Outside Stanford’s stunning defeat at Utah, last week was business as usual in the Pac-12. Oregon and UCLA rolled, while Colorado got rolled. USC looked a little better in coach O’s debut, but the jury is still out. Almost all the talk out here on the west coast has been Stanford’s tumble. The strange thing is, very few people—almost none—have framed the game as this: maybe Utah is just better than we thought.
Oregon – 21-point win in a rowdy road environment against a ranked team? Paging Dr. Obvious, this team is pretty good. Marcus Mariota is a pretty useful player to have too, I guess. They say Heisman front-runners are generally pretty good at football. Week seven grade: A
Oregon State – They’re back, baby, and I’m buying! How can you not love Sean Mannion’s gunslinger insanity?! The fewest passes he has attempted this season: 43! He’s been over 50 the last three weeks! Not only is OSU fun to watch, but they’ve ripped off five straight wins since the opening week, and are 3-0 in league play! The Utah win, suddenly looks a whole lot better, too, doesn’t it! I know they won’t win the North since Washington, Oregon and Stanford are a rough upcoming trio, but who knows! Maybe they’ve caught lightning in a bottle with this air raid attack, extremely un-Mike Riley and un-Oregon State! What a fun team! Week seven grade: A-
[Editors note: That was genuine excitement, and there was little editing on our part. Time to bring it back down to Earth.]
Stanford – Sure they dropped the Utah game, but they could (and should) have won with a late trip to into Utah territory. Isn’t it likely that Stanford was looking past Utah, and focusing on UCLA? Maybe they were still a bit drained from the emotional Washington win. This is still one of the best teams in the nation. If they win out, the Cardinal will be the best one-loss club in the land and most likely make the national title game. Week seven grade: C-
UCLA – Oh you know, just a 37-10 rout over Cal. Nothing special. Brett Hundley had yet another gem of a game. Though Cal somehow locked up the Bruin rushing attack, it’s still 21st in the nation with 223 yards per game. I don’t see 78 yards on 34 carries becoming a trend. Week seven grade: A-
Arizona – At 0-2 the sleeper status is probably done, but don’t give up on the ‘Cats yet. Four of their first five league games are road trips. Let’s see how they look in these next three manageable games (Utah, at Cal, at Colorado) before we write them off or start buying. Week seven grade: B
Arizona State – The Devils have followed up their biggest wins of the season (Wisconsin and USC) with a flat performance. Last Saturday they had a soft landing thanks to the Buffs. It’s hard to learn much from playing Colorado. Washington is a big game, though. Let’s see how that Tempe advantage plays out against the Huskies. Week seven grade: A
USC – They looked a little better with Ed Orgeron, and scored a win against a decent Arizona team. USC’s defense continues to struggle after such a nice start to the season. The offense is going the other way, though. After looking lifeless to start the year, some things are clicking. This is still one of the most talented teams in the league, so they should be in every game the rest of the way. As for winning, well that is still up in the air. Week seven grade: B+
Utah – I still think Stanford is a great team and Utah just caught them at the best possible time; however, the Utes are underrated. They are 4-2 and have been getting strong play all year from QB Travis Wilson. Their 1-2 league mark is also deceiving. The Utes took OSU to overtime and gave UCLA all it could handle. A key two-game road stretch (Arizona and USC) will really determine where this season goes from here. We’ll see if Utah can capitalize after the monumental upset. Week seven grade: A+
Washington - The Huskies are a talented team forced to play a brutal early league schedule. They could lose down in Tempe, which is a house of horrors, but I think they can rally. Washington should be sitting pretty at 7-2 (3-2) when they head to UCLA. Nine or 10 regular season wins is still possible. Week seven grade: C-
Washington State – I won’t say knocking off Oregon State at home was a must win to make a bowl, but the margin of error is a lot tighter now. They need two more victories to hit the important six-win mark. With the remaining schedule shaping up like this: at Ore, ASU, at Arizona, Utah, at UW, it’s hard to see where those two wins will come from. Wazzu had a chance against OSU before their fourth quarter meltdown, in which they were outscored 28-0. Week seven grade: D
Cal – Same old, same old. There’s not enough talent (especially defensively) to expect the Bears to do anything this season. Hosting a hot OSU team this week should keep the losing streak going. The best hope to avoid a winless Pac-12 campaign is hosting Arizona in a few weeks. It’s stunning how empty the cupboard was for Sonny Dykes. Week seven grade: D-
Colorado – The Buffs have been outscored 155 to 46 in their three league games. On the plus side, they have already taken the Oregon and Oregon State pounding. On the down side, they still have road trips to Seattle and the Rose Bowl. Week seven grade: F
Buy That Kid Dinner (if the NCAA allowed it)
It was a monster week for Pac 12 QBs and WRs. Check out the following players’ stats.
-Cody Kessler (USC) 15/30, 297 yards, 9.9 avg, 2 TD, 0 INT, 90.6 QBR
-Nelson Agholor (USC) 7 catches, 161 yards, 23.0 avg, 1 TD, long of 62
-B.J. Denker (Arizona) 28/44, 363, yards, 8.3 avg, 4 TD, 0 INT, 53.3 QBR
-Marcus Mariota (Ore) 24/31, 366 yards, 11.8 avg, 3 TD, 0 INT 92.2 QBR
Mariota also rushed for 88 on 13 carries (6.8 avg) and a score
-Bralon Addison (Ore) 8 catches, 157 yards, 19.6 avg, 2 TD, long of 43
-Sean Mannion (OSU) 34/51, 493 yards, 9.7 avg, 4 TD, 1 INT, 83.9 QBR
-Brandin Cooks (OSU) 11 catches, 137 yards, 12.5 avg, 2 TD, long of 30
-Travis Wilson (Utah) 23/34, 234 yards, 6.9 avg, 2 TD, 1 INT, 72.2 QBR
-Brett Hundley (UCLA) 31/41, 410 yards, 10.0 avg, 3 TD, 0 INT, 82.9 QBR
Despite all of these guys having great arguments I went Travis Wilson. He did his work against Stanford: the best defense in the league, and what may be the best front seven in the nation.
Utah’s defense had a lot of performers, but Jared Norris, big old number 41, deserves some love. The 6’1”, 230 pound sophomore linebacker had a timely blitz on Stanford’s pivotal fourth down attempt. He didn’t show it at all, standing his ground. When Stanford snapped the ball he waited a half pause before flying up the gap and forcing an errant throw. Norris also ended up with 5 tackles on the day.
Let’s go with the clean sweep and give special teams awards to Utah, as well. Kicker Andy Phillips hit both field goals (long of 48) in the second half when Utah struggled to match their magical first half. Phillips ended with 9 points. Punter Tom Hackett put 3 of his 5 punts inside the 20, averaged 44.6 yards per punt, and netted a total of 223 yards, with a long of 57.
Dunce of the Week
It was such a wonderful week in the Pac-12 that this seems very picky. Nonetheless, I’ll pose the question and you can sound off in emails or comments. Why did Arizona take their first timeout of the second half when it did?
With about five minutes to go in the game, USC completed a pass for three yards on third and 20. Arizona took the timeout to save 40 seconds. After the punt return they started the drive with 4:37 to go. Arizona scored in 19 seconds. One second for the PAT and a generous 10 seconds for the kick off play, leaves 3:30 and all their timeouts. That sounds better than 4:18 and 2, right? Or am I just crazy?
Bonus picky DotW: USC return man Kevin Seymour, who took the kickoff off Arizona’s last touchdown all the way to the four-yard line. If Arizona had forced a three and out, Wildcats would have had beautiful field position. Both of these teams are pretty good but, minor mistakes are the margin between wins and losses. If these two programs want to finish 2013 strongly, they need to clean up the little things.