I don't know why but I have had the Terminator theme going through my head all week. Ta-tum-tum-tutum. I'd like to think that UCLA has developed that killer instinct, shed its early season jitters and is just marching towards the playoffs. Hopefully, that's not just the stuff of fantasy. With two games left in the season, there are still a myriad of possibilities for the winner of the South Division, but only UCLA controls its destiny thanks to some fortunate Beaver action. If I wasn't on pins and needles with my stomach tied in a knot, this would be the most exciting Pac-12 season I have seen in a long time. But I shall try to take it one game at a time.
Player of the Week: Terron Ward & Storm Woods, Oregon State - the Beaver running back duo absolutely gashed Arizona State, to the tune of 273 yards on 30 carries with 2 TDs. That's an absurd 9.1 yards per carry.
Stat of the Week: 276 vs. 184 - total penalty yards vs. total rushing yards in the Cal vs. Southern Cal game. I mean seriously, SPTRs, have you no shame?
Game of the Week: Southern Cal at UCLA, 5:00pm PST, ABC; one of the best rivalries in college football takes on even more importance given the stakes.
1. Oregon (9-1, 6-1): The Ducks had a bye last week and look to keep rolling towards the college playoffs, staying in the comfortable confines of Autzen to host Colorado.
2. UCLA (8-2, 5-2): a chance at redemption is only sweet if you take advantage of it. UCLA also had a bye last week but benefitted hugely from Arizona State's loss and now controls its own destiny in the South division. The adventure continues Saturday when a dangerous Southern Cal team visits the Rose Bowl. Coach Mora will try to complete his trifecta and allow Brett Hundley to leave UCLA undefeated against Southern Cal.
3. Southern Cal (7-3, 6-2): like a bad case of recurring nail fungus, Southern Cal has kept itself in the picture for winning the South division. In their Thursday night game last week against Cal, they were cruising to victory until Cal stormed back. It could be a case of fatigue or of letting up once they are far ahead. In any case, Cody Kessler is a completely different QB compared to last year and is having a great season, throwing another 4 TDs against Cal. With their arsenal of wide receivers (including Agholor, who had 216 yards and 2 TDs), a good running back and a good defense, this is a dangerous team that will walk into the Rose Bowl on Saturday against UCLA.
4. Arizona State (8-2, 5-2): Todd Graham's flat top likely didn't last long against Oregon State. The ASU coach was probably pulling his hair out as his team allowed the Beavers to storm back and win the game in the second half, taking away their lead in the division. Uncharacteristically, the game was lost on a pick-6 from Taylor Kelly as he was driving his team down for a field goal that would have won the game. Now ASU no longer controls its own destiny and has to win out and hope others lose, an unenviable position that Bruins know all too well. And for your weekly dose of irony, their next game will be at home against Washington State, whose last game was a victory over Oregon State...
5(tie). Arizona (8-2, 5-2): it wasn't the prettiest of games, but Arizona came out on top with a field goal to win the game as time expired, allowing kicker Casey Skowron to redeem himself after missing a similar one that would have beaten Southern Cal. A loss to Washington would have taken the Wildcats straight out of the race for the South division title, but RichRod found a way to get it done after falling behind in the third quarter. The defense stepped up and cause a fumble as UW was trying to run out the clock, setting up the winning field goal. The next game will be much tougher, as Arizona leaves the desert for a game at Utah, with both teams still alive in the division race.
5(tie). Utah (7-3, 3-3): Another week, another overtime game for the Utes. After a big defensive battle (as I predicted last week) that had the teams tied at 7, Travis Wilson came through in overtime to give his team the win and prevent a 3-game losing streak. The win also guaranteed Utah a winning record for this season, a nice improvement from last year. The key was Utah's ability to not make mistakes, as they had no turnovers and few penalties. All year Wittingham has shown just how good of a coach he is, and his team's discipline is a great reflection of that. Now they hold court at home against a completely different team in Arizona.
7. Stanford (5-5, 3-4): the days of BCS bowls have gone by for the Cardinal. Their formula of a stout defense combined with a physical and efficient offense has worked well for them since Harbaugh took over. But now they are countered by Coach Shaw's stifling conservatism, which has likely cost them at least two games, including this last one against Utah. The Cardinal had a couple of chances to win in regulation. Instead, Shaw opted to punt from Utah's 34 with less than 2 minutes to play instead of allowing Williamson to kick a 51-yard field goal, drawing boos from the home crowd. Now Stanford must win one of its last two games just to become bowl eligible, and both if it wants a winning conference record. Next up is the Big Game against an improved Cal team.
8. Washington (6-5, 2-5): taking on yet another crazy South division offense, Washington managed to take the lead late in the third quarter after trailing all game. But when it mattered most, as it was trying to run out the clock, the Huskies fumbled the ball and fumbled the game away, allowing Arizona to escape with a game winning field goal. It was likely a stinging loss for Coach Petersen, as a victory would have made the Huskies bowl eligible and would have been a good road win on his resume in his first season. They will get another chance this week at home, but they had better beware the suddenly revived Beavers.
9. Oregon State (5-5, 2-5): aah, November in Corvallis. Hot chocolate and pumpkin pie...or a beer and a Sun Devil loss. Mike Riley had his team prepared last week. Either the cold was making tackling difficult for ASU, or Riley saw something in their defense that he fully exploited. The running back duo of Ward and Woods caused havoc on the ASU defense and the Beavers gnawed their way with authority to a victory in the second half. The game was sealed by a great pick-6 to finally give Oregon State a significant win this season. Every year they seem to win a game they shouldn't, but this year they have also lost a few they shouldn't. Now the Beavers will battle Washington to see who can become bowl eligible.
10. Cal (5-5, 3-5): too little too late from the Bears, who fell behind 31-9 in the first half before they came out of hibernation against Southern Cal. The offense once again had a decent game, but the defense made a hole so big that even the UCLA athletic director's ass could fit in there. So even though Cal won the second half 21-7, they came up empty handed and bowl eligibility remains at bay. This week, they host Stanford for the Big Game and just might have the right team to finally pull off a win in the rivalry, their first since 2009.
11. Washington State (3-7, 2-5): the Cougars had a bye last week, and will take on Arizona State this week in the desert, trying to do to them what Oregon State did, since their last victory was over Oregon State.
12. Colorado (2-8, 0-7): the Buffs also had a bye last week and are still seeking that elusive Pac-12 win, but it will be a tall task this week as they travel to Oregon.
Here we go Bruins. We are in full playoff mode and it starts this week against that other team. Let's make sure that Seven-Win-Sark lives up to his nickname.