Vilardo: Week 3 Pac-12 Football Statistical Matchup Notes

A look at this weekend's Conference matchups by the numbers

Posted on November 19, 2020

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

Several Pac-12 players and teams have opened the season with stellar performances on the ground. Of the top 10 in the nation in yards per rush this season, five hail from the Pac-12: Travis Dye 12.00 (1st), Nathaniel Peat 10.36 (4th), Sean McGrew 10.11 (5th), Jayden Daniels 10.09 (6th) and Tyler Shough 8.30 (10th).

When you look at rushing yards per game the conference occupies three of the Top 10 spots nationally, and six Pac-12 runners are in the Top 19 in the nation. The conference is led by Jarek Broussard’s 154.0 yards per game (3rd nationally), Jermar Jefferson 126.5 (7th), Deon McIntosh 119.5 (9th), Gary Brightwell 112.0 (16th) CJ Verdell 111.5 (18th), and Jayden Daniels 111.5 (19th).

Perhaps most intriguing among the list above is Washington State’s McIntosh. The last Cougar to end up in the Top 20 in the nation in rushing was Jerome Harrison in 2005, when he was second in the nation with 1900 yards on the ground and averaged 172.7 per game.

Nathaniel Peat is averaging 15.1 yards per carry on first down for Stanford this season; that is the third-highest in the nation for any player on first down.  (Justin Hall of Ball State and Treyson Potts of Minnesota are averaging 17.2 but have done so on five carries while Peat has 7 first down runs).

Some matchup notes appear below.

Cal Golden Bears at Oregon State Beavers
In their season-opener, Cal only had one rushing attempt in a third-and-short situation, and that play resulted in an 11-yard loss for the Bears. This season, the Beavers have limited opponents to 2.43 yards per carry on third-and-short, but have allowed a first down on 57.14% of those plays, ranking them 50th in the nation.

As noted above, Jermar Jefferson is off to a fantastic start, his 126.5 yards rushing per game are the seventh-most in the nation and second among Pac-12 players. In his career, Jefferson has recorded 12 100-yard rushing games, nine of them on the road. Jefferson is averaging 117.4 yards per game in 12 career road games compared to 82.6 in 11 career games at Reser Stadium.  We will see if that trend continues or if he can break out a big game in Corvallis this weekend.

Hamilcar Rashed Jr. has at least one tackle for loss (TFL) in 19 of his last 26 games.

Arizona Wildcats at Washington Huskies
This is an interesting matchup because of some streaks being brought into the contest.  Arizona is currently riding an eight-game losing streak, the fifth-longest active streak in the nation. The only longer streaks are: New Mexico 12, Kansas 11, UMass 9 and Louisiana-Monroe 9. The opponent that started the streak was…Washington. The Huskies were 51-27 winners in Tucson last season, ending the Cats’ four-game win streak at the time.

Washington enters the game having not allowed an opponent to score over 35 points in 72 straight games, the longest in the nation and the longest for a Pac-12 team since the Huskies streak of 83 in a row from 1975-83. Washington has limited opponents to 20 points or less in their last five games, which is the 16th-longest such streak in the country, and tied with Oregon for the longest of any Pac-12 team. During that five-game stretch, Washington has allowed just 4.8 points per second half.

In the opener, Washington allowed Oregon State just 10 plays of 10+ yards, giving up the sixth-fewest plays allowed per game in the nation.  Arizona allowed seven USC plays to travel 20+ yards and four netting 30+ yards—the seventh and fourth most per game of any team in the nation.

On three rushing attempts in third-and-short situations last week, Arizona allowed negative 1-yard total, and did not allow a USC first down on any of them.

Washington has won the last three meetings over Arizona by an average margin of 45.0-19.3.  The Huskies have won the last four meetings in Seattle, with the Wildcats last win there coming in 2007.

UCLA Bruins at Oregon Ducks
The winning team has scored at least 30 points in each of the last six meetings between these teams. In the last six between the Ducks and Bruins, the teams have combined to average 65.1 points per game with the average margin being 23.8 points per game. Since 2000, Oregon is 12-3 vs UCLA. Prior to that, the Bruins owned a 36-17 edge over the Ducks.

Oregon’s five-game win streak is tied for the 11th longest in the nation currently.  During those five games, the Ducks have not allowed an opponent to score more than 30 points, tied for the 16th-longest streak nationally, and sharing the Conference lead with Washington.

On third down this season, Tyler Shough has run the ball six times for 47 yards, gaining four first downs.  He is 11-for-13 passing for 189 yards with 10 first downs gained on third down. All told, he is averaging 12.42 yards per play on third down with a first down gained on 14 of 19. Shough is completing an FBS leading 84.6% of his passes on third down this season. He has picked up a first down on 76.9% of his third-down pass attempts, and 90.9% of his completions have netted the Ducks a first down, the second-highest rate in the nation.

On third-and-short this season, Oregon has allowed opponents to pick up the first down on just one of four rushing attempts. That 25.0% rate is the third best of any team in the nation with more than one game played.

In the first half this season, Shough is averaging 6.9 yards per rush compared to 9.7 yards per carry in the 2nd half. Dorian Thompson-Robinson is 12th in the nation and 3rd in the Conference with 330 yards of total offense per game this season

The 10-points UCLA allowed last week was the fewest the Bruins have allowed in a game since giving up 7 to Cal on October 13, 2018.

USC Trojans at Utah Utes
Utah has won 13-straight home openers, the 15th longest active streak in the nation. The Utes have won their last 12 season openers. The last time they opened a season 0-1 was in 2007 with an opening loss at Oregon State. Utah and USC have split the last seven meetings with the average margin being 8.9 points per game in those contests, with the Utes owning a 4-3 edge.

usc logoUSC has won two games this season in which they have trailed in the final two minutes; it is the first time the Trojans have ever had back-to-back wins when trailing in the final two minutes of a game.

Kedon Slovis is 6th in the nation with a Pac-12-best 353.0 yards per game this season. Last week, Slovis completed 69.8% of his passes. In his career, he is completing 71.8%, and has completed at least 70% of his passes in 7 of 14 career games.

Through two games, USC has run the ball five times on third-and-short and have a total of –1 yard with a long of 1 yard gained and 0 first downs on the five rushing attempts. The Trojans have only converted 37.5% of third downs this season, tied for 80th in the nation.

Last season, Utah ranked sixth in the nation allowing 15.0 points per game. Since 2015, the Utes have never been ranked outside the Top 40 in scoring defense. Utah has allowed 20.7 points per game since the start of the 2015 season.

Washington State Cougars at Stanford Cardinal
Stanford’s six-game losing streak is the 10th-longest in the nation.

Renard Bell is averaging 3.5 third-down receptions per game this season, the second most in the nation. The Cougars rank fourth in the country in first downs with 2.5. Bell is also tied for sixth in the nation and leads the Pac-12 with 8.0 receptions per game.

Washington State opponents are 5-for-5 earning a first down this season when running on third-and-short, one of three teams nationally to have played more than one game that have seen opponents convert at 100% (Buffalo and Ohio State are the other 2). Stanford, however, has not been successful on third-downs of any kind this season.

The Cardinal have converted just nine of 29 third-down attempts this season, or 31.0%, which ranks 112th in the nation. On the other side of the ball, Stanford has seen opponents convert 17 of 25 on third down, for a rate of 68.0%. That mark is the worst third-down defense in the country. Washington State has been not been much better at getting teams off the field, ranking 123rd this season in third-down defense with opponents converting on 55.6%

Big plays have been common in Cougar games this season. Washington State is averaging 7.5 plays per game of 20+ yards, the fifth-most of any team in the country. At the same time, they have allowed 19.5 plays per game of 10+ yards, the sixth-most of any team in the nation.

We already covered Deon McIntosh’s 119.5 rushing yards per game being ninth in the nation, but looking deeper into the WSU ground game shows just how different this offense may look compared to recent years.  Since 2009, Washington State has had just one player average over 60 yards rushing per game for a season (Max Borghi averaged 62.9 in 2019) and just two average over 50 per game (Borghi and Ricky Galvin 50.2 in 2011).  This season, the Cougars have already rushed the ball 57 times in two games. Last season they ran it 210 times in 13 games.

Selected National Individual Rankings

– Edefuan Ulofoshio, Washington, leads the nation with 4.0 passes defended per game

– Greg Dulcich, UCLA, is second nationally with a 29.43-yard average on his seven receptions this season

– Sam Noyer, Colorado, has had 88.89% of his third down completions result in a first down, fourth most in the nation

– Renard Bell, Washington State, is averaging 3.5 third down receptions per game this season, the second most in the nation, with 2.5 earning a Cougar first down ranking fourth in the country

– Isaiah Lewis, Colorado, is second in the nation with 2.5 PD per game

– Jarek Broussard, Colorado, is third in the nation with 154.0 rushing yards per game

Selected National Team Rankings

Washington’s +2.0 turnover margin is tied for second in the nation

– Colorado’s +2.0 turnover margin is tied for second in the nation

– USC is averaging 8.5 plays per game of 20+ yards is the third most in the country

– Oregon is averaging 2.5 plays per game of 40+ yards is the third most of any team in the nation

– Oregon leads the nation with a third down conversion rate of 72.7%

– Colorado is second nationally with 7.5 passes defended per game

– Arizona State is third in the nation with 7.0 passes defended per game

Career Records Watch

Tyler Vaughns, USC


Vaughns had seven receptions against Arizona for 203 in his career, tied for the 26th most in conference history. Next up on the list is Kareem Kelly of USC 204. He needs 64 receiving yards to break into the top-50 all-time in conference history.


Oscar Draguicevich, Washington State


Draguicevich had four punts for a 54.5-yard average against Oregon, giving him a career average of 45.76 yards per punt, which would be better than the all-time conference mark of 45.74 by Mitch Wishnowsky. (Second best should Turk continue his rate)



Michael Turk, Arizona State

His five punts in the opener for a 51.6-yard average bring his career total to 46.4 yards per punt on 72 career punts. That would be the best average in conference history.

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