Pac-12 Walkthrough: Arizona, UCLA Square Off
By Christopher Wuensch
Everything you need to know about the Pac-12 this weekend.
Boom! That sound you heard was the foundation of the Pac-12 season crashing to the turf. No. 5 Stanford upset No. 2 Oregon, 26-20, on Thursday night, challenging everything we thought we knew about the Pac-12 this season.
Stanford is now the conference’s frontrunner with games against USC, California and Notre Dame remaining.
Read about the Cardinal win:
No. 16 UCLA (6-2, 3-2) at Arizona (6-2, 3-2), 8 p.m. MST (ESPN)
All-Time Series: UCLA, 20-14-1
Not to be out-done by the North Division, the South will take center stage on Saturday with a matchup that likely will eliminate a team from division contention.
For UCLA, that could spell doom for a once-promising season.
A loss will drop the defending South Division champion Bruins to .500 in the conference with three games to play. Arizona has won five of the last six meetings, but UCLA and Brett Hundley drubbed the Wildcats, 66-10, last season in Los Angeles behind Brett Hundley’s 288 passing yards and three touchdown tosses.
The Bruins defense held Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey, the nation’s leading rusher, to just 71 total yards (56 rushing) and one touchdown.
Carey leads the nation once again in yards per game with 153.1. UCLA is below average at stopping the run, yielding 169.5 ypg on the ground (73rd in the nation).
If the Bruins can slow Carey again, all they’ll have to do to win the South is essentially win out over Washington, Arizona State and Southern California. No easy task.
Last Week: UCLA 45, Colorado 23; Arizona 33, Cal 28
Next Week: UCLA vs. Washington; Arizona vs. Washington State
Rest Of The Pac
No. 23 Arizona State (6-2, 4-1) at Utah (4-4, 1-4), 2 p.m. MST (Pac-12 Network)
All-Time Series: ASU, 18-6
If long-term history is any indication, Arizona State should keep its hold on first place with a win over Utah. If recent history is the barometer, the Sun Devils could be in for a challenge.
Arizona State enters Saturday’s contest with a nine-game winning streak over Utah. In fact, the Utes haven’t beaten the Sun Devils since 1976.
Working in Utah’s favor, however, is the voodoo of Rice-Eccles Stadium, where the .500 Utes always seem to play like world-beaters. Just ask Stanford, which Utah dropped at home earlier in the season.
Travis Wilson is expected to return to the Utah lineup after the bye week to heal his injured hand. How bad is the Utah running game? Wilson rushed for a team-high 42 yards against USC despite not leading the team in passing yards.
Despite the poor numbers, the second the Sun Devils sleep on Utah, they’ll wind up getting bit.
Last Week: ASU 55, Washington State 21; Utah bye
Next Week: ASU vs. Oregon State; Utah at Oregon
Southern California (6-3, 3-2) at California (1-8, 0-6), noon PST (Fox)
All-Time Series: USC, 64-25-4
Southern California might not be able to throw the ball like Trojans past, but USC can run the ball. It doesn’t seem to matter who carries the ball.
Javorius Allen became the fourth Trojans player to rush for more than 100 yards in a game this season when the sophomore tallied 130 against Oregon State last week. For USC, however, the passing game is slowly coming around. Quarterback Cody Kessler now has more than 200 yards in the air in five straight games after beginning the season with paltry 95 and 41-yard performances.
Helping Kessler last week was the return of wide receiver Marqise Lee, who took the first play of the game (a Kessler pass) 71 yards for a touchdown.
The biggest factor for USC against Cal will be the loss of defensive lineman Morgan Breslin. The junior has 15 tackles on the season — 8 of them for loss and 4.5 of them sacks.
Even with Breslin out for an extended period due to hip surgery, the Trojans should be able to breeze by lowly California, who is three losses short of tying the program mark for consecutive losses (10).
Last Week: USC 31, Oregon State 14; Arizona 33, Cal 28
Next Week: USC vs. Stanford; Cal at Colorado
Colorado (3-5, 0-5) at Washington (5-3, 2-3), 5 p.m. PST (Pac-12 Network)
All-Time Series: Washington, 6-5-1 (1-1 bowl games)
If there ever was a time that Washington wanted to see Colorado come to town, this is it. The Huskies can build a winning streak for the first time since losing three in a row to sink their North Division title hopes.
Washington rebounded last week with a win over California. Quarterback Keith Price regained his confidence, throwing for 376 yards — as did running back Bishop Sankey, who added another 241 yards on the ground.
The biggest improvement came at receiver where Jaydon Mickens became the first Huskies wideout to haul in more than 100 yards in a game (180 yards) since the season’s second week.
Colorado is good at neither stopping the run nor the pass. The Buffs have lost 13 straight Pac-12 contests. Their last conference win came in the Pac-12 opener in 2012 against Washington State.
Last Week: UCLA 45, Colorado 23; Washington bye
Next Week: Colorado vs. Cal; Washington at UCLA
“I don’t know. I know we won. But (laughs) there have been a lot of games since then. We look at the games from last year because we’re trying to evaluate their scheme, but other than that, it’s pretty irrelevant to us.” Jim Mora, on what he remembers from last year’s win over Arizona
“Every game we play in on TV, every game is a big game. So he has the opportunity, even though we play some late games on the West Coast, I think people are following him closely enough now that he’s got an opportunity to show what he’s all about every time we play.” – Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez on Ka’Deem Carey’s Heisman potential
“Let me say something. In my 27 years of coaching, Morgan Breslin is absolutely one of my favorite players I’ve ever coached.” – USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron on DE Morgan Breslin
C.J. Dozier, LB: Concussion, out for season
Trevor Ermisch, WR: Knee, out for season
Jake Fischer, LB: Knee, probable
Austin Hill, WR: Knee, out
DaVonte Neal, WR: Eligibility, out for season
Derrick Rainey, CB: Lower back, questionable
David Richards, WR: Foot, probable
Chans Cox, LB: Shoulder, out for season
Alani Latu, LB: Ankle, out for season
Junior Onyeali, DL: Shoulder, out for season
Chris Adcock, C: Knee, out for season
Nathan Broussard, LB: Knee, out for season
Austin Clark, DT: Knee, out for season
Matt Cochran, RG: Ankle, out
Daniel Ervin, RB: Shoulder, probable
Khairi Fortt, LB: Bicep, probable
Mustafa Jalil, Knee, out for season
Jalen Jefferson, LB: Head, probable
Daniel Lasco, RB: Shoulder, probable
Alex Logan, S: Medical, retired
Chris McCain, DE: Suspended from team
Stefan McClure, CB: Knee, out for season
Richard Rodgers, WR: Thumb, probable
Brennan Scarlett, DE: Hand, out
Avery Sebastian, SS: Achilles, out
Sione Sina, DE: Knee, out for season
Harrison Wilfley, DT: Head, out
Joel Willis, DB: Head, probable
Michael Adkins II, RB: Concussion, expected to play
Justin Castor, PK: Hip, out for season
Timothy Coleman Jr., DL: ACL, out for season
Terrence Crowder: RB: Discipline, out
Kenneth Crawley, CB: Ankle, questionable
Clay Jones, RB: Neck, probable
Ryan Severson, WR: Hamstring, probable
Josh Tupou, DL: Ankle, probable
Alex Wood, TE: Concussion, questionable
Marcus Mariota, QB: Knee, probable
Jordon James, RB: Knee, expected to play
Simon Goines, LT: Knee, expected to play
Eric Kendricks, LB: Shoulder, expected to play
Steve Manfro, RB: Ankle, out
Fabian Moreau, CB: Leg, expected to play
Morgan Breslin, DE: Hip, out
Anthony Brown, CB: Knee, out
Kevin Graf, OT: Ankle, probable
Tre Madden, RB: Hamstring, out
Saf Su’a Cravens, OT: Groin, probable
Randal Teller, TE: Knee, out
Leonard Williams, DE: Shoulder, questionable
Brian Blechen, DB: Knee, out for season
Jake Murphy, TE: Wrist, out
Kenneth Scott, WR: Knee, out for season
Westlee Tonga, TE: Undisclosed, out
Travis Wilson, QB: Hand, expected to play
Dexter Charles, G: Shoulder, probable
Kevin King, S: Shoulder, expected to play
Will Shamburger, DB: Undisclosed, questionable
John Timu, LB: Ankle, questionable
|Sean Mannion, Oregon State||296-436||3,540||31-6|
|Connor Halliday, Washington State||302-482||3.098||20-18|
|Jared Goff, Cal||252-417||2.881||14-9|
|Bishop Sankey, Washington||199||1,162||12|
|Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona||188||1,072||10|
|Tyler Gaffney, Stanford||211||1,043||13|
|Brandin Cooks, Oregon State||91||1,344||14|
|Paul Richardson, Colorado||57||984||8|
|Chris Harper, Cal||62||821||5|
Stanford’s upset win over Oregon on Thursday night wasn’t just huge. It changes everything.
The Stanford defense proved that it’s arguably the best defense in not just the Pac-12, but perhaps in the nation.
It’s time to start prognosticating whether or not the Cardinal defense can stymie the likes of Alabama, Baylor and Florida State. The answer might be yes.
Stanford shut down an Oregon offense that was second in the country to only Baylor and averaged about 56 points per game. The Cardinal held the Ducks to 62 rushing yards — including (former?) Heisman front-runner Marcus Mariota to minus-16 on the ground (Mariota was playing with a sprained knee).
As easy as Thursday’s win looked, Stanford’s path to what’s likely the Pac-12 North title has been sluggish and under-appreciated.
Lots of hype surrounded the Cardinal, who started the season at No. 5 in the nation. Ho-hum early wins over San Jose State and Army and a road loss to Utah seemingly tamped down the hype. They dropped to No. 12 then climbed their way back to No. 5 prior to the Oregon game.
This win likely will move them into the Top 5 in the polls. But can a one-loss team compete among the game’s elite? Yes. Will they get the chance? A lot has to happen.