Oregon Ducks: Josh Huff
Tim in Atlanta writes: Is there really any justification for Josh Huff being left off the 2nd team all-Pac team this year? He had 200 more yards than montgomery and 57% more TD than Strong. Standings shouldn't matter in this, and the fact that Huff is the first WR in years to have 1000 yards in Oregon's spread-it-around system should say a lot. Seems like voters punished him for Oregon's offensive firepower instead of rewarding a guy for standing out on a team full of offensive talent... or maybe they didn't the game on friday.
Kevin Gemmell: Well, the voters are the coaches. And having talked to the coaches over the last couple of years, I can tell you this isn’t something they farm out to assistants. The ones I’ve spoken with about the process take it pretty seriously.
The stats are there, no question. And I was sitting in a bar in Pasadena Friday night watching the Civil War feeling very happy for Huff to have that kind of a game. He’s taken a lot of heat over the last month -- some of it was deserved, some of it wasn’t.
But I think that also could have played a factor. Coaches are bias, just like everyone else who votes. They have their favorites. And perhaps Huff’s Rose Bowl comments didn’t sit well with the coaches. I’m just speculating, but I don’t think it’s too far of a reach.
A lot of questions and speculation about the Pac-12’s Rose Bowl partner – including questions from Kelly in Bend, Ore., Josh in Mesa, Ariz., and Greg in San Francisco. So I’ll lump them all together into one answer. It breaks down to this: Could Alabama play in the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO.
Kevin Gemmell: Short answer: yes, with an if. And no, with a but.
The winner of the Pac-12 championship game heads to the Rose Bowl no matter what, since neither Stanford nor Arizona State are under consideration for the VIZIO BCS National Championship game.
The Big Ten is a different story since Ohio State is now in play for the title game. If Ohio State beats Michigan State, chances are it goes to the BCS championship game and therefore the Big Ten forfeits its entry into the Rose Bowl. That leaves a void.
The obvious solution is Michigan State to Pasadena. The kicker, however, is whether Michigan State is still in the top 14 of the BCS rankings. If Michigan State wins, it will go to the Rose Bowl. If it loses and falls out of the top 14, a replacement team needs to be found.
The optimal solution is for either Michigan State to win or Ohio State to win, but Michigan State puts up a good enough fight that it stays within the top 14. There is nothing the Rose Bowl committee wants more than a Pac-12-Big Ten matchup for the 100th game. Preserving that tradition is important to them.
But it might be out of their control.
Assuming Florida State goes to the championship game, the Discover Orange Bowl would have the first pick at filling its spot. It’s hard to imagine Alabama slipping through. However, if for some reason it does, then I wouldn’t be shocked for the Rose Bowl to snatch up Alabama. But a few things need to happen for that scenario to play out.
John in Los Angeles writes: A case for [Jim] Mora being Coach of the Year. First, let me say I don't know much about the other teams in the conference. Being in LA I of course know the saga of Southern Cal, and I do think Coach Orgeron has done a great job. That having been said, here are my points (in no particular order save point 1).
- The death of a player: You have brought this up a few times and it likely goes without saying how this impacted the team. Some might say kids this age are resilient and there is some truth to that notion. However I still think Mora did a great job in handling the situation.
- Replacing Franklin: I don't really remember seeing this mentioned much other than at the start of the season. Franklin not only became the schools leading rusher he was a team leader. That is a tough combination to replace.
- Replacing the secondary: This job became even harder when Riley had to retire. I don't know how young we were back there but IIRC it was fairly young all season.
- Injuries along the offensive line: This one is pretty well documented.
- Freshman punter: I don't think people appreciate how good Jeff Locke was last year in terms of field position. Then to have to replace him with a true freshman to boot (pun intended).
With all of those things UCLA was one poor half away from winning the South. Like I said, I don't know much about the other teams and what they had to go through this year. But I think going 9-3 with 2 of the three losses coming on the road to (then) top 5 teams in back to back weekends and the only other loss to a top 20 team with having to deal with all the stuff above, Mora deserves some serious consideration for Coach of the Year.
Kevin Gemmell: This one came in on Sunday, before the coach of the year was named, but I still think everything John just mentioned is worth addressing, because everything he says is correct. And I don’t know what the totals were in terms of voting for coach of the year. I have to imagine Mora got a few votes.
But it’s tough to ignore the job Todd Graham has done at Arizona State. Before the season, most people didn’t expect the Sun Devils to win the South (outside of the Pac-12 blog) and they started the year unranked. When you look at the schedule they played and the way they won games down the stretch -- home and away, blowouts and come-from-behinds -- I would have voted for Graham also.
Mora did a fantastic coaching job this year. And winning at the Coliseum last week was obviously a huge step forward for the program. But they had a chance to seize control of the division at home and couldn’t get it done.
From where ASU started the season -- unranked -- to where it is now, Graham was the right choice.
The Heisman Committee in New York writes: Kevin, you told us recently that the Pac-12 would send 1 Heisman finalist and it would be Marcus Mariota? Should Carey go? Should he take Mariota's place? Is there any chance we invite both? Do either have a chance of beating Winston and the field given Winston's legal troubles? We're so overwhelmed by this season that we could really use all the help we can get.
Kevin Gemmell: Pretty sure I told you that in October during a chat. Chat answers are obviously gut feelings at the time, and at the time Mariota seemed like a safe choice.
Have the circumstances changed? Absolutely. I think when all is said and done, it should either be Ka'Deem Carey or Bishop Sankey who represents the Pac-12 in the Heisman voting. I made a case earlier today for one of the two Pac-12 backs winning the Doak Walker. And I think if the Heisman doesn’t go to a quarterback, then it should go to one of the two backs. And I’d be a Carey lean simply because of the consistency every week.
Yes, Sankey supporters, I know he sat out a lot of the Idaho State and Colorado games. Carey missed time too. Both are phenomenal backs and regular Pac-12 blog readers know that I’ve been high on Sankey for a very long time.
But his performances in the ASU and UCLA games are the sort of showing that haunt players when it comes to postseason awards. If I were a voter, my main focal point would be consistency and complete body of work. And Carey showed that against the toughest competition he played his best ball.
Emily in LA writes: Well, I guess you can ignore my last question now that it's completely irrelevant after today's news. I'll withhold judgment on Sarkisian (and learn to spell his name) after I see how he does, but I'm still sad about Coach O leaving.
Kevin Gemmell: Emily submitted a question on Sunday showing support for Ed Orgeron and questioning whether the UCLA loss should play a major factor in Pat Haden’s decision. It can still be answered despite the changes, because we now have the benefit of hindsight.
I’m pretty sure it didn’t rest on that one game -- though it probably made it easier. No doubt, Orgeron did a magnificent job. He tapped into something special with his players and rode it for as long as he could.
For kicks, let’s say he were named the head coach. A lot of the inspiration he had this season -- that nothing-to-lose attitude -- would be gone. That’s not to say he couldn’t get the job done. But these past seven weeks have been a pretty exceptional situation.
Haden is thinking about the long-term health of the program. It can’t just be five weeks from now. It has to be five years from now. And it’s tough to separate the emotion of what went on the last few weeks with what the future is going to hold.
Keep in mind though the two games Orgeron did lose -- Notre Dame and UCLA. Those are rivalry games. USC fans expect their team to beat Cal and Utah and yes, even Oregon State in Corvallis. But they also expect wins over rivals. And that’s something Orgeron failed to provide.
Don’t get me wrong. The Pac-12 blog was very impressed with what Orgeron was able to do. And there is obviously a level of disappointment in him leaving.
But he had to go. Sark needs a clean slate to start with, and Orgeron’s presence, while probably wanted by the players, would have been more of a distraction to the new administration.
It’s like breaking up with your girlfriend, but tagging along with her on dates so you can tell her new man her likes and dislikes. It’s uncomfortable and awkward.
- Some more on Ka'Deem Carey winning the Pac-12 offensive player of the year.
- ASU's third-down defense will be critical against Stanford.
- Some more on Zach Kline's decision to transfer.
- Paul Richardson is headed to the NFL.
- Josh Huff feels disrespected that he didn't make the all-conference team.
- Some potential bowl landing spots for Oregon State.
- David Shaw is disappointed Trent Murphy wasn't named the league's top defender.
- Jim Mora to Washington is a strong possibility.
- It was an emotional day at USC with one coach leaving and another coming in.
- A "miserable" stretch ended on a high note for Utah.
- Washington players take to social media to react to Steve Sarkisian's departure.
- A Q&A with Washington State athletic director Bill Moos.
- Athlon offers up its thoughts on USC's hire and who the candidates are at Washington.
Here’s some more on the trio, per the Pac-12’s release:
Huff, a senior from Houston, Texas, posted a career-high nine catches for 186 yards and three touchdowns in a last-minute 36-35 win in the Civil War over Oregon State on Friday evening. After catching a 12-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 3:09 remaining, Huff followed with another 12-yard score for the game-winning touchdown with 29 seconds remaining in the game. All three of his second-half scoring catches brought the Ducks back from deficits and eight of his nine receptions resulted in first down or touchdowns.
Randall, a junior from Pensacola, Fla., was responsible for two turnovers, including a 64-yard interception return for a touchdown and a forced fumble as the Sun Devils knocked off in-state rival Arizona 58-21 in the Territorial Cup on Saturday night. Both forced turnovers led to scores that extended the Sun Devils lead and put the game out of reach. Randall also notched a game-high 12 tackles, including a four-yard tackle for loss, as Arizona State secured the best record in league play and hosting duties for the Pac-12 Football Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 7.
Gonzalez, a freshman from Deer Park, Texas, accounted for 16 points as he connected on all 10 of his kicks, including 3-of-3 on field goals and 7-of-7 on extra points, helping Arizona State claim the Territorial Cup in the victory over Arizona on Saturday. He has now made a school-record 18 consecutive field goals dating back to the USC game on Sept. 28 and has made 22 of 25 on the year. His 124 total points are the most in a single-season by an ASU kicker, while his 10.4 points per game is good for eighth in the nation. Gonzalez is the only player to earn the special teams player of the week honor twice in 2013.
Also nominated for offensive player of the week honors were running backs D.J. Foster of Arizona State, Tyler Gaffney of Stanford, Kelvin York of Utah and Bishop Sankey of Washington; and quarterback Brett Hundley of UCLA. Also nominated for defensive player of the week honors were linebackers Addison Gilliam of Colorado, Anthony Barr of UCLA and Trevor Reilly of Utah; cornerbacks Ifo Ekpre-Olomu of Oregon and Wayne Lyons of Stanford; and defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha of Washington. Also nominated for special teams player of the week honors was UCLA punter Sean Covington and Utah punter Tom Hackett.
Huff caught a career-high nine passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns in the Ducks' 36-35, come-from-behind victory over Oregon State. Every time the Beavers took the lead, Huff was there to put the Ducks back ahead.
His first touchdown, a 28-yard pass from Marcus Mariota, came in the third quarter with the Ducks trailing 20-17. His second was a 12-yard connection in the fourth quarter with Oregon State leading 29-24. And the clincher was a 12-yarder with 29 seconds left in the game to give Oregon the final margin.
“That guy is a warrior,” Mariota said. “He has been making plays like that for his whole career. I have all the confidence in the world in that guy. He made play after big play."
Huff’s 186-yard performance was the 10th-best single-game total in Oregon history. The victory gives Oregon a sixth consecutive 10-win season.
Said Huff of his game-winning reception: "It was something that I dreamed of as a little kid. All my teammates were pushing me on and they told me to dig deep. They needed me and Marcus was able to find me in the end zone.
"I have no idea how I feel. I am happy, I can tell you that. It is surreal. I didn't imagine my last game would come down like that. It is everything I dreamed of as a little kid. My dream finally came true. To leave on that note is pretty amazing."
UCLA's Myles Jack earned freshman of the year for both offense and defense with his 70 tackles as a linebacker and seven touchdowns as a running back. This is the first time since the awards were introduced in 2008 that the same player has won both sides.
Arizona State coach Todd Graham is the league's coach of the year for guiding the Sun Devils to a conference record of 8-1 and winning the South Division. The Sun Devils host Stanford this weekend in the Pac-12 championship game.
The team is selected by the Pac-12 head coaches.
Offensive player of the year: Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year: Will Sutton, DE Arizona State
Freshman Offense and Defensive Player of the Year: Myles Jack, RB/LB, UCLA
Coach of the Year: Todd Graham, Arizona State
First team offense
QB Marcus Mariota, So., Oregon (2)
RB Ka'Deem Carey, Jr., Arizona (2)
RB Bishop Sankey, Jr., Washington
WR Brandin Cooks, Jr., Oregon State
WR Paul Richardson, Jr., Colorado
TE Chris Coyle, Grad., Arizona State
OL Evan Finkenberg, Grad., Arizona State
OL Hroniss Grasu, Jr., Oregon (2)
OL Marcus Martin, Jr., USC
OL Xavier Su'a-Filo, Jr., UCLA (2)
OL David Yankey, Sr, Stanford (2)
First team defense
DL Ben Gardner, Sr., Stanford
DL Trevor Reilly, Sr., Utah
DL Will Sutton, Sr., Arizona State
DL Leonard Williams, So., USC
LB Anthony Barr, Sr., UCLA (2)
LB Trent Murphy, Sr., Stanford (2)
LB Shayne Skov, Sr., Stanford
DB Deone Bucannon, Sr., Washington State
DB Alden Darby, Sr., Arizona State
DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Jr., Oregon
DB Robert Nelson, Sr., Arizona State
DB Ed Reynolds, Sr., Stanford (2)
First team specialists
PK Zane Gonzalez, Fr., Arizona State
P Tom Hackett, So. Utah
RS Ty Montgomery, Jr., Stanford
ST Soma Vainuku, So. USC
Second team offense
QB Taylor Kelly, Jr., Arizona State
RB Tyler Gaffney, Sr., Stanford
RB Marion Grice, Sr. Arizona State
WR Ty Montgomery, Jr., Stanford
WR Jaelen Strong, So., Arizona State
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jr., Washington
OL Jamil Douglas, Jr., Arizona State
OL Cameron Fleming, Sr., Stanford
OL Andrus Peat, So., Stanford
OL Isaac Seumalo, So., Oregon State
OL Khalil Wilkes, Sr. Stanford
Second team defense
DL Scott Crichton, Jr., Oregon State
DL Taylor Hart, Sr., Oregon
DL Devon Kennard, Sr., USC
DL Hau'oli Kikaha, Jr., Washington
DL Tenny Palepoi, Sr., Utah
LB Carl Bradford, Jr., Arizona State
LB Myles Jack, Fr., UCLA
LB Hayes Pullard, Jr., USC
LB Chris Young, Sr., Arizona State
DB Dion Bailey, Jr., USC
DB Osahon Irabor, Grad., Arizona State
DB Marcus Peters, So., Washington
DB Rashaad Reynolds, Sr., Oregon State
Second team specialists
PK Vincenzo D'Amato, Sr., California
P Travis Coons, Sr., Washington
RS Nelson Agholor, So., USC
ST Erick Dargan, Jr., Oregon
ST Joe Hemschoot, Sr., Stanford
ST Ryan Hofmeister, Jr., UCLA
RS: Return Specialist
ST: special teams player (not a kicker or returner)
(2): Two-time first-team selection
Arizona: LB Marquis Flowers, Sr.; DL Tevin Hood, Sr.; WR Nate Phillips, Fr.; DB Jared Tevis, Jr.; LB Scooby Wright, Fr.
Arizona State: DL Davon Coleman, Grad.; Gannon Conway, Sr.; ST D.J. Foster, So.; ST De'Marieya Nelson, Jr.
California: DL Deandre Coleman, Sr.; QB Jared Goff, Fr.; WR Bryce Treggs, So.
Colorado: RB Mike Adkins, Fr.; LB Addison Gillam, Fr.; PK Will Oliver, Jr.
Oregon: WR/RS Bralon Addison, So.; WR Josh Huff, Sr.; OL Tyler Johnstone, So.; DL Wade Keliikipi, Sr.; LB Derrick Malone, Jr.; RB Byron Marshall, So.; DL Tony Washington, Jr.
Oregon State: OL Grant Enger, Sr.; TE Connor Hamlett, JR.; QB Sean Mannion, Jr.; DB Ryan Murphy, Jr.; DB Steven Nelson, Jr.; ST Terron Ward, Jr.
Stanford: DL Henry Anderson, Sr.; DB Alex Carter, So.; OL Kevin Danser, Sr.; DL Josh Mauro, Sr.; P Ben Rhyne, Sr.; DB Jordan Richards, Jr.; LB A.J. Tarpley, Sr.
UCLA: OL Jake Brendel, So.; ST Jayon Brown, Fr.; P Sean Covington, Fr.; TE Thomas Duarte, Fr.; WR Shaq Evans, Sr.; WR Devin Fuller, So.; DB Randall Goforth, So.; QB Brett Hundley, So.; DB Anthony Jefferson, Jr.; LB Eric Kendricks, Jr.; DL Cassius Marsh, Sr.; DL Ellis McCarthy, So.; DB Fabian Moreau, So.; OL Alex Redmond, Fr.; DL Eddie Vanderdoes, Fr.; LB Jordan Zumwalt, Sr.
USC: P Kris Albarado, So.; RB Javorius Allen, So.; WR Nelson Agholor, So.; DB Su'a Cravens, Fr.; OL Kevin Graf, Sr.; TE Xavier Grimble, Jr.; QB Cody Kessler, So.; WR Marqise Lee, Jr.; DB Josh Shaw, Jr.; DL J.R. Tavai, Jr.; OL Max Turek, So.; DL George Uko, Jr.
Utah: WR Dres Anderson, Jr.; OL Vyncent Jones, Sr.; DB Keith McGill, Sr.; PK Andy Phillips, Fr.; LB Jason Whittingham, So.
Washington: OL Dexter Charles, So.; PK Travis Coons, Sr.; OL Mike Criste, Jr.; OL Micah Hatchie, Jr.; DB Sean Parker, Sr.; QB Keith Price, Sr.; DL Danny Shelton, Jr.; LB Shaq Thompson, So.
Washington State: OL Elliott Bosch, Sr.; WR River Cracraft, Fr.; PK Andrew Furney, Sr.; DB Damante Horton, Sr.;
Some notes on the teams:
By School: Arizona State and Stanford placed the most players on the first team with six selections each.
By Class: Of the 27 first-team selections, two are graduate students, 11 are seniors, nine are juniors, four are sophomores and one freshman.
Unanimous: Only one player was named on the first-team ballot of all 12 head coaches -- RB Ka'Deem Carey of Arizona.
Two-time Selections: Ten players are repeat first-team selections from last year.
All-Academic: Two first team All-Pac-12 performers also were named to the Pac-12 All Academic second team -- RB Bishop Sankey of Washington and DB Ed Reynolds of Stanford, while Washington defensive lineman Hau'oli Kikaha was named to the All-Pac-12 second team and Pac-12 All-Academic first team. Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly earned second-team honors on both the Pac-12 All-Conference and All-Academic teams.
Team of the week: UCLA was coming off a tough loss to Arizona State, while Ed Orgeron and USC were the toast of the City of Angels after a 6-1 run, post-Lane Kiffin. But the Bruins went into the Coliseum and delivered a decisive smackdown to the Trojans, 35-14. The 21-point margin of victory was the Bruins' largest in the rivalry game since 1970. The Bruins own the momentum with a second consecutive win in the battle for L.A.
Biggest play: While Huff's last TD reception provided the winning margin, perhaps even bigger was his 12-yard TD reception on a fourth-and-11 play that gave the Ducks a 30-29 lead with eight minutes left. That sort of aggressive fourth-down play calling hasn't always paid off this year for the Ducks, but in this big instance, it did.
Offensive standout: Washington RB Bishop Sankey rushed for 200 yards and a TD on 34 carries in the Huskies' 27-17 win over Washington State in the Apple Cup, gaining 139 yards in the second half, when Washington took over the game. He lost just 2 total yards, and he also caught a 40-yard pass. Sankey finished the regular season with 1,775 yards rushing, which broke the school's single-season record held by Corey Dillon (set in 1996).
Offensive standout II: Huff caught nine passes for a season-high 186 yards -- 20.7 yards per catch -- and three touchdowns in the Ducks' nailbiting win over Oregon State. As previously noted, Huff's last two touchdowns were clutch fourth-quarter grabs that won the game for Oregon.
Defensive standout: Stanford CB Wayne Lyons had two interceptions to go along with his three tackles in the Cardinal's 27-20 win over Notre Dame.
Defensive standout II: Washington DE Hau'oli Kikaha had a team-high 11 tackles, with 2.5 going for a loss, and two sacks in the Apple Cup.
Special teams standout: Washington kicker Travis Coons, one of the goats of the 2012 Apple Cup, was 2-for-2 on field goals against Washington State with a career-long 48-yarder. Also, three of his six punts were killed inside the Cougars' 20-yard line.
Smiley face: Stanford and Arizona State both took care of business with cold-blooded dominance, which means the Pac-12 championship game features two highly ranked teams for the first time.
Frowny face: With BCS chaos taking over this weekend, Oregon and Stanford surely are asking, "What might have been?" Both started the season with national title aspirations and often looked like teams that could finish No. 1. But in a year when the Pac-12 was as deep as it's ever been, neither could bring its A game nine times this season. Or even eight. And guess what? It's Arizona State which is favored to take home the top prize in the conference and play in the Rose Bowl.
Thought of the week: Arizona RB Ka'Deem Carey should be invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony and he should win the Doak Walker Award over Boston College's Andre Williams, even though Williams leads the nation in rushing. For one, we know that leading the nation in rushing doesn't earn you the Doak Walker Award automatically because it didn't happen last year when Carey led the nation. The short argument is Carey is a better running back than Williams, who is very good but not nearly the NFL prospect Carey is. But let's face it: Williams has stuffed the ballot box and has been stuffed by good defenses (though he did distinguish himself against Florida State and Virginia Tech). He had 263 yards against Army, 295 yards against New Mexico State, 339 yards against NC State and 263 yards against Maryland. Both Boston College and Arizona played USC, and Carey had 138 yards against the Trojans, while Williams had 38 yards. Williams had 70 yards against Clemson. Carey, meanwhile, has eclipsed 100 yards in 15 straight games, the longest such streak in a decade. Further, he has faced four Top 25 opponents in 2013 and averaged 161.0 yards per game with at least one touchdown in each game. Carey's 200-yard games? They came against Utah, owner of the nation's No. 22 run defense, and Oregon. If the Doak Walker is about who is the best running back in the nation, there's no question here: It's Carey.
Questions for the week: Is the Sleeping Giant finally -- finally! -- awakening? If Arizona State wins the Pac-12 championship on Saturday and advances to its first Rose Bowl since the 1996 season, it's reasonable to begin wondering whether coach Todd Graham has taken one of college football writers' long-term speculative storylines -- why isn't Arizona State a national power? -- into the realm of reality.
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington: Sankey rushed for 200 yards and a TD on 34 carries in the Huskies 27-17 win over Washington State. He gained 139 yards in the second half when Washington took oer the game. He lost just two total yards, and he also caught a 40-yard pass. Sankey finished the regular season with 1,775 yards rushing, which broke the school's single-season record held by Corey Dilon, which was set in 1996.
Hau'oli Kikaha, DE, Washington: Kikaha had a team-high 11 tackles, with 2.5 going for a loss, and two sacks in the Apple Cup.
Josh Huff, WR, Oregon: Huff caught nine passes for a season-high 186 yards -- 20.7 yards per catch -- and three touchdowns in the Ducks' nailbiting 36-35 win over Oregon State in the Civil War. Most important was his 12-yard grab for the winning score with 29 seconds left. Huff also hauled in another 12-yard scoring pass on the previous scoring drive on a fourth-and-11 play.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon: Ekpre-Olomu had a team-high 12 tackles -- all solos -- with an interception and three pass breakups in the Civil War. He also kept Beavers WR Brandin Cooks out of the end zone, though Cooks did catch 10 passes for 110 yards.
Kelvin York, RB, Utah: York rushed for 132 yards on 31 carries and scored two TDs in the Utes 24-17 win over Colorado.
Trevor Reilly, DE, Utah: Reilly had a team-high 14 tackles with a tackle for a loss in the Utes win over Colorado. Most important: The senior grabbed an interception on the Buffaloes' final possession, ending their fourth-quarter comeback.
Wayne Lyons, CB, Stanford: Lyons had two interceptions to go along with his three tackles in the Cardinal's 27-20 win over Notre Dame.
Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford: Gaffney rushed for 189 yards on 33 carries with a TD in the win over Notre Dame.
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA: Hundley completed 18 of 27 passes for 208 yards and rushed 13 times for 80 yards and two TDs in the Bruins 35-14 win over USC.
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA: Barr had two sacks and a key forced fumble in the win over USC. He had five total tackles.
D.J. Foster, RB, Arizona State: Foster, stepping in for an injured Marion Grice, rushed for 124 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns in the Sun Devils 58-21 win over Arizona. He also caught two passes for 26 yards.
De'Marieya Nelson, TE, Arizona State: Nelson rushed for 35 yards and two touchdowns and caught a 21-yard pass on offense, and he had three tackles, a forced fumble and fumble recovery on special teams.
TUCSON, Ariz. -- If you wanted to floridly imagine a cosmic wrath exacted on Oregon on Saturday by the slighted Rose Bowl in Arizona's 42-16 whipping of the Ducks, you would note that the Wildcats were clad head-to-toe in rosy red while they posted their first win over a top-five team since 2007.
It would be ridiculous, of course, to further belabor De'Anthony Thomas' and Josh Huff's controversial musings last week about not being excited about the possibility of playing in the Rose Bowl because they had their sights set on the national title game, but the karmic symmetry is impossible to ignore.
Turn your nose up at the Granddaddy? Fine, how do you feel about the Alamo Bowl? Or maybe even something a little lower on the Pac-12 bowl pecking order?
Completely true. What did matter was the Wildcats playing an outstanding game in all three phases and the Ducks looking sloppy and uninterested while getting thrashed.
"Very sluggish in every phase. That's 100 percent my fault," Helfrich said. "I have to figure out exactly which levers to pull and buttons to push."
There were a lot of notable negative landmarks for Oregon. This was the Ducks' first loss to an unranked team since 2009. The 26-point margin of defeat was their biggest since losing 44-10 to USC in 2008. After four consecutive BCS bowl berths, the Ducks will be playing before the New Year this postseason. Stanford wins the North Division for the second consecutive year.
Further, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota threw his first two interceptions of the season. The first came on the Ducks' opening offensive play, and it set the tone for the game. It was a catchable ball that bounced off sure-handed Bralon Addison along the sideline and was then redirected in bounds by Arizona cornerback Shaquille Richardson into the waiting hands of freshman linebacker Scooby Wright.
It was a fortuitous bit of playmaking, something the Wildcats had a surfeit of, while the normally fancypants Ducks seemed to be all thumbs.
"Everything went right today," Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker said.
Denker, who began the season looking like the worst quarterback in the Pac-12, is now perhaps the most improved player in the Pac-12. He was nothing short of brilliant Saturday, completing 19 of 22 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions and rushing for 102 yards on 14 carries. But top billing for Arizona goes to running back Ka'Deem Carey, who might need a second look from Heisman Trophy voters.
Carey rushed for 206 yards and four touchdowns. It was his 14th consecutive 100-yard-plus rushing game, an active streak that now is tied for longest by an FBS player over the past 10 seasons (Jerome Harrison, 2004-05)
His 48 carries is a new school record and the most so far this season by any FBS running back. All those carries, by the way, produced just two lost yards. Further, Carey, a junior, became Arizona's career rushing leader with 3,913 yards, eclipsing Trung Canidate (1996-99). He also set a new school record for career touchdowns with 49, surpassing Art Luppino (1953-56).
"I think he's the best back in the country," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said.
The Wildcats defense was at its best at important moments. Oregon had a first-and-goal on the Arizona 9-yard line in the first quarter but netted only a field goal. The Wildcats held the Ducks on a fourth-and-2 play on their 41 with one minute before halftime, which ended up producing a quick Arizona touchdown drive for a 28-9 lead at the break. They stopped Oregon on a fourth-and-2 play from their 6-yard line in the third quarter. They intercepted Mariota on a second-and-1 play from their 13 in the fourth.
"We were really dialed in the whole game," a perky Rodriguez told reporters.
The opposite could be said for Oregon.
"No energy," Huff said. "Arizona played with a lot of emotion."
The Ducks were plagued by four dropped passes and drive-killing penalties. Despite seeing his Pac-12 record streak of 353 consecutive pass attempts without an interception end, Mariota played well. He completed 27 of 41 passes with two touchdowns, and his sprained knee seemed much better as he rushed for 52 yards and wasn't sacked.
Still, the loss surely will end his Heisman Trophy candidacy.
"It hurts," Mariota said about the loss, not the Heisman slippage. "I have never been blown out like this before in my life."
None of the current Oregon players have, at least while wearing a Ducks uniform. That's why the loss seems stunning and represents a bigger crisis for Helfrich in his first season than the lackluster showing at Stanford. He admitted there needs to be some "inward looking" throughout the program.
"We have a bunch of guys who are very hurt in that locker room right now," Helfrich said.
The question now no longer centers on the Rose Bowl or any BCS bowl. That possibility is done for. It's only about a Civil War matchup on Friday with Oregon State. It's about showing pride.
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To the notes!
Insulted from Beaver Nation writes: Kevin Gemmell wrote an article today on how the Ducks are not excited about the prospects of going to the Rose Bowl this New Year's. I shouldn't say all the Ducks, but namely Josh Huff and De'Anthony Thomas. I'm sure that the vast majority of the Oregon team is excited about playing in the Rose Bowl. Marcus Mariota, for one, hasn't played in a Rose Bowl. That being said, I'm incredibly insulted by their comments. There are 11 teams in this conference who would kill to be in their position right now. I understand a NATIONAL title berth is the next step for the program, but come on, there are teams in the Pac-12 who have NEVER been to the Rose Bowl, let alone won one. Does the Pac-12 have a right to be offended, and furthermore should the Tournament of Roses Association be insulted? If you're Mark Helfrich, are you telling your guys to keep comments like that to themselves?
They should have kept these feelings to themselves, mostly because they came off as entitled. That didn't work for Marie Antoinette and Leona Helmsley, and it won't work for Huff and Thomas.
You have a right to be offended. And jealous. Know that Cal and Arizona fans, in particular, join you in your outrage.
Further, Oregon went to the Fiesta Bowl last year and has only been to two Rose Bowls in the past four years, going 1-1 in those games. They aren't like USC under Pete Carroll, which, after playing for the national title in the Rose Bowl after the 2005 season, went to three consecutive Rose Bowls. I recall chatting with then Trojans LB Rey Maualuga about that in 2008, when a USC team that was clearly the nation's best was getting squeezed down in the BCS standings. He said, "... all the veterans are getting tired of seeing Disneyland and all the same stuff we've been seeing the past couple of years. That national title is why we all came back. But sometimes things just don't go your way."
Oregon, like USC in 2008, entered the season thinking national championship, and for much of the season the Ducks were on track. Just like last year, there's clearly some, "What Might Have Been," seeping into the locker room.
However, I tend to yawn at stories like this -- quote-centered controversies based on college athletes not carefully staying on message with the general athlete-to-reporter pablum about playing one game at a time and giving 110 percent.
I knew even before Huff and Thomas spoke that they were disappointed not to be playing for the national title, and that the Rose Bowl is only a consolation prize.
That said, the second-best thing any college football team can do any given season is win a Rose Bowl. Hopefully they recognize a shot at that, particularly if it's against unbeaten Ohio State, is a pretty nice parting gift.
Bryce from Portland writes: Ted, not to say the future is written, but it is looking like Alabama will be going to the national championship for a third straight year. If that happens, and they beat Florida State or Ohio State or whomever, I have a question for you. Is that good for the sport of college football? I know professionally, the NFL doesn't want one team to dominate year after year (Patriots). But seeing as there are not competitive laws governing CFB, do we see a change occur if Alabama continually dominates? Or the SEC for that matter?
Ted Miller: It's fan-freaking-tastic for Alabama. Pretty darn good for the SEC, though the rest of the conference is starting to look like not much more than a supporting cast for the Crimson Tide.
For the rest of the nation, it's not good.
I would refer you this article from last January.
My main response? Either somebody has to beat Alabama or Nick Saban has to retire or go elsewhere. And it's up to the rest of the nation to take down the SEC once we start a four-team playoff.
There are, however, things athletic directors in other conferences can do to bolster the non-SEC cause. Chief among those: Insist that the SEC play nine conference games, which would eliminate these November days-off games that significantly bolster the SEC late in the season. As in: Alabama plays Chattanooga this weekend while the Pac-12 plays six conference games.
Ted Miller: Wisconsin is more appealing because it will sell more tickets and buy more hotel rooms than Stanford.
Bowl games, most notably the Sugar Bowl, are not about great matchups that folks want to watch on TV. They are about boosting the local economy, particularly tourist-driven places such as New Orleans and, to a lesser extent, Miami.
Garrett from Eugene, Ore., writes: Looking at the Heisman list, I am surprised to see so many underclassmen. Why do you think there was been such a rise in talent in underclassmen? Or is it the media being willing to give the Heisman to an underclassman after Tim Tebow won it as a sophomore and Johnny Manziel won it last year as a freshman?
Ted Miller: I don't think the media pays too much attention to how old a player is. It pays attention to production and winning.
The reason there are few senior Heisman winners is because a player good enough to win the Heisman typically is good enough to enter the NFL draft after three years in college.
But there does seem to be a clear youth movement at quarterback. I think you can attribute that to the growth of 7-on-7 football nationally. Young QBs are now playing football year round, like prep hoops stars on AAU teams, and that sharpens their command of the game. Also, there seem to be more pass-first high school attacks out there, with many running spread options not unlike what you see across the Pac-12.
Freshman quarterbacks arrive far closer to finished products, mentally and physically, than they did 10 or 20 years ago.
Brandon from Albuquerque writes: You picked Wazzu not to be bowl eligible, but also picked them to beat Utah to become bowl eligible all in the same week?
Ted Miller: Yes. Sorry.
At the beginning of the week, the possibility was there that Utah might get starting QB Travis Wilson back. The news of his season-ending concussion -- and possible long-term issues -- convinced me to pick the Cougars.
I also revisited the Washington State-Arizona game on Monday -- after the Sunday bowl projections -- and was impressed with how the Cougs played on both sides of the ball.
Kyle from Wichita writes: Ted, I'm curious how your visit to Manhappiness [Manhattan/Kansas State] was? I haven't seen any articles about it. As a passionate fan of the school, sports teams and the city I'm always curious to see what others think of the experience. I hope it was first class and you were treated exceptionally well
Ted Miller: I'm sure we'll have something for you shortly on ESPN.com.
As far as my personal experience, it couldn't have been more enjoyable. Everyone at Kansas State was great, from the administration to the fans. I enjoyed hanging out in Manhattan -- a great college town -- and had a great time at the tailgate. It was nice that the game was pretty darn entertaining, too.
This is why I agitate so hard for good non-conference games. Road trips to unfamiliar places are almost always rewarding.
The fourth quarter is not a worry: No. 16 Washington was seen as Oregon's first quality opponent, so the big media question in advance of the game was whether the Huskies would test the Ducks and make it a competitive game heading into the fourth quarter. The Ducks lead was only 31-24 entering the fourth. So yes they were tested. How did the Ducks do? They dominated, outscoring the Huskies 14-0 in the final frame. So, test passed.
QB Marcus Mariota is getting better, and that's scary: Mariota played maybe the best game of his career, completing 24 of 31 passes for 366 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions against a quality defense. He also rushed for 88 yards and a score. Without question, the performance legitimized his Heisman Trophy candidacy.
No Colt? No DAT? No problem: The Ducks kicked talented tight end Colt Lyerla off the team? They see RB De'Anthony Thomas stuck on the sidelines with an ankle injury? That's a major offensive weapon gone and another unavailable. Heck, receiver Josh Huff went down with a leg injury in the first half. No worries. The Ducks get big contributions for WR Bralon Addison and RBs Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner, and Huff makes a miraculous recover. This offense has plenty of weapons.
How might the Ducks react to a tight fourth quarter, which they haven't faced this year? Is statistically impressive quarterback Marcus Mariota a clutch performer? And, really, does first-year head coach Mark Helfrich have the cucumber-cool of the guy he replaced, Chip Kelly?
The No. 2 Ducks sharpened their No. 2 pencils and then ...
"In a hostile environment, under some duress, when you can make some adjustments and execute those adjustments in all three phases, that's a big deal," Helfrich said. "It's a sign of a mature team."
True. The Ducks improved to 6-0 overall, and Mariota produced a Heisman Trophy worthy performance on a big stage. He completed 24 of 31 passes for 366 yards with three touchdowns and he rushed for 88 yards and another score. He has accounted for 25 touchdowns this season, 17 passing, eight rushing.
"I don't have a Heisman vote, but I'd be hard-pressed to say we'll see a better quarterback this year," Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian said of Mariota. "That guy is special. I don't know when he is planning on going to the NFL, but when he does, I think he'll be a top-five draft pick."
It was a brilliant performance from bell to bell, the Ducks 18th consecutive road victory, the longest active streak in FBS football.
As a side bar, one noted by the Oregon fans in attendance with chants of, "Ten more years," late in the fourth quarter, the Ducks recorded their 10th consecutive victory in the bitter rivalry series, and each of those wins came by at least 17 points.
At this point, that dominance seems secondary, almost academic. The average high school senior can't remember Washington beating Oregon. But it's not secondary and academic to folks who can remember when the Huskies dominated the rivalry. Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti has been at Oregon for 21 years in three different stints starting in 1978. He paused when asked if beating the hated Huskies 10 consecutive times seemed possible during his early years at Oregon.
"This was a wild dream way back when," Aliotti said.
But Oregon is not a dream. It's 100 percent for real in all three phases. The Ducks outgained the Huskies 631 yards to 376, averaging 7.8 yards per play. They won the turnover battle 2-0. While the defense yielded 167 tough yards to Sankey, who also had a 60-yard TD run, it blanketed the Huskies' talented corps of receivers, holding Keith Price to 182 yards passing while sacking him four times.
But the star was Mariota, who didn't have his best weapon, running back De'Anthony Thomas, available due to a lingering ankle injury. Of course, it's not easy to get Mariota to talk about himself. When asked about his performance, he noted that it was "a team sport." When asked about feeling pressure in the fourth quarter, he shrugged off the question.
“"We have this deal that if we're prepared, we don't feel pressure," he said.
He threw the ball extremely well and when we covered him, he ran. We tried to spot him. We tried to blitz him. We tried to contain him. But he played a tremendous game. He's a hell of a player, and you have to give them a lot of credit. They're a really good team."” -- Washington coach Steve Sarkisian
Others are better spokespersons for his Heisman campaign.
"He threw the ball extremely well, and when we covered him, he ran," Sarkisian said. "We tried to spot him. We tried to blitz him. We tried to contain him. But he played a tremendous game. He's a hell of a player, and you have to give them a lot of credit. They're a really good team."
Ducks offensive coordinator Scott Frost calls the Ducks' plays. He said Mariota's best qualities are his maturity and composure.
"It's really easy to be a play-caller when the ball is in Marcus' hands," he said.
It's not only Mariota, as he repeatedly pointed out. When receiver Josh Huff went down with what looked like a worrisome leg injury, sophomore Bralon Addison stepped up with eight catches for 157 yards and two scores. When Huff came back in the second half, looking none the worse for wear, he caught six passes for 107 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown strike from Mariota.
And the Ducks defense held the Huskies to 16 points and 178 yards below their season averages.
The big question entering the game was whether the Ducks would finally get tested. They were. That the final score suggests that they weren't only means that they earned an A-plus for this midterm exam.
I'm sorry, I don't do impressions. My training is in psychiatry.
- An awesome video of the Wildcats at play during the bye week.
- ASU receivers have developed a strange case of the dropsies.
- The Bears should get some defensive reinforcements for this week.
- Oregon State's offense provides a stiff challenge for the Buffs.
- A really nice read on Josh Huff and how he made it to Eugene.
- Kevin Cummings grows into his role as a complementary receiver.
- The thought process behind Stanford's fourth-down decisions.
- Jim Mora is still putting together his facilities wish list.
- USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams is a game-changer.
- A look back at previous Holy Wars where Utah was always in control.
- Some video of Steve Sarkisian talking about Arizona's tempo.
- Washington State will have to match Stanford's physicality.
A lot of good players, as it happens every year, won’t make the preseason list. It is in their hands to make the postseason list.
You can review our 2012 postseason top 25 here.
1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
2012 numbers: In his redshirt freshman year, Mariota was the league’s most efficient passer and second nationally per ESPN’s QBR rating. He completed 68.5 percent of his throws for 32 touchdowns and 2,677 yards with only six interceptions. He also rushed for 752 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 57.8 yards on the ground. And yes, we didn’t forget, he caught one ball for two yards and a touchdown. That was the beginning of the end for the dynamic Bryan Bennett-to-Marcus Mariota connection.
2012 postseason ranking: No. 1
Making the case for Mariota: He ended 2012 as our No. 1, and we see no reason to penalize him for getting better in the off season. Yes, he should be even better in 2013. With an outstanding line and cast of players around him like De'Anthony Thomas, Colt Lyerla, Josh Huff and a surging Byron Marshall, expect Mariota to build off his incredible numbers that made him an All-American honorable mention last season. Look for the postseason accolades to increase as well -- maybe even the bronze guy with the stiff arm. It's fun to wonder what his numbers might have looked like last year had he not sat out of the second half of a few games because Oregon couldn't help but put up 40-plus points in the first half. And given Oregon's early schedule in 2013 -- it's possible we could see Mark Helfrich treat his quarterback the same way Chip Kelly did last year. Still, as long as he’s running Oregon’s offense with fantastic precision, he’ll put up the kind of dual-threat numbers that Heisman voters love. The fact that Oregon starts the year ranked in the top five and will be a national championship contender helps. In this quarterback-driven league, Mariota stands at the top of his position and the top of our preseason list.
2. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
3. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
4. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
5. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
6. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
7. Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford
8. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
9. David Yankey, OG, Stanford
10. Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
11. Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
12. Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State
13. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
14. De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
15. Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
16. Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
17. Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford
18. Xavier Su'a-Filo, OL, UCLA
19. Morgan Breslin, OLB, USC
20. Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
21. Carl Bradford, LB, Arizona State
22. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
23. Hroniss Grasu, C, Oregon
24. Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State
25. Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford
The Oregon Ducks will enter the 2013 season having lost a possible top-five pick to the NFL draft, the No. 2 rusher in the Ducks' history and two all-league linebackers. The loss of Dion Jordan, Kenjon Barner, Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay will hurt, but potential losses after the 2013 season could sting a lot more.
The 2013 recruiting class was solid, but not spectacular. Next year, the potential of losing De'Anthony Thomas, Marcus Mariota, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Terrance Mitchell, Hroniss Grasu and Colt Lyerla early to the NFL would be a huge blow to the Ducks as they try and continue their run of BCS appearances. The Ducks will definitely lose three impact players on the defensive line, two safeties, a linebacker and star wide receiver Josh Huff to graduation.
With heavy losses ahead, the Ducks must land a strong recruiting class in 2014. There are negatives to having a roster loaded with NFL talent, and the Ducks are about to learn that the hard way.
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