Posted on October 21, 2021
USC steps out of conference for a rivalry game with Notre Dame this weekend. The good news for the Trojans is they will be traveling for this one.
USC has currently lost their last three games played in the Coliseum, that is currently tied for the third longest streak in the nation. The Trojans have won their last eight games played on the road, however, that stands as the second longest road win streak in the nation.
In what has certainly been a disappointing season for the Trojans, one bright spot has been the play of Drake London.
The junior has already picked up some midseason awards, being named to the midseason All-American teams by ESPN and On3, and the Midseason All-Pac-12 First-Team by our Jack Follman.
He currently ranks second in the nation in receptions with 64, receptions per game with 10.7 and receiving yards per game with 138.7.
Drake trails Jerreth Sterns of Western Kentucky in all three categories. Ironically, Sterns is coached by Tyson Helton, brother of London’s former coach Clay Helton.
(Worth noting, while the overall schedule of WKU compared to USC is not the same Stearns has faced two Power 5 opponents this season and performed well in those games, Indiana, and Michigan State, averaging 12 receptions for 134 yards in those games. Sterns had 17 for 186 vs MSU….Indiana did limit him to his only sub-100-yard game of the season though).
Should London end up leading the nation in any of those categories, it would be an impressive feat—and one not done often by a Trojan or other Conference player.
Marqise Lee caught 118 passes in 2012 to lead the nation and is the only USC player to ever lead the nation in receptions for a season.
Other than Lee, you must go back to the 1962 season to find a Pac-12 player leading the nation in receptions when Vern Burke caught 69 passes for Oregon State, and the Pac-12 was known as the AAWU. In fact, Oregon State was not even a member.
In that season, Burke capped a run of six in a row in which a current Pac-12 member had a player leading the nation in receptions. Hugh Campbell of Washington State led the nation with 53 receptions in 1961 and 6 in 1960.
In 1959, it was Chris Burford of Stanford with 61 catches; Arizona’s Dave Hibbert also pulled in 61 in 1958, and Stuart Vaughan’s 53 receptions for Utah in 1957 were the most in the nation.
Arizona State’s James Montgomery led the nation with 32 receptions in 1946, and Sam Morley caught 45 for Stanford in 1953 to share the national lead. Jim Hanifan pulled in 45 for Cal the following season to lead the nation in 1954.
It’s worth noting that Brandin Cooks caught a Pac-12 single-season record 128 passes in 2013, the 14th-most ever in a single season in NCAA history.
But he did not lead the nation as a guy named Davante Adams caught 131 for Fresno State that year (most of them thrown to him by Derek Carr).
The last Pac-12 player to lead the nation in receiving was Brandin Cooks in 2013 with 1,730—some 11 yards more than that of Davante Adams that year.
Cooks’ total is tied for the 21st-most in a single season nationally and the most by a Pac-12 player.
Marqise Lee’s yardage total from his 2012 campaign of 1,721 is the second most in Pac-12 history and 24th best nationally since 1956, but Lee did not lead the nation that season as Tarrance Williams of Baylor had 1,832 yards.
The only other player from the conference in the Pac-12/10/8 era to lead the nation in receiving yards was Mike Hass of Oregon State, who paced the country with 1,532 yards in 2005.
Looking a bit deeper on the historical side, we again see some numbers from current Pac-12 members.
John Smith led the nation with 568 yards for Arizona in 1947. Ed Baker of WSU totaled 864 in the 1951 season. John Stewart had 577 for Stanford in 1954 while Bill Steiger totaled 607 yards in 1956.
We mentioned Hugh Campbell leading the nation with 66 receptions in 1960, but the Cougar doubled up and totaled 881 yards for Washington State as well.
Those both stood as the most-ever in NCAA history for two years. Vern Burke of Oregon State then became the first player in NCAA history to top 1,000 receiving yards in a season with 1,007 in 1962 along with his 69 receptions.
That 1962 season was also the last time a current member of the Pac-12 had a player lead the nation in both receptions and yardage.
Not only was Burke the first player in the nation to top the 1,000-yard mark for receiving in a year, but since then, in only one year did a player lead the nation in receiving yardage and not reach the 1,000-yard barrier.
Burke’s yardage record lasted two seasons until Fred Biletnikoff broke it with 1,179 yards in 1964. But we could very easily be saying that Drake London is on the Burke Award watch list rather than the Biletnikoff Award.
Speaking of the award for the best WR in the nation, should London claim the prize in 2021 he would be the fifth player from the Conference to win, joining:
• 2013: Brandin Cooks, OSU
• 2012: Marqise Lee, USC
• 2005: Mike Hass, OSU
• 1999: Troy Walters, Stanford
A Look at a Few Pac-12 Players and Teams in the National Rankings
• Verone McKinley III continues to share the national lead for interceptions with four on the season
• Kyu Blu Kelly is tied for eighth in the nation with nine passes defended on the year.
• Nate Landman leads the nation with 7.2 solo tackles per game
• Avery Roberts of Oregon State is fourth in the nation with 10.3 total tackles per game while Devin Lloyd is sixth with 10.2 per game.
• B.J. Baylor has 9 rushing TDs, tied for the ninth most in the country.
• Jayden De Laura is responsible for 16.0 points per game, the 19th most among FBs players.
• Curtis Hodges is averaging 20.62 yards per reception, the 10th most in the nation and second most among TEs.
• Devin Lloyd leads the nation with 2.2 TFL per game.
• Washington is fourth in the nation allowing just 153.2 passing yards per game.
• Oregon has the fourth best turnover margin in the nation at +1.50 per game.
• Washington remains one of just three teams in the nation who have come up with points on every trip to the Red Zone.
• Oregon State is converting on 51.4% of third downs this season, the sixth best rate in the country.
Visit his website at sercstats.com.