Where do we start this week? With Washington State's stunning upset win over Arizona St.? With UCLA's no-show against Utah? With Colorado's first ever Pac-12 win? With USC's surprisingly comprehensive victory over a fading Washington squad? Or should we talk about some interesting early results in Pac-12 basketball? Or how about we ponder a suddenly relevant question that the NCAA may not even have an answer for:
If a team finishes below .500 (6-7) because they lost in their conference's championship game, does that mean that team is no longer bowl eligible?
Yes, it was an exciting and eventful week in the Pac-12, and I didn't even mention the marquee matchup, which turned out to not be very close at all! Andrew Luck was mortal, the rest of his team didn't play well, and Chip Kelly doesn't let anybody get away with anything less than their best effort. The news should be greeted with great joy by all Cal fans because it means that Stanford almost certainly has no chance at the national championship, and because it might mean a better bowl for the Bears if Stanford and Oregon both go to the BCS.
What's that, you say? You don't want Stanford in a BCS bowl at all? Well I agree. Let's beat 'em this week and send them to San Antonio.
Oregon 53, Stanford 30
Reasons Cal fans should have some semblance of hope against Stanford:
1. Our defense is better than their defense. (Cal: 4.94 yards allowed/play ; Stanford: 5.27 yards allowed/play, and Cal has had a marginally tougher schedule)
2. Stanford is running out of healthy players to catch passes from Andrew Luck, and few if any appear to be viable deep threats.
3. David Shaw isn't Jim Harbaugh.
All three of those issues caused Stanford problems against and Oregon squad that authored arguably the most impressive win of the Chip Kelly era. I look forward to them inexplicably losing to whichever random Big 10 team emerges from the pack to make the Rose Bowl.
The defensive line did an incredible job. They helped hold Stanford to only 3.7 yards per rush, 2 yards less than their season average. They got to Andrew Luck, previously the least sacked QB in college football. This pressure not only led to 3 sacks and a fumble by Luck, it also led to Luck making poor decisions throwing the ball. With pressure coming down on him, Luck had to try and force throws to receivers and tight ends that could rarely get separation.
[Stanford] enters Big Game in an eerily similar position that Cal had in 2004. In fact, Stanford's 2011 campaign shares a remarkable amount of the same story with the Bears' 2004 season. Stellar quarterbacks in their final year, impressive defenses, a great running game... and an inability to beat one team in particular several years in a row.
Can you provide more reasons why Cal fans should have hope this week?
Washington St. 37, Arizona St. 27
A Pac-12 season that has largely been devoid of head-scratching conference results (non-UCLA division) finally gets a shocker. How in the world did a Washington St. team that most had left for dead in the water beat the presumed 4th best team in the conference? Connor Halliday, of course! Wait, who is this unknown man who threw for 494(!) yards in his debut? Can you imagine Austin Hinder suddenly stepping into a Cal game and throwing for 494 yards? Because I think that's the rough equivalent of what happened in Pullman on Saturday.
And this wasn't a turnover-filled fluke, either. The Cougs flat out destroyed ASU's defense. (As an aside, the Cougars gained their most total yards since a game in 2005 that was Joe Ayoob's shining moment). I get the sense that Cougcenter doesn't yet have the words to describe what happened:
If you read my preview, you know I had next to no faith that this would happen. However, we knew that Halliday was a bit of a wild card. Wow....was he ever.
ASU's porous secondary gave up several big plays all night and paved the way for Halliday- a redshirt freshman- to have the most yards in a game of any Pac-12 quarterback this year. Halliday finished the night with an astounding 494 yards and four touchdowns while his favorite target, Marquess Wilson, hauled in 223 yards and three touchdowns on eight receptions. For a team that had such high aspirations at the beginning of the year, tonight's Sun Devil defensive performance is unfathomable.
The Sun Devils will almost certainly play Cal knowing they must win to go to the Pac-12 title game. Is this fact exciting or frightening?
Utah 31, UCLA 6
UCLA got blown out by a fellow Southern Division foe and yet still ended the day in first place in the Pac-12 South (non-sanction division). Utah, meanwhile, might be thinking they can beat Wazzu and Colorado, watch ASU lose to Cal and UCLA lose to USC and set up a bizarre three way tie at 5-4. Which would be broken by? (Ed. - not entirely accurate - check the comments section for a better explanation)
Record against the next highest placed team in the division (based on record in all Conference games, both divisional and cross-divisional) proceeding through the division.
Oh, well that would be record vs. USC, presumably, which would hand the title back to ASU. Sorry Utes! Block U is kinda embarrassed:
How mucked up is the Pac-12 South? Well, look at it this way: Utah, who started 0-4 in the Pac-12, is still mathematically alive with only two weeks left in conference play. . . I don't know if I should be impressed or mortified that the Pac-12 South really does seem that awful.
This is the second straight night a UCLA team was outclassed, outplayed, out everything-ed. It is disheartening as a UCLA fan, and why we are calling for a regime change and a culture change in UCLA Athletics. Losing is one thing, losing in this manner on the road, after a slight bit of momentum in winning your previous two games, is unacceptable.
Was Cal's easy win over Utah their best performance of the season?
USC 40, Washington 17
I'm just really bummed we blew that game against Washington. This one was simple. USC ran the ball at will while Washington couldn't get anything going on the ground. Toss in a safety and a special teams touchdown and that's how you get a very convincing rout. Conquest Chronicles is pleased with USC's run defense:
USC's defense did a fantastic job at containing Chris Polk who had only 36-yards on 9 carries....heck UW only had 46-yards rushing on 24 carries. That is a big difference from last year when the defense gave up over 500 yards, over 200 rushing. The defensive line really got some pressure yesterday.
One of our readers mentioned that I should bag grading the game on a position by position basis and just give the entire team an F with the exception of an individual here and there.
After sleeping on it I tend to agree.
If Cal had beaten Washington Cal might be in line for a Holiday or even Alamo Bowl bid. That's not a question, I'm just still depressed about it.
Colorado 48, Arizona 29
Arizona has generally been so bad that this can't be as big a shock as the WSU/ASU game . . . but still, 48 points and 500 yards of offense from the Buffs? Three Foles interceptions? What in the hell happened in Boulder? Ralphie Report gets one wonderful day worth celebrating:
This is how senior day is supposed to be. A group of guys who have fought together for four or five years and go out on top. This one is a little sweeter though. It has been a tough year, a very tough first year for head coach Jon Embree but today his team played well and got their first Pac-12 win.
Anyway, here's my quick compilation of things that excites Steve Physioc, because I don't want to nor feel the need to tell you why Arizona has a crappy football team. Just, uh, read the other recaps from this season.
Colorado has the chance to impact the Pac-12 south race with games at UCLA and at Utah. Do they win either one?
A quick word on Pac-12 basketball
There have been exactly two interesting things so far in a very young basketball season: Arizona kinda struggling with some teams they should beat before beating them, and UCLA losing to a bad Loyola Marymount team at home by 11. UCLA's lack of guard play is much more dire than most anticipated. This Week In The Pac-12 will have more comments on basketball later as football winds down. But we're paying attention. Don't disappoint us again, UCLA. Wait, what am I saying?!? KEEP PROVIDING THE LULZ!
Washington at Oregon St., 12:30
Utah at Washington St., 2:00
Colorado at UCLA, 4:30, Versus
USC at Oregon, 5:00, ABC
Arizona at Arizona St., 6:30
Cal at Stanford, 7:15, ESPN
Burning questions: How will the Pac-12 South become even weirder this week? Can USC provide Oregon just as much resistance as they provided Stanford? Will it be Utah or Washington St. that rides into their rivalry game with tons of momentum? Which lame celebrity vaguely associated with Stanford will get booed?