This week in Pac-12 football

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Pac-12 Football Championship Game
USC vs. STANFORD

Saturday, December 5
4:45 p.m. PT/7:45 p.m. ET
Levi’s Stadium - Santa Clara, Calif.
ESPN/ESPN Deportes

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Preview: There are a record 10 bowl eligible teams from the Pac-12, but there are only two that will compete for the Pac-12 Championship as the North Division champion STANFORD Cardinal (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12 North) will take on the USC Trojans (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12 South) in the fifth annual Pac-12 Football Championship Game. The Trojans and Utah tied for the South title, but USC won the tiebreaker based on its win over the Utes earlier this season. USC looks to avenge a Conference season-opening loss to the Cardinal (41-31, Sept. 19 at USC), while the Cardinal look to strengthen their case for a spot in the top four of the CFP.

Television: ESPN will televise the Pac-12 Football Championship Game with Brad Nessler (pxp), Todd Blackledge (analyst) and Holly Rowe (sideline) calling the action.

ESPN Radio: Calling the action will be Adam Amin (pxp), David Norrie (analyst) and Olivia Harlan (sideline).

Last Meeting: The two teams opened the 2015 Pac-12 season back on Sept. 19 in Los Angeles as Stanford prevailed, 41-31. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan completed 18-of-23 for 279 yards and two touchdowns, while Remound Wright rushed for three more scores. Christian McCaffrey rushed 26 times for 115 yards, added 37 receiving yards and 97 on kick returns for 249 all-purpose yards. USC’s Cody Kessler was 25-of-32 for 272 yards and three touchdowns as he connected with JuJu Smith-Schuster eight times for 153 yards and one score.

Series Record: USC leads 60*-30-3 (not including one win later vacated due to NCAA penalty). The first meeting took place in 1905, a 16-0 USC victory, but it’s been the recent meetings that has elevated this series. The last six games have been decided by 10 points or less, with the Cardinal prevailing in four of the last six meetings, including a triple overtime thriller in 2011. In fact, the Cardinal have won six of the last nine games.

Statistical Matchup: Comparing the two teams...

  Stanford USC
Rushing 222.8 ypg 176.7 ypg
Passing 215.6 ypg 280.7 ypg
Total Offense 437.6 ypg 457.3 ypg
Scoring Offense 36.9 ppg 36.0 ppg
Rush Defense 145.0 ypg 137.6 ypg
Pass Defense 231.0 ypg 262.4 ypg
Scoring Defense 23.2 ppg 24.7 ppg

BOWL ELIGIBLE: The Pac-12 has a record 10 bowl eligible teams in ARIZONA, ARIZONA STATE, CALIFORNIA, OREGON, STANFORD, UCLA, USC, UTAH, WASHINGTON and WASHINGTON STATE. The Golden Bears are bowl eligible for the first time since 2011. The Cougars are bowl eligible for the first time since 2013 and just the second time since 2003. In terms of percentage of membership achieving bowl eligibility, the Pac-12 leads all other conferences:

Pac-12 (10 of 12) 83.30%
SEC (10 of 14) 71.40%
American (8 of 12) 66.70%
ACC (9 of 14) 64.30%
Big 12 (6 of 10) 60.00%
Mountain West (7 of 12) 58.30%
Big Ten (8 of 14) 57.10%
MAC (7 of 13) 53.80%
CUSA (5 of 13) 38.50%
Sunbelt (3 of 11) 27.80%

BOWL LINEUP: The Pac-12 is contracted with seven bowl games. The selection orders is as follows: The Rose Bowl Game will get the Pac-12 Champion, unless that team moves up as one of the four teams in the CFP semifinals. If that is the case, the Rose Bowl will replace the champion with another Pac-12 team. Once the Rose Bowl is filled, the Alamo, Holiday and Foster Farms Bowls will pick in order from teams with a one-game differential in the Conference standings. The Sun, Las Vegas and Cactus Bowls will then select the teams in order of finish in the Conference standings. 

ROAD WARRIORS: After posting perfect 5-0 record in the final week of the regular season, the home teams finally overtook the visitors with a 29-25 record in Conference play.  

POLL WATCHING: The polls have been a revolving door for Pac-12 teams. After a one week absence, both USC and UTAH moves back into the AP poll this week, joining STANFORD and OREGON ... Five different Pac-12 teams this season have been ranked in the AP Top 10 ... Over the last two seasons, 10 different Pac-12 teams have been ranked among the AP Top 25, while six different Conference teams have been ranked among the Top 10.

ALL-PURPOSE: STANFORD sophomore RB Christian McCaffrey continues to lead the FBS with 252.92 all-purpose yards per game, more than 50 yards over the next player (Tyler Ervin, San Jose State, 200.83 ypg). He set a Pac-12 record with 3,035 all-purpose yards and is the third player in FBS history to post 3,000 or more yards, joining Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders (3,250 yards in 1988) and Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews (3,161 yards in 2012) ... His school-record 389 all-purpose yards posted against California is the top mark in the FBS this season ... McCaffrey has rushed for 100 or more yards in nine games. His 3,035 all-purpose yardage breakdown is as follows: 1,640 rushing, 435 receiving, 922 kick return, 38 punt return ... Since 1978, only four other Conference players have averaged 200 or more all-purpose yards per game for an entire season - USC’s Marcus Allen in 1981 (232.6 avg), Stanford’s Glyn Milburn in 1990 (202.0 avg), USC’s Reggie Bush in 2005 (222.3 avg) and USC’s Marqise Lee in 2012 (206.4 avg). Coincidentally, Milburn’s teammate in 1990 was Ed McCaffrey (father of Christian), who had 61 receptions for 917 yards and a Conference-leading 91.7 receiving yards per game that season ... In addition to McCaffrey, the Pac-12 boasts OREGON’s Royce Freeman (7th, 169.25 ypg) and UTAH’s Devontae Booker (8th, 157.90 ypg) among the FBS all-purpose leaders.

YOUTH WILL BE SERVED: Underclassmen were making their mark in the Pac-12 this season. Take a look at the league statistics and you’ll see sophomores leading in several categories - Rushing (1. Royce Freeman, ORE, 142.2 avg; 2. Christian McCaffrey, STAN 136.7 avg); Passing (1. Luke Falk, WSU, 387.8 ypg); Receiving Yards/Game (1. JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC, 108.5 avg); Total Offense (1. Luke Falk, WSU, 377.5 avg); Scoring (1. Aidan Schneider, ORE, 10.2 ppg); Scoring TDs (1. Royce Freeman, ORE, 16 TDs); Punt Return Avg (1. Dante Pettis, WASH, 16.9 avg); Kick Return Avg (1. Christian McCaffrey, STAN, 29.7 avg); All-Purpose (1. Christian McCaffrey, STAN, 252.9 avg; 2. Royce Freeman, ORE, 169.2 avg) ... While they might not be leading any statistical category, several freshmen had standout performances this year. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen threw for a UCLA freshmen record 3,350 yards and 20 TDs, WASHINGTON trotted out a freshman QB in Jake Browning and a freshman RB in Myles Gaskin. Browning threw for a Washington freshman record 2,671 yards and 16 TDs, while Gaskin rolled up a Husky freshman record 1,121 rushing yards and 10 TDs ... Defensively, USC freshman LB Cameron Smith led the Trojans with 78 tackles (7.8 avg) before a season-ending injury. ARIZONA STATE freshman DB Kareem Orr recorded a league-best five interceptions.

AIR PAC-12: WASHINGTON STATE’s Luke Falk and CALIFORNIA’s Jared Goff become the eighth and ninth players in Pac-12 history to throw for more than 4,000 yards. For the third time in the last five seasons, two quarterbacks have thrown for more than 4,000 yards in the same season.

    2011    Nick Foles, Arizona (4,329) and Brock Osweiler, Arizona State (4,036)

    2013    Sean Mannion, Oregon State (4,662) and Connor Halliday, Washington State (4,597)

    2015    Luke Falk, Washington State (4,266) and Jared Goff, California (4,252)

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