Pac-12 Action in Week 12

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By Gerald Nicdao, Contributing Writer
Posted Nov 17, 2013
If by BearInsider Staff or Contributor, this article is Copyright © 2014 BearInsider.com


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Stanford's reign at the top of the Pac-12 did not last long. Week 12 saw Oregon regain the top stop in the conference after the Cardinal were upset by USC in Los Angeles on Saturday night. The Ducks now have the inside track to winning the Pac-12 North and hosting the conference championship game.

In the Pac-12 South, the race continues to tighten, after Arizona State, UCLA and the Trojans all won their games. The Sun Devils continue to hold a one-game lead over both teams from Los Angeles.

In fact, the Pac-12 South won four of the six meetings this weekend, with Oregon and Washington State the only teams from the North to notch wins.

We start in Los Angeles, where Stanford fell - and USC regained relevancy - all on one night.

USC stuns No. 4 Stanford

Any hopes that Stanford had of sneaking into the BCS national championship game as a one-loss team was swallowed whole by the thousands of fans that emptied the Coliseum seats Saturday night in Los Angeles. In an ironic sea of cardinal (and gold), the Cardinal saw not only their BCS title hopes dashed, but also saw their chance at the Pac-12 North title dim - and another trip to Pasadena to play in the Rose Bowl go grim. That's because USC ended a four-year cycle of losing to Stanford, beating what had become their bogeyman, 20-17, in front of the team's first sellout of the Los Angeles Coliseum all season.

And the Trojans did it in the most improbably way: behind the gutsy plan of an interim head coach, behind the foot of an inconsistent kicker and with timely turnovers in the fourth quarter.

Tied 17-17, Stanford drove all the way to the USC six-yard line on their first drive of the fourth quarter. On third-and-10 from the 10, Kevin Hogan was intercepted by Dion Bailey. After trading punts, Stanford was poised to drive gain, this time starting from their own 32-yard line with just under four minutes to go. But Hogan was picked off again, this time by Su'a Cravens. The ball was actually tipped by Stanford receiver Ty Montgomery and fell into the hands of Cravens.

That would set up USC for their game-winning drive, but not without a gutsy play call by interim head coach Ed Orgeron. The Trojans had a fourth-and-two at midfield. Earlier in the quarter, the team had punted from the same spot. But not this time. Javorius Allen was able to break through the usually stout Cardinal defense, pick up three yards, and keep the Trojans drive alive.

Five plays later, Andre Heidari came in to kick the game-winning 47-yard field goal.

“You want to prove that you can make a game-winning field goal when it's on the line,” Heidari told the Los Angeles Times. “That's what I play for.”

Stanford was shut out for the first time in the fourth quarter all season. And the loss, which was the Cardinal's first at the hands of USC in five years, came despite Tyler Gaffney rushing for 158 yards and two touchdowns.

"It's not a good feeling," Gaffney told the San Jose Mercury-News. "We expect to win every game. This is the first time I've lost to them. It's a tough thing to swallow. But we'll stay even keeled."

USC has now won four in a row, and has gone 5-1 since the program fired Lane Kiffin. The question now is whether or not Orgeron has done enough to remove the “interim” tag in front of “head coach.”

“I don't know if I pulled them together, they just came together,” Orgeron told the LA Times. “They did it, I didn't do anything.”

Defense powers Arizona State to win over Oregon State

Arizona State has been winning games behind the offensive firepower of quarterback Taylor Kelly and running back Marion Grice. And while Grice still got his Saturday night—the tailback ran for two touchdowns—it was the defense that allowed the Sun Devils to get the win and set up a Pac-12 South showdown next week against UCLA.

The ASU defense forced five turnovers—including intercepting the Pac-12's leading passer Sean Mannion four times—and blocked a field goal en route to a 30-17 win over Oregon State.

The blocked field goal and Mannion's fourth interception proved to be the deciding factors in the game. The Arizona State had not scored in the entire third quarter and Oregon State came driving down the field to start the fourth quarter. The drive stalled, but the Beavers still had a chance to score on a field goal and cut their deficit to a touchdown. But Trevor Romaine blocked the 48-yard field goal and ASU scored 10 consecutive points in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

The final dagger came as Robert Nelson intercepted a Mannion pass and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown.

Now, a win next week in Pasadena over UCLA will give the Sun Devils a trip to the Pac-12 title game.

“We are 60 minutes away from clinching the South,” ASU head coach Todd Graham told AZCentral.com. “That is a big, big deal.”

Jack stars again as UCLA notches win over Washington

Two weeks ago, Myles Jack was sitting on the bench. Now, the two-way player is the new star for UCLA. Jack, who was recruited by the Bruins to be a linebacker, scored four rushing touchdowns in UCLA's 41-31 win over Washington on Friday night.

The four rushing touchdowns was the most by a Bruins running back since Maurice Jones Drew ran in five scores in 2004.

Jack opened the scoring in the first quarter, scoring on an eight-yard burst. His next three rushing touchdowns all came from inside two yards. Jack's final touchdown pushed UCLA's lead to 10, at 34-24 midway through the third quarter. But the knockout punch came from Brett Hundley. Leading by just 10 points, Hundley found receiver Devin Lucien for a 40-yard touchdown strike. It was Hundley's second touchdown pass of the game, and pushed the Bruins' lead to 41-24, effectively ending the game.

But the star was Jack, who was filling in for veterans Jordan James and Damien Thigpen.

“If they need me to get a first down, third-and-one, I'm feeling more confident in myself, my O-line, my quarterback, the guys blocking for me,” Jack told the Los Angeles Daily News. “We can get the job done. If they need me to do it, I'm with it. When our other running backs get back, I'll step back. Until then, I'm 100 percent on it.”

Washington was without starting quarterback Keith Price for the second half in Friday's loss. The fifth-year senior injured his shoulder on the Huskies' final offensive possession of the first half. Freshman Cyler Miles filled in for Price, throwing two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Bruins will now host Arizona State next Saturday in what could decide the Pac-12 South title.

"It will basically determine who wins the Pac-12 South," defensive end Cassius Marsh told the LA Times. "The winner comes out in first and you're in good place."

No. 6 Oregon back to winning ways after pummeling Utah

Maybe the hangover had not passed. Here was Oregon, nine days after losing to Stanford, only up three with five minutes gone in the third quarter. Utah's Adam Schulz had just put an exclamation mark on the Utes' eight-play, 75-yard drive by rushing for an eight-yard touchdown. Could Utah, which upset the Cardinal, do the same to the Ducks? Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas had the answer - a resounding no. Thomas returned the ensuring kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown, and Oregon then rolled off four straight touchdowns to win 44-21 in Eugene on Saturday afternoon.

That wasn't the only touchdown Thomas had. He opened the scoring in the first quarter by taking an eight-yard pass from Marcus Mariota into the end zone. Thomas has missed four games for Oregon this year and hasn't had the same impact he had last year as he has recovered from his right ankle injury. But the 86-yard return and the eight-yard touchdown catch seemed vintage DAT.

“I think the closer he gets to 100 percent, the big plays will show up,'' Ducks offensive coordinator Scott Frost told The Oregonian

Mariota—himself battling an injured right knee—looked to be himself Saturday. He had three touchdown passes and 288 yards passing.

But there are still concerns for Oregon. It was the second straight game where the Ducks rushing game was nonexistent. Oregon ran for just 145 yards on the ground Saturday against Utah, a far cry from the huge numbers they had been putting up earlier.

“I'm not worried at all,” center Hroniss Grasu told The Oregonian. “We are going to get it; we are going to fix it.”

Washington State a win away from bowl eligibility

Two minutes and 15 seconds was all that separated Washington State from a huge road win in Tucson on Saturday afternoon. Connor Halliday had thrown the go-ahead touchdown pass to Isaiah Meyers—Halliday's second of the day. But on came B.J. Denker, Ka'Deem Carey and the rest of the Arizona offense. But then Carey became a non-factor on the Wildcats' final drive and Denker's final pass was caught out of bounds to preserve a 24-17 win for the Cougars in the desert.

Even in the loss, Arizona made it close. Real close. Starting the final drive on their 25-yard line, Denker—who finished the game with 200 yards passing and a touchdown—led his Wildcats to inside Wazzu's 15-yard line. On third-and-six, Denker was forced to scramble for a two-yard gain. On fourth-and-four, Denker's pass was caught by Samajie Grant - but out of bounds - and the Washington State sideline stormed the field in celebration.

“We aren't perfect, by any means,” Halliday told the Seattle Times. “But this is a resilient group that really loves one another and loves playing college football with one another.”

Arizona did not ride another 100-yard rushing performance by Carey to a win. He carried the ball 26 times for 132 yards and scored one touchdown. This was the 13th consecutive game that Carey ran for over 100 yards.

Standings after week 12
Pac 12 - North
W-L
P-12
PF
PA
STRK
Oregon
9-1
6-1
509
182
W1
Stanford
8-2
6-2
304
195
L1
Oregon State
6-4
4-3
352
280
L3
Washington
6-4
3-4
366
237
L1
Washington State
5-5
3-4
292
311
W1
California
1-10
0-8
263
488
L9
Pac 12 - South
W-L
P-12
PF
PA
STRK
Arizona State
8-2
6-1
423
244
W5
UCLA
8-2
5-2
370
237
W3
USC
8-3
5-2
310
213
W4
Arizona
6-4
3-4
330
222
L2
Colorado
4-6
1-6
259
388
W1
Utah
4-6
1-6
298
270
L4

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