Gold Stars Week 8: Bo Nix, kicks and a pick-6 take the cake in Week 8
Welcome to the Week 8 edition of Gold Stars, my weekly look at the Pac-12’s best individual performers.
We’ll keep a running track of the Gold Stars of the Week, all leading up to the Gold Stars of the Year column in December. It’s exactly like the Heisman Trophy, only there’s no ceremony, no trophy, and no one puts this on their résumé. As a note: 1st-place finishers get 3 gold stars, 2nd-place get 2 and 3rd-place gets 1.
Also, I’m on the voting committee for Pac-12 weekly awards, and I’ll include my ballot below Gold Stars.
|Michael Penix Jr.
|Jayden de Laura
On to the Gold Stars of Week 8 …
1. Oregon QB Bo Nix (3 stars)
What Nix has done for the Ducks has been nothing short of spectacular — his 17 touchdowns in 7 games is already more than any one season in his 3-year Auburn career — but he took it to another level against No. 9 UCLA on Saturday.
Nix’s 5 touchdown throws tied a career-high, set in Week 2 this year in a 70-14 win over Eastern Washington. But there is a big difference between the Eagles and the Bruins.
And these weren’t cheap touchdowns, or garbage touchdowns, or anything other than thrilling scores to willing receivers. After getting much of his kudos this year for what he’s done on the ground — Nix has three games with multiple rushing touchdowns, including 2 games with 3 rushing scores — it was nice to see Nix use his arm in such a fashion. It also might just rewrite the book on what’s possible this year.
2. Stanford K Joshua Karty (2 stars)
We’ve got a kicker, folks.
But Joshua Karty has been no ordinary kicker for the Cardinal this season, going a perfect 12-for-12 on field goals and 17-for-17 on PATs and saving his best for Saturday against Arizona State.
Karty’s 5-for-5 night provided all the scoring Stanford would need in a 15-14 win over the Sun Devils, meaning Karty single-footedly prevented the Cardinal from falling into the depths of despair. A 2-5 start for David Shaw would’ve been pretty rough. A 3-4 start is salvageable.
Karty wasn’t just banging chip shots, either. He hit field goals of 47, 44, 44, 36 and 36 yards against the Sun Devils, with the 47-yarder being the eventual game-winner midway through the 4th quarter.
3. Oregon State DB Alex Austin (1 star)
Austin and fellow Beavers cornerback Rejzohn Wright have been arguably the top 1-2 combination in the Pac-12 this year, and Pro Football Focus agrees, ranking them 3rd and 7th, respectively, among league corners.
Austin’s grade should rise this week after he had a terrific game against the lowly Colorado Buffaloes in a 42-9 win. His 42-yard interception return for a touchdown on Colorado’s opening drive of the 3rd quarter just about ended any chance the Buffaloes had at a comeback win, and served as Austin’s first interception since Week 1.
🚨PICK SIX! 🚨
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) October 23, 2022
My Pac-12 Weekly Awards ballot:
Defensive Line POW: Washington DL Bralen Trice
Trice was utterly dominant against Cal in a 28-21 win that made the Huskies bowl-eligible. Trice had 5 tackles, 2 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss against a Bears line that allowed 5 total sacks.
Washington's Bralen Trice vs. Cal
41.9% pass-rush win %
Best by a P5 defender this week pic.twitter.com/IX5RIfywT4
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 23, 2022
Defensive POW: Oregon State CB Alex Austin
Austin’s quick pick-6 was the cherry on top of an already dominating defensive performance for the Beavers. But a pick-6 is never too much.
Honorable mentions: Washington DL Bralen Trice, Oregon DB Christian Gonzalez.
Freshman POW: Oregon State RB Damien Martinez
Martinez’s 178 yards is the 3rd-highest mark in the Pac-12 this season and his second straight 100-yard game. He’s now leading the Beavers with 517 rushing yards and is chasing a 1,000-yard season as a freshman.
Offensive Line POW: Oregon OL Alex Forsyth
Yet again this is a team award, but Forysth was fantastic in his own right against a good UCLA defensive line. Forsyth’s experience gives Nix and Dan Lanning a reliable voice anchoring the interior of the line, which is obvious. He earned an 83.7 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus while not allowing a pressure, hurry, QB hit or sack in 28 pass-blocking opportunities.
Asked about the quality of Oregon's offensive line play, Lanning starts with senior center Alex Forsyth and notes his commitment extends to carrying a football with him in pregame chapel.
"I know the Lord appreciates that," Lanning said. "And so do the Ducks." #GoDucks
— Rob Moseley (@DuckFootball) October 22, 2022
Offensive POW: Oregon QB Bo Nix
It wasn’t just the 22-for-28 passing and 5 touchdowns that gives Nix the nod, it’s how he did it: Near, far, everywhere in between. His performance in the mid-range passing game was top-notch.
Honorable mentions: Washington QB Michael Penix, Jr., Oregon State RB Damien Martinez.
Special Teams POW: Stanford K Joshua Karty
After hitting all 3 field goal attempts to help Stanford win in South Bend for just the 5th time last week, Joshua Karty was even better on Saturday, hitting all 5 field goals to prove the difference in a 15-14 win over Arizona State. Karty is perfect on the year, hitting all 12 of his field goal attempts and all 17 PAT attempts.