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.

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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Make sure you like and subscribe to the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast with George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden on any podcasting app.

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.

Undrafted College Football Players Should Be Allowed to Return to CFB

College football players undrafted Hunter Bryant Washington Hawaii

The 2020 NFL Draft was definitely one to remember. It was completely virtual due to the Coronavirus. Potential draft picks watched at home. They awaited a phone call informing them that they were selected by an NFL team. Elite players, like Joe Burrow and Chase Young, accomplished their goal of being a first-round NFL Draft pick. However, many NFL Draft hopefuls did not realize their dream of being selected in the NFL Draft. Unfortunately, for many of those players, their football career as players may be over. It is true that many of them will attempt to earn a spot on a team as an undrafted free agent. Entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent is not easy and will not happen for all of them. This realization is especially unfortunate for draftees who left college early to enter the NFL Draft.

Every year, some college football players decide to forego their remaining college eligibility to enter the NFL Draft. NFL rules require draft entrants to be out of high school for three years and to have used all of their college eligibility before the start of the next college football season. However, college players with remaining eligibility request league approval to enter the NFL Draft early. 99 players were granted special eligibility for the 2020 draft. This means that 99 players who had remaining college eligibility gave up their remaining eligibility for a shot at the NFL. Despite the fact that only 1.5 percent of college football players go pro, 99 players still thought it was best to enter the draft. Why do college football players make the decision to forego their remaining eligibility given the odds of making it to the NFL?

Reasons College Football Players Leave College Early to Enter the NFL Draft

There are many reasons college football players forego their remaining college eligibility to enter the NFL Draft. There are two reasons that stick out the most. One reason is due to the unrealistic sense that many college football players have about their prospects of being drafted. Many college football players prematurely forego their remaining college eligibility to enter the NFL Draft, even though they are not ready. Another reason college football players forego the remaining college eligibility because some from disadvantaged backgrounds and need to make money. College sports is a billion-dollar business but the players’ only compensation is a cost-of-attendance scholarship. While a scholarship is valuable that does not mean that players should be limited to only that.

Listen to the Best College Football Podcast

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College Football Players who Come From Disadvangeted Backgrounds Would Greatly Benefit from Getting into the NFL as Quickly as Possible

Roughly 86 percent of African-American college athletes come from families that live below the poverty line. Since the Coronavirus pandemic, the inequities that many college athletes face have become even more visible. For example, Sam Williams, a University of Mississippi linebacker, tweeted about the hardships he is facing since being unexpectedly home from school. Specifically, Williams tweeted:

We worked so hard to get out of the hood but forced to go back to the hood…Still gotta pay rent so all of our money gone and I can’t swipe my ID nowhere in Alabama. Then if we get help it’s a ‘violation’. I just don’t understand.”

Williams highlighted a problem that may college athletes are facing. A study conducted by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice prior to the pandemic highlights many of the issues that college athletes face. 452 Division I athletes were surveyed. 24 percent of them suffered from food insecurity in the 30 days prior. Food insecurity is defined by the United States Department of Agriculture as the lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. The survey sheds light on the issue of food scarcity amongst college athletes across all the divisions. Williams’ tweet and the survey’s findings further demonstrate the needs of many college athletes, particularly those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Everybody Gets Rich Except the Players

Furthermore, Williams’s tweet and the survey certainly make it clear why a college football player would leave college football eligibility on the table for a shot at the NFL. Due to the NCAA’s asinine amateurism rules, college football players are precluded from sharing in the billions they generate outside of a cost-of-attendance scholarship. While coaches, athletic directors, and other sports administration personnel make millions, the players are capped to a scholarship.

As Williams tweeted, college athletes cannot receive any assistance that is not first approved by the NCAA. If an athlete does, he will be subject to an NCAA violation, just ask Chase Young. Why would an athlete remain apart of a system that stops them from earning their true worth and risk injury, while everyone else makes millions?

The Good News is that the NCAA Can Fix Both of These Problems and Retain College Football Players

The NCAA can fix these problems and retain college football players if they would simply amend their rules. One way the NCAA can fix this problem is by allowing college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). After mounting pressure, the NCAA is finally on the track to allow that to happen. If the NCAA does this, it could take the pressure off of players to go pro to make money. Last month, the NCAA announced that they are moving toward allowing college athletes to profit from their NIL. However, only time will tell how much the NCAA will amend their current rules to actually help the athletes.

Currently, college football players cannot return to college football after they enter and go through the NFL Draft even if they have remaining eligibility. Why is this the case? How does this benefit the football players? How does it benefit college football? The truth is that these rules do not benefit the players nor college football. This is another way the NCAA can fix their problems. The NCAA should change its rules to allow players who are not drafted to return to college football. It is time for things in college football to change. Change is more than possible, just look at recent changes in college basketball.

Recent Changes in College Basketball

Sweeping changes have come to college basketball during the last four years. In 2017, a scandal was exposed in college basketball. Soon after, the NCAA amended college basketball rules. The NCAA began to allow NBA Draft entrants with remaining eligibility to return to college. Prior to entering the NBA draft, the player must seek an evaluation from the National Basketball Association’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee. If the player intends to return to college, he must remove his name from the draft list and declare his intent to return to college within 10 days of the conclusion of the NBA Draft combine. These types of rule changes are exactly what the NCAA should adopt in college football.

The NCAA Should Allow College Football NFL Draft Entrants to Return If Undrafted

Two former NFL Players who entered the league as undrafted free agents agree that college football players could benefit if the NCAA made changes to their rules. Patrick Cobbs entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent. He believes that college football players could benefit from being able to return to college after entering the NFL Draft. Cobbs, a running back, led the nation in rushing in 2003. As a junior, Cobbs was projected to be a second or third-round draft pick. He stated that if he had the option to try his chances at the NFL Draft and return to college if undrafted he would have taken advantage of it.

Greg Camarillo also entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent. He also believes that college football players could benefit from being allowed to return to college football after the NFL Draft. Both Cobbs and Camarillo believe that an advisory committee should be created for potential draft entrants. Camarillo stated that the committee should create a program to give the players a realistic sense of their chances in the draft. Potential draft entrants should be required to consult the committee before entering the draft.

Both Cobbs and Camarillo do not think that agents should be a part of the committee due to potential bias. They suggest that the committee be made up of former NFL scouts, former coaches, and former NFL and college players. Camarillo suggests that the advisory committee’s evaluations take place immediately after the college football post-season.

The NCAA Should Be Proactive in Making These Changes in College Football

If the NCAA adopted these changes it could greatly change the landscape of college football for the betterment of the players. A player should not be forced to forego his remaining college eligibility just because he entered the draft. The idea of college football players being able to return to college if undrafted is gaining traction amongst prominent college coaches. Recently, the University of Michigan coach, Jim Harbaugh, released a proposal in support of this issue. He suggested that undrafted players be allowed to return to college. The NCAA needs to take note and make changes before they are forced to like they were with basketball.

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

Pac-12 NFL Draft 2020

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

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

Trey Adams of Washington May Have Rocky 2020 NFL Draft Road

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

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

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

Bradlee Anae Made Great Impression At Senior Bowl

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

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

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

Troy Dye Could Go Up Draft Boards Due to Football IQ

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

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

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

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

UW Football wins Las Vegas Bowl for Chris Petersen

Washington Huskies Las Vegas Bowl

38-7 Dominant Win

Reminiscent of their Apple Cup victory, the Huskies completely bottled up the Broncos in the Las Vegas Bowl. Nearly everything went right for the Dawgs.

Running Backs Galore

Both Richard Newton and Salvon Ahmed enjoyed big performances in the Las Vegas Bowl. While Newton took the majority of the carries, Ahmed managed to score two touchdowns on just six rushes. For any running back, scoring two touchdowns in a bowl game is huge. However, Newton went and one-upped Ahmed with a highlight to remember.

https://twitter.com/BoomItsFBALL/status/1208595987771641861

As a redshirt-freshman, Richard Newton had an impressive season. This season, he displayed his upside. He scored touchdowns on his first rush, first reception, and first pass. 2020 better be filled with Newton touches.

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Jacob Eason played well, but the glory went to the running backs

Whenever a team scores three rushing touchdowns, it takes away the glory from the quarterback. Additionally, remember that Richard Newton threw a touchdown pass. So although Jacob Eason only threw for one touchdown in the Las Vegas Bowl, he led the Huskies to five touchdowns and a field goal.

But, the Las Vegas Bowl wasn’t about the offense

Yes, the Huskies rolled up 38 points on the Broncos in the Las Vegas Bowl. However, they somehow took a powerful offense and completely thwarted them. In the first half, Boise State didn’t score a single point. The last time the Broncos were held scoreless in a half was in 2006 against BYU. This was not their game.

It was very much like the Apple Cup dismantling of Mike Leach’s Air Raid Offense. Against Boise State, in the limelight, UW Football’s defense shined:

  • 7 points allowed (Boise State averaged 36.8)
  • 266 yards allowed (Boise State averaged 441)
  • Boise State just 3-11 on third downs, 1-2 on fourth downs
  • 5.1 yards-per-pass
  • 3.5 yards-per-rush
  • 6 different defenders had a tackle for a loss
  • 3 turnovers (2 interceptions and a fumble)

Additionally, Elijah Molden took the MVP home.

His play was exceptional. Nine tackles, one forced fumble, and one interception. He was the clear winner and set the stage for Jimmy Lake’s Defense.

Jimmy Lake earns respect in Las Vegas Bowl performance

This game was the message Jimmy Lake needed to send. Because he’s taking over as head coach next season, he needed to flex his strength. And the defense is definitely his strength.

In their last four games, the Huskies held Oregon State, Colorado, Washington State and Boise State to a combined 47 points. The Apple Cup and the Las Vegas Bowl capped an impressive, defensive run for UW Football. These are the types of defensive wins that keep the recruits coming in. Well done Jimmy Lake. Well done.

Players and Jimmy Lake aside, the narrative was all on Chris Petersen

Elijah Molden won the MVP. Richard Newton threw a touchdown pass. Jimmy Lake put together a defense that held the Broncos to seven points. And yet, all eyes were on Chris Petersen.

And how could they not be? Chris Petersen completely took over UW Football. He brought success and changed the culture. Everyone loved (loves) him. Like Barry Sanders, Petersen is the coach retiring in his prime. When everyone adores him, respects him and holds him high.

He rides off into the sunset a hero to everyone. College football fans respected him. Coaches feared him. Players loved him. Boise State and UW football fans will worship and regard him.

Thank you, Coach Pete.

Las Vegas Bowl Preview: Chris Petersen will beat his former team

Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 12 Las Vegas Bowl

Chris Petersen faces off against former team in Las Vegas Bowl

Call it bittersweet, but Chris Petersen says goodbye to both of his collegiate teams in the Las Vegas Bowl. In his fourteen years as a head coach, Petersen split it between Boise State and Washington. Eight years for the Broncos. Six years for the Huskies. With both, he significantly raised their success and ceiling.

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To say the least, Petersen had an illustrious career with both programs. In his time with them, he’s responsible for the Broncos and Huskies best seasons of recent history. To each, he’s a coaching titan.

But now, after stepping down due to anxiety and quality of life, Petersen’s final game is match-up between the two teams he holds most dear. And the two programs that hold him most dear.

So, a question remains: Can coach Petersen shrug off his familial ties with the Broncos and lead the Huskies to a Las Vegas Bowl victory?

Las Vegas Bowl Match-up by the Numbers

Boise State

  • 12 wins, 1 loss
  • 0.39 (No. 29) DFEI, per footballoutsiders
  • 36.8 (No. 14) points-per-game
  • 20.6 (No. 24) points-against-per-game
  • -3.19 (No. 95) Strength of Schedule
  • 10.74 (No. 24) Simple Rating System, per sports-reference
  • 267 passing yards per game
  • 174 rushing yards per game
  • 33 pass attempts to 39 rush attempts per game
  • 234 passing yards-allowed-per-game
  • 34 pass attempts-allowed-per-game
  • 113 rush yards-allowed-per-game
  • 32 rush attempts-allowed-per-game
  • -0.3 in turnover battle

Washington

  • 7 wins, 5 losses
  • 0.49 (No. 20) DFEI, per footballoutsiders
  • 31.5 (No. 48) points-per-game
  • 20.4 (No. 23) points-against-per-game
  • -2.6 (No. 45) Strength of Schedule
  • 11.10 (No. 22) Simple Rating System, per sports-reference
  • 245 passing yards per game
  • 152 rushing yards per game
  • 31.5 pass attempts to 35 rush attempts per game
  • 225 passing yards-allowed-per-game
  • 35 pass attempts-allowed-per-game
  • 133 rush yards-allowed-per-game
  • 34 rush attempts-allowed-per-game
  • -0.4 in turnover battle

Boise State won’t go down easy

First off, it’s important to remember that Boise State nearly went undefeated heading into bowl season. They narrowly lost to BYU 25-28 in October. If not for that loss, the Broncos could be vying for a third undefeated season this century.

Keep in mind, Boise State’s road to the Las Vegas Bowl wasn’t simple. They started three different quarterbacks this season due to injuries. Yet, even with the bad luck, they still went 12-1 with 36.8 (No. 14 in FBS) points-per-game. Coach Bryan Harsin created an excellent offensive system with interchangeable pieces. Each and every year, Boise State proves that they can win on offense no matter what playmakers they have. It’s an outstanding program.

Because of this high-powered scoring, they are always a threat to score over 30 points and keep games competitive. The Huskies need to respect this offense and Jimmy Lake has his work cut out for him.

Washington’s has advantages in the Las Vegas Bowl

Strength of Schedule

Although Boise State’s 12-1 record is far above Washington’s 7-5 record, context must be added. According to Sports Reference, Boise State’s negative-3.19 Strength of Schedule ranks 95th in the FBS, while Washington’s negative-2.6 ranks 45th. Because of this, the Huskies 11.10 Simple Rating System ranks 22nd, just ahead of the Broncos’ 10.74 SRS (24th). Yes, Boise State almost went undefeated. But, opponents matter.

Explosive Offensive Plays

Opponents are the first advantage of Washington. Washington has been tested. Granted, they lost five games this season. But, going up against top Pac-12 defenses and still churning out 31.5 points-per-game is impressive. Now, instead of going against a Utah or Oregon defense, the Dawgs get Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. As shown in the Apple Cup, Washington is comfortable letting quarterback Jacob Eason let it fly.

Downfield throws are a large part of the Huskies offense. If the Huskies can execute a similar scheme to the Apple Cup victory, they should do well. In that game, they:

  • Let Eason take deep shots
  • Utilized young talent
  • Mixed up pass-to-rush ratio
  • Went for it on fourth downs

They were aggressive and came to play. In order to beat Boise State, they’ll have to do the same. Thankfully, Boise State’s defense is nothing compared to some of the Pac-12 opponents Washington already faced this season. Yes, missing Hunter Bryant will hurt. He’s the team’s leading receiver. However, with rising play-makers like Terrell Bynum and Cade Otton, Eason should have a capable receiving corps to throw to.

Washington’s Defensive Prowess

Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake (soon to be head coach), put together another strong Washington defense. Per Football Outsiders, the Huskies rank 20th in DFEI and allow just 20.4 (No. 23) points-per-game. Additionally, the Huskies are in the top-40 in yards-allowed-per-game and explosive plays allowed.

As shown in their deafening win against Washington State, Lake’s defense can make plays. Players like Joe Tryon are stepping up for the Huskies. His 8 sacks and 12.5 tackles for a loss display the Dawgs strength. If UW football wants to win the Las Vegas Bowl, they’ll have to make life difficult for the Broncos’ high-powered offense. Tryon needs to get to the quarterback and UW’s secondary needs to cover. They made it look easy against Washington State.

But, as said above, Boise State’s offense is their success. The Broncos will come to play. However, if Lake’s defense can keep Boise State under 25 points, the Huskies should win. That, based on their stats against Pac-12 competition, is completely doable.

Reigning Purple and Gold in Vegas

Although Chris Petersen’s UW tenure shows a struggle at the finish line, he now has his big moment. In his six seasons with the Huskies, he’s brought them to six consecutive bowls. However, so far, he’s lost four of five. This is his time to finish his coaching career on a brilliant note. Beat his former team, end his Washington career as a hero and ride off into the sunset.

Chris Petersen lifted the Huskies and now passes on a far better program

Chris Petersen Washington Huskies

Now that the dust has settled with Chris Petersen’s surprise step-down

It’s been almost two weeks since Chris Petersen announced his intention to step down. Washington Huskies football fans are still spinning in confusion and remorse. But, after reflecting, Petersen’s impact on UW football is massive and it will still reign purple and gold.

Chris Petersen’s brought championships to UW

From 2004 to 2008, the Huskies were in awful form. Their season records were as follows:

  • 2004: 1 and 10
  • 2005: 2 and 9
  • 2006: 5 and 7
  • 2007: 4 and 9
  • 2008: 0 and 12

After that, the Dawgs got Steve Sarkisian as a head coach and he led them back to being a good, not great team. Sarkisian ended the seven-year bowl-drought for UW and that was a huge accomplishment. While his 34 and 29 record wasn’t amazing, it was a step in the right direction.

Then, in 2014, the UW football program lucked out and stole Chris Petersen away from Boise State. He kept what Sarkisian started and added to it.

From 2016 to 2018, the Huskies were on another level.

  • Three straight seasons with at least ten wins
  • Two Pac-12 Championships
  • Three straight NY6 Bowls
  • One College Football Playoff berth

Additionally, he set a record for the most games won by UW football in a four-year stretch. From 2015-2018, they totaled 39 wins. However, if Chris Petersen’s Huskies get a Las Vegas Bowl victory, he will set the record again with 40 wins from 2016-2019.

With Petersen at the helm, the Huskies were Pac-12 Champions, routinely top-25 ranked and demanded respect. He rejuvenated the UW program and brought success. His leadership and coaching were instrumental to the purple and gold.

Perfect in Apple Cups

For true Dawgs, the Apple Cup is a huge priority. Friends, colleagues and even family are torn apart each year because of the UW-WSU rivalry. It’s serious business.

Conquering Washington State is always both a delight and a must. But, Chris Petersen did it with perfection. In his six Apple Cups, UW:

  • Won six out of six times
  • Scored 221 points (36.83-per-game)
  • Held WSU to 82 points (13.67-per-game)

Although Washington State might be glad that he’s stepping down, they unfortunately still have to face Jimmy Lake.

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Passes the Huskies torch to highly sought-after Jimmy Lake

After the Huskies lost the Rose Bowl last year to the Ohio State Buckeyes, it was a shock that Washington retained Jimmy Lake. Lake was a sought-after defensive coordinator for a head-coaching job. He certainly garnered attention.

However, with the news of Chris Petersen stepping down, it makes more sense. This step-down was a surprise to everyone outside of the UW program. But, it remains a mystery whether Peterson, Lake or other staff knew. Nonetheless, this is excellent news for Washington football. Lake’s defensive coaching is a large part of UW’s success in recent years. Though he’ll create his own culture at UW with the absence of Petersen, promoting Lake was a calculated move. It keeps the successful environment intact.

Washington Huskies Top Recruiter

As of today, Washington’s 2020’s recruiting class ranks 1st in the Pac-12 and 15th nationally.

247Sports Recruiting Profile

With the staff and culture Chris Petersen built, it set them up for top-recruiting. From 2018 to 2020, Washington’s ranked 16th, 15th and 15th nationally.

It’s no surprise either. Remember that the University of Washington is a historic program. Since 1889, they’ve won seventeen conference championships, seven Rose Bowls and two NCCA recognized national championships. Combining that history with Chris Petersen’s leadership and success is the perfect base for recruiting.

Additionally, Chris Petersen’s athletes are doing well in the NFL. Over the last five years, NFL teams drafted 24 Washington athletes and there are currently 33 Dawgs on NFL rosters. Petersen created a winning environment in Washington that also led to the NFL draft. What’s not to love?

But, with Petersen stepping down, there’s a large fear that his recruiting success leaves with him. However, recent signs show otherwise. As of this Wednesday, zero of their 21 commits de-committed. Additionally, it’s been Jimmy Lake’s already been involved in the recruiting process with Petersen. As a proper head coach does, they delegate. So, positional coaches and Jimmy Lake already have practice in the recruiting process.

Moreover, Jimmy Lake’s defensive brilliance will aid his recruiting of defensive talent. The “Jimmy Lake Defense” is a known quantity in Montlake and well-respected. Currently, there are eight defensive backs in the NFL that had Jimmy Lake as a coach. Also, the Huskies defense, in an off-year, still rank 24th-best in scoring. If Washington hires a promising offensive coordinator, their recruiting will continue their reign.

Wishing you the best of luck and healing Chris Petersen

Say what you want about stepping down during your prime, but Chris Petersen made a choice for his quality of life. His decision was praised by Seahawks coach, Pete Carroll. Carroll, who can empathize with coaching an elite, college program.

“The college thing is really, really demanding in terms of the constant recruiting pressure and strain,’’ Carroll said. “It’s really the strain of it. It just doesn’t go away. You’re on the next year always anyway. It’s just an ongoing process. That’s one part of it.”

Pete Carroll

With the way college football programs are set up now, it’s easy to see burnout in coaches. Petersen said it himself that he didn’t enjoy the Rose Bowl like he should have.

“You work your whole life to get to (the Rose Bowl),” he said, “and I didn’t really appreciate the week. I didn’t appreciate the game like I need to, you know, as a kid growing up looking at that game. I think that was one of the things that really hit me loud and clear. So, you know, you start to pay attention to that. Then you go and you put your heart and soul into what you’re doing.”

Chris Petersen Quote

So, with all that Chris Petersen has given the Huskies, let’s wish him the best. Football was his life. But, football also was the cause of constant stress, anxiety, missed expectations, demands, pressure, and exhaustion. It’s time for Petersen to take a break and recovery. Whether or not he ever coaches a football team again, he’s done enough with UW football to earn his status as a lifetime Husky.

2019 Apple Cup Full Breakdown: WSU Fizzles and UW Dominates

WSU Started Out Hot

Even though the Apple Cup was in Seattle, the Washington State Cougars began with a bang. They took the ball 81 yards down the field on a patient, 13-play drive. Capping the drive off with a Max Borghi one-yard touchdown, WSU looked great.

Then, the Cougars defense sacked Jacob Eason on his first offensive play. They held strong and forced the Huskies to a three-and-out on their first possession. Ball goes back to the Cougs and they’re already leading 7-0.

The stage was set for a WSU upset in the Apple Cup. Anthony Gordon looked comfortable, patient and was willing to take what the defense gave him. Mike Leach schemed up open looks and it was perfect weather for the Air Raid offense. 41 degrees, sunny and no wind.

But, everything changed after that.

Anthony Gordon’s Dreadful Apple Cup Performance

Although Gordon’s 103.0 Passing Efficiency Rating against Utah in Week 5 was poor, that was at least against an elite defense and the Pac-12’s best team. But, even though the Washington Huskies played exceptionally well, they are no Utah. Somehow, the Huskies held Gordon to 308 yards and zero touchdowns on 62 attempts, while intercepting two of his passes. So why did Gordon struggle so much in this Apple Cup?

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Offensive Line Issues

Up until the Apple Cup, Washington State ranked first in the FBS in Sack Rate, per footballoutsiders. Their 2.1-percent Sack Rate was phenomenal. Keeping Anthony Gordon upright was standard procedure. Just 13 sacks on 585 attempts. Their line was top-notch.

However, against the Huskies, they fell apart. Washington consistently pressured Gordon and sacked him five times. In just one game, they accounted for 28-percent of all sacks against WSU this season. Joe Tryon, Edeguan Ulofoshio and Ryan Bowman took Gordon down for negative-45 yards and a forced fumble on their five sacks.

Even more impressive, they delivered back-to-back sacks on the Cougars fourth drive. After starting out leading 7-0 and playing with a lead, Gordon’s fourth drive was a nightmare. Down 10-14, sacked twice in a row and throwing from his own end zone on 3rd-and-27. The Huskies manhandled WSU’s line time and time again.

UW’s Secondary

Even after a poor Apple Cup showing, Anthony Gordon still leads the FBS in passing yards (5,228) and touchdowns (45). In fact, his 5,228 passing yards is almost 1,000 yards better than Joe Burrow’s second-ranked 4,366 yards. Yet, against UW, he couldn’t get anything going after their opening drive.

Check-Down King

Call it preparation, home-field advantage or the Chris Petersen edge. Whatever it is, the Cougars consistently fail in the Apple Cup. In Peterson’s own words. the Cougars “run the same offense every week.” Because of this, preparation was simple and all the Huskies needed to do was execute their game-plan.

In their game plan, they often dropped eight into coverage and only rushed three. UW’s secondary gave up nothing deep and forced Gordon to check passes down. It was a rare occasion to see even an attempt, let alone a reception downfield. Instead, Max Borghi led the team with 12 receptions. Then, when Gordon actually tried to make something happen, he threw into a sea of defenders.

Offensively, the Cougars came into the Apple Cup with all the counting stats. But, UW matched up in perfection. They covered downfield, gave their defensive line time to get to Gordon, forced everything short and kept Gordon fearful of taking shots.

Jacob Eason Let’s it Fly in the Apple Cup

Unlike Anthony Gordon, Jacob Eason and the Huskies were willing to take chances downfield. And it paid off in spectacular fashion.

Though Jacob Eason started off the game with a sack, a deep incompletion and a three-and-out, he kept his gunslinger attitude. He took advantage of Terrell Bynum’s speed and hit him for 57-yards on their first touchdown drive.

More importantly, Eason and the Huskies maintained their confidence, even with more issues. Remember that Eason started off the game with a three-and-out, missing on a deep shot. Then, in the second quarter, he overthrew a wide-open Hunter Bryant and was then bailed out on a deep overthrow because of a penalty. Aside from his earlier 57-yard connection with Bynum, it appeared that Eason’s inaccuracy was hurting the Huskies. But, they continued to put faith in Eason and their receivers.

Again and again, it paid dividends. While the Cougars lacked downfield threats or ability, the Huskies took advantage of their Apple Cup matchup. Not only that, but UW finally utilized their talent properly. Hunter Bryant led the team in receptions and yards, which completely makes sense given his talent.

But, unlike prior games where Aaron Fuller and Chico McClatcher took up targets and space, sophomores Terrell Bynum and Cade Otton got involved. Their combined 6 receptions for 123 yards and one touchdown were huge. They made play after play, getting first downs, yards after the catch, or making difficult catches.

The Huskies Won the Apple Cup by Sticking with Their Gunslinger

It took Anthony Gordon 62 attempts to reach 308 passing yards. On the opposite sideline, Eason threw just 22 times, but compiled 244 yards and led his team to four touchdowns. The Huskies leaned into Eason’s gunslinging style and schemed up ways to get his receivers one-on-one matchups downfield. Even though Eason missed some throws and Bryant and Bynum dropped passes, they stuck with it.

Unlike this, the Cougars collapsed and failed to adjust. Gordon was afraid to throw it deep and continued to dump it off to his safety valves. His passes routinely traveled to the short-middle or the flats.

If Mike Leach ever wants to win an Apple Cup, he needs to make adjustments and have a backup plan. It was clear that he didn’t have that on Friday.