This week in Pac-12 football
AROUND THE PAC-12...
ROAD WARRIORS: Pac-12 teams continue to excel on the road in league play. The visiting teams are now 27-16 (.628) in league road games. The six teams ranked in this week’s AP Top 25 (Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona, Utah and Arizona) have combined overall road record of 22-5 (.815).
NORTH SET, SOUTH YET TO BE DETERMINED: OREGON clinched the North Division’s spot in the Pac-12 FCG (Dec. 5 at Levi’s Stadium). As for the South Division, UCLA controls its own destiny. Should the Bruins win out (vs. USC, vs. Stanford), they would represent the South Division in the Pac-12 FCG. Should the Bruins stumble, waiting in the wings are ARIZONA, ARIZONA STATE, USC, and UTAH.
MORE MANNION: OREGON STATE senior QB Sean Mannion keeps adding to his Pac-12 career-best passing numbers, which is currently 13,124 yards. That’s 12th all-time in the FBS. He needs 130 yards to crack the top 10, moving past Aaron Murray of Georgia (13,166 from 2010-13) and Colt McCoy of Texas (13,253 from 2006-09). Mannion also took over the top spot on the Pac-12’s all-time list for total offense. He’s at 12,354 yards in total offense and counting.
AWARD WATCH LIST: The National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) awards continue to release their list of semifinalists. The Ray Guy Award, honoring the nation’s best punter, announced its 10 semifinalists last week and UTAH junior Tom Hackett is among them...The Biletnikoff Award, honoring the nation’s top receiver, tabbed USC’s Nelson Agholor, WASHINGTON STATE’s Vince Mayle, COLORADO’s Nelson Spruce, and ARIZONA STATE’s Jaelen Strong among its 10 semfinalists... The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award announced its five finalists and three hail from the Pac-12 Conference - UCLA’s Brett Hundley, USC’s Cody Kessler, and OREGON’s Marcus Mariota.
HANG’EM HACKETT: UTAH junior punter Tom Hackett is third in the nation, averaging 46.8 yards per punt. He leads the Pac-12 with 29 kicks placed inside the 20, and 20 punts of 50 or more yards. He’s effectively taken the league’s top returners out of the game and allowed Utah’s defense to keep the field position in the Ute’s favor.
Hackett against the Pac-12’s top punt returners:
8 punts (49.2 avg) at UCLA. Ishmael Adams, 10.4 avg, had team’s only return for one yard.
7 punts (46.4 avg) vs. USC. Nelson Agholor, 13.1 avg, had no returns. USC had just one return for two yards.
9 punts (44.7 avg) at Stanford. Ty Montgomery, 18.4 avg, had the team’s only return for one yard.
TOUCHDOWN PASSES: WASHINGTON STATE’s Connor Halliday leads the league with 32 touchdown passes, followed by CALIFORNIA’s Jared Goff with 30. Should Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and USC’s Cody Kessler each add one more scoring strike, they’ll each have 30. That group will match the 2011 quartet of USC’s Matt Barkley (39), Stanford’s Andrew Luck (37), Oregon’s Darren Thomas (33), and Washington’s Keith Price (33), as the most Pac-12 quarterbacks to throw 30 or more touchdowns in a single season. COLORADO’s Sefo Liufau (26) and ARIZONA’s Anu Solomon (25) aren’t far behind.