THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 14:
PAC-12 CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP: USC vs. STANFORD
Details/TV: At Santa Clara, Saturday at 4:45 p.m., ESPN:
The college football world was so much different back on Sept. 20. In Week 3, No. 6 USC, under Steve Sarkisian, was an untested 2-0 and unranked Stanford was trying to figure itself out after a season-opening loss at Northwestern. Then the Trojans and Cardinal met in the Pac-12 opener at the Coliseum, and things turned sideways. Sophomore Christian McCaffrey, who wasn’t in the Heisman discussion, ran for 115 yards while a battered-and-bruised Kevin Hogan threw for two TDs and 279 yards as the double-digit underdog Cardinal upended the Trojans, 41-31. Remound Wright had 11 carries and scored three rushing TDs against USC that day. “Whenever you play Stanford, you’re going to play big-boy ball, and that’s what we’ve got to do,” said USC linebacker Su’a Cravens after that game. “We’ve got to grow up. We’ve got to establish ourselves and execute.” So look at what has happened now. The teams that started the conference season against each other will now end it. The Trojans (8-4, 6-3), who coached by Clay Helton have crept back into the AP poll at No. 24, have the Pac-12 South because of a tie-breaker against Utah. Stanford (10-2, 8-1), inching up to No. 7 in the AP poll after outlasting Notre Dame last Saturday, had the Pac-12 North wrapped up a couple of weeks ago. It ended up getting 1,640 yards rushing, 435 yards receiving and is closing in on Barry Sander’s all-time FBS record of 3,250 all-purpose yards. Hogan finished second in the conference in passing rating (168.6, 23 TDs, 7 INTs), one spot ahead of USC’s Cody Kessler (158.6, 27 TDs, 6 INTs). Hogan, however, was sacked just 17 times this season, the fewest of any conference starter. Kessler went down 31 times.
ALSO THIS WEEK:
UCLA welcomes No. 1 Kentucky to Pauley Pavilion (Thursday, 6 p.m., ESPN) … The Kings’ week of three home games includes one against Pittsburgh (Saturday, 1 p.m., FSW) … Highlights of the CIF Southern Section division championships include a Pac-5 rematch of St. John Bosco and Centennial (Corona) at Angel Stadium (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., FSW) while Narbonne and Crenshaw meet for the L.A. City Division I title … The college football playoff final four depends on how No. 1 Clemson does in the ACC title game against North Carolina (Saturday, 5 p.m., Channel 7) and No. 2 Alabama does in the SEC title game against Florida (Saturday, 1 p.m., Channel 2) … The Lakers’ eight-game, two week road trip starts in Philadelphia (Tuesday, 4 p.m., TWC SportsNet) … More at this link.