Sunday Afternoon Quarterback

… Game Six … Colorado at No. 13 Oregon … Game Story can be found here … Essay for the game:1,111 Days – The Legacy of Steven Montezcan be found here …

My Week Seven Pac-12 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (5-1, 3-0) … Previous ranking … No. 1

This weekendNo. 13 Oregon 45, Colorado 3. Oregon had over 250 yards passing and over 250 yards rushing, and went 4-0 in turnovers … those numbers will often add up to a big win. The porous Buff defense held the Ducks to 17 points through the first 29 minutes of the game, with the Buffs poised to make it a 17-10 game at halftime. Four interceptions in straight possessions by Steven Montez later, however, and is just over six minutes of game clock, the game went from 17-3 to 38-3. Oregon still has road games at Washington, USC, and Arizona State, but the Ducks right now are the class of the Pac-12.

Up next … at Washington, Saturday, 1:30 p.m., MT, ABC

2. Utah (5-1, 2-1) … Previous ranking … No. 2

This weekendNo. 15 Utah 52, Oregon State 7. Utah must have watched the Oregon/Colorado game, and figured the best way to get national attention for the Pac-12 was to not only win their game, but win it in a rout. Tyler Huntley missed on only three of his 17 passes, going for 247 yards and two touchdowns, while Zach Moss had 121 yards and two touchdowns on only six carries. The Utes have a showdown against Arizona State next weekend in what could be considered an elimination game in the Pac-12 South race.

Up next … Arizona State, Saturday, 4:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

3. Washington (5-2, 2-2) … Previous ranking … No. 5

This weekendWashington 51, Arizona 27.  It looked early on like Washington would squander its chance to come up with a rare desert win. The Huskies blocked one punt, then the Wildcats muffed another – Washington had the ball twice deep in Arizona territory … and had only a 6-0 lead to show for it after settling for field goals. Down 17-13 at halftime, the Huskies rallied for 38 second half points to win going away. Washington now has to take on Oregon this weekend, and must win to have even a slight chance at the Pac-12 North title (Oregon would have to lose another game in addition to the Washington game to open the door for the Huskies). A loss to the Ducks, and the Pac-12 North race is over before Halloween.

Up next … Oregon, Saturday, 1:30 p.m., MT, ABC

4. Arizona State (5-1, 2-1) … Previous ranking … No. 6

This weekend No. 18 Arizona State 38, Washington State 34. Arizona State is, in Year Two under Herm Edwards, right where CU fans hope the Buffs will be in Year Two under Mel Tucker. The Sun Devils have a dynamic new quarterback in freshman Jayden Daniels (363 yards and three touchdowns passing, a game-winning 17-yard touchdown run with 34 seconds remaining), and play just enough defense to make every game winnable. The Sun Devils fell behind 10-0 and 31-24, but never quit. If – and it’s a big “if” – Arizona State can defeat Utah on the road this weekend, the Pac-12 South is there for the taking, with ASU’s other remaining Pac-12 road games being against UCLA and Oregon State.

Up next … at Utah, Saturday, 4:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

5. USC (3-3, 2-1) … Previous ranking … No. 4

This weekendNo. 9 Notre Dame 30, USC 27. The Trojans may be only 3-3, but they are a dangerous 3-3. USC gave Notre Dame all it could handle in South Bend, rallying from a 20-3 to make it a 23-20 game with ten minutes still remaining. Kedon Slovis returned from concussion protocol to throw for 255 yards and two touchdowns, with Amon-Ra St. Brown (8 catches for 112 yards and a touchdown) his favorite target. USC still controls its own destiny in the Pac-12 South race, with a win over Utah in hand, and games left against Arizona and Arizona State. A win over Arizona this weekend might not necessarily keep Clay Helton employed by the end of the season, but a loss would likely end any chance at a Pac-12 South title … and any justification for keeping Helton on the job.

Up next … Arizona, Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

6. Arizona (4-2, 2-1) … Previous ranking … No. 3

This weekendWashington 51, Arizona 27 … Arizona had a four-game winning streak snapped with the 24-point home loss to Washington. At the beginning of the season, the game against the Huskies figured to be a loss, but when Washington lost to both Cal and Stanford, a win over the Huskies appeared doable. Kahlil Tate struggled against the good Washington defense, throwing for only 184 yards on 25 attempts, with one touchdown and one interception. Three of the next four games are on the road … at USC, at Stanford, and at Oregon. A bowl bid seems likely in Kevin Sumlin’s second season, but the only team other than Oregon without a conference loss a week ago suddenly seems very vulnerable.

Up next … at USC, Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

7. Stanford (3-3, 2-2) … Previous ranking … No. 7

This weekendIdle. Stanford, while sitting idle this weekend, is looking to take a step forward in the rankings in the next few weeks … for two reasons: 1) other middle of the pack Pac-12 teams took a step back; and 2) with Stanford’s schedule, the Cardinal may be moving up even more in the next few weeks. Stanford had a bye week to prepare for a Thursday night home game against hapless UCLA, then get Arizona at home before another bye week and a trip to Boulder. The Buffs could well be facing a 5-3 Cardinal team on November 9th which has aspirations of yet another nine-win season under David Shaw … a far sight better than what Stanford appeared to be a few weeks ago when sporting a 1-3 record.

Up next: … UCLA, Thursday, 7:00 p.m., MT, ESPN

8. California (4-2, 1-2) … Previous ranking … No. 9

This weekendIdle. Different season … same issue. Cal has a great defense, but an offense that struggles. With quarterback Chase Garbers out “indefinitely”, Cal’s two-game losing streak could be extended … except for the fact that Oregon State is coming to town, and the Beavers’ defense, like that of Colorado, is the cure for the common offense. The bye week will help the coaching staff build around what Devon Modster can accomplish at quarterback, and the Golden Bears will emerge from Saturday with a fifth win (and a game against UCLA still to be played). Just getting to a bowl game may not have been what Cal fans had in mind when the Bears opened 4-0 and ranked No. 15 in the country, but it’s still an accomplishment Colorado fans would like to emulate.

Up next … Oregon State, Saturday, 12:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

9. Washington State (3-3, 0-3) … Previous ranking … No. 11

This weekendNo. 18 Arizona State 38, Washington State 34. The Cougars had every chance to defeat a ranked Arizona State team on the road. The Cougars jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead, and looked unstoppable. For the next 20 minutes, though, the Cougars were out-scored 24-7 as the Sun Devils had their way with the struggling Washington State defense. The Cougars have now lost three straight after opening the season with three straight victories. In those three losses, Washington State has given up 67, 38, and 38 points. This just in … the Colorado offense will have to kick it into high gear next Saturday against the Cougars. Buff fans know the CU defense is porous, but so too is the WSU defense. First one to 40 wins!

Up next … Colorado, Saturday, 5:00 p.m., MT, ESPNU

10. Colorado (3-3, 1-2) … Previous ranking … No. 8

This weekendNo. 13 Oregon, 45, Colorado 3 … Had Brady Russell come down with the touchdown pass in the final minutes of the first half … the Buffs were still well on their way to a loss. The Buffs certainly had their chances to become the first team in a month to score in double digits against the Oregon defense, but that would have just been a consolation prize, as the Colorado defense had no answer for the Oregon offense. The Buffs are at 3-3, and need only go 3-3 to go bowling for the first time in three years. Unless the defense can find a way to hold an opponent under 30 points, however, that goal is seemingly more and more unlikely.

Up next … at Washington State, Saturday, 5:00 p.m., MT, ESPNU

11. Oregon State (2-4, 1-2) … Previous ranking … No. 10

This weekendNo. 15 Utah 52, Oregon State 7. The Beavers may have some bragging rights over the Buffs, in that they at least scored a touchdown in their rout. Thing is … the touchdown didn’t come until final minute of the game when most of the 31,730 who bothered to come to watch the debacle had left. The only thing keeping the Beavers out of the basement this week is their win over UCLA. Four of Oregon State’s final six games are on the road, with the only two home games coming against two ranked teams, Washington and Arizona State.

Up next … at Cal, Saturday, 12:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

12. UCLA (1-5, 1-2) … Previous ranking … No. 12

This weekendIdle. It’s a cautionary tale for Colorado fans to watch what is going on in Westwood. Chip Kelly was the top coaching candidate – bar none – two years ago, but Kelly is 4-14 since taking over at UCLA. In UCLA’s most recent game, the Bruins fell, at home, to an Oregon State team which just lost to Utah, 52-7. After the Thursday night road game against Stanford, UCLA gets Arizona State at home before taking on the Buffs in the Rose Bowl on November 2nd. Barring some improvement from one of both of these teams between now at them, the CU/UCLA game could be to decide which team finishes in the basement of the Pac-12 South in 2019.

Up next … at Stanford, Thursday, 7:00 p.m., MT, ESPN

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