There's another Thursday night game this week, as we reach the mid-point in the Pac-12 season. There's also a pair of major non-conference games mid-day on Saturday that are opportunities for both the conference teams and their independent opponents to make some national hay, perception wise.
The weekend also features the first national double-header on FOX, featuring both of the conferences' major market LA schools.
Arizona St. (4-1, 2-0) at Colorado (1-4, 1-1) at 7 PM MDT (6 PM PDT) on ESPN on Thursday night.
The Sun Devils rolled up over 400 yards of offense as Taylor Kelly threw for nearly 300 as Arizona St. downed California 27-17 weekend before last for their first road win, and their defense was solid as well, holding the Bears to only 285 total yards.
The bye allowed Arizona St. to prepare for a very odd stretch of the schedule, where they play on Thursday night 2 weeks in a row, something very odd for any team, never mind one from the Pac, and then a much tougher stretch run than anything the Sun Devils have encountered so far.
The Buffs needed a break after a 42-14 loss against UCLA, and with games against Oregon, USC, and Stanford the next 3 Saturdays. Colorado needs to shore up their defense, which gave up just under 300 passing yards to the Bruins, but also over 200 on the ground.
Putting forth a competitive effort on national tv would be good for both the university and the conference, as well as the mental health and employment security of coach Jon Embree.
Utah (2-3, 0-2) at UCLA (4-2, 1-2) at Noon PDT on FOX.
The Utes were smelling an upset of USC last Thursday night, when their defense forced a pair of turnovers, and Utah took a 2 touchdown lead less than 3 minutes into the game. However, the Trojans answered with a 38-7 run, before allowing a late touchdown, and still took a 38-28 win in a game that wasn't as close as the score suggests.
John White IV still didn't seem fully recovered from an ankle injury, running for just 68 yards, and could have benefited more from the extra couple of days off than anyone. Utah also tried both Jon Hayes and Travis Wilson at quarterback, but they were only able to combine for 209 yards in the air, and Hays tossed a pick-6 interception for USC's last score. Meanwhile, though the Utes defense was sound against the rush, they gave up over 300 yards in the air.
The Bruins surprisingly played their worst game of the year in Berkeley, and California played their best one, and the result was a 43-17 blowout win for the Golden Bears in the annual battle of the state institutions/state bears.
Brett Hundley completed 31 of 47 passes, for 253 yards, and 2 touchdowns. But he also threw 4 interceptions, and UCLA also lost a pair of fumbles, and the Bruins were penalized a dozen times, which more than overshadowed anything the Bruins did positively.
This one is strength vs. strength, and also weakness vs. weakness. Utah's defense and UCLA's offense are clearly the strong points of these teams, while both the Ute offense and the Bruin defense have had their struggles.
#10 Oregon St. (4-0, 3-0) at BYU (4-2) at 1:30 MDT (12:30 PDT) on ABC regionally in the west, and ESPN3 elsewhere.
The Beavers struggled offensively, but turned in a stellar defensive effort, and beat Washington St. 19-6. Jordan Poyer picked off 3 passes, and the Cougars coughed up the ball 5 times, which shot down their "Air Raid" offense.
The bad news came the following Monday, as Oregon St. learned that quarterback Sean Mannion had suffered a knee injury, and will be out indefinitely. Redshirt junior Cody Vaz will make his first start, and first appearance since 2010, against one of the best defenses in the country, in one of the toughest places for visitors to get a win.
BYU's defense is 5th in the country in total defense, 3rd in scoring defense, and the best in the FBS against the run, which is particular inconvenient for the Beavers, who would love to help Vaz with some rushing yards.
The Cougars have also won 27 of their last 30 games at LaVell Edwards Stadium, including a 6-3 win last Friday night over Utah St. BYU hasn't allowed an offensive touchdown in their last 3 games, and were it not for pick-6 interceptions by opposing Utah and Boise St. linemen, this would be a showdown between undefeated top 15 teams.
BYU isn't without their own quarterback troubles, though, as they lost Taysom Hill for the season to a knee injury suffered while in the process of running out the clock. Fortunately for the Cougars, they have Riley Nelson, who is returning just in time, after having suffered a back injury earlier in the season.
The Cardinal won a shootout over Arizona, defeating the 'Cats 54-48 in overtime, when Stepfan Taylor bolted through the middle of the Arizona defense for 21 yards and his second rushing touchdown of the game. It was Taylor's 31st carry of the game, which raised his yardage total to 142 for the day.
But the story of the game was Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes, who completed 21 of 34 passes, for 360 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and also ran 7 times for 33 yards, and 3 more touchdowns, including 2 in the last half of the 4th quarter to rally the Cardinal from 14 down and force overtime. Nunes was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week as a result.
Nunes and Taylor rendered a 491 yard passing day by the 'Cats' Matt Scott, who completed 45 of 69 passes, including 3 for touchdowns, a moot point. Interestingly, Arizona ran 103 plays, 26 more than Stanford, yet both teams rolled up the same 617 total yards in the defensive nightmare.
The Irish moved into the top 10 after a 41-3 rout of Miami at Soldier Field in Chicago. Notre Dame rolled up 587 yards, including 376 on the ground, led by George Atkinson III's 123 yards on 10 carries, which was just barely more than the 118 Cierre Wood ran for on 18 carries.
The Irish were less than a minute short of holding a 2:1 time of possession advantage over the 'Canes.
Notre Dame's defense is stout as well, and is second in the nation in fewest points allowed, and has permitted only 4 field goals in their last 3 games.
The Trojans' Matt Barkley completed 23 of 30 passes, for 303 yards and 3 touchdowns, in the 38-28 win at Utah. Marquise Lee caught a dozen of them, for 192 yards, including an 83 yard touchdown bomb early in the 4th quarter that opened USC's first double digit lead of the game.
USC had to come back from 14 down less than 3 minutes into the game, a result of a pair of turnovers on the Trojans' first 3 plays, which necessitated a change to blocking strategies to control Utah's Star Lotulelei, who initially bowled over center Khaled Holmes time and again. The Trojans' adjustments were arguably the coaching move of the week.
The Huskies were left far behind by the Ducks, and quickly, as Oregon raced to a 21-0 1st quarter lead, and went on to post their 9th consecutive blowout win over Washington, this time by a 52-21 score.
Washington did get a 100 yard rushing effort from Bishop Sankey, this time for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns on 25 carries. However, Keith Price only managed to throw for 145 yards, and he threw a pair of interceptions.
The Husky defense showed signs of last year's struggles as well, allowing just 3 yards short of 500 yards, 299 of which were on the ground. Now, Washington faces their third top 11 opponent in a row, and 4th in 5 games.
The Golden Bears' Zach Maynard had his first pass picked off, which lead directly to an early 7-0 UCLA lead. But after that, he was golden, as Maynard went on to complete 25 of his next 29 passes, for 295 yards and 4 touchdowns. The sturdy Bears also got a sturdy 151 yards, and another touchdown on a 68 yard blowout capping run, on 21 carries from C.J. Anderson.
Defensively, Kameron Jackson had 3 of the 4 picks of Hundley, and earned the Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week honor as a result.
About the only thing that went wrong for the Bears was 11 penalties, which cost California an even 100 yards.
The Cougars' offense had what coach Mike Leach termed a disaster in Corvallis, managing only a pair of field goals in their 19-6 loss. It was the second time this season Washington St. hasn't scored a touchdown in a game. Connor Halliday completed only 9 of 20 passes, and while former starter Jeff Tuel completed 11 of 17 while alternating with Halliday, the pair only threw for 207 yards, and tossed 4 interceptions. Halliday lofted 3 of them.
Almost half of that yardage came on 2 long passes, one to Gino Simone for 49 yards, and the other to Marquess Wilson for 51. Simone's catch set up the first of the Cougars' field goals, but nothing came of the drive in which Wilson made his big play.
That spelled disaster for the one dimensional Cougars, who managed only 20 net rushing yards, after Tuel was sacked multiple times. Halliday will again get the start against California, Leach has announced.
The Ducks are preparing to make only their second road trip of the season next week, to Tempe to take on Arizona St. on Thursday night. It's hard to figure what Oregon will spend their extra time working on, after blowing out all 6 of their opponents in the first half of their schedule.
Oregon's Kenjon Barner rolled up 122 yards on 20 carries, and De'Anthony Thomas piled up another 122 yards of total offense, and Marcus Mariota threw for 4 touchdowns as the Ducks had a field day at Washington's expense. Not sure what they need to work on during their extra week.
The Wildcats lost 4 different leads to Stanford, after being overtaken 3 times the week before by Oregon St. Arizona could stand to work on getting their defense prepared to make a second half stop, or at least to not be giving up season best offensive numbers to opponents, like the 617 yards the Cardinal piled up. The 'Cats offense isn't in need of tuning though, as Matt Scott completed 45 of 69 passes, for 491 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Ka'Deem Carey had a great game as well, rushing for 132 yards and 3 touchdowns, on 29 carries.
Here's the complete national schedule, adjusted for Eastern Bias Time.