Pac-12 Apostles Podcast: Power Shift- The Rise of UCLA and the Fall of the North

In this episode of the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast, George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden get into all of the action in week one, including a disastrous showing by the schools up north, though George thinks the Pac-12 at least outperformed the ACC. Who put on the worst coaching clinic- Justin Wilcox, Nick Rolovich, or Jimmy Lake? The guys get into their Pac-12 power rankings, and are unified at the top after UCLA’s dominant performance against LSU. Finally, Previews and picks for the upcoming week 2 slate of games.

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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.

The Best Pac-12 NFL Players: Week 12’s Performers From Each School

Pac-12 NFL Players

Vita Vea displayed versatility to headline Pac-12 NFL standouts

This week in football, Pac-12 NFL fans were treated to a rare gem: a 347-pound player scoring an offensive touchdown. Everyone loves it when defensive players catch touchdown passes. Who else joined Vita Vea with top Pac-12 NFL Week 12 performances?

The Big List of Pac-12 NFL Performers, College by College

Arizona

Nick Foles – Jacksonville Jaguars

Honestly, it’s a tough year for Arizona. Each and every week, it’s a difficult school to find Pac-12 NFL talent. This week, Foles was alright. Not great. But not horrible. He completed 66.7-percent of his passes for 272 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. It’s weeks like this that make fans wish the Jags would have stuck with Gardner Minshew.

However, there aren’t any significant Arizona options in the NFL right now. Therefore, it’s Nick Foles beating a low bell-curve. 

Arizona State

N’Keal Harry – New England Patriots

Now, we’re not going to try and paint N’Keal Harry a Pro-Bowler. But, he reached a big milestone this Sunday. In the first quarter, N’Keal Harry caught the game’s lone touchdown. It was his very first touchdown and hopefully there will be many more. 

In college, N’Keal Harry’s 43.9-percent (89th-percentile) College Dominator and 18.7 (95th-percentile) Breakout Age were collegiate elite. Combine that with a 134.5 (98th-percentile) SPARK-x Score and first-round draft pedigree. All to go along with playing snaps for the New England Patriots dynasty. N’Keal Harry’s stock will only go up from here.

Cal

Mychal Kendricks – Seattle Seahawks

11 solo tackles. Against the Philadelphia Eagles, Mychal Kendricks was a sure-tackler. He locked up the middle of the field and helped keep the Eagles to just 9 points. 

Kendricks also made one tackle for a loss. It wasn’t a pretty win for the Seahawks. But, it was a win nonetheless. And, the defense held up well to a receiver-less Eagles offense. Kendricks double-digit tackle total was a large part of that win.

Colorado

Jimmy Smith – Baltimore Ravens

Earlier this season, the Baltimore Ravens secondary was exploitable. Now, with the addition of Marcus Peters and a healthy Jimmy Smith, the Ravens are once again difficult to face. On Monday night, the Ravens dominated the Rams.

In their easy win, Jimmy Smith made big plays. Not only did he sack quarterback Jared Goff, but he intercepted the ball to seal the game. Jimmy Smith is a great Pac-12 NFL representative. 

Oregon

Arik Armstead – San Francisco 49ers

Oh my. All quarterbacks should fear Arik Armstead. Incredibly, Armstead hit quarterback Aaron Rodgers four times and sacked him twice. His defensive pressure is a great asset for the San Francisco 49ers.

On the season, Armstead now has:

  • 10 Sacks
  • 13 Quarterback Hits
  • 38 Tackles
  • 10 Tackles for a Loss
  • 2 Forced Fumbles
  • One Fumble Recovery
  • 88.8 PFF Grade

Oregon State

Steven Nelson – Pittsburgh Steelers

https://twitter.com/Nelson_Island/status/1199001228581253125

This year, Steven Nelson is low-key having a great season. He’s top-24 in Player Profiler’s Coverage Rating, Receptions Allowed, Catch Rate Allowed and Yards Allowed. Additionally, Nelson owns a 77.2 PFF grade.

It’s a great year for him. Against 42 targets, he’s allowed just 20 receptions. He’s an underrated corner climbing to the top of his game. Sitting at six and five, the Steelers are on the hunt for a playoff spot. They need Nelson to keep churning out solid games.

Stanford

Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers

It’s just not fair. No one can tackle Christian McCaffrey one-on-one. Even against a stout defense with a backup quarterback, McCaffrey finds a way to score. Although the Saints held him to just 64 yards on 22 carries, he still added 9 receptions for 69 yards a touchdown.

Almost every week, McCaffrey climbs to the top of Pac-12 NFL performers. He’s such a unique talent at the position. His combination of power, agility and pass-catching keep him at the top of running back lists.

UCLA

Fabian Moreau – Washington Redskins

Up until this game, Fabian Moreau played mostly slot-corner in the NFL. However, moved to outside cornerback against the Lions, he was finally able to show off his skillset. On the day, Moreau racked up six tackles and two pass break-ups. 

But, his biggest plays came on his two interceptions. Moreau displayed an ability to jump routes and track the deep-ball. Moreover, he did what many corners can’t. He held onto the ball and earned his team possession. Well done Mr. Moreau.

USC

Sam Darnold – New York Jets

It’s been an up and down season for the Jets. But, just like last season, Sam Darnold is closing out the season well. This time, he torched the Oakland Raiders and didn’t let off the gas. 

Darnold accumulated:

  • 315 Passing Yards
  • 2 Passing Touchdowns
  • 16 Rushing Yards
  • One Rushing Touchdown

His 83.5 QBR and 127.8 Passer Rating were both season highs. Darnold and the Jets are now on a three-game win streak. Also, keep in mind that Darnold is still only 22 years old. We still have years to go with this young, Pac-12 NFL quarterback. Provided he doesn’t get Mono again next season, New York has it’s quarterback.

Utah

Star Lotulelei – Buffalo Bills

Although his stat line from Week 11 was more impressive, Star Lotulelei had another impactful game in Week 12. Against the Denver Broncos, Lotulelei recorded another solo sack. Back-to-back weeks with a full sack. In his seven-year career, Lotulelei’s career-best is four sacks in 2016. 

It would be nice to see him beat that total by closing out the year with a streak. Granted, his sacks came against Miami and Denver. So, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be able to continue this fun. However, in the final quarter of the NFL season, why not root for an underdog?

Washington

Vita Vea – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Everyone loves it when the big guy scores. And Vita Vea is one large, athletic specimen. Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 347lbs, Vea is a monster of a man. 

In their win against Atlanta, Vea caught a one-yard pass from Jameis Winston for the touchdown. That puts his career catch percentage at 100-percent. Of course it’s just one target. But, it’s reminiscent of Mike Vrable’s receiving.

Additionally, Vita Vea managed to record two tackles, two pass break-ups and one sack. It was an excellent game for the big guy and a highlight Pac-12 NFL fans will be talking about all season.

Washington State

Deone Bucannon – New York Giants

Unfortunately, Deone Bucannon injured his ankle in Week 12’s loss to the Chicago Bears. However, before he left the game, Bucannon recorded five tackles. One of which was an impressive defensive stop against Tarik Cohen. If he didn’t make the stop, Cohen would have likely run for more than just a first down.

In 2019, this was Bucannon’s first game with more than one tackle. During weeks 9, 10 and 12, Bucannon played 36 to 39-percent of defensive snaps. His move from special teams to defense for the New York Giants, along with his five tackles, are a bright spot for Cougar fans.

Miss Week 11’s Top Pac-12 NFL Performances? Read them here:

https://unafraidshow.com/the-best-pac-12-nfl-players-week-11-top-performers-from-each-school/

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.

Miss Last Week’s Pac-12 Football Performances?

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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.

Pac-12 Football Seasons: 2019 Oregon Ducks Week 6

Johnny Johnson III Oregon Ducks wide receiver 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 Oregon Ducks Strengths

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

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

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

2019 Oregon Ducks Weaknesses

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

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

Offensive MVP: Offensive lineman Penei Sewell

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

Defensive MVP: Safety Jevon Holland

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

Most Surprising Player: Wide receiver Johnny Johnson III

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

2019 Oregon Ducks Bye Week

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

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

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

Why the 2019 UW Football Team isn’t Done Yet

2019 UW Football Washington Huskies

UW Football is Back in the Mix

Just two weeks ago, after a heartbreaking loss to Cal, everyone, Unafraidshow included, thought that UW football was out. In that loss, Washington was reluctant to score touchdowns and ultimately failed offensively. In a tight race for College Football Playoffs, in-conference losses like that make or break a season.

However, somehow, UW football is still in the mix. They are the No. 17 team in the nation, third to California (No. 15) and Oregon (No. 13). Even with the loss to Cal, Washington is showing signs that they can fight for the Pac-12 North.

The Washington Huskies Offense is Rolling

UW’s Jacob Eason

https://twitter.com/ftbeard_17/status/1175502359859843072

“I mean, he’s an NFL quarterback.”

“He’s got the size, the arm, and everything. When he’s dialed in on the plays and his reads and things like that, he’s one of the greats.”

Aaron Fuller

In a dominant win, Jacob Eason dismantled through the air. He was precise, making tight-window after tight-window throw. In the first half, Eason had a streak of 13-consecutive completions. Additionally, Eason displayed a big arm and a knack for making big plays out of nothing.

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Efficiently, Eason finished 24 of 28 with 290 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He continues to impress scouts, fans and the Pac-12 alike.

The Rest of the UW Football Offense

Aside from the Huskies loss to Cal, Eason and the UW offense looks incredible. The two-headed rush attack of Sean McGrew and Richard Newton is consistent and powerful. But, the receivers are making the big difference. Aaron Fuller is making big plays, both in the receiving game and on special teams.

Adding to Fuller’s playmaking are seniors Andre Baccellia and Hunter Bryant. While Baccellia is certainly having a solid start of the season, Hunter Bryant continues to be the most difficult man to cover. Bryant is too big, too strong for a defensive back. But, he’s also too fast and shifty for a linebacker to try and cover him. He’s looking more and more like a first or second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

If the offense continues to make big plays, UW football will be the one to beat. 

Strength of Schedule

In the Pac-12 North, UW football is competing with Oregon and Cal for the top spot. After reviewing their rest of season schedules, there are some intriguing findings.

AP Ranked Opponents:

  • Cal: 3 (Oregon, USC, Utah)
  • Oregon: 3 (Cal, USC, Washington)
  • UW: 3 (Oregon, USC, Utah)

Shared Opponents:

  • Cal & Oregon Share 4 Opponents
  • Oregon & UW Share 5 Opponents
  • Cal & UW Share 6 opponents

Rest of Season Competitors Record

  • Cal: 18-13
  • Oregon: 22-8
  • UW: 19-11

First, it should be noted that anything can happen in the Pac-12. If this season has proven anything, it’s that the Pac-12 is full of cannibals. No team is safe in-conference.

Second, it’s important to note that UW football and Cal have much easier schedules than Oregon. But, the overall record (4-0) and strength of schedule still side with Cal. 

UW Football and Cal have the edge over Oregon

Last, Oregon has to play both Washington and Cal. In order to get a top spot, Oregon has to make it past both of them. That’s going to be quite difficult based off of recent play. The overall edge still goes to Cal in their schedule. But, UW football fans can take solace in the similarities between Cal and UW’s rest of season. If Cal slips, UW can leap them.