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Pac Mentality Week 12: Down goes Arizona State

There has been a lot of talk about championships at Arizona State when it comes to football in recent weeks. That talk reached new heights last week after the Sun Devils knocked off then-10th-ranked Notre Dame to improve to 8-1 on the season, moving them up to sixth in the College Football Playoff rankings.

ASU was forcefully removed from the national title picture Saturday night by the Oregon State Beavers, of all teams. OSU rolled up a season-high 247 yards rushing and got two long touchdown runs — one each from Terron Ward and Storm Woods — in a surprising 35-28 win over the Sun Devils at Reser Stadium. Quarterback Sean Mannion hit Jordan Villamin on a 67-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that proved to be the winning margin. Linebacker Michael Doctor added the exclamation point with a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown with under two minutes to play.

The Sun Devils started in quicksand, falling behind 14-3 in the first quarter, but regained control of the game before the half was over. When Antonio Longino picked up a Mannion fumble and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown, ASU was back in control 24-14. Taylor Kelly marched his team on a 14-play drive that got all the way down to the OSU 13-yard line near the end of the half, but the Devils came up empty. Zane Gonzalez missed a 30-yard field goal attempt that would have put them up by 13 at the time.

ASU showed few signs of life after that, getting outscored 21-3 the rest of the ball game.

The Sun Devils’ loss drops them to 5-2 in the Pac-12 with two games remaining, squanders control of their destiny and creates utter chaos in the South. USC, Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA all have two conference losses heading into Week 13.

What else transpired in Week 12

USC 38, California 30 (Thursday) – Cody Kessler continued his strong 2014 season with four touchdown passes and the Trojans hung on to beat the Bears by eight in Los Angeles. Kessler has now thrown 29 scoring passes this season against only three interceptions. Cal had no idea how to deal with Nelson Agholor, who had 16 catches for 216 yards and two touchdowns on the night. The junior from Tampa has now gone over 200 yards receiving in each of his last two games, becoming the first Trojan ever to accomplish the feat.

Arizona 27, Washington 26 – Remember the treatment Wildcats kicker Casey Skowron received after missing a potential game-winning field goal against USC? It was ugly. Skowron atoned for that miss and then some Saturday, running for an 18-yard touchdown on a fake and booting two field goals, including the game-winner in the Arizona win. The Huskies opened the door for Skowron’s heroics when Deontae Cooper fumbled near midfield with 1:23 left and Arizona’s Derrick Turituri recovered. Washington then opted to try and ice Skowron, calling a timeout as he approached the 47-yard field goal, which he missed badly. After the timeout, the former soccer team manager calmly split the uprights to keep the Wildcats alive in the Pac-12 South race.

Petersen is also getting a lot of heat in Seattle for his late-game clock management. Washington had fumbled six times in the game, so handing off to Cooper on a first-down play and Arizona down to its last timeout is being second-guessed, especially considering it was feasible that UW could have run the clock out (or come darn close to it) by just taking a knee three times.

Utah 20, Stanford 17 (2 OT) – The Utah offense didn’t do anything at all Saturday until overtime hit. Travis Wilson hit Kenneth Scott on a three-yard touchdown pass in double overtime, lifting the Utes to the win — their second consecutive triumph over Stanford. Jordan Williamson booted a 51-yard field goal to open the second OT and give the Cardinal a 17-14 lead. However, earlier in the fourth quarter, Stanford coach David Shaw opted to punt from the Utah 34-yard line with just over two minutes to play — the exact same spot from where Williamson connected.

What Was That?

We’ve got a lot to put into this category. There were the aforementioned coaching decisions by Chris Petersen of Washington and Shaw. There was also Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly’s performance down the stretch against Oregon State. Armed with three timeouts and trailing by one with almost three minutes left, the Sun Devils went one-dimensional the rest of the way. Kelly would drop back to throw on all nine ASU offensive plays, going 3-for-7 for 31 yards and a bad interception that was returned by Doctor for a score. He was also sacked twice, including on the Devils’ last snap to ice the game with 1:10 left.

But the biggest “what was that?” play of the week was turned in by Cal Thursday night. Punter Cole Leininger’s fake punt and throw was just embarrassing.

As Yahoo! Sports pointed out, it’s not the first time the Bears have run the two-step fake punt. In last year’s loss to Stanford, Leininger did the same thing and completed a two-yard pass. Too bad the Bears needed six yards for the first down.

Catch of the Week

It may have been overlooked in Oregon State’s upset win over ASU, but Victor Bolden made a ridiculous diving catch over the middle for the Beavers.

Marotta’s Players of the Week

Offense: Nelson Agholor, WR, USC – He was simply unstoppable against Cal, as he was the week prior against Washington State. In his last two games, Agholor has 24 catches for 436 yards and three touchdowns. That yardage total alone would rank 23rd in the Pac-12 for the season.

Honorable Mention: Cal QB Jared Goff, USC QB Cody Kessler, Oregon State RB Terron Ward, UW RB Dwayne Washington, Utah QB Travis Wilson, Oregon State RB Storm Woods

Defense: Nate Orchard, DE, Utah – Orchard is an absolute beast, and he showed that again Saturday in a win over Stanford. The senior had 3.5 sacks, 10 total tackles and forced a fumble for the Utes.

Honorable Mention: Henry Anderson (Stanford), Michael Doctor (Oregon State), Marcus Hardison (Arizona State), Sidney Jones (Washington), Michael Lowe (Cal), Steven Nelson (Oregon State), Jared Tevis (Arizona), James Vaughters (Stanford)

Special Teams: Casey Skowron, K, Arizona – Was there any doubt? A touchdown run and a game-winning field goal. Skowron could run for mayor of Tucson right now.

Quotes

“We weren’t prepared to play them. We come out and give up a 78-yard touchdown, a 66-yard touchdown on plays that we practice all week long. You have to give them credit. They came out with the energy and the enthusiasm. That’s our job to get them prepared. We did a poor job. I did a poor job of preparing them to play. So it’s very frustrating for us because we’ve come a long way.” – Arizona State head coach Todd Graham

“Sometimes when you blitz, it can be feast or famine. ASU has been very successful blitzing, but the more people you blitz, if you get past that first line, you’ve got a chance for a big play throwing or running. That’s what we did twice; we made nice blocks at the hole against pressure and they didn’t have very many guys in the back end to pursue. We did a great job of blocking, and it was one cut and go. Happy to see both Terron and Storm get one. They have shared that position very effectively.” – Oregon State head coach Mike Riley

“We played hard and never gave up. We played hard the entire game but not well enough to beat a good team.” – Cal coach Sonny Dykes

“It just means I have a great offensive coordinator, head coach and quarterback to put me in that position. (Kessler) did an amazing job controlling the game, picking and choosing where to go with the ball.” – USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor.

“There’s no tailing off. There’s no backing off. We just came off a bye. Yes, it was a tough, physical game. But I’ve got to find a way to make us play better. That’s the bottom line. And today was not good enough. And we can do so much better. But as we said repeatedly this year, it’s not about what you can do, it’s about what you do. And today was not good enough.” – Stanford head coach David Shaw

“I don’t want to sound cocky or anything, but we run Cali,” – Utah receiver and Long Beach native Kaelin Clay after the Utes’ win over Stanford. Utah is 4-0 against California teams this year, beating Fresno State, UCLA, USC and Stanford.

“It felt fantastic. Any time we get a chance to hit a field goal and we make it is a great win. Anytime we win a game, I’m happy whether it’s off of a field goal, whether it’s a blowout or whether it’s off of a last-minute touchdown. It doesn’t matter how we get the win as long as we get it.” – Arizona kicker Casey Skowron

“We played how the game is supposed to be played. You go out there and play hard. You play every snap and that’s what they did. When you do that and give yourself the chance to win, that doesn’t mean you’re always going to win, but you give yourself the chance; they did all of that. If you make too many errors, too many penalties and too many fumbles, that will catch up with you. Eventually, it will slip away. But I am proud of how hard they fought.” – Washington head coach Chris Petersen

A Look Ahead to Week 13

Full Pac-12 TV Schedule

Date Game Time Site Network
Sat. Nov. 22 Washington State at Arizona State 11:00 a.m. Sun Devil Stadium Pac-12 Networks
Sat. Nov 22 Arizona at Utah 1:30 p.m. Rice-Eccles Stadium ESPN
Sat. Nov 22 Stanford at California 2:00 p.m. Memorial Stadium FOX Sports 1
Sat. Nov 22 Colorado at Oregon 2:30 p.m. Autzen Stadium Pac-12 Networks
Sat. Nov 22 USC at UCLA 6:00 p.m. Rose Bowl ABC
Sat. Nov 22 Oregon State at Washington 8:30 p.m. Husky Stadium Pac-12 Networks