If you’re a fan of offense (instead of watching the USC-Stanford game), a better decision may have been to turn the game between Utah and Fresno State. The Utes lit up the Bulldogs for 59 points and 526 yards of total offense, Travis Wilson tossed five touchdown passes. Kyle Whittingham mercifully took the starters out at the end of the 3rd, but it didn’t seem to slow down their offense. Kendal Thompson threw a 10 yard hitch pass to Andre Lewis that turned into a 45 yard touchdown, and Troy McCormick put the nail in the coffin with a 2 yard run for a touchdown.
It was “Flag Day” in Stanford on Saturday. Stymied by penalties and inefficiency on third down, USC and Stanford was the only game in the PAC-12 where at least one team didn’t score over 14 points. The two teams combined for 18 penalties for 155 yards with each team only converting 7 of 14 on third down opportunities. It was either bad offense or stout defense. Whoever though Stanford was going to control the line of scrimmage and be able to march up and down the field, would have been completely wrong. Not the same offensive performance USC had against Fresno State, Kessler only had 15 completions 135 yards in the air with nine of the completions going to Nelson Agholor. The defense for USC was the key as they held their own on the defensive line even with a gimpy Leonard Williams, who had eight tackles and a sack. The “Play of the Game” was made by outside linebacker J.R. Tavai, on third and six Kevin Hogan was trying to complete a pass to the right and was hit from behind by Tavai to force a fumble, which was recovered by the Trojans to seal the win for USC.
Will Oregon silence the critics now who say that they are not tough enough on defense to play against the power teams? The Ducks may not completely stop the murmuring, but they have definitely stopped the rumblings. No more wondering if they can hold up for quarters against a power run team like Stanford or the Big Ten top teams, as Oregon went toe to toe and eventually out lasted one of the nation’s top defenses in Michigan State. Oregon has some big time players on defense that made their mark not only on the Spartan players, but also the nation. Cornerback Troy Hill is a solid cover corner, but he can also bring the wood to anyone that will come in his direction. Arik Armstead is a disrupter on the defensive line that teams need to take account for in game planning.
This was a game of momentum swings. Oregon did what they do best: jump on the back of their quarterback Marcus Mariota, jumping out to an 11 point lead. The Spartans seemed to regain their swagger with back to back sacks on Mariota by Lawrence Thomas and Marcus Rush. Michigan State scored two touchdowns just before the half to go up 24-18 and came out on their first possession of the second half to extended their lead with a field goal. After an eight play drive which led to a 24 yard touchdown pass from Mariota to Davon Allen, the momentum appeared to switch back to the side of the Ducks, who outscored the Spartans 28 to three in the second half.
It was an awesome offensive performance by California on Saturday afternoon. Still flying high from their win last week against Northwestern, the Golden Bears didn’t show any mercy on Sacramento State. California put up 45 points in the first half with time to spare for Sacramento State to eke in a score just before halftime. California scored two more times in the third, a field goal by James Langford and a 12 yard TD pass from Jared Goff to Chris Harper. California had 581 of total offense and only allowed 302 yards on defense.
Washington State’s uniforms showed up to Reno, but the players stayed back in Washington. Connor Holliday was very inconsistent. He was throwing balls that were over thrown and under thrown at the knees or didn’t even make it to the receiver. His receivers didn’t help his confidence with drops and a few alligator arm sightings while going across the middle. Mike Leech and the Cougars have a lot to figure out if they want to turn things around before the heart of the conference schedule comes in to play. The defense will absolutely have their hands full with the way that Utah, Oregon, and California are playing on offense.