It's the last of the 6-game Saturday schedules for the season in the Pac-12, and thanks to the Notre Dame affect, this weekend also sees the second of the neighborhood rivalry games before we get to the end of the season. Fortunately, finally, the conference has gotten a game with a highly desirable late afternoon start time, and on national television. But once again, there are a pair of night games in cold climates, another morning start, and a day game in Tempe.
The Huskies overcame a first quarter 8-0 deficit to post a 34-15 win over Utah in their last game at Century Link Field, their home across town from home. It might have been their best effort of the season yet, prior Clink wins over Stanford and Oregon St. not withstanding, given the overall balance the Huskies demonstrated.
Bishop Sankey ran for 162 yards and a pair of touchdowns, on 36 carries, and Keith Price completed 24 of 33 passes, for 277 yards and another 2 scores, and without any interceptions. Price found both Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins 7 times each, for 172 of those yards, but also mixed in a half dozen other receivers.
The Huskies have quietly put together a 3 game winning streak, and will be favored in both of their remaining road games, putting them in position to potentially finish in the top half of the Pac-12 North.
The Buffs made a game of it in Tucson, trailing the 'Cats only 21-17 less than 3 minutes before halftime. But Arizona then ran off 4 consecutive touchdowns to put Colorado out of the game before the 4th quarter. The 'Cats' 56-31 win was not only the 6th loss in a row for the Buffs; all were by at least 25 points. And they did it with a backup quarterback.
Colorado did demonstrate some consistency and balance offensively, as Christian Powell had 137 yards and 2 touchdowns rushing, on 32 carries, and Nick Hirschman completed 12 of 13 passes in his first start.
But the Buffs defense was run over in record book rewriting fashion, giving up 438 rushing yards, including a conference record 366 to Ka'Deem Carey. It's a real bad sign when you get blown out by a team that got more than 3/4 of their yards on the ground, and you are the team that dominated time of possession, and well beyond a 2:1 ratio, as Colorado had the ball for 41:48.
The Cougars distorted the picture somewhat in their 44-36 loss to UCLA with 3 unanswered touchdowns in the final 16 minutes, but the 30 point second quarter they gave up to the Bruins, which put them down by 30 points before halftime, was really the story of the game, and of Washington St.'s undoing.
The Cougs also had a pair of field goals blocked, and UCLA's Sheldon Price took one of them back 68 yards for the game's first touchdown.
Washington St. played without suspended star receiver Marquess Wilson, and will have to do so again, as Wilson has subsequently left the team.
The Sun Devils took leads over USC 3 different times, but couldn't sustain their effort in the Coliseum, as the Trojans ran off 24 unanswered points to pull away to a 38-17 win, handing Arizona St. their 4th consecutive loss.
Taylor Kelly completed 19 of 30 passes, for 174 yards, but only 1 touchdown, and he threw up 3 interceptions. That wasn't enough to keep up with the Trojans when the Sun Devils were only able to run for 71 net yards. Those numbers might not keep up with Washington St. either.
With a trip to Tucson for the Territorial Cup still to come, this might be a must win game for Arizona St. if the Sun Devils are to become bowl eligible in the first year of the Todd Graham era.
The Trojans' Matt Barkley completed only 20 of 33 passes, for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns, but he also threw 3 interceptions, which helped keep the Sun Devils hanging around. But Marqise Lee had half of Barkley's completions, for a game high 161 yards, including an 80 yard first quarter touchdown pass to answer the Sun Devils' first score.
Lee also added another 66 yards on 6 carries, which was a nice compliment to the 163 yards and 2 touchdowns Curtin McNeil rolled up on 31 carries, all 3 game highs.
The Bruins got still another big game from Brett Hundley, who completed 18 of 21 throws, for 261 yards and 3 touchdowns. But the 40 yard fumble return by Eric Hendricks just over a minute before halftime, and a safety recorded when Anthony Barr took down Tuel, really propelled UCLA to their 44-36 win in the Palouse.
The battle for the city championship will decide whether it is the Trojans, or the Bruins for the second year in a row, that represents the Pac-12 South in the Conference Championship game. It will also be interesting to see what the residual affect of last year's 50-0 USC win is.
The Cardinal jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead on Oregon St., and then rallied for another pair of touchdowns after the Beavers ran off 23 consecutive points to pull out a 27-23 win. First time starter Kevin Hogan threw 3 touchdown passes, including both of the second half scores, and completed 22 of 20 attempts, for 3 touchdowns.
The Stanford defense blunted the affect of the 2 interceptions Hogan did throw, as well as recovering the fumble that was Oregon St.'s only turnover, setting up the game winning drive.
Hogan also ran for 49 yards, on 11 carries, to supplement Stepfan Taylor's 114 yard, 19 carry effort, both of which were game highs, which also included the game's opening score. Taylor also had 2 catches, for 47 yards, and a touchdown, after a 40 yard run as time expired in the 3rd period.
Tight ends Zach Ertz and Ryan Hewitt combined for most of the rest of Hogan's completions, as Ertz caught 9 balls, for 75 yards, and the game winning touchdown, and Hewitt had 4 catches for 52 yards, and a score of his own.
The Ducks found it hard to run against California, as Kenjon Barner only managed 65 yards on 20 carries. But Marcus Mariota was uncontrollable, completing 27 of 34 passes, for 377 yards, and 6 touchdowns, to lead Oregon to an explosive 59-17 win over the Bears in Berkeley.
Josh Huff had 5 of those catches, for 109 yards, and 3 of the scores, including the 2 in the latter part of the third quarter that started the 35-0 Duck run that blew open what was still a 1 score game well past the middle of that 3rd quarter. De'Anthony Thomas tacked on another 8 catches, for 101 yards.
The winner wraps up the Pac-12 North, and an Oregon win would assure the Ducks would host the Pac-12 Championship game for the second year in a row. Should Stanford win, they will earn the opportunity to host the title game if USC beats UCLA, but if the Bruins win, the Cardinal's game at UCLA the following week will decide which team gets to host the rematch, with a Rose Bowl trip on the line.
The Wildcats got a Pac-12/-10/-8/PCC record game from Carey, who ran for 356 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus another 71 yard run, that carried them past Colorado despite the absence of quarterback Matt Scott. Carey's yardage total was the highest of any running back anywhere in the FBS since the turn or the century.
B.J. Denker did an admirable job of filling in for Scott, completing 12 of 14 passes, for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions, and also ran for 44 yards and a touchdown on 9 rushes.
Scott is listed as probable to return this week, for a game that has bowl game implications for both teams.
The Utes got a great night from John White IV, who ran for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 46 yarder that put Utah up 8-0, on 22 carries, but got little else from anyone else, in their 34-15 loss to Washington in Seattle.
Freshman quarterback Travis Wilson had a major setback of an evening, completing only 8 of 23 passes, for just 55 yards, and no touchdowns, but did toss an interception.
Utah must beat the 'Cats and then defeat Colorado next weekend in Boulder in order to avoid a losing season, and keep a bowl trip a possibility.
The Bears were stunned when what was a 21-17 game after Isi Sofele's third quarter touchdown quickly turned into the worst loss in the Bears' history. The 59-17 loss to Oregon may have been the last home game for California head coach Jeff Tedford as well, especially if the Bears also lose their last game of the regular season in the road this weekend.
Sofele had 134 yards, a game high, on 15 carries, but California played without both quarterback Zach Maynard, who is doubtful for his final game this week, and his brother, wide receiver Keenan Allen, who is out for the season.
Allan Bridgford started in Maynard's absence, but completed only 9 of 21 passes, for 113 yards, and 1 touchdown, against 2 interceptions. Bridgford will start again this week if Maynard's knee sprain doesn't recover enough for his return.
The Beavers got more out of their rushing game than most expected, as Storm Woods ran for 94 yards on 15 carries, and Cody Vaz threw for 226 yards and a touchdown against Stanford, but it was the fact that Oregon St. had to settle for field goals 3 times in their rally that ultimately cost them the game. That, and the unforced 4th quarter fumble by Vaz.
Vaz suffered a twisted ankle on Oregon St.'s next to last offensive play, and was not able to practice most of the week. Sean Mannion will return to the starting role he had in the Beavers' first 4 wins of the season in Vaz's absence.
Playing for a possible Rose Bowl berth just a week ago, Oregon St. could now be playing for their Sun Bowl life, making this a must win game.