HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- The media who cover the Pac-12 predict there will be a new champion in 2014.
Oregon is the decided favorite, with 24 of 39 voters predicting the Ducks would win the conference. UCLA was second with 13 votes, while USC and two-time defending champion Stanford received one vote each.
Of the 39 voters, 37 predicted Oregon would win the Pac-12 North, with Stanford receiving two votes. UCLA also received 37 first-place votes in the South Division. USC and defending South champion Arizona State each received one vote.
This is the fourth time in five years Oregon has been picked to win the conference. The media have correctly picked the champion in 11 of the past 14 seasons.
The Pac-12 championship will be played Dec. 5 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. This is the first year the game will be at a neutral site. The previous three seasons, the team with the best conference record had hosted the game.
Here is the schedule of events for today (all times PT):
- 9 a.m. - Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott
- 9:30 a.m. - ARIZONA - Coach Rich Rodriguez, WR Austin Hill, S Jared Tevis
- 10:10 a.m. - CALIFORNIA - Coach Sonny Dykes, QB Jared Goff, CB Stefan McClure
- 10:50 a.m. - USC - Coach Steve Sarkisian, QB Cody Kessler, DE Leonard Williams
- 11:30 a.m. - OREGON - Coach Mark Helfrich, QB Marcus Mariota, LB Derrick Malone
- 12:10 p.m. - WASHINGTON STATE - Coach Mike Leach, QB Connor Halliday, LB Darryl Monroe
- 12:50 p.m. - UTAH - Coach Kyle Whittingham, WR Dres Anderson, DE Nate Orchard
- 9 a.m. - Pac-12 Networks president Lydia Murphy-Stephans
- 9:30 a.m. - ARIZONA STATE - Coach Todd Graham, QB Taylor Kelly, OL Jamil Douglas
- 10:10 a.m. - OREGON STATE - Coach Mike Riley, QB Sean Mannion, LB Michael Doctor
- 10:50 a.m. - UCLA - Coach Jim Mora, QB Brett Hundley, LB Eric Kendricks
- 11:30 a.m. - WASHINGTON - Coach Chris Petersen, OT Ben Riva, OLB Hau'oli Kikaha
- 12:10 p.m. - STANFORD - Coach David Shaw, QB Kevin Hogan, DB Jordan Richards
- 12:50 p.m. - COLORADO - Coach Mike MacIntyre, WR Nelson Spruce, DT Juda Parker
Salem, Oregon, was in the news after Baylor coach Art Briles made a suggestion that people at Dairy Queens in Salem have now heard of quarterback Bryce Petty, whom Briles is peddling for the Heisman. Jake Trotter broke it down, along with an Instagram video from Petty, who boasted that Baylor has the most explosive offense in the country.
He’s right, by the way. The Bears scored 52.4 points per game last season, and Oregon was fourth nationally with 45.5.
Our own Chantel Jennings took a swing at calling Dairy Queens in Waco to see if they knew who Marcus Mariota was. She went oh-fer.
Perhaps it is the wrong venue. Besides Mariota, the Pac-12 has another Heisman hopeful quarterback in UCLA's Brett Hundley. And we most closely associate Southern California with In-N-Out. So the Pac-12 blog called the In-N-Out in Waco to see if anyone had heard of Hundley. Oh wait, there isn’t one. SoCal 1, Waco 0. (But one is coming soon to Killeen!)
No doubt Mariota and Hundley will be asked about the Heisman, and wacky media days questions are the norm. We are just wondering if Mariota or Hundley will send an Instagram or tweet back to Waco. Your move, fellas.
Speaking of the Heisman, Athlon released its list of 10 Pac-12 players who should get consideration. Five on their list (Mariota, Hundley, Taylor Kelly, Sean Mannion and Connor Halliday) will be in attendance at media days.
Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson is the lone defensive player on the list, but the story also includes five defensive players who should be in the mix but won’t be. One of them is UCLA’s Myles Jack. Don't get us wrong. We love Jack. But as the Pac-12 blog has already noted, we know who the real leader of the UCLA defense is.
Rock the vote
One of the big storylines today will be the release of the preseason prediction. Pac-12 media members are invited to cast their vote on what they think will happen at the end of the season. You can see how the #4Pac voted. (Yeah, that is what we're calling ourselves now. Thoughts?)
A few more ballots from other media members:
- Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury News
- Ryan Kartje, Orange County Register
- Doug Haller, The Arizona Republic
- Jack Wang, InsideSoCal.com
- Christian Caple, The News Tribune
A lot of folks are thinking we’re going to see Oregon-UCLA in the Pac-12 championship game. The Pac-12 blog agrees.
Anyone want to take a guess at the over/under for times Todd Graham is asked about his defense at media days? Probably the same number of times Rich Rodriguez will be asked about quarterbacks.
But just because the Sun Devils lose nine starters on that side of the ball doesn’t mean Graham isn’t confident, as he tells Doug Haller.
The Sun Devils ranked seventh in the conference last season in scoring defense, yielding 26.6 points per game.
Finally, Tim Sullivan of the (Louisville) Courier-Journal offered some thoughts on the impact of paying college athletes, in light of Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby’s comments Monday. Looking forward to what Larry Scott has to say on the subject.
Never gonna give it up, No-Oh
Just don't wake me now
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh)
This is gonna be the best day of my life.
- Catching up with former Arizona and NFL great Michael Bates.
- Arizona State coach Todd Graham is confident with his defense, despite a couple of incoming JC academic casualties.
- California fans can submit their media days questions here.
- Colorado CB Greg Henderson is going to be a rare four-year starter.
- An Oregon recruiting update.
- Oregon State gets a commitment from a Florida offensive lineman.
- Some of Stanford's best plays from 2013.
- UCLA gets a commitment from a defensive tackle.
- USC's summer workouts are voluntary, but not really (just like every other team's "voluntary" summer workouts).
- Here's a best-case scenario for Utah.
- Some thoughts on whether this will be a breakout season for Washington.
- Pick your all-time Washington State defense.
- Jon Wilner has published his Pac-12 media poll ballot.
There are plenty of topics to cover, from the perhaps unprecedented quality and experience at quarterback, to two new coaches who have familiar faces, to the new four-team College Football Playoff.
Arizona, California, USC, Oregon, Washington State and Utah will appear on Wednesday, while Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington, Stanford and Colorado follow up on Thursday. You can see the players on hand and the schedule here. This is the first time the Pac-12 has spread out its preseason media event over two days.
The preseason media poll will be released Wednesday, and the Pac-12 blog is going out on no limb guaranteeing you that Oregon will be picked to win the North and UCLA will be picked to win the South.
As a public service, we've provided you with a cheat sheet so you can contemplate the world as a reporter might. Below are questions for each of the conference's 12 teams that are sure to be asked, less warm-and-fuzzy questions that should be asked, and idle bits of whimsy that the Pac-12 blog wishes would be part of the proceedings.
(Unless otherwise noted, the questions are intended for the head coach.)
Arizona Wildcats, coach Rich Rodriguez
What will be asked: Can you give us an idea of your pecking order at quarterback?
What should be asked: What did Wildcats fans say to you this summer about being 0-2 against Arizona State?
Whimsical interlude: If Todd Graham and Donald Sterling were being attacked by wolves, whom would you save?
Arizona State Sun Devils, coach Todd Graham
What will be asked: Who will step up on your rebuilding defense?
What should be asked: You turn 50 in December: Do you expect to retire as the Sun Devils' coach?
Whimsical interlude: If Rich Rodriguez and Justin Bieber were being attacked by wolves, whom would you save?
California Golden Bears, coach Sonny Dykes
What will be asked: What's your team's attitude after going 1-11 in your first season?
What should be asked: What are specific mistakes you made last season that contributed to your team's struggles?
Whimsical interlude: Compare and contrast your hometowns of Big Spring and Lubbock, Texas, to Berkeley.
Colorado Buffaloes, coach Mike MacIntyre
What will be asked: Is your team ready to take the next step in the Pac-12?
What should be asked: What is your program's chief deficiency, and how are you addressing that in recruiting?
Whimsical interlude: Just thinking out loud here, but -- Ralphie, are you certain she has no remaining eligibility?
Oregon Ducks, coach Mark Helfrich
What will be asked: How will quarterback Marcus Mariota be better this season than last?
What should be asked: What were some of the challenges and transitional pains you've learned from after replacing a larger-than-life coach in Chip Kelly?
Whimsical interlude: Marcus, here are five loaves and two fishes. There are a lot of hungry reporters here. So, you know, do your thing.
Oregon State Beavers, coach Mike Riley
What will be asked: How does the offense change without wide receiver Brandin Cooks?
What should be asked: Is it possible for the Beavers to catch up to Oregon without the kind of support the Ducks get from Nike founder Phil Knight?
Whimsical interlude: Sean Mannion, please re-create for us the worst temper tantrum you've ever seen Coach Riley throw.
Stanford Cardinal, coach David Shaw
What will be asked: Who will step up to lead your rebuilding defense?
What should be asked: The media have again picked Oregon, the two-time defending Pac-12 North champions, to eclipse you. Is that a slight to your program, and if not, how do you interpret it?
Whimsical interlude: Jordan Richards, you are a public policy major. Please compare and contrast the deontological perspectives of Kant, Mill and Rawls.
UCLA Bruins, coach Jim Mora
What will be asked: How do you manage all the hype and high expectations that surround your team and quarterback Brett Hundley?
What should be asked: What do you need from the UCLA administration to maintain and build on your present advantage in your rivalry with USC?
Whimsical interlude: Jim, what does your dad think of the new college football PLAYOFFS?
USC Trojans, coach Steve Sarkisian
What will be asked: How will your up-tempo offense work while you have depth issues due to scholarship limitations?
What should be asked: What mistakes did you make at Washington that you'll avoid at USC?
Whimsical interlude: Steve, what would be the most interesting revelation if you, Pete Carroll, Jim Mora and Lane Kiffin went out for drinks?
Utah Utes, coach Kyle Whittingham
What will be asked: Explain how your quarterback situation sets up with Travis Wilson and transfer Kendal Thompson and how each fits in new coordinator Dave Christensen's offense.
What should be asked: Have Utah fans underestimated how difficult it would be to move up from the Mountain West to the Pac-12?
Whimsical interlude: You've had six offensive coordinators in six years. Please match each with one of Snow White's seven dwarfs, assuming that this stupid question automatically makes you Grumpy.
Washington Huskies, coach Chris Petersen
What will be asked: What was it about Washington that lured you away from Boise State?
What should be asked: What did quarterback Cyler Miles tell you about his role in two separate fights that occurred after the Super Bowl?
Whimsical interlude: OT Ben Riva: You are the only offensive lineman here. There are eight quarterbacks, three receivers and a bunch of defensive guys. First, what's the worst prima donna behavior you have witnessed? And second, is this pretty much an offensive lineman's seventh level of hell?
Washington State Cougars, coach Mike Leach
What will be asked: With a veteran quarterback and a deep corps of receivers, what are your expectations for your offense this fall?
What should be asked: Did your job get more difficult or easier with the hiring of Chris Petersen at Washington?
Whimsical interlude: Connor Halliday and Darryl Monroe: Here is a 10-question quiz on your coach's book about Geronimo, which I'm sure you've read. You have two minutes. Go!
- How does Arizona look at linebacker?
- Arizona State doesn't rate highly when it comes to returning experience.
- Former California D-lineman Cameron Jordan has high expectations for the New Orleans Saints.
- Colorado adds a safety.
- Former Oregon OT gets booted from a high school field and he's irked.
- Oregon State gets a commitment from a tight end.
- An advanced stat preview of Stanford's offense.
- A watch list recap for UCLA.
- Highlights of recent USC QB commit Sam Darnold.
- What is Utah's strongest position group?
- Washington picks up its first commitment on defense.
- Five things you should know about Washington State LB Chester Su'a.
All four of us picked Oregon and UCLA to win their respective divisions. All of us picked Oregon as the Pac-12 champion. Kevin's and Ted's ballots are exactly the same, which might be a good thing for Ted, considering that Kevin's 2013 ballot correctly predicted the finish of all 12 teams.
By the way, Kevin has never, ever, ever brought that up since the end of the 2013 season, notwithstanding his voicemail celebrating that fact, his copywriting "Mr. Pac-12 Perfect Predictor" and the giant billboards he erected in all Pac-12 towns and cities. To quote Uriah Heep, Kevin remains "the 'umblest person going."
For those believing the Pac-12 blog merely goes with the flow, recall that the 2013 Pac-12 media poll picked Oregon and UCLA as the division winners, while Kevin and Ted went with Stanford and Arizona State.
(Insert smug look).
There are some differences here between your Old Men and the New Blood, most notably the bottom two finishers in the South. There also are some differences in the placement of Oregon State, Washington and Washington State in the North, and USC and Arizona State in the South.
Here's Ted Miller's (You can follow him on Twitter here).
4. Oregon State
5. Washington State
3. Arizona State
Here's Kevin Gemmell's (You can follow him on Twitter here).
4. Oregon State
5. Washington State
3. Arizona State
Here's Chantel Jenning's (You can follow her on Twitter here).
3. Oregon State
5. Washington State
And here's Kyle Bonagura (You can follow him on Twitter here).
4. Washington State
5. Oregon State
3. Arizona State
You can follow me on Twitter here.
To the notes.
Michael from Anniston, Alabama, writes: You credit the CF playoff for the Bama-USC match-up? Hogwash. Bama has been scheduling such opening games ever since Nick Saban became head coach.
Ted Miller: You make a fair point. Unlike a lot of SEC teams, Alabama (and LSU) have not been cowards with their nonconference scheduling.
While the Alabama Crimson Tide's matchup with West Virginia to open the 2014 season hardly scintillates, the Mountaineers are a "name" opponent. And the Tide's list of nonconference foes since Saban took over is impressive: Virginia Tech (2013 and 2009), Michigan (2012), Penn State (2010-11), Clemson (2008) and Florida State (2007).
That's a strong list, no doubt. But USC is different. Trust me.
Of that group, only one team finished with fewer than four defeats -- 10-3 Virginia Tech in 2009, which finished ranked 10th. Despite five defeats, Michigan finished ranked 24th in 2012, and the Wolverines are the only other team on that list that finished the season ranked. Three of those seven teams finished with six losses.
You need to know that, just as in everything else in big-time FBS football, there's strategy involved in scheduling, and that includes nonconference games. There's scouting. There's projecting forward. There's seeking out a "name" foe that seems manageable.
What do I mean? Well, remember in Rocky III when Rocky gets worked up over Clubber Lang ruining the ceremony dedicating a statue of himself in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But of course you do. Afterwards, Mickey tries to explain to Rocky that he shouldn't schedule USC/Clubber Lang. He should continue to schedule Virginia Tech. Rocky really wants to fight USC/Clubber Lang, though.
Mickey: No, he ain't just another fighter! This guy is a wrecking machine! And he's hungry! Hell, you ain't been hungry since you won that belt.
Rocky Balboa: What are you talkin' about? I had ten title defenses.
Mickey: That was easy.
Rocky Balboa: What you mean, "easy"?
Mickey: They was hand-picked!
Rocky Balboa: Setups?
Mickey: Nah, they wasn't setups. They was good fighters, but they wasn't killers like this guy. He'll knock you to tomorrow, Rock!
Now, we're not saying the USC Trojans are going to knock Alabama into tomorrow in 2016. In fact, I'd guess the Trojans are likely to be underdogs on a neutral field. But I'd also project that the Trojans will start and finish the 2016 season with a national ranking closer to No. 10 than No. 25. This is not a hand-picked game for the Crimson Tide. Or for USC, for that matter.
My prediction for the game? Pain.
Michael from Moscow writes: Dear Ted, on behalf of the American expat community in Moscow i wanted to thank you for the terrific insight into a game we left behind when we moved to the ice fields of Russia. With the exception of a few games (kick-off often at 4am local time here), we rely on the internet for information about CF. Finally, my observation and question: it seems that every day i check ESPN another player is: 1) transferring to another school; 2) has been dismissed for a crime or disciplinary infraction or 3) has been declared academically ineligible. Is it me, or is this an evolving epidemic?
Ted Miller: You are addressing two different issues.
First, discipline and academic problems. As for news stories about that, I hear you. It does seem like almost a daily issue somewhere, but I don't think it's an epidemic. My feeling is the number of these sorts of incidents and problems has been pretty consistent over the 17 or so years I've covered college football.
You have 5,440 scholarship football players, plus or minus, on Big Five conference teams. With that many male 18-to-23-year-olds, you're going to have guys getting into trouble. I'd bet the "trouble" rate for football players isn't much higher than the trouble rate for the average 18-to-23-year-old males nationwide, whether that's about discipline or poor academics.
Should we be outraged by bad behavior, particularly violence? Absolutely. But my perception of college football players is more positive than negative. For every Dorial Green-Beckham, you have a handful of Marcus Mariotas or an Obum Gwachams -- see here on the latter.
As for transfers, I support that: If a guy wants to leave, he should be able to. While you could score a valid point about finishing what you started and redoubling the competitive effort, such talk often sounds better as a coaching cliche than as practical advice for a young man with dreams of playing time and, perhaps, a shot at the NFL.
There are plenty of stories about transfers making good. And there are plenty of stories about guys sticking around -- like Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici. I don't think there is anything wrong with transferring. When Alabama opens against West Virginia, both starting quarterbacks will be Florida State transfers who didn't want to sit behind Jameis Winston. That seems like a perfectly reasonable decision to me, one that is obviously paying off.
Bill from Denver writes: Ted... which PAC-12 power is most susceptible to a CU upset? (It's going to happen this year!)
Ted Miller: If I were to guess two Pac-12 games when the Colorado Buffaloes could pull a surprising upset, I'd go with a pair of home dates in the first half of the season: Sept. 13 versus the Arizona State Sun Devils and Oct. 4 versus the Oregon State Beavers.
The Sun Devils are going to be tough to stop on offense, but their defense might still be finding its footing in Week 3. As for the Beavers visit, you start with the not unreasonable projection that the Buffs could be 4-1 at that point and feeling pretty confident. Further, Oregon State will be coming off what is sure to be a challenging road date at USC. This game has the classic "overlook" feel to it.
Am I picking Colorado to beat either team? Not at this point. But I wouldn't be shocked if they got an upset in one or the other.
Asa from Eugene writes: Ted, I need a good read. You have great taste in books, so what am I reading next?
Ted Miller: I just finished "Fourth of July Creek" from Smith Henderson. It's not particularly uplifting, but the writing is consistently engaging. Henderson is a major young talent. And he's a Portland guy. I might stalk him when I'm next up there.
If you like BIG BOOKS! I'd recommend Donna Tartt's "The Goldfinch." Not exactly an obscure novel, seeing it won the Pulizter, but it's emersion fiction in a Dickens vein from one of our finest writers.
Both are dark, but both also allow readers to distill a message on why we, despite everything, choose to endure, which I appreciated.
And, as always, I recommend that everyone read everything from Daniel Woodrell. He's just so... good.
Blake from Phoenix writes: As I was stopped at a red light on my way to work this morning, I looked at the car next to me and I could have sworn that it was non other that Pac-12 blogger Ted Miller. While being next to Mr. Miller would seem exiting enough, what put it over the top was seeing that he was driving a little red convertible, likely from the late 90s. Alas as I stared more at the man driving I realized that it wasn't Mr. Miller. However, I was left pondering for the rest of my drive to work, what type of car would the Pac-12 Blogger drive? Whatever it is, I hope it's as good as a little red convertible.
Ted Miller: While I certainly appreciate red convertibles, I don't need one.
South Dakota Coyotes, Saturday, Aug. 30
- Coach: Joe Glenn (5-18), third year
- 2013 record: 4-8, 3-5 Missouri Valley
- Returning starters: Eight offense, five defense
- Offensive headliner: Trevor Bouma is back after rushing for 781 yards and three touchdowns on 164 attempts last season. He’ll be the offense's focal point.
- Defensive headliner: Linebacker Auston Johnson was one of the top tacklers last season, recording 69 stops, including 10.5 for a loss and seven sacks.
- The skinny: Glenn, formerly of Wyoming, among other stops, was pulled out of retirement to coach his alma mater. After a one-win season in 2012 (winless in conference), the Coyotes upped their total wins to four. It’s still a rebuilding process, but there is some good athleticism with guys like Kevin Earl and Jasper Sanders, who have moved between several offensive skill positions as Glenn tries to put all of the pieces together.
- Coach: Mark Dantonio (64-29), eighth year
- 2013 record: 13-1, 8-0 Big Ten
- Returning starters: Seven offense, five defense
- Offensive headliner: Quarterback Connor Cook burst on to the scene last year during Michigan State’s Rose Bowl run, tossing 2,755 yards with 22 touchdowns to six interceptions.
- Defensive headliner: Defensive end Shilique Calhoun was the 2013 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year after posting 7.5 sacks and 14 tackles for a loss. He also forced four fumbles and tied for the FBS lead with three defensive touchdowns.
- The skinny: The Spartans' heralded defense from 2013 must replace two of their greatest linebackers: Denicos Allen and Max Bullough. Offensively, 99 percent of their 2013 rushing yards are back, including Jeremy Langford, who led the Big Ten with 18 rushing touchdowns. It’s not the same team from last year, but it’s still a very, very good one that should compete for the Big Ten title.
- Coach: Craig Bohl, first year
- 2013 record:5-7, 3-5 Mountain West
- Returning starters: Six offense, nine defense
- Offensive headliner: Wide receiver Dominic Rufran is back after hauling in 75 catches for 960 yards and eight touchdowns last year. He posted four 100-yard receiving games last seasons.
- Defensive headliner: Junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough was a first-team All-Conference pick last season after leading all Mountain West defensive linemen with an average of 7.4 tackles per game. He also tallied 6.5 sacks and 12 tackles for a loss.
- The skinny: The Pokes are starting anew with Bohl following two bowl appearances in five years under former coach Dave Christensen (now the Utah offensive coordinator). Bohl had tremendous success at the FCS level, leading North Dakota State to the last three consecutive FCS national championships and he was honored as national coach of the year in 2012 and 2013. His Bison teams were 7-3 against FBS teams and he was an assistant on Nebraska’s 1995 and 1997 national championship teams. No doubt, he’s got coaching chops. But it might take some time to build up the Cowboys.
- Judging from preseason watch lists, folks haven't forgotten Arizona WR Austin Hill.
- Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly and WR Jaelen Strong -- candidates for best pass-catch combo in the nation -- bond on and off the field.
- What were California's greatest plays during the BCS era?
- Which Colorado players are on preseason watch lists?
- Addicted to Quack ranks its No. 13 player from the past 20 years, and he's a current Duck.
- Oregon State defensive end Obum Gwacham is one of 122 candidates for the Allstate American Football Coaches Association "Good Works" team.
- Rick Neuheisel went "Under Center" with Stanford QB Kevin Hogan.
- Former USC star Ronnie Lott likes Oregon... and, er, he also likes UCLA.
- Former USC DT Armond Armstead's star-crossed career has come to an end.
- A Utah recruiting roundup.
- Previewing Washington's corps of wide receivers.
- This safety may make an impact for Washington State this fall.
Start planning accordingly. The Ultimate Pac-12 Road Trip continues.
Welcome to Week 5.
Thursday, Sept. 25
- UCLA at Arizona State
- Oregon State at USC
- Colorado at California
- Washington State at Utah
- Stanford at Washington
- Byes: Arizona, Oregon
Why: For the first time this year, we have a full set of just conference games. And that’s exciting, because there are some good ones. And because of the Thursday-Saturday scheduling, we’ve got ourselves a 2-fer.
Oregon State at USC is going to be fun with Manning Academy quarterbacks Sean Mannion and Cody Kessler squaring off. Colorado at Cal is intriguing for power ranking purposes, as is Washington State at Utah.
But on the first leg of our two-game Week 5 trip, we’re making our first stop in Tempe to see the game that has essentially determined the Pac-12 South division the last couple of years. And it might be the swing game again this season.
The Sun Devils are the defending South champs after taking it from UCLA, which won the division in 2012. The Bruins are the likely favorites this year and looking to take it back.
And the last two meetings have been thrillers. In 2012, it was Taylor Kelly who drove the Sun Devils 56 yards in six plays to give ASU a 43-42 edge with 1:33 left to play. Then Brett Hundley returned the favor, moving UCLA 60 yards in 12 plays to set up Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 33-yard field goal that lifted the Bruins to a 45-43 win as time expired.
Last year, with the Bruins trailing 38-33 and 3:21 left, Hundley wasn’t able to duplicate the magic as the Sun Devils defense stifled him on the final drive. Of course, that was after ASU had built up a 35-13 lead at halftime and almost gave it up in the second half. But a win is a win.
When the preseason media poll is revealed next week, chances are UCLA will be picked to win the South, most likely followed by USC and then ASU. The Sun Devils aren’t going to give up their crown without a fight.
And speaking of critical intra-division games, we’re going to hop on a flight Friday morning up to Seattle, grab dinner at El Gaucho, and then watch Washington host the Cardinal on Saturday. (Or you could drive it … 1,428 miles from stadium to stadium).
Recent history isn’t always great precedent, but given how the last two games have gone, this one could be equally thrilling. The 2012 showdown at the CLink was one of the most deafening games I’ve ever covered -- pro or college. And it was the game that launched Bishop Sankey from backup-turned-starter into a bona fide playmaker.
And of course there were the controversies of last year’s game -- the allegations of fake injuries, a critical replay, Austin Seferian-Jenkins' dropped pass on third down, Ty Montgomery’s monster returns etc. And though Washington’s coaching staff has changed, this meeting has turned into a stellar North matchup the last couple of seasons and worthy of a spot on the road trip.
You can catch the rest of the road trip here.
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.
- Well done: Arizona football raises money for cystic fibrosis.
- Arizona State battles Stanford for a top West Coast receiver.
- This California recruit should get into real estate if football doesn't work out.
- Colorado gets some Doak Walker love.
- Oregon WR Devon Allen is staying humble despite becoming world class this summer.
- A chat with former Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks.
- Lots of preseason recognition for Stanford players.
- Some more on UCLA's new LA Steel.
- USC QB recruit Ricky Town is excited about the Trojans' game with Alabama in 2016.
- Utah picks up a CB transfer from South Carolina.
- Washington releases a teaser hype video, and those are always cool.
- Washington State QB Connor Halliday is on the Davey O'Brien watch list.
Just like the vice president isn't that important until he is, so is the backup quarterback. He could rescue or ruin your season.
So how do Pac-12 teams stand at backup quarterback? Let's take a look. We started with the South Division on Wednesday. Today, it's the North.
(Obviously, if your team hasn't yet named a starting quarterback, this is a bit of an either/or exercise.)
California: With Zach Kline leaving the program, which further established sophomore Jared Goff as the starter, Austin Hinder is the backup. He's a senior with limited experience.
Oregon: The battle behind Marcus Mariota didn't produce decisive results this spring, but Jake Rodrigues' decision to transfer established sophomore Jeff Lockie as the heavy favorite to be the backup. He was ahead of Rodrigues last year, though Rodrigues was a bigger physical talent. Morgan Mahalak is a touted incoming freshman, and the competition figures to be heated to replace Mariota in 2015.
Oregon State: With Alabama transfer Luke Del Rio -- he was a walk-on for the Crimson Tide, not a touted recruit -- immediately eligible, he will join the battle between sophomore Brent VanderVeen and redshirt freshman Kyle Kempt to back up Sean Mannion, a senior. Obviously, the winner becomes the front-runner to win the starting job in 2015. None of the three has played in a college game.
Stanford: Evan Crower, a redshirt junior, was Kevin Hogan's backup last season and might be the favorite to hold onto that perch behind the third-year starter again this fall. That said, redshirt freshman Ryan Burns and incoming freshman Keller Chryst are both touted recruits. Crower completed 10 of 15 passes for 141 yards and one touchdown last year.
Washington: If sophomore Cyler Miles emerges from Chris Petersen's doghouse and becomes the starter -- he certainly looked the part in limited work last year, which included a winning effort in a start at Oregon State -- then the battle to back him up is between sophomore Jeff Lindquist and redshirt freshman Troy Williams. They were the only two quarterbacks throwing passes during spring drills, but neither asserted himself.
Washington State: The Cougars backup QB situation has gone from good to worrisome since the end of the 2013 season. First, Austin Apodaca opted to transfer, probably because he heard footsteps from redshirt freshman Tyler Bruggman. Then Bruggman also bolted, perhaps because he didn't like getting outplayed by walk-on Luke Falk during spring practices. As it is, the Cougs would prefer for Connor Halliday to stay healthy.
Just like the vice president isn't that important until he is, so is the backup QB. He could rescue or ruin your season.
So how do Pac-12 teams stand at backup QB? Let's take a look, starting with the South Division.
(Obviously, if your team hasn't yet named a starting QB, this is a bit of an either-or exercise).
Arizona: The above disclaimer was written for the Wildcats, who have a wide-open competition heading into fall camp between four guys: senior Jesse Scroggins, sophomore Anu Solomon, junior Jerrard Randall and sophomore Connor Brewer. The good news is all four flashed capability during spring practices, so there's little worry on Rich Rodriguez's staff whether he can find at least two guys with whom he can win. Further, the backup situation sets up things for next year (if Scroggins prevails, and he's a slight frontrunner, then it will be competition-on again).
Arizona State: Starter Taylor Kelly is one of the nation's best returning QBs. His big-armed backup, Mike Bercovici, is likely one of the nation's best backup QBs. While Kelly is the clear starter, there isn't a Sun Devil player or coach who'd panic if Bercovici were forced into action. During spring practices, he looked like a co-starter, though he's not the runner Kelly is. The redshirt junior could have transferred searching for playing time when he lost out to Kelly in 2012, but he'll get his shot in 2015 while owning a strong knowledge of Mike Norvell's offense.
Colorado: When you asked coach Mike MacIntyre to list things that pleased him this past spring, he was quick to note how Jordan Gehrke played, establishing himself as Sefo Liufau's backup. That's good because, due to attrition, backup QB was a big concern entering spring practices. No QB on the roster besides Liufau, a true sophomore, has taken a snap in an FBS game.
UCLA: The Bruins have very few questions, but backup QB is one of them. That is a significant concern for two reasons: 1. The drop-off from Brett Hundley appears steep; 2. Hundley likes to run, which puts him at greater risk for injury (Hundley needs to remember to slide -- just because he's built like a linebacker doesn't mean he needs to try to run over one). The chief competitors for the backup job are Jerry Neuheisel, the 2013 backup, and redshirt freshman Asiantii Woulard, with Woulard being the guy with the most future upside. Some obscure QB recruit has committed, but he won't be around until 2015.
USC: New coach Steve Sarkisian named Cody Kessler his starter during spring practices, but there's no question redshirt freshman Max Browne is talented. While he's seen no game action, he's got an NFL arm and flashed a nice touch during spring practices. It's probably good the Trojans have a clear pecking order. And it's good they have a guy like Brown waiting in the wings.
Utah: Whether you're a bird in the hand person -- Travis Wilson is healthy, experienced and ready to rock a third year as a starter! -- or a two-in-the-bush sort -- Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson was once a touted recruit! -- Utes fans surely are breathing easier about their QB situation. If Thompson -- or Conner Manning or Adam Schulz -- is good enough to beat out Wilson, then that means the Utes should be solid at QB this fall.
Kanell's Top Four Teams
2:00 PM ET Hawaii Colorado 3:30 PM ET Utah Michigan 6:00 PM ET Georgia State Washington 10:00 PM ET California Arizona 10:30 PM ET 2 Oregon Washington State 10:30 PM ET San Diego State Oregon State