NCAA

Heisman Watch: Luck dethroned

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Heisman Watch: Luck dethroned

It's still not the appropriate time to destroy the BCS. Several different scenarios have to play themselves out before we go down that road.

Therefore, let's get straight to the Heisman Watch...

Rank Player, Position, School Recent Game Stats Season Stats Next Game 1 Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State 31-37, 423 yards, 5 TD in 66-6 win at Texas Tech 313-428 (73), 3635 yards, 31 TD, 9 INT At Iowa State 2 Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford 27-41, 271 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT in 53-30 loss to No. 7 Oregon 221-313 (71), 2695 yards, 29 TD, 7 INT, 2 rush TD California 3 Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama 32 rush, 127 yards, TD in 24-7 win at Mississippi State 204 rush, 1205 yards (5.9 YPC), 18 TD, 318 rec. yards, rec. TD Georgia Southern 4 Case Keenum, QB, Houston 22-29, 325 yards, 3 TD in 73-17 win over Tulane 279-376 (74), 3951 yards, 37 TD, 3 INT, 2 rush TD Southern Methodist 5 LaMichael James, RB, Oregon 20 rush, 146 yards, 3 TD in 53-30 at No. 4 Stanford 153 rush, 1207 yards (7.9 YPC), 12 TD, 175 rec. yards, rec. TD USC (No. 18 AP Poll)
On the bubble: Landry JonesQBOklahoma, Kellen MooreQBBoise State

Analysis:

1) Brandon Weeden -- Weeden was ranked fifth in last week's standings and and I also said, "Trap game coming up this weekend as the Cowboys head to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech." Well, the 28-year old, former 2nd round pick of the New York Yankees, had a near perfect performance in the Cowboys' 66-6 beatdown of the Red Raiders (I still don't know how Oklahoma lost to Texas Tech at home a few weeks back). Weeden has a better completion percentage and has thrown more touchdowns than Andrew Luck. He has also thrown for nearly 1,000 more yards than Luck, but it's hard to take this into account given that he has thrown the ball 115 more times (Luck averages 8.6 yards per attempt compared to Weeden's 8.5 yards per throw). Ultimately, Weeden is in the driver's seat now because if the he plays exceptionally well in two more Oklahoma State victories, the Cowboys will be playing in the national title game and he could very well win the Heisman.2) Andrew Luck -- Oddly enough, Luck was able to overcome a pick-six he threw near the end of regulation against USC three weeks ago, but wasn't able to lead Stanford back after his first quarter interception was turned into eight Oregon points (they characteristically went for two and were successful). The reason? Oregon is flat-out better than Stanford. Luck wound up throwing two interceptions (the second was a dropped pass that deflected right to an Oregon defender who returned it for a touchdown) and he also lost a fumble. He also throw three touchdowns and for the majority of the game looked every bit like the Andrew Luck we are accustomed to seeing. However, he admitted it was the worst game he played all season and Stanford suffered a blowout loss that dropped them to No. 9 in the BCS. Thus, Luck was knocked off his perch by Weeden. But do not fear Stanford fans -- because Luck has two more opportunities on national television to regain the top spot.
3) Trent Richardson -- The future Doak Walker Award winner received a season-high 32 carries against Mississippi State, and racked up a modest 127 yards and a touchdown. It will be hard for Richardson to leap both Weeden and Luck at this point, and because his team only has two games left, he could end up getting leaped by either Case Keenum or the other running back who checks in at No. 5 (who both have three games left to accumulate stats). Forget the Heisman, Richardson just hopes that either LSU or Oklahoma State slip up so he can showcase his talent in the BCS title game.4) Case Keenum -- Shockingly, Keenum wasn't able to break any more NCAA records over the weekend after he did so three consecutive weeks prior (what's left to break?). He has done everything needed to become a legitimate Heisman candidate, and will definitely be in New York for the presentation if Houston finishes 13-0. Consider yourself warned Case -- if your team loses, you will not make a BCS game and you will fall out of the Heisman race. See: Kellen Moore.
5) LaMichael James -- Remember when Oregon lost to LSU back on September 3 and LaMichael James' Heisman hopes were dashed because he only rushed for 54 yards (he also rushed for a TD and led Oregon with 61 receiving yards)? Well, despite the fact he missed two games because of a gruesome elbow injury he sustained against Cal on October 6, James is back in the Heisman hunt after rushing for 146 yards and three touchdowns against the No. 4 ranked Stanford Cardinal. In two fewer games than Richardson, James has rushed for two more yards -- made possible by his three straight 200-plus-yard performances against Missouri State, Arizona and Cal. James should put up huge numbers over the Ducks' final three games, cementing an invitation to New York City.
Drew Shiller is a Web Producer at CSNBayArea.com. You can follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

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AP

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

BOX SCORE

BERKELEY -- Stephen Carr ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown two plays after Southern California's defense forced one of its six turnovers and the fifth-ranked Trojans won their 13th straight game, 30-20 over California on Saturday.

USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) has dominated the series with its in-state rival by winning 14 straight against the Golden Bears (3-1, 0-1), but this was one of the tightest matchups in years as the game was tied early in the fourth quarter.

Sam Darnold threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans but also had an interception and was under pressure for much of the day.

It was the defense that stepped up for USC, intercepting a pass from Ross Bowers in the first quarter to set up a field goal and then delivering the big play early in the fourth quarter after Chase McGrath gave the Trojans a 16-13 lead with his third field goal of the game.

Josh Fatu knocked the ball out of Bowers' hand and Uchenna Nwosu recovered the fumble at the 3. Carr ran it in two plays later from the 2 to make it 23-13.

Ykili Ross then intercepted Bowers' pass on the next possession, setting up Darnold's 4-yard TD pass to Deontay Burnett that put away the game.

Bowers finished 22 for 50 for 303 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions and two lost fumbles.

THE TAKEAWAY

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Trojans struggled for much of the game without starting RB Ronald Jones (ankle) and WR Steven Mitchell (groin) but managed to pull away late in their first road game of the season.

CALIFORNIA: The Bears used an improved defense to start 3-0 under first-year coach Justin Wilcox but this was supposed to be the test of how far they had come. Cal showed plenty by sticking with a national title contender for three quarters. A sequence on the opening drive of the second will haunt the Bears. Patrick Laird dropped a potential TD in the end zone and Matt Anderson then missed a 29-yard field goal that kept the game tied at 13.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A win against an unranked team should do little to alter USC's poll position.

UP NEXT

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 18 Washington State on Friday.

CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 24 Oregon on Saturday.

From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

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From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

Stanford has a penchant for recruiting the overachieving student-athlete. Even among those standards, Harrison Phillips is a rare find. The senior defensive tackle helps feed the homeless every Friday morning at a local shelter. He often visits the kids in the oncology ward at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. He was named to the Pac-12 All Academic First Team and will graduate in December with a double major and a minor. He is a team captain and heir apparent to Solomon Thomas, the 49ers third overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.

“One thing you love about Harrison is, every day he’s going to get something done,” head coach David Shaw told NBC Sports Bay Area. “On the field, off the field, in the community, he’s always got a million things going on. But nothing ever suffers.

"He does everything at a high level.”

At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, Phillips is a mountain of a man. His skill set is different than that of Thomas, but he can be just as disruptive. He plays over the center. He plays over the guards. His self-proclaimed job is to eat as many blocks as possible to keep the linebackers free.

“He’s such that hard point for us. He’s that guy up front that’s getting knock back, that force in the run game that you gotta have,” defensive coordinator Lance Anderson explained. “You have to have that strong solid point in the middle of your defense, and he provides that.”

Phillips had a game-high 11 tackles, five of them solo, in the Cardinal’s loss to USC. No other defensive lineman on the field had more than three.

“He’s outstanding against the run. He’s a very good pass rusher,” Shaw added. “He’s got a lot of tools that can work inside.”

Phillips main instruments of domination are strength, knowledge of leverage and abnormal flexibility for a man of his size.

“He can do the splits on command,” Thomas said laughing from in front of his locker after a recent 49ers practice. “He loves showing it off. We get on him for it. But he loves doing it.

And, according to Thomas, his former Stanford teammate loves to bench. So it comes as no surprise that Phillips’ upper body strength stands out.

“He’ll be really low in a position that you think he’d get knocked over in,” Thomas explained. “Because of how flexible he is, it’s not a problem for him to get in that position and stay there and move on from there. It definitely shows up on his film.”

No doubt, Phillips says, that ability comes from his wrestling experience. His high school curriculum vitae includes, “Nebraska State Wrestling Champion, Heavy Weight Division, Sophomore, Junior and Senior years.”

Phillips first year on The Farm, he vividly remembers his Stanford coaches testing him. Just a mere 245 pounds at the time, they put him up against Joshua Garnett and Andrus Peat, two offensive linemen now in the NFL and each well over 300 pounds.

“They’d double team me, almost 700 pounds on you, and I would somehow find leverage and be able to sit on some of those double teams,” Phillips said. “I think the violence that wrestling brings, and balance and being comfortable in weird positions, wrestling has a ton of scrambling, as it's called, you just know your body and know what you can do. I have tremendous flexibility, and I use everything to my advantage.”

One thing Phillips is not allowed to do is use his explosiveness away from the football field. At one time, Phillips could do a back flip off the wall, but he no longer attempts it.

“I’m not a big fan of the back hand springs,” Shaw said. “I’d like for him to stay on his feet.”

Phillips doesn’t argue. He lost his entire sophomore year to a knee injury, and doesn’t want to risk another. He has NFL aspirations and put himself in position to graduate in three-and-a-half years should he choose to enter the 2018 draft. But just as he has done at Stanford, he is looking to be more than just a name on a jersey should he play on a professional level.

“I want to build something that is really lasting,” Phillips said of his life goal, “and put my name on something to touch people’s lives and change people’s lives, pay it forward as much as I can.”