Ray's Top 25: Stanford takes big leap


Ray's Top 25: Stanford takes big leap

Every week, our Senior Decider votes in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, which of course makes all other opinions both superfluous and valueless.

RELATED: Stanford's standing improves in BCS chaos

1 OREGON Finally up a service break. Up next, thre meat of schedule -- Stanford and Oregon State 2 KANSAS STATE The odd one out if Notre Dame can flex its BCS muscle. Up next -- at Baylor 3 NOTRE DAME Hard on the eyes, easy on the resume. Up next -- Wake Forest, a schdudle strength problem 4 OHIO STATE If Urban Meyer enjoys hunting in January, the animals will flee in terror. Up next -- at Wisconsin 5 ALABAMA Well, ain't that a kick in the head? Up next -- Western Carolina 6 TEXAS A&M Say it slowly, Deshazor Everett . . . Deshazor Everett . . . Deshazor Everett. Up next -- Sam Houston State 7 GEORGIA Well, they won their half of the bracket. Next up -- Georgia Southern. And yes, the SEC is taking the week off 8 FLORIDA Louisnana Lafayette is a good team. Just not that good. Up next -- Jacksonville State 9 FLORIDA STATE I remember when winning at Virginia Tech was a big deal. Up next -- at Maryland 10 SOUTH CAROLINA Arkansas, feh. Up next -- Wofford. And when the SEC takes the week off, it takes the week off. 11 CLEMSON Dabo Swinney still wants to drown Steve Spurrier in a puddle. Up next -- North Carolina State 12 LOUISIANA STATE Mississippi State got the good LSU. Up next -- Mississippi, an actual SEC team. 13 STANFORD This may be a rental because . . . Up next, at Oregon 14 LOUISVILLE Syracuse? Really? Syracuse? Yes, Syracuse. Up next -- wailing and gnashing of teeth 15 OKLAHOMA Baylor got to linger longer than it should have. Up next -- at West Virginia 16 OREGON STATE Oh, well, another year, another not-Rose Bowl. Up next -- California 17 KENT STATE The one MAC survivor. Up next -- at Bowling Green 18 TEXAS Darrell Royal approved of the trick Wishbone play to start Saturday's game. Up next -- a round of whist 19 RUTGERS Disrespected our fighting men. Up next -- at Cincinnati 20 NORTHERN ILLINOIS An excellent bye week, in that they stayed out of the news. Up next -- Toledo on Wednesday 21 UCLA Gave Washington State a bit too much respect. Up next -- USC, a team they never respect 22 LOUISIANA TECH Allowed 55 to Texas State, so Sonny Dykes isn't all that happy. Up next -- Utah State in a big one 23 NEBRASKA Okay, okay, I give up. They can come back and play. Up next -- Minnesota 24 TOLEDO David Letterman sang tearfully after the Rockets' failure. Up next -- at Northern Illinois 25 CINCINNATI Two losses, but one of them came to Toledo. Up next -- Rutgers

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


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


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.


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.


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


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


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.”