Sunday Afternoon Quarterback

… Game Seven … Colorado at Washington State … Game Story can be found here … Essay for the game: “Parity for Pac-12 – Just Not For Coloradocan be found here

My Week Eight Pac-12 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (6-1, 4-0) … Previous ranking … No. 1

This weekendNo. 12 Oregon 35, No. 25 Washington 31. Oregon overcame a 28-14 third quarter deficit in taking a stranglehold of the Pac-12 North. Every other team in the division has at least conference losses except for – wait for it – Oregon State (2-2). For the Beavers to have a shot at the title, they would have to win all of their remaining games, including the Civil War in Eugene, and hope that the Ducks lose to another conference opponent before Thanksgiving. That ain’t happening, so the only question for the Ducks between now and the Pac-12 title game is whether they can remain unbeaten in Pac-12 play and in the hunt for a College Football Playoff berth.

Up next … Washington State, Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MT, ESPN

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

This weekendNo. 13 Utah 21, No. 17 Arizona State 3. Utah ended Arizona State’s streak of 125 straight games scoring at least 10 points, dominating the Sun Devils, 21-3. Under Herm Edwards, Arizona State has played like an NFL team, keeping the game close, with a chance to win in the end. The Utes were having none of it, though, holding the Sun Devils to 136 yards of total offense. Zach Moss, with 99 yards on 25 carries, became Utah’s all-time leading rusher, passing Eddie Johnson (3,219 yards; 1984-88). With No. 25 Washington likely to fall out of the rankings, the Utes will have no ranked teams left between them and a potential matchup with Oregon for the Pac-12 title (assuming USC loses at least one more game in conference play).

Up next … California, Saturday, 8:00 p.m., MT, FS1

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

This weekendUSC 41, Arizona 14 .For most teams, playing the fifth-string running back would be a problem – not so for USC. The top three running backs for the Trojans were injured, and the fourth-string running back had just fumbled, so freshman Kenan Christon came in, and ran for over 100 yards in less than one half of work, with touchdown runs of 55 and 30 yards. Meanwhile, the USC defense held Arizona scoreless until the fourth quarter, when it was already a 34-0 game. The Trojans will have an impressive injury list when they come to Boulder, but unlike the Buffs, USC has four-star players in waiting to step into the starting lineup. USC controls its own destiny in the Pac-12 South, but still has Oregon at home and Arizona State on the road left on the schedule.

Up next … at Colorado, Friday, 7:00 p.m., MT, ESPN2

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

This weekend No. 13 Utah 21, No. 17 Arizona State 3. The Sun Devils had an FBS-best 125-game streak of scoring at least 10 points snapped, which is a tribute to the Utah defense. Running back Eno Benjamin had 104 yards rushing, which is good, but ASU had only 136 yards of total offense, which is very, very bad. The ASU defense forced four turnovers, but the offense couldn’t capitalize, with the Sun Devils committing 12 penalties for 122 yards. Arizona State didn’t fall out of the polls with the loss (dropping from No. 17 to No. 24), but remain at No. 4 in the Power Rankings as much because no other teams stepped up as for anything the Sun Devils accomplished in the rain in Salt Lake City.

Up next … at UCLA, Saturday, 5:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

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

This weekendNo. 12 Oregon 35, No. Washington 31. The Huskies had every chance to defeat the Ducks, holding a 28-14 lead in the third quarter, but couldn’t hold on at home. The Huskies now have as many Pac-12 defeats as Colorado, Stanford, Cal, and Washington State (note that the Buffs are the only Pac-12 South team with three conference losses). Washington, which had College Football Playoff aspirations at the beginning of the season, is now out of the running for even the Pac-12 title game and the Rose Bowl. The Huskies will have a week off to think about reassessing their goals before taking on Utah at home November 2nd.

Up next … Idle … Next game … Utah, Saturday, November 2nd … TBA

6. Washington State (4-3, 1-3) … Previous ranking … No. 9

This weekendWashington State 41, Colorado 10. The Colorado offense is currently the cure for the common defense. After giving up 143 points in its past three games, the Cougars gave up only 10 points to Colorado. Quarterback Anthony Gordon had a field day against the Colorado defense, but Washington State will have to prove it next weekend to make believers out of the rest of the conference. The good news? Washington State has Oregon’s number, taking the last four games between the two teams. The bad news? The game will be in Eugene, and the Oregon defense is the best in the Pac-12. We’ll see …

Up next … at Oregon, Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MT, ESPN

7. Stanford (3-4, 2-3) … Previous ranking … No. 7

This weekendUCLA 34, Stanford 16. Stanford was a seven-point favorite over hapless UCLA, but made the Bruins look like world-beaters, with Dorian Thompson-Robinson running all over the Cardinal defense, while the Cardinal offense was – to put it politely – inept. Before a consolation touchdown in the final minutes, the only Stanford touchdown came on a blocked punt. After a field goal on its opening drive, the Cardinal offense went into reverse, going for a combined minus-8 yards in three series, with third-string quarterback Jack West being sacked on three straight third down attempts. Stanford now has some extra time between its Thursday night game and next Saturday’s game against Arizona. The Cardinal then gets a bye before facing the Buffs in Boulder. Anyone want to bet that, with one game over a 23-day span, that one of Stanford’s top two quarterbacks gets healthy?

Up next … Arizona, 1:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

8. Oregon State (3-4, 2-2) … Previous ranking … No. 11

This weekendOregon State 21, California 17. Want to impress your friends? Ask them what team is in second place in the Pac-12 North. The Beavers have two conference losses, including a 52-7 beatdown at the hands of Utah … but every other team not named Oregon has three Pac-12 losses. “We’re not the same Oregon State team as last year,” said defensive end Jordan Whittley, referring to the Beavers’ 49-7 loss to the Golden Bears in 2018. “Different team.” The Beavers not only have two Pac-12 victories this season, they have two Pac-12 road victories. The Beavers now have a week off before taking on Arizona … can the Beavers go three-for-three in Pac-12 road games?

Up next … Idle … next game … at Arizona, Saturday, November 2nd … TBA

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

This weekendUSC 41, Arizona 14 … Bar bet winner No. 2 – what Pac-12 team has given up more points the past two weekends than Colorado? That would be the Arizona Wildcats. While Colorado was giving up 45 and 41 points to Oregon and Washington State, Arizona has given up 51 and 41 to Washington and USC. And, like the Buffs, the Wildcats are also struggling on offense. Arizona scored 14 points against USC, but through three quarters the Wildcats had zero points and 167 yards of total offense. Kahlil Tate was replaced in the game by Grant Gunnell, who threw two fourth quarter touchdowns. Coach Kevin Sumlin said after the game that Tate would start against Stanford, but Tate will obviously be looking over his shoulder if the Arizona offense continues to struggle.

Up next … at Stanford, Saturday, 1:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

10. California (4-3, 1-3) … Previous ranking … No. 8

This weekendOregon State 21, California 17. Bar bet winner No. 3 – name the team other than Colorado which is currently on a three-game losing streak? None other than Cal. After opening the season with a 4-0 record, the Bears have lost three straight. Unlike the Buffs, the Bears haven’t been blown out, falling to Arizona State, 24-17, Oregon, 17-7, and Oregon State, 21-17. Having a good defense will keep you in games, but the Bears have struggled mightily since Chase Garbers went out with an injury. Former UCLA quarterback Devon Modster has been horrid, being pulled in the Oregon State in favor of Spencer Brasch, who went 2-for-6 for 24 yards with an interception. This just in … Cal’s offense is going to struggle against the Utah defense this weekend.

Up next … at Utah, Saturday, 8:00 p.m., MT, FS1

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

This weekendUCLA 30, Stanford 16. The bye week was very kind to the Bruins, as quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, a game-time decision, was healthy enough to pass for 192 yards and two touchdowns, while running for 66 yards and another score as the Bruins snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Cardinal. Stanford, behind third-string quarterback Jack West, mustered all of 198 yards of total offense as the Bruin defense posted three sacks and nine tackles-for-loss. UCLA hosts Arizona State and Colorado the next two weekends, looking to right the ship on what had appeared to be a lost season.

Up next … Arizona State, 5:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

12. Colorado (3-4, 1-3) … Previous ranking … No. 10

This weekendWashington State 41, Colorado 10 … With the No. 12 (UCLA) and No. 11 (Oregon State) teams pulling off road upsets, there’s really no other place to put the former No. 10 Buffs. Colorado falls to the bottom of the Pac-12 South, and have a USC team the Buffs have never beaten up next. With UCLA and a struggling Stanford team remaining on the schedule, all is not lost, but the Buff offense has scored only one touchdown in the last nine quarters, and the defense has given up over 40 points the past two weekends … that’s a lethal combination.

Up next … Friday, USC, 7:00 p.m., MT, ESPN2

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