Heisman Watch: Nine touchdowns later


Heisman Watch: Nine touchdowns later

Another week of college football, and another two undefeated teams go down.

Last week it was Oklahoma and Wisconsin, this week it was No. 5 Clemson and No. 8 Kansas State (who are now ranked No. 11 and No. 14 respectively).

Is there any question as to what the game of the week was? The answer is no. Stanford's come-from-behind, potential National-Championship-saving triple overtime 56-48 victory over USC is the game of the year thus far in college football (Sorry Baylor-TCU, Michigan-Notre Dame, Wisconsin-Michigan State, Wisconsin-Ohio State).

Stanford's victory, and Andrew Luck's heroics, have given the future No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft his largest lead in the Heisman race to date...

Rank Player, Position, School Recent Game Stats Season Stats Next Game 1 Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford 29-40, 330 yards, 3 TD, INT, rush TD in 56-48 3OT win at USC 174-242 (72), 2218 yards, 23 TD, 4 INT, 2 rush TD At Oregon State 2 Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama Idle 149 rushes, 989 rush yards (6.6 YPC), 17 TD, 212 rec. yards, rec. TD No. 1 LSU 3 Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State Idle 174-228 (76), 2010 yards, 24 TD, 5 INT At UNLV 4 Case Keenum, QB, Houston 24-37, 534 yards, 9 TD, INT in 73-34 win over Rice 218-303 (72), 3219 yards, 32 TD, 3 INT At UAB 5 Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State 24-36, 274 yards, 3 TD in 59-24 win over Baylor 246-345 (71), 2710 yards, 22 TD, 7 INT No. 14 Kansas StateOn the bubble: Landry JonesQBOklahoma, Ryan BroylesWROklahoma, Robert Griffin IIIQBBaylor


1) Andrew Luck: The pick-six he threw late in the 4th quarter against USC was the best thing that could have happened for his Heisman bid. If Stanford had lost, he would still be the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. However, if he doesn't lead Stanford on the game-tying touchdown drive to force overtime, or if the Cardinal simply lose in overtime, Stanford's national title game hopes go up in smoke, and he takes a big hit in the Heisman race. Instead, Stanford's victory pushed them up two spots to No. 4 in the BCS standings, and the legend of Andrew Luck grew so much that the Twittersphere has started to ask, "Is Andrew Luck underrated?" Good question.

2) Trent Richardson: In case you already weren't aware Mr. Richardson, Saturday's meeting with the No. 1 ranked LSU Tigers is the biggest game of your life. It's simple: if you have a monster performance and lead the Crimson Tide to victory, you have a legitimate shot at catapulting past Luck and into the lead. If the Tide loses, and Tyrann Mathieu and the rest of the frighteningly good Tigers defense keeps you in check, you will drop a few spots. Alabama's national title hopes and your Heisman candidacy are on the line Saturday. No pressure.

3) Kellen Moore: Nobody benefited more from Clemson's loss and Tahj Boy's lackluster performance than did Boise State and Kellen Moore. The only way Boise State sneaks into the title game is if... well... they really don't stand a chance. And the only way Moore can win the Heisman is if several of the other top candidates completely shoot themselves in the foot. Oh, and he has to be nearly close to perfect. Good luck.

4) Case Keenum: In case you scrolled past it, scroll back up the page and look at Case Keenum's "Recent Game Stats."... I know, insane right? I don't care if you are playing against just eight defenders, it is nearly impossible to throw nine touchdowns in a game. His 5th touchdown pass against the Owls was the 135th of his career, making him the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Div. 1-A) all-time leader in career touchdown passes. He is also just 268 passing yards away from surpassing Timmy Chang (17,072 career passing yards) and becoming the all-time leader. Several NCAA records, an undefeated season, a birth in a BCS bowl game, and an invite to the Heisman ceremony all in the same year? It's possible.

5) Brandon Weeden: He narrowly edged out Oklahoma's Landry Jones, and the main reason why: the Cowboys are No. 3 in the BCS and the Sooners are No. 6. Weeden has 2710 passing yards, Jones 3094. Weeden has 22 total touchdowns, Jones 28. Weeden is completing 71.3 of his passes, Jones 66.5. Weeden has thrown seven interceptions, Jones nine. You know what's great? The Sooners and Cowboys will meet in Stillwater on December with national title and Heisman implications on the line. Fun stuff.

Drew Shiller is a web producer for and you can follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

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


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.”

No. 6 USC routs No. 14 Stanford for 11th straight win


No. 6 USC routs No. 14 Stanford for 11th straight win

LOS ANGELES  — Steven Mitchell and Deontay Burnett caught two touchdown passes apiece from Sam Darnold, and No. 6 Southern California extended its winning streak to 11 games with a bruising 42-24 victory over No. 14 Stanford on Saturday night.

Darnold went 21 of 26 with 316 yards passing for the Trojans (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12), who snapped their three-game losing streak in this California private-school rivalry. USC racked up 623 total yards and won the first Pac-12 game of the new season by beating the hard-nosed Cardinal (1-1, 0-1) at their own physical game.

Ronald Jones II rushed for 116 yards and scored a touchdown in his ninth consecutive game as USC excelled at Stanford's traditional strengths, running the ball for 307 yards and controlling both lines of scrimmage. Turnovers and penalties by the Trojans kept it fairly close, but freshman Stephen Carr added 119 yards rushing, and Jones cartwheeled into the end zone with a clinching 23-yard TD run with 4:15 to play.

Keller Chryst passed for 172 yards and two touchdowns, while Bryce Love had a 75-yard TD run among his 160 yards rushing for the Cardinal, who hadn't played since their season-opening win over Rice in Australia last month.

After a scoreless third quarter, USC made a 90-yard scoring drive capped by Mitchell's second TD on a feathery 11-yard TD pass by Darnold with 9:42 to play. Stanford stayed close with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside's TD catch with 6:41 to play, but Jones' incredible second TD run capped a smooth 75-yard drive in USC's 11th consecutive win at the Coliseum.

Stanford had won eight of its last 11 meetings with USC in a dominant stretch that began with its historic 2007 upset victory at the Coliseum.

After USC scored 49 points in its season opener, Darnold's offense again was in fine form from the start. USC scored four touchdowns on five lengthy drives in the first half, with Darnold hitting Burnett for two of his three TD passes.

USC moved 74 yards on two plays late in the half to take a 28-17 lead on Burnett's leaping 25-yard TD grab.


Stanford: That 62-point performance in the season opener Down Under was impossible to replicate against a top Pac-12 defense, and the Cardinal's offense will know it must add versatility to the attack. Stanford's defense also had big problems at the line of scrimmage, and that isn't a problem with which the Cardinal have much experience.

USC: This talent-laden offense has appeared to have the makings of a juggernaut so far. Darnold returned to 2016 form with a smooth, poised performance against a vaunted conference opponent, while the Trojans' receivers appear to be much more reliable than coach Clay Helton feared. USC's defense also stepped up after halftime and shut down one of the Pac-12's best.


Stanford: The Cardinal's three-game stretch away from home to open the season concludes at San Diego State.

USC: The Trojans welcome Texas to the Coliseum for a meeting of two powerhouse programs.