And if they missed the six or eight team playoff selection, they would sacrifice the Rose Bowl. It’s a risk, but one the Pac-12 needs to take.

Play at Least 10 Power-Five Opponents

In addition to Scott, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby also added his own idea. Bowlsby suggested a new requirement for College Football Playoff selection.

  • Each Power-Five team has to play at least ten Power-Five opponents

Excluding conference championship games, only Clemson and Oklahoma played nine, regular season, Power-Five opponents. Ohio State chose to play Florida Atlantic, Cincinnati, and the Miami Redhawks. Likewise, LSU scheduled Georgia Southern, Northwestern State, and Utah State. If they played one more Power-Five team, it’s completely possible they would have an additional loss.

In order to make College Football Playoffs, each team selected needs to have at least ten (excluding conference championships) games against Power-Five opponents. If 2018 Notre Dame can do it, any program should be able to.