It's Veteran's Day weekend, and though Sunday is the day we commemorate what our Veterans have given that we may be free to enjoy all of our freedoms, not the least of which is watching college football, and Monday is the "official" holiday, there will be countless acknowledgements of our veterans at Saturday's games.
All 12 teams in the conference are in action Saturday, and in an interesting twist of the schedule, half the games are starting around mid-day, and the other half are night games, with 2 of them at the most northerly points in the conference, a very strange decision for deep in November.
Of course what it really is is a reflection of the fact that the Pac-12 currently is ratings kryptonite, and the reason why there are no games in the prime late afternoon slot, which translates to prime time in the east, and the most watched television window of the day.
Colorado (1-8, 1-5) at Arizona (5-4, 2-4) at 11:30 AM MST (10:30 AM PST) on FX.
It's the blowout victim bowl, and its unclear why FX wants this game.
The Buffs only ran 2 plays in Stanford territory in their 48-0 loss to the Cardinal. Colorado managed only 76 net yards, and lost 21 yards on 21 runs, and also lost 3 turnovers.
The 'Cats did a little better, but no where near enough, allowing UCLA to run over them for over 300 yards and throw over them for more than 300 more, on their way to a 66-10 win. Arizona's ineptness came as a total surprise only a week after upending USC. Matt Scott only threw for 124 yards, about what he often does in a quarter. He also left the game with concussion-like symptoms, and is likely to miss this week's contest, which could make the game more competitive.
#13 Oregon St. (7-1, 5-1) at #16 Stanford (7-2, 5-1) at Noon PST on FOX.
The Beavers overcame early 14-3 and 16-10 deficits, and 9 points scored with their defense off the field, rallying for 26 consecutive points on their way to a 36-26 win over Arizona St.
It was the 1-2 punch of Markus Wheaton, who had 4 catches for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns, as well as 57 rushing yards, and Brandin Cooks, who had 6 catches for another 116 yards, plus a score, that lead Oregon St. But it was also a career best 146 rushing yards, including a 53 yard touchdown run, from Terron Ward, who was filling in for an injured Storm Woods, that broke the Sun Devil's back.
The Beavers expect to have both Woods, and CB Jordan Poyer, who missed the Arizona St. game, back on the field down on "The Farm". Cody Vaz will again start at quarterback for Oregon St., after leading the comeback win.
The Cardinal didn't just blow Colorado off the field, they found themselves a new quarterback. After another ineffective start by Josh Nunes, Stanford switched to Kevin Hogan, who completed 18 of 23 passes, for 184 yards and a pair of touchdowns, passes to tight ends (of course) Levine Toilolo and Zach Ertz. As a result, Hogan will get the start against the Beavers.
He should have the usual solid support from the Cardinal ground forces. 9 players ran for positive yards against Colorado, with Hogan also Stanford's leading rusher, though Stepfan Taylor, who usually leads the way, did run for 2 touchdowns.
Arizona St. (5-4, 3-3) at #21 USC (6-3, 4-3) at Noon PST on the Pac-12 Channel
The Sun Devils' Taylor Kelly completed only 22 of 41 passes, for just 153 yards, in Arizona St.'s 10 point loss at Oregon St., but Kelly was the Sun Devil's leading rusher, with 80 yards on 10 runs.
Arizona St. did get 6 sacks of Vaz, including one that caused a fumble that produced a touchdown on the first series of the game, and also blocked a punt for a safety. But their middle secondary and linebackers were unable to defend either the pass or the rush against the Beavers.
The Trojans lost a 62-51 shootout to Oregon, despite a 484 yard, 5 touchdown passing performance by Matt Barkley. The lion's share of that went to Marqise Lee, who had a dozen catches, for 157 yards and 2 scores, one of which covered 75 yards, and unheralded Nelson Agholor, who had a game high 162 yards on just 6 catches, including the 76 yard scoring play shortly before halftime that was the biggest single play in a day of almost countless offensive highlights. Turns out those balls were underinflated, which cost the equipment manager his job, and USC a 5 figure fine.
But the porous Trojan defense's inability to stop Oregon negated a second consecutive spectacular show by their offense, and put USC on a 2 game losing streak despite rolling up 615 yards of offense.
It's Homecoming for USC, and its also an elimination game in the Pac-12 South race. The Trojans can still claim the South's berth in the Pac-12 Championship game if they win out, but the Sun Devils will still need help even if they win this one, which would at least make them bowl eligible before they play Washington St.
#2 Oregon (9-0, 6-0) at California (3-7, 2-5) at 7:30 PM PST on ESPN.
The Ducks got a performance from Kenjon Barner that made him the National Player of the Week, never mind the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the week, in out-scoring USC. Everyone has been wondering what would happen if Oregon ever played their starters for a full game, and the Trojans found out.
Barner burned USC for 321 yards, and 5 touchdowns, on 38 carries, and he piled on another 26 yards on a couple of catches. It was the biggest day any Oregon running back has ever had, as well as the best day anyone has ever had against the Trojans. Add in the additional 96 yards Marcus Mariota ran for, and that's most of the 426 rushing yards the Ducks ran up.
Mariota also threw for 304 yards, and 4 touchdowns, completing 20 of 23 passes, including a half dozen to Josh Huff, for 125 yards, and a pair of scores. And while the Duck defense did get lit up for 484 passing yards in the 615 they gave up, they did snag a pair of interceptions.
And while USC did roll up impressive offensive numbers, and only lost by 11, they never got within 1 score after midway in the first quarter.
The Bears dropped a 21-13 decision to Washington, becoming the second Pac-12 team to be eliminated from the post season, before even Washington St., and putting coach Jeff Tedford's job officially in serious jeopardy in the process.
C.J. Anderson ran for 160 yards on 22 carries for California, as the Bears actually out-rushed Washington. But Zach Maynard only completed 15 of 29 throws, for 175 yards, and no scores, but an interception, before going down with a knee injury. 3 fumbles didn't help matters either.
His brother Keenan Allen was already out of the game, with a knee injury of his own. Both are out of the Bear's home finale, which could be a going away send-off for Tedford if California, already on a 3 game losing streak, can't come up with an upset this week, or next against Oregon St.
With Maynard unable to go, Allen Bridgford, who completed only 2 of 7 passes in relief of Maynard against the Huskies, will get the start.
Replacing Tedford, who would have to be paid almost $7 million for the remainder of his contract, would be very expensive for a California athletic department that is facing serious financial problems, but while they can't afford to replace him, they also can't afford not to if flagging support to pay off the rebuild of Memorial Stadium continues.
#17 UCLA (7-2, 4-2) at Washington St. (2-7, 0-6) at 7:30 PM PST on ESPN2
The Bruins got 162 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 24 carries from Johnathan Franklin, making him the UCLA career rushing leader, the biggest chunk of the 308 yards they ran for against Arizona.
The 66-10 win that put UCLA in the drivers' seat in the Pac-12 South was so dominant that the Bruins were able to bring in Kevin Prince to push the UCLA passing yardage total up over 300 yards, after Brett Hundley had completed 23 of 28 passes, for 288 yards and 3 touchdowns, and without throwing an interception.
The Cougars were routed 49-6 in Salt Lake City, averting a shutout only when Jeff Tuel hooked up with Kristoff Williams for a touchdown on the last play of the game. The performance that not only ruled Washington St. out of any chance at a winning season, but gave Coach Mike Leach his first ever losing season as a coach, upset Leach so that he called out his offensive linemen in the postgame interviews, and then called a Sunday practice when the team got back to Pullman that was so heated that wide receiver Marquess Wilson, who was the game leading receiver, with 5 catches for 73 yards, walked out of practice.
Wilson is suspended for this game, and his potential return is still up in the air. Its a big loss for a team that is totally dependent on the pass, with a rushing game so inept as to have suffered a net loss rushing for the second week in a row.
Only the forecast of a high of 30 degrees, which will happen long before kickoff in Pullman, and the chilling, and possibly snowy, weather that the Bruins from sunny southern California will encounter is likely to keep this from being a rout.
Utah (4-5, 2-4) at Washington (5-4, 3-3) at 7:30 PM PST at Century Link Field in Seattle on the Pac-12 Channel.
The Utes dominated the Cougs in every facet of the game. Freshman quarterback Trevon Wilson completed 17 of 21 passes, for 171 yards and a touchdown, before giving both Adam Schultz and Jon Hays a turn. And both Schultz and Hays were perfect. By the time Utah was done carving up the Washington St. secondary, 14 different receivers had catches.
Meanwhile, John White IV was leading a cadre of 8 different Utes with multiple runs for gain. White had 101 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18 carries, including the 47 yard scoring romp less than 6 minutes into the game from which Utah never looked back.
And Reggie Dunn started off the second half with a length of the field kickoff return for a touchdown, his third end to end return in the last 2 games, after taking 2 to the house against California, an NCAA record. 3 in 2 games is also a record, as is his career total of 4, something only he and Barry Sanders has done. As a result, Dunn was named the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week for the second week in a row.
The Huskies got a great 1-2 punch from Bishop Sankey and Austin Seferian-Jenkins that got them their first road win in over a year. Sankey rolled up 189 yards and 2 touchdowns on 29 carries, and Seferian-Jenkins caught half of Keith Price's 16 completions, for 189 yards, and the touchdown that put Washington ahead for good late in the third quarter.
Earlier in the drive, despite being hobbled by a sore ankle, ASJ pulled down a 43 yard completion, the biggest pass play of the game.
It's the final game downtown at Century Link Field for Washington before returning home to remodeled Husky Stadium next season, but if the Huskies, who have been night and day different, and better, when playing at the Clink vs. on the road, can pull out the win, a 5 game winning streak to finish the regular season becomes a real possibility, with trips to Colorado and Washington St. remaining.
However, Utah is also on a 2 game winning streak, and this game could well be the anchor of a season closing 5 game winning streak as well.
The Pac-12 was counting on the Arizona St.-USC game to deliver 2 of the largest markets, Phoenix and Los Angeles, but when even that doesn't prompt Directv to show any interest in carrying the Pac-12 channel, you can see how badly Commissioner Larry Scott either over played, or over sold, his hand.