Welcome to this week's Pac-12 review, where the misery of other programs doesn't distract me from my own misery nearly enough - especially when that misery is confined to fanbases that I generally respect, like Colorado, Utah, and Washington State.
Hey, are you looking for something to cheer you up? Well, tough luck. Next week, either Stanford wins a game, or UCLA wins a Division title. Remember, if there is a God, it has no sympathy for you right now.
UCLA 38, USC 20
UCLA is the best team in California, and Cal probably should have beaten them. Figures. I'd also like to point out that UCLA had a harder time beating Cal, Colorado, Virginia, and Memphis than they did beating Arizona, USC, and Arizona State. Buncha weirdos.
I'll be honest: I didn't see a second of this game. You probably didn't either, because like me you were wallowing in your own sorrow. It's the evil but necessary cousin of reveling. But Brett Hundley's stats leap up out of the box score, in large part because nobody had really done anything like that to USC's pass defense this year. Early season UCLA would not have been able to protect Hundley against the Trojan defensive line, but evidently the unit has gelled enough to give the erstwhile Heisman contender just enough time to make plays. And boy did he make plays.
UCLA is now just a home win against Stanford away from clinching the Pac-12 South, which will make the 2014 Bruins exactly as successful as the 2011 Bruins.
Arizona 42, Utah 10
Whoa. Only Oregon had managed to score more than 28 points on this year's Utah defense before Arizona exploded for 42 on Saturday. They did it by running the ball more than twice as often as they passed it, going right at the presumed strength of the Utah defense.
Just last week I bemoaned Arizona for their seemingly diminished performance since upsetting Oregon. Granted, two defensive touchdowns and two other turnovers had a huge impact on the final score. Still, this is the type of team that can win the Territorial Cup and give Oregon a run for their money . . . if Stanford can give them the chance.
Will Arizona have Anu Solomon available next week? And if they don't, how much will it impact their chances of beating ASU? Jesse Scroggins came in and completed 3-5 passes for 64 yards, which hardly tells us much either way. Still, RichRod has always struck me as the type of coach that could plug in just about any quarterback he recruits into the lineup and keep things rolling.
Arizona State 52, Washington State 31
By this time next week, we might be looking back and realizing that the Pac-12 South title was decided on September 25th when an overwhelmed Mike Bercovici and the Sun Devils got torched by UCLA. Still, ASU is in contention thanks to an expected win over Washington State, who gained 622 yards and lost by three touchdowns in the most Mike Leach game of all time.
Would a healthy Connor Halliday have led Wazzu to the win here? ASU's suicidal, never-bend, frequently-break defense tallied 6 sacks and 4 interceptions, and also allowed a ton of huge gains. I guess it worked this week, but doesn't seem like a particularly sound week-to-week strategic choice. Welcome to my Pac-12 review, where I praise Todd Graham one week and condemn him the next! #hottakes.
Oregon 44, Colorado 10
This game was only interesting because it involved a team that appears destined to earn a spot in the inaugural playoffs. Oregon showed uncharacteristic restraint towards the Buffs, kindly stopping at 44, not playing a ton of tempo, and punting a few times out of mercy. Marcus Mariota got to pad his Heisman stats, then got to spend time on the bench contemplating his fate as a future New York Jet.
Washington 37, Oregon State 13
Yes, this is in fact the same team that upset Arizona State and handed UCLA life. The Beavers' best chance at bowl eligibility died quickly at the hands of Washington, who didn't even need to use Shaq Thompson as a running back to gain yards on the beleaguered OSU defense.
Arizona St. at Arizona, 12:30, Fox
Stanford at UCLA, 12:30, ABC
Utah at Colorado, 10:00, Pac-12 Network
Notre Dame at USC, 12:30, Fox
BYU at California, 1:30, Pac-12 Network
Oregon at Oregon State, 5:00, ABC
Washington at Washington State, 7:30, Fox Sports 1
It's rivalry week, which is great! Only two of the games are particularly compelling, which is less great! I do love that the TV people have somehow arranged the schedule so that the two most important games - that will together decide the South title - have been scheduled for identical start times on Friday afternoon. It's like the last day of the Premiership calendar!
Saturday is long on tradition and short on import, unless you think OSU can beat Oregon. Notre Dame and USC will have a Bitter Bowl, Colorado will try desperately for a conference win against demoralized Utah, and please God let Cal earn bowl eligibility vs BYU.