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Pac-12 Recap: The Washington Huskies had a bad week

Washington had a bad week as they lost for the first time in football and are the only Pac-12 basketball team with a loss this season.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Washington
Washington football got dominated by USC. UW basketball didn’t help by losing to Yale.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Hoops season is finally under way, but we’ll go ahead and get football out of the way before getting into the action on the hardwood.

Utah (49) at Arizona State (26)

Arizona State’s free-fall continued as they have now lost four consecutive games and five out of their last six since starting the season 4-0. It looked like the Sun Devils had a good chance to send their fans home happy as they stormed out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter behind their record-breaking duo of kicker Zane Gonzalez and running back Kalen Ballage. It didn’t take the Utes long to turn it around though, as Troy Williams connected with Raelon Singleton for a 64-yard touchdown within two minutes of the start of the second quarter. Just a few minutes later Williams threw another touchdown, this time to Siaosi Wilson for 27 yards and a 14-13 lead. Arizona State fought back N’Keal Harry capped off a six play, 92 yard drive with a 31-yard touchdown run with just 3:36 remaining in the half. Their struggling defense could not hold the lead as they gave up 82 yards on 11 plays capped off by another Williams to Singleton touchdown pass to give Utah a 21-20 lead at the half.

An 82 yard touchdown run by Joe Williams extended the Utes’ lead to 28-20, but the Sun Devils stayed resilient as they fought back once more when Manny Wilkins found Tim White with a 12 yard touchdown pass to pull within two points, but their two-point conversion attempt failed. Utah put the game away with a 21-0 shutout in the fourth quarter to improve to 8-2 this season.

USC (26) at Washington (13)

I saw a Washington fan hold up a sign during College Gameday which said ‘We Want Bama.’ No. No, you don’t. And if you do still want Alabama ... you just shouldn’t. Does anyone need a reminder of what the Crimson Tide did to USC on opening day at a neutral site? 52-6. Yes, Sam Darnold has come in and performed significantly better than Max Browne, but how much of a difference would he have made against Alabama? Not 46 points worth, that’s for sure. Anyways, the Huskies got flat out dominated in Seattle by the surging Trojans. Clancy Pendergast (sigh) put together a gameplan that proved Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin are human. John Ross, on the other hand, is just crazy good. Defenses have to know that he loves to go deep, but he manages to find a way past them every week. Browning’s 70-yard touchdown pass to Ross in the third quarter pulled the Huskies to within 17-13, but it was just a momentary sprinkle of hope for the home crowd. USC pitched a 9-0 shutout in the fourth quarter which was perfectly capped by a very clumsy safety on Browning. It really painted the picture of how flustered he was in this contest. The sophomore sensation completed just 17 of his 36 passes for 259 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. USC held Gaskin to 51 rushing yards on 15 attempts. This loss puts a serious dagger into Washington’s playoff hopes and I feel so sorry for them.

Colorado (49) at Arizona (24)

Colorado started slowly as this matchup was tied at seven early in the second quarter, but the Buffs exploded for 35 points over the next two quarters to seal an easy win against an overmatched opponent. Sefo Liufau completed 19 of 27 passes for three touchdowns and one interception, while Phillip Lindsay rushed 25 times for 119 yards and three touchdowns. The easy games are over for Colorado. The Buffs welcome Washington State and Utah, two of the best teams in the conference, to Boulder to end the regular season. The Rose Bowl is within reach for Colorado — I can’t believe I just said that — but the Buffs are there if they can find a way to win three tough games in a row.

California (21) at Washington State (56)

The Cougars are now the last remaining unbeaten team in Pac-12 conference play. Full credit to Mike Leach and his coaching staff for turning what was a moribund Washington State program into a legitimate contender for the Rose Bowl. It’s disappointing to see what he has been able to do with the Cougars when compared to where Cal is with Sonny Dykes at the moment. Jared Goff gets most of the credit for the 8-5 season — the high watermark of the Dykes era so far — so what does Dykes have to hang his hat on? Academic improvement? We aren’t the very bottom of the barrel anymore? We send a lot of receivers to the pros? That’s not good enough, in my opinion, to warrant the extension he received last season and I can’t help but wonder if it is an albatross the cash-strapped Cal athletic department cannot afford to carry if Dykes were to be fired after the season.

After yet another loss in which the opponent scored way too many points, I believe it is appropriate to ponder whether or not it is even fair to put the vast majority of the blame for our defensive shortcomings on the defensive coaching staff. I have been extremely critical of the defensive coaching, but some of the blame should be placed squarely on Dykes. His defenses have been garbage for a long time now — at Louisiana Tech and Cal. Does his style of play put too much pressure on the defense? Are they on the field for too many plays? I don’t know. The answer is probably a mixture of style of play and coaching, but whatever it is ... it is very frustrating. In the past I have also mentioned a lack of defensive talent compared to other Pac-12 teams, which is definitely true when it comes to some opponents (USC, Stanford, UCLA), but that isn’t necessarily the case as it pertains to others (Colorado, Utah, Washington State). On the surface, those teams’ defensive recruiting doesn’t look too different from what we’re able to bring into the fold. In fact, we often times beat those teams for the players we do sign. What does that mean? It means they’re lapping us when it comes to coaching those players up and implementing schemes that get the best out of them. It’s frustrating to watch on a weekly basis, but Dykes can earn a decent amount of goodwill if he can somehow find a way to beat two teams he hasn’t beat yet in Stanford and UCLA.

Stanford (52) at Oregon (27)

Is it just me, or does Cal seem to play everyone when they’ve seemingly righted their ship or are already firing on all cylinders? Stanford couldn’t have hand-picked a better group of games to get back on track than Arizona, Oregon State and Oregon. We finally found a team in the conference that Stanford can actually throw on (though I’m sure they’ll do just fine in that department next week, unfortunately), just in case Oregon fans thought their team couldn’t sink any lower. Keller Chryst completed 19 of 26 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns, while Christian McCaffrey rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns on just 17 carries. The Cardinal dominated the Ducks from start to finish and held a 52-13 lead after three quarters before Oregon added a couple of garbage touchdowns to make the scoreline look a little better, but still pretty bad. I’d like to think we have a chance in that game, but I really would’ve liked to have played Stanford a few weeks ago when they were struggling and we weren’t losing horrifically every week, but that’s not how it worked out.

Oregon State (24) at UCLA (38)

If there is one thing you can say about Oregon State, OK two things, it’s that they aren’t very good, but they play really hard. They are getting better under Gary Andersen, but it’s going to take some time to turn it around completely. They were in this game until the very end, as they battled back from a 14-point first quarter deficit to pull within three points midway through the third quarter on a 40-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Manase Hungalu. Just over one minute later the Bruins restored their 10-point advantage when Jalen Starks capped an eight play, 86 yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run. The Beavers added a field goal with 54 seconds remaining in the third quarter to pull within a touchdown once again. The Bruins sealed the game late with a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown by Randall Goforth with 2:14 remaining in the fourth quarter. UCLA improves to 4-6 on the season and now have to beat USC and Cal to make it to a bowl game.


Oregon (3-7, 1-6) at Utah (8-2, 5-2), Saturday at 11:00

Washington State (8-2, 7-0) at Colorado (8-2, 6-1), Saturday at 12:30 on FOX

Stanford (7-3, 5-3) at California (4-6, 2-5), Saturday at 2:30 on Pac-12 Network

Arizona State (5-5, 2-5) at Washington (9-1, 6-1), Saturday at 4:30 on FOX

USC (7-3, 6-2) at UCLA (4-6, 2-5), Saturday at 7:30 on ESPN

Arizona (2-8, 0-7) at Oregon State (2-8, 1-6), Saturday at 7:30 on Pac-12 Network


Arizona State: The Sun Devils opened the season with two wins against fairly easy opponents. They took down Portland State 88-70 in their opener and Cal Poly 96-74. The Vikings were picked to finish eighth by the coaches and ninth by the media in the preseason poll of the 12-team Big Sky conference. The Mustangs were picked ninth out of nine in the preseason Big West media poll. The competition will increase this week as Arizona State takes on Northern Iowa on Thursday.

Arizona: The Wildcats scored an impressive neutral-court victory over Michigan State 65-63 thanks to a last-second layup by Kadeem Allen. UA shot just 38.5 percent from the field and were carried offensively by freshman guard Kobi Simmons’ 18 points off of the bench. Freshman center Lauri Markkanen contributed 13 points and six rebounds as well. The Wildcats take on Cal-State Bakersfield and Sacred Heart this week.

California: Our Bears took down the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in dominating fashion 82-53 to open the season on a positive note despite not having Ivan Rabb available. SDSU was picked second in the Summit League coaches/media poll behind Fort Wayne. The Bears held Summit League preseason player of the year and reigning freshman of the year, Mike Daum, to 14 points and four rebounds on 5 of 14 from the field. The Jackrabbits shot 28.6 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from downtown. Cal will look to continue playing its suffocating brand of defense against UC Irvine on Wednesday.

Stanford: The Cardinal forwards powered the team to victory against Harvard 80-70 in a game that was played in China. Reid Travis scored 24 points on 7 of 13 from the field and 10 of 19 from the stripe, while adding 17 rebounds. Michael Humphrey pitched in 15 points in 19 minutes to chip in, but the guard production wasn’t much to write home about. Harvard was picked second behind Princeton in the Ivy League preseason media poll while garnering five first-place votes. Stanford has a busy schedule this week as they take on Cal-State Northridge, Weber State, and Colorado State.

Oregon State: The Beavers beat Prairie View A&M 78-58 and UTSA 72-64 to start their season off 2-0. Tres Tinkle pretty much willed Oregon State to victory against UTSA as he tallied 26 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks to engineer a second-half comeback from an eight point halftime deficit. Prairie View was picked sixth in the SWAC preseason media poll, while UTSA was tabbed to finish last of 14 teams in the Conference USA preseason coaches poll, something that does not necessarily bode well for Oregon State as the schedule gets tougher down the road. This week they tip-off against Lamar and Nevada (away).

Oregon: The Ducks took down Army 91-77 despite missing their top player in Dillon Brooks, but it was a sloppy performance. Oregon committed 17 turnovers to go along with 15 assists — a turnover ratio that certainly must improve as the season progresses. Oregon plays Baylor on the road and hosts Valparaiso this week. By the way, Army was picked to finish last out of 10 teams by a significant margin in the Patriot League preseason poll.

Colorado: The Buffs dominated Sacramento State to win 90-53 to start their season 1-0. Colorado takes on Seattle and UL Monroe this upcoming week. Sacramento State was picked ninth and eighth in the Big Sky preseason coaches/media poll.

Utah: The Utes opened their season committing 19 turnovers in a 81-37 win against Division II Northwest Nazarene. Needless to say, the Utes have to take better care of the basketball when the competition steps up this week ... wait, they’re playing Concordia College next? Does Utah know the regular season started? The Utes will round out this upcoming week with a matchup against Division I Coppin State.

Washington State: The Cougars, last season’s runaway worst team in the conference, struggled in their season-opening 69-65 victory over Montana State, a team picked to finish sixth and seventh in the preseason Big Sky coaches and media poll respectively. Derrien King and Josh Hawkinson led the way with 22 and 16 points respectively, but their squad will have to clean up their ball control issues as they committed 17 turnovers against inferior competition than they will be seeing in Pac-12 play.

Washington: Yale put on an offensive clinic against the Huskies en-route to a 99-90 victory that came with last season’s leading scorer, Makai Mason, missing out due to injury. Yale committed just seven turnovers, dominated the glass and led pretty much the whole way in this contest — including a 14-point halftime lead. Washington freshman guard Markelle Fultz led the team in scoring (30), rebounding (7), and assists (6), while sophomore Matisse Thybulle added 20 points and six blocks. The Huskies will have to improve their rebounding if they want to compete in the Pac-12 this season. Yale was picked to finish third in the Ivy League this season. Washington will look to rebound at home against Cal-State Fullerton and Northern Arizona this week.

USC: The Trojans won both of their games this week to get off to a good start this season. Their first was a 75-61 win against Montana State, and the second was a 82-72 win against Nebraska-Omaha. The worrying sign for USC fans has to be that they trailed for the vast majority of their contest with Nebraska-Omaha, who was picked to finish fourth in the Summit League, until a nice run during the final nine minutes got them back out front and able to hold on for the win. It’s early goings, but USC will have to play better when they travel to College Station to take on Texas A&M this week.

UCLA: The Bruins threw defense out of the window as they racked up points in bunches to open their season 2-0. They beat Pacific, picked to finish seventh out of 10 in the West Coast Conference media poll, 119-80 to open the season. Next up they beat Cal-State Northridge, picked to finish third (two first-place votes) in the Big West, 102-87. UCLA plays San Diego and Long Beach State this week.