The Pac 12 season is quickly winding to a conclusion. While the destinies of many teams, including our beloved Huskies, are pretty much written, there are still a lot of meaningful minutes left to played in the South division. There is also the little issue of a Marcus Mariota Heisman campaign to be worked out. Let's jump into the Roundup.
Pac 12 Weekly Roundup
- The story is the Pac 12 South and the logjam at the top with four teams all sporting two losses in the L column while arguably the best team is sporting three. The club that controls its own destiny is UCLA. Win out and they have a date with Oregon in the Pac 12 championship. However, they may also have the most difficult route with USC and Stanford still in front of them. ASU probably has the best odds to win given that they will claim the title if they both win out and UCLA drops one along the way. That said, I think USC actually has a great path ahead. If they win out - including @UCLA - and then get help from Arizona beating ASU in the Territorial Cup, the South is theirs.
- Kudos to Oregon State. Just one week after I slotted them as the bottom team in the Power Rankings, they stepped up and upset the Sun Devils at home. In so doing, they claimed their first win over a ranked team in two seasons. Credit that OSU O-Line for really stepping up, protecting their QB and clearing the way for two rushers to clear the century mark.
- USC's win over Cal was interesting. It was equally spectacular and sloppy. Is there a team in the PAC who is as Jekyll and Hyde on both extremes like USC? I think that this is the identity of Steve Sarkisian coached teams. Very Dennis Erickson-ish.
- Prior to this season, Utah had played in two double-overtime games. They've now played in two more this season and three overtime games overall. They sport a 2-1 record in those affairs. While a lot has to happen to get them into the P12 Championship game, they can still be a spoiler with Arizona still ahead on the schedule.
- I wonder if ASU is a little worried about playing WSU this weekend.
- Husky fans are now getting adjusted to the fact that they are guaranteed a losing conference record in 2014. While there were clear signs of progress in the Arizona game, it is also concerning that this team has yet to clinch bowl eligibility. While the remaining schedule vs OSU and @WSU feature bottom-of-the-conference opponents, these are also traditional rivals both of whom appear to be peaking at this point in the season.
- Stanford failed to create a turnover in their loss to Utah for the fifth time in their last 10 games. Despite playing excellent D all season, the lack of turnover creation is a big part of the storyline for their quickly failing season.
- Oregon didn't play this past weekend, and that may have put the dagger into the Heisman campaign for Marcus Mariota. You can argue all you want about whether or not it is justified, but voters want to see a "Heisman Moment". To date, Marcus Mariota simply has not delivered that kind of attention-grabbing, record-setting, grab-you-by-the-throat-and-make-you-submit moment. Enter Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon. Against a good Nebraska team, Gordon set an NCAA record with 408 yards rushing in one single game. With no quality opponents left on their schedule, I'm having a hard time seeing how Mariota is going to have a chance to reclaim the attention of Heisman voters before the season ends.
Power Rankings - Week 13
|1||1||#4 Oregon||9-1 (6-1)|
|The only threat to the hegemony of the Oregon regime was upset in Corvallis this past weekend. Clearly the best team in the PAC, the only question left is whether attrition will factor into an upset in the Civil War.|
|Player of the Game||n/a|
|2||3||#17 Utah||7-3 (4-3)||@ Stanford|
|Last Week||WIN||Utah 20 @ Stanford 17 (2 OT)|
|I'm probably going to take a little more grief about my man crush on Utah. However, what they are doing against what many consider the toughest schedule in the nation is impressive. Sure, the odds of them winning the South are pretty low. However, they've got wins this season against Michigan, Stanford, UCLA, and USC. A fluky OT loss to ASU is all that is keeping them from controlling the South. And, most impressively, they are doing all of it without the best offensive playmaker (Dres Anderson) and much of any kind of offense at all. What they do have is a salty defense and a mastery of the fundamentals of the game. Hard to believe that Kyle Whittingham was a "hot seat" guy at this time a year ago.|
|Player of the Game||DE Nate Orchard (10 tckls, 3.5 sacks)||Orchard is the best defender in the Pac 12 not playing for the Washington Huskies. His 3.5 sacks completely wrecked the night of Stanford QB Kevin Hogan and put him right back into the sacks race with Hau'oli Kikaha. Tremdendous overall for the senior defender.|
|3||4||#20 USC||7-3 (6-2)||vs Cal|
|Last Week||WIN||Cal 30 @ USC 38|
|We really saw a classic Steve Sarkisian game in USC's win over Cal. There was play after play made on both sides of the ball balanced out by gaffe after gaffe that allowed a clearly inferior team to come back and get in the game. I don't really see any reason to not be on the USC bandwagon given that they can beat anybody. This weekend's game @ UCLA will be huge as a win will give USC a clearly viable path to the P12 South title.|
|Player of the Game||WR Nelson Agholor (16 recs, 216 yds, 2 TDs)||Just soak in that stat line for a second. In a game won only by one possession, Agholor was clearly the best player on the field. I hope USC fans are enjoying it while they got it.|
|4||2||#9 ASU||8-2 (5-2)||vs WSU|
|Last Week||LOSS||ASU 27 @ Oregon State 35|
|After one of the best runs of good play paired with good fortune that the Pac 12 has ever seen, the dam finally burst on ASU's luck. For the first time in two months, the scoreboard in a Sun Devil game finally reflected what our eyeballs were telling us about this team: The Sun Devils are a good team that relies on ultra-aggressive defensive playcalling and the occasional explosion play on offense to gain their advantages. This is still a really good team. However, OSU - which is still in that bottom tier of PAC teams this season stood toe-to-toe with them on both sides of the ball. That was no fluke. This loss now opens the door for more nuttiness in the South and raises questions about how the Sun Devils are likely to close out.|
|Player of the Game||DE Marcus Hardison (4 tcks, 2 scks, 3 TFLs, 1 FF)||In a game where ASU was desperate for defensive playmaking, Hardison was the only man to really answer the bell. Though he only had four tackles, he made them all count in a very good night.|
|5||5||#18 UCLA||8-2 (5-2)||vs USC|
|No game, no changes for the Bruins this week. The upcoming match vs the cross-town Trojans will be a huge statement for the Bruins, one way or the other.|
|Player of the Game||n/a|
|6||6||#19 Arizona||8-2 (5-2)||@ Utah|
|Last Week||WIN||Washington 26 @ Arizona 27|
|Sometimes you don't need to be the better team to win a game. Sometimes all you have to be is the more fundamentally sound. That is pretty much the story of last weekend for Arizona. In a game where Cyler Miles outplayed Anu Solomon, where the patchwork UW secondary outplayed the vaunted 'Zona receiving corps and the Husky rushing attack dramatically outplayed that of the Wildcats, it was the little details of the game that Arizona fared better in as they avoided the upset on their home field.|
|Player of the Game||K Casey Skowron||It was tough to pick "a guy" for 'Zona given that there were very few matchups in the game that the Cats consistently won in. I have to give their Kicker a shout out given that the season was clearly on the line when he stepped up to make that kick. After missing the first one but then getting a chance to re-kick thanks to the icing timeout, Skowron bore down and converted the W for his team. That's worthy of POG honors.|
|7||7||Stanford||5-5 (3-4)||@ Cal|
|Last Week||LOSS||Utah 20 @ Stanford 17 (2 OT)|
|There really is no shame in losing to a defensively stout Utah teeam. However, the air of invincibility that used to surround this Cardinal team, particularly at the Farm, is now long gone. Stanford is clearly the line of demarcation between the "top half" and the "bottom half" of this conference and are, accordingly, allotted the #7 spot in this week's Power Rankings.|
|Player of the Game||RB Christian McCaffrey (107 APYs, 9.6 yds / rush)||I had a tough time with this one given that you normally like to pick a defensive player in a game that was dominated by D. However, I feel like McCaffrey needs a little recognition. The true freshman has pretty much established that he is the best RB on the team and he is a remarkable weapon in the passing game. Ignore his stats and just focus on all that he brought to the game for Stanford. Now imagine where he'll be as a sophomore and junior. He's a good one.|
|8||12||Oregon State||5-5 (2-5)||@ Washington|
|Last Week||WIN||ASU 27 @ Oregon State 35|
|I had a feeling coming into the weekend that ASU was a team playing beyond its underlying talent level while OSU was exactly the opposite. As it turned out, Madame Fate has a way of balancing the ledger in this cruel game of College Football. Sean Mannion was sharp and his emerging young playmakers, Victor Bolden and Justin Villamin, put more of their difference-making on tape as the Beavers mounted a fourth quarter comeback to upset the Sun Devils. They punctuated the comeback in spectacular fashion with a game-clinching pick six that will serve to send OSU to Montlake riding a tall wave of momentum.|
|Player of the Game||Oregon State Offensive Line (247 yds rushing, 2 sacks surrendered)||In a game against a team that blitzes on more than half of all of its snaps, the OSU O-Line was spectacular. They played smart, assignment based football, kept the jersey of their QB clean and created giant holes for both Terron Ward and Storm Woods to rush through. In fact, both OSU RBs topped the 100 yard mark for what I believe is the first time ever for that duo. The entire OSU O-Line is my POG.|
|9||8||Washington||6-5 (2-5)||vs Oregon State|
|Last Week||LOSS||UW 26 @ Arizona 27|
|This one stung. The Huskies clearly outplayed a good 'Zona team in all facets. However, it was the little things that killed us: ball-snapping, penalties, ball security. The good news is that Husky fans were able to get a glimpse of how this staff sees the team eventually coming together with the play out of the QB and the stepping up to the plate by young guys like Dwayne Washington, Sidney Jones, Elijah Qualls, Scott Lawyer and Joe Mathis. The bad news is that this is still one of the worst teams in the conference and it is still struggling with aspects of the game (ball-snapping!!!) that should have been worked out in the preseason.|
|Player of the Game||DE Andrew Hudson (7 tckls, 2 TFLs, 1 sack)||I considered Sidney Jone, Danny Shelton and Dwayne Washington here, but I wanted to give a little more love to A-Hud. He showed a remarkable motor and was a factor in breaking down the edge of the pocket on Anu Solomon all throughout the game. The Huskies D-Line was getting hits and pressures on Solomon all night and A-Hud was the ring leader.|
|10||9||Cal||5-5 (3-5)||vs Stanford|
|Last Week||LOSS||Cal 30 @ USC 38|
|The only difference between this week and last is that UW now joins Cal and the rest amongst the "last tier" of the Pac 12 football standings.|
|Player of the Game||SS Michael Lowe (12 tckls, 2 TFLs)||It has been a tough year for the Cal secondary. Give Lowe credit for hanging in there while USC was carving them up behind Nelson Agholor. Lowe played with great effort and exemplified the toughness of the Bears exhibited in keeping close to error-prone USC all throughout that game.|
|11||12||WSU||3-7 (2-5)||@ Arizona St|
|The Cougs got a week off to both lick their wounds and to allow for their opponents to continue to game plan for the rising Luke Falk. OSU's win over ASU knocks everybody down a spot. But, watch the Cougs. They may not be done making noise with two to go. ASU better look out.|
|Player of the Game||n/a|
|12||11||Colorado||2-8 (0-7)||@ Oregon|
|With OSU pulling off the upset, there really is no reason left to defend the idea of Colorado not residing in the last slot on the Power Rankings. This team still could pull out a PAC win, but it is looking very questionable at this point.|
|Player of the Game||n/a|