The rise of the Utah Utes is upon us... and they didn't even play this week! With only four games in the Pac-12, our conference didn't have the spotlight on it like last week. But, we still had some good games and some pretty surprising results to go with them. Coupled with lousy performances by other highly ranked teams across the country (i.e., Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Georgia), and that's why ESPN is hyping-up Utah all the way to #1 in their power rankings.
In this Week 5 edition of Pac-12 game reviews, let's take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly from each conference game.
California 34, Washington State 28
Cal had its homecoming game this week and welcomed in Wazzu to take the L for our happy alumni. Superstar Cal QB Jared Goff didn't have a good start to the game - picking-up an INT on the third play of the game - but surely made-up for it by throwing for 390 yards and 4 TDs (completing 33 of 45 passes). WR Kenny Lawler hauled-in 6 receptions for 105 yards and 2 TDs (including an amazing one-handed catch in the back of the end zone between two defenders).
The Cougars actually headed into halftime with a 21-13 lead over the Bears, but Cal came back with 3 TDs in the 3rd quarter to pull ahead and never look back. The Cougars threatened to score late in the 4th quarter, but WSU QB Luke Falk threw an INT to Damariay Drew to seal their loss. To some, Cal was probably lucky to escape with a win after Vegas pre-determined they should've won by at least 17 points heading into the match-up. But, Cal is now 5-0 and on their way to national prominence next week on ESPN GameDay!
The Good: Both teams pretty much got what they wanted through the air. Cal's receivers hauled in 33 catches for 390 yards and 4 TDs. WSU's receivers nabbed 35 catches for 389 yards and 2 TDs. The Air Raid vs. Bear Raid match-up lived up to expectations.
The Bad: While nice passing was on display, both teams were horrid on the ground. Cal picked-up only 79 net rushing yards on 30 carries, while the Cougars netted 14 rushing yards on 25 carries.
The Ugly: Cal only won by 6 points?! That's it?! Cal did what many hoped they wouldn't - get caught looking ahead to Utah and not take Wazzu seriously. Fortunately for Cal, they barely escaped the win and live another ranked day.
Arizona State 38, UCLA 23
UCLA got knocked back down to Earth after some pretty gaudy performances early on in the season. ASU finally showed the potential that so many tabbed them to have in the preseason. ASU senior QB Mike Bercovici tutored the young UCLA true freshman QB Josh Rosen on how to manage a game and make the right plays when they counted the most. Bercovici amassed a 65.8 QBR (27/44, 273 yards, 2, TDs, 1 INT) while Rosen achieved a lowly 37.5 QBR (22/40, 280 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT). ASU RB Demario Richard was a true workhorse for the Sun Devils, while RB Kalen Ballage showed-off his strength and power early and often (including a 23-yard TD rumble with the entire Bruins defense on his back near the end of the game to seal the deal for ASU).
UCLA looked lost at times during this game. The final score actually does some injustice to the dominance that ASU had all game long. Was the Bruins' #7 ranking last week the highest they'll see this season? Is the ASU that we all knew and hoped for coming back to life? There's no better time than fives games into the season to find out.
The Good: ASU is back - and that's good for the conference. Many predicted the Sun Devils to win the Pac-12 South division if not the entire conference this year. The Pac-12 has taken a beating lately with a lot of supposedly great teams (looking at you, Oregon) tanking, so an ASU sighting can only helping in gaining back credibility for our conference.
The Bad: UCLA QB Josh Rosen. The guy is a true freshman. Did you really think the Chosen One (or whatever ridiculous nickname he had as a high schooler) was really going to rule this year? He's had some good games so far, but he's still got a lot to learn.
The Ugly: UCLA losing was not good for our conference. Many were debating last week who was the best in our conference - Utah or UCLA. So, losing to a previously low achieving team in ASU really ends that debate, leaving the Pac-12 with only one top dog now when we could've had two.
Oregon 41, Colorado 24
After the game was delayed due to lightning, the Buffs came out swinging and really took it to the Ducks. Going into halftime, Colorado was tied with Oregon at 17 apiece. Yes, you read that correctly - the lowly Buffaloes were tied with the (once) mighty Ducks after 30 minutes of play.
Oregon QB Jeff Lockie started this game with Vernon Adams still out with a broken finger on his throwing hand. But, after going 8 for 11, throwing for only 54 yards and 1 INT, Lockie ended-up splitting time with QB Taylor Alie in the second half. RB Royce Freeman was a monster for the Ducks with 27 carries for 163 yards and 2 TDs.
For the Buffs, QB Sefo Liufau had a pretty bad game - completing 25 of 42 passes and throwing for 231 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. On the ground, Colorado was held to 77 yards on 36 carries - so Oregon's D stepped-up there. Where the Ducks defense did not show-up was against the CU pass game - allowing 25 receptions for 231 yards and 1 TD.
The Good: Colorado should feel great for being tied with Oregon for an entire half. This is not a good Buffs team, but they put-up a great fight against the Ducks. While their season may still be on the decline from here on out, there is a moral victory to be found in this losing effort.
The Bad: On the flip side, how the heck did Oregon let Colorado hang around for 30 minutes?! This is an Oregon team that got spanked last week by Utah - they should've came out ready to dominate and make a statement. This may very well have been a sure sign of a season to forget for Ducks fans.
The Ugly: Former Heisman-winning QB Marcus Mariota is in Tennessee now, and not Eugene. Can we say the Duck Dynasty as knew it is officially over now? How did Oregon not recruit even a competent QB all these years? Didn't their staff know that Mariota was only playing three seasons for them? This fact - coupled with those hideous human highlighter uniforms - will make all Ducks fans wishing they could turn back time.
Stanfurd 55, Arizona 17
This was a classic match-up of two teams trending in the exact opposite directions - Furd on its way back up to dominance, UofA heading towards irrelevance. The Wildcats were completely outclassed by the Cardinal from the get-go. Game manager extraordinaire QB Kevin Hogan threw the ball only 19 times, completing 17 passes for 217 yards and 2 TDs. Emerging star RB Christian McCaffrey ran the ball 17 times for 156 yards and 1 TD. Stanfurd pounded the ball on the ground and through the air early and often against a porous Arizona defense.
Injured Arizona QB Anu Solomon was out for this game. Backup QB Jerrard Randall was only halfway decent, completing 15 of 28 passes for 178 yards and 1 TD. Randall is a gifted athlete, but making high-level QB reads is still a work-in-progress for him. Until Solomon comes back, Wildcat fans don't really have much to look forward to right now - except maybe that angry stank face that RichRod won't be able to wipe-off the rest of this season.
The Good: Much to the chagrin of Cal fans, Stanfurd is back - which is great for the conference. HC David Shaw and all his conservatism didn't actually doom the Cardinal after all. With Oregon out of the picture now, Stanfurd and Cal headline the Pac-12 North division.
The Bad: I thought RichRod was a mad QB genius? Just like Oregon, it doesn't seem like UofA has recruited significant depth in QB talent lately. This is the Conference of Quarterbacks, right? Wildcat fans (and wideouts) are surely counting the days until Solomon suits up again.
The Ugly: So, just one week earlier, RichRod's squad was on top of the college football world - ESPN's GameDay crew came to Tucson, Lee Corso picked the Wildcats to upset the Bruins, the sun was shining ever so bright. Then, UofA got humiliated for all to see, lost their quarterback, got relegated to a Pac-12 Network game, and then had their will beaten out of them again. Is basketball season here yet?
Key Week 6 Matchup
California @ Utah: The 23rd-ranked Cal Golden Bears travel to Salt Lake City to take on the 5th-ranked Utah Utes next weekend. What's more enticing than this match-up, you say? Well, how about ESPN's GameDay making this the game of the week! Cal hasn't been highlighted in a GameDay match-up since 2007. The winner of this game keeps their dream season alive. If Jared Goff is going to make a Heisman statement and/or Utah is going to make the College Football Playoff, this is their moment to shine. [Saturday 10/10, 7:00pm PST, ESPN]