This Week in Pac-12 Football

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PAC-12 FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK:

SEEKING PERFECTION: There are 16 FBS teams that remain perfect at 4-0, six others are 3-0 and one is 2-0. Of the 16 teams that are 4-0, four are from the Pac-12 - only the ACC can match that feat.

BEST STARTS: Four Pac-12 teams are off to 4-0 starts this season. Here’s how that compares to previous undefeated starts to a season for those four:

USC - Best start since 2010 season (started 4-0). Started 6-0 in 2006.
Utah - Best start since 2015 (started 6-0).
Washington - Won first four games in three of the last four seasons, including last year’s 9-0 start.
Washington State - Best start since 2001 season (started 7-0).

SHOW SOME LOVE: In comparing STANFORD junior RB Bryce Love’s numbers through four games to the five running backs who have won the Heisman Trophy over the last 20 years, he’s posted more yards than any of them. Love has also posted a much higher yards per carry than the rest of the group. One similarity between Love, Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne and Texas’ Ricky Williams, is that their teams were 2-2 through the first four games.

2017 - Bryce Love (Stanford 2-2) 787 rush yds, 10.8 ypc, 5 total TD
2015 - Derrick Henry (Alabama 3-1) 422 rush yds, 6.3, 8 TD
2009 - Mark Ingram (Alabama 4-0) 347 rush yds, 5.7, 7 TD
2005 - Reggie Bush (USC 4-0) 491 rush yds, 8.6, 8 TD
1999 - Ron Dayne (Wisconsin 2-2) 612 yds, 6.1, 6 TD
1998 - Ricky Williams (Texas 2-2) 736 yds, 6.1, 15 TD

WHAT IF...: If you calculated UCLA QB Josh Rosen’s four-game numbers over the course of a 12-game season, here’s what he would post (current Pac-12 record holder in parentheses):

Passing Yards, Season: 5,290 yards (4,719 yards - Jared Goff, CAL, 2015)
Passing Yards, Game: 440.8 yards per game (415.8 ypg - Connor Halliday, WSU, 2014)
TD Passes, Season: 48 TDs (43 TDs - Jake Browning, WASH, 2016/Jared Goff, CAL, 2015)

WHAT IF, PART II: Six Pac-12 receivers rank among the nation’s Top 20 in receiving yards/game with each averaging better than 100 yards/game - No. 10 Darren Carrington, UTAH (121.2 ypg), No. 12 Deontay Burnett, USC (115.5 ypg), No. 13 Darren Andrews, UCLA (114.5 ypg), No. 15 N’Keal Harry, ASU (109.0), No. 16 Jordan Lasley, UCLA (106.7 ypg), and No. 17 Caleb Wilson, UCLA (106.0 ypg). Over the course of a 12-game season, those six, plus WASHINGTON STATE’s Tavares Martin Jr. (97.5 ypg) and CALIFORNIA’s Vic Wharton III (86.3 ypg), would provide the Pac-12 with a record eight receivers each posting more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season.

SHORTENED TIME OF GAME: The Pac-12 Conference will conduct a test program to improve the viewing experience for fans in stadium and on-air by taking steps to shorten the length of football games. All non-conference football games on Pac-12 Network this season (could be up to 15 games) will have reduced break times between the 1st and 2nd quarters and between the 3rd and 4th quarters. In addition, three non-conference games will have adjusted commercial formats to reduce four additional minutes of break time, and halftime for seven non-conference football games will be reduced from 20 to 15 minutes (approval was needed from each opponent). For certain games, Pac-12 Networks will experiment with :01 kickoff times. These experimental efforts are meant to shorten game length up to 10 minutes and reduce broadcast windows by up to 15 minutes. Below is the Pac-12 Networks schedule of games and the experimental adjustments for each game.

PAC-12 PLAYERS OF THE WEEK:

OFFENSE
Bryce Love, RB, STAN
Love rushed for 263 yards, including a 69-yard TD run, and averaged 8.8 yards per carry. Stanford trailed UCLA, 13-6, midway through the second quarter -- from that point on, Love rushed 21 times for 233 yards (11.1 yds/carry) and had the back-breaking 69-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter of a 58-34 victory. He had a 50+ yard rush for the sixth straight game -- the only college player in the last 20 years to do so.

DEFENSE
Jack Jones, CB, USC
Jones picked off a pair of passes at California to help USC post six takeaways, its most in a game since 2012. His first theft led to USC’s first points of the game in the first quarter and his second interception was midway through the fourth quarter. Jones now has three interceptions in 2017.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Brandon Ruiz, PK, ASU
Ruiz was 3-of-3 on his field goal attempts (including game-winning FG) and 4-of-4 in PATs in Arizona State’s 37-35 upset of No. 24 Oregon. He made field goals from 29, 24 and 41 yards. The make from 41 yards came with 2:33 remaining and proved to be the winning points after Oregon took a 35-34 lead with 6:41 left. Ruiz was also successful with an onside kick that ASU recovered in the first quarter. The Sun Devils would go on to score on the possession (Ruiz 29-yard FG) to take a 17-7 lead late in the quarter.

THIS WEEK'S GAMES:

USC (4-0) at WASHINGTON STATE (4-0)
Fri., Sept. 29 • 7:30 pm PT • ESPN • #USCvsWSU

USC: The Trojans had four interceptions, two fumble recoveries, picked up three sacks and had 6.0 tackles for loss in a strong defensive effort in the 30-20 win at California ... After missing his first field goal attempt of his career in last week’s game, freshman walk-on PK Chase McGrath has now hit five consecutive field goals after hitting on all  three attempts (37, 34, 46) at California ... Sophomore QB Sam Darnold has thrown for at least 200 yards in the past 14 games (and 6 times in his career over 300 yards). He has thrown at least 3 TD passes in a game 7 times in his career (and 4 times with at least 4 TDs) ... Freshman RB Stephen Carr leads all Pac-12 freshmen in rushing, averaging 74.5 yards per game (6.3 per carry) ... USC has won 13 straight dating back to last season ...

WASHINGTON STATE: Cougars look for their first win over USC in Pullman since a 30-27 overtime victory in 2002. The last home win in regulation over the Trojans was a 34-14 decision in 1986 ... Senior QB Luke Falk threw for 478 yards and 5 TDs in the 45-7 win over Nevada. He upped his WSU record total to 12,271 passing yards, 5th-most in Pac-12 history and 103 career TD passes (3rd most in Pac-12 history) ... 13 different players pulled in a reception against Nevada. Junior WR Tavares Martin Jr. had 4 catches for 114 yards and 2 TDs, freshman WR Renard Bell had 4 catches for 113 yards ... Sophomore RB James Williams has posted 10 or more receptions in three of four games this season. He leads the Pac-12, and is 5th in the FBS, averaging 9.3 receptions per game.

ARIZONA STATE (2-2) at STANFORD (2-2)
Sat., Sept. 30 • 1:00 pm PT • P12N • #ASUvsSTAN

ARIZONA STATE: The ASU defense held Oregon to 120 yards rushing and 401 yards of total offense in its 37-35 upset of the No. 24 Ducks. Oregon entered the game averaging 285.3 yards rushing and 609.0 yards of total offense ... Junior QB Manny Wilkins has completed 93 of 140 passes for 1,271 yards and 8 TDs this season. He is the only Pac-12 starting quarterback who has not thrown an interception this season.  Among FBS quarterbacks, he has the second most pass attempts (140) without an interception. Only N.C. State’s Ryan Finley has more attempts (159) ... Sophomore WR N’Keal Harry had a career-high 170 yards receiving on 7 receptions and added one score in the win over Oregon. Over the last two games, Harry has 20 receptions for 318 yards and 2 TDs ... The Sun Devils are a perfect 14-for-14 in red zone opportunities with 12 TDs and 2 FGs. Only Stanford (19-19) and Oregon State (9-9) are batting 1.000 in the red zone this season.

STANFORD: With the 58-34 win over UCLA, the Cardinal have now won 10 straight over the Bruins, the longest active streak by one Pac-12 team over another ... Thanks to his career-best 263 yards rushing against UCLA, junior RB Bryce Love is averaging an FBS-best 196.8 rushing yards per game. He has rushed for over 160 yards in every game this season. He’s rushed for 100 or more yards in each of the last six games for a total of 1,016 yards on 101 carries (10.1 avg), extending his school record as the only Cardinal to eclipse 100 yards in his first six career starts. In conference history, only USC’s Marcus Allen averaged more rushing yards per game in a single season (212.9 ypg in 1981) ... Senior DT Harrison Phillips was one of 11 FBS players named to the 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. He is a board member of The Playmakers Organization, which is dedicated to mentoring at-risk minority youth. Phillips, who leads the Cardinal with 30 tackles this season, is on pace to graduate early as a double major in sociology and society, technology and society. 

WASHINGTON (4-0) at OREGON STATE (1-3)
Sat., Sept. 30 • 5:00 pm MT • P12N • #UWvsOSU

WASHINGTON: The Huskies have won five straight in the series with Oregon State, averaging 43.8 ppg in those five wins ... Junior RB Myles Gaskin rushed for a career-high 202 yards and 2 TDs in the 37-10 win at Colorado. It was his scored his 29th career rushing touchdown, placing him fourth (tied) on the UW list. And he now has 3,030 career rushing yards, becoming just the fifth Husky to reach 3,000 yards ... Washington ranks No. 10 in the nation in scoring defense (11.8 points per game) and No. 11 in scoring offense (44.5). Only three other teams are ranked in the Top 20 in both categories (Alabama, UCF, Wisconsin).  The Huskies are No. 8 in turnover margin (+1.5 per game).

OREGON STATE: The Beavers are coming off a bye weekend and are looking for their first win over the Huskies in Corvallis since a 38-21 victory in 2011 ... Junior RB Ryan Nall, who ranks eighth in the Pac-12 in rushing (80.8 yards per game) has rushed for 100 or more yards in six of the last 10 game. He is 13th on OSU’s career rushing list with 1,729 yards ... Freshman S David Morris leads the Beavers in tackles with 32 (8.0 per game). Those defensive numbers lead all Pac-12 freshmen.

COLORADO (3-1) at UCLA (2-2)
Sat., Sept. 30 • 7:30 pm PT • ESPN2 • #CUvsUCLA

COLORADO: The Buffs red zone defense is tops in the Pac-12 and 10th nationally allowing just five scores in eight trips (.625) ... The Colorado secondary, led by junior DB Isaiah Oliver, limited Washington’s Jake Browning to 11-of-21 passing for 160 yards. After giving up 309 passing yards in the season-opener to Colorado State, the secondary has given up 489 passing yards (163.0 ypg) the last three games ... Oliver leads the nation in passes defended (7 pass breakups, 2 interceptions) ...  Senior TB Phillip Lindsay became CU’s all-time reception leader by a running back with 96 receptions (for 783 yards, which is second); he passed Rodney Stewart (2008-11) who had 93 for 969 yards.  He moved into seventh on CU’s rushing chart with 2,679 yards, as he skipped by Hugh Charles tonight (2,659).  He is now alone in seventh in rushing touchdowns (26).

UCLA: With its 595-yard performance at Stanford, UCLA set a school mark with its fourth consecutive 500-yard total offense game in a season. The school record for most 500-yard total offense games overall in a season is 5 (2014, 1998, 1976, 1973) ... Junior QB Josh Rosen leads the nation in passing yards (1,763), passing touchdowns (16), points responsible for (102), points responsible for per game (25.5). After his performance at Stanford, he moved into the top spot in the nation in total offense (444.8) and passing yards/game (440.8) ... Rosen has reached and surpassed the 1,500-yard passing mark, in four games, faster than any previous Bruin QB (1,763 yards) ... UCLA is the only school in the country with three receivers listed with an average of at least 100 receiving yards per game - Darren Andrews (114.2 ypg/14th), Jordan Lasley (106.7 ypg/17th), Caleb Wilson (106.2 ypg/18th). 

CALIFORNIA (3-1) at OREGON (3-1)
Sat., Sept. 30 • 7:30 pm PT • FS1/FOX Deportes • #CALvsORE

CALIFORNIA: Junior RB Patrick Laird had 15 carries for 82 yards against USC for the second-highest rushing total of his career and his third consecutive game of 78 or more yards rushing ... Senior LB Devante Downs tied his career high with 14 tackles for the second straight game after also accumulating the total last Saturday vs. Ole Miss and vs. Stanford in 2016 ... Cal held the USC offense to zero explosive plays (20 or more yards from the line of scrimmage) and have not allowed an explosive play since 13:02 remaining in the second quarter against Ole Miss ... The Bears are 10-of-13 on 4th down conversions ... Senior PK Matt Anderson was 2-for-3 in field goals and 2-of-2 on PATs Saturday for a total of eight points. Anderson now boasts 252 career points and is now within 36 points of Cal’s all-time leader Doug Brien (288), while his 46 career field goals made are 10 shy of Brien’s 56.

OREGON: The Ducks have won 11 of the last 12 against the Bears in Eugene ... Senior RB Royce Freeman had 81 yards rushing on 15 carries and added one touchdown in the loss at Arizona State. It was his school-record 54th career touchdown and he’s now just five rushing touchdowns shy of matching the Pac-12 career mark held by Oregon State’s Ken Simonton (59 TDs, 1998-2001). His 4,687 career rushing yards place him fifth on the Pac-12 career chart behind USC’s Marcus Allen (4,810 yards, 1978-81) ... Junior DL Jalen Jelks, a Phoenix native, had 3.0 sacks and 5.0 tackles for loss in his return to the Valley of the Sun.

OPEN DATE

ARIZONA (2-2): Arizona rushed for exactly 200 rushing yards Friday against Utah. Dating back to last season, Arizona has rushed for 150 or more yards in 10 straight games. It’s the longest streak since Arizona rushed for 150 or more in 11 straight over the final eight games of 2013 and the first three of 2014. Arizona has rushed for 200 or more yards in three of four games this season ... Junior QB Brandon Dawkins rushed for 90 yards and a TD on 18 carries in the loss to Utah. He now has 1,498 rushing yards for his career, which is most by any Arizona quarterback since at least 1958 ... The Wildcats have allowed just 129 rushing yards over the past two games. That’s the best two-game output by the Arizona defense since the Wildcats allowed just 124 rushing yards against UCLA and Washington State in back-to-back games in 2009.

UTAH (4-0): The Utes are 10-4 following a regular season bye under coach Kyle Whittingham ... Senior WR Darren Carrington has three 100-yard receiving games and 10 career 100-yard games (seven at Oregon). Carrington leads the Pac-12 and 10th in the nation in receiving yards per game (121.3 avg) ... Senior PK Matt Gay has made 14 consecutive field goals (14-of-14), which is the third-longest made field goal streak in school history. The school record is 18 by Joe Phillips (2009-10). Gay is averaging an FBS-best 3.50 field goals per game ... Junior P Mitch Wishnowsky leads the Pac-12 with a 46.8 yard averaging, placing five of his 13 punts inside the 20-yard line. He’s key to Utah ranking third nationally in net punting (45.3 avg).

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