The best players of the week, the best coach, the best play and more...
Photo: Andy Cripe Mid -alley Media
Article by Christopher Caravello
Week 4 of the Pac 12 football season gave us the most exciting games so far, with a stunning upset in Corvallis, a blocked XP deciding the Big Game, and a 2nd half back-from-the-dead victory in Seattle. The weekend also featured the first, and perhaps the last, non-conference game of the season as Colorado dispatched San Diego State. UCLA continued its rise to respectability with a solid victory over winless Arizona at the Rose Bowl. We take a look at the best players, coaches and moments of the week.
Team of the Week: Washington
The day after the Pac 12 saw its preseason favorite fall, undefeated Washington finally took the field after one of the most bizarre scheduling situations in college football history. With the Apple Cup canceled due to the COVID-19 situation at Wazzu, head coach Jimmy Lake said at one point that he had 4 possible opponent depth charts sitting on his desk. After a rumored offer to play BYU and the ensuing fallout that almost broke Twitter, the rookie head coach finally received word that it would be Utah facing the Huskies in Seattle. U Dub quickly shifted its focus to a South Division opponent that was not originally on the 2020 schedule. Unfortunately for Lake and the Huskies, it was the Utes who looked like the more prepared squad as the men from Salt Lake exploded out of the gates while racing to a 21-0 lead that they would hold until halftime. It could not have gone any worse for Washington during the first half, but from that point on it was all Dawgs. Showing furious resolve, Washington scored on its first 3 possessions of the 2nd half and began to shift momentum back towards the home team. After multiple turnovers and a final defensive stand, this young Huskies team and coaching staff found itself 88 yards from coming all the way back against the defending South Division champion. After struggling to find rhythm for most of the night, the UW offense marched down the field with several key conversions featuring passes to WR Puka Nacua, RB Kamari Pleasant, and TE Cade Otton. With 36 seconds left, QB Dylan Morris found Otton for the winning touchdown and secured the Huskies biggest comeback in over 3 decades. Washington is now poised to head down to Eugene in 2 weeks with the North division title on the line, and undoubtedly learned a lot about itself after digging out from a huge deficit to remain unbeaten in 2020.
Play of the Week: Chance Nolan QB Sneak TD
It isn’t often that a player only appears in a single snap yet registers the game's biggest play. It is even more unlikely when that player is taking his first snap of his Oregon State career with a rivalry game victory on the line. Those were the circumstances that OSU backup QB Chance Nolan was dealt with 33 seconds left to play on a foggy Friday night in Corvallis. With poor visibility from the fog setting the stage for a dramatic 4th quarter, the Beavers erased a 31-19 deficit and after forcing a three-and-out, marched down the field to less than a yard away from glory. That is when things went haywire. To the surprise of no one wearing orange, the Pac 12 officiating crew botched not one, but two critical plays. First, it appeared that starting QB Tristan Gebbia scored on a QB sneak, yet the refs called him short. On the next play, he was stuffed again after one of the most blatant offsides call possible was inexplicably missed by the line judge. In a cruel twist, Gebbia was also injured on the play and it now looks like he is danger of missing the remainder of the season. Despite all of this chaos and confusion, Nolan was ready for his number to be called and entered the game to run one final play for the Beavers offense, knowing he had to execute it perfectly in order to capture OSU’s first win in the series since 2016.
Game of the Week: OSU vs Oregon
Coming into rivalry week against a team that likes to tout itself as the Beaver’s big brother, OSU had lost 11 of the past 12 games against the Ducks. As the fog began to roll into Reser Stadium, it was apparent that this game had a chance to be a different type of affair, and those watching on TV were in for one of the more memorable games in the series 124 game history. The Ducks struck first with a Jaylon Redd 37 yard TD, but the momentum was short lived as Jermar Jefferson continued his torrid start to the season with an 82 yard touchdown run to even the score at 7. From there Oregon steadily built a lead that would stand at 31-16 heading into the 4th quarter. It didn’t last long, as the Beavers erupted for 15 points in 63 seconds with scoring runs from Gebbia and Jefferson, the latter coming after Nahshon Wright intercepted Oregon QB Tyler Shough. With OSU now leading by 3, it was the Ducks turn to answer with Hunter Kampmoyer hauling in a clutch pass on 3rd and 7 to extend the drive, which would end with a Cyrus Habibi-Likio TD run to regain the lead at 38-34. Oregon State was able to get to the Ducks 15 yard line before stalling on 4th down, but the defense was able to force Oregon to punt and set up the game winning drive that will live on in rivalry game lore between the two schools.
Position Unit of the Week: UW DL
With precious time ticking away on Washington’s comeback attempt, the Death Row D-Line stood tall in the 2nd half and delivered the ball back to the offense time and time again. Anchored by the surprise superstar of 2020, OLB Zion “ZTF” Tupola-Fetui and the season debut of DT Tuli Letuligasenoa, the defensive line stiffened in the 2nd half to stop Utah from doing any more damage. Making all of this even more impressive was the fact that the Huskies were without 2nd Team All-Pac 12 OLB Ryan Bowman, who missed the entire game. With the Utes trying to bleed the clock away by converting a 4th and 1 in the 3rd quarter, Letuligasenoa blew up the line to stop QB Jake Bentley dead in his tracks. In the final quarter of play, with the Utes threatening in the red zone, ZTF scooped up a fumble caused by DB Kyler Gordon and rumbled it back 29 yards to flip field position back to UW’s favor. Finally, in a sequence of plays that will long be remembered by U Dub fans for years to come, ZTF sacked Bentley on back to back plays to force a punt, getting the ball back for the offense one final time in an epic comeback win.
Coach of the Week: Jonathan Smith (OSU HC)
After steady improvement each year in his return to coach his alma mater, Coach Smith finally achieved his marquee victory, and what a victory it was. After a disastrous 0-2 start to the Beavers season, Oregon State never wavered and that was evident on the field Friday night against Oregon. Credit Smith for having his backup QB ready to come onto the field with 33 seconds remaining for the go-ahead touchdown. With several questionable officiating gaffes going against OSU, the team refused to let their emotions spill over and derail one of the biggest upsets in college football this season. That is a testament to their head coach, who can continue to resurrect the program now with a rivalry game win.
Offensive Player of the Week: Jermar Jefferson (OSU)
Jermar Jefferson was simply spectacular against the rival Ducks. The 235 yards of offense from Jefferson was one of the best performances in OSU history and will be a memorable performance for ages.
Defensive Player of the Week: ZTF (UW)
ZTF is our Defensive Player of the Week for the 3rd straight week. His impact on the game is remarkable and he has become unblockable. It's hard to remember a Pac-12 pass-rusher being this dominant. ZTF had 3 sacks against Utah and what should have been a 4th if not for a penalty. He also caused a fumble and recovered another fumble. The UW star is currently our projected favorite for the Defensive Player of the Year.
WestCoastCFB Offensive Team of the Week
QB: Tristan Gebbia (OSU)
RB: Jermar Jefferson (OSU)
RB: Demetric Felton (UCLA)
WR: Kolby Taylor (OSU)
WR: Devon Williams (Ore)
WR: Trevon Bradford (OSU)
TE: Cade Otton (UW)
OL Unit: Oregon State
WestCoastCFB Defensive Team of the Week:
DL: Kayvon Thibodeaux (Ore)
DL: Brett Johnson (Cal)
DL/Edge: ZTF (UW)
DL/Edge: Andrzej Hughes-Murray
LB: Noah Sewell (Ore)
LB: Nate Landman (CU)
LB: Carson Wells (CU)
DB: Elijah Molden (UW)
DB: Trent McDuffie (UW)
DB: Nahshon Wright (OSU)
DB Jaydon Grant (OSU)