The Juggernaut that is Oregon Sate football kept on blazing, Arizona State remained undefeated in conference, and Stanford was pick-pocketed at Notre Dame. The Pac’s best team had the week off, but there’s still plenty to talk about in this week’s Pac-12 Roundup!
The Beavers rode a tide of wins against overrated foes like Wisconsin, UCLA and Arizona deep into the AP poll. After beating Washington State a week ago, the Oregon State was suddenly ranked #10 and looking pretty overrated themselves.
One aspect of the Beavers that looked to be for real was Sean Mannion who is No. 2 to Matt Scott in Pac-12 passing, averaging 340 yards per game (and 70 ypg better than the next guy on the list).
But Mannion is out with a torn knee meniscus and it’s uncertain when he will return. That left Mike Riley to turn to untested junior Cody Vaz who had thrown only 48 passes in his career and never started prior to Saturday’s game at BYU.
BYU was feeling great about a defense that didn’t allow an offensive point to Boise State and had allowed less than 9 points per game, and only 5.5 when playing at home in LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Without Mannion, it appeared that Oregon State would be forced to run the football, but the Beaves rushing attack is No. 102 in the nation and BYU has a very impressive rush D, allowing only 67 yards per game and 2.2 yards per carry.
It looked like the wave that carried OSU from obscurity to the top 10 was about to crash on reality reef, but instead the Beavers just kept rolling. Vaz played incredibly well in his first start, throwing 20-32 for 332 yards with three touchdowns. He didn’t throw an interception and he averaged a phenomenal 10.4 yards per attempt.
When the day was over, Oregon State had won 42-24. Scoring nearly double the total of BYU’s other 4 home opponents COMBINED, and Lou Holtz was calling the #10 ranked Beavers, “vastly underrated” on College Football Final. (Ol’ Lou’s mind is clearly running on fumes by the time they shoot ‘Final, but still.)
Washington wasted a great defensive performance and blew their chance to upset USC with two huge 2nd half turnovers, and Colorado was blown out at home, but Stanford’s loss to Notre Dame was the one everyone was still talking about on Sunday.
Every game against the despicable Irish is huge, but this one would have vaulted the Cardinal back into the top 10 and the conversation for the Pac-12 Championship.
Stanford fought hard on a rainy day in South Bend, but a last minute Notre Dame field goal forced overtime. That’s when the little leprechauns in stripes ignored several facemask grabs by Manti Te’o on Stanford’s 2nd to last play, before stealing the TD from Stepfan Taylor on the final snap and handing victory to the Irish.
Head coach David Shaw handled the defeat gracefully, admitting that officiating aside, Notre Dame probably outplayed the Cardinal. Shaw said, “We didn’t make the throws we needed to make, we didn’t make the catches we needed to make, we didn’t sustain our blocks…we got outplayed.”
The Cardinal did struggle offensively against the stout defense of the Irish. Josh Nunes threw for only 125 yards with 2 interceptions, and the great Stepfan Taylor averaged only 3.5 yards per carry.
Still, the Cardinal were in the game on the road against a top 10 opponent until the final down of the game before having a chance at 2OT stolen from them.
That’s not exactly the emotional builder that you want heading into your rivalry game, but Stanford has to buck up quickly because the Big Game is next Saturday in Berkley against a revved up Cal team that just smashed WSU for its second straight Pac-12 win.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
It has to be Cody Vaz, who made his first career start in a hostile stadium against the #5 defense in the nation and essentially played perfect, finishing with a passer rating North of 180! He had completions to seven different receivers and did not turn the ball over a single time. Vaz won the Pac-12’s official offensive player of the week award this week, making him the second Beaver QB to win the award this month. That’s an incredible feat considering the anemic state of the Beaver offense a year ago. Congratulations to Mike Riley and the entire Oregon State program for their rapid rise. The Beavers are for real.
SHIFT IN THE STANDINGS?
There are three Pac-12 teams undefeated in conference (OSU, ASU and Oregon), and two others (USC and Stanford) with one loss. ASU and Oregon meet this Thursday night in Tempe in what will probably be the final battle between Pac-12 undefeateds of the season. The Sun Devils then host UCLA before back-to-back road trips to Oregon State and USC. They may not be long for 1st place in the South.
In the North, Washington is at 1-2, ahead of only Washington State, but their win over Stanford was impressive and they just played toe to toe with USC. Their remaining schedule is Arizona, Oregon State, Cal, Utah, Colorado, and WSU. They could be favored in all six of those games and storm up from the cellar to a nine-win season. It’s hard to see anyone in the Pac (save USC) beating Oregon, but with a win over Stanford under its belt, Washington could still easily finish 2nd in the tough Pac-12 North.