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College Football 2023 – Week 7 Review: A PAC-12 Special

PAC-12 Matchup: Oregon Ducks vs Washington Huskies

This week, we are doing something a little different. We are going to give the spotlight on a conference that comes next year may not even exist. The conference in question is the PAC-12 conference, which does have a good number of strong teams.

Unfortunately, they’ll all be playing in another conference next year. So, in honor of this fallen giant, all of the in-depth reviews will feature PAC-12 teams facing each other.

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Penix vs Nix

The number 8 ranked Oregon Ducks and the number 7 ranked Washington Huskies are two strong teams this season. The rivals are both unbeaten and are led by 2 quarterbacks who could have a successful future in the NFL. On paper, this would be a very close game and would give us a good picture as to who could win the last (at least in its current state) PAC-12 championship. So, who would be crowned victors in the Pacific Northwest? 

The game started with the Huskies in possession. They struggled to do anything with this possession and quickly punted the ball to the Ducks. What could they do? Nothing, except move 1 yard in front of where they started. Not the best start for these high-power offenses. 

But, that could be seen as the warm-up, as what happened soon after was definitely what you would expect from these teams. The Huskies had the ball and immediately began to move down the field. Led by potential Heisman winner Michael Penix Jr, Washington moved onto the edge of the Ducks’ red zone thanks to a 43-yard pass from Penix. Then, from the Ducks’ 26-yard line, Penix found Giles Jackson for the touchdown pass. In reply to this, the Ducks had a different approach to a drive, but the same ending occurred.

Ducks’ quarterback Bo Nix slowly moved his offense down the field. After converting 3 3rd down attempts, the Ducks made it down to the Huskies 12 yard line. From there, running back Bucky Irving ran the ball in for the touchdown. The Ducks then decided to go for a two-point conversion, something that they were successful in, which gave them a one-point lead. 

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The scoring would continue straight after this. Penix and the Huskies would again make it down to the Ducks’ 26-yard line, just like in their previous drive. The drive would end in the same way as their first, with Penix throwing the touchdown pass to Ja’Lynn Polk to return the lead to Washington. However, they would not have the lead for long. On the next drive of the game, the Ducks would drive down to the Huskies’ 11-yard line.

Here, Bo Nix would throw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Herbert, who is the younger brother of former Oregon Ducks quarterback and current Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert. They would not attempt the two-point conversion this time, but the successful PAT would return their one-point lead. The lead would be with the Ducks only for a few minutes. For the 5th consecutive drive, a touchdown was scored. This time, Huskies running back Dilon Johnson would find the endzone from a 7-yard run. Washington would then attempt a 2-point conversion and be successful. 

The streak was then broken. Oregon failed to score a touchdown on their drive. They would however get points from the drive that stalled at the Huskies’ 28-yard line. Ducks kicker Camden Lewis would kick a 45-yard field goal, to cut the Washington lead. Then, the normally solid Penix made a mistake. He would throw an interception from the edge of Huskies Territory, which would be returned by the Ducks to the 50-yard line. This gave them a good field position to score a touchdown and take the lead going into halftime. Nix and company would drive down to the Washington 3-yard line. Then, as time ran out, the Ducks went for it on 4th down. Nix’s pass was incomplete, and the Huskies went into the locker room with a 22-18 lead. 

Washington would open their second half in the way that they had played most of the first half. From their 36-yard line, the Huskies would find their way down to the Ducks’ 17-yard line, albeit aided by a large defensive pass interference penalty against the Oregon defense. From there, Penix would throw the touchdown pass to Rome Odunze to extend their lead.  In reply to this, the Ducks would try again on a 4th down attempt deep into the Huskies’ red zone. From the 8-yard line, Nix’s pass was again unsuccessful. 

However, on their next drive, the Ducks would reach the endzone in a very quick fashion. From the 50-yard line, Oregon quickly made it to the Huskies 30-yard line. From there, Nix threw the 30-yard touchdown pass to Troy Franklin. For the second time in the game, the Ducks would successfully attempt the two-point conversion, cutting the Huskies lead to 3 points. The 3-point deficit would then become a 4-point lead when from the 10-yard line, Jordan James would score the rushing touchdown. 

The Huskies knew that they had to score on the next drive to stay in this game. The Huskies would quickly reach the Oregon 16-yard line before the drive stalled. They attempted a 4th down and were successful, allowing the drive to continue. Washington made it down to the one-yard line and tried another 4th down conversion. This time, they were unsuccessful in their attempt, turning the ball over the the Ducks. The subsequent Ducks drive found its way to the Huskies’ 47-yard line, where Bo Nix would attempt the 4th down conversion. He was unsuccessful, handing possession to the Huskies. 

The turnover would be a massive mistake. From the 47-yard line, Penix found Polk for a 35-yard pass, moving Washington down to the Oregon 18-yard line, From there, Penix found Odunze for the touchdown pass to give the Huskies a 3-point lead in a minute left on the clock. What would the Ducks do?

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Oregon would find their way to the Huskies 25-yard line before the drive stalled. This set up a 43-yard field goal as time ran out. Ducks kicker Camden Lewis would miss the attempt, handing the number 7 ranked Washington Huskies a 36-33 victory over the number 8 ranked Oregon Ducks. 

For the Huskies, this keeps their unbeaten season alive. They were now in control of the PAC-12, and would now be in direct competition with USC for the title (We’ll find out how they got on later). For the Ducks, their unbeaten run is over. Next week, Washington faces Arizona State, while the Ducks face Washington State. 

Caleb Williams: Overrated?

Last week, the number 10 ranked USC Trojans played an interesting game against the Arizona Wildcats. They came from 17 points down to defeat them in overtime, which in college football is far more entertaining than the NFL’s version. This week, they faced the number 21 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who are not a PAC-12 team, but they do not have a conference. The Irish suffered a shock loss last week to Lousiville, could they return to winning form, or would the Trojans dominate?

The Trojans would have the first possession of the game. USC quarterback Caleb Williams was described this week as being better than Joe Burrow was at LSU, and many people are saying things along the lines of “he’s the best thing since sliced bread”. In simple terms, people think he’s going to be great. He would throw an interception on his first drive of this game. This would prove costly for USC, as Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman would throw a 4-yard touchdown to Gi’ran Payne to give them the lead. 

USC would be the next to score after both teams would punt on their next drives. From their 33-yard line, Williams would slowly move the offense down to the Fighting Irish’s 8-yard line,, aided by a large penalty against Notre Dame. However, the drive would stall at the 8-yard line, and Trojans’ kicker Denis Lynch would kick a 25-yard field goal. In reply to the Trojan’s field goal, Notre Dame would then kick a field goal for themselves. Their drive would stall at the USC 18-yard line, setting up Fighting Irish kicker Spencer Shrader with a 36-yard field goal attempt. He would be successful with this, extending their lead. 

This next drive was eventful. The Trojans drive would stall at their 49-yard line, forcing a punt. However, on the punt, the Fighting Irish were penalized as one of their players ran into the kicker. This forced USC to repeat the 4th down, this time from 1 yard out compared to the original 4th and 6 attempts. The Trojans decided to go on 4th down for this play and were successful, with Williams running for 8 yards. Then, from the Notre Dame 38-yard line, Williams would find the endzone from a 38-yard rush. However, this touchdown was taken off the board due to an offensive holding penalty against the Trojans. USC would later turn the ball over on 4th down on the Notre Dame 29-yard line after they lost momentum. 

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Williams would again make a mistake on the Trojans’ next drive. From their 16-yard line, he would throw his second interception of the game, and the Fighting Irish would return the ball to the 2-yard line. Notre Dame running back Audric Estime would score the two-yard touchdown to extend their lead. Williams would again throw an interception on his next drive, with Notre Dame returning the ball to the 50-yard line this time. Estime would again top off the drive with another rushing touchdown to extend the lead. USC would get something to end the half, as Lynch would score a 48-yard field goal. This meant that at halftime, the Fighting Irish had a 24-6 lead. 

The second half started with a group of punts. Then, the Trojans would finally score a touchdown that counted. USC running back MarShawn Lloyd would run the ball into the endzone for a 31-yard touchdown. In reply to this, Notre Dame would score another touchdown. From the Trojans’ 46-yard line, Hartman would pass to Chris Tyree (No relation to the former New York Giant who gave us the “Helmet Catch”, David Tyree) who would find the endzone to score the 46-yard touchdown to widen the Notre Dame lead further. 

USC would later slightly close the lead through a 7-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Brenden Rice. Then, on the USC kickoff, Jadrarian Price would catch the punt at the Notre Dame 1-yard line, before returning the ball for a 99-yard kickoff return touchdown, wiping out any progress the Trojans had made. In reply to this, Caleb Williams could not do anything with the ball and would turn over the pigskin at their own 22-yard line. Shrader would end up kicking a 23-yard field goal to add to the Notre Dame lead. 

Throughout this whole game, the USC Trojans have been making mistakes. They would make some more near the end of the game. The Trojans would fumble the ball on their own 15-yard line, which was scooped up by Notre Dame for another touchdown. On their next drive, they would fumble the ball again, and lose possession. This time, the Fighting Irish didn’t score a touchdown with their possession, but they didn’t need to. As time ran out, the number 21 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish had defeated the number 10 ranked USC Trojans 48-20. 

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For USC, this is a humiliating defeat. For Caleb Williams, this could massively affect his potential to be the number-one pick in the draft, if he is going to declare. The Trojans also lost their undefeated record for the second. The silver lining is that Notre Dame is not a PAC-12 team, so this defeat will affect their overall record and AP ranking, but not the PAC-12 rankings. For Notre Dame, they have returned to winning ways after being humiliating last week. Next week, USC faces Utah, while Notre Dame has a bye week.

Beavers Beat Bruins

The number 18-ranked UCLA Bruins played the number 15-ranked Oregon State Beavers. Coming into this game, the Beavers had only lost one game, that being the unofficial PAC-2 title game against the Washington State Cougars. This is another reminder that currently, the PAC-12 is in ruins, and as of writing will only have two teams in it for next season. On the other hand, UCLA is playing in the Big 10 next year, so get ready for trips to cold Wisconsin and New Jersey. Who would win when the Beavers faced the Bruins? The PAC-12 doesn’t. 

The Bruins would have the opening possession of the game, and would immediately have a problem. Bruins quarterback Dante Moore’s pass would be intercepted by the Beavers, giving them a strong field possession to turn into points. The Beavers would get points from the drive, but not as many as they would have wanted. The drive would stall at the UCLA 18-yard line, and Beavers kicker Atticus Sappington, which is a cool name by the way, would successfully kick a 36-yard field goal to give Oregon State the early lead. 

The Beavers would add to their lead soon after. Again, their drive would stall, this time at the UCLA 43-yard line. Atticus Sappington would successfully kick another field goal, this time for 43 yards out. Things kept getting better for the Beavers on the next drive. Dante Moore would throw another interception and this time Oregon State would be able to convert the field position into a touchdown. Beavers quarterback Aidan Chiles would throw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jack Velling to increase Oregon State’s lead. 

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UCLA would then finally have some success on offense. Dante Moore and company would be able to drive down to the Beavers 10-yard line. From here, Moore would find Logan Loya for the touchdown pass, to bring them back into the game. Luck would then fall on the Bruins, as on the next drive, Oregon State running back Deshaun Fenwick would fumble the ball, which was recovered by UCLA, inside the Beavers’ territory. From there, UCLA would drive the ball down to the 18-yard line before stalling. Bruins kicker RJ Lopez would then kick a 36-yard field goal. In reply to this, Beavers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei would drive down to the Bruin’s 8-yard line before the drive would stall, meaning Atticus Sappington would successfully kick another field goal, this time from 26 yards out. 

The Beaver’s lead would be increased just before halftime. Dante Moore would throw his third interception of the half. This would be the most costly, as Ryan Cooper Jr would return the ball to the endzone for a pick-6. This meant that as the teams returned to the locker rooms, the Beavers would have a 23-10 lead at halftime. 

Oregon State would increase their lead early in the second half. Uiagalelei would throw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Silas Bolden. The Beavers would then attempt a two-point conversion but were unsuccessful in their attempt. In reply to the Beavers’ touchdown, the Bruins would score a touchdown of their own. In a drive that was all running plays, the Bruins ran their way down to the Beavers’ 9-yard line. From there, TJ Harden would find the endzone. 

However, the Beavers would immediately strike back with another touchdown. Oregon State would make it down to the Bruins’ 27-yard line before being forced back 5 yards for a false start. Then, from the 32-yard line, Uiagalelei threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jack Velling to extend their lead. The scoring streak would continue as the Bruins slowly drove down to the Beavers’ 7-yard line, From there, Carson Steele would find the endzone on a 7-yard run.

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Then, the scoring would just stop. There would be no more points in this game. In fact, the closer either team would get to any endzone would be the 42-yard line. When the game ended, the number 15-ranked Oregon State Beavers had recorded a 36-24 victory over the number 18-ranked UCLA Bruins. 

While that was not the best game, it showcased the Oregon State Beavers, who are still without a proper conference for next season. The PAC-12 is dead. Both the Beavers and the Cougars will need to find another Power-5 conference to take them, or risk playing either themselves every week, or worse quality schools. Next week, Oregon State is on a bye week, while the Bruins face Stanford, who this week completed the biggest comeback in school history against the Colorado Buffaloes, the same side everyone was in love with during the first 3 weeks of the season. 

What Happened to the Other Ranked Teams?

#1 Georgia @ Vanderbilt

The number 1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs faced the Vanderbilt Commodores. Vandy is, in terms of SEC standards, a poor football team. But, they are not here for football, baseball is their thing. The Bulldogs lost star tight end Brock Bowers early in the game, and for many points in the game, it was close. Too close for an undefeated number 1 side to have. In the end, the Bulldogs would record a 37-20 victory.

Indiana @ #2 Michigan

The number 2 ranked Michigan Wolverines played another easy game this week against the Indiana Hoosiers. At the end of the first quarter, Indiana was ahead. But, it did not last long, as Wolverines quarterback J.J McCarthy scored 3 touchdowns in Michigan’s 52-7 victory

#3 Ohio State @ Purdue

The number 3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes faced the Purdue Boilermakers. This was Ohio State’s first trip to West Lafayette, Indiana since the Boilermakers defeated them a couple of years ago. That would not be the case this year, as the Buckeyes cruised to a 41-7 victory to keep their undefeated season going.

Syracuse @ #4 Florida State

The number 4 ranked Florida State Seminoles faced fellow ACC side the Syracuse Orange this weekend. The Orange struggled against the strong Seminoles team, with Florida State winning 41-3, to stay undefeated. 

Massachusetts @ #6 Penn State

The number 6 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions will face the Ohio State Buckeyes next week. They warmed up for that game with the 1-6 UMass Minutemen. It was a game where the Minutemen did not have the lead for even a minute. The Nittany Lions shut them out, scoring 9 touchdowns in total to win 63-0. Next week’s game should be far more challenging for the undefeated Penn State.

Arkansas @ #11 Alabama

The number 11 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide this week played like a number 11 ranked side in their matchup with the Arkansas Razorbacks. Bama survived a very late comeback from the Razorbacks to survive as 24-21 winners. However, they are still 6-1 and are still in control of their division in the SEC, so they could still make the championship game.

#25 Miami @ #12 North Carolina

The number 12-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels wanted to continue their unbeaten season against the number 25-ranked Miami Hurricanes. Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye would find Devontez Walker for 3 touchdowns, and Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke would score 4 touchdowns in the game. This high-scoring affair would end with the Tar Heels winning 41-31.

#14 Louisville @ Pittsburgh

Last week, the number 14-ranked Louisville recorded an upset victory against the Fighting Irish to keep their unbeaten record going. I described them as “underdogs for the ACC title” last week. I am going to take that comment back. They played the Pittsburgh Panthers this week, who surged in the second half to defeat the Cardinals 38-21.

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California @ #16 Utah

The number 16 ranked Utah Utes faced the California Golden Bears this week. Utes running back Sione Vaki would score two touchdowns as Utah would defeat the Golden Bears 34-14

NC State @ #17 Duke

If this was a basketball game, it would be a good affair. The number 17 ranked Duke Blue Devils returned after their humiliation against Notre Dame to face the North Carolina State Wolfpack. In a low-scoring affair, Duke would record a 24-3 victory.

Arizona @ #19 Washington State

The number 19 ranked Washington State Cougars faced the Arizona Wildcats this week, who took the USC Trojans to the third period of overtime last week. This week, they didn;t even need the first period. After going behind, the Wildcats would score 44 unanswered points to humiliate the Cougars 44-6.

Texas A&M @ #19 Tennessee

The number 19 ranked Tennessee Volunteers faced the Texas A&M Aggies, who nearly defeated Alabama last week. It was mostly a game of field goals at Rocky Top, as the Volunteers would win 20-13.

Auburn @ #22 LSU

It was another battle of the Tigers in the SEC this weekend, as the Auburn Tigers faced the number 22 LSU Tigers. The LSU offense has been scoring points for fun the last few weeks. This did not stop there. LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels would score 3 touchdowns as the LSU defense did its job in their 48-18 victory over Auburn. 

#23 Kansas @ Oklahoma State

The number 23 ranked Kansas Jayhawks played a close game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Jayhawks were leading for most of the game. But then, the Cowboys would come back in the 4th, with 2 field goals from Cowboys kicker Alex Hale to give them a 39-32 upset over Kansas.

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Missouri @ #24 Kentucky

I do believe that the Missouri Tigers quarterback Brady Cook is underrated. This week, his team faced the number 24-ranked Kentucky Wildcats. Cook would score a touchdown in this game, as the Tigers would upset the Wildcats 38-21. How Missouri was not ranked this week is beyond me.

That was week 7 in the 2023 College Football season. Next week’s standout game is the unbeaten Ohio State Buckeyes facing the unbeaten Penn State Nittany Lions in what is the first real test for both sides. That and more next, as we get closer to the College Football Playoffs


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