Utah 40, Stanford 21
The red zone defensive touchdown giveth, the redzone defensive touchdown taketh. Two weeks after stealing a win in Eugene thanks to a game swinging defensive touchdown, Stanford suffers the reverse fate against Utah. If Stanford converts that drive for a touchdown, there’s a pretty decent chance that this game is entirely up for grabs into the final minutes and seconds.
Still, this game shows how fragile the Stanford offense is - without Bryce Love and a functional running game, all Stanford has is the ‘3 flies up’ offense, and it was only a matter of time until the defense started winning some of those jump balls. S&P+ now sees Big Game as a virtual coin flip thanks to Stanford’s mediocrity, and I have visions of Ashtyn Davis and Jeremiah Hawkins flying in to grab JJ Costello jump balls dancing through my head.
Meanwhile, the Utah offense awoke from a three game slumber just in time to prevent what would have been a demoralizing 0-3 start to conference play. With a brutal cross-divisional slate the Utes can now feel much more confident about bowl eligibility, and maaaaaybe Pac-12 South contention if they can win a coin flip over USC at home in two weeks.
Washington State 56, Oregon State 37
Every year Wazzu has a game or two against a truly over-matched team, and all of those 5-10 yard completions that their offense churns out turns into 10-20 yard completions because the opponent can’t play pass coverage and/or can’t tackle, and then Wazzu’s QB-du-jour puts up silly numbers and TV talking heads pretend that this is some sort of crazy occurrence even though it happens 2-3 times every season.
Still, something to keep an eye out for Cal’s game against WSU - the Cougars are allowing sacks on just 1.6% of passing attempts, which is 6th best in the country and a gigantic improvement on last season’s numbers. I haven’t watched enough WSU to know whether or not that’s improved mobility and pocket sense from Gardner Minshew, or line blocking improvement, or both . . . but a WSU team that doesn’t give up sacks is almost guaranteed to score points on just about any defense in the country. WSU only has two road games left (Stanford and Colorado) and should maybe be mentioned in the same breath as Oregon in terms of 2nd tier North contenders.
(And yes, I am thinking about this largely because QB pressure is the only thing Cal’s defense isn’t above average at. I’m legit scared.)
Washington 31, UCLA 24
So the question is... Is UW not as good as we think they are? or... Is UCLA not as bad as we think they are? Could it be both? The Huskies won by a touchdown, but the turnover woes for Jake Browning have continued. Myles Gaskin is apparently still at UW and had 27 carries for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns. So it seems that UCLA has DTR’d with DTR. From a skill set stand point DTR seems like the perfect fit for Chip Kelly’s system, but something still does not seem right with a roster filled with offensive talent. Joshua Kelly and Caleb Wilson are the steading players on the offense with Kelly leading the ground attack with 125 yards and a TD on 20 carries and Wilson leading through the air on 8 catches for 102 yards and a TD. So where do both teams go from here? UW is still clearly searching for some answers while winning, while UCLA is clearly looking for answers while losing. I’m personally expecting UW to fall towards mediocrity, and UCLA to not have any answers until seasons end.
Colorado 28, ASU 21
This was a fun one. Colorado squeaked out the win but it came down to the wire. ASU losing Manny Wilkins late in the game may have been the difference in the outcome. Wilkins was tackled really awkwardly with an unintentional High-Low sandwich. He was then knocked out of the waning moments of the game. Colorado then just proceeded to run out the clock with run after run after run to gain the downs necessary to go into victory formation. The game was headlined, from a statistical point, by the the RB’s of both teams. Eno Benjamin with 28 carries for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns. Travon McMillian with 30 carries for 130 yards. Colorado has definitely established themselves as a force in the Pac-12 this season being the only team in the Pac-12 that is still undefeated. And to be totally honest, this Colorado team is actually really fun to watch.