This year in Pac-12 football
POSTSEASON YIELDS SIX WINS: The Pac-12 sent a record 10 teams into the postseason and produced a 6-4 bowl record. The six bowl wins tie for most in Pac-12 history. The Pac-12 champion STANFORD Cardinal capped the Pac-12’s postseason with a convincing 45-16 win over Iowa in the Rose Bowl Game behind another stunning performance from Christian McCaffrey. All the AP Player of the Year did was post a Rose Bowl Game record 378 all-purpose yards that included 172 rushing yards, 105 receiving yards and 101 return yards that featured a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown.
PAC-12 FCG: STANFORD kept the Pac-12 North Division perfect at 5-0 in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game with its 41-22 victory over USC. While the Trojans were the fourth different Pac-12 South Division champion to appear in the Conference’s fifth championship game, they could not overcome Stanford’s McCaffrey. The sophomore running back earned MVP honors after he posted 461 all-purpose yards - 207 rushing, 144 receiving, 149 return yards - and scored two touchdowns. For good measure, he connected with QB Kevin Hogan with an 11-yard TD pass. McCaffrey and Hogan each rushed for a touchdown, threw for a touchdown and caught a touchdown.
POLLING: The polls were a revolving door for Pac-12 teams in 2015 as nine different Pac-12 teams appeared in the polls during the 2015 season, with five different Pac-12 teams having 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.
NATIONAL INDIVIDUAL HONORS: STANFORD’s Christian McCaffrey, who was the Heisman Trophy runner up, was recognized as the AP Player of the Year. He also earned the Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player, while teammate Joshua Garnett won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top interior lineman. UCLA’s Ka’imi Fairbairn was tabbed the Groza Award winner as the nation’s top kicker and UTAH’s Tom Hackett defended his status as the nation’s top punter by earning his second straight Ray Guy Award ... Garnett and Hackett were tabbed unanimous All-America, while McCaffrey and Fairbairn were consensus selections.
GARNETT, BUCKNER TABBED MORRIS TROPHY WINNERS: STANFORD OG Joshua Garnett and OREGON DE DeForest Buckner were named the Morris Trophy winners. The Morris Trophy is given annually to the most outstanding offensive and defensive linemen in the Pac-12 Conference. What makes the award unique is the selection procedure, in which the league’s starting offensive linemen vote for the defensive winner and vice versa. It is truly a players’ award. The Morris Trophy is sponsored by the Washington Athletic Club, Anthony’s Restaurants, Athletic Awards and the Morris Trophy Foundation. It was created by Traci (Morris) Drake in 1980 and named after her father, G. Patrick Morris.
FBS ALL-PURPOSE YARDAGE MARK FALLS: STANFORD sophomore RB Christian McCaffrey led the FBS with 276 all-purpose yards per game, more than 70 yards over the next player (Tyler Ervin, San Jose State, 202.85 ypg). He set the FBS record with 3,864 all-purpose yards, bettering by more than 600 yards the previous record held by Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders (3,250 yards in 1988) ... His school-record 461 all-purpose yards posted against USC in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game was the top mark in the FBS this season ... McCaffrey has rushed for 100 or more yards in 11 games. His 3,864 all-purpose yardage breakdown is as follows: 2,019 rushing, 645 receiving, 1,070 kick return, 130 punt return ... Since 1978, only four other Conference players have averaged 200 or more all-purpose yards per game - 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 (5th, 168.0 ypg) and UTAH’s Devontae Booker (8th, 157.90 ypg) among the FBS top ten all-purpose leaders.
YOUTH WILL BE SERVED: Underclassmen were making their mark in the Pac-12 in 2015. Take a look at the league statistics and you’ll find sophomores who lead in several categories:
|Rushing;||1. Christian McCaffrey, STAN 144.2 avg; 1. Royce Freeman, ORE, 141.2 avg|
|Passing:||1. Luke Falk, WSU, 380.1 ypg|
|Receiving YPG:||1. JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC, 103.9 avg|
|Total Offense:||1. Luke Falk, WSU, 370.5 avg|
|Scoring:||1. Aidan Schneider, ORE, 10.2 ppg|
|Scoring TDs:||1. Royce Freeman, ORE, 19 TDs|
|Punt Return Avg:||1. Dante Pettis, WASH, 16.9 avg|
|Kick Return Avg:||1. Christian McCaffrey, STAN, 28.9 avg|
|All-Purpose:||1. Christian McCaffrey, STAN, 276.0 avg; 2. Royce Freeman, ORE, 168.0 avg|
|Interceptions||1. Kareem Orr, ASU - 6|
While they might not have led any statistical category, several freshmen had standout seasons this year. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen threw for a UCLA freshmen record 3,669 yards and 23 TDs, WASHINGTON trotted out a freshman QB in Jake Browning and a freshman RB in Myles Gaskin. Browning threw for a Washington freshman record 2,955 yards and 16 TDs, while Gaskin rolled up a Husky freshman record 1,302 rushing yards and 14 TDs ... Defensively, USC freshman LB Cameron Smith led the Trojans with 78 tackles (7.8 avg) before a season-ending injury. In addition, Arizona State freshman DB Kareem Orr led the league with six interceptions
AIR PAC-12: WASHINGTON STATE’s Luke Falk and CALIFORNIA’s Jared Goff are 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 (4,561) and Jared Goff, California (4,719)|
SUPER BOWL 50: The Pac-12 will be well represented in Super Bowl 50 with 16 former players on the rosters for either the Denver Broncos or the Carolina Panthers. In addition, Carolina Head Coach Ron Rivera is a former California linebacker, an All-Pac-10 performer. The rosters:
Denver Broncos: QB Brock Osweiler, ASU; RB C.J. Anderson, CAL; WR Kyle Williams, ASU; C Sam Brenner, UTAH; OT Tyler Polumbus, COLO; S Omar Bolden, ASU; SS T.J. Ward, ORE.
Carolina Panthers: QB Derek Anderson, OSU; RB Jonathan Stewart, ORE; TE Ed Dickson, ORE; C Ryan Kalil, USC; OT Nate Chandler, UCLA; OT Mike Remmers, OSU; DT Dwan Edwards, OSU; DT Star Lotulelei, UTAH; CB Shaq Thompson, WASH.