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The PAC Twelver - Week 13

A twelve-pack of observations on The Conference of Champions.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Stanford Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

First: #17 Washington (10-2 / 7-2 PAC-12) crushed the dreams of their arch-rival #13 Washington State (9-3 / 6-3 PAC-12) 41-14 in The Apple Cup Saturday evening in Seattle, which in turn gave the PAC-12 North title to Stanford. This being ‘The Twelver’ and all, I must say that this season has likely caused Husky and Cougar fans to do quite a bit of drinking.

Second: Chris Petersen and Mike Leach are left wondering what could have been this season, had their respective teams each not suffered one bizarre loss (ASU & CAL) that nobody saw coming. Separately, if you have not seen Coach Leach’s rant on women “losing their minds” in preparation for a wedding, it is well worth a few minutes of your time. The man is hilarious.

Third: #19 Stanford (9-3 / 7-2 PAC-12) found the end of the rainbow on The Farm Saturday night against #8 Notre Dame (9-3), the final bounty was 38-20. The Cardinal finished the season 6-0 in Stanford Stadium, and have beaten two Top-10 teams in the past three weeks. Though Stanford would have claimed the PAC-12 North title even with a loss, they proved to the nation that they are not the same team that began the ’17 campaign. Sophomore standout QB K.J. Costello (14 for 22 passing / 176 yards / 4 TD’s / 87.3 QBR) made several clutch throws in the second half, and showed how dynamic the Stanford offense can be when the downfield passing game finds a rhythm. On that level, the Cardinal offensive coaching staff deserves credit for opening up the playbook at the perfect time.

Fourth: Heisman frontrunner Bryce Love showed exactly why he deserves the prestigious award this season, ripping #8 Notre Dame for 125 yards on 20 carries on just one leg. Between plays, Love limped on and off the field for the entire game, in turn inspiring his team to their best all-around performance of the year. As I wrote earlier in the week, his head coach David Shaw summed it all up best. “You run out of words for what Bryce Love is,” Coach Shaw explained. “It’s not about being an All-American. It’s not because the game was on national television. He just loves to play, and he loves his teammates.”

Fifth: From this point forward, every win for Stanford becomes part of history, as David Shaw builds on his legacy of being the winningest head coach in school history. As I wrote two weeks ago, he passed legendary Stanford coach Glenn “Pop” Warner (71) in this year’s Big Game, and after the Notre Dame victory now has 73 on The Farm.

Sixth: Oregon (7-5 / 4-5 PAC-12) dammed the ‘Bad News’ Beavers (1-11 / 0-9 PAC-12) in Eugene on Saturday, in a rivalry game that was no way befitting of its age-old moniker ‘The Civil War’. By that measure, it was the 121st meeting of the two schools on the football field, with their first matchup being held all the way back in 1894. In this year’s contest, Ducks sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert (13 for 23 passing / 251 yards / 3 TD’s / 2 rushes for 10 yards / 1 rushing TD / 95.1 QBR) had a near-perfect outing, while senior running backs Royce Freeman (19 rushes / 122 yards / 6.4 YPC / 2 TDs) and Kani Benoit (11 rushes / 122 yards / 11.1 YPC / 1 TD) both busted the century mark in their last college games at Autzen Stadium.

Seventh: Arizona State (7-5 / 6-3 PAC-12) came back to beat their inter-state nemesis Arizona (7-5 / 5-4 PAC-12) this past Saturday in Tempe, much due to the injury of Arizona star QB Khalil Tate (shoulder) in the 2nd half. U of A was simply a much lesser team without him on the field. Giving credit where it is due however, ASU senior tailback Demario Richard (22 rushes / 165 yards / 7.5 YPC / 2 TDs) was a beast on the ground all day, and junior QB Manny Wilkins (11 for 17 passing / 163 yards / 3 TDs / 1 INT / 72.5 QBR) was an effective field general throughout for the Sun Devils.

Eight: Though it was Arizona who lost three of their last four games this year, while ASU won three of their last four, it was Sun Devils Head Coach Todd Graham who was fired on Sunday. Graham was 46-31 in his six seasons as the ASU coach, going 2-2 in their four bowl games over that span. Some names being mentioned as his potential replacement are former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen, current ESPN analyst Herm Edwards, and Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason, who is a Phoenix native.

Ninth: UCLA (6-6 / 4-5 PAC-12) beat CAL (5-7 / 2-7 PAC-12) 30-27 in the Rose Bowl Friday night, both becoming bowl eligible with the win, and keeping CAL from doing the same in a loss. This was not the Ursidae-on-Ursidae action you would hope to see on the National Geographic channel, but it was a ballgame down to the very end just the same. Bruins junior wide receiver Jordan Lasley (12 receptions / 227 yards / 18.9 YPR / 1 TD) had the day of his life against the Bears, and senior linebacker Kenny Young (15 tackles / 1 TFL / 1 QBH / 1 PD / 1 fumble recovery) was a machine defensively for UCLA all evening.

Tenth: Utah (6-6 / 3-6 PAC-12) won a game with the exact same implications on Saturday, beating Colorado (5-7 / 2-7 PAC-12) in Salt Lake City, and preventing the Buffaloes from going ‘bowling’ while qualifying to do so themselves. Utes sophomore running back Zack Moss (26 rushes / 196 yards / 7.5 YPC / 25 yards receiving / 2 TDs) went off for the home crowd, while junior linebacker Cody Barton (10 tackles / 2 sacks / 2 TFL / 1 PD) held it down on the other side of the ball for Utah.

Eleventh: There is only one PAC-12 game this week, and it is not merely the biggest by default. #12 Stanford meets #10 USC in the PAC-12 Championship game on Friday night, held at the 49ers stadium in Santa Clara. Though the Trojans got the better of the Cardinal earlier in the season, this is basically a home game for Stanford, and they are presently a much stronger team in all three phases of the game. The one big question remains Bryce Love, and whether his all-world heart can persevere one more time over his significant ankle injury.

Twelfth: “Train, train, train, rolling down the line.” Yes folks, ‘The Sculpin Train’ has officially been rolling for nine weeks, and as I have written before ‘if you are not on board you best get out of the way’. I am absolutely loving cold Grapefruit Sculpins, and I think I got a twelver down during that big win over The Irish on Saturday night. Simply put, they taste like a Stanford win feels. In any case, I will certainly be tipping them quick, fast, and in a hurry for the championship game on Friday night. All the same, please drop a line here on your favorite beers and cocktails to enjoy with your home team on game days. Cheers y’all.