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.

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

New Pac-12 NFL Blood

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

Arizona

Nick Folk – New England Patriots

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

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

Arizona State

Lawrence Guy – New England Patriots

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

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

Subscribe to the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast

Cal

Cameron Jordan – New Orleans Saints

Through 10 games, Cameron Jordan’s racked up:

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

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

Colorado

Josh Tupou – Cincinnati Bengals

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

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

Oregon

Kenjon Barner – Atlanta Falcons

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

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

Oregon State

Jordan Poyer – Buffalo Bills

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

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

Stanford

Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers

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

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

UCLA

Eric Kendricks – Minnesota Vikings

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

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

USC

Sam Darnold – New York Jets

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

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

Utah

Marcus Williams – New Orleans Saints

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

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

Washington

Danny Shelton – New England Patriots

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

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

Washington State

Jalen Thompson – Arizona Cardinals

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

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

Miss Week 10’s Best Pac-12 NFL Performances?

https://unafraidshow.com/the-best-pac-12-nfl-players-week-10-top-performers-from-each-school/

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.

https://twitter.com/JimmyClarke/status/1189005033653882882

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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Oregon vs. Stanford 2019 – The Ducks fly past sinking Stanford

Pac-12 Football Review: Oregon leads 2020 recruiting, BYU Games, KJ Costello

Oregon vs. Stanford 2019 was another in the series of two relatively new Pac-12 heavyweights. And yet, this iteration felt different.

The Stanford Cardinal have had a nightmarish start to the season, after winning the opener to Northwestern the Cardinal have lost three straight games including a 21-6 loss at home to the University of Oregon.

First Half

Facing a Ducks team ranked #16 in the nation and led by Heisman candidate Justin Herbert, the Cardinal would attempt to right the ship. Receiving the opening kickoff, the Cardinal drove 61 yards in 12 plays in 6:21 seconds, primarily off the legs of running back Cameron Scarlett. Unable to punch the ball into the endzone Stanford would settle for a field goal, taking a 3-0 lead.

The Cardinal defense was the one of a few bright spots on the day, keeping Herbert under 300 yards passing (19/24 259yards 3TDs). The Stanford defense also held Oregon’s rushing attack to 61 total yards. They harassed Herbert all game long, totaling four sacks and piled up seven tackles for loss.

On the Ducks third possession, however, Oregon found something exploitable in the Cardinal defense. Herbert hit wide receiver Jaylon Redd on a crossing route and he outraces the coverage for 36 yards and a lead changing score. Oregon went 55 yards on 2 plays, using only :35 off the clock to take a 7-3 lead. With his second completion, Herbert broke 8,000 yards passing. He also extended his streak of games with a passing TD to 32.

Still, the Cardinal were not out. Unfortunately their offense couldn’t get going, or even out of its own way. Osiris St. Brown was called for a chop block, costing Stanford 15 yards and seriously impairing the momentum. Two runs and an incompletion later and the Cardinal had to punt on 4th and 12 from their 33.

Stanford’s defense, meanwhile, continued to smother the gun and pistol stretch runs which the Ducks are known for. However, getting off the field on third downs remained a major problem. On two consecutive third-and-longs the Cardinal allowed the Ducks to convert. This led to an eventual score.

On the next possession the Cardinal found momentum as halftime approached. But on the eighth play of the drive at the Oregon 39 yard line, quarterback K.J. Costello was sacked. And after the original play was ruled a fumble returned for a TD, upon official review it was ruled Costello’s knee and elbow were down. The sack counted but the scoop and score did not.

With the offense stifled by Oregon’s defense, the Ducks had another shot. Herbert threw for gains of 24 yards, 16 yards, and 16 yards. The final was a TD pass to tight end Jacob Breeland on a back shoulder throw and catch to open up the lead. 14-3 Ducks.

2nd Half

Heading into the second half the Cardinal had hope. Their first drive showed they could play against Oregon’s stout defense and a 14-3 score was not insurmountable.

But after stopping the Ducks’ offense on their first drive of the second half, Stanford started the third quarter moving backwards.One false start, one delay of game penalty, a completion for 0 yards, a sack of 8 yards, and a 6 yard run. All preceded an opening drive punt for the Cardinal.

The Ducks, believing in either their defense or Stanford’s offensive futility — or a combination of the two — were content to continue running the clock. Stanford had 181 yards of total offense with no touchdowns heading into the 4th quarter. Scarlett, the lone offensive bright spot, had 91 yards on 17 carries. Only Austin Jones and St. Brown had more than 20 yards of receptions for the Cardinal.

This offensive futility was highlighted by a Costello interception that led to Oregon’s third TD of the game. After Oregon safety Jevon Holland intercepted Costello, Herbert marched the Ducks down the field. He connected with Breeland once again for a 24-yard TD, the second of Breeland’s day and 172nd of Herbert’s career.

Now down 21-3, Stanford needed something to get any momentum back.

Moving the offense down the field, Costello had his biggest play of the game on a 25 yard pass to M. Wilson. After Scarlett added 6 yards on a run, Costello once again hit Wilson for 14 yards on another slant, bringing the Cardinals into the redone for just the second time of the afternoon. An incompletion into the end zone was followed by a loss of three on a screen. Costello was then sacked on 3rd and 13 by Lamar Winston Jr., forcing a field goal attempt. Fortunately for Stanford, kicker Jeff Toner connected. With time bleeding away, Stanford was down 21-6.

Needing to score quickly and get the ball back, Stanford attempted an onside kick. They did not convert, and saw Oregon drive 41 yards on 7 plays. This put the Ducks in field goal range. Fortunately for the Cardinal, Oregon missed. With 5:35 seconds left in the game the Cardinal took possession at their 20 yard line down 21-6.

But after starting out with a nice pass on first down for a first down, the Cardinal offense failed to convert a fourth down, giving the Ducks the ball and the opportunity to run more off the clock. And while they did punt to Stanford, Costello and Stanford had no time. He was sacked for the last play of the game, an appropriate ending for the way the game played throughout.

Oregon vs. Stanford 2019 Final Thoughts

Costello finished the game 16/30 for 120 yards 0TDS and 1 INT. Scarlett carried the ball 19 times for 97 yards and 0 TDs. Stanford’s leading receiver was Michael Wilson with 61 yards on 5 catches. The Cardinal are in desperate need of offense and help doesn’t appear to be on the way.

Pac-12 College Football Playoff Chances Entering Week 2

2019 UW Football Washington Huskies

College football week one was a mixed-bag of results for the Pac-12 Conference. Not counting Arizona’s tough humiliating loss to Hawaii, the Pac-12 went 8-3 in week one. Not bad. The conference did, however, see the Oregon Ducks fall to Auburn, potentially hurting the chances of having a Pac-12 College Football Playoff representative.

Fortunately there’s a lot of football to be played. Oregon is by no means eliminated from the playoff, and most of the other conference contenders took care of business appropriately.

Pac-12 teams enter week two with no big headline non-conference matchups outside of Nebraska vs. Colorado. There are, however, huge games in California vs. Washington and Stanford vs. USC. Both of these will have conference and College Football Playoff ramifications.

That said, here are the teams will the best chances of being a Pac-12 College Football Playoff representative entering week 2.

1. Utah Utes

Utah’s defense looked scary good against BYU. Limiting the Cougars to 300 yards total (208 yards passing, 92 yards on the ground), the Utes were stifling, exciting and showed why they’ll be what carries Utah through the season.

A defensive battle for much of the game, Utah scored twice off interceptions returned for touchdowns. The first came with 10:17 left in the first half, and the other with 12:25 left in the fourth. While both were crucial, the second came moments after the Utes executed a 3-play, 22 yard touchdown drive after recovering a fumble. The back-to-back scored put Utah up 30-6 and the game away for good.

If Utah’s defense is as tenacious as they looked against BYU, their lofty expectations to win the Pac-12 may be justified. And if Zack Moss can carry the offensive load, they may very well be the conference’s best shot at a Pac-12 College Football Playoff team.

2. Washington Huskies

Give credit where credit is due. There were plenty of questions surrounding Washington quarterback Jacob Eason heading into week one. A Georgia transfer who beat out Jake Haener, some questioned Chris Petersen’s decision to roll with Eason at QB. He has the arm talent, but are the other skills there? A 349 yard, four touchdown performance was his answer.

Now, this was against Eastern Washington. They’re a decent program but shouldn’t compete with the best of the Pac-12. Still, Eason’s outstanding debut can’ be ignored. The quarterback was impressive.

More impressive, however, was Washington’s defense. They held the Eagles to just 63 yards on the ground and despite no turnovers they commanded much of the game. The Huskies and Eason now face the tough task of navigating California’s not-so-secret secondary in week two. If they’re able to take care of the Golden Bears, the confidence surrounding this team will improve.

3. Oregon Ducks

Oregon should have won their game against Auburn. For much of the contest they were the better team. Unfortunately for the Ducks and the rest of the Pac-12, almost doesn’t cut it and the Tigers emerged victorious. Despite the loss, however, Oregon showed the nation it can compete with the big boys once again. Their defense was impressive, offensive line powerful, and with a little less conservative play calls the Ducks could have run away with the game.

Yet Oregon will now need nearly flawless performances the rest of the year. Unless Auburn finds itself in the SEC Championship Game, Oregon’s shot at being a Pac-12 College Football Playoff representative rests in their ability to run the table.

After how they played against the Tigers, that’s not impossible. The talent is there and what mistakes were made were more mental than physical.

4. Stanford Cardinal

If Stanford is going to represent the Pac-12 in the College Football Playoff, they’re going to need a big win over USC on Saturday night. Dispatching the Northwestern Wildcats in a classic Stanford way, the Cardinal looked impressive on defense but shaky on offense. Quarterback K.J. Costello was precise but unremarkable, and running back Cameron Scarlett was simply serviceable.

Fortunately Stanford flashed an impressive defense, forcing three fumbles (recovering two) and coming away with two INTs. With Costello still questionable for their game against USC, it’s clear Stanford’s defense must lead the way. For the Cardinal to have any shot at the College Football Playoff they’ll need to grind it out and hope a star emerges on offense.

5. Washington State Cougars

The Pac-12 North may eat itself alive this year, and not because there is a lack of talented teams. The problem in the North may be that there are too many quality teams for any to emerge with a record impressive enough to qualify a Pac-12 College Football Playoff team.

That’s exactly what could happen to the Washington State Cougars, who once again showed why Mike Leach’s offense is a godsend for quarterbacks looking to pad their stats. Quarterback Anthony Gordon completed 29-of-35 passes for 420 yards and five touchdowns. While this came against New Mexico State, those are still numbers you can’t ignore.

More impressively, Washington State’s defense forced three turnovers and held the Aggies to just seven points. Regardless of opponent that’s an impressive effort. The Cougars now face another low-level opponent before an interesting matchup against Houston that should be a great barometer for just how good Washington State could be. They’re still in consideration for being a Pac-12 College Football Playoff team, but they need to show a little more first.

6. USC Trojans

Most Pac-12 insiders understood the dangers of Fresno State vs. USC. The Bulldogs were a good team in 2018, Fresno State head coach Jeff Tedford knows the Pac-12 and there were still plenty of uncertainties surrounding USC. Would they finally be able to live up to the talent on their roster?

For some that begins with a resounding yes. Running back Vavae Malepeai burst onto the scene with a 23 carry, 134 yard performance and was complimented by an explosive effort from Stephen Carr (6 carries for 56 yards, 6 receptions for 43 yards). Wide receiver Tyler Vaughns also impressed, catching 11 balls for 150 yards.

But the bad news for USC is that they lost starting quarterback J.T. Daniels for the season, paving way for true freshman Kedon Slovis to command the offense. A three-star prospect, Slovis will be immediately tested against Stanford’s defense. If USC is to make a College Football Playoff statement early on, this Stanford game is it.