And so it is. One more game left in the conference schedule, mostly rivalry games, some real, one made up. The chips have mostly fallen into place, but there are still 3 of them levitating above the fray for UCLA, Arizona State and Arizona. And only UCLA can control where that chip falls, except there is a big tree in the way. Last way, all 12 conference teams played. And all 6 games were blowouts, the first time that has happened all year. Of course it is awesome that Southern Cal was the recipient of one of them. It is interesting to note that only Oregon has a winning conference record in the North division...and UCLA should very much keep it that way.
Player of the Week: Brett Hundley,UCLA - 326 yards passing, 3 TD passes, and another TD rushing. Hundley completed his trifecta and will leave UCLA undefeated against Southern Cal.
Stat of the Week: 25 - average margin of victory in the Pac-12 this week
Game of the Week: Stanford at UCLA, 12:30pm PST, ABC; ASU at Arizona, 12:30pm PST, FOX - these games will determine the South division champ.
1. Oregon (10-1, 7-1): The Ducks' schedule really eased up at the end of the season, and they made mincemeat of Colorado (whom UCLA only beat in OT). Mariota continued his Heisman campaign with 323 yards passing, 3 TDs, and 73 yards rushing with another TD. The game was never close. It makes you wonder though if these easy games are softening up Oregon prior to the Pac-12 championship game. They get one more against Oregon State in the Civil War.
2. UCLA (9-2, 6-2): the Bruins took care of business against a hapless Southern Cal team. Completely demoralizing the Trogans, UCLA dominated this game despite an auspicious start with a pick-6. But it was good night from there on, so much so that the discipline deteriorated in the fourth quarter. Hopefully that does not carry over into the next game. UCLA has won 3 in a row against Southern Cal now. Since 1991, the series is tied at 12-12. That's a rivalry. And now UCLA has to get a massive red gorilla off its back. The Bruins have not beaten Stanford since 2008. Ending that streak will put them in the Pac-12 championship game for a rematch against Oregon. It will be no easy task.
3. Arizona State (9-2, 6-2): carrying over from their poor performance against Oregon State, the Sun Devils started the game dubiously, not able to score in the first quarter and trailing 24-21 at the half. But they used a ridiculous 24-point 4th quarter to put the game out of reach. Taylor Kelly threw 4 TD passes and Foster added 3 more on the ground, and ASU keeps its hopes alive but does not control its own destiny. Their last game will be the rivalry game against Arizona in Tucson, with a lot still at stake for both teams.
4. Arizona (9-2, 6-2): Arizona dominated the Utes in a somewhat surprising game which many thought would be closer. Taking advantage of 3 interceptions thrown by the Utah QBs, Arizona took an early lead and put the game away in the fourth quarter. Despite losing starting QB Anu Salomon, the Wildcats carried on with the help of two defensive TDs. Like ASU, they are still alive but do not control their destiny, so the rivalry game will be an intense one.
5. Southern Cal (7-4, 6-3): the Trogans got teased with an early pick-6, thinking they were on their way to an upset. And then the Gods laughed. Southern Cal was dominated physically and mentally in their visit to the Rose Bowl. What they didn't realize was that there was a purchase option in the rental agreement that UCLA exercised long ago. Leave it to a Trogan not to read the fine print. Or any print at all. As a reward for their poor showing, Southern Cal now gets to host its other rival Notre Dame at the crapiseum, and will have to fight hard to not let Sarkisian live up to his nickname.
6. Stanford (6-5, 4-4): Big bad brutish Stanford made an appearance again, conveniently against Cal in the Big Game, when many thought Cal had a chance to finally steal one after being recently dominated in the series. Unfortunately the Cal defense once again was useless and Stanford had its way early and often, essentially putting the game away in the first half with a 24-7 lead. The Cardinal defense continues to be a dominant force, only allowing 16.5 points per game. They also had 4 interceptions in this game. They will look to show everyone that they are still a force in the Pac-12 when they visit UCLA on Friday, with nothing on the line but their pride.
7. Utah (7-4, 4-4): After taking command of the Pac-12 South, with victories over UCLA and Southern Cal, the Utes have now lost 3 out of the last 4 games. As many surmised, their schedule got much tougher. 5 of their last 7 games were against ranked opponents. But Utah's problem stems more from lack of consistency at the QB position than a tough schedule. They were trounced by Arizona after turnovers and mistakes, uncharacteristic for this team. Still, it has been a good turnaround from last season for Wittingham, and the Utes have a chance at their first winning conference record since joining the Pac-12 when they travel to Colorado this week.
8. Washington (7-5, 3-5): the Huskies used big plays to easily beat Oregon State and become bowl eligible in Coach Petersen's first season at the helm. Cyler Miles had a nice game and the Huskies defense was solid. While the record doesn't show much improvement from the days of Sarkisian, the ceiling is higher for Washington under Petersen. With a victory in the Apple Cup against Washington State, the Huskies could be setting themselves up for a good 2015 season.
9. Oregon State (5-6, 2-6): not surprisingly, the Beavers could not follow up on their great performance against Arizona State and got beat easily by Washington. The defense was the main culprit here, allowing big plays early on that likely deflated the team. Sadly, Oregon State's best chance at becoming bowl eligible has likely slipped away now, given that they have to host Oregon this week. Crazier things have happened.
10. Cal (5-6, 3-6): another year, another loss to Stanford. The Bears were never in this game due to their inept defense. While it has never been Sonny Dykes's forte, he really needs to address this if he wants to hang around the Pac-12, just an average defense could really help them. All is not lost yet this season though. Cal gets to host BYU for another chance at becoming bowl eligible.
11. Washington State (3-8, 2-6): the Cougars had a great start to their game against Arizona State, taking an early lead and a 24-21 lead at halftime. Luke Falk had a ridiculous game, throwing for 601 yards and 3 TDs...but he also threw 4 interceptions. And the Wazzu defense is just nonexistent. How do you defend the run when you can't even practice against it? The Cougars had 21 yards rushing, and even adding back the sacks wouldn't help them much. I get that Leach has his system, but this is like getting triple D breast implants. At some point, if it's not working for you, you might want to make another type of change. The Cougs will try to salvage the season with a victory over Washington in the Apple Cup.
12. Colorado (2-9, 0-8): the Buffs never had a chance against Oregon. Another brutal season is coming to a close for the Buffs. They will have to take on another ranked team when Utah visits Boulder this week, and I think they will put up a very good fight. They have a lot of work to do in the offseason and we will see if recruiting can pick up for them.
On the eve of Turkey Day, I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. I hope to be very thankful on Friday evening as well. Another huge game looms for our Bruins. Eat well and cheer hard my friends.