USC vs. Stanford
December 1, 2017 at 5:05pm
Levi’s Stadium: 48,031
Total Time: 3 hours 33 minutes
Typically, re-runs on TV aren’t very good. The rematch between USC and Stanford in 2017 was also a repeat of the 2015 Pac-12 championship game. Both results this season turned out better than that 2015 championship game, so maybe re-runs aren’t all bad.
USC’s victory last night won them their first conference championship since 2008 and the first since the expansion to twelve teams. What’s even crazier is that USC had to show the entire South division how it’s done. Despite all the South teams except Utah having an appearance, none of them have been able to unseat a North school. USC would also have the most Pac-12 South titles if that fake-o South title wasn’t awarded to UCLA back in ’11.
Speaking of all things 11, it is also USC’s first time having 11 or more wins since their NCAA record 7 straight 11+ win seasons spanning from 2002 to 2008 (a record that Alabama tied this season and can likely break next season). Winning that many games is no strange thing for USC.
Where it gets curious is that USC being at 11 wins with a Pac-12 championship and not cracking the top 7. Both Wisconsin and 3-loss Auburn get placed above the Trojans? Even though this was ultimately up to the CFP committee to decide, I feel that the Pac-12 conference has to take the blame on this. So begins my rant.
Now, if you don’t like my rants, you can skip ahead to the Doge to read the game summary. Otherwise, you can to enjoy the ensuing tirade.
The Pac-12 has the clowniest commissioner in the Power 5—and quite possibly all of the FBS (I don’t know the G5 commissioners at all so I can’t comment on them). The Pac-12 referees have been immortalized in dank memery with things like the Glasses Ref twitter. The conference has been left out of the playoff twice in four years and gets trashed in the first round even when they haven’t.
When asked “If you have to prioritize between a playoff game and parity, how would you do that?,” Larry responded saying if he couldn’t have both, he would favor parity over the playoff because he thinks that’s a better sign of conference health. Unsurprisingly, Scott likes his parity artificially inflated and forced. He accomplishes it by having things like:
- Week night games (Thursday and Friday)
- Late night starts (7:30pm-8pm PT start)
- That means 8pm games end at about 2:30am ET. Many east coasters don’t stay up to watch it. Then they don’t vote for the Pac-12 teams in things like rankings, individual postseason awards, etc.
- Late night, week night, road games (like USC-Cal 2016)
- No bye weeks (like Arizona 2015, USC 2017)
- Conference Championship on Friday nights at 5pm (5 of 7 have been on Friday)
- People who have regular 9 to 5 jobs have to take time off work just to catch it on TV. Even worse if they actually want to make it to the stadium
- 10,000 more people attended the last Pac-12 championships game featuring Stanford and USC. It was on a Saturday
- Team going on road during short week (Saturday game followed Friday road game)
- Pac-12 teams are 0-9 coming off of that situation over the past 2 years
- Pac-12 Officials that routinely have half the conference in the bottom 10 of penalties per game.
- Pac-12 Officials that basically cannot officiate most games without multiple controversies
- 9 game conference schedule that gives half the teams an extra loss
- It gives rise to talk like “USC only beat one team with more than 7 wins.” Yes, because the conference was busy cannibalizing itself.
- The Big Ten and Pac-12 are left out of the playoffs for 2017. The Big Ten had just switched to match the Big 12 and Pac-12’s 9-game conference schedule
- The Big 12 and Pac-12 have each missed the playoffs twice. They are the only ones to have used 9-game conference schedules through the whole playoff era
- The ACC and SEC are the only two P5 conference that haven’t missed a playoff. They play 8 game schedules
That’s not even counting all the random weird stuff they do. Stuff like leaving USC out to dry when the unjust sanctions were handed out by the NCAA. Or their failure of a network that still isn’t on DirecTV and doesn’t generate nearly as much revenue as the other P5 conferences. I wonder if people from other parts of the countries look at the Pac and think they’re barely better than the WAC or MWC.
The result of the game was satisfying. This Stanford team was a better than the one SC destroyed in September. The K.J. Costello led offense fared much better than when Keller Chryst was at QB, but still couldn’t get seal the deal. It’s difficult to beat any team twice in one season, let alone one like Stanford, so congrats to Clay Helton and his team for the accomplishments this season.
Speaking of accomplishments, one of the features of these championship games is both schools displaying their famous alumni. Stanford listed famous alumni like…”Herbet” Hoover. Damn…as if the man’s name hasn’t been dragged through enough mud. That’s not nearly as embarrassing as their band though.
Much to the glee of USC fans (and probably some Stanford fans) the Leland Stanford Jr. University Marching Band’s annoying voice over got cut off—like their NY6 Bowl hopes.
GOOD: Darnold was able to complete quite a few deep passes. That earned the respect of the opposing defenses, thus opening up more big runs. He also managed to have a zero turnover game.
GOODa: A red zone defense that managed to stop Stanford stone cold at their own game in a pivotal moment.
GOODb:The offense then answered with a 99-yard drive for a touchdown. They also had a separate 97-yard drive for a touchdown late in the second quarter.
GOOD: Calling a play from under center in a short yardage situation.
GOOD: The coaches didn’t force balance down the offense’s throat. They ran more than they passed (43 rush-24 pass) and it worked well. The team averaged a respectable 4.1 yards per carry.
GOOD: Ronald Jones gaining 140 yards on the ground. He was only tackled for a loss once the entire game. That afforded him an average of nearly 5 yards per carry.
GOOD: Tyler Vaughns somehow jukes immediately after a catch so often.
GOOD: Michael Pittman set a career high 146 receiving yards and bailed the offense out of some tough situations.
GOOD: Converting both fourth down attempts while stopping Stanford’s.
GOOD: Darnold was voted the MVP, but if I was personally deciding, I would’ve given it to Uchenna Nwosu. He was one of the most impactful players on the field.
CONFUSED: Stanford fumbled four times but managed to recover all of them.
BAD: Same old sloppy mistakes. We also got to see an uncommon handoff going wrong way.
BAD: DBs lacking discipline (turning to stare into the backfield, mistiming jumps, etc.) and allow large completions. GOOD: Iman Marshall played extremely well, as did Hawkins, but BAD: the rest had some trouble. The most memorable was allowing a 42-yard completion with 1 minute left in the 2nd half. The kicker was that the receiver was double-teamed with both DBs in position to bat the ball. It wasn’t even like Iman’s cursed bounce two weeks ago against UCLA.
GOOD: Having a lead as large as 10 in a tough game. Stanford also never once took the lead in the game. The best they did was tie it at 7-7.
GOOD: A 4th-and-2 with a big game on the line was converted to put the final nail in the Kiffin (sorry, I had to sneak that in). Does that ease some of the pain of a decade old 4th-and-2 call by the Kiff himself? All aboard the Lane Train? #CometothefaU? HAHA. Anyway, that was an impressive passing conversion when most teams would be inclined to run it.
USC makes it to a Rose Bowl without being a champion in 2016. In 2017, they don’t go to the Rose Bowl as conference champion. The world is a weird place. See you at the Cotton Bowl?
On average, USC gets more than 1 penalty every 10 plays. That makes them 115th in the nation for that stat.
Running count of fourth down conversions: 10 of 24 (41.67%)
Running count of opponent fourth down conversions: 14 of 25 (56%)