SJSU may have lost out on hopes for a Western Athletic Conference title before Saturday nights matchup against Brigham-Young University began, but it didnt show on the field. Utah State defeated Louisiana Tech earlier Saturday to almost assuredly wrap up the WAC championship unless it loses to Idaho next week but the Spartans looked like they could care less by adding a convincing 20-14 win at home on national television over BYU to their bowl resume. One of our coaches always talks about euphoria I think I know the definition of euphoria now, said linebacker David Tuitupolou about the win. The Spartans (9-2, 4-1 WAC) did not score in the second half and allowed BYU (6-5) to crawl within a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Cougars quarterback Riley Nelson narrowly escaped a sack and found wide receiver David Foote to reduce SJSUs lead to 20-14.BYU successfully converted an onside kick attempt following the touchdown and began a would-be game-winning drive with 2:36 left in the game. The Cougars were able to get to the SJSU 21 yard line before Spartan linebacker Keith Smith broke through the BYU offensive line to force a fumble, which was recovered by linebacker Vince Buhagiar to seal the victory. It was a blur, said Smith, who tied a career high with 19 tackles, about his forced fumble. I was in my zone and coach called a blitz and it ran to perfection. It just so happened to come my way ... It was like a dream especially how it just came my way.Head coach Mike MacIntyre said the team did not tire despite the defense having to return to the field following the BYU onside kick.The energy our kids got in that last part there, because you could think they could have gone dead-legged you could see the momentum turn but they just rose, he said.SJSU played one of the most complete first halves it has played all season and against its most demanding opponent. At one point, SJSU converted each of its first eight third down plays. The Spartans, however, were 0-8 on from then on. Quarterback David Fales threw a touchdown pass on each of the Spartans first three drives of the evening, two of which rewrote SJSU football record books. It didnt take Fales long either he broke the records in the span of his first ten passes. Fales third pass yielded the games first score, a 51-yard touchdown to Noel Grigsby. The deep strike was Fales 26th touchdown pass of the season, breaking Steve Clarksons record set in 1981. Fales tenth pass of the game, an 8-yard touchdown to Chandler Jones, broke the school single-season record for passing yards, set by Mike Perez in 1987. Fales now has 3,431 passing yards after Saturdays game, also an SJSU single-season record for total offense. Im speechless, Fales said of his newly acquired records at SJSU, but its our entire offense not just me. We were recognizing and seeing what they were doing and we were making good reads. Receivers ran good routes and got open. We just executed what we had in our game plan.Fales finished the game with 305 yards on 25-34 passing and the 3 touchdowns.The BYU defense, which surpassed season averages by allowing 20 points and 294 yards to SJSU by halftime, buckled down during halftime and came out much stronger to begin the second half. The Cougars sacked Fales twice on the Spartans second-half opening possession. SJSU hadnt allowed a sack since its Oct. 13 loss to Utah State, who brought down Fales 13 times in the game. BYU went on to allow just 63 total yards to SJSU in the third quarter alone. After converting their first eight third-down attempts, the Spartans were unable to convert on five straight third down plays stretching from the end of the second quarter into the fourth. The Cougars responded by scoring on their first possession of the game as well. They put together a 9-play, 79-yard drive capped by a Jamaal Williams 16-yard touchdown run, setting the score at 7-6 in favor of BYU. Fales collected his third touchdown of the game on a 18-yard completion to Noel Grigsby with 13:23 left in the second half to make the score 20-17. The Spartan defense buckled down in the first half after allowing the Cougars to score on their first possession. BYU gained just 61 yards from scrimmage from their second possession through halftime. I think if you told anybody in American wed be 9-2 at this point not many would agree with you except for the guys in our locker room, MacIntyre said. As far as next weeks game, youd like to play for the WAC but instead were playing for 10 wins.The SJSU football program has never seen a 10-win team during the regular season. Should the Spartans defeat Louisiana Tech next week then win a bowl game if they are invited, it will be the first SJSU team in school history to win 11 games. Congrats to Utah State, but no question about it next week it still a big game for us, said Grigsby, who caught 8 passes for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns Saturday night. We want a 10-win season 10-3 sounds a lot better than 9-3.
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.
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.
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.”