If your team survived rivalry weekend without sweating bullets, consider yourself lucky. The wild weekend struck the Pac-12 as four games were decided by 10 points or less. Oregon nearly lost again to further add to the madness and Arizona State, of all teams, had the biggest blowout in the conference.
Nothing was as wild as Alabama-Auburn or Ohio State-Michigan but it just showed how strong the Pac-12 was. Three teams ranked No. 12 or higher in the Associated Press top 25 and a fourth in the top 20. While I won’t claim they’re better than the SEC top to bottom like I did before, being the second best conference in America is no slouch.
Sadly, this is the last Pac-12 recap of the season. Stanford-Arizona State II will get its own preview this weekend for the Pac-12 championship as well as a review where I might throw in some parting gifts. One more time, let’s recap the Pac-12’s wild rivalry week.
UCLA sounds Victory Bell over USC
Brett Hundley said it best. The Bruins run Los Angeles and for the first time since 1997, they won at USC. Hundley earned that win with his effort (288 total yards, 2 TDs) and let the record show here that despite the loss, Ed Orgeron deserves to be the USC head coach. A tough loss doesn’t erase what he did to revive their season.
That said, I’m enjoying the sounds of the Victory Bell. As a Bruins fan, this win is sweeter than last year because I heard folks were leaving the Coliseum at halftime. Nothing like sending your rival fans home in their house and after 15 years of waiting, I can celebrate the Bruins finally owning a winning streak against USC.
Arizona State overpowers Arizona
Ka’Deem Carey got his yards (157) but Arizona State had their way to show why they are the Pac-12 South champions. No Marion Grice for the Sun Devils, who was out with a leg injury, but DJ Foster filled in with 124 yards and two TDs while the Sun Devils picked off BJ Denker three times.
Don’t look now but even if they lose to Stanford, Arizona State might sneak into a BCS bowl game based on how well they perform. Not bad for a team I called schizophrenic back in October and I have to give Todd Graham a ton of credit for having the Sun Devils in this position.
Oregon escapes Oregon State
This was one of the weekend’s better finishes and I couldn’t believe Oregon had trouble with my favorite whipping boy in the conference. Nevertheless Oregon State took the lead with under two minutes left and Oregon took it back in the final minute.
It symbolized both teams in a nutshell – Oregon State looked good but comes up short against the best and Oregon becomes human due to their leaky run defense. In other words, OSU is fool’s gold while Oregon is 10 karat gold mixed with weaker metal.
Washington’s Bishop checkmates Washington State
Hat tip to Bishop Sankey ending his regular season with a 200-yard game because the Huskies needed every bit to survive Washington State. I love the Cougars proving why again the most improved team in the conference but Sankey and the return of Keith Price gave Washington the edge to improve their chances for a decent bowl game.
Utah outlasts Colorado
Let’s face it. When last place is on the line for the loser, stranger things can happen. So when I say Utah nearly blew a 21-0 lead, better believe it and just chalk it up to two struggling teams showing their best and worst.
Utah won 24-17 and it’s a reminder that in conference expansion, some once proud programs will struggle in their new environment. Colorado is a shell. Utah showed some glimpses this year, and you forget that it was only a short time ago that it beat Nick Saban in a BCS bowl game.
Stanford ends Notre Dame
Wayne Lyons didn’t want Stanford to lose their last regular season game so he gladly took what Tommy Rees was offering in the fourth quarter with two interceptions. Tyler Gaffney didn’t want them to lose either as he had a brilliant 189 yards to pace Stanford’s offense.
After last year’s terrible loss to Notre Dame, few things warmed my heart than seeing the Irish fall apart to give Stanford momentum heading into the Pac-12 final.
Pac-12 Power Poll (Last week’s rank, record in parentheses)
1. Stanford (1, 10-2) – Beating a team twice won’t be easy even though the Cardinal did it in last year’s Pac-12 final.
2. Arizona State (2, 10-2) – ASU has not lost at home all year but won’t have Grice in the final.
3. Oregon (3, 10-2) – A November to Forget for the Ducky Boys. They’ll be lucky to play in January.
4. UCLA (4, 9-3) – NFL scouts should take note of Cassius Marsh, who had two sacks and a recovered fumble at USC.
5. USC (5, 9-4) – Second best in Los Angeles but far better than where they were in October.
6. Washington (7, 8-4) – Hail to the Bishop! 1,775 yards this year for Mr. Sankey, your Pac-12 leader.
7. Oregon State (8, 6-6) – Brandin Cooks still leads nation with 120 receptions and 1,670 yards.
8. Arizona (6, 7-5) – Blown out at home wasn’t a good look so down they slide.
9. Washington State (9, 6-6) – Wait and see if they are bowl eligible.
10. Utah (10, 5-7) – A tough out all season but faced a tougher Pac-12 South.
11. Colorado (11, 4-8) – At least they finally got a Pac-12 win right?
12. California (12, 1-11) – Good news is they didn’t lose this week. Bad news? Season ended a week ago.