Everything is clear, except when it's not. Oregon and Stanford, the two presumed best teams in the conference, are still on a collision course for each other for the game that will decide the Pac-12 North.
But in the South? 3-1 ASU is in the driver's seat. But 2-2 UCLA still control their own destiny, and 2-2 Arizona and USC are very much in the mix as well. We likely won't get much clarity next week, or even until late November when the Bruins take on ASU and USC in back to back weeks.
Stanford 20, Oregon State 12
I was so sure that Oregon State's 4th down pass into the end zone was caught, let out a yelp of joy before the cry of despair. The Beavers could have had this game. If they tackle Gaffney before his stuttered, 2nd surge before the end of the half . . . but alas, this time Stanford escaped.
And in a week and a half, Oregon must win or else darkness will continue to reign on earth.
Building the Dam questions some of Mike Riley's decision making:
Oregon St. head coach Mike Riley not once, not twice, but three times elected to gamble on 4th down while in field goal position. All 3 times, the Beavers failed to convert, leaving potentially 9 points on the field instead of the scoreboard in a game they ultimately lost by 8 points, sending the crowd of 44,519, 44,000 of which were Beaver Believers at the beginning of the evening, out into the cold.
Really, I think I only disagree with one 4th down conversion attempt - a 4th and three attempt from the 19. The other two attempts would have been 51 and 52 yard field goal attempts. Trevor Romaine is good, but 50+ yard attempts are still probably coin flips at best. Riley's just lucky his baffling decision to punt while down 10 points late in the game was rewarded by a shocking Stanford fumble.
Oregon 42, UCLA 14
Oregon showed off their best-in-the-nation secondary by holding Brett Hundley to 64 yards and two interceptions in 19 attempts. While the Bruins found a little traction in the run game, their two scoring drives were only 28 and 38 yards long.
And in the end, Oregon outgained a top 20 opponent by 2 to 1 and everybody just shrugged and moved on to the next game.
Addicted To Quack reviews a rough first half before the Ducks turned it on:
To say it was an unimpressive first half for Oregon is an understatement. Keanon Lowe fumbled on the second play of the game, giving UCLA the ball deep in Duck territory and leading to a score. Twice the Ducks punted. Another drive led to a turnover on downs. The only explosion out of the Oregon offense came on a fake punt call--Rodney Hardrick rumbled 66 yards, setting up an Oregon touchdown. A missed field goal by Alejandro Maldonado capped off a subpar offensive half for the Ducks.
Bruins Nation takes stock after completing their tough two game stretch:
But there is still a big difference between Mora's words and what we are seeing on the field, and it accounts for a lot of the anger that is being directed towards him and particularly his offensive coordinator. Instead of our team getting better every week, the team seems to have plateaued and the offense is regressing. These story of our last two games really had the same plot, just with slightly different scores in the end. The Bruins played even with both Stanford and Oregon in the first halves, but then saw the offense tank and the defense tire as both the Cardinal and the Ducks pulled away in the second halves, and the Bruins never really looked like they had a chance in the end of either game.
USC 19, Utah 3
This was probably a winnable game for Utah, but Travis Wilson struggled with injuries before leaving the game, and Adam Schultz was perhaps worse in relief. Without a viable passing game, USC was able to easily shut down a usually solid Ute running game. Cody Kessler and the USC offense didn't need to do much to get the win.
So, apparently the USC defense allows either 50 points or 3. I'm sure Cal's offense will score closer to the former!
Conquest Chronicles rues a Pyrrhic victory. GREEK REFERENCES!
Now down to three tailbacks, two wide receivers (Darreus Rogers and De'Von Flourney) and zero scholarship tight ends to work with, times call for desperate measures.
Wilson has not looked good now in two games, and his injury has certainly played a role in the Utes' two ugly defeats. But it's clear the quarterback depth much talked about this preseason does not exist and because it doesn't exist, Utah can ill afford a hobbled Wilson, let alone losing him entirely. Saturday proved that - as an injured Wilson failed to do much of anything when given the chance (beyond running, which, for his height, he's really, really good at).
Arizona 44, Colorado 20
AZ Desert Swarm is pretty happy that Denker is hitting his stride. And just in time for Cal! HOORAY FOR US!
Outside of those UNLV and Washington games, he has completed at least 60% of his throws, and has at least one passing TD in each of those five games. Another HUGE thing that Denker has been able to do is take care of the ball. His three interceptions thrown this year are the second-fewest in the Pac-12 behind Marcus Mariota. Not bad company if you ask me.
Ralphie Report breaks things down very simply:
After Colorado took a 13-10 lead on a 48-yard field goal by Will Oliver with 5:12 remaining in the first half, Arizona outscored the Buffs 34-7 to win their second straight Pac-12 game, 44-20.
Arizona State at Washington State, 7:30, ESPN
USC at Oregon State, 6:00, ESPN2
Arizona at California, 12:30, Pac-12 network
Colorado at UCLA, 4:30, Fox Sports 1
Might this be the single least interesting Saturday in the history of Pac-whatever play? With Oregon, Stanford, Washington and Utah all off, it was a weak slate to begin with. But the two games on Saturday headlined by the two worst teams in the conference? Yuck.
On the bright side, the Pac-12 will be the focus of college football on Thursday and Friday with two potentially decent games. I wouldn't necessarily expect Wazzu to give ASU a tough game, but with the way the Sun Devils struggle on the road, who knows? And Oregon State will look to bounce back against USC, who have actually won two straight in conference play.