It was rivalry week throughout the nation in college football. Some teams were able to withstand the pressure of being a contender in the inaugural college football playoff, and some just couldn’t get of the hump. And teams that weren’t in the discussion looked to pour salt in the wound of not only beating their rival, but playing spoiler to them.
There’s no way you can read into the future, but if UCLA could look into a crystal ball and see that Mississippi State would lose and Ohio State would lose their redshirt freshman QB J.T. Barrett Saturday afternoon, they would have done a little more to win on Friday.
Stanford may not be a traditional archrival of UCLA, but they had all the inspiration to go into the Rose Bowl and hurt UCLA’s chances of sliding up the rankings and playing in this week’s Conference championship game.
With everything on the line for UCLA, quarterback Brett Hundley started the game throwing strikes; completing his first three passes including a 15 yard touchdown to Thomas Duarte on their opening drive. After that point, the stiff Stanford defense came to play and showed why they’re at the top of the PAC-12. The Cardinal “D” held Hundley to 96 yards passing for under 50 percent completion of his passes and sacked five times. The Bruins’ running game wasn’t much help either. Stanford kept UCLA to less than 4 yards per carry, and the PAC-12’s leading rusher had only one run for more than 20 yards.
Who would have thought that Kevin Hogan would be the sharp-gun slinging quarterback that the Stanford Cardinal have been used too?
Kevin Hogan has been inconsistent for most of the year, but in a big for the Cardinal to play spoiler for UCLA and the opportunity to knock the Bruins out of contention for a chance of claiming the PAC-12 South title and shot at the PAC-12 Championship; but more importantly a possible berth in the college playoff.
Hogan started the game completing his first 12 attempts. Mid way in the 2nd quarter he attempted a pass to Michael Rector that fell off his fingertips that could have went for a touchdown. Hogan finished the game going 16-19 for 234 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Stanford grounded and pounded their way over the Bruins. The Cardinal rushed for over 200 yards and 2 touchdowns.
No drama is complete without its subplots, and there has to be your heroes and your villains. In the “Duel in the Desert” between Arizona State and Arizona, the scene was in Tucson, Arizona the home of the Arizona Wildcats; their heroes: linebacker Scooby Wright, Anu Solomon and Nick Wilson; and the villains—anyone on the Arizona State sideline.
The plot was thick enough, with the Stanford-UCLA game going on at the same time, Head Coach Rich Rodriguez made it known that he didn’t want his team distracted by the updated score of the UCLA game; so told stadium officials not to make any announcements about the score. Of course, the fans in Arizona Stadium was keeping track on their mobile devices.
Cody Kessler and the “Men of Troy” didn’t show the Irish any mercy last Saturday. Kessler ripped Notre Dame for 372 yards and 6 touchdown passes; 5 of which were in the first half. The Trojans scored two more touchdowns in the 3rd quarter and Sarkisian called off the army attack. USC finished Notre Dame 49-14.
The leader of the defense linebacker Scooby Wright his presence known early with a sack on Taylor Kelly forcing a fumble that was scoped up by Anthony Lopez, and returned for a touchdown. But much like any typical play; the hero can’t get all the glory. Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon mishandled the exchange between him and running back Nick Wilson that was picked up and returned for a touchdown by Arizona State defensive lineman Demetrius Cherry.
Often times the unsuspecting hero makes the difference; in this case Arizona receiver Samajie Grant played the role. Grant had 4 receptions for 91 yards, but without Grant’s two touchdowns the outcome could’ve been a lot different. Instead of going to Santa Clara for the PAC-12 Championship game; they could be sitting at home this Friday.
The first half was a back and forth game with the teams tied at the half. And the start of the 2nd half look to be more of the same; Arizona took the opening second half kickoff and drove the ball down the field capped by a 1 yard Nick Wilson touchdown run. Arizona State drove down on the ensuing possession but Zane Gonzalez missed a 45 yard field goal, and the lead was extended 14 for Arizona when running back Nick Wilson scored on a 72 yard run.
Arizona State senior quarterback Taylor Kelly did all he could in the second half to keep the game close, but when Arizona went up by 14 Head Coach Todd Graham knew that he will have to get more pass heavy since his team was now in catch up mode; so he called on his junior backup Mike Bercovici.
Bercovici went 14-22 for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns with a costly interception, which Arizona turned into a touchdown when Anu Solomon found Samajie Grant in the corner of the endzone to take the lead back to 14 and out of reach for the Sun Devils to come back.
It might have been Senior Day in Corvallis, but a game that senior Sean Mannion and the Oregon State defense would like to forget. Miss tackles; broken coverage and too much Marcus Mariota; the Beavers found themselves down 30 in the blink of an eye. Just before halftime Oregon State manage to finally get on the board with a Garret Owens field goal.
Mannion ended his career going 19-39 for 162 yards and a touchdown. On the hand, his counterpart had his 10th straight game where he was responsible for 4 or more of the Ducks touchdowns. Mariota was 19-25 for 367 yards and 4 touchdowns with 2 more on the ground. A win against Arizona this Friday; forget a trip to New York, just take the Heisman Trophy to Eugene, Oregon.