Preview of PAC-12 Championship Game

By | November 30, 2017

PAC-12 Championship: #14 Stanford (9-3) vs #9 Southern California (10-2); Santa Clara; 8 PM ET; Friday; ESPN …

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there is any realistic avenue for the PAC-12 champion to get an invite to the 4-team college football playoffs. Heck, the Cardinal and Trojans aren’t even playing for a spot in the Rose Bowl which will be one of this year’s national semi-finals. Still, pro scouts will likely be showing up in numbers for one final look at USC redshirt sophomore QB Sam Darnold (#14, 6-3, 220), the consensus top prospect at the position for the 2018 draft, and just maybe the top prospect overall. USC also features a quartet of very good junior prospects including RB Ronald Jones (#25, 5-11, 200), WR Deontay Burnett (#80, 5-11, 170), ILB Cameron Smith (#35, 6-1, 250) and CB Iman Marshall (#8, 6-0, 205), each of whom could get at least second day consideration were they to enter the upcoming draft, while OLB Uchenna Nwosa (#42, 6-2, 240) and SS Chris Hawkins (#4, 5-9, 180) are solid mid-to-late senior prospects.

Ironically, while USC’s Darnold is the current favorite to be the first player selected were the draft held today, Stanford has the better Heisman candidate in junior RB Bryce Love (#20, 5-10, 195). Love, in fact, was on pace to run for well over 2,000 yards thru much of the season, but he was slowed by an ankle injury late in the campaign that forced him to miss one full game and parts of a couple of others. Still, Love finished the year with 1,848 yards including an almost ridiculous 8.6 yards per carry figure and 16 TDs. Love isn’t all that big, but he has explosive speed – he still holds a couple of national age-group 100M records – along with electric quickness and agility. However, pro scouts still aren’t sold on Love, in larger part because of the size and durability issue and appear to have him graded as a potential late first or early second round prospect. Same story for junior DT Harrison Phillips (#66, 6-3, 295), an emerging interior defender with the quickness to slide out to end in a 3-4 scheme. Indeed, Phillips has 7 sacks to date this year along with 10 other tackles for loss. Stanford has a third promising junior prospect in FS Justin Reid (#8, 6-2, 205) who leads the team in tackles while picking off 5 passes. Stanford also has a number of solid seniors including ILB Bobby Okereke (#20, 6-2, 235), OLB Peter Kalambayi (#34, 6-2, 245), OLB Joey Alfieri (#32, 6-2, 245), TE Dalton Schultz (#9, 6-5, 245), OT AT Hall (#75, 6-4, 295), OG David Bright (#64, 6-4, 300), and C Jesse Burett (#73, 6-3, 305).