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Pac-12 Bloggers Week Twelve Review
Pac 12
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 22, 2011


Each week, CFN’s Pac-12 Bloggers put the previous weekend under the microscope, looking for the Lucky 7


ED is Evan Davis Jr., TJ is Terry Johnson, JJ is Joshua Jovanelly, and MS is Matthew Smith.


1. OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Matt Barkley QB, USC
ED: Matt Barkley; QB, USC – The junior QB finally came up big in a big game - the biggest of the Trojans’ season and his career. He calmly walked into a hostile Autzen Stadium and passed for 4 TDs, connecting on 76 percent of his passes for 323 yards. Orchestrating scoring drives of 76, 66, 65 and 50 yards, Barkley executed an excellent game plan of keeping the Ducks offense on the sidelines. A brilliant performance.
TJ: Matt Barkley; QB, USC – Barkley continues to make his case as the Pac 12’s top QB. Playing in a very hostile Autzen Stadium crowd, Barkley hit 26 of 34 passes for 323 yards and 4 TDs. If Barkley returns next season – and that is a big if considering how well he has played this year – the Trojans could compete for the national championship.
JJ: Matt Barkley; QB, USC – There wasn’t much the junior could have done better in the Trojans’ exhilarating 38-35 upset of No. 4 Oregon. Barkley was 26-of-34 for 323 yards and 4 TDs. He has only gotten better throughout his three-year career, and might be just as good as Stanford’s Andrew Luck.
MS: Matt Barkley; QB, USC – Another awesome performance by the USC quarterback who has to be rapidly moving up peoples’ draft boards and Heisman lists. He was the key player in USC’s upset of Oregon at Autzen, a game that, barring a letdown against UCLA next week, will give the Trojans a 10-win season. This is a great achievement given how many issues they’ve been fighting against.


2. DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
ED: Hayes Pullard; LB, USC – The Trojans’ redshirt freshman was brilliant. He amassed 14 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks and a forced fumble. In addition, Pullard anchored a solid defense that confused the Ducks and made big plays all evening.
TJ: Andrew Abbott; CB, UCLA – Abbott led a stellar UCLA defensive performance, intercepting two passes, and recording five tackles.
JJ: Andrew Abbott; CB, UCLA – The Bruins were in desperate need of a bounce-back performance, and Abbott provided the fuel on defense with 2 INTs and 5 tackles.
MS: Hayes Pullard; LB, USC – Another key performer in USC’s big upset, Pullard had 14 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. With his performance, the Trojan defense was able to hold Oregon to a (relatively) low number of yards, which was just enough to help them pull the upset.


3. SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
ED: Dan Wagner; P, WSU – Wagner was the Cougars’ best defense as he averaged 42 yards per punt with a long of 52 yards. More importantly, he pinned the Utes inside their own 20-yard line 5 times.
TJ: Coleman Petersen; K, Utah – Petersen hit 3 of 3 FG’s with a long of 45 yards. More impressively, he made his last two kicks – including the game winner – with several inches of snow on the ground.
JJ: Coleman Petersen; K, Utah – Petersen overcame adverse weather conditions to hit all three of his field goals, including the pressure pounding game-winner from 38 yards out.
MS: Coleman Petersen; K, Utah – Petersen hit 3 of 3 field goals, including the game winner. Solid showing.


4. COACH OF THE WEEK
ED: Lane Kiffin; USC– If he were ever going to make it in this section for me, it would have been for this game. Kiffin devised a masterful game plan by unleashing his #2 WR (as he knew that Woods would be doubled all game) and taking the pressure off his 3 starting freshman LB. The secondary was awesome all game, accounting for 30 tackles. Kiffin got an aggressive secondary to control the offense, living the “bend not break” philosophy. Kiffin finally came up big in his biggest game as a Trojans’ HC.
TJ: Rick Nehuesiel; UCLA – A week after taking 31-6 thrashing against Utah, Coach Neuheisel had the Bruins ready to play this week. The offense put up a season-high 553 yards. In addition, UCLA also had one of their best defensive efforts of the season, holding Colorado to a paltry 229 yards of total offense. The biggest question that remains is “Can they do this against USC?”
JJ: Lane Kiffin; USC – In what was unquestionably the biggest win of his young coaching career at USC, Kiffin kept his cool and kept pace with the hyper-tempo Ducks to pull off an upset that few Trojan fans thought was possible. The victory is the signature win of the sanctions era and one that will go a long way to cultivating some good will for the often-embattled coach.
MS: Lane Kiffin; USC – Unquestionably. The Trojans came up with the huge upset win at Autzen and a lot of credit has to go to Kiffin. He has this team fighting hard and playing well. In fact, the 2011 Trojans have proven to be a tough out every time they took the field this year (except for the end of the ASU game). That is quite an accomplishment considering the brutal schedule that they have played which included Oregon, Stanford, ASU, Notre Dame, Washington, Utah, and Cal.


5. BEST GAME OF THE WEEK: USC v. Oregon
ED: USC v. Oregon – With the unofficial title of the “REAL Pac-12 Championship Game”, this game lived up to its billing. The Trojans struck early and kept the Ducks off the field with long drives and a stingy defense. Then the Ducks mounted a valiant 4th quarter comeback, shutting out USC 15-0, but victory sailed wide left on the potential game-tying FG at the end of regulation. What an exhilarating game!
TJ: Utah v. Washington State – With apologies to USC and Oregon fans, the Utah – Washington State game takes the honor this week. This game was a tight game throughout. After that, the Utes rallied to take a 10-point lead with 6:38 to go, the Cougars scored twice to send the game into overtime. Utah finally won the game when they intercepted Connor Halliday in the first overtime, and followed it up with Coleman Petersen’s third FG.
JJ: USC v. Oregon – With the whole nation watching, the Trojans and the Ducks delivered a heart-palpitating nail-biter for the ages. USC jumped out to a 24-point lead, but Oregon stormed back as only a Chip Kelly offense can. The drama was not over until Alejandro Maldonando’s kick to send the game to overtime sailed wide left as time expired.
MS: USC v. Oregon – This was USC’s Super Bowl, and boy did they come to play. Just as they did against Stanford, they showed up and made it a back and forth affair throughout. Unlike against Stanford, though, this time they were able to come through with the win, holding off Oregon’s desperation comeback effort, which very nearly came through.


6. BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE WEEK
ED: USC wins in Eugene – This was a very nice surprise. Kiffin and crew walked into Eugene, snapped the Ducks 21-game home winning streak and ended their hope for a bid in the BCS Championship game. The win put the Trojans in position to be (arguably) the best team in the conference. In addition, Matt Barkley finally has a marquee victory to add to his resume. The SC defense was relentless and came up with big plays when it needed to (4 forced fumbles, 3 sacks, 1 missed FG).
TJ: Utah’s potential berth in the Pac 12 Title game – After losing their first four conference games, the Utes now have a chance to head to the inaugural Pac 12 title game. With a win over Colorado – which would be their fifth in a row, an Arizona State loss against Cal, and a UCLA loss to USC, Utah would head to the championship game. Who would have expected that a few weeks ago?
JJ: USC over Oregon – Forgive the USC-heavy responses this week, but who could honestly say they expected this? The Ducks had dominated the Trojans by a combined 48 points in their last two meetings. The USC win snapped Oregon’s 21-game winning streak at Autzen Stadium, its 19-game conference winning streak, and also eliminated Oregon from national championship contention.
MS: USC beating Oregon – Yes, USC has a lot of talent, and yes, that talent always makes them a threat to win, especially against a Duck team that can be vulnerable to a team with a lot of great defensive athletes. But they were heavy underdogs for good reason, going on the road to a brutally tough environment to face a great offense and strong defense. And yet, they pulled it off. Huge win for the Trojans.


7. BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE WEEK
ED: Arizona State – The Sun Devils have seemingly “shut it down” for the season. Their last-second loss at UCLA was the beginning of their current 3-game losing streak, which has seriously hurt their chances to play for the Pac-12 Championship. This weekend, ASU seemingly hit rock bottom this week, as Arizona racked up over 500 yards of total offense. The front seven did nothing to stop the run, as no Sun Devil recorded more than 7 tackles. In addition, the once-stellar pass defense could only produce 3 pass break ups and only one measly sack. This was an extremely disappointing performance.
TJ: Conservative Coaching – This disappointment happened not once – but twice. With the ball inside the Utah 1-yard line, Coach Paul Wulff chose to kick the tying FG on third down, rather than try to win the game with a QB sneak. While the Cougars made the kick, they lost in overtime. Hours later, Chip Kelly’s Oregon team trailed USC by three points. With the Ducks moving the ball, Kelly elected not to use his timeouts, and settle for the tying FG. Oregon missed the FG, which effectively ended the Ducks’ national title dreams. If they had both played for the win, they would likely be celebrating come-from-behind victories.
JJ: Washington losing to Oregon State – Steve Sarkisian’s Huskies continue to perplex in their inconsistency. Each year they show a lot of promise, compete in big games, and then lose games that they should win easily. This same pattern repeated itself again Saturday, as the Huskies lost 38-21 to the Beavers. Yes, Keith Price was hobbled by a sprained knee, but seriously, how did the Huskies lose to Oregon State? Sarkisian has a bright future as a head coach, but he needs to learn to avoid these letdowns.
MS: ASU – It’s one thing to struggle at an up and down UCLA team, it’s another to just barely lose on the road in the snow at a not very good Wazzu team, but it’s a whole different story to gag this badly at home to a flat-out bad Arizona team. Just an atrocious effort that, no matter how the rest of the season goes, even if somehow the Sun Devils do sneak into the title game, will deservedly spell the end of the Erickson era.


Please follow Matthew Smith on Twitter @cfn_ms, Joshua Jovanelly @jjovanelly , Terry Johnson @TPJCollFootball ,and Evan Davis Jr. @edjsports.