Well…well, we didn’t even have to get to the middle of October to get a shakeup at the top of the rankings. As Arizona once again put a monkey wrench in Oregon’s plans to contend for a championship. Though it is not completely out of the realm of possibility to get into the College Football Playoff, but they will have to win the rest of their games plus PAC-12 Championship. The Wildcats went into Eugene and shocked the Ducks 31-24 last Thursday night.
If ever there was a concern about Oregon’s offensive line it was confirmed against Arizona. The Wildcats took advantage of their inexperience sacking Oregon QB Marcus Mariota 5 times in the game.
Once again the Oregon defense wasn’t able to stop the run. Arizona running backs Terris Jones-Grigsby and Nick Wilson combined for over 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon played well. He didn’t have any costly mistakes. He threw for 287 yards and a touchdown and one interception by Oregon’s DB Reggie Daniels, but there weren’t any points put on the board off the turnover.
Frankly, what hurt Oregon; it wasn’t just the offensive line and the inability of the defense to stop the run, but the inefficiency to convert on 3rd down and the timely penalties that sustained drives for Arizona. The Ducks went 4-14 on 3rd down and had 10 penalties for 79 yards. Most notably in Arizona’s last scoring drive, what should have been a long field goal attempt for the Wildcats turned into a first down, because Oregon’s defense couldn’t stop the run on a 3rd 20; then what should have been another field goal attempt turned into a 1st and goal, because DE Tony Washington felt the need to bow before the crowd to celebrate his sack on QB Anu Solomon and was penalized for Unsportsmanlike conduct. No it wasn’t taunting, but it was in that grey area where refs have to make that call; and a pass interference penalty on Oregon CB Troy Hill. 3 plays later RB Jones-Grigsby ran the ball in for a touchdown.
Oregon had their chance to tie the game back up getting the ball back with over 2 minutes left, and with Mariota, that’s plenty of time to get down the field. They appear to be on their way to cashing in on the opportunity with back to back completion from Mariota to Dwayne Stanford for 14 and 12 yards respectively. But Mariota showed us that he is human; stepping up into the pocket when it was closing in on him was sacked and stripped of the ball by Arizona LB Scooby Wright. Oregon was unable to once again stop RB Jones-Grigsby from converting on 3rd down; carrying tacklers with the help of his offensive lineman to seal the game for the Wildcats.
A shoot out at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Washington Saturday night between gun slingers Connor Halliday of Washington State and Jared Goff of Cal that ended in heart break. I thought I was watching arena football the way they were going up and down the field in such a short about time of the clock. When there is a back and forth game where there is an equal to or better than response to every score, the game will come down to who has the ball last to give their team the chance to win.
Cal quarterback Jared Goff had an outstanding game; he threw for 527 yards and 5 touchdowns. Cal started the game a little sluggish by all accounts to how up and down the game was played. If it was Stanford –Notre Dame; it would have been very good half. But the defense needs to stop somebody, which they didn’t, because Connor Halliday threw 3 of his 6 touchdowns in the first half.
In the second half Goff got a little help to keep up with the scoring pace. RB Daniel Lasco put his stamp on the scoreboard with a 27 yard shuffle pass for a touchdown then a 15 yard run for another score. And Trevor Davis took two kickoff returns back for touchdowns; answers to touchdown drives by Washington State to keep the game close.
After a 51 yard touchdown pass from Goff to Trevor Davis with just under 4 minutes to go in the 4th quarter; it was Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday’s chance to drive his team down the field to get into field goal range or maybe a touchdown. Halliday completed five passes on the final drive, including a crucial 4th and short to extend the drive. After a 17 yard pass to WR Vince Mayle to get the ball to the 4 yard line, Head Coach Mike Leech decided to take the chance for the attempted field goal on 3rd down. Kicker Quentin Breshears missed the 19 yard field goal attempt that the left the hometown crown and QB Connor Halliday in dismay.
Halliday threw for 734 yards (a new FBS Single-game passing record), 65 of which were on that final drive and 6 touchdowns, and had to have him thinking at the end, “What else do I have to do?”
Hail mary drills will be ran in practices all over the country this week after another successful hail mary pass on Saturday. “Knock it down!!!” Defenses in the PAC-12 seem to have trouble following this tutelage.
Arizona State may be struggling in the run game, but they have put their burdens on the shoulders of their Junior QB Mike Bercovici. Last week threw for 488 yards and 3 TD passes. But talk were surrounding his mental make and how would handle the ridulle from the opposing crowd. The talk can rest now. Mike Bercovici out dualed his counterpart, USC QB Cody Kessler, by going for 510 yards and 5 touchdown passes, and again D.J. Foster was held to under 50 yards on the ground.
Cody Kessler may not have had a big game but the balance attack of the run game for USC led by junior running back Javorius Allen who had 29 carries for 143 and 2 touchdowns, most notably a 53 yard touchdown run that would have appeared to have put the game on ice for USC stretching the lead to 34-25 with 3 minutes left.
In the PAC-12 there are some big play receivers that can take the distance at any time. Once again they didn’t disappoint. First play on the ensuing drive for Arizona State Mike Bercovici passed to Cameron Smith on a 12 yard crossing pattern that he took 73 yards for a touchdown.
After a three and out by USC, which left 23 seconds for Arizona State and no timeouts a miracle was needed. And their prayers were answered. Mike Bercovici hit Gary Chambers across the middle for a 26 yard gain that put ASU on the USC 46 yard line, and then the miracle. Mike Bercovici lobbed the pass deep in the air to give senior receiver Jaelen Strong opportunity to snatch the ball out of the air before any USC defender could knock the ball down to win the game for the Sun Devils.
Two of the top defenses faced off against each other in a cold rainy day in South Bend on Saturday. Notre Dame amassed 370 yards of total offense against the nation’s top defense, while the Irish defense held the Cardinal to 139 yards total offense and just 47 yards rushing. Stanford receiver Ty Montgomery, who entered the game averaging 69 yards a game receiving, only had 4 catches for 12 yards. Though the game in 2012 was more exciting with an overtime victory for the Irish 20-13, but it was one for the books in the series.
In the fourth quarter with the game tied, the Irish had a chance to take the lead with 12 minutes left but holder Hunter Smith for the second time had trouble with the snap on a field goal attempt; from 27-yard out. On the Irish next possession, Notre Dame was able to get back into field goal range, and Hunter Smith made an adjustment on the sideline when he came back out. Head Coach Brian Kelly showed extreme confidence in him considering he decided to put on gloves to help with the handling of the ball. And it worked; Smith got the ball down for Kyle Brindza to kick the 45-yard field goal successfully.
Ty Montgomery had a 42-yard kickoff return that led to a 11 yard touchdown run for Remound Wright to give Stanford the lead back late in the fourth quarter.
Everett Golson was able to lead the Irish offense back down the field into Stanford territory, and on fourth-and-11 from the 23 and trailing 14-10, Golson dropped back to pass and break containment from the Stanford rush just long enough to find TE Ben Koyack in the back corner of the end zone all alone, while two Cardinal defensive backs tried to recover from the blown assignment. Koyack caught the pass as he fell out of bounds, while safety Jordan Richards dove to try to break it up, and scored the winning touchdown.
Stanford had an opportunity to go down the field to at least get into field goal range with a minute left in the game, but with just ten seconds on their own 49 yard line; Kevin Hogan under heavy pressure by safety Elijah Shumate threw the ball away to avoid the sack, and was called for intentional grounding; which resulted in an automatic 10 second run off the clock that ended the game, giving the victory to the Irish 17-14.