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This week in the Pac-12: Who am I, sir? A Utah man am I!

In our weekly recap of conference action, we come to praise true heroes, slayers of evil, protectors of the innocent. The Utah Utes.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

I watched most of the game, and I still have a hard time believing how Utah beat Stanford. There were no weird, fluky plays. No trick passes, no tipped interceptions, no awful penalties. Utah didn't even beat Stanford by out-scheming them.

No, Utah beat Stanford by beating them up. By controlling both lines, holding on to the ball, running for tough yards and slowing down Tyler Gaffney. The Utes won by beating Stanford at their own game, and that's something I didn't think anybody outside of Alabama could have done.

Utah 27, Stanford 21

So, what if Stanford's defense just isn't great any more? The Cardinal allowed Navy to run all over them, let Arizona State get back into the game, allowed nearly 500 yards to Washington, and got physically beaten by Utah.

I can't exactly figure out why the defense wouldn't be at least as good as last year. No Stanford defenders were taken in the NFL draft last year, and although losing Chase Thomas and Terrence Brown hurts, there was more than enough talent coming back at every level. Stanford should have the best defense in the Pac-12, but so far they've been merely good.

Block U celebrates a landmark victory:

But this win was important. It was huge. It was gigantic. In all of the regular season victories of the past, this one will be up there. Of course it will be. It was only the Utes' second win ever over a top-five team. Victories like that don't come along much - especially for a team like Utah.

Oregon 45, Washington 24

I think this game went about how most non-partisans would have expected. Washington is a good team, and clearly better than last year. But they're still not on the same level as the Ducks, and so Oregon inexorably marched towards a win even as the Huskies kept the score respectable.

Addicted To Quack summarizes the biggest difference between the two teams on Saturday:

Marcus Mariota had another stellar game, throwing for 366 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 88 yards and another score, and he has to be firmly in the Heisman race at this point.

Meanwhile, UW Dawg Pound wonders what the Huskies need to do to end the streak:

The Huskies showed today that they belong in the upper echelon of the conference, but that they aren't close to competing with Oregon. To close the gap, the Huskies are going to need a more competent offensive line, a better "tools" QB, and a D-line that can win their one on ones at least half the time against an upper tier opponent.

USC 38, Arizona 31

A game that was a blowout until it wasn't, USC raced out to a huge lead before letting Arizona climb almost all the way back with a few late touchdowns. Cody Kessler had his 2nd straight encouraging game (if you're a USC fan) and Ed Orgeron took the shackles off of the Trojan offense. The result was pretty scary if you're a Cal fan just hoping for a lone win over USC as salve in an otherwise depressing season.

Conquest Chronicles analyzes the Coach O effect:

In just a two-week span under Coach Orgeron, a man highly respected amongst peers for being a true players coach, we have seen Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, cookies and milk back into the diet, a newly-instituted Trojan Bowl and even music playing in the locker room. Vibes that are rallying the troops, and catching plenty of staff by surprise.

"You should have been in the locker room before the game. I've never seen anything like it. Guys were having a blast," said USC AD Haden, who even hinted that Orgeron will be given a fair assessment for the head coaching job.

Hiring Coach O: Good idea, bad idea, or something that Haden would never actually do so why waste time speculating about it?

AZ Desert Swarm sees promise at quarterback but not much else to be pleased about:

Ideally, the Arizona Wildcats beat the USC Trojans and quarterback B.J. Denker plays well. The Wildcats would have taken a win without the latter. Instead, Arizona left Los Angeles on Thursday with the most promising evidence that Denker could be serviceable, but it did so with a 38-31 loss because nothing else went right.

Oregon State 52, Washington State 24

My goodness. Oregon State outgained Wazzu by more than 200 yards and forced six turnovers, and with stats like that, how did the Cougars even stay within three touchdowns? Even weirder, it was tied entering the 4th quarter, but then Washington State's entire offense imploded.

Building the Dam lauds a defense that has improved from earlier in the year:

It was a game that some thought was in the cards for a breakout runaway fifth win for WSU, or at the least was going to be an offensive shoot-out. But the defense stepped up big time I thought, and especially of note was holding firm when that 3rd quarter looked to be getting away from the Beavs on the road. Sure the Cougs gave up the ball on their end, but again after being on their heels the OSU defense adjusted well and was able to build on every turnover to help put this game out of reach.

Cougcenter recaps the sudden carnage for those unable to watch:

On WSU's very next offensive play, Halliday threw behind Mayle for an interception at the WSU 45 yard line. Three plays later, OSU was in the end zone. On the third offensive play after that, Halliday threw his second interception after forcing the ball into coverage. Five plays after that, OSU was in the end zone again. And on the very next offensive play, Halliday threw his third interception -- this one his trademark scramble to the right and heave it down field with no chance of completion -- which OSU turned into yet another touchdown seven plays later.

In the span of five minutes of game action, WSU went from being tied at 24 to losing 52-24. The wheels fell off so fast, and the youthful Cougs showed absolutely no ability to get it back on track.

Sounds like Cal's first quarter against Oregon. Yikes.

Arizona State 54, Colorado 13

I have no comment on this game, other than to say that Cal at Colorado should be interesting.

House of Sparky talks defense:

ASU was just as aggressive blitzing as they were against Notre Dame but with another big body in the middle, the Devils were finally able to break through. Connor Wood folded under the pressure and was eventually benched for the true freshmen Liufau. But neither quarterback had any success finding Paul Richardson.

Arizona State's defense effectively schemed against Colorado's best player, leaving Richardson without a catch in the first half.

Ralphie Report expects a permanent quarterback switch:

One would assume that Liufau will get the start next week against Charleston Southern, and likely for the rest of the season. MacIntyre only needs to look back to the Dan Hawkins era to see how mismanaging a redshirt quarterback can impact divide a team - and less importantly - alienate a fan base.

Next Week

Charleston Southern at Colorado, 11:00 am
UCLA at Stanford, 12:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2
Washington at Arizona State, 3:00 pm, Pac-12 Networks
USC at Notre Dame, 4:30 pm, NBC
Utah at Arizona, 7:00 pm, Pac-12 Networks
Washington State at Oregon, 7:00 pm, Fox Sports 1
Oregon State at California, 7:30, ESPN2

In case you missed the news, Colorado is playing Charleston Southern as a make up for their Fresno State game that was cancelled due to flooding in Colorado. The Buffs have received a waiver that would allow them to play in a bowl game if they finish with six wins despite two hypothetical wins over FCS teams. It's weird, but under the circumstances seems reasonable. Alas, I doubt that waiver will come into play.

Meanwhile, this should be a pretty good week of action. It's headlined by UCLA's visit to Palo Alto in a game that seems much more winnable for the Bruins than it did a few days ago. But Washington/ASU, USC/Notre Dame and Utah/Arizona all carry some intrigue. If you can't make it to Memorial Stadium, there are worse weekends to sit on your butt in front of the TV.