Pac-12 football coaches teleconference: Bryce Love ready to play; Clay Helton will enjoy watching the drama
As the Pac-12 enters a festive and final Week 13 of the regular season, one title game participant will be enjoying the drama from their couches, the Pac-12 North representative will be crowned on Saturday.
Stanford's David Shaw and Bryce Love
The Card will be battling a tough Notre Dame team with a limping Bryce Love while the most important game, perhaps, of their season will be going down up North in Seattle.
For what it's worth, Bryce Love said he's ready: "I'm feeling good, expecting to go out there and compete with the fam out there and contribute any way I can."
The Apple Cup will determine Stanford's Pac-12 Football Championship Game fate. The Cougs are in charge of their destiny – a win punches WSU's ticket to the FCG. A Huskies' win means Stanford is in.
The circumstance will be on everyone's mind at Stanford Stadium.
"They may announce the score periodically during the game," David Shaw said. "But I'll be focused on the game."
This happened a few years ago, to Stanford, when it was announced that Arizona beat Oregon to send Stanford to the Pac-12 title game.
The Cardinal are used to the in-game suspense. "We're focused on what we can control," Love said. "We have no say in who wins or loses that game so our attention and focus will be on the other game."
Washington State's Mike Leach
The Cougs control their path to the Football Championship Game. A win and they're in, but they'll have to go through a heated rivalry game to get there.
A Washington win and Stanford takes the Cougs' place. Mike Leach said he will try not to think about the consequences during the game, of course.
"The part that's never unique is constantly embracing your technique, steady improvement through your season. Coaching football, what you do every day is steadily improve and that's what you can control the most and that's what's going to be the most important no matter what."
Like most Pac-12 teams, Leach noted, the Huskies are tough up front. "They're good, like they always are, on the offensive line and defensive line."
UCLA's Jedd Fisch
Jim Mora was let go Sunday following the Bruins' loss to USC.
Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch will finish the year off at the helm as the Bruins welcome Cal to Westwood.
Fisch paused to reflect on the last two days and the shift in power and how he hopes to make the transition for his team smooth, to stick the landing as the regular season winds down:
"They've been roller coaster like, emotional, personally, based on my family's relationship with Jim my personal relationship with Jim," he said. "I'm doing everything I can to help our team and our players and doing what I can to lead our players to 6-6, 6-0 in home games."
Cal's Justin Wilcox
The Bears are getting sandwiched by some of the conference's top offensive talents in the final two games of this season, first by Bryce Love in the Big Game.
This week they'll take on Josh Rosen and UCLA. Justin Wilcox likes how his Bears defended Love, limiting him to 101 yards and a touchdown, including a devastating 57-yard burst.
"If we defended that one long run a little better we could have been pleased by how we performed overall," Wilcox said. "Other than that one long run we played him well, but it's one long run too many." Now, looking for a sixth win, the Bears will try to limit Rosen's arm.
"He's a phenomenal passer," Wilcox said. "They're doing great things on offense and you have to make him uncomfortable as much as you can."
Arizona's Rich Rodriguez
Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats took a tough loss to Oregon. As they head to Tempe for the Territorial Cup, the 'Cats should look back smiling at an unexpectedly great season. The team projected to finish at the bottom of the Pac-12 South is bowl eligible with a Heisman-caliber quarterback.
USC's Clay Helton
The Trojans have a bye this week with an opportunity to sit back and watch which team they'll face in the Pac-12 Football Championship game. Clay Helton is ready for the show up in Seattle.
"It should be a great game. I love a game with two elite quarterbacks, when you're talking about Jake (Browning) and Luke (Falk), competing. I'll definitely have popcorn and a Coke and will be watching."
When it comes to which team they'd rather face – Cardinal or Cougars – the Trojans don't have a preference.
They've seen both this year – losing to Washington State and beating Stanford – and Helton is ready to make adjustments. "I don't know if we played a better defensive player this year than Hercules (Mata'afa)," he said of the Washington State defensive lineman.
And if it's Stanford, the heaviest task will be containing the un-containable Bryce Love. Though, experience may help. "One thing we must do is gap assignments," he said. "You have to play extremely disciplined football against any David Shaw team, but especially against Bryce Love."
Washington's Chris Petersen
Something you might not have expected to read in September: The Huskies will not play in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game, despite a 9-2 season.
The Pac-12 North was stacked, and Washington couldn't toe the line. They can play the role of spoiler, though. A win against Washington State will deny their rivals their first trip to the Pac-12 Football Championship game.
Seattle will be in the spirit. "It's your typical rivalry game," Chris Petersen said. "Stadium will be full, lot of people who graduated from Washington State live in this area, so the lines are drawn and people are wearing their colors this week for sure."
Oregon's Willie Taggart
The Ducks will face Oregon State in the Civil War this weekend. Justin Herbert is back on the field and kicked off his big return with a solid 48-28 win over an enigmatic Arizona team. They'll now face an Oregon State team looking for its first, and final, conference win of 2017.
Colorado's Mike Macintyre
The Buffs are 5-6. The Utes are 5-6. The two mountain teams face off in the final game of the season with each desperate to get to bowl eligibility.
That adds some excitement this year, said coach MacIntyre. "It does because both teams are playing for the same thing."
"Last year was intense, we were playing for the Pac-12 South and they were trying to not let us do it...but this is the first time we were both trying to be bowl eligible with the win so that adds excitement to it."
Utah's Kyle Whittingham
As mentioned above, the Utes face the Buffs in the regular-season finale.
Both are hoping for a win to be bowl eligible. The two teams aren't rivals, and Kyle Whittingham was asked (like he usually is, he pointed out) about whether or not he sees this developing into a heated rivalry given the magnitude of the late-season matchups.
"A rivalry typically has some bad blood involved in it, some ill feelings, and there's none of that with Colorado," Whittingham said. "As far as that rivalry feel, I just don't think it's there yet." In fact, he noted, the teams have some common ground. "Both of us are in similar situations where we lost a bunch of talent this year."
ASU's Todd Graham
It's Territorial Cup time. And this one should be a doozy with two dynamic quarterbacks butting heads. The Sun Devils will have their hands full with Khalil Tate. "He's as dynamic as anyone in the country," Todd Graham said. "Fast, skilled impressed with his ability to throw the ball as well.
"You have to have a very specific game plan to keep control of him." Managing this surprising Arizona team will be a tough test in an important game. "The No. 1 way you're measured as a Sun Devil is how you get it done in this game," he said.
Oregon State's Cory Hall
The Beavs are looking for the first conference win. The path is obscured by a healthy Justin Herbert and the Ducks in the Civil War, though.