After a week featuring several blowouts, the Pac-12 shifted gears and featured some nailbiters instead. Well that is, of course, not including a couple of cellar dwellars whose names start with the letter C. We'll just do a Bennifer type thing and call them Calorado. It's pretty clear and unanimous in our poll that they are the two worst teams in the conference. But things at the top are starting to get interesting. Oregon has yet to play a meaningful game, but has blown out every opponent so far. Stanford has been challenged, but has prevailed despite looking a bit less sharp than last year. While there is a big gap between those bottom two teams and the rest of the conference, things at the top are getting tighter. The next three weeks will go a long way towards establishing that pecking order. Just for kicks, our power poll will be 1 to 12 this week and not by division.
Player of the Week: Brett Hundley, UCLA - I know...I'm such a homer. But let's look at this pragmatically: Hundley had a passing, rushing, and receiving TD in the same game, as well as a punt. Yes, he had a pick-6 but drove his team down for a go-ahead field goal right after. I can't think of a better performance last week, and no, the QBs who played against Calorado don't count. The only one who might be considered is Keith Price, who threw for 350 yards and 2 TDs against a very good Stanford defense. But his team didn't win.
Stat of the Week: 130 - total number of pass attempts in the game between Washington State and Cal...which is exactly equal to the total combined rushing yards of 130 (not including sacks)...I'm guessing those two teams won't really be attracting running backs in the near future.
Game of the Week: Oregon @ Washington, 4:00pm PST, FS1 - Washington is once again in the featured game of the week. Just like UCLA, they play Stanford and Oregon in succession, though they get Oregon at home. We'll see how the Huskies respond to their close loss, against a much different team, in what is actually a rivalry game.
1. Oregon (5-0, 2-0): Yawn. Mariota throws for 7 TDs against Colorado. The Ducks still haven't played anyone good. Maybe Tennessee, who should have won against Georgia but really isn't that good. Anyway, things change this week when #16 Washington hosts Oregon, in their new stadium. This game should be electric, it's a bitter rivalry and the Ducks will be out to prove that the competition just doesn't matter.
2. Stanford (5-0, 3-0): any which way possible, Stanford finds what it needs to win. In this past game against Washington, it was the opening kickoff that speedster Ty Montgomery took to the house. Because with Hogan only passing for 100 yards and only 179 yards of rushing, Stanford should have lost this game. In fact, if you look at the stat sheet, you will really wonder how Stanford won. Washington on the other hand rolled up 489 yards, with Price throwing for 350. Much like the championship game against UCLA, it came down to one play, and it turned out to be the opening kickoff. It was the one mistake that the Huskies made and that was enough against the Cardinal. Now Stanford will have an interesting matchup at Utah this week.
3. UCLA (4-0, 1-0): the Bruins edged the Huskies by a nose to claim this spot. And they edge Utah by one more interception to win their game on Thursday night, banishing two jinxes in one fell swoop. The defense was outstanding, with 6 interceptions and not a TD allowed in the second half. Brett Hundley showed again how special he is. Freshman Paul Perkins stepped up and banged his way for a big game. And Myles Jack, Mr. Clean Slate, sealed the deal with a great interception on a ball thrown behind him. He is truly a unique player. Yes, the penalties reared their ugly heads again, but that is now being addressed. In any case, there should have been no nailbiting moment because Shaq Evans was down! Now the Bruins must keep their focus and take care of business against a one-dimensional Cal team, in what should be a packed Rose Bowl.
4. Washington (4-1, 1-1): the Huskies can be proud of the way they played at Stanford, but that doesn't mean the loss doesn't sting. It took one moment, a lapse in concentration, to allow the kickoff to be returned for a TD, and that was the only difference in this game. The Husky defense played admirably, but the Stanford defense stepped up in crucial times. Keith Price still nearly rallied his team to a victory, had it not been for a couple of inches, a ball that barely touched the ground on their last 4th down attempt. But no time to dwell on what might have been, the Huskies have to completely change their mindset when they host Oregon this week. As Stanford coach David Shaw said, there is only one coach who instructs his players to fake injuries and he works in Washington...zing!
5. Oregon State (4-1, 2-0): the Beavers had a bye week to prepare for what is actually a crucial game against Washington State in Pullman. Sean Mannion must be drooling after seeing the yards that the Cal QB put up against the Cougars. It should be a close and interesting game.
6. Arizona State (3-2, 1-1): turnovers and a wimpy running game doomed the Sun Devils on their visit to South Bend, in a matchup of two coaches in the running for college football's Mr. Congeniality Award. It's hard to even tell which was the better team, as the inconsistency might just be a consistent characteristic for the Sun Devils. They certainly rallied by putting up 21 points in the 4th quarter, but that was too little too late after Taylor Kelly threw a pick-6 in the last minute of the game. At least they get a breather with Colorado coming to town this week.
7. Utah (3-2, 0-2): this Ute team was so, so close to being undefeated at this point. But an OT loss to the Beavers, and a nailbiting loss against UCLA should not demoralize them. This is a very well-coached team with a good defense and a good QB. It seems Travis Wilson was ill at game time and on antibiotics, but the 6 interceptions were certainly not all his fault. You can bet that they will make some noise in the South Division. Unfortunately, that'll have to wait, with Stanford coming to visit. Coach Wittingham's crew has been waiting for a signature win...why not this week?!
8. Washington State (4-2, 2-1): a winning record both overall and in the conference, halfway through the season? Yes, I think Cougar fans will take that, as well as any game where they demolish a division opponent like they did to Cal. A bowl game is hardly out of the question, although the rest of the schedule is pretty tough, without any sure wins remaining. They will have to do a good job of containing Sean Mannion if they have any hope of winning this game.
9. Arizona (3-1, 0-1): the Wildcats had the week off in preparation for their Thursday night game against Southern Cal. Last year, they took it to the Trogans at home and beat them easily. This year, they are not as good, but neither is Southern Cal who has been preparing without their stud coach Lane Kiffin. No doubt, Ed Orgeron will have his team fired up for this game so RichRod better have his team prepared with a balanced attack.
10. Southern Cal (3-2, 0-2): just like Arizona, the Trogans had the week off for this upcoming Thursday night game. Life will surely be different without the guidance of their wise offensive guru. Instead they are being led by fiery Ed Orgeron, who is generally well liked by the players and has been quite loose apparently while preparing the team. You can bet Southern Cal will come out on fire to gain back the trust of their fickle fans.
11. Colorado (2-2, 0-2): well, the Ducks came, scored a ton, and left town. I'm not sure if they gave Colorado the chance to work on anything in this game. Paul Richardson had another big game for the Buffs though, so they can hang their hat on that. The gap between these two teams is beyond huge though. Colorado scored as many points as Cal did, but allowed 2 more. It doesn't really matter when it's 57-16 though. The Buffs have to keep trucking though, and I guarantee everyone that they will not be this bad next year. For now, they travel to Tempe to take on ASU who is smarting from a close road loss.
6. Cal (1-4, 0-2): the Bear raid put up 521 yards in the air! And lost by 22. I guess Sonny Dykes is just refining the passing game this year. And you know what, that Jared Goff kid is sneaky good. He withers away like a snake, I saw him escape numerous sacks and the Bruins better not sleep on this kid. It may not matter with Cal's terrible defense. The Bears have their work cut out for them the rest of the season. They will put up a fight this week against UCLA, as they always do. But depth is becoming an issue already, on top of numerous other problems.