Pac-12 kicks into full gear with Conference play this weekend

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AROUND THE PAC-12

OUT OF THIS LEAGUE: The Pac-12 has had an impressive run in non-conference action this season, posting a 29-4 record to date. Since 1934, only one season witnessed the Conference capture more than 29 wins in non-league play - 2002 (32-15) when the league played an eight game conference schedule, allowing an additional 10 non-conference games to be played. Three non-league tilts remain this season against Notre Dame, and potentially a fourth non-league contest should Colorado arrange for a 12th game to be scheduled after its game with Fresno State was postponed. In addition, the Pac-12 is contracted with seven bowl games, so there could be an up to 11 non-league games remaining on the docket.

CONFERENCE ACTION: The Pac-12 kicks into full gear with conference play this weekend. A couple of key match ups this weekend will highlight the air assault of COLORADO and QB Connor Wood (370.5 yards passing per game) at OREGON STATE and QB Sean Mannion (401.0 ypg); and the ground attack of ARIZONA (322.3 yards rushing per game), led by Ka’Deem Carey’s 149.5 ypg at WASHINGTON (303.7 ypg) behind Bishop Sankey’s 148.7 ypg . . . USC travels to ARIZONA STATE with each team looking for their first Pac-12 win of the season after each dropped their conference opener.

GOOD HANDS: While Pac-12 quarterbacks have been putting up some big numbers in the first four weeks of the season, the big benefactors have been the receivers. Six Pac-12 receivers have hauled in 10 or more catches in a game eight times this season, led by OREGON STATE’s Brandin Cooks and COLORADO’s Paul Richardson with two each. Meanwhile, 17 different receivers have posted 100 or more receiving yards in a game 26 times, led by Cooks and UTAH’s Dres Anderson with three games each. Cooks leads all FBS players with 43 receptions and 639 yards.

UPCOMING GAMES
 
COLORADO (2-0, 0-0) at OREGON STATE (3-1, 1-0)
Sat., Sept. 28, 12 noon PT - P12N

COLORADO: Due to a postponed game with Fresno State on Sept. 14, and an open date last weekend, the Buffs finally return to action for the first time since their win over Central Arkansas on Sept. 7 . . . Colorado looks to start 3-0 for the first time since the 2008 season . . .  Junior QB Connor Wood is third in the Pac-12, and fourth in the FBS, averaging 370.5 yards passing per game . . . Junior WR Paul Richardson is second in the Pac-12 with 10.5 receptions per game . . . Freshman LB Addison Gillam leads the Pac-12 with 10.5 tackles per game.

OREGON STATE: Junior QB Sean Mannion leads the FBS with 1,606 passing yards for the season, as does his 15 TD passes. He completed 38-of-55 for 367 yards and three touchdowns in Oregon State’s 34-30 win at San Diego State. He is the first Beaver to throw for 350-plus yards in four consecutive games . . . Junior WR Brandin Cooks hauled in a career-high 14 receptions against San Diego State. He has 43 receptions (10.8 per game) this season, which leads all FBS players by more than 10 receptions . . . Of Mannion’s 15 touchdown passes, seven have been to Cooks.

LAST TIME: Colorado rallied from a 21-16 fourth quarter deficit to pull out a 28-21 win at home. Colorado’s Eric Bienemy carried the ball 20 times for 211 yards and 3 TDs, including a 66-yard TD run in the fourth quarter to put Colorado on top. Oregon State’s Eric Wilhelm was 27-of-38 through the air for 353 yards and 2 TDs.

ARIZONA (3-0, 0-0) at No. 16 WASHINGTON (3-0, 0-0)
Sat., Sept. 28, 4 p.m. PT - FOX

ARIZONA: The Wildcat ground game averages 322.3 yards per game (2nd in the Pac-12), led by junior RB Ka’Deem Carey’s 149.5 ypg . . . Arizona leads the Pac-12 in scoring defense (8.7 ppg) . . . The Wildcats are 2-9 over their last 11 league road games, with five of those nine losses coming against ranked opponents . . . The Wildcats look to move to 4-0 for the first time since opening the 2010 season at 4-0 . . . The ‘Cats have given up just 26 points through the first three games. The last time they gave up 26 or fewer points through the first three games of the season was in 1996.

WASHINGTON: The Huskies are 3-0 for the first time since 2001, and have scored 34 or more points in three straight games for the first time since 2002 . . . The Huskies average 303.7 yards rushing per game (3rd in Pac-12), led by junior RB Bishop Sankey’s 148.7 ypg . . . Third in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (10.0 ppg) . . . As far as the Huskies stats go back to 1947, the Huskies have amassed over 500 total yards in three-straight games for the first time ever. The 1997 season is the only time UW went over 500 total yards three times (non-consecutive) . . . Junior RB Bishop Sankey passed 2,000 yards in just his 28th career game. Only Hugh McElhenny and Chris Polk (24) reached the 2,000 rushing yards plateau faster . . . Senior QB Keith Price tossed 3 TD passes to add to his Husky career record total of 61 TD passes (t20th all-time in Pac-12). Price has completed 77 percent of his passes this season with 7 TDs and just one INT.

LAST TIME: Matt Scott threw for 256 yards and 4 TDs, while Ka’Deem Carey rushed for 179 yards and added 1 TD in a 52-17 Wildcat victory over the Huskies in Tucson last season.

USC (2-1, 0-1) at ARIZONA STATE (2-1, 0-1)
Sat., Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m. PT - ESPN2

USC: Trojans look for their first Pac-12 win of the season. A win would give USC a 1-1 start to Pac-12 play for the sixth straight season. The last time the Trojans started league play at 0-2 was 2001 . . . USC leads the nation in red zone defense, is second in tackles for a loss, third in rushing defense, fourth in total defense and sacks, 11th in scoring defense and 12th in pass efficiency defense. USC is allowing just 230 total yards a game (no opponent has eclipsed 300 yards yet), including only 59 on the ground, and just 11 points per outing. The Trojans average 4 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss each game . . . Sophomore DE Leonard Williams recorded three of USC’s 10 tackles for loss against Utah State. His 1.50 tackles for loss per game is third in the Pac-12. Senior teammate Morgan Breslin leads the league with 1.83 tackles for loss per game.

ARIZONA STATE: Junior QB Taylor Kelly threw for a career-high 367 yards in the loss at Stanford. Sophomore WR Jaelen Strong accounted for 168 receiving yards on 12 catches, both career highs . . . Kelly has thrown for 300 or more yards in each game this season, and seven times in his career . . . The Sun Devil passing attack ranks eighth in the FBS, averaging 361.3 yards per game . . . Senior RB Marion Grice found the end zone two more times Saturday at Stanford, giving him eight touchdowns this season. His 16.0 points per game average leads the nation.

LAST TIME: USC’s Curtis McNeal rushed for 163 yards and 3 TDs, while Matt Barkley tossed 3 TD passes in leading the Trojans to a 38-17 win in Los Angeles last season. 

No. 5 STANFORD (3-0, 1-0) vs. WASHINGTON STATE (3-1, 1-0)
Sat., Sept. 28, 7 p.m. PT - ESPN

STANFORD: At 61.0 percent, the Cardinal are one of three Pac-12 teams with a third-down conversion rate better than 60 percent (UCLA at 68.3 percent, Washington at 65.9 percent). In fact, all three Pac-12 teams are among the top five nationally in third-down conversion . . . Has won 11 straight dating back to last season, which is currently the second longest streak in FBS (Ohio State is at 15) . . . The lone Cardinal defeat in Pac-12 play last season came at CenturyLink to the Washington Huskies . . . Junior WR Ty Montgomery is third in the Pac-12 in all-purpose yardage (165.7 ypg) and averages 20.7 yards per touch.

WASHINGTON STATE: In the win over Idaho, junior QB Connor Halliday recorded his sixth career 4-touchdown game, tying Ryan Leaf for most all-time. With 346 yards passing, he also posted his third straight 300-yard performance, and eighth career 300-yard performance . . .Sophomore WR Gabe Marks posted career-highs with 11 receptions and 146 yards in the win over Idaho. His 31 receptions this season are currently tied for fifth among all FBS players . . . The Cougar defense is allowing just 221.7 yards per game over the last three games . . . The Cougars have won three in a row for the first time since the 2006 season and are looking to make it four straight for the first time since the winning the final game of the 2004 season and the first three contests of the 2005 season. The 2006 season was also the last year Washington State won consecutive conference games. 

LAST TIME: Stanford sacked WSU quarteback Jeff Tuel a record 10 times, and safety Ed Reynolds returned an interception 25 yards for a TD to lead the Cardinal to a 24-17 win. Tuel was 43-of-60 for 401 yards and got the Cougars within a touchdown with a scoring strike with 6:29 to play.

CALIFORNIA (1-2, 0-0) at No. 2 OREGON (3-0, 0-0)
Sat., Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m. PT - P12N

CALIFORNIA: The Golden Bears take on their second straight top-five ranked opponent, and are looking to knock off a ranked opponent on the road for the first time since taking down No. 14 Stanford in 2009 . . . The Bears lead the league, and are second in the FBS, with 438.7 yards passing per game. Cal freshman QB Jared Goff tops the FBS with 435.3 yards per game . . . Sophomore WR Bryce Treggs was recently added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List, and for good reason. Treggs is fifth in the FBS averaging 9.3 receptions per game and 105.7 yards per game . . . 

OREGON: The Ducks are 13th in the FBS in passing defense efficiency (92.1) and now face the number two team in the FBS in passing offense . . . Oregon leads the Pac-12 and is second in the FBS averaging 61.3 ppg. It has scored 50 or more points in a game three straight times, and in 10 of the last 16 games . . . The Ducks have scored in less than 2:00 in 23 of 28 scoring possessions. While averaging a league-leading 61.3 ppg, the Ducks maintain possession for only 22:17 per game . . . Twelve different players have found the end zone for the Ducks. 

LAST TIME: California kept No. 3 Oregon in check and trailed the Ducks just 24-17 midway through the 3rd quarter. However, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota guided the Ducks to 35 unanswered points to break the game open. Mariota threw for 377 yards and a school-record tying six TD passes, including four in the second half as Oregon prevailed 59-17 in Berkeley.

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