Oct 19, 2013; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal linebacker Shayne Skov (11) watches as safety Jordan Richards (8) intercepts a pass from UCLA Bruins quarterback Jerry Neuheisel (11), not in picture during the fourth quarter at Stanford Stadium. Stanford won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
This week was disappointing. I felt like a lot of these games would be close, but end in one way, and more often than not they were blow-outs and went the other way. In fact, the only games this week that came out nearly exactly as I expected were the Oregon/Washington State game and the Cal/Oregon State game. I think this left me scratching my head more than answering any of my questions in the way of who are the best teams in this conference and what the identity of this conference is. I still believe this is the best conference in football, and I still think Oregon is the best team in the nation. However, after that, I am just in a state of confusion. We’re nearly into November, and I still don’t know what this conference is about after the “OREGON IS HELLA AMAZING” argument.
Anyways, let’s take a look at the Pac-12 did this week:
Stanford 24, UCLA 10
I will not lie, I honestly believed that UCLA was going to end up winning this battle. I have been hyping up this UCLA team for weeks, even before that disappointing 37-10 Cal loss at the hands of the Bruins. They have a top-10 quarterback and linebacker on their team, they have a really good coach and they were on a hot streak entering the game. I really thought this game was going to be close, but ultimately end up going the way of the Bruins.
However, the problem was clearly that the UCLA coaching staff decided to become entirely too conservative. I mean, we know David Shaw is the most conservative coach in the conference, and somehow Jim Mora made him look like a liberal coach. I guess if anything, that’s an accomplishment.
Brett Hundley didn’t do himself or his team any favors by throwing two interceptions and less than 200 yards. He missed on a few big opportunities to change the momentum of the game, but Stanford was just really good at containing Hundley. The run defense of the Cardinals was superb, as they held the tough-minded rushing attack to 74 yards on 27 carries with no touchdowns (including holding Hundley to 27 yards on 11 carries).
Stanford also held UCLA to 5-for-15 on third down. That’s bad for a team that is build around an offense that expects to slow down the defense. When it comes down to it, this game was about Stanford ensuring that UCLA played Stanford’s game rather than UCLA’s style of play. I found myself thinking the game was more like a Big Ten game than a Pac-12 game.
This game hasn’t changed my mind about Oregon being the definite Pac-12 Champion, but I do think that the Stanford/Oregon game in a few weeks is going to be a little bit closer that originally anticipated (especially if Stanford forces Oregon to play their game).
Arizona State 53, Washington 24
Yet another disappointing game this week was this game. I thought Washington would win, but the result isn’t what made this game so disappointing. What made this game disappointing was that it was so one-sided. These two teams entered the game still in the race for their respective division, but only barely. Both teams needed the win to stay in their race. For Arizona State, they ended up getting help from UCLA. Anyways, the two teams needed the win and therefore should have played as such.
What we got was a game where Arizona State ran up 585 yards of offense on Steve Sarkisian’s embarrassing Washington team. Keith Price looked awful, the run game put up -5 yards as a team and Arizona State made themselves look like they will be the team to challenge the first-place Bruins for that Pac-12 South championship.
I think what we got out of this game is a Washington team that looked up the leader-board, seeing that Stanford and Oregon sat ahead of them and they had little-to-no chance to catch them. Seeing this, they kind of mailed it in against a down-on-their-luck Sun Devil team that is still alive in a easier divisional race with only one team to battle (rather than the four-team dogfight up north). The Sun Devils needed the win, and they played like it. Taylor Kelly passed for 271 yards, rushed for 85 yards, passed for two touchdowns and rushed for two touchdowns. Star running back Marion Grice continued to dominate the Pac-12, rushing for 158 yards on 21 carries with two touchdowns (that’s a 7.5 yards per carry average). Arizona State really made it known that they are real team that can get to the Pac-12 Championship game.
Arizona 35, Utah 24
In the third game of the weekend that disappointed me, Utah dropped a big game to Arizona. I know they lost Travis Wilson during this game after suffering a hand injury during the upset win over Stanford, but I thought that Utah would kind of ride the wave of beating a top-5 team and glide by Arizona on route to a division win. When it comes down to it, Utah is already behind the eight-ball after letting one slip away against UCLA, a win against a beatable Arizona team was a must.
Instead, Mr. Arizona Ka’Deem Carey rushed for an outrageous 236 yards on 40 carries with a touchdown (an Arizona school record) and helped lead the team to the win. In fact, his 44-yard touchdown came with about 90 seconds left in the game, sealing Utah’s fate. Quarterback B.J. Denker continued his steady improvement, rushing for two scores and passing for one as he came away with 219 all purpose yards.
This was the Wildcats (1-2) in their first conference victory of the season and moved them ahead of the 1-3 Utah Utes, who really looked lost without Wilson. Actually, the looked lost with him, as he threw two interceptions to start the game. His backup, Adam Schulz wasn’t horrible. He got the game close, putting Utah within one point as the third quarter ended. However his 142 passing yards and sole touchdown was not enough to win the game. The Arizona defense was able to keep Utah at bay, holding them to 5-for-18 on third down. Utah probably will start looking towards getting the last few wins to become bowl eligible, as the South Division is probably out of their grasp.
Oregon 63, Washington State 38
At some point during this game, Washington State was within a touchdown. Oregon, and Heisman hopeful Marcus Mariota went on to dismantle the Cougars from that point on. There isn’t much to say about this game. Oregon put up 719 yards of offense (though the defense had a bad game and allowed 559 yards of offense), Mariota fumbled the ball twice (his first turnovers of the year). I mean, it was an open and shut case on the Oregon side of things.
What I want to mention is that Washington State continued their march towards prominence, making their offensive game plan work against (for my money) the best team in the nation. This game (as lopsided as it was) tells me that Washington State is moving towards the right place.
Colorado 43, Charleston Southern 10
Not that this game matters much, but Colorado (and new quarterback Sefo Liufau) thrashed the Buccaneers in this mid-season cupcake game. This game, no matter how many freshmen started, would have been a walloping in favor of the Buffaloes. They are a team on the rise and it’s shown. This game was a rout and I don’t know who would have thought this wouldn’t be the case.
Freshman halfback Michael Adkins rushed for four touchdown’s, setting the Colorado freshman record. He capped his record setting day with a 34-yard run with six minutes left in regulation. He became the first Colorado running back to rush for four touchdowns in a game since Lawrence Vickers did it in 2005. Adkins wasn’t just a touchdown machine, as he had 137 yards on 13 carries.
Liufau wnet 14-of-20 for 198 yards. He connected with Paul Richardson eight times for 122 yards and a touchdown. This win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Buffaloes where they had conceded 106 points and continued their losing streak against Pac-12 competition to 11 straight.
Notre Dame 14, USC 10
Here lies the most boring game of the week. I hate blow outs, but I hate close games that are close because of mistakes a little more. This game never really excited me. All of the scoring happened in the opening half, the Trojans never seemed to be able to move the ball with much force, and the Irish really didn’t do much to dominate the game on their end either.
Defensively, both teams looked good. They combined to hold the opposing offenses to 6-for-27 and two turnovers. Neither team had more than 300 yards of offense (which considering the talent these two teams have stockpiled over the years, is low).
In winning, the Irish ended a five-game home winning streak against USC that went back to 2001. Quarterback Tommy Rees, who did leave the game in the middle of the third outlasted Southern California, coming up with two touchdown passes in the victory.
Here is the line-up for this coming week. It features a marquee matchup in Seattle this week, but also has a few under-the-radar match-ups that could really make for some entertaining television
Utah at USC, 1:00 pm, Pac-12 Networks
UCLA at Oregon, 4:00 pm, ESPN
Arizona at Colorado, 5:00 pm, Pac-12 Networks
Stanford at Oregon State, 7:30 pm, ESPN
California at Washington, 8:00 pm, Fox Sports 1
Next week is going to have a matchup that both excites me and will answer a lot of questions. The UCLA Bruins were a fringe National Championship contender entering this past weekend, but lost to a very good (but beatable) Stanford team. Oregon was (wrongfully) leapfrogged by the Florida State Seminoles in the first BCS Standings yesterday, leaving them as the odd man out. Those two will want to win this game. UCLA in order to jockey for that probable BCS bid, Oregon to prove they are the best in the nation. From a Pac-12 perspective, Oregon needs to win. If they don’t, then the possibility of having a Pac-12/SEC National Championship game in Pasadena this season will be in smoke. However, UCLA will do themselves a lot of favors with a win. Also, Stanford/Oregon State will really be a barnburner. Oregon State can put themselves ahead of Stanford with a win. Stanford will need to keep Mannion at bay in order to win the game, but as we know Mannion-to-Cooks is a tandem you have to really do a lot to in order to stop.