NCAAF Team Report - Stanford - INSIDE SLANT
Stanford may have won the Pac-12 North Division title on Thursday night, but the Cardinal also likely kept the conference from getting a team into the BCS Championship game.
The Cardinal moved up one spot to No. 4 in the BCS Standings with a 26-20 home win over Oregon, which fell from No. 2 to No. 6. Oregon looked to have a strong chance to move up to No. 2 if it finished the regular season undefeated, but now it looks unlikely that the Ducks or Cardinals can get into the top two.
That means the Pac-12 champion will likely head to the Rose Bowl and Oregon would likely land an at-large berth in a BCS bowl game if it can finish the season without another loss.
Stanford leads the North at 6-1 while the Ducks are second at 5-1. With a head-to-head victory over the Ducks, Stanford only needs to beat USC and Cal to defend its division title.
The South Division is not quite as easy to figure out, but Arizona State avoided an upset at Utah to remain in first place at 5-1. UCLA and USC both won to improved to 4-2, but Arizona's loss to UCLA put the Wildcats at 3-3 and likely knocked them out of the race.
All three South contenders have a tough match-up this week with UCLA hosting Washington on Friday night before USC hosts Stanford and Arizona State hosts Oregon State on Saturday.
ARIZONA (6-3, 3-3)
Game: UCLA 31, Arizona 26: Ka'Deem Carey ran for 149 yards on 28 carries for his 12th consecutive 100-yard game. B.J. Denker threw for 186 yards and two scores and also ran for 82 yards.
Takeaway: Arizona started the conference season at 0-2 before winning three games in a row to put itself back in the South race, but any title hopes likely ended with the loss to the Bruins. Arizona played the 16th-ranked Bruins tough and twice scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to get within five points.
Carey has become automatic to rush for at least 100 yards and now ranks second in the country with 152.6 rushing yards per game. Denker continues to become a dual-threat quarterback.
Next: vs. Washington State, Nov. 16.
ARIZONA STATE (7-2, 5-1)
Game: Arizona State 20, Utah 19: Taylor Kelly threw for 142 yards and the game-winning touchdown in the final three minutes to lead the Sun Devils to a road win. Marion Grice rushed for 136 yards.
Takeaway: It wasn't pretty, but the Sun Devils avoided an upset at Utah to remain in first place in the South Division. Stanford proved earlier this year that it isn't easy to win at Utah and ASU saw the same thing before scoring twice in the fourth quarter to overcome a 12-point deficit.
With the win, the Sun Devils continue to control their own destiny in the South and will win the title if they win their final three games. Taylor Kelly didn't put up the big offensive numbers he usually gets, but he ran and threw for a score in the fourth quarter to rally the Sun Devils.
Next: vs. Oregon State, Nov. 16.
CALIFORNIA (1-9, 0-7)
Game: USC 62, California 28: True freshman quarterback Jared Goff threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns in the home loss for the Bears. Khalfani Muhammad added 61 yards rushing.
Takeaway: It was back to the blowouts for the Bears, who have lost six of their seven conference games by at least 22 points. Cal spotted USC a 21-0 lead and then got within seven points in the second quarter before falling behind by 27 at halftime.
It was an embarrassing effort for the Bears, who gave up six touchdowns on defense and three more on special teams. Goff continues to shine and helped Cal put up 28 points for the second week in a row, but that was not nearly enough against the Trojans.
Next: at Colorado, Nov. 16
COLORADO (3-6, 0-6)
Game: Washington 59, Colorado 7: True freshman Sefo Liufau threw for 160 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Christian Powell rushed for 73 yards for CU.
Takeaway: Colorado has not even been close in conference play, losing every Pac-12 game by at least three touchdowns. The Buffaloes never had a chance against the Huskies as they fell behind 31-7 at halftime.
The good news for the Buffs is that it hosts Cal, which is also winless in the conference, next week. However, a loss to the Bears could continue to send Colorado spiraling downward in a finish a season that had begun so promising with two straight victories.
Next: vs. California, Nov. 16.
OREGON (8-1, 5-1)
Game: Stanford 26, Oregon 20: Marcus Mariota threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns as the Ducks lost for the first time this season. Byron Marshall ran for 46 yards for the Ducks.
Takeaway: For the second year in a row, Oregon watched its national title hopes take a big hit against the Cardinal. Oregon will be heavy favorites in its final three games, so Stanford looked like that last serious hurdle in Oregon's way to the title game, but the Ducks crashed badly in the road loss.
Marcus Mariota's Heisman Trophy hopes also took a hit as Oregon went scoreless through three quarters. Mariota struggled through a knee injury to throw for 250 yards, but 115 came in the fourth quarter. Oregon had no running game against the Cardinal as Byron Marshall's run of five straight 100-yard games ended with 46 yards, De'Anthony Thomas had just 30 rushing yards, and Mariota had minus-16 yards including sacks.
The Ducks still look like a good bet to get to a BCS bowl game for the fifth year in a row, but Mariota's injury will be monitored closely in the next week.
Next: vs. Utah, Nov. 16
OREGON STATE (6-3, 4-2)
Next: at Arizona State, Nov. 16.
STANFORD (8-1, 6-1)
Game: Stanford 26, Oregon 20: Tyler Gaffney ran for 157 yards and a touchdown to lead the Cardinal to a win. Kevin Hogan threw for 103 yards and ran for another 57 and a touchdown.
Takeaway: Despite an upset loss at Utah this season, the Cardinal is in good shape to defend their North title. Stanford's biggest challenge in the way of another division title is Saturday at USC because Stanford finishes the season at home against Cal, which is 0-6 in conference play.
Stanford once again proved its toughness by running on 66 of 79 plays and averaging 4.2 yards per carry even though Oregon knew what was coming. Gaffney set a school record with 45 carries.
Next: at USC, Nov. 16.
UCLA (7-2, 4-2)
Game: UCLA 31, Arizona 26: Linebacker Myles Jack moved to running back and ran for 120 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown run, to go with eight tackles on defense. Brett Hundley threw for one touchdown and ran for another in the road win.
Takeaway: The Bruins got a tough test from the Wildcats before emerging with a win. UCLA was the preseason favorite in the South Division, but needed to beat the Wildcats to stay alive in the race.
If the Bruins win the South, they will earn it as they still have to face Washington, Arizona State and USC, three teams win a combined record of 20-8. Mora showed he is willing to do whatever he can to win as he moved his star linebacker to tailback to give the offense a boost.
Next: vs. Washington, Nov. 15.
USC (7-3, 4-2)
Game: USC 62, California 28: Nelson Agholor returned a pair of punts for touchdowns and the Trojans added another touchdown on a blocked punt to blow out the Bears. Javorius Allen ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Takeaway: USC fired Lane Kiffin after an 0-2 start to conference play and interim coach Ed Orgeron now has won all four conference games he has coached to put the Trojans back in position to win the South. USC has to host Stanford this week, but win that game and beat Colorado during the following week and the Trojans may be in position to win the division with a season-ending win over UCLA.
However, a loss to Stanford likely ends any hope of winning the South. USC is loaded in the backfield as Javorius Allen ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries while Ty Isaac had 87 yards and two scores. Silas Redd and Tre Madden have also run for at least 100 yards in a game this season.
Next: vs. Stanford, Nov. 16.
UTAH (4-5, 1-5)
Game: Arizona State 20, Utah 19: Travis Wilson threw for 121 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 44 more yards, but it wasn't quite enough. Dres Anderson had four catches for 100 yards and a touchdown.
Takeaway: It was a frustrating loss for the Utes, who led 19-7 entering the fourth quarter before being outscored 13-0. A win would have been a huge step toward reaching a bowl game and, combined with an earlier win over Stanford, a win over the Sun Devils would have had opponents really fearing a trip to Utah.
Instead, the surprising win over Stanford remains the only conference win for the Utes, who must travel to Oregon next.
Next: at Oregon, Nov. 16.
WASHINGTON (6-3, 3-3)
Game: Washington 59, Colorado 7: Keith Price threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in the first half as the Huskies blew away the Buffaloes. Price was 22-for-29 for 312 yards as the Huskies amassed nearly 500 yards of offense in the first half.
Takeaway: Washington got a blowout victory over a winless conference team for the second week in a row, but the Huskies still need to prove themselves by beating a contender in the conference. Washington gets that chance Friday on national television against UCLA.
Washington's three conference wins are over teams with a combined three Pac-12 wins. It has lost to powerhouses Oregon, Stanford, and Arizona State, so UCLA would be the biggest conference win of the season for UW. Washington clinched a spot in a bowl game for the fourth year in a row, but has to win two of its final three games to avoid going 7-5 for the fourth year in a row.
Next: at UCLA, Nov. 15.
WASHINGTON STATE (4-5, 2-4)
Next: at Arizona, Nov. 16.
NCAAF Team Report - Stanford - NOTES, QUOTES
--Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota wore a knee brace against Stanford for the second week in a row and limped off the field in the second half after taking a hard hit. After the loss, the sophomore acknowledged his knee is "a little banged up" and now there are concerns about the health of the star quarterback.
Mariota ran for 511 yards in Oregon's first eight games, but had minus-16 on six carries against Stanford, including three sacks. He only chose to run on three plays, but both he and his coach said that was due to Stanford's tough defensive front.
"Part of the game plan," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "Because we thought it gave us the best chance to win."
Mariota ran for 89 yards on 12 carries last year against Stanford.
"My knee wasn't that much of a factor," Mariota said. "Stanford did a good job forcing me to hand off. That was part of the game for them."
Mariota declined to go into detail about his injury.
"I can't really talk about those things," he said. "It just is what it is. I will take it and get healthy and I will be ready for next week."
Mariota has a little extra time after playing on Thursday before Oregon hosts Utah on Nov. 16. If he cannot play, it is a huge loss for Oregon which has two redshirt freshmen behind him on the depth chart.
Mariota said he is getting used to playing with a knee brace.
"I've learned to play with it," Mariota said. "I had never played with a knee brace before, so that is something I am doing in practice and getting used to."
--UCLA linebacker Myles Jack is the favorite to be the Pac-12 Conference defensive freshman of the year and now he is making a case for that honor on offense as well.
In an Ironman performance, Jack ran six times for 120 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown run, during UCLA's 31-26 win over Arizona. Jack's touchdown run provided the winning margin for the Bruins.
"We've always talked about it," UCLA coach Jim Mora told the Los Angeles Times. "It is just a matter of how much do you give young players to do? At what point do they become saturated and lose their effectiveness?"
Jack played part-time on offense but remained a full-timer on defense as he had eight tackles and recovered a fumble. Jack was a highly-recruited prep star out of Washington who played running back in high school as well as linebacker.
"They would make jokes, tell me, 'Yeah, that was in high school, you can't do that here,' " Jack told the Los Angeles Times.
Not only do his teammates now believe in his offensive talents, they are making bold predictions.
"We keep getting him in shape so he can go both ways, and we're talking Heisman Trophy in a couple years," linebacker Jordan Zumwalt said.
Zumwalt joined Jack as a two-way force for the Bruins. He caught a 12-yard pass in the first half.
--With starting wide receiver Kasen Williams out for the season due to injury, Washington has found plenty of other receivers to help out quarterback Keith Price.
Williams was second on the team with 29 catches for 421 yards and a touchdown before getting injured in a game against California. A bye week helped Price get used to some new receivers and he was 22-for-29 passing to seven different receivers in a 59-7 win over Colorado.
All-American tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has had a down season, but caught three passes for 61 yards and a touchdown against the Buffaloes.
"When you lose Kasen, who is a talented guy especially on those one-on-ones, we found some things there to get Austin some one-on-one opportunities," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. "We had a few more tricks up our sleeves to get him the ball."
Sophomore Jaydon Mickens led the Huskies with five catches for 72 yards and freshman John Ross had two catches for 21 yards while also running once for 15 yards. Kevin Smith had five catches for 55 yards. Even running back Bishop Sankey had four catches for 53 yards.
"I thought (Price) distributed the ball really well to a variety of people; Jaydon, Kevin, Bishop out of the backfield, Austin with some big plays, so a lot of different guys," Sarkisian said.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Our players are actually coaching our team. Coach (Mike) Norvell calls the offense, I call the defense, and our guys are coaching our team. I see defensive guys going down to the offensive end saying, 'Hey, just keep plugging. We can win this game. They're not scoring.' Then our offense goes down and scores." -- Arizona State coach Todd Graham following a 20-19 win over Utah.
NCAAF Team Report - Stanford - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FIVE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK 11 IN THE PAC-12:
1. Oregon lost a lot on Thursday night. The Ducks likely had their chance of winning the Pac-12 Conference and reaching the BCS Championship game evaporate and quarterback Marcus Mariota fell down the list of Heisman candidates.
2. Stanford is the one team that has found a formula to slow down the Ducks. Stanford has held Oregon to an average of 17 points in two wins over Oregon during the past two seasons while the Ducks are 20-0 against every other team during that time.
3. Ed Orgeron has brought excitement back to USC. The Trojans have won four straight to move into second place in the South and are nationally relevant again, as shown by ESPN's decision to host College GameDay at USC before the Stanford game on Saturday.
4. Jim Mora rolled the dice and came out a big winner at Arizona. Mora's move to put linebacker Myles Jack at running back would have backfired if he struggled or got hurt, but he averaged 20 yards per carry and ran for a score while also continuing a dominant season on defense.
5. The worst team in the conference will be crowned on Saturday. Colorado and California both remained winless in conference this week heading into their showdown in Boulder on Saturday.