Evidently, my prayers have been answered.
Last week, I called the Pac-12 play "praline flavored." It doesn't get much more scathing then that, and commissioner Larry Scott must have sent out a memo to the league telling everyone to sweeten things up.
In the biggest surprise of the week, USC took down Utah in a 42-24 win, proving the Utes aren't quite as titan-esque as we all thought. Everyone knew the Trojans have the talent; it was only a matter of putting it all together. It appears that they may be doing just that under interim head coach Clay Helton. Meanwhile, the Utes have tumbled down the rankings from #3 to #13. Their formerly tangible hopes and dreams of the college football playoffs are now completely non-existent. It's a cruel, cruel world in the realm of college football.
UCLA took Cal down in a 40-24 trouncing on Thursday night, exhibiting more of the up-and-down tendencies that the Bruins have been showing all season. Cal's magical season doesn't seem so rosy anymore. Head coach Sonny Dykes is now 0-7 against Stanford, USC and UCLA, and Cal is officially out of the top 25. The Cal dream season seems like a distant memory at this point. UCLA is back in the polls at #24.
Life is still good at Stanford. They handled Washington 31-24 and are now #9 in the rankings, and Christian McCaffrey is still being his beastly self. He racked up 213 combined rushing and receiving yards on his way to two touchdowns. Heisman Watch!
Every team in the Pac-12 will be competing, with no one on bye. That means six games are on the docket this week, with the action getting kicked off Thursday night when Oregon (4-2, 2-2) travels down to Frank Kush Field to take on Arizona State (4-3, 2-2). Both teams have had their bouts with inconsistency this year. ASU was on a roll prior to losing to Utah last week, having put away UCLA and Colorado with ease. The Sun Devils have shown the potential to put up a lot of points and they shouldn't have any problems doing that against Oregon. However, UO is coming off their bye this week, and may very well spring a surprise attack on an ASU team playing on a short week and murder them with speed. The Ducks still scare me. Watch this game on ESPN at 7:30 pm PT Thursday night.
Fresh off of their first Pac-12 win since 2013 against Oregon State, Colorado (4-4, 1-3) will head to UCLA (5-2, 2-2) to kickoff the Saturday of Pac-12 football. Buff fans should party while they can, because they will not win this game. UCLA is simply on a different level than Colorado and is coming off of an impressive win against Cal. Only time will tell if this will be the start of another 14 game conference losing streak for the Buffs. Watch this game on the Pac-12 Networks at noon PT on Saturday.
Kicking off simultaneously will be USC (4-3, 2-2) in Berkeley, California at Cal (5-2, 2-2). Cal has cooled off of late, and so has QB Jared Goff. He threw five picks against Utah and only mustered a 60% completion rate on 53 pass attempts against UCLA. Cal seems to have stagnated as opposing defenses are figuring out their offense. Their defense isn't helping, either. Playing against the Cal defense is like running through a wide open tunnel: it's really easy and no one is going to stop you. Perhaps JuJu Smith-Schuster will get a chance to stiff arm some more defenders into dust.
USC has a real chance to salvage their season, and a win at Cal would help them keep the momentum moving forward. Check it out on FOX at noon PT.
Oregon State (2-5, 0-4) is making the trip down to Salt Lake City to take on Utah (6-1, 3-1). The Beavers will be without a quite a few cast of characters as they take on the Utes, as CB Treston Decoud, RB Chris Brown, LT Sean Harlow (out for the season) have already been ruled out. It will be a long night for a Utah team looking to avenge its loss against USC. It will also be personal, as DC Kilani Sitake had been at Utah since 2005 before taking the job at Oregon State. Perhaps his knowledge of Utah's system will prevent Saturday's game from being a reenactment of the Mountain Meadows massacre. This game will start at 4:00 pm PT on the Pac-12 Network.
Stanford (6-1, 4-0) will travel north to Cougar territory, taking on the red hot Washington State (4-3, 3-1). Last week, the Cougars defied my jinx attempt and defeated Arizona 45-42. Now that Mike Leach has proven that he can defy my tricks, there's nothing stopping the Cougars now. It should be a genuinely entertaining game between Stanford and Wazzu. Will Mike Leach open a black hole in space from throwing the ball too much? What will prevail, the Cardinal rushing attack or the high-flying Cougar's airing it out? Biologically speaking, shouldn't the Cardinal be the one airing it out and the Cougars doing the rushing attack? Should universities begin hiring coaches based on whether their style of offense matches their mascot? These questions will be answered and much, much more on ESPN at 7:30 pm PT.
Capping off the day, Arizona (5-3, 2-3) is taking on Washington (3-4, 1-3) in Seattle. Arizona has been struggling of late, and QB Anu Solomon is shouldering much of the blame. He's been replaced by backup Jerrard Randall the last two games and has not been able to get much going. Washington has shown grit on the defensive end and will give Arizona a run for their money. Both teams are having forgettable seasons, and I wouldn't blame you if you missed this snooze-fest. If you're into snooze-fests, this game will be airing at 8:00 pm PT on the Pac-12 Network.
Here's the complete schedule for the weekend, adjusted for East Coast Bias Time: