Pac-12 Apostles Week 3 Preview and Picks

After Oregon’s massive win last week, and Stanford’s toppling of the Clay Helton regime, it’d be nice to get a week of uneventful Pac-12 wins against lesser competition- but there are a couple of serious opponents on the docket this week. ASU is trying to keep BYU from going 3-0 against the Pac-12 South, Colorado hopes to finish the task they weren’t able to last week vs Texas A&M, with the Buffaloes matching up against USC Head Coaching candidate P.J. Fleck and the Golden Gophers, while both Washington and Utah will try to bounce back against solid Group of 5 competition.

Make sure to check out this week’s Pac-12 Apostles Podcast, or just click play on the Spotify link below while you read the article below.

Minnesota at Colorado

Kickoff: 10AM Pacific

Broadcast: PAC-12 Network

Opening Odds: Colorado -2

What’s at stake: What’s at stake: Last week Colorado, behind the effort of a bunch of players from the state of Texas, nearly took down the mighty Texas A&M Aggies. Minnesota isn’t Texas A&M, but the Buffaloes don’t have a large portion of their roster from the Twin Cities who are out to prove they should have been recruited by the Golden Gophers. It’s going to be a difficult task for Karl Dorrell to get his team up emotionally for this game, but if he can do it, then it will prove that leading a top-5 team for 98% of the game was no fluke. Minnesota has shown that they’ll give up yards in the passing game if you’re good enough to attack their defensive backs- is Brendon Lewis ready to level up in his third ever start?

Our Picks: Ralph has Minnesota winning straight up, while George is taking Colorado to cover

Idaho at Oregon State

Kickoff: 12:30PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Network

Opening Odds: Oregon State -28.5 (self made line)

What’s at stake: You have to beat Idaho. You just have to. Do the Vandals have some talented players? Oh yeah. There’s a good chance TE Hayden Hatten leaves the entire Beavers coaching staff wondering how they missed on his recruitment back when he was Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler’s #1 receiver. But still, anything less than a four-touchdown win is going to be an embarrassment. .

Our Picks: Ralph and George both have Oregon State covering 28.5

USC at Washington State

Kickoff: 12:30PM Pacific

Broadcast: FOX

Opening Odds: USC- 8.5

What’s at stake: After making waves by firing Clay Helton this week, USC is in a strange place in which Athletic Director Mike Bohn has essentially told the Trojan football team that they’re better off without their head coach. Interim Head Coach Donte Williams is walking a tightrope of perfection to even be considered as a candidate to take over permanently, and QB Kedon Slovis is fighting to restore his reputation as the next great USC QB. On Washington State’s end, this is the perfect opportunity to drown out some of the distractions of Nick Rolovich’s mysterious vaccination status and showcase his talented offense to a national audience.

Our Picks: Ralph and George are both on Washington State at home +8.5.

Sacramento State at California

Kickoff: 1:00PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Bay Area

Opening Odds: Cal -24 (self created)

What’s at stake: You can make the argument that Cal has coached their way to an 0-2 start. The Golden Bears had a late lead at home against Nevada, and special teams miscues kept them from claiming a victory at Texas Christian. Cal needs this game as much as any Pac-12 team needs a win. Sacramento State is coached by former Cal QB Troy Taylor, who amassed 8,126 career passing yards and 51 touchdowns during his time in Berkeley, is not someone you want to take lightly, or else you might be considering him as your next hire because you allowed him to shock the world.

Our Picks: Ralph and George have Cal -24.

Arkansas State at Washington

Kickoff: 1:15PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Network

Opening Odds: Washington -16.5

What’s at stake: The Huskies, who many picked to win the Pac-12 North, have started 2021 by showcasing one of the worst offenses in all of college football. They’ve left Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant to wither on the bench despite the fact that the RB duo averaged 20 touches and 2 TDs per game in 2020. They’ve managed to earn unofficial visits from a few talented recruits on Saturday, and if those recruits see unhappy players, and a non-functioning offense, it’s going to severely handicap Jimmy Lake’s ability to infuse the roster with the talent they’ll need to keep pace with rival Oregon. Last week Arkansas State surrendered 55 to Memphis- if Washington can’t even get half of that, then it’s time to hit the panic button.

Our Picks: Ralph likes Washington to get back on track and cover, George has Arkansas State +16.5

Utah at San Diego State

Kickoff: 4PM Pacific

Broadcast: CBS Sports Network

Opening Odds: Utah -7.5

What’s at stake: What’s at stake: Utah QB Charlie Brewer has lost 8 consecutive games away from his home field dating back to last year at Baylor. San Diego State has bullied nearly half the Pac-12, including blowing out the team that gave BYU a better game than Utah did (Arizona). The Utes aren’t exactly at their best historically when visiting Southern California, either. This game has all the hallmarks of a Mountain West upset, so a win by Utah will probably be a pleasant surprise to the fan base, and conference as a whole.

Our Picks: Ralph likes the Utes, George is taking the Aztecs at home +7.5

Stony Brook at #4 Oregon

Kickoff: 4:30PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Networks

Opening Odds: Oregon -36 (self created)

What’s at stake: Oregon just can’t afford a let down of any kind. After winning at Ohio State, the lens the Ducks will be judged through for the rest of 2021 will be whether or not they’re worthy of College Football Playoff consideration. The best thing that can happen here is a 3-4 touchdown first quarter lead so that the young Ducks get some meaningful in-game experience.

Our Picks: Ralph and George are taking Oregon -36 in a line we completely made up.

Northern Arizona at Arizona

Kickoff: 7:00PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Arizona

Opening Odds: Arizona -21.5 (self created)

What’s at stake: Seeing online debates about whether or not University of Arizona fans should storm the field if they beat 0-2 FCS Northern Arizona at home to end their 14-game losing streak is a brand new level of depressing. For Arizona, the task is simple- taste success. They’ve switched to Will Plummer as their starting QB, a mobile athlete that is going to need to show accuracy and quick decision making on short to medium routes to secure the job leading into Pac-12 play.

Our Picks: We’re both on Arizona -21.5.

#19 Arizona State at #23 BYU

Kickoff: 7:15PM Pacific

Broadcast: ESPN

Opening Odds: ASU -3.5

What’s at stake: Arizona State fans are starting to wonder if QB Jayden Daniels has another gear beyond speedy game manager. Herm Edwards has long said that nothing travels better than defense and a running game, but the time has come for Arizona State’s third year gunslinger to prove that he’s special. BYU dominated Utah last week by getting an early lead, and then taking advantage of the opportunity to rush the passer. ASU can’t get down early if they want to avoid that trap, and they need to keep the Cougars out of the red zone and settling for field goal attempts, because the red zone is where the BYU offense is at its best.

Our Picks: Ralph likes ASU to win by a touchdown, George thinks ASU can win, but that BYU will cover the 3.5

Fresno State at #13 UCLA

Kickoff: 7:45PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Network

Opening Odds: UCLA -11.5

What’s at stake: George thinks UCLA is worthy of top-10 consideration, and if they dominate Fresno State, they’ll probably get it. The Bruins had two weeks to prepare for a team that put a scare into Oregon, and for people to take the Pac-12 seriously, this and the ASU game are the two that are the most important, as you’d likely see three Pac-12 teams in the top 15 in the country.

Our Picks: Bruins -11.5, to the moon.

Who are the Pac-12 Apostles?

The Pac-12 Apostles is a podcast for fans who love the Pac-12 conference. George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden are committed to the honest and fair conversation about the conference. Join us by becoming a Pac-12 Apostle. Subscribe and share the podcast.

Please leave a rating and review of our podcast on iTunes! We record a podcast once a week with emergency episodes when necessary. Our podcasts are always heavy on Pac-12 football. But we make it a point to also try and cover the other notable Men’s and Women’s Pac-12 sports. We cover recruiting and any other major storyline in the Pac-12 universe.

George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and long-time NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, and analyst, who is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014. Through years of playing college football, covering bowl games, coaching changes, and scandals, he has a great pulse for the conference and national perspective.

Ralph Amsden is a sportswriter and podcaster. He is the publisher of Rivals’ ArizonaVarsity.com, and was previously the managing editor of the Arizona State University Rivals affiliate, DevilsDigest.com. Wyoming born, Arizona raised, and now based in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and four kids, Amsden made his mark in Arizona sports media through investigative reporting, and being one of the first people to leverage social media and the podcast medium to grow his platform. In addition to his podcasts, he is the Content Director for UnafraidShow.com. Ralph might be sub-.500 in spousal disputes and schoolyard fights, but whether the topic is food, movies, music, parenting, politics, sports, television, religion, or zoological factoids, he’s always UNAFRAID to square up.

Pac-12 Apostles: Clay Helton Fired, Interviews with Ryan Abraham and Mario Cristobal, Week 2 Recap, Week 3 Preview

Clay Helton Fired, Replacement Candidates

On this episode of the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast, George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden get into the not-so-surprise announcement of Clay Helton’s firing, and Donte Williams’ elevation at USC following the Trojans home blowout loss to Stanford. George also interviews Ryan Abraham, publisher of the 247 USC affiliate site, USCFootball.com, as well as the co-host of the Podcast of Champions, to discuss the state of the Trojans. After recapping last week’s games, George interviews Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal, and the guys reconvene to preview and pick the upcoming week’s slate of games.

Apple Podcasts // Spotify // PocketCasts // Google Play // Stitcher // RadioPublic // iHeart

Who are the Pac-12 Apostles?

The Pac-12 Apostles is a podcast for fans who love the Pac-12 conference. George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden are committed to the honest and fair conversation about the conference. Join us by becoming a Pac-12 Apostle. Subscribe and share the podcast.

Please leave a rating and review of our podcast on iTunes! We record a podcast once a week with emergency episodes when necessary. Our podcasts are always heavy on Pac-12 football. But we make it a point to also try and cover the other notable Men’s and Women’s Pac-12 sports. We cover recruiting and any other major storyline in the Pac-12 universe.

George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and long-time NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, and analyst, who is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014. Through years of playing college football, covering bowl games, coaching changes, and scandals, he has a great pulse for the conference and national perspective.

Ralph Amsden is a sportswriter and podcaster. He is the publisher of Rivals’ ArizonaVarsity.com, and was previously the managing editor of the Arizona State University Rivals affiliate, DevilsDigest.com. Wyoming born, Arizona raised, and now based in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and four kids, Amsden made his mark in Arizona sports media through investigative reporting, and being one of the first people to leverage social media and the podcast medium to grow his platform. In addition to his podcasts, he is the Content Director for UnafraidShow.com. Ralph might be sub-.500 in spousal disputes and schoolyard fights, but whether the topic is food, movies, music, parenting, politics, sports, television, religion, or zoological factoids, he’s always UNAFRAID to square up.

Pac-12 Apostles Week 2 Preview and Picks

The Pac-12 North thoroughly embarrassed the conference last week, which has created a pressure-cooker for the entire conference heading into week 2- a slate of games that Jon Wilner has called “the biggest of the season.”

George Wrighster and I already went through and picked each game in this week’s Pac-12 Apostles Podcast (Spotify link below), as did our friends Bryant Conger and Rob Bowron over at 12Pac Radio. Here, I’ll list each game, our picks, and what’s at stake for each Pac-12 team.

#12 Oregon at #3 Ohio State

Kickoff: 9AM Pacific

Broadcast: FOX

Opening Odds: Ohio State -14.5

What’s at stake: This might be the Pac-12’s only chance to have a signature out-of-conference win in 2021. Yes, UCLA dominated LSU, but you can almost guarantee Ohio State finishes the season in the top 10, and the same can’t be said for Ed Orgeron’s Tigers. Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal and offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead made an interesting gamble when they decided Anthony Brown was going to be the guy at QB this year, and now Brown is going to be on the biggest stage he’s likely ever had as a starter, in front of two dozen NFL scouts. Perhaps the biggest thing at stake is the recruiting high ground, as Ohio State just beat Oregon for J.T. Tuimolaou, a consensus top-10 prospect in the class of 2021 out of the state of Washington.

Our Picks: Ralph, George, Bryant and Rob are all in on the Ducks to cover the original +14.5, but the line has moved to as low as +10.5.

California at Texas Christian

Kickoff: 12:30PM Pacific

Broadcast: ESPNU

Opening Odds: TCU -10.5

What’s at stake: Cal looked as if they were about to put Nevada away last week, but they abandoned the run game and found themselves on the wrong end of a 21-17 score. While this game would provide solid bragging rights, and relieve a little bit of the external pressure on head coach Justin Wilcox for five consecutive seasons of diminishing offensive output, a loss wouldn’t do much to affect the Golden Bears ability to compete within the Pac-12 North.

Our Picks: Ralph, George, Bryant and Rob are all in on Cal +10.5

#5 Texas A&M at Colorado

Kickoff: 12:30PM Pacific

Broadcast: FOX

Opening Odds: Texas A&M -17

What’s at stake: The reputation of Boulder, Colorado. I’m not sure anyone expects the Buffaloes to beat the Aggies, but after solid wins at home against UCLA last year, and Nebraska the year before, I feel like we’re on the precipice of respecting Boulder as one of the tougher environments to go into and come away with a win. Colorado also has continued to recruit Texas through their third straight coaching regime, and a respectable showing against a top 5 team out of the Lone Star state definitely wouldn’t hurt the progress and inroads they’ve made.

Our Picks: Ralph, George, and Rob have Colorado +17, Bryant has Texas A&M -17

Portland State at Washington State

Kickoff: 3:00PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Network

Opening Odds: We invented a line of Wazzu -28.5

What’s at stake: The current narrative, and I believe it’s completely fair, is that Nick Rolovich actually interfered on behalf of Utah State last week and lost Washington State the game. Not only do the Cougars need to put Portland State away early, they need to pile it on just to hit the snooze button on the already growing mob of alumni calling for Rolovich’s head. This is also a good chance for Washington’s State’s staff to publicly acknowledge that RB Max Borghi is one of the best players in the conference, and is deserving of more than 12 touches.

Our Picks: Ralph and George have Washington State -28.5

Washington at Michigan

Kickoff: 5PM Pacific

Broadcast: ABC

Opening Odds: Michigan -6.5

What’s at stake: Jimmy Lake lost to an FCS at home team last week, kept several talented RBs on the bench, is bleeding recruits, and in the midst of all this struggle, he gets to lead the Huskies into one of the toughest environments in all of football. What’s at stake here is jobs- Maybe not Lake’s, but John Donovan has to do more than put together one scripted TD drive, and he’s going to have to do it with a QB in Dylan Morris who turned the ball over three times last week. Good luck.

Our Picks: Ralph and Bryant have Michigan -6.5, George and Rob have the Huskies +6.5

San Diego State at Arizona

Kickoff: 7PM Pacific

Broadcast: Pac-12 Network

Opening Odds: Arizona -1

What’s at stake: Jedd Fisch was laughed at when he was hired, and has spent the last several months turning the narrative about the naivete of his hire on its head, turning up the dial on recruiting, alumni relations, media accessibility, and fan relations. The fact remains, however, that Arizona hasn’t won a game in almost two years, and while this isn’t Rocky Long’s San Diego State, the Aztecs have never been an easy out for any Pac-12 team. Jedd Fisch literally went door to door this week recruiting students to fill out the “Zona Zoo” student section, and if those kids show up and witness a loss, he might not get them back. The Wildcats are in a must-win situation.

Our Picks: Ralph, George, Bryant and Rob are all in on Arizona -1

#21 Utah at BYU

Kickoff: 7:15PM Pacific

Broadcast: ESPN

Opening Odds: Utah -1

What’s at stake: Utah fans aren’t going to like this, because I know how much it means to them to have a stranglehold on this rivalry, but absolutely nothing is at stake. The Utes have built up enough respect and goodwill in the Holy War, and while they’d certainly be sore about leaving Provo with an L, no one is going to lose their job, nothing is going to change as far as their chances within the Pac-12 South, and it would have a negligible impact on recruiting. All that being said, the conference needs this win to keep the Utes in the Top 25.

Our Picks: Ralph and Bryant have Utah -7, and George and Rob are on BYU +7

UNLV at #23 Arizona State

Kickoff: 7:30PM Pacific

Broadcast: ESPN2

Opening Odds: Arizona State -32.5

What’s at stake: Generational trauma. There’s absolutely no way Arizona State loses to the Rebels, but because it happened in 2008 when the Sun Devils were looking ahead to a visit from Georgia, there’s a paranoia that exists within the Sun Devil fan base that only a blowout win will help exorcise. As far as on-field stakes, RB Rachaad White has an outside shot at national recognition and awards if he can stay healthy, and it would be nice to see ASU lean into that.

Our Picks: Ralph and Bryant are on ASU at -32.5, while Rob and George have UNLV covering the spread

Stanford at #14 USC

Kickoff: 7:30PM Pacific

Broadcast: FOX

Opening Odds: USC -17

What’s at stake: Stanford just took an ugly loss against Kansas State, and people are still completely unconvinced that Clay Helton can cover a 17-point spread. So much so, that the line has moved three whole points to 14 over the last few days. David Shaw’s uncharacteristic public optimism about this Stanford team heading into 2021 threw a lot of people off who thought that the drop in recruiting and increase in grad transfers were contributing to the demise of the Cardinal, but after last week’s loss, people are questioning if Shaw’s tenure in Palo Alto is reaching its twilight- especially since he seems unsure about the best way forward at the QB position. On the other side, no one believes Clay Helton is going to blow out Stanford, so all he has to do to maintain the same level of perpetual discontent that has existed amongst the Trojan fan base for the last 5 years is not lose the game.

Our Picks: All of us are on Stanford +17

Hawaii at Oregon State

Kickoff: 8PM Pacific

Broadcast: FS1

Opening Odds: Oregon State -11

What’s at stake: Jonathan Smith’s charm has seemed to make him immune to criticism from Pac-12 fans. No one expects Oregon State to win, as long as the offense continues to innovate and maximize lesser talent for our entertainment, we ignore the scoreboard. But Purdue seemed to have Smith’s number, and if Todd Graham, who has an awful history in Corvallis, comes in and frustrates the Beavers, public opinion might start to shift. Oregon State not only needs to defend homefield and get a win, they need to settle the quarterback question once and for all so they can rally behind someone ahead of conference play.

Our Picks: The Apostles take Oregon State (Ralph and George), 12Pac takes Hawai’i +11 (Bryant and Rob)

Who are the Pac-12 Apostles?

The Pac-12 Apostles is a podcast for fans who love the Pac-12 conference. George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden are committed to the honest and fair conversation about the conference. Join us by becoming a Pac-12 Apostle. Subscribe and share the podcast.

Please leave a rating and review of our podcast on iTunes! We record a podcast once a week with emergency episodes when necessary. Our podcasts are always heavy on Pac-12 football. But we make it a point to also try and cover the other notable Men’s and Women’s Pac-12 sports. We cover recruiting and any other major storyline in the Pac-12 universe.

George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and long-time NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, and analyst, who is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014. Through years of playing college football, covering bowl games, coaching changes, and scandals, he has a great pulse for the conference and national perspective.

Ralph Amsden is a sportswriter and podcaster. He is the publisher of Rivals’ ArizonaVarsity.com, and was previously the managing editor of the Arizona State University Rivals affiliate, DevilsDigest.com. Wyoming born, Arizona raised, and now based in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and four kids, Amsden made his mark in Arizona sports media through investigative reporting, and being one of the first people to leverage social media and the podcast medium to grow his platform. In addition to his podcasts, he is the Content Director for UnafraidShow.com. Ralph might be sub-.500 in spousal disputes and schoolyard fights, but whether the topic is food, movies, music, parenting, politics, sports, television, religion, or zoological factoids, he’s always UNAFRAID to square up.

Unafraid Show’s Pac-12 2020 NFL Draft Preview: Part One

Pac-12 NFL Draft 2020

The Pac-12 is hoping to have multiple first-round draft picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. The conference has many offensive and defensive prospects that teams will be looking to draft between April 23-25. Today, we will look at prospects who are possible Day Two draft picks.

This article is Part One of a 2-part Pac-12 NFL Draft Preview.

Trey Adams of Washington May Have Rocky 2020 NFL Draft Road

Adams’ college career was derailed because of injuries. Still, his talent presents teams with an intriguing option for teams. Adams ran a 5.6 second 40-yard dash at the combine, along with a 24.5 inch vertical jump and a 92 inch broad jump. These numbers were not great, and Adams did not make the best impression on NFL scouts. A Sports Illustrated article featured a Pro Football Weekly analyst who criticized Adams’ time at the combine. The same article reported that Adams may have not been smart with certain answers he gave in interviews. Adams is ranked number 90 in ESPN’s Best Available list, but it will be interesting to see if he can salvage being picked within the first two days of the draft.

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Devin Asiasi Looks to be Day Two Pick at 2020 NFL Draft

Asiasi broke onto the scene in 2019, as he caught 44 passes for 641 yards and 4 touchdowns. He started his career at Michigan, but wanted to be closer to home. He was able to find a place in Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense at UCLA. His play in 2019 helped him attain the ranking of the third-best tight end available according to ESPN’s Best Available list. A team with a need at tight end may look at drafting Asiasi. He fits the bill of being a more physical tight end that still possesses breakaway ability. Due to the class at tight end being not as deep this year, Asiasi should be a Day Two draft pick.

Bradlee Anae Made Great Impression At Senior Bowl

Anae received First-Team All Pac-12 honors in 2018 and 2019. He also wreaked havoc at the Senior Bowl in January, as he tallied three sacks in that game. At the combine, Anae ran a 4.93 40-yard dash. Anae could become a hybrid player in the NFL, playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme. He had 13 sacks his senior year at Utah. It is shocking that Anae is not higher on draft boards. He is ranked as the 83rd best prospect on draft boards. The 2020 NFL Draft is deep at the defensive end position, but Anae should be a Day Two pick.

Ashtyn Davis’ 2020 NFL Draft Stock Affected By Pro Day Cancellation

Originally a scholarship track athlete at Cal, Davis became a second-team all-conference football player. Davis could be a Day Two draft pick, but some teams are having trouble evaluating him after his Pro Day was canceled. He sustained a groin injury in Cal’s game against UCLA on November 30th and was unable to run at the combine. Thus, Davis does not have a recorded 40 time. However, being a safety who can act quickly off the ball makes Davis an intriguing prospect for NFL teams.

Troy Dye Could Go Up Draft Boards Due to Football IQ

Troy Dye is a great option for teams as a Day Two draft pick because of his high football IQ. Dye did not participate in drills at the NFL Combine. Still, he had a productive season in 2019 with 52 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Dye played the entire game against Washington this past season despite breaking his thumb early in the game. Teams like qualities like toughness and football IQ, and Dye possesses both. It would be a shock if Dye was not a Day Two draft pick.

Laviska Shenault Jr. Could Be First Round Pick, But Injuries a Concern

Laviska Shenault Jr. is another example of a player whose college career was impacted by injuries. When Shenault is 100 percent, he is a freak of nature on the football field. However, he had to have core muscle surgery in early March. Shenault was dealing with a core muscle injury for the majority of the 2019 season but still garnered team MVP honors at CU. He had 56 receptions for 764 yards and four touchdowns in 2019. When he was healthy, Shenault was the favorite target of quarterback Steven Montez. Shenault may be a late-first round draft pick, but may slide to an early second-round pick because of this injury.

All of the prospects talked about in this article are being projected as Day Two draft picks. Next week, we will preview prospects that may have greater first-round potential, such as Justin Herbert and Brandon Aiyuk.

Why the Rose Bowl is so Important to College Football and the Pac-12

Rose Bowl Pac-12

Every year, college football fans travel, host parties and call in sick just to watch the New Year’s Six bowl games. The Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. Each representing a part of college football’s bowl history. But, none hold a candle to the Rose Bowl’s importance and stature among collegiate sports.

The Rose Bowl was the First

120 years ago, college football had it’s very first post-season game, the “Tournament of the Roses”. Stanford vs Michigan. It was a historic mark on college football. Yet, it still was a premature birth of the bowl-era. Because Michigan thoroughly defeated Stanford 49-0, the next football game wasn’t until 1916 when Washington State beat Brown 14-0. However, from 1916 on, the East-West bowl game has been a staple of college football enthusiasm and greatness.

In addition to being the first-ever bowl game, the Rose Bowl Game was also the first:

  • Transcontinental radio broadcast of a sporting event (1927)
  • Local telecast of a college football game (1948)
  • National telecast of a college football game (1952)
  • Coast-to-coast color telecast of a college football game (1962)
  • College Football Playoff Semifinal (2015)

Because of its rich history, it’s is the grandfather of all bowl games.

The Pageantry of the Rose Bowl

Honestly, is there any other event that’s done it like the Tournament of Roses? For over 100 years, they’ve given football fans everything.

It all starts at 8:00am on New Year’s Day with the Rose Parade. Five and a half miles of marching bands, equestrian units, a royal court and delicately-decorated floats. Filling winter’s gloom with flowers and beauty.

“The Rose Parade’s elaborate floats have come a long way since the Tournament’s early days, and the Rose Parade has stayed true to its floral beginnings. Every inch of every float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds or bark. The most delicate flowers, including roses, are placed in individual vials of water, which are set into the float one by one.”

Tournament of Roses

Obviously, California is the perfect setting for the unimaginable. While countless states deal with winter’s worst each year, Pasadena sits in the 60’s and 70’s. No puffy coats, handwarmers or extra layers are needed for the Golden State. Even more, the backdrop of snow-capped mountains sets it all off. Is there nothing the Rose Bowl can’t offer?

Instead of shivering and trudging through snow, the Rose Parade and the proceeding bowl game breed jealousy from other states. Sunshine, flowers and football on January 1st is pure majesty.

Sponsors Come Second, Not First

Just look at the different bowl games.

  • Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
  • PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
  • Capitol One Orange Bowl
  • Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
  • Allstate Sugar Bowl
  • Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual

Do you see the difference? It’s not the Northwestern Mutual Rose Bowl Game. No. Instead, it’s the Rose Bowl Game, presented by Northwestern Mutual. That small difference makes a huge impact. While every other bowl game is led by their sponsors, this one is different. They used their stature to retain their naming rights.

Because of this decision to prioritize the Rose Bowl’s identity, the fame only grew. Even the newest college football fans know the Rose Bowl.

It’s the first of many, the most decorated and its name is the most known. The Rose Bowl is, and will always be, the king of bowl games.

How Can the Pac-12 Leverage the Rose Bowl for Expanding College Football?

Because of Larry Scott’s failures and the Pac-12’s lack of participation in the College Football Playoffs, something needs to be done. While expanding playoffs is a great idea, Larry Scott still refuses to give up the Rose Bowl.

While the Pac-12 has every right to retain the Rose Bowl, it’s pageantry and history, the Pac-12 is also hurting. It’s the joke of other conferences. For good reason, too. In the College Football Playoff era, just 24 of the 24 participating teams were from the Pac-12. It’s not a good look.

But, if Larry Scott and the Pac-12 conference can leverage the Rose Bowl for playoff expansion, the Pac-12 will rise again. If done correctly, the Pac-12 wouldn’t even be sacrificing the Rose Bowl. Here’s how it can be done.

  • Offer up the Rose Bowl for College Football Playoffs with an eight-team expansion
  • If a Pac-12 team makes it into the playoffs, the Pac-12 decides which round (excluding the championship game) the Rose Bowl plays. If a Pac-12 team is in that round, they play.

Because most fans and conferences want each conference to have at least one participant in the eight-team expansion, the Pac-12 would always have rights to the Rose Bowl. If they wanted to risk a larger viewing audience, they could bank on a Pac-12 team advancing in the playoffs. But, if they wanted to play it safe, Larry Scott and the conference could schedule the Rose Bowl in the first round of each college football playoffs.

Either way, they get to offer up the most historic bowl in college football history for playoffs each year. The Pac-12 needs expansion and the Tournament of Roses is the way in.

Pac-12 Football Review: Rolovich Buys Drinks and Graham Harrell Stays

Nick Rolovich WSU Cougars Pac-12

2020 Pac-12 Football Schedules Announced

Every year, Pac-12 football gets little respect. Due its cannibalism in 2019, no team stood out enough in Pac-12 football. However, the 2020 conference schedule is loaded with competition.

  • 17 games against 2019 bowl participants
  • 15 games against teams with eight or more wins in 2019
  • 8 Power Five opponents: Michigan, Ohio State, TCU, Notre Dame, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Alabama
  • Two games against Notre Dame

With difficult schedules in 2020, the 2020 Pac-12 football conference champion should make College Football Playoffs. For the full schedule, check it here.

USC Keeps Graham Harrell and Tries to Aquire Todd Orlando

Trojans rejoice! In a shocking decision, Graham Harrell chose to stay in Los Angeles another season. His 2019 season put him in the offseason coaching scramble. Even the Philadelphia Eagles interviewed Harrell for an offensive coordinator job.

Which makes sense. Somehow, with injury after injury at quarterback, his USC offense finished third in the Pac-12 in points per game. Additionally, remember that Kedon Slovis was a 2019 FWAA Freshman All-American. Giving Harrell a full offseason with Kedon Slovis at the helm is excellent for USC and for Pac-12 football.

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Although Todd Orlando got the boot in Texas, USC still went for him. His 2019 Longhorns ranked 54th in Football Outsider’s DFEI rankings, while USC barely trailed them at 57th. Apparently his experience at Texas is more important than their defense at Texas. It’s a safe move, but remains to be seen whether or not he can lift USC’s defense any higher.

WSU Hires Nick Rolovich, Rolovich Buys Drinks for Cougar Fans

Mike Leach will forever be remembered as one of the most entertaining coaches in Pullman. However, new head coach Nick Rolovich is coming out swinging.

Certainly, this is one of the oddest moves of a head coach. But, it’s a move that gained respect and admiration in the Cougar fanbase. Yes, Leach is gone, However, it appears that Rolovich understands Cougar nation.

Josh Simmons Commits to Oregon

Josh Simmons decided to be a Duck this Monday. While Oregon football already boasted a strong offensive line, adding four-star recruit Simmons further adds to their depth and talent. Simmons is the 10th-best offensive guard and Oregon sits at the top of Pac-12 in recruiting and is also ranked 13th in the nation. The Ducks continue to build on their success.

Tre’Shaun Harrison Transfers from Florida State to Oregon State

After Oregon State already picked up Trey Lowe from Washington, they nabbed another Power-Five transfer Tre’Shaun Harrison. Though four-star recruit Harrison originally committed to Oregon, he ultimately played for FSU. Now, after two years struggling to get snaps, he became a Beaver.

Well, this is great news for Oregon State. The Beaver’s talented Isaiah Hodgins declared for the 2020 NFL Draft after his breakout junior season. Losing him is huge. So, adding receiving talent is a must for Oregon State if they want to compete with other Pac-12 football programs.

Oregon Ducks Should Win First Rose Bowl Since 2015 Versus Wisconsin

Oregon Ducks Rose Bowl vs Wisconsin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Herbert Can Punctuate His Oregon Career With a Victory

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

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

Rose Bowl Important for Mario Cristobal and Recruiting

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

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

Prediction for Oregon Versus Wisconsin

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

Final Score Prediction: Oregon 31, Wisconsin 21

The Utah Utes are better than the Oregon Ducks

Utah Utes College Football Playoff Week 3

Don’t overlook the Utah Utes

Utah Utes logo

While the Oregon Ducks held onto the spotlight with their seventh-straight win, the Utah Utes deserve more recognition. Granted, the Utes are ranked ninth in the nation, but they still don’t get the love they deserve from Pac-12 fans. With a top defense and an effective offense, the Utah Utes are the best team in the Pac-12.

The Oregon Ducks showed weakness against Washington and Washington State

After dominating opponents for five straight weeks, Oregon slipped. Now, they didn’t lose to Washington or Washington State. But, their wins were too close for a top team.

  • Nevada, Montana, Stanford, Cal and Colorado: 195 Points Scored: 25 Points Allowed
  • Washington and Washington State: 72 Points Scored: 66 Points Allowed

Against Washington and Washington State, Oregon’s point differential dropped from Plus-175 to Plus-6. Their defense bent against Jacob Eason and Anthony Gordon.

Additionally, they also needed heroic wins against the Huskies and Cougars. In Week 8, the Oregon Ducks overcame a 14-point deficit and got the benefit of a late, no-call on the Huskies final drive. Additionally, they needed a last-second field goal to beat the Cougars. Yes, the Ducks got the wins, but it wasn’t pretty.

The Utah Utes get it done on defense

Lights out. Cal couldn’t get anything going against Utah. Similarly, most of Utah’s opponents struggle against the Utes. This season, Utah football is:

Additionally, Utah has PFF’s two highest graded defenders, Julian Blackmon (86) and Terrell Burgess (84). These safeties are just one reason why Utah steamrolls its opponents. Defensively, the Utah Utes have it all. Teams can’t run against them, pass against them or score against them. It’s a deadly squad ready to win a championship.

Quality and consistent on offense

With such a stifling defense, the Utah Utes only need an average offense to compete. A game-manager at quarterback would suffice. Considering that their holding opponents to 10.3 points per game, the offense doesn’t have to do much.

However, Utah’s offense is putting up 33.1 points per game with a quality, balanced, offensive system. In six of their eight games, they’ve scored at least 30 points. Their quarterback, Tyler Huntley, is having a quiet and underrated season. Currently, Huntley has 1,778 passing yards, 10 passing touchdowns, 229 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns and just one interception.

Additionally, per PFF, Huntley ranks first in the nation in Adjusted Completion Percentage. This metric factors out “dropped passes, throwaways, spiked balls, batted passes and passes where the QB was hit as he threw the ball.” His 86.9-percent Adjusted Completion Percentage displays his elite accuracy. Huntley’s 10.3 yards per attempt (6th in nation) and 123.4 passer rating (7th in the nation) show how underrated he is. Huntley is accurate, efficient and elite. Don’t sleep on Tyler Huntley.

Moreover, the Utah Utes utilize their powerful running back, Zack Moss. Moss, per PFF, is forcing a missed tackle on 45-percent of his rush attempts, third highest of the league. His five forced missed tackles and 65 yards after contact in their recent win display this. Moss’ 10 rushing touchdowns lead the Pac-12 and he also rolled up 728 rushing yards. Keep in mind, Utah’s benched Moss multiple times this season in blowout wins. If he played every quarter this season, he’d likely have over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. Moss is a top runner in the nation and the Utah Utes lean on him to close out games.

Move Aside Oregon, it’s time for the Utah Utes to rise

In almost every defensive metric, the Utah Utes are better than the Oregon Ducks. Additionally, quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss are efficient and productive when called upon. They have an elite defense, a strong offense, and every reason to be crowned as the Pac-12 kings.

Best Offensive Performances from Pac-12 Football Week 7

Best Offensive Performances from Pac-12 Football Week 7

Pac-12 Football Lit up the Scoreboards in Week 7

Pac-12 Conference states

Pac-12 Football had big offensive performances, with three teams (Oregon, Washington, Utah) scoring over 45 points. Multiple receivers and running backs found the pay-dirt multiple times. These top-athletes displayed powerful running, big-play ability, and creativity to make the Pac-12 Football’s Best Offensive Performances list.

While many Pac-12 football players had big games, Unafraidshow only has room for one at each position.

Best Offensive Performances from Pac-12 Football Week 7: Quarterback

Jayden Daniels – Arizona State

Though he’s a freshman, Jayden Daniels is ballin. He led the Sun Devils to a big win against the Cougars. He threw for three touchdowns, zero interceptions and showed off his mobility.

On Arizona State’s final drive, Daniels was poised as a senior. He executed play after play. Then, in a moment of brilliance and creativity, Daniels kept the ball and ran it in himself. It’s not every day Pac-12 football fans get to witness a freshman do this. Especially a freshman from the west coast. From San Bernardino to glory, it’s good to watch Jayden Daniels rise.

Running Back

Zack Moss – Utah

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On just five carries, Zack Moss ran for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns. Yes, only five carries. Moss continues to be an underutilized, efficient runner. His five carries yielded yards of:

  • 16 yards
  • 9 yards
  • -1 yards
  • 91 yard touchdown
  • 6 yard touchdown

Moss didn’t even play in the second half. Why? Because the Utes didn’t need him any more. Although in a limited role, Zack Moss showed why he is in the conversation with Eno Benjamin for Pac-12 football’s best back. Moss is powerful and can take any carry to the house.

Wide Receiver

Brandon Aiyuk – Arizona State

There’s fast. And then there’s Brandon Aiyuk fast. As pointed out by Dane Brugler of The Athletic, Aiyuk’s route speed makes him an “underrated NFL prospect” in the 2020 class. With his acceleration and long-speed, Aiyuk torched the Cougars secondary. After a performance like this, Aiyuk’s rank among Pac-12 football receivers surges.

Against WSU, Aiyuk made the most of each target from Jayden Daniels. With 8 targets, he secured 7 receptions for 196 yards and 3 touchdowns. On those, he sped past the Cougars for touchdowns of 40, 86 and 36 yards. It was impressive!

Tight End

Jacob Breeland – Oregon

It is nigh-impossible to remove Jacob Breeland from any best Pac-12 football list. He is just too good at football. Breeland is reliable and can turn any reception into a big play. On the season, Breeland leads NCAA tight ends in receptions-per-game and touchdowns-per-game.

He’s a large target with speed and route-running skills. Like many first and second-round tight ends before him, he’s a matchup nightmare. It’s why Breeland is on scout’s lists as a potential second-round NFL pick in the 2020 draft.

However, after catching a 22-yards reception, Breeland suffered an injury that forced him from the rest of the contest. Mario Cristobal said that his leg injury is serious and will cause him to miss the rest of the season. If healthy, Breeland will get drafted on Day 1 or Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Disagree with the Unafraidshow’s Best Pac-12 football players?

If you disagree with this list, send in your own recommendations. Each week, Unafraidshow will rank the best quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end performances from Pac-12 football. Be sure to comment, tweet Unafraidshow, or email us immad@unafraidshow.com with your favorite moments of each Pac-12 football week.

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

Washington Huskies

Huskies Get Another Bounce-Back Win

University of Washington Block W logo RGB brand colors

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

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

Post-Game Notes from the Huskies Victory

Defense and Special Teams Carried the Huskies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Huskies Finally Involve Puka Nacua

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

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

Huskies vs Ducks

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

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

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

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

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

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