NCAA

SJSU aims for school record 10th regular season win Saturday

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SJSU aims for school record 10th regular season win Saturday

One of the most successful regular seasons in SJSU football history has the opportunity to become the schools winningest on Saturday. The Spartans take on Louisiana Tech University, the offense that leads all of collegiate football averaging just more than 582 yards per game, in the season finale at Spartan Stadium.This game could have been a final-week showdown for the Western Athletic Conference championship, but Utah State should confidently defeat Idaho on Saturday to claim the conference title. Instead, SJSU is playing for something it seems to cherish to the same degree becoming the best major-level football team the school has ever seen.The 1987 Spartan team won 10 games, the tenth being a win over Eastern Michigan in the California Bowl. With a win Saturday, they would become the first team in school history to win 10 regular season games. Looking further into the future, should SJSU receive a bowl invitation and win, the teams potential 11 wins would be the most the school has ever won since becoming a major football program in 1950.Our kids want to go down as winning the most football games of any football team in the history of San Jose State University, head coach Mike MacIntyre said. Thats pretty special. Theyll have that on their picture for the rest of their lives in their office and the seniors will be able to say they built something when no one even gave them a chance.For what theyve done even to this point, even if we dont win the next two, which we plan to, this senior class has really persevered and Im proud of them, but their goal is to be the best San Jose State team, win-wise, ever in the history of the school and we have a shot at that.When thinking of the magnitude of this game and how it could rewrite SJSU football record books, junior linebacker Vince Buhagiar thought of a memorable quote by Herb Brooks, coach of the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team.Great moments come from great opportunities, Buhagiar said, quoting Brooks. For the past few weeks Ive had that is my head and what we have here is a great opportunity so were hoping to make some great moments and memories out of it.From Buhagiar to other members of the Spartan defense, the phrases fast-paced and keep up were tossed around describing the prolific Bulldogs offense.We have to play to their tempo, said junior defensive back Bene Benwikere about the LA Tech offense. They have a lot of timing a precision. We have to make sure we read our keys and play mentally tough.The game features two quarterbacks found toward the summit of many collegiate passing statistical categories. SJSUs David Fales is the most accurate passer among the college ranks, completing 72.5 percentage of his throws, and is fourth nationally in passing yards.The Bulldogs Colby Cameron, however, ranks higher than Fales in a couple of significant categories. The two are tied for ninth in the country with 28 TD passes, but Cameron has completed more passes for more yards and has thrown 6 fewer interceptions than Fales. Cameron ranks second in the nation with 3,679 passing yards and third with 321 completions.Junior linebacker Keith Smith, the WACs reigning Defensive Player of the Week, said a key for the defense in stopping Cameron lead the Bulldog offense is to get its coverage alignments correct at the line of scrimmage.(Cameron) has a lot of weapons and their coaching scheme, that fast-paced offense, is difficult to deal with, he said.Fales said he cant be too worried with how well the LA Tech offense is clicking, he has to make sure the Spartan offense stays focused.We know that they will put the numbers up, he said. Our defense is putting together a good game plan to slow them down too, but theyre a good offense so we have to be ready to keep going and keep scoring.MacIntyre said he glad to have coach Terry Malley, who spent 14 seasons as an offensive coach with the San Jose Sabercats of the Arena Football League, because LA Tech is putting up arena league numbers.Our defense needs to step up and slow them down and keep them well below their scoring average, MacIntyre said. I dont think you can say you can just say shut them down, nobody has. But I do think we can slow them down and prevent their scoring from being as high as it has been.The LA Tech defense is not as dominant as its offense, though. It ranks 124th in the country in total defense, allowing 518.5 yards per game. MacIntyre, however, said those numbers may be construed because of the Bulldogs offenses ability to score quickly. La Techs defense has played 68 more plays on the defense than the next busiest defense in the WAC.Theyre never out of it, MacIntyre said describing how dominant the Bulldogs offense can be. Our kids, when they see the film, theyll see the scores, how quick they score. Theyll see that theyre never out of it. So we need to keep putting on more steam, over and over and over.For the second week in a row, SJSU will play on ESPN2. Smith, who recorded a conference-best 19 tackles in last weekends 20-14 win over BYU, said the game will be a perfect stage for us.Last game of the season, what a better way than to have it at home on national TV? Smith said. Its a big game, again. I feel like we showed up last week and if we prepared better than we did last week, or even just as good, I feel like were going to fare well.

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.”

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

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USASTI

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.

THE TAKEAWAY

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.

UP NEXT

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.