Everybody is in action again this week, and its all on Saturday. There are 5 conference games, plus a pair of non-conference contests.
Colorado (2-3, 0-3) gets things going, hosting Charlston Southern (7-0, 1-0 in the Big South) at Noon MDT (11 AM PDT). This is a makeup game after flooding in September washed away Colorado's game against Fresno St., and the Pac-12 Channel will have the coverage.
Because of the special circumstances, the NCAA has allowed the Buffs to count this game toward bowl eligibility should they win. Normally, an FBS team can only count 1 win over an FCS opponent toward the 6 wins required, and Colorado already has a win over Central Arkansas. The NCAA also allowed Charlston Southern to play 13 regular season games, which means playing 13 weeks in a row, with no bye. Whether going against an FBS team on what would have been a week of rest at mid-season only time will tell.
The Buffs might have caught a break, missing now 17th ranked and still unbeaten Fresno St., but maybe not that much of one. The Buccaneers, who are ranked 28th in the FCS, might be under-rated at that position, and stayed unbeaten with a 25-17 win over VMI last weekend.
The Buffs defense got torched in Tempe, and 4 turnovers only compounded the problem. Arizona St. went up 25-0 just over 10 minutes into the game, extended their lead to 47-6 before halftime, and coasted to a 54-13 win.
Connor Wood was benched in the 1st quarter, after an 0-4 start that included an interception, but freshman Sefo Liufau was only able to throw for 169 yards in relief, and he also tossed 2 more picks. When a team takes the red-shirt off a quarterback at mid-season, the situation is not good. Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre is probably committed at this point to finding out what he has in Liufau, who will get the start this week.
The premier game of the day is a repeat of last year's Pac-12 Championship Game, when #9 UCLA (5-0, 2-0) visits #13 Stanford (5-1, 3-1) at 12:30 PDT. It will be a mirrored national game, with ABC carrying it in the west, southwest, lower midwest, and most of the southeast, and ESPN2 in the east and upper midwest (The Big 10 footprint), where the Iowa at Ohio St. game is the ABC game.
The Bruins belted California 37-10, avenging a surprising lopsided loss last year. Brett Hundley completed 31 of 41 passes, for 410 yards and 3 touchdowns, to 10 different receivers, in the latest lighting up of the Bear's secondary.
It distracted considerably from the fact that UCLA barely ran the ball at all, picking up only 80 yards on 33 actual rushes. It could also mean the onus of beating Stanford will fall almost entirely on Hundley.
The Cardinal were upset by Utah 27-21 when they couldn't punch the ball in from the 6 yard line on back to back incomplete passes, but the bigger story was how well the Utes shut down the Stanford offense all night.
Absent a 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Ty Montgomery after Utah had tied the game midway in the first quarter, the Cardinal would have only posted 14 points. Kevin Hogan threw for only 246 yards, and beyond Tyler Gaffney's 108 yards, there wasn't much of a rushing game either.
It was the second week in a row where the Stanford offense sputtered; if it happens again, the Cardinal's run of 3 straight BCS bowls will be history, if it isn't already. And UCLA will insert itself into the BCS bowl discussion with a win.
The Huskies had high hopes of hanging with visiting Oregon going into last Saturday, and they did for a while, pulling within 31-24 near the end of the 3rd quarter, on Bishop Sankey's second long touchdown run of the day.
But in the end, it was Oregon's 10 consecutive win over Washington, all by at least 17 points. This time it was 45-24, and the Ducks called off the dogs on the dawgs at that.
Sankey had 167 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a critical 60 yard breakaway early in the second half that temporarily kept the Huskies in the hunt, on 28 carries, and added 38 more yards on 5 catches.
But Keith Price was only able to throw for 182 yards, and the Washington defense that throttled Stanford a week ago got run over for 366 rushing yards, as Oregon demonstrated why they are the #3 rushing team in the country.
The Sun Devils destroyed Colorado to bounce back from the blown opportunity in Texas against Notre Dame. Taylor Kelly only completed 9 passes, but still got 233 yards and 2 touchdowns out of that, and Marion Grice led a well distributed rushing attack, with 88 yards and 2 more scores.
Kelly is 6th in the country in passing yards despite the low total required to blow the Buffs out, though that's only good enough for 4th place in the pass-happy Pac-12.
Zane Gonzalez even added 3 field goals, as Arizona St. dominated the Buffs in every aspect of the game.
Arizona St. faces 3 road trips in their next 4 games, and have demonstrated themselves to be a different team away from home. As a result, this game could define the season for both teams, with one getting a boost, and the other a trip into the land of Las Vegas Bowls.
The Trojans initiated the Ed Orgeron era with a 38-31 win over Arizona, holding off a late rally by the 'Cats after having opened a 38-17 lead seconds into the 4th quarter.
Cody Kessler struggled with his accuracy, completing only 15 of 30 passes, and the continued absence of Marqise Lee, who is still questionable (being able to get on the field and being a factor for 4 quarters are very different things) for the South Bend trip. But Kessler was still just shy of 300 yards passing, and had a pair of touchdowns with no picks.
USC didn't have anyone with the big rushing night they have managed in some of their earlier games, though Silas Redd did pick a first down to ice the game and end the 'Cats comback that pushed his night's total to 80 yards. But collectively, the Trojans were over 250 yards on the ground before the final kneel downs.
The Irish took the week off after escaping Cowboy Stadium with a 37-34 win over Arizona St., before taking on another Pac-12 team. It took a 14 yard pick-6 by Dan Fox with just over a minute left to open enough of a lead to hold off the Sun Devils, after Kelly bounced back with a touchdown pass to Marion Grice.
Tommy Rees only completed 17 of 38 passes for Notre Dame against Arizona St., but he did get touchdowns with 3 of them, and that and winning the turnover battle, as the Irish did against the Sun Devils, will be the recipe for success against the Trojans as well.
The Cougs couged it in the 4th quarter, as Connor Halliday threw 3 interceptions in a matter of 5 Washington St. plays, and just over 4 minutes. All 3 led directly to Oregon St. touchdowns, as the Beavers ran off 35 unanswered point to pull away for a 52-24 win, after what had been a tight battle for 3 quarters, during which neither team ever opened more than a 1 score lead.
Halliday was 25 of 44, for 246 yards and a touchdown, before the wheels came off against the Oregon St. defense, and the Cougars ran for 120 yards, an astronomical amount for the Mike Leach "Air Raid", exclusive of the loss that resulted from a mixed up fake punt play late in the 3rd quarter that turned momentum in the game.
Halliday, who is still 3rd in the country in passing yards, will have to settle down and avoid another such bad stretch if the Cougs are to fare any better this week in Autzen Stadium.
The Ducks once again did just fine without DeAnthony Thomas, as Marcus Mariota completed 24 of 31 passes, for 366 yards and 3 touchdowns, and ran for another 88 yards, plus another score, in out-distancing the Huskies.
Byron Marshall also ran for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Bralon Addison hauled in 8 of Mariota's throws, for 157 yards and 2 scores, and Josh Huff grabbed 6 more, for 107 yards and another touchdown, as the waves of Ducks kept overwhelming Washington every time the Huskies challenged them.
This one will likely surpass the 1,100 yard mark of offense; the question is can it top 1,200?
The Utes pulled off the upset of the week with their last minute goal line area stand, but it was a game long defensive effort, as Utah allowed Stanford only 369 total yards.
Bubba Poole rolled up 111 yards on 22 carries in support of an efficient evening by Travis Wilson, and kicker Andy Phillips earned the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week award after making a pair of field goals for Utah's only second half scoring, and the margin of victory in the biggest win yet for the Utes since they joined the Pac-12.
The Wildcats fought to the finish, as B.J. Denker threw the last 2 of his 4 touchdown passes in the last half of the 4th quarter to rally within 1 score in the Coliseum, but the Arizona defense continued to have trouble getting off the field, and it squandered one of Denker's best days, a 28 of 44 effort with no interceptions, and another strong effort by Ka'Deem Carey. Carey carried for 138 yards, and added 36 more on receptions.
Terrance Miller led the 'Cats, with 6 catches for 76 yards, but Garic Wharton was the big play target for Denker. Wharton only had 2 catches, but they went for 45 and 28 yard second half touchdowns.
Last year's mid-November 34-24 Wildcat win ended Utah's hopes for a bowl trip, and the Utes would like to avenge that with a win that would move them within a game of getting to the post season this season.
The Beavers' 3 interceptions, the first 2 by Rashaad Reynolds, who was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week as a result, has them leading the conference in picks, with a dozen, as the Oregon St. secondary continues to adjust to pass-happy opponents.
Meanwhile, Sean Mannion was throwing for 493 yards and 4 touchdowns, which has him the nation's leader in passing yards, by over 200, total yardage per game, by more than 20 yards per game, and touchdown passes, by a half dozen.
11 of Mannion's 34 completions went to Brandin Cooks, the nation's leading receiver, for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cooks leads the country in catches, receiving yards, and touchdown catches, and all by sizable margins.
It could spell doom for the California defense that is 122nd in the country in pass defense.
The Bears have given up just 11 yards shy of 2,000 yards in their last 4 games, after Hundley and the Bruins rolled to 488, and unlike against Washington St., where a pair of red-zone turnovers doomed any hope of a close game, there was never any such chance in the Rose Bowl.
It's wasted a lot of passing yards by Jared Goff, who is still 4th in the nation in passing yards, despite throwing for only 215 against the Bruins. Goff will spread the ball around, and threw to 11 Bears in last weeks chapter of the "Bear Raid", and that's the same game plan that's likely to produce another late night.
Berkeley has been a good destination for Oregon St., where the Beavers haven't lost since 1996.
Here's the complete weekend national schedule, adjusted for east coast biased time:
|GAME||NETWORK||LINE (O/U)||TIME (ET)|
|#15 Georgia at Vanderbilt||UGA -7 (62)||12:00 PM|
|#11 South Carolina at Tennessee||
||USC -7.5 (54.5)||12:00 PM|
|#16 Texas Tech at West Virginia||TTU -5 (57.5)||12:00 PM|
|TCU at #21 Oklahoma State||OSU -7 (62)||12:00 PM|
|Navy at Toledo||TU -9.5 (55.5)||12:00 PM|
|Minnesota at Northwestern||NW -12 (53.5)||12:00 PM|
|Purdue at Michigan St.||MSU -27.5 (42.5)||12:00 PM|
|Connecticut at Cincinnati||CIN -14.5 (45.5)||12:00 PM|
|Charleston Southern at Colorado||CU -20 (51)||2:00 PM|
|Indiana at Michigan||UM -9.5 (68.5)||3:30 PM|
|#24 Auburn at #7 Texas A&M||A&M -14 (73)||3:30 PM|
|#9 UCLA at #13 Stanford||
|STAN -5.5 (53)||3:30 PM|
|Iowa at #4 Ohio St.||
|OSU -18 (55.5)||3:30 PM|
|#18 Oklahoma at Kansas||OU -23.5 (49)||3:30 PM|
|BYU at Houston||BYU -9.5 (62.5)||3:30 PM|
|Maryland at Wake Forest||MD -5 (51)||3:30 PM|
|#20 Washington at Arizona St.||ASU -3.5 (67)||6:00 PM|
|Arkansas at #1 Alabama||BAMA -28.5 (48.5)||7:00 PM|
|#6 LSU at Ole Miss||LSU -10 (60)||7:00 PM|
|Iowa St. at #12 Baylor||BU -33 (76.5)||7:00 PM|
|USC at Notre Dame||
||ND -3 (51)||7:30 PM|
|#5 Florida St. at #3 Clemson||
||FSU -3 (64)||8:00 PM|
|#25 Wisconsin at Illinois||WIS -14 (56.5)||8:00 PM|
|Nevada at Boise St.||BSU -23 (68.5)||8:00 PM|
|Washington St. at #2 Oregon||ORE -39.5 (73)||10:00 PM|
|Utah at Arizona||AZ -4 (69.5)||10:00 PM|
|Oregon St. at California||OSU -10.5 (69.5)||10:30 PM|