Unafraidshow Bold Prediction: Call football beats USC

California Golden Bears win debut against UC Davis

What the odds say about Cal Football’s chances

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

Why USC Should Win

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

USC’s Offense

Currently, USC’s offense averages:

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

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

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

Star Wide Receivers

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

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

USC’s Defense

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

Why Cal Football will win

Injuries to USC

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

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

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

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

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

Cal Football’s Defensive Strength

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

Chase Garbers is back

Remember Chase Garbers?

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

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

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

Pac-12 Referees at it Again

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

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

Saturday (An Egregious Mistake)

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

Sunday (Incorrect Apology)

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

Tuesday (Where is No. 15???)

Wednesday (6:38 of Game Clock)

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

What this all means for Pac-12 refereeing

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

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

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

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

What are the Worst Pac-12 Referee Mistakes?

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

Pac-12 Football Seasons: 2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 11

Pac-12 football news

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

Three Phases Complement Each Other From the Onset

Colorado Buffaloes Buffs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third Quarter Uneventful, but Defense Falters to Start 4th

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

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

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

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

Image result for colorado vs stanford

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

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

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

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

A Momentum Boost for the Buffaloes Heading Into Bye Week

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

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

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

Searching for the Best Pac-12 NFL Players Around

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

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


Reggie Gilbert – Tennessee Titans

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

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

Arizona State

Terrell Suggs – Arizona Cardinals

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

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

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


Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers

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

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


Isaiah Oliver – Atlanta Falcons

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

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


DeForest Buckner – San Francisco 49ers

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

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

Oregon State

Steven Nelson – Pittsburgh Steelers

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

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


Eric Kendricks – Minnesota Vikings

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


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


Ronald Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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

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


Matt Gay – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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

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


Budda Baker – Arizona Cardinals

Budda Baker was… EVERYWHERE! 

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

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

Washington State

Jalen Thompson – Arizona Cardinals

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

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

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In Ugly Win, Washington Huskies Gain Bowl Eligibility

Joe Tryon Washington Huskies

What Happened to the Washington Huskies Offense?

Against a very beatable Oregon State defense, the Washington Huskies barely scraped together 19 points. In their previous five games, OSU’s defense allowed an average of 33.8 points-per-game to opponents. However, against the odds, they rattled Jacob Eason.

Jacob Eason’s Poor Play

On the day, Washington Huskies’ Jacob Eason completed 16 of 32 passes. Aside from his abysmal 50-percent completion percentage, Eason’s 5.5 yards-per-attempt show how much he struggled. Usually content with letting it fly, Eason wasn’t confident, or accurate, enough to make big plays. At game’s end, Eason amassed just 175 yards and two interceptions. 

Even worse, one of those interceptions was taken to the house by Jaydon Grant.

  • 50-Percent Completion Percentage
  • 175 Passing Yards
  • 5.5 Yards-Per-Attempt
  • Two Interceptions
  • One Pick Six
  • 83.4 Passing Efficiency Rating
  • 27.1 QBR

By far and away his worst game of the season. Eason needs to forget it quickly.

Salvon Ahmed and Hunter Bryant

Thank goodness someone showed up for the Washington Huskies offense. Otherwise, they would have dropped to a .500 record on the season. In their win, Hunter Bryant was his usual self. With five catches and 90 yards, he displayed why he is the top tight end in the nation. Even on the worst day for Eason, Bryant can ball out.

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Additionally, Salvon Ahmed was the Washington Huskies source of strength. He ran the ball 25 times for 174 yards and two scores. More importantly, in the fourth quarter, Ahmed clinched the victory. His 60-yard touchdown was a sigh of relief for every UW fan.

Washington Huskies Dominant Defense

Even though their offense struggled to hold a drive, UW’s defense showed up! They held Oregon State’s offense to 119 yards. Not 119 passing yards or rushing yards. 119 total offensive yards. They suffocated the Beavers.

Impressively, the Washington Huskies forced OSU to punt 10 times, while only allowing six first downs. It was a lights out performance. Additionally, they didn’t give up a single point. If not for Eason’s abhorrent play, UW would have gotten the shut-out.

Before playing the Huskies, Jake Lutton’s 19-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio was second-best in the nation. However, UW’s defense held him to just 88 yards, one interception, zero touchdowns, and an awful 8.5 QBR.

We haven’t seen UW’s defense play like this in some time. It was reminiscent of the 2016 Washington Huskies. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for the Dawgs.

Joe Tryon’s Performance of a Lifetime

Oregon State couldn’t contain Joe Tryon. He was an absolute wrecking ball on defense.

  • 7 tackles
  • 4.5 tackles for a loss
  • 2 sacks
  • Forced a turnover on downs with a fantastic open-field tackle

This was his game. Yes, the rest of the Washington Huskies defense played well. Levi Onwuzurike created disruption after disruption. Additionally, the secondary held up and stifled the pass game. But, if there’s one defensive MVP of the game, it is certainly Joe Tryon.

Take What You Can Get

While not the type of win UW fans want to see, it was still a win. And, with their sixth win of the season, the Washington Huskies are officially bowl-eligible. If they finish out the season strong, Husky fans can at least root for a bowl victory. Granted, this season was a huge letdown. This isn’t the playoff team fans hoped for. But still, it was a good day to be a Husky.

Tyler Huntley is the Best Quarterback in the Pac-12

Utah Utes College Football Playoff Week 3

A Hobbled Tyler Huntley Took Down Washington

It’s unbelievable what Tyler Huntley is doing this season. Against Washington (at Washington), Huntley made play after play. His 85.0 PFF grade and 139.6 Clean Passer Rating show this. Moreover, Huntley was incredible on third down.

Even with Zack Moss averaging 3.7 yards-per-carry, it didn’t matter. Because Tyler Huntley proved he could take over a game. And he did it all on an injured leg!

Leading the Utes to a come-back win against the Huskies solidifies his position at the top of Pac-12 quarterbacks.

Tyler Huntley’s Efficiency

This 2019 season, the Pac-12 has a host of talented quarterbacks. Justin Herbert is currently projected to get drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft. Additionally, Jacob Eason earned praise for his NFL arm-strength and Anthony Gordon leads the FBS in passing yards and passing touchdowns. It’s an excellent year for Pac-12 quarterbacks. However, based off the metrics, it is actually Tyler Huntley that is currently the top Pac-12 quarterback.

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Tyler Huntley’s Impressive Passer Ratings

While Tyler Huntley ranks 30th in passing yards (2,062) and 64th in passing touchdowns (11), his efficiency is off the charts! Currently, Tyler Huntley leads all Pac-12 quarterbacks in Passing Efficiency Rating (182.5), NFL Passer Rating (124.6) and ESPN’s QBR (96.0). His 182.5 Passing Efficiency Rating ranks 5th among qualified FBS quarterbacks. After watching Utah Utes games and pouring over stats, Huntley’s accuracy is phenomenal. This is NFL-level precision. 

Touchdown to Interception Ratio

As said above, Huntley has just 11 passing touchdowns this season. But, he’s only thrown one interception. Additionally, Huntley carried the ball into the end zone four times. His 11-1 touchdown to interception ratio is great, especially considering his four rushing scores.

He’s not a game manager

Whether on broadcasts or Twitter, Tyler Huntley’s been labeled a “game manager”. Because of his lower counting stats (yards and touchdowns), combined with Utah’s defensive and rushing prowess, it’s an easy judgment to make. Though easy, it’s inaccurate.

Game managers don’t let the ball fly like Huntley. They keep passes short and safe. Yes, he doesn’t throw the ball as often as other college quarterbacks. But, when he does, he isn’t afraid to take shots. His 10.8 yards-per-attempt and 11.7 adjusted yards-per-attempt both rank fourth in the nation. No other Pac-12 quarterback tops him in either of those categories. 

Should Tyler Huntley be in the Heisman Conversation?

So, in review, Tyler Huntley ranks higher than all other Pac-12 quarterbacks in:

  • Passing Efficiency Rating
  • NFL Passer Rating
  • ESPN’s QBR
  • Yards-Per-Attempt
  • Adjusted Yards-Per-Attempt

It’s time to give Tyler Huntley the reigns of the Utah Utes offense. Let him show Pac-12 and the rest of college football what he’s made of. He’s already proven that he can be efficient and productive when called upon. Huntley, even with a bum-leg, can carry his team. If he leads his team to a Pac-12 title and college football playoffs, he has to be in the conversation.

Huntley is accurate, efficient, impressive and leads a strong offense. He’s an elite college quarterback and should be treated as such.

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

Pac-12 NFL Week Nine

Pac-12 NFL players are Still Shining in the Spotlight

Pac-12 wordmark

Unafraidshow, due to popular demand, is once again going College by College to give the best Pac-12 NFL players Week Nine. Each school gets at least one alumni and top-performer. No one is left out. Even if Washington can’t finish a game, at least Husky fans can watch Shaq Thompson light up defenders. Stanford fans tired of losing? Watch Christian McCaffrey put defenders on skates. It’s still a good year to be a Pac-12 NFL fan.

The Best Pac-12 NFL Performances, Program by Program


Dane Cruikshank – Tennessee Titans

Unfortunately, Dane Cruikshank wasn’t able to tackle Colin Jones on the Carolina Panthers’ fake punt. While Cruikshank hit Jones shy of the first down, Jones pushed to the first down.

However, aside from that painful moment, Cruikshank played well on special teams. He totaled two tackles (one solo) and a blocked PAT. It wasn’t the best game for the special-teamer. But, he still made plays when he could.

Arizona State

Lawrence Guy – New England Patriots

Lamar Jackson is an unbelievable talent. Even with Russell Wilson in the NFL, no other quarterback is as elusive as Jackson. He consistently makes plays with his legs that no other player could. And yet, Lawrence Guy (Pac-12 NFL standout) was able to get to him.

On 53 offensive snaps, Guy compiled:

  • Four tackles (2 solo)
  • Two tackles for a loss
  • Two quarterback hits
  • One sack
  • One stuff
  • One fumble recovery

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Mychal Kendricks – Seattle Seahawks

In a 40 to 34 win against the Buccaneers, the Seahawks defense didn’t show up in a dominant way. However, Mychal Kendricks was a Pac-12, NFL difference maker . He came away with four tackles (three solo), one pass defended, one stuff and one tackle for a loss.

But, his biggest play came against left tackle Donovan Smith. Kendricks bull-rushed Smith into Jameis Winston. It forced a fumble and Rasheem Green recovered it and returned it 36 yards. All in all, it was an excellent showing for the linebacker.


Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos

As a running back, Phillip Lindsay has so much going against him. 

  • Size: 5-foot-7, 184lbs
  • Drafted Capital: Undrafted
  • Snap Share: 51.4-percent

Nonetheless, Lindsay and his 4.44 wheels make splash plays again and again. How could Pac-12 NFL fans root against him? Efficiently, Lindsay finished the day with 9 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown. Lindsay also created 40 yards and evaded two tackles. He was instrumental in the Denver Broncos’ 24 to 19 win against the Cleveland Browns. 


Justin Hollins – Denver Broncos

In the 24 to 19 win, Justin Hollins played 24 snaps and totaled just two tackles. However, it was a big day for Hollins.

Regardless of all other stats, Justin Hollins gets the credit today because he claimed his first sack. The fifth-round rookie out of Oregon took down quarterback Baker Mayfield and earned his big moment.

Oregon State

Matt Moore – Kansas City Chiefs

Yet again, Matt Moore impressed. In his three games (two started), Matt Moore’s stats include:

  • 59 completions on 90 attempts (65.56-percent)
  • 659 yards
  • 4 touchdowns
  • Zero interceptions
  • 102.0 Passer Rating
  • Two wins

This week, against the Vikings, Moore completed 71.4-percent of his passes with an average yards-per-attempt of 7.9. It was by far his best game. Additionally, even though he was hurried four times, he didn’t throw an interception. Moore is exactly what the Kansas City Chiefs needed while Patrick Mahomes is healing.


Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers

Come on man. Christian McCaffrey’s success makes it impossible to give anyone else from Stanford a highlight. 166 yards, 3 touchdowns, 5 evaded tackles. My goodness man. Will the carnage ever stop?

He’s this generations Marshall Faulk or LaDainian Tomlinson. In 2019, McCaffrey is playing at a level far above every other running back. We all get to witness his greatness. Stanford, well done. You’ve got the best Pac-12 NFL running back.


Kolton Miller – Oakland Raiders


Kolton Miller keeps it a hundred. Because, Miller played every offensive snap of the Oakland Raiders first nine weeks. He’s their best offensive lineman and he continues to show promise.

Against the Detroit Lions, Miller and the offensive line set the stage. They racked up 171 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns and allowed just 1 sack. It was a great day for the second-year tackle.


Tyron Smith – Dallas Cowboys

Even with two weak holding penalties, the New York Giants still couldn’t do much against Tyron Smith. Against the free-falling Giants, the Dallas Cowboys rolled up 172 rushing yards and also kept Dak Prescott clean. Prescott, without being sacked, was able to pass for three touchdowns, while Ezekiel Elliott ran for 139 yards on 23 carries.

Smith, at 28 years old, is still a great offensive tackle. Even in an off-year, he owns a 74.5 PFF grade. On the season, he’s been penalized five times and has allowed just one sack. He’s a dominant force on the Cowboys offensive line. Prescott and Elliott are lucky to have him.


Eric Rowe – Miami Dolphins

Oh. My. Goodness. The Miami Dolphins won a game! Can you believe it?

Well, in that game, Eric Rowe stood out. He helped keep Sam Darnold and the New York Jets at bay. Primarily covering tight-end Ryan Griffin when in coverage, he was only targeted once. It wasn’t completed.

Additionally, Rowe added four tackles (three solo) and was on the field for 97-percent of the Dolphins defensive snaps. Though the Dolphins are in tank-mode, at least Rowe is making his presence known.


Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers

Though Halloween is over, Shaq Thompson is still a monster. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill knows this first hand. Versus the Tennessee Titans, Thompson was everywhere. He racked up:

  • 11 tackles (10 solo)
  • 2 stuffs
  • 3 sackles for a loss
  • One quarterback hit
  • One sack

It was by far his best game of the season. Next week, the Green Bay Packers have to keep Aaron Rodgers and company away from this beast.

Washington State

Andre Dillard – Philadelphia Eagles

It goes without saying that Khalil Mack is elite. Nevertheless, Andre Dillard locked him down. He limited Mack to just one quarterback hit and zero sacks or forced fumbles.

How about that? A 24-year old rookie went toe to toe with Khalil Mack and got the better of him. Dillard looks like a stud left tackle and a future pro bowler.

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Pac-12 Football Seasons: Colorado Buffaloes Week 10

Pac-12 NFL Draft 2020

Watching the Colorado Buffaloes in Week 10 left fans teetering on the edge and get to the breaking point. A bad start and inconsistencies in all three phases doomed the Buffaloes, as they left the Rose Bowl with a 31-14 loss to the UCLA Bruins in College Football Week 10? The Buffaloes did get good news via Mel Tucker’s Twitter:

Bad Start Dooms the Colorado Buffaloes

The offense looked out of sync all night. Alex Fontenot, the starting running back, was inactive. The offense received the kickoff. Hoping for a first-possession jolt they have rarely got on the road in Pac-12 play, they went three and out.

The defense came into the game as the worst third down defense in the Pac-12, letting opponents convert 49.5% of the time. They got gashed on the first drive, and did not look ready to play. This start was frustrating considering how they played in their previous two road games against Oregon and Washington State, getting outscored 86-13.

Steven Montez Buffaloes 2019 season

Before anyone could blink, the Buffaloes were down 10-0. Matters got even worse as Steven Montez threw an interception. UCLA scored on the very next play to take a 17-0 lead. This interception was increasingly frustrating because K.D. Nixon looked to be open earlier in the route. Montez decided to wait until he had met up with UCLA defenders to throw it.

It was still the first quarter, and the Buffaloes looked like they had not fixed what has caused their terrible road starts in Pac-12 play. The Buffaloes did not pick up a first down until there was 3:35 left in the first quarter, and looked like they were going to get pummeled. In fact, they would not cross midfield until early in the second quarter. The Colorado Buffaloes have too much offensive talent for this to be acceptable.

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Offensive, Defensive, and Special Teams Inconsistencies

Laviska Shenault did not have nearly the same impact he had a week ago against USC (9 receptions, 172 yards, 1 TD). Against UCLA, he had three receptions for 16 yards and a 15-yard run on a wildcat play. Injuries have limited his availability, but it is frustrating when the star of the team has such a limited impact even when he is out on the field.

Trailing 17-0, Montez would have a rushing touchdown in the 2nd quarter to put the Buffaloes on the board. He would add a passing touchdown in the fourth quarter. He was inconsistent the whole night, as there were aspects of his game that simply not good enough. The running game was effective in spurts, but backup running back Jaren Mangham was never able to take over the game.

Colorado buffaloes week 10

The offense drove into UCLA territory to end the first half, and had a chance to cut the lead to 17-10. However, James Stefanou missed a 47-yard field goal, and the Buffaloes were unable to keep the momentum they built off of the touchdown drive where Montez scored. 

Buffaloes Defense Improves Throughout Game, But Can’t Get Rid of Dubious Streak

The defense held their own after the first quarter, as they forced UCLA to punt on three straight possessions in the second quarter. It looked as if the Buffaloes would have a chance to get back into the game. If the defense played well, the offense would get their opportunities to get back into the game. Carson Wells got an interception in UCLA territory to start the 2nd half, but James Stefanou would miss another field goal, this time a 29-yarder.

Consequently, the defense could not get rid of their dubious, now 14-game streak of allowing 30+ points to opposing teams. Sure, some things went better after the first quarter for the Buffaloes. Despite their effort, the first quarter set them back in every regard. They were unable to establish their presence even if one might consider them equal to UCLA as far as talent is concerned.

Bad Pac-12 Conference Road Losses Put 2019 Buffaloes Season On Brink

Overall, this game was hard to watch. It was a rehash of road losses in the Pac-12 from previous seasons and this season alike. There was never really a moment where it felt like momentum could completely swing in the Buffaloes’ favor. Unfortunately, the same miscues that led to two consecutive 5-7 campaigns in 2017 and 2018 have bled over into this season. Even worse, this talented Buffaloes team may finish with an even worse record than their two predecessors.

Mel Tucker is tasked with the challenge of creating a new norm. He has been able to coach the players up well, and they have shown up in front of their home fans. However, the team has always struggled on the road in Pac-12 play since joining the conference, and they have only had one true breakthrough win on the road in the Pac-12. In 2016 against Oregon, they won 41-38 and catapulted themselves to a Pac-12 South title. That was supposed to be the new normal, and everyone thought the rise of Colorado football was real that season. The more this Buffaloes team loses, the more that season looks like an anomaly in 15 years of inferiority regardless of the conference the Buffaloes have been in.

Looking ahead to Colorado Buffaloes Week 11

In College Football Week 11, the Buffaloes will be back home for homecoming week against the Stanford Cardinal. They are currently 3.5-point underdogs for this game, but the Buffaloes could certainly win this game. This game presents another opportunity for the Buffaloes to show they belong on the field with one of the name brands in the conference of champions. Stanford has had an up-and-down season, sitting at 4-4. The game is of the utmost importance as far as bowl eligibility, as the Buffaloes need to win out at this point to make a bowl game sitting at 3-6.         

Washington Can’t Finish a Game. Can They Finish a Season?

Washington Huskies Week 10

Washington Football and Missed Expectations

After nine games, it’s crystal clear that the Washington Huskies have problems. Their five and four record exemplifies that. Even worse, the Huskies are two and four in Pac-12 conference games. For fans, it feels like a lost season. Expectations were as high as College Football Playoffs but fell to hopes of any bowl appearance.

UW Can’t finish games

Against Cal, Washington led 19-17 with just two minutes and five seconds left. Versus Oregon, the Huskies were up 28-14 in the second half. Most recently, against Utah, UW was up 21-13 in the third quarter.

And yet, Washington lost each of these games. They collapsed. In the first halves, the Huskies look dominant as can be. Eason and company, as well as the defense, make play after play. But then, once the game is on the line, something shifts. 2019 is full of difficult and painful learning opportunities.

But, here’s the ugliest part of it all. Each of these losses came at home. They lost three games, after leading inside Husky Stadium. Even with home-field advantage (evidenced by referee favor in “Scorecasting” by Tobias Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim), Washington couldn’t close out games. Honestly, who wants to go to a Husky game if they keep losing at home?

Washington’s hopes for a bowl game

Thankfully, because Washington isn’t a dreadful team, they still should make a bowl game. According to experts, Washington will play in the Alamo, Holiday or Redbox Bowl.. Kyle Bonagura from ESPN predicts UW to play in the Alamo Bowl against Baylor. Also from ESPN, Mark Schlabach thinks that the Huskies will land in the Holiday Bowl versus Michigan. Joe Tansey from Bleacher Report has Washington playing against Michigan State in the Holiday Bowl. Jerry Palm of CBS Sports projects UW to face off against Indiana in the Redbox Bowl.

If nothing else, a bowl win is a great way to finish the season.

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Hopes for next season

Pray that Jacob Eason stays

First off, it goes without saying that Washington needs Jacob Eason to stay. He hasn’t been perfect, but my goodness has he had his moments.

Unfortunately, Jacob Eason is a top quarterback prospect in the 2020 NFL draft. Walter Football ranks him fourth among eligible quarterbacks. Additionally, drafttek.com has Eason at 50th overall and their sixth quarterback. He’s a strong, NFL prospect. Considering the turmoil in the NFL right now with quarterbacks and the success of Gardner Minshew, Eason will get drafted early if he enters the 2020 draft.

Play young talent

It took too long to get Puka Nacua involved. For some reason, Chris Peterson continued to play seniors over more talented receivers. Granted, it’s easy to trust seniority over raw talent. But, according to many beat reporters and scouts, Puka Nacua turned heads in practices. Then, once inserted into games, he displayed playmaking abilities. Improper self-scouting cost Washington points.

Because the Huskies lose Aaron Fuller, Andre Baccellia, Chico McClatcher and likely Hunter Bryant this season, it will force them to play different receivers on offense. But, Nacua is just one wide receiver highlighting a larger issue. The Huskies need to prioritize talent and upside over age and safety.

Better execution on third down

On third down this season, the Huskies converted 41 of 115 opportunities (35.65-percent). Some of the most painful punts to watch were followed by game-changing drives by Cal, Oregon, and Utah. Better innovation is needed. Which, considering Washington’s two and four record in Pac-12 games, should be an obvious desire. UW knows these opponents. It shouldn’t be this difficult to game-plan against familiar opponents.

Less field goals, more touchdowns for Washington

This season, in the red zone, Washington scored 21 touchdowns and kicked 13 field goals. Against competitive teams, UW settled for safety and squandered their winning chances. Of note, the Huskies are 14 of 21 (66.67-percent) on fourth down this season. Why not go for it more often? They certainly can’t do worse than this season.

Best Pac-12 NFL Players: Week 8 Offensive Standouts

Best Pac-12 NFL Players: Week 7 Offensive Standouts

It’s a Good Day to Be a Pac-12 NFL Fan

This weekend, Pac-12 football fans got it all. Oregon and Washington State certainly lit up the field offensively. The Ducks are currently ranked 6th in Unafraidshow’s College Football Rankings. Likewise, many Pac-12 NFL players gave us memorable performances in week 8. Here they are!

Best Quarterback Performance

Gardner Minshew II – Washington State – Jacksonville Jaguars

Minshew magic is back! Let’s go!

Unlike the rest of football fans, Pac-12 NFL fans knew that Minshew was for real. We knew a long time ago. It’s just great to see everyone else accept it.

Against a competent New York Jets defense, Minshew didn’t flinch. He compiled 279 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. He also let the Jets sack him twice. But, for those who watched the game, his pocket-presence is next level. Minshew’s movement in the pocket and ability to extend plays is incredible.

Last, and definitely important, Minshew threw zero interceptions. Again. Overall, he has just 2 interceptions and 13 touchdowns this season. The sixth-round rookie is playing far above any expectation.

Gardner Minshew for Rookie of the Year!

Best Running Back Performance

Christian McCaffrey – Stanford – Carolina Panthers

Against the league’s second-best defense (New England Patriots are clear first), the Carolina Panthers flopped. They only scored 13 points, while the 49ers rolled through 51 points. However, that didn’t stop all-star, Pac-12 NFL running back Christian McCaffrey from creating highlights.

This season, McCaffrey’s durability and production is incredible. His 2019 stats include:

Keep rolling RUN-CMC.

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Best Wide Receiver Performance

Juju Smith-Schuster – USC – Pittsburgh Steelers

To say that this season has been rough for the Pittsburgh Steelers is to say the least. After a promising 2017 season and a breakout 2018 season, everyone was ready for Juju Smith-Schuster to keep the hype train going. With the departure of Antonio Brown (to mental illness?), Smith-Schuster was primed for an elite 2019 campaign.

But, all hope went down with Ben Roethlisberger. However, Smith-Schuster still has the ability to pop on the field. In week 8, he cleared the 100-yard mark for the first time this season. Granted, this week he played the Miami Dolphins (#tankfortua), but he’s a good wide receiver.

His plus-16.5 (No. 20) Production Premium and plus-39.2-percent Target Premium (No. 10) show that he still has talent, but he’s just trapped on an anemic offense.

Best Tight End Performance

Austin Hooper – Stanford – Atlanta Falcons

Even with Matt Schaub under center, Austin Hooper was a baller. He reeled in 6 of 7 targets for 65 yards and a touchdown. He was one reason why the Pac-12 NFL fans didn’t switch channels. Hooper’s late score helped the Falcons attempt a last-minute comeback (or at least cover the a plus-7.5 spread).

Honestly, look at those stats. Among tight ends, Hooper is:

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