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Pac-12 Football Notebook: Utah Tragedy Overshadows Oregon State’s Win

Utes suffer another player death, putting Beavers' historic victory at USC in perspective

We pause before starting this week’s Pac-12 notebook to report a sad item:

Utah defensive back Aaron Lowe was shot and killed early Sunday morning in Salt Lake City. Police said Lowe, 21, died on the scene in a shooting at a house party. (More information here.)

Lowe had appeared in each of the Utes' first four games this season, including Utah's win over Washington State Saturday afternoon.

This is the second tragedy in less than a year for the Utah football program. Ty Jordan, a running back who was the Pac-12 freshman of the year last season, was killed by an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound last December and was a friend of Lowe’s.

Lowe and Jordan were high school teammates in Mesquite, Texas, and after Jordan died, Lowe switched his jersey number from No. 2 to No. 22 to honor his friend.

We trudge ahead with the mundane task of reviewing this weekend’s Pac-12 football action.

Had it been another week, the fact that Arizona outgained third-ranked Oregon and had 31 first downs to the Ducks’ 17 yet suffered its 16th straight loss in a 22-points defeat might have been the lead item in these notes.

In a different week, Washington’s dramatic win over Cal, in which the Huskies ended the game by forcing a Cal fumble at the 1-yard line of overtime, might have been the highlight of the Pac-12 notebook.

In other weeks, Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s brave performance, in which a right shoulder injury that left him grimacing on the sidelines and knocked him out of the game for one play but did not prevent him throwing the go-ahead touchdown pass while leading UCLA to a 35-24 victory over Stanford, might have been the focus of this article.

But this was the week of a historic event, one that could not be ignored: Oregon State beat USC at the Los Angeles Coliseum. And the Beavers did not just win, they dominated the Trojans physically in a result that upset our notion of what the terms “Oregon State football” and “USC football” mean.

Let us itemize the significance of Oregon State’s 45-27 victory over the Trojans Saturday night.

---It was Oregon State’s first road victory over USC since 1960, when gas cost 31 cents a gallon and a movie ticket cost 69 cents.

---Oregon State and USC were not even in the same conference in 1960. The Beavers were an independent then, and USC played in a five-team conference known as the Athletic Association of Western Universities.

---That 1960 game, in which the Beavers shocked No. 6 ranked USC in the season opener, came 19 years before the birth of Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith, who grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendora and attended USC home games. Oregon State had never defeated the Trojans in Los Angeles in his lifetime, until the Beavers ended that 24-game losing streak Saturday.

---The 45 points were the most scored by Oregon State in its 79 games against USC, home or away, surpassing the previous mark of 38 points scored by the Beavers in the very first game against the Trojans in 1914.

---Oregon State ran the ball down USC’s throat, running the ball 51 times for 324 rushing yards, an average of 6.3 yards per carry. The Trojans, who supposedly have a lot more athletic talent than the Beavers and have made a habit of overpowering Oregon State, managed just 76 yards on 22 rushes, an average of 3.45 yards per carry.

---Oregon State committed 154 yards of penalties, but the Beavers were so dominant it didn’t matter.

---The Beavers scored touchdowns on five straight possessions in the middle of the game, on drives of 92 yards, 92 yards, 75 yards, 59 yards and 64 yards.

---The game was so one-sided USC fans didn’t even bother to boo, instead just leaving in the third quarter.

---Oregon State quarterback Chance Nolan, who did not begin the season as the Beavers starting quarterback, leads the Pac-12 in passer rating and is fourth nationally in that category after his 15-for-19, 213-yard, four-touchdown, two-interception performance against USC. He totally outplayed USC’s Kedon Slovis, who threw three interceptions.

---Beavers running back B.J. Baylor, a fifth-year senior who had amassed just 381 rushing yards in 28 games played prior to this season, ran for 158 yards against USC and leads the Pac-12 in rushing at 105.5 yards per game.

---Oregon State leads the Pac-12 in total offense and in rushing yardage after putting up more than 40 points for the third straight game.

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The Pac-12 top five teams:

1. Oregon (4-0) – The Ducks are the only unbeaten Pac-12 team and are ranked No. 3 in the country.

2. UCLA (3-1) – The Bruins’ win over Stanford was more impressive than the score suggests. UCLA is ranked No. 20 this week.

3. Oregon State (3-1) – The Beavers play Washington next week, so we’ll see whether the Beavers are for real.

4. Arizona State (3-1) – Saturday’s road game against UCLA will tell us how good the Sun Devils are.

5. Stanford (2-2) – Cardinal made some big plays to threaten UCLA.

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Pac-12 Player of the Year Standings

1. B.J. Baylor, Oregon State running back – He may not occupy this spot for long, but he leads the Pac-12 in rushing at 105.5 yards per game for a team coming off a big win.

2. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA quarterback – His brave performance in the win over Stanford was more about heart than stats.

3. CJ Verdell, Oregon running back/Anthony Brown, Oregon quarterback – Neither has jaw-dropping numbers but somebody from Oregon has to be in the top three. So take your pick.

4. Chance Nolan, Oregon State quarterback – He is 3-0 as a starter and is fourth nationally in passer rating. Maybe he should be higher.

5. Zach Charbonnet, UCLA running back – He gets the nod over Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee and USC receiver Drake London because the Bruins have been better than the Cardinal and Trojans.

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Cover photo by Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports

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Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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