Katz: Top 5 favorite bowl appearances

December, 15, 2014
Dec 15
12:00
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- When it comes to bowl games, few universities have done it better and with more flair and dramatics than the USC Trojans. Come Dec. 27 in San Diego’s 37th National University Holiday Bowl, the Trojans break new ground in a bowl game they’ve have never been a participant.

The Trojans own an impressive bowl record, having the nation’s fourth highest winning percentage (.667) among the 83 schools that have made at least 10 bowl appearances. USC has 32 bowl victories behind Alabama’s 34.

For the record, the Trojans will be appearing in their 14th different bowl game, having also appeared in the Rose, Orange, Sun, Liberty, Bluebonnet, Fiesta, Aloha, Florida Citrus, John Hancock, Freedom, Cotton, Las Vegas, Emerald, and the overlooked Christmas Festival of 1924 against Missouri in the Coliseum.

Obviously, the Trojans have appeared in the Rose Bowl the most number of times (32) and have long considered Pasadena’s Granddaddy as an addendum to their regular season. Since the Trojans began playing in postseason bowl games in 1923, the Rose Bowl against Penn State, lifetime memories for players, coaches, and fans have come in abundance.

Everybody has his or her top 5 Trojans bowl games, so here is our in-person, personal favorites -- win or lose:

5. 2006 Rose Bowl (USC vs. Texas): Probably the most devastating loss in USC bowl history, but also one of the greatest college football bowl games ever played. Although the final score was a wild and dramatic Texas victory, culminating with UT quarterback Vince Young’s eight-yard scoring dash on 4th-and-five with 19 seconds left to play, there were so many highs and lows for both sides that the game almost defied description.
Final score: Texas 41, USC 38

4. 1973 Rose Bowl (USC vs. Ohio State): Historically, the 1972 team of USC coach John McKay is arguably the greatest college football team of all-time. Who better to present your case as the greatest-ever than against the highly respected Buckeyes of Ohio State, and its legendary coach Woody Hayes? McKay’s Trojans had it all on both sides of the ball, and the game will forever be remembered for the four diving touchdowns by storied USC fullback Sam “Bam” Cunningham into the Buckeyes' end zone. Hayes later said the 1972 Trojans were the best team he had ever seen.
Final Score: USC 42, Ohio State 17.

3. 2005 Orange Bowl (USC vs. Oklahoma): Using the season long motto “Leave No Doubt" this game was the Pete Carroll era at its zenith. The Sooners scored on their opening drive but the Trojans looked like an NFL team after that, and didn’t take long for Sooners fans to know this was a mismatch. The 2004 Trojans names are legendary: Leinart, White, Bush, Tatupu, Cody, Jarrett, Smith, Grootegoed, and on and on. When the annihilation was heading into the final quarter, Sooners fans were departing like in the midst of the great dust bowl. The BCS title game was more than a championship; it was a coronation of the Carroll gridiron monstrosity.
Final Score: USC 55, Oklahoma 19.

2. 1963 Rose Bowl (USC vs. Wisconsin): Lasting memories of a great Trojans insurmountable Trojans 42-14 fourth quester nearly evaporated, as the Badgers and white-hot quarterback Ron VanderKelen turned the fourth quarter into an almost Nightmare on Elm Street for the Trojans defense. Even worse, there were no lights at the Rose Bowl and darkness during the fourth quarter was eating up whatever light there was from sunset. You don’t forget the drama, the chilling weather, and the Arroyo Seco darkness.
Final score: USC 42, Wisconsin 37.

1. 1975 Rose Bowl (USC vs. Ohio State): Without question, the most brutal and physically demanding game of the aforementioned bowl memories. I won’t soon forget Trojans All-America guard Bill Bain physically attacking the Buckeyes defensive front. The fourth quarter was Ali vs Frazier. The physicality of both teams was simply stunning. It all came down to the final minutes, and one of the greatest Rose Bowl endings ever. Trojans quarterback Pat Haden threw a 38-yard TD strike to receiver J.K. McKay with just 2:03 remaining in this classic slugfest. To top off the drama, after the Haden-to-McKay heroics, John McKay elected to go for two-point conversion. Haden was rushed on the two-point conversion attempt and threw an off-balance completion to receiver Shelton Diggs for the winning tally. Watching Woody Hayes head back up the Rose Bowl visitor’s tunnel, if looks could kill, Hayes will have been sentenced to life.
Final score: USC 18, Ohio State 17

Trojans recruiting notebook

December, 15, 2014
Dec 15
11:29
AM PT
The USC Trojans had another busy recruiting weekend, hosting three highly touted official visitors in USC offensive line commit Roy Hemsley (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward), athlete Ykili Ross (Riverside, Calif./Poly) and tight end/defensive end T.J. Wheatley Jr. (Buffalo, N.Y./Canisius). Neither of the two uncommitted prospects reportedly gave a verbal pledge to the Trojans on the trip.

[+] EnlargeYkili Ross
Johnny Curren/ESPN.comESPN 300 athlete Ykili Ross has been a regular at USC home games this fall.
USC does, however, appear to be in a good position to potentially land Ross. A fantastic two-way star, he has said that the Trojans are looking at him as a 'hybrid cornerback/safety' type who might also see time at receiver. Ross has been a regular at USC home games this fall, and he’s also considering Notre Dame, Oregon, Oklahoma and Arizona State. Ross will announce his decision on Jan. 3 at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Wheatley, who is the son of former Michigan and NFL running back Tyrone Wheatley Sr., is more of a wild card. He has played his recruitment extremely close to the vest throughout the summer and fall. When it comes to the Trojans, what is known is that he holds a strong relationship with tight ends coach Marques Tuiasosopo, and he also unofficially visited the USC campus this past spring. He is also considering Alabama, UCLA, Oregon and Michigan among others.

Hemsley is a 6-foot-6, 300-pound offensive tackle who committed to USC in May. A mid-year graduate, he has already signed a financial-aid agreement with the Trojans, and he will arrive on campus this January.

Trojans land Petite

The Trojans scored a huge pledge this past Friday from tight end Tyler Petite (Moraga, Calif./Campolindo), who flipped from Duke. The verbal commit is big for USC head coach Steve Sarkisian and staff, not only because he’s a highly sought prospect ranked No. 133 in the ESPN 300, but because tight end is a glaring position of need in this year’s recruiting class for the Trojans.

With USC set to lose fifth-year senior Randall Telfer following this season, the Trojans have only two returning scholarship tight ends on the roster -- Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick and Bryce Dixon.

Sarkisian, Tuiasosopo and the rest of the USC coaching staff deserve a ton of credit here for refusing to ease up in their pursuit of Petite after he committed to the Blue Devils last July.

News and notes
  • In addition to the three prospects on official visits, two other recruits were spotted at the Trojans’ practice session this past Saturday -- USC running back commit Dominic Davis (Mission Hills, Calif./Bishop Alemany) and Class of 2016 wide receiver Javon McKinley (Corona, Calif./Centennial). Following practice, McKinley received an offer from the Trojans -- his 11th overall.
  • Riverside (Calif.) City College wide receiver Isaac Whitney is to announce his college decision at 2 p.m. PT on Thursday. He will decide between USC, West Virginia and Washington State. The Trojans are thought to be the favorite to land his signature.
  • ESPN 300 running back Ronald Jones II (McKinney, Texas/McKinney North) announced via Twitter on Sunday that he has decommitted from Oklahoma State, and it looks like USC and Notre Dame will now battle it out for his services. He visited the Fighting Irish this past weekend, and the Trojans the weekend prior.
  • ESPN 300 defensive tackle Tim Settle (Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson) listed his top five on his Twitter account on Sunday night, and the Trojans made the cut. Also included were Louisville, Virginia Tech, Washington State and Oklahoma State. Settle took an official visit to USC the weekend of the Notre Dame game.
  • USC offered Class of 2017 quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (Honolulu, Hawaii/St. Louis) last Wednesday. The 6-foot-1 dual-threat passer also holds offers from Hawaii, Texas Tech, Colorado and UCLA.
  • One-time Michigan pledge Mike Weber (Detroit, Mich./Cass Tech) recently committed to Ohio State. The ESPN 300 running back had been considering USC along with Notre Dame, Tennessee and a host of others.
  • There aren’t many recruits who are still playing at this late stage in the fall, but two Class of 2015 USC targets who were in action this past weekend were Trojans running back commit Aca'Cedric Ware and wide receiver target DaMarkus Lodge. In leading their Cedar Hill (Texas) team to a 64-33 victory against Houston (Texas) Westfield in the Class 6A Division II semifinals, Ware rushed for 152 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries, and Lodge caught four passes for 75 yards and one touchdown.
Oregon's Marcus Mariota won the Pac-12's first Heisman Trophy since 2005, and he did so in historically dominant fashion. A record 95.16 percent of voters listed Mariota on their Heisman ballots, and heading into Saturday's presentation, there wasn't much of a question that the Duck would take home college football's most hallowed hardware.

Though he still has a year of college eligibility remaining, Mariota will almost certainly declare for the 2015 NFL draft, so the Pac-12 will have to look elsewhere to repeat the Heisman feat. Here are some early 2015 candidates. Key word here is "early," as we have yet to finish 2014 and some of the players below are still deciding if they will be back next year. Keep that in mind as we quickly imagine the potential future.

Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona

Aside from Mariota, the only Pac-12 player to finish in the top 10 of Heisman balloting was this dominant desert stud. Wright earned four second-place votes and 13 third-place votes, and it would be tough to argue with either of those evaluations based on his absurd 2014 production. Wright's numbers in tackles, sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles were all either at or near the top of the nation; he was the only player who averaged over two TFL per game, and that race wasn't remotely close. It's clear that Arizona has an absolute machine working the middle of its defense. Yes, the Heisman Trophy has a clear bias toward the offensive side of the football, but Wright was awesome enough to earn 17 votes at linebacker -- as a sophomore.

Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

This 230-pound bruiser did his best to give new meaning to the term "true freshman" in 2014. Aside from displaying remarkable vision, Freeman physically pounded opposing defenses like a battle-hardened senior. He supplied Oregon's rushing attack with an irreplaceable dose of physicality. The first-year statistical returns are as eye-popping as they were pad-popping: 1,299 yards, 5.6 yards per carry, 16 touchdowns. With Mariota almost certainly moving on, the Ducks' offense may center more on this young tank in 2015, and that focus could thrust Freeman into Heisman contention.

Cody Kessler, QB, USC

Kessler was the only quarterback in the nation to attempt over 400 passes and throw fewer than five interceptions in 2014. In the not-so-distant past, those kinds of numbers would automatically thrust a USC quarterback into the midst of the Heisman Trophy discussion. Kessler, however, flew under the radar throughout the entire campaign. If he decides to return to USC for his senior season, expect him to generate a big amount of preseason hype. Related note: Running back Javorius Allen and wide receiver Nelson Agholor also have eligibility remaining. If those two are back in Troy next year, include them as possible big-time award candidates too.

Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA

Statistically, 2014 was an excellent campaign for this Bruin, who is a redshirt sophomore. He led the Pac-12 in rushing, racking up 1,378 yards on a league-best 6.0 yards per carry. Perkins will have to score more touchdowns to generate more Heisman hype. He found pay dirt only nine times this season, but 2015 will likely present an opportunity to enter the end zone more often, as touchdown machine Brett Hundley has indicated that he will likely be moving on to the NFL. That means that Perkins may become the centerpiece of UCLA's offense. More touches, more glory.

Jared Goff, QB, California

Goff's statistical output was impressive in 2014 (3,973 yards, 35 touchdowns, 7 interceptions), but any hype surrounding him was quickly extinguished by memories of the Bears' nightmarish 2013 campaign (1-11). Cal improved to 5-7 this season, but it still failed to earn a postseason berth. Given the upward trajectory of Sonny Dykes' program, that likely won't be the case in 2015. There's a strong chance that Goff will be the quarterback of a winning team. If he continues to post gaudy numbers under that scenario (also likely), this talented gunslinger will arrive on the radar for major postseason awards. Don't sleep on him.

D.J. Foster, RB/WR, Arizona State

If wide receiver Jaelen Strong returns to ASU for his final year of eligibility, keep an eye out for him. But that seems unlikely, so the top Sun Devil to watch will probably be the versatile Foster, who was the only Pac-12 player to finish with more than 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in 2014. Foster's 59 catches were second to only Strong in Tempe, and his explosiveness makes him a prime sizzle candidate if he decides to stay in school for one more season. Side note: Don't forget freshman running back Demario Richard, who averaged 5.7 yards per carry as a 17-year-old this season.

Nick Wilson, RB, Arizona

If you enjoy watching impressive freshman running backs, Wilson is a good player to follow. He delivered an awfully dynamic inaugural campaign in Rich Rodriguez's system, delivering 5.9 yards per carry and more than 100 ground yards per game. Wilson's 15 rushing touchdowns were second among Pac-12 running backs, so second-year improvement would absolutely make him a contender for some major hardware in 2014.

Pac-12 morning links

December, 15, 2014
Dec 15
8:00
AM PT
As you know Robbie's shining moment this year was when he set a school record for cursing in an eighth grade English class.

Let's get the week started off right. I'm guessing it was a tough weekend for a lot of people. After all, it was our first weekend without Pac-12 football in months. Don't worry, it's coming back soon enough. But, at least there was really good news for the Pac-12 this weekend. Let's start with a Mr. Marcus Mariota who won the Heisman this past Saturday.

First, let's give some major props to this MahaloMarcus.com video because it's very much worth your time and you can view it right here. It has some classic 8-year-old Mariota footage meshed with some current footage, some emotional music and quotes from Oregon coach Mark Helfrich and the gang. Well done to the edit staff. Well done to Mariota for all these plays.

If four minutes of Mariota on video isn't enough for you ... well, lucky you, everyone and their mother reacted to this news, so we'll give you a breakdown of some writer's reactions.
The state of Oregon just doubled down. And the ghosts of this state's football programs just doubled over. Anyone who has regularly seen Mariota operate the heavy machinery that is the Ducks' offense this season knows he's the best player in America, but it really is something to see the rest of the country see it, too.

And finally, props to Oregon State for recognizing Mariota as well. The Beavers bought a full page ad in The Oregonian's special section for Mariota.

Back page of The Oregonian's special section on Marcus Mariota. Classy move from the Beavers.

A photo posted by Karly Imus (@karlyimus) on

Other awards:

It wasn't just Mariota who picked up a big award this weekend. UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks won the Lott IMPACT Trophy. Kendricks follows in the footsteps of Anthony Barr, who won the award last year. Jack Wang wrote that Kendricks is the latest in what could be a long line of linebacker lineage at UCLA.

And look at how cordial everyone was about Kendricks' win. But would you assume anything else? Never. Especially not from the Lott IMPACT guys.



Also, Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson won the Hornung Award, given to college football's most versatile athlete. The Pac-12 Blog agrees.

All right. Here's a quick rundown ...
Marcus Mariota made history Saturday night, becoming the first player from the University of Oregon to win the Heisman Trophy.

Of course, there wasn't a whole lot of suspense heading into the ceremony, held at the Best Buy Theatre in New York City. With the outstanding year that the fourth-year junior quarterback has had on the field this season, it was practically a forgone conclusion that he was going to come away with the award, and perhaps least surprised of all was USC head coach Steve Sarkisian.

Sarkisian did not face Mariota this season, but he did twice when he was head coach at Washington, and he came out on the losing end both times. He also actively recruited the prolific passer when he was a Class of 2011 prospect at Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis.

"I won't be surprised at all," Sarkisian said on Saturday morning when asked about the possibility of Mariota winning the honor. "Marcus is a fantastic player, and he's got a great demeanor about him. He's a very calm customer. He's very level headed. He's an extremely accurate passer and he understands their system, and he's the fastest player on the field every snap."

So far this season Mariota has passed for 3,783 yards and 38 touchdowns, while rushing for 669 yards and 14 more scores, all while leading Oregon into a College Football Playoff semifinal matchup with Florida State on Jan. 1.

"I'm happy for Marcus," Sarkisian said. "I'm happy for everything he's getting. He's a really good person. I recruited him hard coming out of high school, and that kid deserves everything he gets."

Trojans notebook

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
3:45
PM PT
Practicing in the rain

The Trojans practiced under a steady flow of rain on Friday morning on Cromwell Field, but it sure didn’t dampen their spirits. On the contrary, the team seemed to feed off the unfamiliar conditions.

"It was fun," said quarterback Cody Kessler. "You could see, it was early in the morning, and everyone’s attitude could have been down or they could have been pouting about the rain, but they loved it. Guys were out here belly sliding around, and JuJu [Smith] was the first one out here dancing in the middle in the pouring rain, and that’s really cool -- seeing these guys enjoy it. It’s something different."

The team’s upbeat demeanor certainly didn’t go unnoticed by Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian, who was encouraged by what his team was able to take away from the full-pads practice session, especially considering that they are in the midst of finals.

"You can always find teachable moments within a lot of things you do, and this was a great chance for us," Sarkisian said. "We haven’t been faced with a whole lot of adverse weather conditions in the year that I’ve been here, and I thought the guys came out with a great attitude today -- energized, working hard, and that’s exactly how it should be. These guys were great, and a bunch of them are going and taking finals here at 11 o’clock this morning, so they’ve got a lot going on in their world. To give us their focus for a little over an hour today, I thought was very impressive."

The practice itself didn’t feature any game-plan installation for USC’s upcoming matchup with Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Sarkisian said that process would begin Wednesday, but he seemed to know exactly what the Trojans are up against in a Huskers team that, with the recent firing of coach Bo Pelini, could be out to prove something.

"That is something that guys can rally behind, so we know that we’re going to get a great shot from them," Sarkisian said. "It’s going to take a really good couple of weeks of preparation, because they’re very talented. The running back, [Ameer] Abdullah, is about as good as there is in the country. The quarterback is dangerous -- [Tommy] Armstrong. Kenny Bell, the wide receiver, is a deep-play threat. And then defensively they’re very well coached. Coach Pelini -- that was his strength -- coaching the defense. They’re excellent up front."

Smith draws praise

Smith’s practice-opening dance reflects the kind of positive attitude that the young freshman has brought to each and every workout this season. That, in addition to his work ethic, as well as his performance on the field, has allowed him to quickly win over not only Sarkisian and his staff, but his teammates as well. The Trojans head coach didn’t hold back following practice when asked to discuss Smith’s unique mindset and leadership qualities.

"He’s so mature in every facet of life that it just carries over to the field," Sarkisian said of Smith, who has caught 51 passes for 658 yards and five touchdowns this season. "He loves playing [and] he loves playing with his teammates. If you watch any touchdown, the first guy there just about every time to celebrate with his teammates is No. 9, and I think that his teammates respect him for it. I think initially they couldn’t believe it, 'How could this happen every day and continue to go on?' He just hasn’t wavered. If anything, he’s become more active in a leadership role."

News and notes
  • The Trojans spent most of the day in 11-on-11 periods, with the starters going up against the starters, the twos vs. the twos, etc... Some of the younger, less experienced players continued to take a number of reps.
  • Safety Leon McQuay III wore a yellow no-contact jersey, but he appeared to take part in the entire practice.
  • Cornerback Jonathan Lockett had a strong day, breaking up a couple of passes and making a nice interception on a throw by Max Browne.
  • Placekicker Andre Heidari went 3 for 3 on his field goal attempts -- all in the rain.
  • It did not look like tight ends coach Marques Tuiasosopo was in attendance. He was likely on the recruiting trail.
Quotebook

Sarkisian on junior defensive end Leonard Williams -- who some project as the potential No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL draft -- being named to the Walter Camp All-American second team.

"In this day and age of college football I think so many times people get caught looking at numbers, and there were a lot of guys this year that had a bunch of sacks," Sarkisian said. "But I think playing defensive line, especially on the interior like Leonard does, is more than just about sheer numbers. But for what that guy did, to have as many tackles as he had for us, TFLs and sacks, I though he had a great season, especially because he wasn’t 100 percent. He fought through an ankle injury, fought through a shoulder thing. I thought he had a fantastic season, but not everybody has to agree with me. So, there are more teams to come out and we’ll see how it plays out."

ESPN 300 TE Tyler Petite flips to USC 

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
3:11
PM PT
USC coach Steve Sarkisian secured a verbal commitment at a key position on Friday when ESPN 300 tight end Tyler Petite flipped his commitment from Duke to the Trojans.

 

Mailbag: South shall rise again!

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
5:30
PM PT
Happy "Mariota wins the Heisman" Eve!

Follow me on Twitter by clicking here.

To the notes!

Stu from Seattle writes: I know you all posted this week that the Pac-12 South will be wide-open next year -- and I agree completely -- but if you had to handicap the division, based on players returning, plus those likely to go pro early (a lot of critical 'SC players on that list, it seems), who do you favor RIGHT NOW to end up on top? No pressure.

Ted Miller: At first, I thought I could just pop something out there when I picked this question. It was like a fat fastball coming at me just where I like it. Swing! Then I did some depth-chart reviews. Ah, Stu, you got me with the ole changeup.

Honest answer is I have no clue how to stack things up right now. You could make a compelling case for five teams, and the sixth, Colorado, stacks up like a potential bowl team if things fall favorably here and there. My initial intention, in fact, was to pick Utah, knowing that would flummox many of you traditional Pac-10 sorts. And you know how I enjoy flummoxing you traditional Pac-10 sorts.

Things are very interesting in the South, but we can't truly stack things up until we know who's entering the NFL draft early. We can make assumptions on some guys -- Arizona State WR Jaelen Strong and USC DE Leonard Williams seem sure to bolt -- but you just never know. There are going to be some surprise players staying and some surprise players going.

[+] EnlargeNelson Agholor
Harry How/Getty ImagesThe draft decision of Nelson Agholor and others will likely tip the balance of power in 2015 in the Pac-12 South.
At this point, I'm a slight lean to Arizona State. No, USC. No, ASU. Hmm. OK, I'll say the Sun Devils, but I might change my mind. In an hour.

How do things stack up?

Arizona: Lots of skill and name players returning, but BIG hits on O-line and on defense. Still, QB Anu Solomon, RB Nick Wilson, LB Scooby Wright and a deep crew of receivers is a good place to start.

Arizona State: Mike Bercovici is pretty much like a returning starter at QB, and the defense will be much more experienced next fall. There is not a significant area that stands out as a weakness.

UCLA: While most will focus on QB Brett Hundley leaving -- and there could be other early defections -- the Bruins could potentially welcome back 18 starting position players. So the big question is whether touted incoming QB Josh Rosen will be ready, or is there some other answer behind center?

USC: We can't judge the Trojans until guys announce whether they are staying or going. If it's just one or two guys -- Williams? WR Nelson Agholor? -- then USC will be in the thick of things. And maybe the favorite.

Utah: I've got Utah with potentially 17 position players coming back, though RB Devontae Booker bolting for the NFL would be a big hit. The offensive line will be a huge strength and there's good talent coming back on defense. Will the QB position -- I know: broken record -- take a step forward?

This, obviously, is a topic we will revisit. A lot.


Tim from Salt Lake City writes: Do you expect the strength and depth of the Pac-12 South to last? Everything is about balance. For one team to win, another has to lose (not a terribly profound statement, I know). This year, that balance came in the form of several teams underachieving in the North, but Cal and Washington are trending up. Plus, I'm not ready to declare Stanford's reign over based on one underwhelming season. Could things be more balanced next year and, if so, which South team is most likely to regress?

Ted Miller: I don't see any South regression. It might, actually, end up stronger in 2015 than it was this year, particularly if players stick around instead of entering the draft and UCLA solves its QB question adequately.

The North, actually, is a better candidate for regression. Perhaps a significant one. I think Oregon will slip post-Marcus Mariota, but the Ducks still welcome back a strong core of talent. I expect them to be a slight favorite again in 2015, particularly with Stanford taking some huge hits on defense.

As for Cal and Washington trending up, I'm with you on the Bears, but I don't know about the Huskies, who take some monster losses on defense and aren't really scintillating on offense either. Oregon State will be breaking in a new coach and quarterback and rebuilding its defense, while Washington State fills me with uncertainty after I just knew last August the Cougars would take a big step forward this year.

I actually think the Cougs could be dangerous in 2015, but I'm not going to type that because it surely would throw the jinx on them, and Coug fans would blame me for doing that.


Brian from Boston writes: Looking at Cody Kessler's upcoming decision, I can't help but wonder, would he be off leaving after this year? It pains me to say it but, although his stock is not nearly as high as Matt Barkley's was after his junior year (even though his numbers are better), if he leaves now he will be a second-day pick but will probably end up on a better team, with less expectations. However, if he stays, he could get hurt, his numbers could decline and his stock could drop, or he could end up having much higher expectations.

Ted Miller: I think Kessler wants to come back, though I think he's more torn at present than he was several weeks ago, when he was talking about lobbying other Trojans considering the NFL to stick around.

You could make a case either way. Kessler has certainly boosted his stock this season, but he could play his way solidly into the first round next year.

I don't think he'll be fretting playing his way into a high draft pick and then ending up on a bad team. I've never heard a college player say he left early to avoid being drafted sooner the next year, fearing an early first-round pick could become his ruin.


David from Beaverton, Oregon, writes: Fun/hypothetical question -- you guys like those, right? For each Pac-12 team if you could take one player from another Pac-12 team and add them to said team, who would you take and why? And maybe we need some boundaries on this, like no QB's or something like that, because it would be boring if everyone chooses Mariota. The player can either make the new team better or more interesting. For example, as an Oregon fan, while I like our front seven a lot, I think we could really take it up a notch with a top-flight pass rusher like Hau'oli Kikaha. But wouldn't it also be really interesting if Nelson Agholor,was on the team even though he's probably not needed as much? Imagine him in space with the other Ducks playmakers. Anyway, what do you think?

Ted Miller: I actually do this all the time. My favorite in 2014 was imagining what Utah might have been this year with Marcus Mariota at quarterback.

(Inserting pause here for Utah fans to emerge from their swoon, though Washington fans are surely noting the Huskies were the only other Pac-12 team to recruit Mariota).

I'm not going to go through each team because every team could benefit from a Strong or Agholor or a Williams or an Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. But I do have one.

What if Arizona defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and his 3-3-5 scheme could get a monster nose tackle, such as a Danny Shelton? You think Scooby is productive now? Imagine what he could do with a massive, demands-a-double-team presence in front of him.


Michael from Steubenville, Ohio, writes: When the Rose Bowl hosts the semifinal between Oregon and Florida State, will the winner receive the Leishman Trophy?

Ted Miller: Yep. The Rose Bowl folks are treating this one just like any other Rose Bowl, though obviously it's not a traditional Pac-12-Big Ten matchup. It's the 101st Rose Bowl, quasi-pure and simple -- or the Twitter-unfriendly "College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual."


Mike from Dublin, California, writes: This is a great video that was made by UCLA covering the point when Eric Kendricks won the 2014 Butkus Award. It's a real tear-jerker and something worth watching and sharing.

Ted Miller: Yes, that is very cool.


Kevin from San Francisco writes: Win or Lose, Buffs forever.

Ted Miller: So it's cool video day.

True Freshman All-America Team

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
11:30
AM PT
[+] EnlargeSamaje Perine
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsSamaje Perine set the NCAA record for rushing yards in a single game. Not bad for a true freshman.

It seems like every year, true freshmen are having a greater impact on the game. This season continued that trend. There were so many good first-year running backs that great players such as Nick Chubb and Dalvin Cook couldn't find their way to this team. Meanwhile, a trio of SEC pass-rushers had immediate influence, with one even breaking Jadeveon Clowney's freshman sack record. Expect to hear a lot more from this group over the next few years.

Offense

QB: Brad Kaaya, Miami

This past summer was a disaster at quarterback for Miami, which lost starter Ryan Williams to injury and prospect Kevin Olsen to off-the-field issues, but Kaaya provided a resounding solution. After some early struggles on the road in his first start, Kaaya was exceptional and led the ACC in touchdowns (25), yards per attempt (8.6) and passer rating (148.2) while proving to be one of the best deep-ball threats in the country.


(Read full post)


There is no such thing as a perfect All-Anything team, but the Pac-12 blog likes to believe its All-Pac-12 team came close.

Or at least inched closer than the official All-Pac-12 team, selected by the coaches, that listed UCLA's Butkus Award-winning linebacker Eric Kendricks on the second team. We agreed with most of their selections, but made a change in format and selected 12 offensive and defensive players (to account for varying schemes).

It still didn't feel like enough spots for the amount of deserving players.

So with that in mind, here are some more players that deserved consideration. It's not a second-team and doesn't mean these players were more deserving than others not listed, just a sampling of players to show how competitive these things are.

QB Brett Hundley, UCLA: Without taking expectations into account, Hundley had a great season: 3,019 yards passing, 21 touchdowns, five interceptions. It might not have been what he or UCLA fans were hoping for, but still a season worth remembering.

QB Cody Kessler, USC: All Kessler did was throw for 3,505 yards and 36 touchdown passes to just four interceptions as the Trojans scored 35.1 points per game. Put him in any other conference and he’s a candidate for Offensive Player of the Year.

RBs Buck Allen (USC), Royce Freeman (Oregon), Nick Wilson (Arizona), D.J. Foster (ASU): There wasn't a clear divide between the conference's six best running backs and there are convincing arguments for why each of these guys might actually be the best back in the Pac-12.

WR Nelson Spruce, Colorado: Flip a coin between Spruce and WSU’s Vince Mayle -- they finished tied for third nationally with 106 catches. Both players were equally deserving for a spot alongside Jaelen Strong and Nelson Agholor.

Hunter Dimick (Utah), Andrew Hudson (Washington), Marcus Hardison (ASU): This trio is for the crowd that likes to measure a defensive lineman's worth by their sack numbers -- all three had at least 10.

LB Jared Norris, Utah: It was easy to leave him off because of the depth at the position, but Norris’ 108 tackles, which ranked fourth in the Pac-12, is worth noting.

LB/S Su'a Cravens, sophomore, USC: Cravens might have been the toughest player to leave off the team, but it wasn’t because he wasn’t deserving. If he remained at safety, there probably would have been a place for him, but since he played most of the season at outside linebacker listing him at safety wouldn’t have felt right.

CB Alex Carter Stanford: Outside of Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Carter might be the best NFL corner prospect in the conference. His lack of interceptions (1) and tackles (29) reflect opposing quarterbacks’ reluctancy to throw in his direction.

Trojans recruiting update

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
7:30
AM PT
There has been a lot of activity lately with the USC recruiting wish list, so here is an updated look at some of the top targets for the Trojans coaches.

QUARTERBACK

Commits: Sam Darnold, Ricky Town
Outlook: Trojans are done at this spot.

RUNNING BACK

Commits: Aca'Cedric Ware, Dominic Davis
Outlook: Ronald Jones II is an option here, a guy who is committed to Oklahoma State but had a good visit to USC last weekend. There had been some interest in Mike Weber as well, but he committed this week to Ohio State.

WIDE RECEIVER

Commits: Tristan Payton, De'Quan Hampton
Outlook: This is a position where there could be more movement. Last week saw a de-commit from Desean Holmes, and next week comes the announcement from junior college star Isaac Whitney. Many recruiting projections have him ending up at USC. That would mean three receiver commits, and there remains interest in Equanimeous St. Brown, DeMarkus Lodge, Terry Godwin and Javarius Davis.

TIGHT END

Commits: None
Outlook: The USC coaches are still active in trying to bring in a tight end with recent in-home visits to Chris Clark, T.J. Wheatley and Duke verbal commit Tyler Petite.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Commits: Chuma Edoga, Cole Smith, Roy Hemsley, Clayton Johnston
Outlook: At various points in the recruiting cycle it has looked like USC wanted to bring in five offensive linemen, but right now it appears as if the coaches might be set with four. Darrin Paulo has received interest and could be a name to watch if there is an available scholarship at the end.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Commits: Jacob Daniel, Noah Jefferson, Christian Rector
Outlook: It would not be a surprise at all to see the Trojans add two more bodies along the defensive line, and they would love for one of them to be Rasheem Green. Porter Gustin could wind up at defensive end or outside linebacker, most likely on the line, and he is another top priority. Both will come on recruiting visits to USC in January. Other names to watch include Mika Tafua, Dillon Faamatau, Benning Potoae, Kevin Scott, and Canton Kaumatule, the Oregon commit who continues to be pursued by the Trojans.

LINEBACKER

Commits: Cameron Smith
Outlook: There are two primary targets remaining at linebacker -- John Houston Jr. and Osa Masina. Houston has long been thought to be a USC lean, but the Oregon Ducks impressed him on a recent visit. Masina will likely be a USC vs. UCLA battle, and his trip to USC for the Notre Dame game could tilt things in the Trojans' favor. Roquan Smith is also on the wish list.

DEFENSIVE BACK

Commits: Isaiah Langley, Taeon Mason
Outlook: Another position where there could be multiple additions in the final month of this cycle, and there are certainly some talented options remaining with names like Iman Marshall, Ykili Ross, Marvell Tell, DeChaun Holiday and Donte Jackson.

ESPN.com's All-Pac-12 team

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
9:00
AM PT
The Pac-12 has already announced its all-conference teams, but we have our own thoughts and choices. Here is the ESPN.com All-Pac-12 team for 2014:

First-Team Offense:

QB: Marcus Mariota, Oregon: He led the Ducks to a Pac-12 title and the inaugural College Football Playoff. If that’s not enough, his adjusted QBR, passer efficiency rating and touchdown-to-interception ratio led the conference (as well as the nation).
RB: Paul Perkins, UCLA: Perkins led the conference in rushing yards per game (115.1) and total rushing yards (1378). He accounted for more than half of the Bruins’ rushing yardage and provided a valuable tool in the receiving game, as well, tallying 26 catches and two receiving touchdowns.
RB: Devontae Booker, Utah: Booker led the Pac-12 in total carries (266) and was a force who carried the Utah offense while it went through quarterback changes. Even when opponents knew that the Utes would be a pretty rush-heavy attack, defenses still had issues stopping Booker.
WR: Nelson Agholor, USC: Agholor finished the regular season with 97 receptions, 1,223 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns. His best performances came later in the season, tallying 100-yard receiving totals in five of the Trojans’ final six regular-season games.
WR: Jaelen Strong, Arizona State: Strong finished the year with 75 receptions, 10 touchdowns and 1,062 yards. He had his fair share of clutch plays, but his biggest was his Hail Mary (aka Jael Mary) reception that gave ASU a 38-34 win over USC.
WR: Vince Mayle, Washington State: Mayle led the conference in receptions per game (8.8) and receiving yards (123.6). His numbers actually improved when freshman Luke Falk took over at quarterback in place of Connor Halliday. In his final three games, Mayle averaged 158 receiving yards (give credit to Mayle and Falk).
TE: Pharaoh Brown, Oregon: Brown suffered a season-ending injury in Oregon’s victory over Utah, but here’s hoping he makes a full recovery because he was fun to watch. He finished with six touchdowns on just 25 receptions and contributed a few huge blocks, as well.
OL: Max Tuerk, USC: He has played all over the line for the Trojans, but he was a big part of why they moved from 10th in total offense in 2013 to fourth in total offense in 2014.
OL: Hroniss Grasu, Oregon: Injuries depleted the Oregon O-line this season (Grasu is currently in a walking boot after suffering an injury in the Utah win), but Grasu held together the group as it underwent position shifts and changes. The Ducks finished the regular season leading the conference in total offense.
OL: Andrus Peat, Stanford: The Cardinal offense was underwhelming this season, but much of the success it did have was because of Peat. He anchored the line, and David Shaw has continually sung the praises of his left tackle. We have a feeling Peat’s NFL draft spot will reflect that.
OL: Jake Fisher, Oregon: The senior spent most of the year protecting Marcus Mariota’s blind side. And when he did, he was very, very good. During the 2 1/2 games Fisher missed, Mariota was sacked 12 times. During the other 10.5 he was in, Mariota was sacked just 17 times.
OL: Jamil Douglas, Arizona State: A three-year starter and one of the top offensive guard prospects in the country, Douglas was a key piece up front for the Sun Devils, who ranked 18th in the country in scoring (37.0).

First-Team Defense:

DL: Leonard Williams, USC: Possibly the top defensive NFL prospect in the country, Williams finished with 71 tackles (8.5 for loss), six sacks and forced three fumbles.
DL: Danny Shelton, Washington: Not just a space-occupier, Shelton was the most productive defensive tackle in the country finishing with 89 tackles, nine sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss.
DL: Henry Anderson, Stanford: The fifth-year senior was named the Cardinal’s defensive MVP after leading the team with 14 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and nine quarterback hurries.
DL: Nate Orchard, Utah: Orchard led the nation in sacks per game (1.46), led Utah with 20 tackles for loss and finished second with 81 tackles.
LB: Scooby Wright III, Arizona: Wright turned in one of the most complete defensive seasons in college football history, finishing with 153 tackles, 14 sacks, 28 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles.
LB: Hau'oli Kikaha, Washington: A dominant pass-rusher, Kikaha led the nation with 18 sacks and finished with 24 tackles for loss.
LB: Shaq Thompson, Washington: Also a threat at running back, Thompson scored four defensive touchdowns, forced three fumbles and finished with 71 tackles.
LB: Eric Kendricks, UCLA: The Butkus Award winner led the Bruins with 139 tackles, intercepted three passes, recorded 8.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.
CB: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon: An All-America candidate, Ekpre-Olomu returned for his final year with the Ducks and lived up to the high standard he set early in his career.
CB: Steven Nelson, Oregon State: One of the country’s top cover corners, Nelson parlayed a strong senior year into an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
S: Jordan Richards, Stanford: Richards wrapped up his career with another standout season for the Cardinal, finishing with 76 tackles, three interceptions and seven passes defended.
S: Damarious Randall, Arizona State: The Sun Devils’ leading tackler (101 tackles) also picked off three passes, defended 11 and forced two fumbles.

Special Teams:

K: Andy Phillips, Utah: Automatic Andy led the Pac-12 with 22 field goals (on 26 attempts) and finished second in scoring at 8.7 points per game.
P: Tom Hackett, Utah: Hackett ranked second nationally with an average of 47.0 yards per punt.
RET: Kaelin Clay, Utah: Clay led the country with three punt returns for touchdowns and also returned a kickoff for a score.

Pac-12 morning links

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
8:00
AM PT
Happy Friday!

Leading off

Awards, awards and more awards. It was a huge night for the Pac-12 and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota at the Home Depot College Football Awards.

Mariota, who is also expected to claim the Heisman on Saturday, took home the Maxwell Awards (nation's outstanding player), the Davey O'Brien (national QB) and the Walter Camp player of the year.

Scooby Wright added to his trophy case by collecting the Bednarik Award (national defensive player of the year) and Utah punter Tom Hackett won the Ray Guy Award (given annually to the college football mate who makes the best bacon references ... just kidding, it's for top punter).

Here's how the Pac-12 shapes up in award season so far:
  • Maxwell Award: Marcus Mariota
  • Walter Camp Award: Marcus Mariota
  • Davey O'Brien Award: Marcus Mariota
  • Johnny Unitas Golden Arm: Marcus Mariota
  • Chuck Bednarik Award: Scooby Wright
  • Bronko Nagurski Award: Scooby Wright
  • Dick Butkus Award: Eric Kendricks
  • Ray Guy Award: Tom Hackett
  • Ted Hendricks Award: Nate Orchard
Coordinators on the move?

As the coaching carousel continues to spin, a pair of Pac-12 assistants have been rumored for the head coaching job at Tulsa, though only one looks to be in the mix. Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell is believed to be in the running, while Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost isn't on the list anymore. From the Tulsa World:
Another source said Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell’s candidacy has ramped up over the past two days. Norvell, 33, is in his third year at Arizona State, where he started in 2012 at $320,000 a year and now, according to USA Today, makes $900,000 annually plus bonuses. He was a graduate assistant and receivers coach under Todd Graham at Tulsa.

Per the report, Frost interviewed for the job.

News/notes/team reports
Just for fun

Throw-back Friday. This guys' man cave is cooler than yours.

Mailbag: Next year's POYs?

December, 11, 2014
Dec 11
5:00
PM PT
Welcome to mailbag. There's juice in the refrigerator. Follow me here on Twitter.

Jeremy in Boulder writes: Who will be the offensive and defensive players of the year in the league next season?

Kevin Gemmell: Uh, off the top of my head? Let's assume Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley jump to the NFL (I think that's safe).

Offensively, since this is a quarterback-driven game, you have to look at the QBs. The top returner (assuming he doesn't jump to the NFL) would be USC's Cody Kessler. He had fantastic numbers this year and a USC quarterback almost always has talented weapons around him to bolster the numbers. How about Jared Goff or Mike Bercovici with a full season? Anu Solomon? But I think you have to consider Royce Freeman and Nick Wilson as potential candidates. Same for Devontae Booker and Paul Perkins. One thing for sure, is there is never a lack of offensive talent in the conference. (And I know I'm not even mentioning about seven or eight guys).

Defensively, you have to start with the defending champ, Scooby Wright. But you have to think Myles Jack will be in that mix. Hunter Dimick, Blake Martinez and Su'a Cravens all come to mind. Budda Baker is a rising star. Kenny Clark had a great season. We know what a healthy Addison Gillam can do. A lot of big-time players to consider on that side of the ball also (and yes, a bunch I'm also not mentioning).

I think offense is probably more wide open than defense -- especially if Wright continues on the war path he started in 2014.

A couple of questions … one from Chris in New York and another from Ryan in New York, about UCLA “winning” the 2011 South Division title because USC was ineligible. It's in reference to this column.

Kevin Gemmell: It's always dicey as a reporter when you're talking about games that were actually played, but because of sanctions didn't count toward titles and/or were vacated. There is a time to dance around it and a time to tell it like it is.

In Tuesday's column, there is no way to dance around it. USC is not recognized as having won a division title. It's black and white. Is it bunk? Yeah, of course. The Trojans had a 7-2 conference record and UCLA was next in line at 5-4. And the icing was a 50-0 pasting to close out the year. But for the purposes of accuracy, it has to be acknowledged that it doesn't count. Sorry if that's a tough pill to swallow. But that's how it is.

Does that mean every time we write about division titles, we should remind everyone that USC was ineligible? I think the readers of the Pac-12 blog are savvy enough to know the situation (they wouldn't have brought it up in the mailbag or on Twitter if they didn't). All it does is harvest sour grapes like it did for my Trojan duo from New York (did you guys get together over pastrami sandwiches and craft your letters together?)

It's bad memories for both parties. For USC, it's a reminder of overly-harsh sanctions that denied the Trojans a spot in the first-ever Pac-12 championship game. For UCLA, it's a reminder of just how awful that year closed -- the loss to the Trojans, the beat down from Oregon in the title game and then losing to Illinois in the Interim Coach Bowl.

USC knows the score. UCLA knows the score. Heck, we all know the score. But this is how it stands in the record books, and thus has to be acknowledged that way.

Drex in Los Angels writes: Has a Heisman winner ever faced another Heisman winner in a college game? If Mariota wins, will the Rose Bowl be the first time?

Kevin Gemmell: Actually, it will be the fourth time, per the outstanding folks at ESPN Stats & Info.

The previous meetings were Tim Tebow (Florida) vs. Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) in 2008; Jason White (Oklahoma) vs. Matt Leinart (USC) in 2004 and Doak Walker (SMU) vs. Leon Hart (Notre Dame) in 1949.

Tebow, Leinart and Hart all won their games and the national championship in the process.

JT in Boston writes: I'm sure you will get thousands of these but, can we put the Pac South over the North to rest now. Stanford destroyed UCLA, Oregon destroyed AZ. South has yet to win a Pac12 championship. Go Ducks! Go North!

Kevin Gemmell: I think we can put it to rest. At least for this year. But it's not the way you're thinking.

It's a matter of perspective. Is the North the best because it has the best team? That seems to be your take. But I look at it from a perspective of quality and depth. And by my measurements, the South was significantly better than the North in 2014.

For starters, five of the six teams in the South are ranked compared to just one ranked team in the North. And the South had the better overall record at 15-10 against the North. That in itself is proof enough, in my mind, that the South was the stronger of the two divisions.

If you want to make the case that it begins and ends with the conference title, then there's nothing that can be said to dispute that. The North clearly wins the “scoreboard” argument. But in terms of overall quality and depth, the South was clearly the tougher of the two divisions.
As is common every summer, we throw together the Pac-12 Ultimate Road Trip series to get you through the dog days. It also gave me something to do while Ted was on his book tour about Arizona foliage: Me, Myself and Cacti. The "Road Trip Revisited" has been a popular post the past couple of years, so let’s take a journey back to what we thought would be good in August compared to the awesomeness that was 2014.

Week 1

Our pick: Colorado State vs. Colorado
Result: Coach Jim McElwain’s road to Gainesville started with a 31-17 thumping of the Rams’ in-state rival.
In retrospect: UCLA and Washington State provided high drama against Virginia and Rutgers, respectively. But Cal’s 31-24 win against Northwestern would have been the better call.

Week 2

Our pick: Michigan State at Oregon
Result: The Ducks flipped a 27-18 deficit into a 46-27 smackdown. (Still not sure how Ifo Ekpre-Olomu actually made that interception).
In retrospect: USC-Stanford had plenty of drama. But considering where the Ducks ended up, I think we made the right call on this one.

Week 3

[+] EnlargeJerry Neuheisel
Richard Mackson/USA TODAY SportsBackup quarterback Jerry Neuheisel got a hero's exit after leading No. 12 UCLA to a come-from-behind 20-17 victory against Texas.
Our pick: UCLA vs. Texas
Result:: Jerry Neuheisel gets carried off the field!
In retrospect: A great win for the Bruins, and a great story with Neuheisel throwing the game-winner. What? You wanted USC-Boston College?

Week 4

Our pick: Utah at Michigan
Result: Is it actually over? Or still in rain delay?
In retrospect: The Hill-freaking-Mary happened and #Pac12AfterDark was born. Sorry Utes. Good win, but Arizona-Cal would have been the better pick.

Week 5

Our pick(s): UCLA at Arizona State/Stanford and Washington
Result(s): An ugly 62-27 blowout win for the Bruins, and a 20-13 win for the Cardinal.
In retrospect: WSU at Utah turned into quite the exciting game. But who would have tapped Colorado at Cal going into double-overtime followed by a Cal goal-line stand. A trip to Berkeley would have been worth your while this week.

Week 6

Our pick(s): Arizona at Oregon/ASU at USC
Result(s): The Wildcats hand the Ducks their only loss of the season and Scooby Wright III becomes a national name. And then a little something called the Jael Mary.
In retrospect: An unbelievable weekend! Perhaps the greatest weekend for one league in the history of college football. You had the two aforementioned games, Notre Dame’s last-minute win against Stanford, a shootout between Cal and WSU in Pullman, a last-minute slugfest between Utah and UCLA at the Rose Bowl, and Oregon State escapes in Boulder with Mike MacIntyre chasing the officials off the field! I rarely use the word epic. But this week qualified.

Week 7

Our pick: Oregon at UCLA
Result: A dud. Oregon rolled to a 42-30 win, but the game wasn’t as close as the score indicates.
In retrospect: USC at Arizona had all the #Pac12AfterDark craziness we had come to expect. A comeback, an onside kick, a missed last-minute field goal. Plenty of drama in what turned out to be the most exciting game of the week.

Week 8

Our pick: Stanford at Arizona State
Result: The Sun Devils got their vengeance with a 26-10 victory.
In retrospect: UCLA at Cal was all about drama, and Utah at Oregon State went into double-overtime. Either of those would have been the better choice.

Week 9

Our pick: Arizona at Washington State
Result: The 'Cats cruised to a 59-37 win -- their highest offensive output of the season.
In retrospect: Travis Wilson leading a game-winning drive and a last-minute touchdown against USC? Sign us up. Utes complete the LA sweep.

Week 10

Our pick: Stanford at Oregon
Result: The Ducks’ Stanford problem evaporated in the wake of a 45-16 win.
In retrospect: We don’t regret the pick. History was on our side. But Utah-ASU in overtime was by far the more entertaining game.

Week 11

Our pick: Notre Dame at Arizona State
Result: Speaking of picks, Everett Golson anyone? The Sun Devils intercepted Golson four times en route to a 55-31 win.
In retrospect: Pretty slow week. You had the infamous Kaelin Clay fumble that swung the momentum to Oregon. And Luke Falk won his first start against Oregon State. We’ll give it to the Cougs this week over 1) overcoming a fourth-quarter deficit and 2) holding a fourth-quarter lead.

Week 12

Our pick: Free pass
Result: ASU stumbled against Oregon State, Utah topped Stanford in OT, Washington fumbled one away against Arizona and USC (mostly) handled Cal.
In retrospect: This was redemption weekend for Casey Skowron, who hit the game-winning field goal against Washington, and Clay for his OT touchdown against the Cardinal.

Week 13

Our pick: USC at UCLA
Result: UCLA moved to 3-0 against USC in the Jim Mora era as the Trojans forgot to show up in a 38-20 loss.
In retrospect: This was one of the few weekends of the season without much drama. So we’ll just say we got it right with this pick ... even though no pick was really "right."

Week 14

Our pick(s): Stanford at UCLA/Washington at Washington State
Result(s): The Cardinal thwarted UCLA’s South Division hopes and Chris Petersen picked up his first Apple Cup win.
In retrospect: OK, we didn’t know the Territorial Cup was going to decide the South. Our bad. We'll try to do better next year.

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