First: Stanford (7-3 / 6-2 PAC-12) outfought #9 Washington (8-2 / 5-2 PAC-12) 30-22 on The Farm this past Friday night, and moves back inside the CFP Top 25 (#22) with the victory. Heisman frontrunner Bryce Love (30 rushes / 166 yards / 5.5 YPC / 3 TDs) again played hurt (high ankle sprain) for his side, but somehow managed to torch one of the best defenses in the country on a bad wheel. What more can be said about this young man? His is, quite simply, a once-in-a-lifetime Love.
Second: While All-World Stanford defenders DT Harrison Phillips (2 tackles / 2 TFL / 1 QBH / 1 PD) and Safety Justin Reid (6 tackles / 1 TFL / 2 PD) ‘lead from the front’ on this team, senior OLB Bobby Okereke (10 tackles / 4 TFL / 2 sacks / 1 forced fumble) has come on strong as the season has progressed, and was an absolute force in the win against the #9 Huskies.
Third: The Huskies fall to #18 in the CFP, and while a loss to #22 Stanford may sting, it was their loss at ASU a few weeks back that cost them a title shot. By that measure, my beloved Aunt Sally will be living a Jimmy Buffett song up in Seattle for the rest of the winter.
Fourth: #11 USC (9-2 / 7-1 PAC-12) took legal action against Colorado (5-6 / 2-6 PAC-12) in Boulder this past Saturday 38-24, again thanks to the law offices of Darnold & Jones. Trojan QB Sam Darnold (21 for 34 passing / 329 yards / 2 TDs / 87.3 QBR) had another near-flawless performance, and RB Ronald Jones II (25 rushes / 142 yards / 5.7 YPC / 1 TD) helped make USC’s case that they belong in the ‘Final Four’ if they should win out.
Fifth: USC sophomore linebacker John Houston Jr. (11 tackles / 2 TFL / 1 PD) and junior CB Isaiah Langley (9 tackles / 2 PD) also had monster games against the Buffs, and this Trojan defense seems to be coming together as the season wears on. Furthermore, USC clinched the PAC-12 South Title with this win.
Sixth: Before the season began, I honestly thought that #11 USC head coach Clay Helton would be removed at some point for a big-name L.A. hire, but I believe he has now officially won his place on the Trojan sideline.
Seventh: #19 Washington State (9-2 / 6-2 PAC-12) beat Utah (5-5 / 2-5 PAC-12) in Salt Lake City this past weekend, as Cougars quarterback Luke Falk (40 for 69 passing / 311 yards / 3 TDs / 2 INTs / 48.1 QBR) continues to shatter the PAC-12 record book. Falk passed USC’s Matt Barkley (117) for most touchdown passes in conference history, finishing the day with his 118th, and now holds just about every relevant career passing record in The PAC-12.
Eighth: With a win next week in The Apple Cup at #18 Washington, #19 WSU would win the PAC-12 North and play USC for the conference title. Likewise, if Stanford beats Cal in the ‘Big Game’ this weekend, and the Huskies should pull it out at home next week, Stanford would claim the North. #WINTERISCOMING
Ninth: Arizona (7-3 / 5-2 PAC-12) routed Oregon State (1-9 / 0-7 PAC-12) in Tucson this past Saturday, to the surprise of absolutely no one. The Cats breakout star in ’17, sophomore QB Khalil Tate (5 for 7 passing / 68 yards / 1 INT / 16 rushes / 206 yards / 12.9 YPC / 2 rushing TDs / 99.1 QBR), was again an army of one for U of A in front of the home crowd. Though he is more of a running back who takes snaps, Tate’s athleticism, strength, and breakaway speed are elite among all of college football. Equally, he is one of my favorite players to watch live in the conference, as his intensity and drive are undeniable.
Tenth: UCLA (5-5 / 3-4 PAC-12) hung on to beat Arizona State (5-5 / 4-3 PAC-12) 44-37 at home last weekend, and did so with QB Josh Rosen (25 for 45 passing / 381 yards / 1 TD / 1 INT / 56.7 QBR) back in the lineup after missing time due to concussion protocol. ‘The Rosen One’ put up big numbers as he always seems to, but with only two games remaining, the Bruins still need a win at #11 USC this week or versus Cal next weekend to become bowl eligible.
Eleventh: By far the biggest PAC-12 game this week, is the #22 Stanford Cardinal hosting the Cal Bears on The Farm in the 120th ‘Big Game’. As I wrote previously, Stanford needs a win this week and a WSU loss next week to win the PAC-12 North.
Twelfth: I had written last week that I was switching over to Ballast Point’s Manta Ray Double IPA for game day, after ‘The Sculpin Train’ had pulled into station with the Stanford loss at #19 WSU. As the universe would have it though, my local beer store was out of the Manta Ray that evening, so I ended up with a twelver of Grapefruit Sculpin instead. After what can only be described as a shocking upset over then #9 Washington, there was another shocking turn of events, ‘The Sculpin Train’ rolled on. The Beer Gods have spoken. If you’re not on board, get out of the way. In that regard, My family and I will be up at the Big Game on The Farm this weekend, and you better believe the Grapefruit Sculpins will be going down quick, fast, and in a hurry. That being said, please feel free to drop a line here of your favorite beers and cocktails that you and your home team enjoy on game days. Cheers y’all, and much more importantly this week, BEAT CAL.