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Pac 12 Conference Roundup and Power Rankings: Week 14

The sorting of the South and the pursuit of the Apple Cup. There is a lot to digest as we embark on the final weekend of the Pac 12 regular season.

Can anybody save the Pac 12 from cannibalizing itself?
Can anybody save the Pac 12 from cannibalizing itself?
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

So little time left, so many questions remain to be answered.  Let's jump into the weekly roundup.

Conference Roundup

  • UCLA's big - and I mean BIG - win over USC in the Rose Bowl means that UCLA now clearly controls its own destiny as it seeks out a berth in the Pac 12 Championship and a rematch against Oregon.  A win over Stanford next weekend all but ensures that the Bruins will at least earn an At-Large invite to one of the CFB Playoff bowls.
  • There were a lot of cool things that came out of Husky Stadium following UW's big win on Senior Night.  We'll talk about all of those in due time, but we need to point out the notable improvement that we've seen in the QB play the last few weeks.  This coincides with the insertion of Mike Criste into the offensive line and with better overall pocket protection.  Quietly, Cyler has been accumulating some pretty good stats and, as it stands now, he is definitely in the conversation as a Top 5 Pac 12 QB in terms of efficiency and game management.  His completion %, his INT rate, and his QB rating are all top 5 in the conference among qualified QBs.  His two INTs total tie him for #1 in the nation (among QBs with 250 attempts).  Impressively, his Yards Per Attempt has now risen to #7 in the conference just barely behind Kevin Hogan and Jared Goff.  If you shorten the time horizon to just the second half, he is easily among the top QBs (statistically speaking) in the PAC. I don't wish to overstate his impact. He's still not taking over games. But he is to the point where he is playing winning football.
  • Next weekend's Territorial Cup in Tuscon is a huge game for both ASU and Arizona.  Both could theoretically end up winning the South, so expect a barn burner.
  • Stanford handled Cal with ease and is now bowl eligible.  As it stands, they are ahead of UW in the bowl selection pecking order.  If they beat UCLA next weekend, it is possible that they could bounce UW out of a bowl game altogether.  Needless to say, all of Husky Nation will be rooting for a UCLA victory in the Rose Bowl on Friday night.
  • USC missed a golden opportunity as they laid a classic "Sark Egg" in their blowout loss to UCLA.  Some Trojan fans are pissed off given that the Trojans managed less than 300 yards in offense for the first time this season.  While there were definitely some classic Sark moments in the game, it must be reminded that he traveled with only 48 scholarship guys.  USC still has a long road left to travel.
  • Mike Leach was not a happy camper following the bungled lead and resulting blow out loss in the desert of Tempe.  Not a happy coach at all.
  • A lot of people were chiming in earlier this season about how UW should have Sefo Liufau at QB.  However, it isn't even clear whether or not he'll be Colorado's QB going forward.  After being benched in favor of QB Jordan Gehrke, Liufau was reinserted into last weekend's game but did little to improve Colorado's overall play.  The QB situation remains unresolved going into this week.

Pac 12 Power Rankings:  Week 14

Rank Prev Team Record Next Game
1 1
Oregon Helmet
#2 Oregon 10-1 (7-1) @ Oregon St
Last Week WIN Colorado 10 @ Oregon 44
Oregon cruised to an easy win over Colorado in its final appearance in Autzen for the season. This one was never in doubt, even before the kickoff. The most notable development of the game was the passing of the 1000 yard milestone by true Frosh RB Royce Freeman. He's a handful and will be in a Duck uniform for at least two more seasons. Enjoy that, Husky fans. As for the Ducks, it appears that they are surging at the right time. However, it should also be noted how much the schedule has lightened up for them. It is all relative, of course, because they still possess the best QB in all of college football and remain the class of the Pac.
Player of the Game Marcus Mariota Its not so much about the stats with Mariota. He had another near perfect day in a rather routine dispatching of Colorado. This POG is really more of a "lifetime achievement" for Mariota - a QB who has played a truly flawless brand of QB for most of the last three years. Saturday was likely his last game as a Duck in Autzen. I know some Duck fans think the dropoff won't be so bad. Yeah, right.
2 5
ucla helmet
#9 UCLA 9-2 (6-2) vs Stan
Last Week WIN USC 20 @ UCLA 38
While I have been leading the charge in the "over-rated" chant when applied to UCLA, it is impossible to ignore what we are seeing coming out of Westwood right now. That UCLA defense is surging behing the tackling prowess of MLB Eric Kendricks and stellar play coming from that Defensive Line. The offense is pretty much the same - a lot of lateral passing and Brett Hundley rushing. However, the rushing attack behind Paul Perkins has now emerged. This makes UCLA a legit contender for the PAC Championship. They control their own destiny now - a win over Stanford this week and they will play Oregon in the big one.
Player of the Game DE Owa Odighizuwa (5 tckls, 2 sacks) It would be easy to recognize Brett Hundley here. However, the story of this game was the play of UCLA D-Line even moreso than the Bruins offense. Owa was a terror all night in collapsing his side of the pocket and generating a few negative plays. The emergence of this UCLA D-Line over the past month is the primary reason that the Bruins are surging. Owa is a huge part of that.
3 4
ASU Helmet
#8 ASU 9-2 (6-2) @ Arizona
Last Week WIN ASU 52 @ Wasington State 31
The blessed season of the Sun Devil continues. After shooting themselves in the collective foot a week ago, ASU returned to their season of good fortune after overcoming an early deficit in Pullman. Coming back from their 21-7 hole required some fortuitous tips and bounces of the football, but it happened all the same. I still really don't know how good ASU really is, but at this point it is an academic debate. Their record says that they still have a shot at the South title. They need Stanford to beat UCLA, but it could still happen for them.
Player of the Game S Damarious Randall (11 tckls, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBUs) Randall had a tough assignment and was up to the task for the Sun Devils. Honorable mention to WR Cameron Smith who racked up 131 yds receiving in the absence of Jaelen Strong.
4 6
Arizona Helmet
#19 Arizona 9-2 (6-2) vs Arizona St
Last Week WIN Arizona 42 @ Utah 10
Make no mistake, Arizona is not a team playing its best football of the season. The offense has really struggled over the past five weeks as QB Anu Solomon has struggled with accuracy and RB Terris Jones-Grisby has struggled with health. Nonetheless, UA continues to find ways to win football games. The Utah game was closer than you think until the 'Cats, in some seriously nasty weather, turned on the jets with an impressive finish. I'm going to assume for now that Solomon's injury is not serious and give UA a boost in this week's rankings.
Player of the Game RB Nick Wilson (20 carries, 220 yds, 3 TDs) Look at those numbers. What??? With apologies to Royce Freeman, Nick Wilson is your freshman of the year, ladies and gentlemen. What is really impressive here is that he compiled most of these numbers once the backup QB was inserted. Amazing day.
5 2
utah helmet
Utah 7-4 (4-4) @ Colorado
Last Week LOSS Arizona 42 @ Utah 10
If you watched this one, you no doubt came out of it as confused by Utah as I was. On one hand, the defense looked pretty solid in containing an Arizona team that was able to string together a few breaks early in the game - before the weather happened. In fact, once the rain started pounding down and Utah was able to knock QB Anu Solomon out of the game, I was thinking that the 11 point deficit that the Utes faced had a pretty good chance of evaporating. The opposite happened. Utah imploded as Arizona doubled the lead in a matter of minutes and put on the rout. Utah's lack of offense is really hurting them and, I have to say, I'm not sure that this declining team won't avoid falling victim to Colorado next weekend.
Player of the Game RB Devonte Booker (23 carries, 143 yds) Imagine what this Utah offense would look like without Booker? If you think about the numbers he is putting up when everybody and their mothers know that he is getting the ball, it is pretty impressive.
6 3
USC Helmet
#20 USC 7-4 (6-3) vs Notre Dame
Last Week LOSS USC 20 @ UCLA 38
USC just flat out got blown out by UCLA in this one. A fortuitous pick six to start the game and a letting off of the gas pedal by UCLA in the fourth is all that kept the final score in this one respectable. To a certain extent, what USC has done this season with its limited roster - they dressed only 48 scholarship players against UCLA - is somewhat impressive. However, the fact is that USC has now lost three straight to UCLA by an average of double digits. That's simply unheard of and USC boosters aren't going to be patient forever. As for this Power Ranking, USC's 276 yards of total offense are a red flag and have me dropping them.
Player of the Game LB Hayes Pullard (9 tckls, 2 TFLs) Frankly, I'm not sure any USC player is worthy of any special recognition following this stinker. That said, I do feel like Pullard maintained some focus and effort throughout the game. He was guilty of some gruesome misses in containing Hundley, but he did keep the pressure on throughout the game. That's worthy of a little recognition.
7 7
Stanford 6-5 (4-4) @UCLA
Last Week WIN Stanford 38 @ Cal 17
Interesting game for the Cardinal as they win yet another Big Game. The defense, for the most part, never gave Cal much of anything and the offense simply kept taking whatever Cal's defense would give them. I can't say that I was totally impressed - especially given how bad the Pac 12 refs were in this one (and they were horrific) - but you can't ignore the results, especially with Ty Montgomery sitting out.
Player of the Game RB Remound Wright (23 cars, 93 yds, 3 TDs) Wright has certainly been the workhorse for Stanford all year, even if he is nothing more than a servicable P12 back. However, 3 TDs are 3 TDs and his tough running was really all Stanford needed to beat Cal - especially after the Pac 12 refs decided to be a factor in the outcome of the game.
8 9
UW Helmet
Washington 7-5 (3-5) @ WSU
Last Week WIN OSU 13 @ Washington 37
The story of the game for the Huskies was the continued emergence of the "explosive play" complementing the really efficient play that we are starting to get at the QB spot. Jaydon Mickens, Darrell Daniels, Lavon Coleman and Dwayne Washington all showed off their big play potential while Cyler Miles demonstrated how accurate and timely he can be when he gets in his rhythm. In fact, I thought that the rhythm he displayed was eerily similar to what we saw in the UCLA game a year ago when so many of us starting dreaming big about what Cyler could become. It continues to frustrate me that we seem to only be able to score TDs from outside of 30 yards or on Defense (hello? Red zone offense?), but I'll take that over the alternative. Tip o' the cap to our Seniors in recognition of their last game at Husky Stadium.
Player of the Game WR Jaydon Mickens (5 recs, 125 total yds, 2 TDs) I was tempted to go with A-Hud on this one, and Cyler certainly would have been deserving. However, Jaydon had the mantle of "play maker" put on him when John Ross got switched to CB. The young man has stepped up. His two long TDs - including a high-degree-of-difficulty over-the-shoulder grab on that first TD - paced the Huskies in this one.
9 8
OSU Helmet
Oregon State 5-6 (2-6) vs Oregon
Last Week LOSS OSU 13 @ Washington 37
You have to feel for Mike Riley and Beavs. Things are just not coming together at the right time for this team. First, it took half a season for the receiving corps to come together. Once they do - and how about that beast Jordan Villamin? - then they suffer injuries in their running backs corps. Every step forward they take with the offensive line seems be matched by a step backward by the defensive line. The secondary seems to continue to get confused and get burned more - not less - as the season goes on. Regardless, they caught UW at the wrong time and now face the prospect of having to upset Oregon in Corvallis if they want to earn bowl eligibility.
Player of the Game WR Jordan Villamin (5 recs, 61 yds, 2 TDs) I admit it, I'm in love with this guy. A partial-qualifier a year ago, he's exactly the kind of recruit that Mike Riley has to gamble on. Now at 6'4" and 240lbs, he's a red zone terror and certainly showed as much against UW.
10 10
Cal Helmet
Cal 5-6 (3-6) vs BYU
Last Week LOSS Stanford 38 @ Cal 17
You have to feel for Cal. While ASU may be one of the most fortuitous teams in the Pac in 2014, it may well be the case that Cal - for the second year in a row - are one of the least. While I doubt that they would have found any way to actually win this one, they were victimized yet again when the Pac 12 refs literally erased three TDs ... IN A ROW ... from the board in a stretch of officiating incompetency heretofore unrivaled in the recent history of the Pac 12. Anybody who watched this game know of which I speak. If you can move past that, you do have to ask yourself what the Cal coaching staff is doing with their QB rotation. Jared Goff was inexplicably on the sidelines for big chunks of this game. Regardless, the Bears still have a chance at bowl eligibility if they can find a way to win their last one against BYU - a significant accomplishment to be sure.
Player of the Game RB Daniel Lasco (18 cars, 103 yds, 1 TD) To my eyes, Lasco may have been the only guy on the field that actually played a "good game" relative to his capabilities for this Cal squad. He definitely had his hands full both rushing and blocking against a tough Stanford D. He played a tough game.
11 11
WSU Helmet
WSU 3-8 (2-6) vs Washington
Last Week LOSS ASU 52 @ Wasington State 31
The Cuogs actually led this game 21-7 at one point in the first half. Of course, that means that ASU went on a 45-10 run to close it out. 5 turnovers and a seive like defense will do that to a team. Mike Leach's animated post-game quotes is worth a watch. He is not a happy coach. It is just the Huskies luck that they get to catch an angry WSU team who will be playing their last football of the season next weekend. Expect a wild one in Pullman.
Player of the Game WR Vince Mayle (15 recs, 252 yds) Yup, you read that right. For the second time this season, Mayle went over the 250 yards receving mark. He now has 101 catches for over 1400 yards - both WSU records. He's had a tremendous season and will be really missed next year. I shutter to think what he might be able to do against our young secondary in his last game.
12 12
Colorado Helmet
Colorado 2-9 (0-8) vs Utah
Last Week LOSS Colorado 10 @ Oregon 44
We noted in Gekko Files preview of Colorado to start the season that this would be a team that will be improved but may not get much of an uptick in their w/l record due to the rising tide in the rest of the conference. It has pretty much turned out exactly that way for the Buffs as they stand on the precipice of a winless conference season depending on the outcome of their "rivalry" game next weekend against Utah. The Oregon game was the first one of the season where I feel like Colorado simply didn't show up. The QB controversy and the benching of Sefo Liufau probably had a lot to do with it. I expect that the Utah game may be a little different.
Player of the Game DB Ryan Moeller (14 tckls, 1 PBU) There really weren't too many standouts for Colorado. However, the freshman DB played tough and at least stuck his nose in there time and again. Good enough for POG under the circumstances.

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