Posted on November 26, 2020
The Pac-12 enters the fourth week of play with some uncertainty, both in the schedule and in the league’s ability to protect their quarterbacks or inability to get pressure from the defensive side of the ball.
Six teams rank tied for 10th in the nation in better in fewest sacks allowed per game with Washington and Stanford leading the way with 0.5 allowed per game.
Arizona State, Colorado, Washington State, and UCLA are allowing 1.0 sacks per game, ranking tied for 10th in the country. Washington is second nationally allowing just 3.0 tackle for loss(TFL) per game with WSU (2.3), Stanford (4.0), UCLA, and Oregon State (4.33 each) are all in the top-20 nationally in TFL allowed per game.
The other side to this is that you also have half of the conference ranking near the bottom nationally in TFL and sacks: Oregon (1.0), Oregon State (1.0), Colorado (1.0), Cal (0.5), Stanford (0.5), and Arizona (0.5) all rank in the bottom 12 nationally in sacks per game this season with the three with 0.5 per game tied for dead last nationally.
In TFL per game this season, Oregon is at 4.33 and Stanford is at 4.0 with Cal at 3.5 per game, ranking 116th or lower out of the 127 teams who have played a game. Washington is 5.0, Colorado 5.0, and Oregon State 4.67, are all hovering around 100th in the nation in sacks per game.
Washington is an interesting case, ranking 12th in the nation with 3.5 sacks per game, but only 96th with 4.33 total TFL per game.
Then we have Utah and UCLA who are clearly wreaking havoc—the Utes are third nationally with 10.0 TFL per game and 24th with 3.0 sacks per game, but of course, it is only the one game sample size.
The Bruins on the other hand have sustained it over the three games with 9.0 TFL per game, fifth most in the nation and 3.33 sacks per outing for the 19th most of any team in the country.
A season ago, UCLA ranked 62nd with 2.17 sacks and 61st with 6.0 TFL per game. In 2018 the Bruins were 118th with 4.58 TFL per game and 119th with 1.25 sacks per game.
Some matchup notes for this weekend:
Stanford Cardinal at California Golden Bears
Stanford has won the last five meetings between the rivals in Berkeley. The last time Cal won at home in the series was 2008. The Cardinal have won nine of the last 10 meetings. The last three between the schools have been decided by an average margin of 5.7 points. In the last eight years, Stanford is 22-12 following a loss.
California is averaging just 4.30 yards per play this year, that ranks 124th in the country in offensive output per snap. Stanford on the other hand has given up 6.87 yards per play on the season, 117th in the nation. It may not be strength on strength, but it will be interesting to see which side wins this battle on Friday. The unit that steps up could prove to be the deciding factor in the outcome.
Cameron Goode is 16th in the nation with 1.75 TFL per game, he has half of the Bears’ stops behind the line of scrimmage on the season. Cal is second-to-last in the nation with 3.5 TFL per game, and just ahead of them are the Cardinal with 4.0 per game. Stanford and Cal are tied for last in the nation (along with Arizona) with just 0.5 sacks per game.
The Golden Bears are eighth in the nation, surrendering 175.5 yards passing per game, second only to Washington in the Pac-12. They are 116th in the nation and last in the Pac-12 allowing 224.5 on the ground.
Oregon Ducks at Oregon State Beavers
Oregon enters the rivalry game on a six-game winning streak, tied for the eighth-longest in the nation and the longest of any Pac-12 team. Last week the Ducks allowed UCLA to put up 35 points, the most an opponent has scored in 8 games.
The Ducks had allowed 19.5 points per game in the eight games prior to last week. Oregon has won 11 of the last 12 in the series by an average margin of 20.2 points per game while scoring 45.3 per game vs the Beavers during that stretch.
Oregon is averaging 2.0 plays of at least 40 yards per game, the fifth most in the nation. The Ducks are averaging a Pac-12-best 7.65 yards per play, also fifth in the country.
Last week, we talked about Jermar Jefferson’s career home and away splits, as he had been averaging 82.6 rushing yards per game in 11 career games at Reser Stadium and 117.4 in 12 road games. Last week, he went for 196, his most in a home game since running for 238 vs Southern Utah in his first ever game in Corvallis.
Jefferson gained his yardage a week ago on just 18 runs for an average of 10.89 per tote, bringing his season average to 7.24 yards per carry, the third most of any player in the nation with at least 60 runs on the season. He is the first Oregon State player to run for at least 100 yards in each of the first three games of a season since Steven Jackson did so in 2003.
Jefferson is fourth in the nation with 149.7 yards per game. In his two-career game vs the Ducks, he is averaging 72.5 per game and 3.5 yards per carry.
Tyler Shough has gained a first down on 11 of his 22 third-down passing attempts this season, and five of his seven runs on third down for a combined third-down conversion rate of 55.2%. On first down this season, Devon Williams is averaging 31.3 yards per reception, the fourth-most in the nation.
Colorado Buffaloes at USC Trojans
UPDATE: THIS GAME HAS BEEN CANCELED.
On third down this season, Sam Noyer is completing 50% of his passes, ranking him 97th in the nation. However, 88.9% of his third-down completions have earned the Buffs a first down, that is the second-highest rate in the nation. All but one of his third-down completions has netted a first down.
Kedon Slovis has completed 79.3% of his 58 attempts on first down this season; that is the seventh best mark of any player in the nation, and the best of any Pac-12 QB on first down this season. In his 15-game career at USC, Slovis has completed at least 67% of his passes in all but one outing. This season, Slovis is sixth in the nation with a completion percentage of 70.7%.
Slovis will need his accuracy to be on point against Colorado as Isaiah Lewis leads the nation with 2.5 passes defended per game, and Carson Wells is tied for second nationally with 2.0 passes defended (PD) per contest. That figure for Wells is tied for the most in the nation among linebackers. As a team, Colorado leads the nation with 7.5 passes defended per game
Colorado is second in the nation with a turnover margin of +2.0 per game, and USC is at +1.0 in 11th nationally. Colorado has allowed opponents to rush for a first down on third0and-short with just a 33,3% success rate, fifth-best in the nation. The Trojans are tied for last in the nation, converting on just 16.7% of third and short runs.
Arizona Wildcats at UCLA Bruins
The Bruins have won six of the last eight in the series and have won the last four played in Pasadena. The Wildcats have not won at UCLA or USC in their last nine trips to Los Angeles since a 2010 win at UCLA.
On third-and-short yardage situations this season (less than three to gain), UCLA is tied for 12th in the nation with a first down made on 77.78% of their rush attempts.
The Bruins have picked up a first down on 14 of 18 attempts in that situation. The Wildcats have only allowed a first-down run on 33.3% of opponents runs on third-and-short, tied for fifth best defensively in the nation.
Arizona has lost their last nine games, the fifth longest active streak in the nation. The Wildcats have allowed at least 20 points in all nine of those losses. Arizona has allowed 40.0 points per game over the course of the losing streak with the average margin being 19.6 points per game.
Greg Dulcich ranks sixth in the nation with 23.73 yards per catch this season, the highest mark among any tight end nationally.
The Bruins are averaging 228.7 yards rushing per game, 17th most in the nation, and Arizona is allowing 203 yards on the ground per game.
Utah Utes at Washington Huskies
The Huskies are 12-3 vs the Utes all-time and 6-2 when meeting as Pac-12 opponents. Four of the last five meetings have been one-score games. The average margin of the last five matchups has been 8.0 points.
Washington is not allowing the big play this season. The huskies are one of three teams allowing 2.5 plays of 20+ yards per game and one of four to allow under one play per game of 30+ yards.
The longest play the Huskies have allowed from scrimmage is a 30-yard pass play (twice). UW has allowed one rush of exactly 20 yards and that is the longest running play an opponent has had.
Zion Tupuola-Fetui has forced two fumbles this season, one shy of the most in the nation. He has also broken up one pass on the season. The Huskies have been credited with eight passes broken up this season, six of the eight have been by linebackers.
Washington is allowing a Pac-12-best 172.0 yards passing per game, seventh in the nation. Washington is rushing for 250.0 yards per game, 10th in the nation and second in the Pac-12. Utah’s Clark Phillips is third in the nation among Freshmen with 9.0 tackles per game, the fourth-most for a defensive back this season.
Bryan Thompson leads the Pac-12 and is fifth nationally with 24.0 yards per reception this season. Jake Bentley was not as productive throwing to the rest of his receivers as he only averaged 6.1 yards per attempt in the opener and 10.7 yards per completion.
On third down, Bentley only picked up one first down on six attempts and four completions. In the last two seasons. he has completed 45.4% of his third-down attempts, and 72.3% of his third-down completions earned a South Carolina first down.
Looking at some selected national individual ranks
• Renard Bell, Washington State: Averaging 3.5 third-down receptions per game this season, the second most in the nation, with 2.5, earning a Cougar first-down ranking of fourth in the country
• Jarek Broussard, Colorado: Third in the nation with 154.0 rushing yards per game
• Jayden Daniels, Arizona State: Leads the nation with a 10.09 yards per carry average among players with at least 10 rush attempts
• Tayvian Cunningham, Arizona: 10th in the nation with 110.0 receiving yards per game
• Michael Turk, Arizona State: Leads the nation in punting at 51.6 yards per punt
Looking at some selected national team ranks
• Oregon: 72.7% 3rd down conversion rate leads the nation
• Colorado: Second in the nation with a turnover margin of +2.0
• California: Seventh in the nation with 1.5 interceptions per game
• ASU and WSU: Rank first and second in the nation with 3.0 and 2.0 fumbles forced per game, respectively
• Arizona State: Sixth in the nation in rushing at 258.0 per game
Career Records Watch
Tyler Vaughns, USC
Had four receptions against Utah, bringing his career total to 207, tied for the 24th most in conference history. Next up on the list is Juron Criner of Arizona with 209. His 62 receiving yards vs the Utes gives him 2,580 for his career and the 46th-most in Conference history. Former Buff Shay Fields is 10 yards ahead of him
Oscar Draguicevich, Washington State
He did not play last week, but had four punts for a 54.5-yard average against Oregon, giving him a career average of 45.76 yards per punt, which would be better than the all-time conference mark of 45.74 by Mitch Wishnowsky. (Second-best should Turk continue his rate.)
Michael Turk, Arizona State
Turk not play last week, but his five punts in the opener for a 51.6-yard average bring his career total to 46.39 yards per punt on 72 career punts. That would be the best average in conference history.
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