It's the midway point in the season, and a lot of teams bear watching as their seasons could go either way depending on impending results. Fortunately, the schedule spreads the 6 games out over 5 different time slots, so Pac-12 fans can watch all but one game without channel surfing or recording.
The week starts with another made for ESPN Thursday night game, includes a couple of non-conference contests, and bye weeks for a couple of teams, and finishes with another ESPN night game.
The Trojans had last weekend off. USC defeated Arizona 48-41, behind a school record for passing yards, 468 yards, by Matt Barkley. But the Trojans needed every inch of it, as their defense allowed the Wildcats to pull within one score three different times, after having built 3 score leads at 2 different junctures.
An improvement in the Trojan secondary, which was lit up for 425 yards and 4 touchdowns by the 'Cats, was the focus of their extra week.
The Golden Bears are playing their second consecutive Thursday night game, after losing 43-15 at Oregon last week. California held a 15-14 halftime lead, but allowed 29 unanswered second half points, 22 in the third quarter.
Isi Sofele was the brightest spot for the Golden Bears in the loss in Eugene, rushing for 119 yards on just 12 carries, but the Cal defense did turn in a pretty solid first half against the Ducks.
Saturday is an all day affair, with 5 games spread from first thing in the morning to last thing Saturday night.
Utah suffered 5 turnovers, and as a result, suffered a 35-14 home loss against Arizona St. The Utes also learned this week that quarterback Jordan Wynn, who missed the Sun Devils game, would have to have season ending shoulder surgery for the second season in a row. That leaves the Ute offense in the hands of Jon Hays, who completed 72% of his passes against Arizona St., but also threw 3 interceptions.
The Panthers lost 34-10 at Rutgers, and similar to what happened to Utah, turnovers were the biggest culprit. Tino Sunseri served up 3 interceptions, and Trey Anderson, who came on in relief of Sunseri, tossed another. That pretty much wasted a 165 yard rushing day by Ray Graham. Sunseri has suffered 7 interceptions on the season, as well as 27 sacks.
The early after noon time slot is the only time when a viewing choice has to be made.
The Buffs were rebuffed 48-7 in Palo Alto by Andrew Luck and the Stanford defense, which throttled the Colorado offense, especially their running game, as much as Luck lit up Colorado's decimated secondary. Compounding the problem, WR Paul Richardson, one of the Buffs' best players, and their leading receiver, will be out for an estimated 3 weeks with a sprained knee.
The Huskies also had the week off, after soundly defeating Utah 31-14. Washington took the lead in Salt Lake on a field goal as the first half ended, and only a touchdown that resulted from a Utah fumble on the game's opening kickoff even prevented them from trailing. But Wynn suffered his shoulder injury late in the first half, and after the break, everything changed.
Just as happened against Arizona St., the Utes suffered 5 turnovers, which was fatal when combined with Chris Polk's 205 yards of offense, and Keith Price throwing for 3 second half touchdowns.
It's a rematch of the 2009 Maaco Las Vegas Bowl, which BYU won 44-20.
The Cougars defeated San Jose St. 29-16, keyed by Riley Nelson, who was making his first collegiate start at quarterback. Nelson completed 14 of 24 passes for 219 yards, and 3 touchdowns, though he did throw a pair of interceptions, and he ran 9 times for another 65 yards. Michael Alisa added another 91 yards, on 16 carries, to the BYU cause. It was the most dominant performance of the season by the Cougars, though the opposition was less substantial than in the Cougars' earlier contests.
The Beavers broke a 6 game losing streak with their 37-27 win over Arizona, which was the last straw that cost Wildcats coach Mike Stoops his job. Sean Mannion completed 78% of his throws (32 of 41), for 267 yards, and a pair of touchdowns, both to TE Joe Halahuni, and Oregon St. also got a special teams touchdown as they opened a 24 point lead by early in the third quarter. The Beaver defense then held off another patented Nick Foles rally that at one point pulled the 'Cats within 3 points.
The Cardinal did all the stomping in their trampling of Colorado. Luck suffered his second interception of the season, on a ball that deflected off a receiver's hands, as did the first one, but otherwise was nearly perfect. Luck completed 79% of his throws, connecting on 26 of 33, including 3 for scores. Luck's air raid got plenty of infantry support from Tyler Gaffney and Stepfan Taylor, who combined for 119 yards, and a touchdown apiece, on 22 carries.
The Cougars gave up 4 different leads at UCLA, eventually losing 28-25, squandering almost an entire extra quarter of possession. Washington St. had to settle for 4 field goals, including 3 in the first half, all on possessions that reached the Bruins red zone. As a result, they never put themselves more than 8 points ahead, and that opened the door for UCLA's Kevin Prince to conduct the game winning drive in the final minutes of the game.
Marshall Lobbestael, who completed 28 of 40 passes, for 235 yards and a pair of scores, against the Bruins, is expected to get the start, but Jeff Tuel, out since suffering a fractured clavicle in the season opener, is healthy again, and could see action against the Cardinal as well.
It's the first appearance in Pullman by the Cougars in over a month, who have played 3 straight road games, and also the only time they will be seen in Martin Stadium until November 12.
Gameday will be in Eugene in the morning, which will ensure an early start to the tailgating, and with an evening start, the crowd will be well hydrated for the biggest game so far this season in the Pac-12.
The Sun Devils' Brock Osweiler completed 25 of 41 passes, for 325 yards and 3 second half touchdowns, and with no interceptions, in leading Arizona St. to 25 unanswered points, and the going away 35-14 win in Salt Lake. The win over the Utes was the first win outside of the state of Arizona for Osweiler as a starting quarterback.
The Ducks will apparently be without La Michael James, who earned the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honor with 239 rushing yards, and a touchdown, before suffering a dislocated right elbow on his 30th. carry of the game. As a result, Oregon will need as much or more production from three of their other weapons, all of whom had big nights against Cal as well.
Darron Thomas threw for 3 touchdowns, including 2 to De'Anthony Thomas, who had 114 receiving yards. And Kenjon Barner, who will fill in for James at tailback, as he has capably done before, ran for 88 yards on 10 carries, including a 68 yard scoring breakaway.
The game potentially is a preview of the Pac-12 Championship game come December 2, and if both teams win out, this could decide where that game is played.
The Wildcats will be spending the time regrouping, after Athletic Director Greg Byrne fired Stoops, and appointed defensive coordinator Tim Kish as the 'Cats interim head coach.
The Bruins are halfway to becoming bowl eligible halfway through the season, but coach Rick Neuheisel will have to figure out how to proceed, given that Richard Brehaut, who took over for the oft injured and highly inconsistent Prince earlier in the season, was lost for the season with a broken leg in the win over Washington St. Prince completed 8 of 13 passes, and 2 fourth quarter touchdowns, in conducting UCLA's second half rally.
Here's the National Schedule, unadjusted for Eastern Daylight Time, so you can continue to hone your conversion skills as the bowl season draws nearer. The spread is included as well.