Weekend Review: The South Rises in the West

Arizona State fans keeping cool in the heat

Arizona State fans enjoying the heat

Something big is happening in the South, but it doesn’t involve the SEC.  This season, the Pac-12 South has emerged as one of the best divisions in college football this season.  Upstarts Arizona State, Arizona and Utah all won Saturday, each moving to 6-1 on the season.  The Sun Devils, Wildcats and Utes are now ranked Nos. 14, 15 and 18 in both the AP and USA Today polls, and UCLA is ranked No. 25.  With a 15-2 non-conference record this season, four ranked teams plus traditional power USC, the Pac-12 South provides the college football world with some of the best football in the country.

Arizona State moved to 4-1 in conference play, defeating Washington in Seattle, 24-10.  With Saturday’s victory, the Sun Devils now have consecutive wins over USC, Stanford and the Huskies.  The game featured the return of starting Quarterback Taylor Kelly who had missed four games due to injury.  The Sun Devils still have three ranked teams on the schedule; Utah, Arizona and a huge non-conference game against Notre Dame that could have major implications on the College Football Playoff.

Meanwhile, Arizona came off a bye and traveled to Washington State this past weekend. The Wildcats were poised and ready, jumping the Cougars right from the start, scoring 24 first-quarter points on the way to a  59-37 victory.  The Wildcats climbed to No. 15 in the polls, and also own victories over Oregon and California.  Saturday night, they’ll face another ranked divisional opponent in UCLA, and they close the season against Utah and Arizona State.

Perhaps the most surprising of the three emerging stars is Utah.  The Utes joined the Pac-12 conference in 2011, and they have struggled mightily the last three years.   This season has been different.  Utah owns impressive road wins at Michigan, UCLA and Oregon State.  Head Coach Kyle Whittingham has turned the program around by building one of the top defenses in the country.   On Saturday, the Utes relied on the offense to beat USC, as Travis Wilson tossed a one-yard TD to Kaelin Clay with eight seconds remaining for a 24-21 win.  The victory moved te Utes to 3-1 in conference play and 6-1 overall.  The remainder of the season will be tough, as the Utes still face Arizona State, Stanford, Arizona and Oregon.

ACC NOTES

  • Duke Johnson rushed for 249 yards in leading Miami over Virginia Tech 30-6. It was Johnson’s fourth straight game over 100 yards.
  • Georgia Tech swarmed on five first-quarter fumbles to fly out to a 28-0 lead over Pittsburgh. The Yellow Jackets glided to a 56-28 victory and secured a bowl invitation.
  • Clemson held off a stubborn Syracuse team 16-6. Syracuse is now 0-6 against ranked opponents under Scott Shafer. Clemson has now won 25 consecutive games against unranked foes.
  • Boston College used a punishing ground game and a stout run defense to beat Wake Forest 23-17. The Eagles held the Demon Deacons to just 19 rushing yards.

BIG 10 NOTES

  • Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah rushed for 225 yards and three TDs. He also had 90 return yards and 26 receiving yards. Abdullah now has 6,604 career all-purpose yards, which puts him No. 2 in Big Ten history as he passed Archie Griffin on Saturday, and is 825 yards behind Ron Dayne.
  • Wisconsin routed Maryland 52-7. The Badger defense limited the Terrapins offense to 175 total yards!
  • Michigan State continued their dominance of Big Brother Michigan with a 35-11 win.  For the Spartans, it was the sixth win in the last seven meetings against the Wolverines.   The Wolverines fourth-quarter touchdown was their first against the Spartans since 2011.
  • Ohio State needed two overtimes to get past Penn State, winning 31-24 in State College. It was the first time in five weeks that the Buckeyes offense failed to top 50 points!

BIG 12 NOTES

  • TCU and Quarterback Trevone Boykin had record-setting days. The Horned Frogs QB threw a school-record seven touchdown passes in their 82-27 rout of Texas Tech. The Horned Frogs 82 points are the second-most in a game by a Big 12 team.  To put it into perspective, the TCU men’s basketball team scored 82 or more points only once in 31 games during the 2013-14 hoops season (scoring 98 in a win over Grambling State).
  • West Virginia became bowl eligible with a 34-10 road victory at Oklahoma State. Mountaineers receiver Kevin White’s nation-leading streak of seven straight games with at least 100 yards receiving was snapped.
  • Kansas State remained the only unbeaten team in conference play in the Big 12, with a dominating 24-0 performance over Texas. The Longhorns were shutout for the first time since 2004.

PAC 12 NOTES

  • Oregon moved to 7-1 on the season with a 59-41 win at California. Quarterback Marcus Mariota threw his first interception of the season!  Heading into last year, he had tossed 253 passes this season before being picked off.
  • UCLA continued to struggle but did manage to hold off a spirited Buffaloes team 40-37 in two overtimes. The Bruins again had trouble protecting the quarterback.  Brett Hundley has been sacked 111 times since the start of the 2012 season, 36 times more than any other FBS player. He has been sacked 24 times this season, most in the Pac-12.
  • Stanford used their second-ranked defense to shut down Oregon State 38-14. The Cardinal limited the Beaver offense to just 221 total yards.
  • Arizona jumped out to a 31-0 second quarter lead and cruised to an easy 59-37 win over Washington State. Anu Solomon had another big game, extending his streak of 200-plus-yard games to seven.
  • Arizona State DB Armand Perry returned an interception 61 yards for a touchdown with 52 seconds left, to lift the Sun Devils over Washington. The Sun Devils remain on top of the Pac-12 South standings at 4-1.

SEC NOTES

  • The Mississippi State Bulldogs overcome nerves to win their first game as the nation’s top-ranked team. Dak Prescott had another Heisman performance, rushing for two scores and throwing for another. The No. 1 ranked Bulldogs return home to face Arkansas Saturday.
  • LSU dropped No. 3 Mississippi in the Bayou 10-7.  The Tigers used a physical running game to soften the Rebels defense, as Leonard Fournette, Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard combined for 250 yards on 47 carries. The Rebels fought until the end, as Quarterback Bo Wallace threw an interception on the goal line in the final seconds.
  • Lane Kiffin’s highly anticipated return to Neyland Stadium was a successful one (for him), as Alabama rolled up 469 yards of offense in a 34-20 win . The 34-20 win over the Vols was the eighth consecutive series win for Nick Saban.

STARS OF THE WEEK
TOP PASSER……TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin passed for 433 yards and 7 TDs.
TOP RUSHER……Marshall running back Devon Johnson rushed for 272 yards and 4 TDs.
TOP RECEIVER….Georgia State receiver Donovan Harden caught 11 passes for 186 yards and 4 TDs.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“We kind of had a heart-to-heart because of what he said. It was an emotional moment because when he said that, I thought about my mother and what I would do if I lost my mother. We dedicated this game to Mrs. Martha, to coach, for ourselves and for our families. It was tough seeing him. That is a real man … That is a man.” 

— LSU Running Back Leonard Fournette when asked about how the news of Martha Miles passing affected their preparation

PLAYOFF BOUND

  1. FLORIDA STATE
  2. ALABAMA
  3. OREGON
  4. MISSISSIPPI STATE
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