This week in Pac-12 football was both interesting and completely predictable. I found myself watching the games and thinking, “Wow, this is a going according to plan.” No major upsets, other than Lane Kiffin’s ego, came from the action on Saturday. The good part about it, obviously, is that the best teams won, keeping the strong image the conference in tact. And you need to keep that up in order to have a chance at a spot in Pasadena for the National Championship game this year.
That’s not to say that the games were unentertaining or even not worth watching. Other than the horrible outing by the Golden Bears and the Buffaloes, the games were fairly competitive. And even the ones that were not competitive still brought their own brand of fun to the table.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the weekend in Pac-12 action:
Oregon State 44, Colorado 17
The Colorado Buffaloes had a bye week last week, and their last game before that postponed, meaning that the last time the Buffaloes had been in action was September 7th, against Central Arkansas. And it showed. They looked rusty and off, and looked horrible when compared to the Beavers. Meanwhile, the Oregon State Beavers had been on a roll entering the game, winning three straight. I doubted this would be a good game for Colorado, but I would be lying if I said I thought this one would come looking this bad.
Sean Mannion, who became my favorite to win the Pac-12 Player of the Year after this performance, threw for 414 yards on 27-of-52 passing with six touchdowns, a school record. He found Brandin Cooks nine times for 168 yards and two touchdowns.
Where the Oregon State offense was clicking on all cylinders, the Colorado offense was out of sync and looked lost most of the night. They were held to three points through the first three quarters, and it wasn’t until about 11 minutes left in the game when Colorado scored on a 24-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Connor Wood.
What didn’t help was that Colorado was 2-for-15 on third down. That number is so awful that it really needs no analysis. But it does mean Colorado has a lot to fix if they want to turn it around in the weak Pac-12 South.
Washington 31, Arizona 13
I missed a lot of this game on Saturday. I was on the streetcar heading back from a particularly bad Giants game, but I assumed that this game would be all about the offense. Washington features a fast-paced offense, Arizona runs whatever iteration of the Rich Rod West Virginia offense he has thrown together this season, thus the game should’ve be all sorts of crazy.
I came home, turned on the TV and saw this:
Yeah. It was half time and all, but that may be the most uninspiring score line ever. But, luckily for us, Bishop Sankey overtook the game, running for a school record 40 times for 161 yards and a touchdown. The wild part was Sankey outperforming Arizona’s star runningback Ka’Deem Carey, who so happened to be the NCAA’s leading rusher last season.
Washington took over, holding Arizona to 10-of-22 on third down. Also, they made the B.J. Denker problem down in Tucson very evident. Denker went 14-for-35 with 114 yards and two interceptions. Arizona needs to fix the quarterback problem and fast.
Washington improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2001. They should be a tough out for any team going forward, especially the heavy hitters like Oregon and Stanford. Look for Washington to really make some noise in the North Division title race, which I doubt they win, but you never know.
Stanford 55, Washington State 17
Last week, I began to really go over-the-top in professing that Mike Leach’s offense had finally shown us what it was about. I got excited! I watched replays of Connor Halliday and got giddy. He looked real last week. But then, I realized that Idaho is garbage and maybe Washington State isn’t as potent as I thought when I gushed over them last week.
The offense that looked potent was the lunch pail one we’ve seen out of Stanford. Quarterback Kevin Hogan threw for 286 yards on 16-of-25 passing and three touchdowns. He and Stanford won their 12th straight game, completely getting rid of that less-than-great performance last weekend against the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Stanford really benefited from the performance of the rushing game, which ran for 238 yards on 40 carries, with two touchdowns. Those numbers are between seven different running backs, all of whom have breakaway speed and big-play potential.
I am still not sold that Stanford is a legitimate contender to Oregon’s potential Pac-12 Championship, but this game made me think about that stance a little. If they continue putting out performances like this, I could really see them doing something this season.
Arizona State 62, USC 41
USC is bad. They have talent, they have a fan base and they had a good staff, but Lane Kiffin is a horrible coach and, really, his choices have left USC in the awful “last place” syndrome. So, when they rolled out and played this bad, I wasn’t too surprised.
They were in the game as late as the fourth quarter, when USC scored a touchdown to make it 48-34, but then Arizona State flexed their muscles and ran away with the game.
Taylor Kelly impressed, going 23-for-34 with three touchdowns and 351 passing yards. He was also the team’s leading rusher as he ran for 79 yards on four carries.
The big news regarding this game was that the Pac-12′s most annoying head coach, Lane Kiffin, was fired after the game. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier for SC. But, nevertheless, it’s going to be a long time before USC is back at the top. They’ve lost the stronghold on the Southern California recruiting stronghold they had, and now the advantage is easily with the boys in Westwood (as they have a better coach, a better stadium and now have a better record). Look for USC to spend big money to pry an SEC coach or Chis Petersen down to University of
South Central Southern California.
This Pac-12 South picture.
Here is the line-up for this coming week. It features at least three good games.
UCLA at Utah, 7:00 pm, Fox Sports 1
Washington State @ California, 1:00 pm, Fox Sports 1
Oregon at Colorado, 3:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Arizona State vs Notre Dame, 4:30 pm, NBC (to be played in Arlington, Texas)
Washington at Stanford, 7:30pm, ESPN
Next week is going to be solid viewing entertainment. I think Notre Dame is overrated, and I think Arizona State should handle them easily, but the game is going to be a worthwhile view because, I love watching Pac-12 teams squash Notre Dame. Plus, the game being a “neutral field” game is kind of a joke. No one in Arlington is going to be watching this game, they’ll either be getting ready for playoff baseball or getting ready for the Cowboys game on Sunday. Anyways, the matchups that are actually worth watching for football reasons are the UCLA/Utah game, which will tell us if Utah is a contender, or if they’re just another filler team. Utah must take advantage of UCLA’s notoriously horrible starts to have a shot at knocking off the Bruins. The Washington/Stanford game is going to be great. I believe both teams are really good, and I even think it would be Washington’s game to lose if this game was being played in the Pacific Northwest, but instead, the Cardinals will be rolling on all cylinders with a *hopefully* packed house down in Palo Alto.
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