Rain. Lots of rain. This must be a first. Did you realize that it rained in every single Pac-12 game last week? 4 of them were held in the Pacific Northwest, where it just came down in sheets. But it even rained in Tempe, and I couldn't tell if it was the points that ASU was raining down on Southern Cal, or if it was just the Trogans' tears making for wet conditions. Ironically, every game was a blowout, with all the hosts prevailing except for Wazzu. I bet the Utes are hoping for rain tonight...
Player of the Week: Sean Mannion, Oregon State - Mannion passed for 414 yards and 6 TDs against Colorado and is headed for Pac-12 records if he continues this way. Sure, the competition was not the most challenging, but those numbers are impressive no matter what. Bishop Sankey also set a Washington record with 40 carries against Arizona, while Marion Grice had 4 TDs against the Trogans.
Stat of the Week: 27.8 - that was the average margin of victory in the Pac-12 last week. 4TDs. Seems there are two tiers in the conference...
Game of the Week: Washington @ Stanford, 7:30pm PST, ESPN - sure, you could pick UCLA at Utah as the game of the week, and of course that is the most important game to us Bruins. But UW at Stanford pits two ranked teams, in the same division. Neither have played an opponent of this caliber yet, and the game could have significant repercussions.
1. UCLA (3-0, 0-0): the semi-bye of the Thursday game meant that UCLA was idle. Technically, the game against Utah is a Week 6 game. If UCLA wants to be part of that top tier in the Pac-12, it must prevail in this game which is tougher than most people think, in my opinion. A lot of people forget that Mazzone worked for Erickson, so the Utes might have a bit of an advantage in familiarity. Hopefully, Noel will have wrinkles that they haven't seen and the whole team comes prepared.
2. Arizona State (3-1, 1-1): the Sun Devils are back in the number 2 spot after demolishing Southern Cal. It was a tight game as ASU fell behind early in the 3rd quarter, but they showed that they can be just as explosive as anyone in the conference, scoring 28 points in that same quarter and putting the game away, along with Lane Kiffin's job. Even though the defense allowed 41 points and 542 yards, it did create 4 turnovers including a demoralizing pick-6. It was a good way to bounce back from the Stanford beatdown, get back in the top 25 and to get pumped up for a visit to South Bend on Saturday.
3. Arizona (3-1, 0-1): the desert boys did not fare too well in the damp pacific northwest. While the game didn't get out of hand, the Wildcats were never really in it, despite only being down 5 at the half. The lack of a passing game continues to hurt Arizona, though this time it may have been due to the conditions, however the inability to stop the run was even more detrimental. Arizona has a bye week before its Thursday night game where it will face another team that relies heavily on the running game: Southern Cal.
4. Utah (3-1, 0-1): as with UCLA, Utah had a bye week, but nearly tied Arizona for the 3rd spot. The Utes and their fans are optimistic about their chances in tonight's game, with good reason. They have a good coach, a much improved QB and offense and a Thursday night game on TV. I bet they are also hoping for rain.
5. Southern Cal (3-2, 0-2): Me so sad for Kiffy. Me want hug. It took about 7 minutes for Lane Kiffin to lose his job. For a short span, it looked as though he would pull a Lavin and win a game he shouldn't, but then ASU dumped 28 points on his team and Ethical Pat had seen enough. Let's forget all the coach drama and take a look at the team itself: the defense is not good and the passing game is not good. What's an ogre to do? Reports are that he's "loose" at practice. Maybe he'll joke around like Pom Pom Pete and all will be well! I don't know what they'll do without the Denny's menu, or who will call the plays, but at least they'll have a bye week to work on things before a Thursday night matchup with Arizona.
6. Colorado (2-1, 0-1): some of you are tennis fans so maybe you'll appreciate this (if you're not, just bear with me). When Andre Agassi had a slump in his career, he hired Brad Gilbert. Gilbert was a very cerebral player who totally changed Agassi's style. At first, Agassi kept losing matches, but Gilbert would just smile and say "good things are coming", or just "good things". And they sure did. That's how I feel with Coach McCarthy and Colorado. They got pummeled by Oregon State, but I really think things will improve for them, maybe not to the level it did for Agassi, but at least to make them competitive in the conference. Unfortunately it won't be this week, when Oregon visits...
1. Oregon (4-0, 1-0): Bears fumble and Ducks score. The Sonny Dykes air raid is really not made for wet conditions. Cal had put up big numbers in the passing game in its previous games, but the rain took that option away. Dykes even switched QBs pretty early, with Zach Kline taking over, but it didn't really matter. I would be slightly worried if I were Oregon though. Not because of De'Anthony Thomas's injury, but because the Ducks haven't really had any tough competition yet. It won't change this week either when they visit Colorado.
2. Stanford (4-0, 2-0): Stanford picked up where it left off after the ASU game when it visited Washington State. This time, there was no letdown and the Cardinal dominated the whole way, with Kevin Hogan having a solid game and the defense not allowing a TD until garbage time. Stanford just does not make big mistakes. They will likely have to play even better when Washington visits this week.
3. Washington (4-0, 1-0): the Huskies avenged last year's loss to Arizona in their new stadium. In the steady rain, Sarkisian put the game in Bishop Sankey's hands and the RB delivered with 40 carries and 161 yards. The defense held steady and rendered the Arizona offense impotent, though part of that was their own doing. Washington's next game is huge: it is a division game, against a top 5 Stanford team. But it could also have repercussions on the potential Sarkisian move to Southern Cal. A victory would likely have the Trogans make a big push to hire him.
4. Oregon State (4-1, 2-0): it is really hard to watch this Beaver team and understand how they possibly lost to Eastern Washington. But the past is the past and Mike Riley has helped his team rebound, on the shoulders of QB Sean Mannion who is putting up some ridiculous numbers. With a bye week coming up, you can bet that this Beaver team will be solid for the rest of the season. That has always been a characteristic of Riley's teams. Plus, they get Cal after their bye week.
5. Washington State (3-2, 1-1): well, the Cougar defense fell back down to earth or back to ordinary after a meeting with Stanford. Wazzu was just dominated physically and no amount of Mike Leach smarts could overcome that. It was a tough matchup that showed how big the gap is in the North division between the top and bottom teams. As big as that gap is, Wazzu is still in decent position. They visit Cal this week and have a good chance to pick up their second conference victory and set themselves up for a potential bowl season.
6. Cal (1-3, 0-1): this may have been the ugliest game in Cal history. Not necessarily because of the team itself, but the team plus the monsoon combined to cause chaos for the Bears, who had fumble after fumble, replaced their QB and got speedboated out of Autzen. I guess they didn't use the ol' fake injury tactic this time around. On top of that, they dismissed one of their top defensive players. It looks to be a very painful season for Cal as opportunities for wins are dwindling by the second. They have a chance to pick up one at home against Wazzu this week.