Sunday Afternoon Quarterback

… Game Eight … Colorado v. USC … Game Story can be found here … Essay for the game: “Loyalty”? – What it means to be a CU fan in 2019can be found here

My Week Nine Pac-12 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (7-1, 5-0) … Previous ranking … No. 1

This weekendNo. 11 Oregon 37, Washington State 35. Oregon broke a four-game losing streak against Washington State, but it wasn’t easy. Oregon got an 89-yard touchdown run by CJ Verdell and an interception return for a touchdown, but still needed a field goal on the last play of the game to defeat the Cougars at home. With other College Football Playoff hopefuls falling by the wayside (Wisconsin two weeks ago v. Illinois, Oklahoma Saturday v. Kansas State), the Ducks continue to creep back into the discussion as a playoff contender. Beat USC on the road next weekend, and it may come down to a showdown against Utah in the Pac-12 title game for a berth in the College Football Playoffs.

Up next … at USC, Saturday, 6:00 p.m., MT, Fox

2. Utah (7-1, 4-1) … Previous ranking … No. 2

This weekendNo. 12 Utah 35, California 0. It was a perfect set up for the Utes, with a Cal offense – which has struggled for the past few seasons even when they had a quarterback – coming to Salt Lake City without their quarterback. The reason why Utah, like Oregon, is sneaking into the College Football Playoff discussion, though, isn’t because of the the defense, which is always good, but because the offense is playing better. With Zach Moss rushing for over 100 yards again (115 yards on only 17 carries, two touchdowns), quarterback Tyler Huntley only needed to be efficient. He was, hitting 11-of-17 for 214 yards and a touchdown in a rout of the Bears. If the Utes can get past Washington this weekend … who knows?

Up next … at Washington, Saturday, 2:00 p.m., MT, Fox

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

This weekendUSC 35, Colorado 31. USC hadn’t won a game on the road all season, but against Colorado, the Trojans not only picked up a road victory, they did so by overcoming a ten-point fourth quarter deficit with a third-string quarterback at the helm. While Utah is getting national attention as a potential College Football Playoff contender, it is actually USC which controls its own destiny in the Pac-12 South division race. If the Trojans can run the table, they will play for a Rose Bowl berth. To get to the Rose Bowl, however, USC will have to beat Oregon not once, but twice … starting this weekend. A loss to the Ducks this Saturday, and the division is there for the taking for the Utes.

Up next … Oregon, Saturday, 6:00 p.m., MT, Fox

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

This weekendIdle. The Huskies were ranked No. 13 in the country in the preseason poll, and were the favorites to win the Pac-12 North. Three losses – make that three conference losses – later, Washington is not only out of the College Football Playoff race, but out of the Pac-12 North division race. The Huskies have had a week off to contemplate new goals for the month of November. Before road games against bottom-dwellers Oregon State and Colorado, and the Apple Cup finale against Washington State, the Huskies have one last chance to prove their status as an upper echelon team in the Pac-12 … and that comes this weekend against Utah.

Up next … Utah, Saturday, 2:00 p.m., MT, Fox

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

This weekendNo. 12 Oregon 37, Washington State 35. Washington State remains in the top half of the rankings more due to the lack of quality teams in the Pac-12 than for the Cougars’ record. Washington State is 1-4 in Pac-12 play, and has lost four of its last five (with the only victory coming over Colorado), but the Cougars not only could have beaten Oregon on the road Saturday night, they should have won the game. Two turnovers – an interception in the Oregon red zone and an interception returned for a touchdown – kept the Cougars from a fifth-straight win over the Ducks. Washington State now gets a week off before taking on a struggling Cal team. The Cougars have struggled at times of late, but will be a bowl team in December.

Up next … Idle … next game … Saturday, Nov. 9th, at Cal

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

This weekendStanford 41, Arizona 31. Don’t look now, but the left-for-dead Stanford Cardinal have won three of their last four, including an impressive win over the Wildcats. Without a quarterback, Stanford was pathetic (witness the 34-16 loss to UCLA), but against Arizona, quarterback K.J. Costello was back, going 30-for-43 for 312 yards and three touchdowns. Cameron Scarlett had 19 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns as the Cardinal offense had 472 yards of total offense. Now, as fate would have it, the Cardinal get a week off to get even healthier before traveling to Boulder to face Colorado. Sigh …

Up next … Idle … next game … Saturday, Nov. 9th, at Colorado

7. UCLA (3-5, 3-2) … Previous ranking … No. 11

This weekendUCLA 42, No. 24 Arizona State 32. UCLA followed up a dominating 34-16 road win over Stanford with a dominating 42-32 home win over No. 24 Arizona State. While the Sun Devils did get some consolation scores in the fourth quarter, it was a 42-10 game to start the fourth quarter. So, heading into their game against Colorado, the formerly left-for-dead UCLA Bruins have won two in a row in convincing fashion. Dorian Thompson-Robinson (16-for-23 for 176 yards and two touchdowns) had one of his best games of the season, but the straw that stirs the UCLA drink is running back Joshua Kelly. Kelly had a whopping 34 carries against Arizona State, going for 164 yards and four touchdowns. If Colorado is to have a chance against UCLA, it begins and ends with stopping Kelly.

Up next … Colorado, Saturday, 7:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

7. Arizona State (5-3, 2-3) … Previous ranking … No. 4

This weekend UCLA 42, No. 24 Arizona State 32. The Sun Devils have gone from 5-1 to 5-3 in a hurry, with two poor performances the past two weeks. Falling 21-3 in the rain to Utah is not too embarrassing, but the poor effort against UCLA may be a sign of bad days to come. Don’t be mislead by the 42-32 final … as noted above, it was 42-10 at the start of the fourth quarter. The Sun Devils now get a week off to lick their wounds and try and figure out where to go from here. Arizona State’s next two home games are against USC and Oregon … can the team which was No. 17 in the nation two weeks ago bounce back? It’s looking more and more like another 7-5 season for Herm Edwards and the Sun Devils.

Up next … Idle … next game … Saturday, Nov. 9th, v. USC

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

This weekendIdle. All it takes to move up in the Pac-12 Power Rankings is a week off. After the top three teams – Oregon, Utah, and USC – there is a real drop off in the conference. Washington and Arizona State each have three losses – and haven’t looked good of late – with every other team in the conference having at least four defeats. The Beavers have had a week off to prepare for the reeling Arizona Wildcats. A bowl bid is still unlikely for a Beavers team which still has to play Washington and Oregon in addition to the Arizona schools and Washington State, but this is an improved Oregon State team, with road wins over UCLA and Cal already in the bank.

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

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

This weekendStanford 41, Arizona 31 … Don’t look now, but there is a team which may be a team in the Pac-12 South with more issues than does Colorado. The Wildcats have lost three games in a row, and have a difficult November slate coming up. Arizona had its chances on the road against Stanford, but couldn’t contain quarterback K.J. Costello and running back Cameron Scarlett. Wildcat quarterback Kahlil Tate continue to struggle against teams not named Colorado, with two interceptions against the Cardinal. The 4-4 Wildcats need two more wins to gain bowl-eligibility, but after Oregon State, their games are against Oregon, Utah, and Arizona State. Better get that win over Oregon State this weekend …

Up next … Oregon State, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

11. Colorado (3-5, 1-4) … Previous ranking … No. 12

This weekendUSC, 35, Colorado 31 … Not that you need reminding, but the Buffs were up, 31-21, with the ball, to start the fourth quarter against the Trojans, and couldn’t hold the lead. Two long touchdown passes by the USC offense, combined with a lack of quality play selection and execution, doomed the Buffs. While the Buffs played much better than they did the previous two weekends, a loss is a loss is a loss. Buff fans were looking forward to the UCLA and Stanford games as the Buffs’ best chances at victories in November, but both of those teams are now playing much better football. Colorado will finish with games against Washington and Utah, so if the Buffs are going to right the ship in the 2019 season, it had better come in the next two weekends.

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

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

This weekendNo. 12 Utah 35, California 0. This just in … California is struggling. The Golden Bears had 83 total yards of offense against Utah. That’s not 83 yards for a quarter or for a half, but for the entire game. Spencer Brasch was given his chance at the quarterback in place of the struggling Devon Modster, but Brasch accomplished nothing, completing 7-for-19 for 47 yards. The Cal rushing “attack” was led by Christopher Brown, who had 24 yards on ten carries. Cal’s longest pass of the day went for nine yards; the longest run went for eight. Yes, Utah has a great defense, and the game was played in the rain … but those are some poor numbers. Washington State is up next, followed by the other California schools – USC; at Stanford; at UCLA. If Chase Garbers doesn’t come back soon, the Bears may go from 4-0 (and No. 15 in the nation) to 4-8.

Up next … Idle … next game … Washington State, Saturday, November 9th … TBA

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