It's another week with all 12 teams in action against each other, but this week starts with a Friday night lights special. And it could be a chilly one, playing at night in November in Boulder, CO.
The Trojans gave Stanford all the Cardinal could handle, only losing 56-48 in triple overtime when a fumble was covered by a Stanford player instead of a USC one. Curtis McNeal ran for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Matt Barkley threw for 284 yards and 3 touchdowns, including 9 completions to Robert Woods.
But despite nearly winning the game on Nickell Robey's pick-6, the USC defense gave up 516 yards, 330 in the air, and allowed Stanford to keep the ball nearly 12 minutes more in regulation. That's giving Andrew Luck too many opportunities.
The Buffs threw for 337 against the Sun Devils, but only ran for 83 yards (and quarterback net losses only accounted for a 16 yard deduction). More importantly than being one dimensional, Colorado also committed 5 turnovers. Arizona St. opened a 24-0 lead by the middle of the second quarter, extended it to 41-7 before the end of the third quarter, and cruised to a 48-14 win in Tempe.
This is another of the "special" games where the new comers to the conference get to go up against USC in a nationally televised "event". The poor Buffs probably won't hang in nearly as long as Utah did against the Trojans, though. Its unlikely that the audience will either.
The Cardinal needed a late rally to force overtime after Luck threw only his fourth interception of the year. But Luck directed the drive that did exactly that, and it ultimately kept the nation's longest winning streak alive, and extended it to 16 games.
Luck threw for 3 touchdowns, and Stepfan Taylor ran for 2 more, as well as 99 yards, in the heart-stopping win over the Trojans in front of a sell-out crowd in the LA Coliseum. The Cardinal's Eric Whitaker also earned the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week award, after being perfect on a pair of field goal attempts, and all 6 extra points.
The Beavers needed a major second half rally after giving up 21 second quarter points to Utah, but they didn't mount one, and the Utes picked up their first Pac-12 win, defeating Oregon St. 27-8. With their running game taken out of the equation by the large lead, the Beavers managed only 32 net yards rushing after Sean Mannion suffered 6 sacks for 59 yards.Meanwhile, John White IV was romping around for 205 yards for the Utes.
Utah won despite Jon Hays only completing 6 passes, for just 62 yards, though 2 of the 6 went for touchdowns. Mannion did throw for 231 yards and the Beavers' lone touchdown, but also threw 3 interceptions.
Stanford has a similar style of defense (active, physical) to Utah, which caused Oregon St. all kinds of problems, but a much better one. And the Cardinal have a passing attack to go with their running game. The Beavers could be lucky to do as well as they did against Luck & co. last year, when they lost 38-0 to start what eventually became a 6 game losing streak.
Washington St. (3-5, 1-4) vs. California (4-4, 1-4) at AT&T Park in San Francisco at 3:30 PM PDT on Comcast Bay Area.
The Cougars had the ball more than twice as much as Oregon, and Marshall Lobbestael threw for 337 yards, though he did throw a pair of interceptions. But a couple of special teams breakdowns doomed them.
A blocked punt produced the touchdown that put Washington St. down 8-0, and after Lobbestael had pulled the Cougars within 9 points of Oregon late in the third quarter, on a 24 yard touchdown pass to Jared Karstetter, the Ducks' De'Anthony Thomas took the ensuing kickoff back 93 yards for a touchdown, and Oregon cruised to a 43-28 win.
The Bears weren't Golden, fading in the second and fourth quarters, which is when UCLA scored all of their points in their 31-14 win. California couldn't stop the Bruins running game, allowing 294 yards, including 163 by UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince. And while Prince was running all over the Rose Bowl, Bears quarterback Zach Maynard had another wildly inaccurate day.
Maynard completed only 14 of 30 passes, none of which went for scores, and 4 of which were picked off, giving him 10 interceptions this season. Maynard's mis-handled hand-off also led to a fumble, and he suffered 3 sacks, which raised his season total to 15, and led to calls for Allan Bridgford to replace Maynard this week.
Both teams can still salvage a bowl trip from the season, but probably only if they win this week, making this a probable bowl elimination game.
The Utes continued their pattern of getting a win when they get over 100 rushing yards from White IV (usually well over), and they win the turnover battle. And suddenly, with no one left on their schedule above .500 at this point, not just becoming bowl eligible, but a finish in the upper half of the Pac-12 South, are reasonable possibilities to play for in November.
The 'Cats took leads in the first, second, and fourth quarters at Washington, but couldn't contain the Huskies' Chris Polk, who scored 5 touchdowns, including 2 late in the game, to lead Washington to a 42-31 comeback win.
Arizona's Nick Foles threw for 388 yards, and 2 touchdowns, but was also picked off 3 times. And the 'Cats couldn't support Foles with any rushing game, generating only 36 yards after subtracting for Foles' 3 sacks.
It's a lot longer shot for the 'Cats to make it to a bowl game than Utah, as they would have to win out, but they are at home, and a win would keep the dream alive for another week. And Utah will be hard pressed to score enough to keep up with Foles' air show.
The Sun Devils really hit their stride in beating Colorado, as Brock Osweiler completed 18 of 28 passes for 307 yards, and a pair of first quarter touchdowns, while Cameron Marshall ran for 114 yards and 3 scores, on just 15 carries. Arizona St. became bowl eligible for the first time in 3 years as a result.
The Bruins bounced back from their disastrous loss at Arizona to demolish California, and they did it with physical play and, as noted, toughness and endurance in the later portions of both haves. Which was about the last thing most fans of either UCLA or Cal predicted. Freshman Tevin McDonald grabbed 3 of the 4 interceptions Maynard tossed up, which earned him Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week recognition.
The winner controls their own fate going down the stretch for the Pac-12 South's berth in the conference championship game. Yet while Arizona St. coach Dennis Erickson has quieted his critics, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel still has a lynch mob after him, despite the blowout win over California.
Recalling how much offense Arizona put up on the UCLA defense, its reasonable to expect even more by Arizona St. The Bruins will need to again run the ball well to keep both the Sun Devils offense and defense under some measure of control.
It's the game of the week in the Pac-12, and the last ever game at Husky Stadium in its present form, before the track is thankfully removed, the west end reconfigured to be within sight of the field, and the south side is taken down (before it falls down), and rebuilt. As long as they save the old air raid siren, the new stadium could become the best venue if the Pac-12. But for one more night, the Huskies will try to make it the be the house of horrors it has so often been in the past.
And if you like to watch good running backs, this is the game for you. LaMichael James and Polk are two of the best anywhere, and they could easily combine for over 500 yards and 6-8 scores.
The Ducks welcomed back both James, who ran for 53 yards in his return after missing the Colorado game with a hyper-extended elbow suffered against Arizona St., and Darron Thomas, who threw for 153 yards, and a touchdown to Lavasier Tuinei. But Da. Thomas was benched at halftime in favor of Bryan Bennett, triggering speculation Oregon coach Chip Kelly has done nothing to quiet.
The Ducks' overall speed and depth still ran away from Washington St., led by Kenjon Barner, who had 104 yards and a touchdown. Oregon will need a solider game this week in Seattle, but with James healthy, there's a great chance that they will play one.
The Huskies became the fourth Pac-12 team to qualify for a bowl when Polk's last scores finally put the Wildcats away. Polk became the first Husky to ever run for at least 100 yards and catch passes for at least 100 yards as well in the same game, and earned Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts. And Washington needed Polk's heroics, as Keith Price completed only 16 of 30 passes, though drops were a factor. And while Price threw for 277 yards, he only connected on one scoring pass (to Polk, of course), and also served up 3 interceptions.
The good news for Washington, especially with Oregon coming up, was the Husky defense holding Arizona to under 50 yards rushing before subtracting for sacks, and no scores, just a week after being trampled for 446 yards and 5 touchdowns by Stanford.
Oregon has won 7 straight, more than either team has ever won in a row, in the history of the rivalry, and all by at least 20 points. When Washington finally breaks the streak, it will be a historic event. The entire conference will be looking on to see if it happens this time. Or if it doesn't, to see just how scary Oregon might be.
In week 9, many of the truths of football were reaffirmed in the Pac-12. All 6 teams that lost also lost the turnover margin (4 of them by more than 1), and 5 of the 6 threw multiple interceptions. 4 of the 6 also allowed over 200 rushing yards, and the two that didn't were just shy of that mark. USC allowed 4 rushing touchdowns, and Arizona 5, 4 by Polk alone. 5 of 6 home teams won, and it took a top 5 team 3 overtimes to break through.
The road is tough in the Pac-12, and its always tough to win if you can't stop the run, or maintain some measure of ball security.
The FX deal once again fails to appear, and provide no one with an appearance.