It's another 5 game week in the Pac-12, with a Thursday night game, and 4 on Saturday. And other than an overlap between the first two games on Saturday, the only conflict is Saturday evening. And all 5 games feature at least one ranked team.
It does defy logic as to why the Washington St.-Oregon St. game starts at 3 PM, not 3:30, the traditional earliest late afternoon start time, which would avoid overlap with the Arizona-Stanford game, which starts at noon PDT, and since its on Fox, and will have a painfully long pre-game, will likely only be starting the 4th quarter when the late afternoon game starts. With the earlier of the evening games not starting until 7 PM PDT, a later start in Corvallis would still allow that game to finish before the UCLA-California game.
Both of these are on the Pac-12 Channel, and it seems the inexperienced channel has yet to figure out how to divide their audience. Chalk it up to growing pains.
This was initially seen as possibly the Pac-12 South Division defacto Championship Game, hopefully between ranked, unbeaten teams, which would have ensured a huge audience nation wide. Then Arizona St. and Stanford intervened.
The Cardinal shut down the Trojans, and ran the ball a lot better than they did last week. As a result, Stanford seriously damaged USC's National Championship hopes with a 21-14 upset of the then second ranked Trojans.
USC rebounded from the Stanford loss by ripping California 27-9, though the Golden Bears' subsequent double digit loss to Arizona St. raised further questions about both the significance of the Trojans' win and the vulnerability of the Utes.
The Trojans' Matt Barkley threw for less than 200 yards against the Bears, but then he didn't really need more, except for Heisman campaign reasons, when USC ran for almost 300 yards, including 158 by Silas Redd and 115 by Curtis McNeal.
The Sun Devils bushwacked the Utes with 3 first quarter touchdowns, and pulled away to a 37-7 win. Jon Hayes was clearly not prepared for the starting quarterback job he's re-inherited after another early season season ending injury to Jordan Wynn, just as happened last year. It took a mid-season slump for Utah to recover last season, and the same thing seemed to be happening the way Arizona St. stormed past them.
Utah's John White IV was also evidently not fully recovered from an ankle injury that kept him out of the holy war, and surprisingly, the Utes' defense was nearly defenseless.
A bye last week to sort things out couldn't have come at a better time for the Utes.
The 'Cats rallied from 17 down against Oregon St. with 3 touchdowns in less than 10 minutes to take the lead and start a furious second half that saw 6 lead changes before the Beavers iced the 38-35 win with their second interception of Matt Scott with seconds left in the game. The pair of picks by Jordan Poyer and Rashaad Reynolds were about the only thing2 Scott did wrong, after completing 31 of 53 passes, for 403 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Dan Buckner and Austin Hill combined for 14 catches for 193 yards and all 3 of the touchdown tosses, and Arizona also got a great effort from Ka'Ceem Carey, who carried 17 times for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and added an additional 68 yards on 4 catches.
The Cardinal came right back down to earth after upsetting USC Thursday night in Seattle, where the Huskies staged a blackout that blacked out the Stanford offense. The Cardinal were held to only 235 total yards, and just 65 net yards rushing, as Josh Nunes' sacks put a dent in Stepfan Taylor's not overwhelming 75 yard night on the ground.
Zach Ertz had his usual solid night for the Cardinal, picking 106 yards on 6 carries, but there was precious little offensive help for him, and the Huskies claimed a 17-13 win. Stanford's only touchdown came on Trent Murphy's 40 yard interception return.
The Cougars hung in against Oregon into the second half, trailing only 23-19 at halftime, and it would have been even closer had the Ducks not made a goal line stand to force a field goal after Washington St. had put together a 15 play drive. But as happened before this season, the Washington St. defense broke down as the game wore on. The Ducks ran off 4 consecutive touchdowns, 3 in the 3rd quarter, to pull away to a 32 point lead on their way to a 51-26 win.
Washington St. got a boost in the form of 220 yards on kickoff returns from Teondray Caldwell, including one that went for 92 yards to set up the Cougars' first score.
The Cougars went with Connor Halliday at quarterback in place of Jeff Tuel, and are expected to do so again, after Halliday threw for 348 yards and a touchdown, though Tuel came on in relief and threw for another 62 yards. Marquess Wilson had a dozen catches, for 182 yards and the game's final score.
The problem was there was absolutely no run support, as Carl Winston and Caldwell got only 35 yards on a dozen carries, and Halliday's sacks more than wiped that out, leaving Washington St. with a minus 4 net yards rushing.
The Beavers got a career best night of passing yardage from Sean Mannion, who completed 29 of 45 passes for 433 yards and 3 touchdowns, and a career best night on the ground from Storm Woods (admittedly, it was only the red-shirt freshman's third game), who ran for 161 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. Mannion was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week as a result.
Mannion's co-favorite speedy targets Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks combined for 19 catches, and 315 yards, and Wheaton had a pair of scores, though it was TE Connor Hamlett that caught the game winning touchdown with just over a minute left. It was the second consecutive long scoring drive Mannion directed in the 4th quarter, covering 75 yards after having gone 86 yards for a touchdown the previous possession.
It should be an air show, as Washington St. coach Mike Leach brings the "Air Raid" offense into a game where he might actually find himself trying to keep, despite being 12th in the nation in passing yards, as Mannion has Oregon St. 4th in the country in that ranking.
The Bruins climbed back into the top 25 with a balanced and complete 42-14 road win in Boulder over Colorado. Brett Hundley completed 25 of 48 passes, to 11 different receivers, for 281 yards, and 2 touchdowns, and ran for 2 more scores, while Johnathan Franklin ran for 111 yards on 15 carries, part of the 211 rushing yards UCLA rolled up.
Meanwhile, the UCLA defense held the Buffs to just over 300 total yards, and only 83 on the ground. The Bruin defense put the game away with a stop on 4th and 1 midway in the 3rd corner, and then a pair of take-aways on the next 2 Colorado possessions.
The Golden Bears were neither golden, nor even sturdy, in their 27-17 loss to Arizona St. Isi Sofele ran for 105 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, but Zach Maynard completed only 9 of 28 throws, for only 126 yards. And though he found his brother Keenan Allen for a 4th quarter touchdown that made it just a 3 point game, Maynard also lost a fumble, and lost 20 yards on sacks.
Severely compounding the problem, California was penalized a dozen times for 119 yards. Unrest among the "Old Blues" with coach Jeff Tedford's tepid play calling is also on the rise, as electrifying sophomore Brendan Bigelow, who averages 20 yards per run, never touched the ball.
The Bruins lead the battle of the California state schools 50-31-1, and are looking to keep pace with Arizona St. in the Pac-12 South, while the Bears are in danger of their season being in danger of being lost before the Big Game, even with it barely past mid-season.
The Huskies not only turned in the defensive effort of the week against Stanford (that's the first time in a long time anyone has been able to say that about the Washington defense), they got their running game going too, as Bishop Sankey broke off a 61 yard touchdown run after breaking through the Cardinal defense when they were stacked against the run, on his way to a 144 yard, 20 carry night.
Washington Defensive Coordinator Justin Wilcox served notice that he's getting the corner turned with the Husky defense, and it can't come too soon. Oregon has won 8 in a row against Washington, with last year's 17 point, 34-17 loss in Seattle the closest of the bunch, with all the others decided by at least 20 points. Moreover, the Ducks have won 13 of the last 17 meetings.
The Ducks got only 126 yards of total offense, and just 1 touchdown, from De'Anthony Thomas, but Kenjon Barner delivered 232 yards, including 195 rushing on 20 carries, and 4 touchdowns. Barner's last score came at the end of an 80 yard run that put the exclamation point on both the second half outburst and the win for Oregon.
Arizona St. (4-1, 2-0) and Colorado (1-4, 1-1) have the week off to prepare for their game next Thursday evening in Boulder.
The Sun Devils got their first win on the road, and did it with a balanced attack. Taylor Kelly threw for 292 yards, but 3 touchdowns, while Cameron Marshall and Marion Grice teamed up to run for 112 yards on 28 carries, which helped Arizona St. hold the ball for almost 11 1/2 minutes more than they allowed California to have it.
Meanwhile, the Arizona St. defense was holding California to just 285 total yards. Will Sutton led the defense, recording a career high 8 tackles, 6 solo, including 3 sacks, and the forced fumble by Maynard. Sutton was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week as a result.
The Buffs converted only 2 of 15 third down opportunities, and need to spend the bye honing an offense that hasn't been reliable with Jordan Webb at the controls, as Colorado will follow up the game next week with 3 consecutive games against top 20 teams, 2 of them on the road.
The Sun Devils have an even more daunting gauntlet facing them though, with 4 consecutive games against currently ranked teams to follow the trip to the Rocky Mountains.