Who deserves to be on the Pac-12 All-Decade Team 2010-19? George and Ralph draft their best offense, defense, special teams, and coach to play a game. Starts at 43:00
Officiating calls continue to cause debate and controversy in college football and NFL games. We have a solution for the targeting call and catch/no-catch rules.
Did we leave anyone off the Pac-12 All-Decade Team 2010-19 or were we perfect? Leave a comment or send us an email to email@example.com to tell us who built the best team.
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The NCAA Basketball season came to an unexpected end on the morning of Thursday, March 12. Pac-12 officials decided to cancel the conference tournament. The conference was gearing up for an NCAA Tournament that could have seen seven of its teams in it. However, safety is paramount for everyone in society in response to COVID-19.
The Pac-12 made the right call in calling off the conference tournament. There was a domino effect from Wednesday night on in the sports world, as Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. The Pac-12 concluded their Wednesday night games, but canceled the tournament early Thursday morning.
This moment in history has stripped athletes of the glory that they could have felt in the NCAA Tournament. Stories could have been written and legacies could have been made. Payton Pritchard could have led Oregon on a deep tournament run in his senior year. One of the Pac-12’s bubble teams could have made the Sweet 16 and validated the conference possibly getting more than half its teams in the tournament. We will never know.
Memories Were Still Made In First Round of Pac-12 Tournament
However, there were great moments from the 2019-20 Pac-12 basketball season. There were even some in the one day of Pac-12 Tournament play. Oregon State and Utah fought hard in the 8-versus-9 game. Utah junior Alfonso Plummer broke the record for most 3-pointers in a Pac-12 Tournament game with 11 made. He broke Klay Thompson’s record. However, Oregon State freshman Jarod Lucas stole the spotlight from Plummer. He hit a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds remaining in the game as the Beavers stole a 71-69 victory.
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validated their improvement throughout the season as they easily dispatched
tournament hopeful Stanford 63-51. First-year Mark Fox and his team were
thought of as an afterthought in the conference, but they were able to win
three out of their last five games.
State got their first Pac-12 Tournament win since 2009 as they beat Colorado
82-68. The Cougars finished 16-16, clinching their first non-losing season
since 2012. Washington State also had a first-year coach in Kyle Smith, and
they also showed steady improvement throughout the season.
Teams like Oregon State, California, and Washington State were able to make memories this season. Just because March Madness is not happening does not mean this season was a lost season. Oregon was the best team in the Pac-12, but there was parity across the entire league every weekend. Even though there will not be March Madness, there was plenty of madness in the Pac-12.
Payton Pritchard Had Senior Moments for Oregon Ducks
Oregon was able to win games on the biggest stages in both non-conference and conference games. Payton Pritchard racked up many awards, as he was named Pac-12 Player of the Year. He was able to have some senior moments in his last year of college basketball. In a hostile environment in Ann Arbor, Pritchard was the main catalyst in Oregon pulling off a 71-70 overtime victory against Michigan. He scored 19 out of his 23 points after halftime.
Pritchard’s game winning three against Washington was one of the top moments in Pac-12 conference play this season. After hitting the shot, Pritchard yelled “This is my city”. He was able to leave his mark in the Oregon-Washington rivalry.
Colorado, UCLA Among Teams In Pac-12 With Noteworthy Seasons
Colorado had arguably their best season under Tad Boyle minus the last five games the Buffaloes played. There was enthusiasm and excitement in Boulder for this team. They delivered some great moments, as they beat Oregon in Boulder when the Ducks were ranked fourth in the country. The Buffaloes were also the last team to beat Dayton, with D’Shawn Schwartz hitting the game-winning three in overtime. Colorado was becoming a basketball school, and the team could continue riding this momentum into next season.
UCLA had the most remarkable turnaround in the conference this season. The Bruins were a team that lost to Cal State Fullerton in December. In March, they had wins against Arizona (twice), Arizona State, and Colorado on their resume. UCLA was playing arguably the best basketball out of anyone in the Pac-12, and showed great growth throughout the entire season.
Pac-12 Has Bright Future, Even With Imperfect End to Season
The 2019-20 NCAA basketball season will always have an asterisk next to it. However, the teams in the Pac-12 and all across the United States were able to create lifelong memories. The Pac-12 brought us entertaining basketball, and the conference’s future is bright in the sport. First-year coaches were able to put their mark on a program, and other coaches were able to show what their program can be. Hopefully, fans of all teams in the Pac-12 can appreciate the entertainment that the 2019-20 season brought, even though the ending will always be imperfect.
The 2020 Senior Bowl presented an opportunity for many Pac-12 players to help their draft stock. In what would be a 34-17 victory for the North team over the South team in Mobile, Alabama, some players were able to take advantage of their opportunity while others struggled.
Utah: DE Bradlee Anae, LB Francis Bernard, DB Terrell Burgess, DT Leki Fotu
Washington: C Nick Harris
Washington State: QB Anthony Gordon
Justin Herbert Leads Way for Pac-12
Justin Herbert started for the South team coached by Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor. Herbert went 9-of-12 for 83 yards and threw a touchdown on the game’s opening possession. He also added 22 yards on the ground. Herbert won MVP honors for his performance. Showing poise throughout the first quarter, Herbert was able to put on a performance that should help his case for being a top pick in the first round of April’s NFL Draft.
Many expect the Bengals to select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first pick of the NFL Draft. However, Herbert and Burrow have similar games, and both can be threats running the football. If Herbert can add to his Senior Bowl performance with a great NFL Combine and Pro Day, he could be picked within the top five-seven picks. The Dolphins, Chargers, and Panthers (picks five, six, and seven) are all expected to strongly consider drafting a quarterback. Herbert separated himself from Jordan Love, another projected first-round pick and starter for the North team, in the Senior Bowl.
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Joshua Kelley and Anthony Gordon Also Impress on Offense in Senior Bowl
UCLA running back Joshua Kelley and Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon were the standout Pac-12 offensive players for the North team. Kelley had 15 carries for 105 yards, and Anthony Gordon had two touchdown passes in the third quarter. When Gordon went in, the game was tied at 10, but after the third quarter, the North was leading 31-10. Gordon could build off his senior bowl performance to possibly be a Day 2 pick at the NFL Draft.
Joshua Kelley was able to show that he can be physical inside, but can be explosive in space. He also could make a case for being a Day 2 or early Day 3 draft pick if he builds off his performance in the Senior Bowl.
Bradlee Anae Steals the Show on Defense in Senior Bowl
Utah defensive end Bradlee Anae had a huge day at the Senior Bowl for the North team. He recorded three sacks on the day, and wreaked havoc against the South offensive line. Anae was the best defensive player on the field in Mobile and made his case to be a Day 2 pick at the draft.
Steven Montez, Calvin Throckmorton Have Uneven Performances in Senior Bowl
Colorado quarterback Steven Montez entered the game to start the second half and had a very uneven performance. Montez finished 3-of-8 for 22 yards and an interception. He took a sack on a 3rd-and-1 as he scrambled back and made a five-yard loss into a 15-yard loss on the sack.
However, Montez and fellow South quarterback Jalen Hurts did not get the protection from their offensive line to be fairly evaluated based on their performances. Calvin Throckmorton, an offensive lineman for Oregon, played for a big portion of the game and had trouble blocking Bradlee Anae on the few occasions they were matched up against each other. None of the tackles for the South fared well against Anae, but Throckmorton’s stock did not go up based on his performance.
Had Some of the Best Performances at 2020 Senior Bowl
Pac-12 had a positive 2020 Senior Bowl. Justin Herbert, arguably the premier
player in the conference this past season, was able to win MVP. Bradlee Anae
made a great impression nationally. There is talent in the Pac-12, and future
recruits can see that players that play on the west coast in the Pac-12 can be
Mike Leach Leaves Washington State After Eight Seasons
After losing both the Apple Cup and the Cheeze-It-Bowl to finish the season, Mike Leach is out. He’s de-committed from his extension to 2024 (do agreements mean anything in college football?) and he’s off to Mississippi State.
Though his 6 and 7 season in 2019 wasn’t perfect, he was still heralded as one of the greatest coaches in Washington State history. He led the Cougars to five straight bowl games and an incredible 11 and 2 season in 2018. But, the bright lights of the SEC stole Leach away. What does his new tenure mean for both him and WSU?
What Leach Brings to Mississippi State
When it comes to Mike Leach, people love him for three reasons: wins, offense, and personality.
In each of his ten seasons with Texas Tech, Mike Leach’s teams had winning records. Additionally, they won five out of nine bowl games. Then, he took his Air Raid offense and winning to WSU.
After a large drought, Mike Leach finally brought back winning seasons to Washington State. In fact, he led the Cougars to four consecutive winning seasons, most notably an 11 and 2 2018 season, capped off with an Alamo Bowl victory. Leach took an aimless program and turned it into a competitive one.
His coaching record of 139-90, including taking over the hapless Cougars, displays his talent.
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Most notably, Mike Leach brings the Air Raid offense with him wherever he goes. His concepts pushed heavy passing offenses and were always near or at the top of the NCAA. His Texas Tech teams led the NCAA in passing five times, while his Washington State Cougars led four times. Astounding.
With his fast-paced offense, he’ll look to utilize the SEC’s level of recruiting talent to his advantage. He’ll have his work cut out for him against SEC opponents, but his offense is sure to bring frustration for defensive coordinators as well.
It’s no surprise that the press adores Mike Leach. Although they don’t always agree with him, they love to cover him. Few coaches bring a level of honesty, oddity and downright boldness in their press conferences. Leach is willing to say anything without thinking twice. Like him or hate him, he’s got a personality we can’t look away from. Now, with the move from Pullman to Starkville, his press coverage will boom.
What Leach Leaves Behind at Washington State
Though Mike Leach takes his Air Raid offense with him, he still leaves behind pieces. Yes, we’ve talked about this offense as the “Mike Leach Air Raid Offense” many times. However, with the obvious exception of Anthony Gordon, many players are already familiar with the offensive scheme. If Pat Chun decided to someone from the Mike Leach coaching tree or a pass-friendly coach, WSU could utilize the personnel already set up for an Air Raid offense.
“I believe coach Leach has left us in great shape,” Chun said. “Based on what he took over and what’s here now, this is not a rebuild anymore at Washington State. We will and need to go find the right person that’s going to add to this program.”
Additionally, Leach brought Washington State out of embarrassment and into relevance. Though his recruiting classes were always at the bottom of the Pac-12, Leach brought winning back to WSU. In eight seasons, he ranks third in wins by a WSU head coach. Additionally, he is the only coach to lead Washington State to five-straight bowl games. That prominence is not without appreciation for Pullman football.
How Washington State can Improve without Mike Leach
While losing Mike Leach is a huge chasm, there are two major areas of growth where Leach lacked: Apple Cups wins and recruiting.
Seven Straight Apple Cup Losses
“They do the same thing year in and year out. So it makes it really easy to game plan when an offense does the same thing every year.”
Even with all of his success at Washington State, Mike Leach couldn’t get past the Huskies. They continued to best his teams in the Apple Cup and thwart any Pac-12 title run. Most of that, according to Jimmy Lake’s repeated mentions, is due to the fact that Leach runs the same offense each year. With that understood, it was simple for a top defensive coordinator like Lake to game plan against Washington State.
Now that Leach is gone, Washington State has the chance to upset UW. With new coaching and play-calling, they can give Lake a run for his money. Show him different schemes, run different plays and become unpredictable. Will upsets be easy? Of course not. But, it’s not like Leach has given Washington much of a fight anyway.
Bottom of the Pac-12 Recruiting
One would think that after an 11 and 2 season, recruiting would be excellent. But, in 2019, WSU ranked dead-last in the Pac-12. According to 247sports, WSU’s recruiting under Mike Leach never cracked the top-seven of the Pac-12.
2012: 12th in Pac-12, 58th Nationally
2013: 10th in Pac-12, 50th Nationally
2014: 8th in Pac-12, 53 Nationally
2015: 8th in Pac-12, 42nd Nationally
2016: 10th in Pac-12, 56th Nationally
2017: 9th in Pac-12, 44th Nationally
2018: 9th in Pac-12, 46th Nationally,
2019: 12th in Pac-12, 66th Nationally
2020: 11th in Pac-12, 61st Nationally
Though Leach put the blame on recruiting on Washington State, he’s a large part of that recruiting. Chris Petersen and Jimmy lake have repeatedly been praised for successful recruiting classes. But, that wasn’t something Leach could do. Granted, they were recruiting for the University of Washington in Seattle and not recruiting for Pullman. But still, Leach couldn’t bring Washington State into the upper echelons of Pac-12 recruiting and that is something new administration can improve on.
Mike Leach Judged Without Excuses
Now that Leach is out of the Pac-12, out of Pullman and into the SEC, he has no excuses for his recruiting classes. He can’t hide behind the lack of talent excuse anymore. Currently, Mississippi State’s 2020 class ranks 27th in the nation. If their recruiting tanks, that falls solely on him. He hasn’t proven himself as a quality recruiter so far in his career and he will face harsh judgment in the SEC.
Additionally, Leach is going to get burned at the stake if he loses seven straight to Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss. Chris Petersen and Jimmy Lake out-coached Leach for seven straight Apple Cups. Even with those brutal losses, Washington State was still on his side and extended him until 2024. However, Mississippi State and Egg Bowl losses won’t give him the same leash. He’s going to be judged quickly and with nothing held back. It’s time to see who the real Mike Leach is.
Even though the Apple Cup was in Seattle, the Washington State Cougars began with a bang. They took the ball 81 yards down the field on a patient, 13-play drive. Capping the drive off with a Max Borghi one-yard touchdown, WSU looked great.
Then, the Cougars defense sacked Jacob Eason on his first offensive play. They held strong and forced the Huskies to a three-and-out on their first possession. Ball goes back to the Cougs and they’re already leading 7-0.
The stage was set for a WSU upset in the Apple Cup. Anthony Gordon looked comfortable, patient and was willing to take what the defense gave him. Mike Leach schemed up open looks and it was perfect weather for the Air Raid offense. 41 degrees, sunny and no wind.
But, everything changed after that.
Anthony Gordon’s Dreadful Apple Cup Performance
Although Gordon’s 103.0 Passing Efficiency Rating against Utah in Week 5 was poor, that was at least against an elite defense and the Pac-12’s best team. But, even though the Washington Huskies played exceptionally well, they are no Utah. Somehow, the Huskies held Gordon to 308 yards and zero touchdowns on 62 attempts, while intercepting two of his passes. So why did Gordon struggle so much in this Apple Cup?
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Offensive Line Issues
Up until the Apple Cup, Washington State ranked first in the FBS in Sack Rate, per footballoutsiders. Their 2.1-percent Sack Rate was phenomenal. Keeping Anthony Gordon upright was standard procedure. Just 13 sacks on 585 attempts. Their line was top-notch.
However, against the Huskies, they fell apart. Washington consistently pressured Gordon and sacked him five times. In just one game, they accounted for 28-percent of all sacks against WSU this season. Joe Tryon, Edeguan Ulofoshio and Ryan Bowman took Gordon down for negative-45 yards and a forced fumble on their five sacks.
Even more impressive, they delivered back-to-back sacks on the Cougars fourth drive. After starting out leading 7-0 and playing with a lead, Gordon’s fourth drive was a nightmare. Down 10-14, sacked twice in a row and throwing from his own end zone on 3rd-and-27. The Huskies manhandled WSU’s line time and time again.
Even after a poor Apple Cup showing, Anthony Gordon still leads the FBS in passing yards (5,228) and touchdowns (45). In fact, his 5,228 passing yards is almost 1,000 yards better than Joe Burrow’s second-ranked 4,366 yards. Yet, against UW, he couldn’t get anything going after their opening drive.
Call it preparation, home-field advantage or the Chris Petersen edge. Whatever it is, the Cougars consistently fail in the Apple Cup. In Peterson’s own words. the Cougars “run the same offense every week.” Because of this, preparation was simple and all the Huskies needed to do was execute their game-plan.
In their game plan, they often dropped eight into coverage and only rushed three. UW’s secondary gave up nothing deep and forced Gordon to check passes down. It was a rare occasion to see even an attempt, let alone a reception downfield. Instead, Max Borghi led the team with 12 receptions. Then, when Gordon actually tried to make something happen, he threw into a sea of defenders.
Offensively, the Cougars came into the Apple Cup with all the counting stats. But, UW matched up in perfection. They covered downfield, gave their defensive line time to get to Gordon, forced everything short and kept Gordon fearful of taking shots.
Jacob Eason Let’s it Fly in the Apple Cup
Unlike Anthony Gordon, Jacob Eason and the Huskies were willing to take chances downfield. And it paid off in spectacular fashion.
Though Jacob Eason started off the game with a sack, a deep incompletion and a three-and-out, he kept his gunslinger attitude. He took advantage of Terrell Bynum’s speed and hit him for 57-yards on their first touchdown drive.
More importantly, Eason and the Huskies maintained their confidence, even with more issues. Remember that Eason started off the game with a three-and-out, missing on a deep shot. Then, in the second quarter, he overthrew a wide-open Hunter Bryant and was then bailed out on a deep overthrow because of a penalty. Aside from his earlier 57-yard connection with Bynum, it appeared that Eason’s inaccuracy was hurting the Huskies. But, they continued to put faith in Eason and their receivers.
Again and again, it paid dividends. While the Cougars lacked downfield threats or ability, the Huskies took advantage of their Apple Cup matchup. Not only that, but UW finally utilized their talent properly. Hunter Bryant led the team in receptions and yards, which completely makes sense given his talent.
But, unlike prior games where Aaron Fuller and Chico McClatcher took up targets and space, sophomores Terrell Bynum and Cade Otton got involved. Their combined 6 receptions for 123 yards and one touchdown were huge. They made play after play, getting first downs, yards after the catch, or making difficult catches.
The Huskies Won the Apple Cup by Sticking with Their Gunslinger
It took Anthony Gordon 62 attempts to reach 308 passing yards. On the opposite sideline, Eason threw just 22 times, but compiled 244 yards and led his team to four touchdowns. The Huskies leaned into Eason’s gunslinging style and schemed up ways to get his receivers one-on-one matchups downfield. Even though Eason missed some throws and Bryant and Bynum dropped passes, they stuck with it.
Unlike this, the Cougars collapsed and failed to adjust. Gordon was afraid to throw it deep and continued to dump it off to his safety valves. His passes routinely traveled to the short-middle or the flats.
If Mike Leach ever wants to win an Apple Cup, he needs to make adjustments and have a backup plan. It was clear that he didn’t have that on Friday.
The PAC-12 offenses are actually roughly average across the NCAA as well, although that’s primarily because most of the teams in the NCAA are roughly league average.
Funny how that works.
However, there are some exceptions. Washington State is once again proving to be absolutely elite at moving the ball through the air, while Cal and Stanford are struggling to move the ball, well, at all.
Here is a quick look at some of the best – and worst – offenses in the PAC-12 and how they stack up around the rest of the college football landscape.
Pac-12 Top Tier Offense: Washington State Cougars
Under coach Mike Leach, Washington State has once again constructed an absolutely elite passing attack.
WSU is averaging 440.7 passing yards per game, an absolutely staggering number. It leads the NCAA by a wide, wide margin and is actually a higher average than seven PAC-12 schools are averaging in TOTAL OFFENSE.
Think about that.
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Anthony Gordon is off to a ridiculous start to the season, completing 70.2 percent of his passes for a whopping 2,981 yards and a 29/7 touchdown to interception ratio.
WSU’s record will likely keep him out of the Heisman conversation, but even though this isn’t the magical Gardner Minshew-team, this is still a high-octane offense and one of the very best in the entire college football landscape.
Bottom Tier: Cal Golden Bears
The Golden Bears got off to a hot start this season, going 4-0 and even sneaking into the top-25 conversation. Although the offense never exploded in any of those games, they scored 27, 20, 23 and 28 through those four victories, displaying enough to beat teams like UW and Ole Miss.
However, things have really fallen off the rails since then. Cal is 0-3 in the last few weeks, including an embarrassing loss to Oregon State last week. The offense has faltered slightly, only scoring 17 against Arizona State and Oregon State and mustering just seven against Oregon.
All told, Cal has the fewest points per game average in the PAC-12, at just 19.9 points per game. They are the worst passing team in the conference by a considerable margin, averaging just 193.7 passing yards per game. Even Stanford, known for stubbornly running the ball, is averaging 216 yards through the air.
All told, there are only 14 teams in the entire NCAA, and only two in the Power-5, who are averaging less than Cal’s 324 total yards of offense per game.
After that hot 4-0 start, Cal is proving, more or less, that they are who we thought they were.
Top Tier: Oregon Ducks
No surprise here. The Oregon Ducks have had an elite NCAA offense for nearly a decade now, ever since Chip Kelly and his high-octane offense graced the field in Eugene.
The Ducks average 457.1 yards of offense per game, second in the PAC-12 behind Washington State, and are scoring 35.9 points per game, also second in the PAC-12 behind WSU and just ahead of UW, who is at 35.8.
Oregon has a decently balanced offensive attack, although it’s not a huge surprise that they do most of their damage through the air. The team is averaging 283.6 yards per game in the air, thanks to Heisman trophy candidate Justin Herbert and his sparkly 21/1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
They are doing their fare share of work on the ground as well, with a tidy 173.6 rushing yard per game on average.
Oregon’s balanced attack and ability to avoid turnovers has made them one of the best teams in the Nation, and their chances at a CFB playoff spot remain intact at this point in the season.
Bottom Tier: Stanford Cardinal
Stanford is averaging a measly 20 points per game, barely above Cal’s 19.9 mark.
The team’s trademark run-heavy offensive attack has not been effective this year, as they are only generating 114.1 yards on the ground per game, which is among the worst marks in the entire NCAA and only tops Washington State in the conference.
The passing attack, frankly, hasn’t been much better – as QB’s David Mills and K.J. Costello have only been able to average 216 yards per game, and combined have a combined 7/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
It’s been a rough year for the Cardinal, and one that has them squarely among the worst offensive teams in the PAC-12 – and the nation.
As we predicted earlier in the season, the PAC-12 is doing an excellent job of eating each other alive – a tradition unlike any other in the conference of champions.
Cal and Washington State both cost themselves spots in the top-25 with losses to Arizona State and Utah, respectively, leaving the conference with no undefeated teams.
At this point, because so many teams are lumped together, it’s hard to pick a clear favorite for the PAC-12 championship.
Here are the schools who still have a realistic chance of winning the PAC-12, with a look at their remaining schedule:
No. 13 Oregon Ducks (3-1)
Oregon’s loss to Auburn hurts, especially since it was a winnable game, but ultimately they are still the team best positioned to win the PAC-12 Championship, and possibly the only team who has a real chance at playing in the College Football Playoff this season.
That doesn’t mean it will be an easy road however, as they have true road games against Washington, Arizona State and USC, as well as a home date with the Cougars of Washington State.
Led by quarterback Justin Herbert, the Ducks should be playing meaningful football into the early part of 2020, but they still have some work to do to get there.
Washington actually has a somewhat favorable schedule going forward, as their two toughest opponents – Oregon and Utah – are both at home along with this year’s Apple Cup against Washington State.
Oregon is still the favorite, but the Huskies are also in good shape to make a push for a Rose Bowl berth if they can win out this season.
No. 17 Utah Utes (4-1)
As I predicted, the Utes fell for the trap game against the USC Trojans down in California, wish dampened their hopes this season quite a bit.
They did bounce back with a commanding victory over Washington State, 38-13, but they’ll probably need to be perfect (or close to it) if they want to win the PAC-12 championship and play in either the Rose Bowl or the college football championship.
A date with the No. 15 Huskies in Montlake will be the biggest challenge they face, although back to back home bouts with Arizona State and Cal won’t be easy either.
No. 20 Arizona State (4-1)
Arizona State is the biggest wildcard out of this group, but they did beat Michigan State earlier this season and just defeated Cal on the road, making them 4-1 with only a three-point loss to Colorado standing in their way.
They also have a favorable home schedule as well, with only Utah remaining as a tough conference game on the road.
They’ll have to defend their home turf against Oregon, Washington State, USC and rival Arizona, but they are a team to keep an eye on in the hyper-competitive PAC-12 conference this year.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.