It's another 5 game week, but this week starts the Thursday night conference game portion of the schedule, with 4 games on Saturday, and a bye for the teams that will play the following Thursday.
The Cardinal throttled USC's offense and had their way in the running game behind Stepfan Taylor to jump-start their national ranking into the top 10 with their 21-14 win over the Trojans that was more dominating than the score suggests. The Stanford defense limited USC to just 280 yards, and most notably, only 26 net rushing yards. Even before losses by Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley were subtracted, the total was only 68.
The Huskies used a 31 point second quarter to blow away FCS Portland St. 52-13. Bishop Sankey had his first big day as a Washington running back, amassing 103 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Establishing a rushing attack was a point of emphasis in the game, given that the Huskies are down 4 starting offensive linemen since summer, and 2 of 3 projected running backs, most of them for the season.
To make this game competitive, something Washington hasn't been able to do against Stanford the last 3 years, the Huskies absolutely have to at least compete in the battle of the lines. Otherwise, another score along the lines of 34-14, 41-0, and 65-21, their last 3 outcomes, is likely to happen again.
The Sun Devils dominated Utah 37-7, rolling up a stunning 512 yards of offense on the Ute defense. The 1-2 quarterback punch of Taylor Kelly and Michael Eubank is proving surprisingly effective, and the pair combined to complete 23 of 31 passes, for 372 yards, and Kelly had 3 touchdown tosses.
Arizona St. also got positive rushing yards from a half dozen players on top of the yards Kelly and Eubank ran for.
The Bears struggled offensively, and lost 27-9 at USC as a result. Unlike Stanford before them, California couldn't generate a ground game against the Trojans, with quarterback Zach Maynard accounting for the majority of the Bear's rushes. However, he managed a -2 net yards on 19 rushes and sacks, leaving California with only 77 net yards. It's unclear what coach Jeff Tedford's game plan even was, as Isi Sofele had only 9 touches, and Brandin Bigelow, who had game-breaking runs at Ohio St., only handled the ball 5 times.
Meanwhile USC was running wild, rolling up just shy of 300 yards rushing against the Bears.
The biggest question about this game is whether Arizona St. can take their show on the road, as their only poor performance came in their only road game. It's a problem new coach Todd Graham will have to solve, especially in the Golden State, where Arizona St. has lost 22 of 26 games since 2000. The other is whether California, who owned the Sun Devils in recent years under Dennis Erickson, having won 4 in a row, can regroup.
The Bruins got 372 passing yards from Brett Hundley, but Johnathan Franklin was held to 45 yards rushing, and UCLA managed only 72 total yards on the ground. Being made 1 dimensional contributed considerably to UCLA losing 27-20 to visiting Oregon St.
It negated Shaquelle Evans' 6 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown, which lead a legion of 11 Bruins with a reception.
The Buffs ran off 3 touchdowns in just over 7 minutes to overcome a 17 point 4th quarter deficit, the last a 4 yard run by quarterback Jordan Webb for the score that gave Colorado a 35-34 upset win in Pullman that also avenged a last minute loss last season to Washington St.
Before that, Webb had thrown for 345 yards and 2 touchdowns, as well as running for another, earning him the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honor. Tony Jones also had an 84 yard touchdown run for the next to last Buff score, giving him 105 for the game.
The Beavers led almost wire to wire in the Rose Bowl, as Sean Mannion completed 24 of 35 passes for a career high 379 yards to lead Oregon St. to their second consecutive upset over a top 20 (at the time) opponent. WRs Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks claimed for 346 yards of total offense, and Keith Kostol's punting earned him Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
The win was Mike Riley's first ever road conference win prior to October. Can the Beavers do it again? They have won the last 5 times they have been in Tucson, but those were all later in the fall. Will temperatures be a factor?
The 'Cats hung with Oregon for 2/3 of the game, before the dam broke in Autzen. Arizona trailed only 13-0 midway in the third period, and could have conceivably had the lead had they not been shutout in 4 first half possessions in the Ducks' red zone.
Oregon's defense picked off Arizona quarterbacks twice for pick-6s as well, and Matt Scott threw 3 total interceptions, terminating the 'Cats' upset hopes.
Arizona has played very well at home, though, and if there was ever a 49-0 loss that contained some positives, this was it, at least for the 'Cats defense.
It's Washington St.'s annual home game on the west side, against the Oregon team scheduled to visit in the year. Ironically, its a shorter and easier road trip for both Oregon teams than it is from Pullman for the Cougs.
But it was the Oregon defense, which held the "RichRod" run-first spread option to only 89 yards, as well as getting the 4 interceptions, that got everyone's attention. Michael Clay led the Duck D, with 13 tackles, including 10 solo, and 2 for a loss, including a sack. Clay's spectacular effort resulted in him being named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week.
And for those who buy the idea that Chip Kelly doesn't care about time of possession, consider that Oregon held the ball for more than 7 minutes more than Arizona, and forced a run-based opponent to throw the ball 20 more times than they ran it.
The Cougars' defensive collapse squandered a 401 yard passing day by Connor Halliday. It took Halliday 60 heaves to complete 32 of them, but he connected for 4 touchdowns, 2 by Marquess Wilson. Gabe Marks had 7 catches for 107 yards, and the first score of the game, not 2 minutes into the contest.
But Washington St. got only a pair of field goals in the 4th quarter, which opened the door for the Buffs, though 34 points should have been enough for the Cougars to get the win.
The Cougs Couged it in what was widely considered their best chance for a win the rest of the season; what will happen when the high flying Ducks fly into the Clink?
#13 USC and Utah have the weekend off to prepare for their meeting next Thursday night in Salt Lake City. By then, Utah will have to resuscitate their offense, which managed only 209 yards in Tempe. Jon Hayes only put the ball in the air 15 times, and that wasn't enough with John White IV still struggling after missing the Holy War. White had 14 carries, the most by anyone in the game, but gained only 18 yards in the process. Kelvin York had 86 on 13 carries in his most significant action so far.
In stark contrast, the Trojans' Silas Redd romped for 158 yards against California, and Curtis McNeal contributed another 115. And though Barkley only threw for 192 yards, and served up a pair of interceptions, he also completed a pair of touchdown passes to Marqise Lee in the 11 catches Lee had, while also connecting with Robert Woods 5 times.