The best performances and plays from a wild final weekend of the regular season.
Photo: Darren Yamashita (USA Today)
Article by Christopher Caravello
Week 7 of the Pac-12 season saw a conference champion crowned, albeit with controversy. Oregon defeated USC to win the Pac-12 crown for the 2nd consecutive season after Washington was unable to represent the North division in the game due to virus issues within the program. Utah stormed back from a 3 TD deficit at halftime to crush Wazzu in the final game of what has been a forgettable debut for the Rolovich era. Stanford stonewalled UCLA’s 2 point conversion try to win in double OT in yet another wild Pac 12 comeback, while Arizona State ended their season on a high note with a convincing win in rainy Corvallis over Oregon State..
Team of the Week: Oregon
While it didn’t go smoothly this season in Eugene, at the end of the day the Ducks are champions of the Pac-12 again after holding off USC in Los Angeles. The preseason favorites to win the conference were able to do just enough on defense to stymie the Trojans, who looked poised to pull off another come from behind victory in a game they trailed from the beginning. Days after learning head coach Mario Cristobal would be getting a contract extension amid rumors of Auburn courting him, the Ducks defense came out of the gates inspired and forced USC QB Kedon Slovis into two awful turnovers. Every chance USC had to capitalize on a big play, Oregon withstood the surge in momentum and wouldn’t allow the Trojans to score any much needed points. With their title defended, the Ducks are headed to the Fiesta Bowl against Iowa State.
Play of the Week: Jamal Hill INT
With 2:47 between USC and yet another improbable comeback, Kedon Slovis failed to find anyone open downfield. Instead of safely throwing the ball into the stands, he fired a pass along the sideline close enough for Oregon safety Jamal Hill to leap and get his outstretched hands onto the ball. While the play was an incredible display of athleticism by Hill, the refs initially ruled it as an incomplete pass. Camera replays showed Hill with one foot still in bounds as he hauled in the pass, as Slovis could only stare on in disbelief. Instead of driving to win their 4th comeback game of the season, USC let the conference championship trophy slip away to the Oregon Ducks largely because of Hill and his incredible interception.
Game of the Week: Stanford vs UCLA
In a fitting end to regular season, the Pac-12 treated those watching to one of the most dramatic back and forth affairs of 2020. After roaring out to a 3-score lead at halftime, Stanford appeared to be on its way to winning its 3rd straight game away from Palo Alto. Chase Griffin entered the game in relief at QB, and the Bruins began to turn the game around as they ripped off 31 unanswered points. Finally, Davis Mills marched the Cardinal down the field to stop the bleeding and get Stanford within a touchdown as the time began to become a huge factor. With under 2 minutes left in the game, UCLA fumbled a handoff and gave Stanford one last chance to end this season on a high note. Davis Mills did not let that opportunity go to waste and with 18 seconds left in the game, found one of the Pac 12’s most dangerous weapons in Simi Fehoko for the tying TD. After trading touchdowns in the first overtime period, it appeared as though Stanford had the comeback complete after another scintillating TD reception by Fehoko in the 2nd OT. Facing 4th and 18, Griffin hit Kyle Phillips for a 21 yard TD and set the stage for the game's dramatic ending.
Position Unit of the Week: Arizona State RB's
In the final Pac-12 conference game of 2020, the Sun Devil running backs ran amok in Corvallis to help ASU compile 375 yards on the ground and 6 rushing TDs. Rachaad White led the way with 158 yards and 2 touchdowns on only 13 carries, while fellow RB's Chip Trayanum, Daniyel Ngata, and Ricky Pearsall did the rest of the damage running the ball. QB Jayden Daniels also had a big contribution to the rushing attack with six carries for 83 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Coach of the Week: Mario Cristobal (Oregon)
After watching the preseason favorites sputter through 2 consecutive losses against teams many thought Oregon would crush, Mario Cristobal seized a grand opportunity to turn the Ducks fortunes around and save their 2020 season. With UW unable to play in the conference title game, the honor fell to Oregon with 5 days to prepare for the dangerous USC offense. Cristobal was rewarded with a contract extension and substantial pay raise to quell concerns that he might bolt Eugene for the vacant Auburn head coaching job. The Ducks HC capped off his fortuitous week with his 2nd straight Pac-12 title and will be headed to Fiesta Bowl with an opportunity to win his 2nd straight New Years Six bowl game.
Offensive Player of the Week: Simi Fehoko (Stanford)
Simi Fehoko capped off a spectacular season with 16 catches for 230 yards and 3 touchdowns against UCLA while leading the Cardinal to a 48-47 win.
Defensive Player of the Week: Kayvon Thibodeaux (Ore)
Kayvon Thibodeaux was unstoppable against USC in the Pac-12 Championship while registering a sack, 2 TFL's and pressure on seemingly every passing down.
WestCoastCFB Offensive Team of the Week
QB: Chase Griffin (UCLA)
RB: Brittain Brown (UCLA)
RB: Ty Jordan (Utah)
WR: Simi Fehoko (Stanford)
WR: Britain Covey (Utah)
WR: Jamire Calvin (WSU)
TE: Brant Kuithe (Utah)
OL Unit: Arizona State
WestCoastCFB Defensive Team of the Week:
DL: Tennessee Pututau (Utah)
DL: Jermayne Lole (ASU)
DL/Edge: Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon)
DL/Edge: Stephen Herron (Stanford)
LB: Kana'i Mauga (USC)
LB: Jahad Woods (WSU)
LB: Devin Lloyd (Utah)
DB: Talanoa Hufanga (USC)
DB: Clark Phillips (Utah)
DB: Mykael Wright (Oregon)
DB: Jamal Hill (Oregon)