- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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Some notes to get you through the hours until Saturday. Thanks to ESPN Stats & Information for many of these numbers.
With a win over Notre Dame, Arizona State will become the first school ever to beat USC and Notre Dame in consecutive games. The last team to beat both IN THE SAME SEASON? You don’t have to look far, Stanford has done it three times since 2009.
Arizona State coach Todd Graham is no stranger to beating Notre Dame. In 2010, his Tulsa team came to South Bend and upset the Irish 28-27.
Arizona State’s offense has been lethal this season, especially through the air. The Sun Devils have thrown for at least 350 yards in all four games and last week racked up 612 total yards and 62 points on USC.
That could spell trouble for a Notre Dame defense that is a far cry from what it was a year ago. Entering the BCS Championship Game last season, the Notre Dame defense allowed just nine total touchdowns -- seven through the air. Through five games this season, they have already allowed 14 touchdowns -- 10 of the passing variety.
Notre Dame has allowed at least 24 points in three games so far this season. In 12 regular season games last season, only one team reached that mark (Pitt, 26).
Arizona State’s Marion Grice has scored 12 TDs from scrimmage this season (eight rush, four receiving). No other FBS player has more than nine this season. In the last 10 seasons, that ties the most through four team games. Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson in 2012 and Temple’s Bernard Pierce in 2011 both had 12.
California leads its series with Washington State 44-25-5 and has won eight consecutive meetings. The teams have not met in Berkeley since 2009 after playing the 2011 meeting in San Francisco at AT&T Park, home of baseball’s San Francisco Giants. The Cougars’ last win in the series came at Memorial Stadium, a 48-38 victory in 2002 behind Jason Gesser’s 432 yards and four touchdowns along with Eric Coleman’s blocked punt he returned for a touchdown.
Both Cal and WSU prefer to throw the ball. Cal ranks fourth in the nation with 373 yards per game, while the Cougars are 14th with 329.3 yards per game. Neither runs well, with Cal ranking 97th in the nation in rushing and the Cougs 121st.
Both teams were forced to make QB changes in losses last weekend -- Bears QB Jared Goff due to fumble issues and Connor Halliday due to injury. Nonetheless, it appears that neither team will change starters.
Oregon has scored at least 55 points in each of its first four games. That’s the longest such streak in school history, and the longest in FBS since Houston topped 55 points in five straight games in 2011.
Oregon has 31 touchdown drives this season, and 26 of those drives have taken two minutes or less. That’s the most such touchdown drives in FBS; Baylor (23) is the only other team with more than 15 such drives this season.
Oregon QB Marcus Mariota has the second-highest Total QBR (94.6) in the FBS this season. Last week against California, he posted the third-lowest Total QBR (54.3) of his career. Of course, the weather -- torrential rain -- may have had something to do with that.
Colorado has lost 11 straight games against teams ranked in the AP Top 25. The Buffaloes last win against a ranked opponent was against No. 17 Kansas in 2009; their last win against a team ranked this high was in 2001, when they beat No. 2 Nebraska to win the Big 12 North. The Buffs are also 3-17 vs. Pac-12 opponents since joining the conference in 2011 (including a nonconference match-up with California in 2011), the worst winning percentage of any conference member.
So far this season, the Pac-12 North is a perfect 5-0 against the South division.
Since the start of last season, Stanford has held its opponents to 17.7 points per game, 10th best in the nation. They held Oregon to 21 fewer points than any other team and Arizona was the only opponent to score more than 30 points.
The Cardinal rely on the front-seven to stop the run. Since the start of last season, they average 6.4 players in the box on running plays, tied for the second fewest by any AQ defense. They have brought an eighth man into the box on just 35 runs, 25 fewer than any other major conference team. More than a quarter of those runs (10) were against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl when the Badgers used two or more tight ends in the formation.
From 1977 to 2003, Washington went 20-2 against Stanford. Since then, Washington is 2-6 against Stanford.
Stanford is one of six FBS teams since the start of last season that have held their opponent to under 100 yards rushing per game. During that time period, The Cardinal have allowed the fewest yards per rush (3.1) in the Pac-12 and have forced the seventh-most runs for a loss (191) by any FBS team.
Stanford’s 3-4 defense has been just as effective in the passing game. The Cardinal lead the FBS with 66 sacks since the start of last season. They have at least one sack in every game, except for when they played Army, which had only 10 dropbacks.
Stanford has an AQ-high 196 total pressures (hurries + knockdowns) from the start of last season. That means the Cardinal hit or hurried the quarterback on 23 percent of opponents’ dropbacks, including 25 percent of the time against Washington last season.
Stanford sends four or fewer pass rushers on 77 percent of opponents’ dropbacks. That is slightly more than the AQ average (73 percent). When sending four or fewer, the Cardinal have an AQ-high 48 sacks and have hit or hurried the quarterback on 21 percent of dropbacks, five percentage points higher than the AQ average.
Washington QB Keith Price has been sacked 40 times since the start of last season, tied for the seventh most by any FBS quarterback. Yet, he has only been sacked three times this season. If Stanford cannot get to him with four pass rushers, it could be an issue. Price is completing 82.1 percent of his passes with four touchdown and no interceptions this season when opponents blitz.
Through five weeks, Keith Price has a Total QBR of 81.2, which is 40.3 points higher than last season. Price has the highest completion percentage in the Pac-12 and is one of four qualified quarterbacks in the FBS to improve their Total QBR from 2012 by more than 40 points.
One reason for Price’s improved numbers rests on the health of his offensive line. After injuries forced Washington’s projected starters to miss a combined 40 starts last season, the same unit has started every game together in 2013. With continuity on the offensive line, Price has been sacked three times this season, after taking 37 sacks in 2012, sixth most in the FBS.
Not only has the offensive line given Price more time to throw, but it has also helped open running lanes for Bishop Sankey and the Huskies running attack. Sankey has the fifth-most rushing yards (607) and tied for the seventh-most rushes of 20 yards or more (6), two fewer than he had all of last season. Through five weeks, he has nearly doubled his rushing total from this time last season. Sankey has 29 rushes where he was not contacted until he was more than five yards downfield, tied for the most among AQ rushers.
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