Sunday Afternoon Quarterback

… Game Eleven … Colorado 20, Washington 14 … Game Story can be found here … Essay for the game: “Senior Moments” can be found here

My Week Thirteen Pac-12 Power Rankings

1. Utah (10-1, 7-1) … Previous ranking … No. 2

This weekendNo. 7 Utah 35, Arizona 7 … Another day, another rout for the Utes. The Utes have given up only 120 points all season, with the Wildcats’ lone score coming on a consolation touchdown with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Ready for this stat? The Utah defense hasn’t given up a single touchdown in their last fifteen quarters at home. Since Washington State scored in the first quarter against the Utes (in a 38-13 rout), the Utes have given up: 3 points to ASU; 0 to Cal; and 3 to UCLA. A tough assignment for the CU offense lays ahead.

Up next … Colorado, Saturday, 5:30 p.m., MT, ABC

2. Oregon (9-2, 7-1) … Previous ranking … No. 1

This weekendArizona State 31, No. 6 Oregon 28 ... In the first eight years, the Pac-12 champion failed to make it through the Pac-12 regular season without a loss. Well, make it nine years in a row, as Oregon lost its chance at an undefeated Pac-12 campaign – and a playoff opportunity – with a loss to the Herm Edwards’ boys. The Ducks scored three touchdowns in the final 7:43, but it wasn’t enough to defeat the Sun Devils. Oregon is still clearly the No. 2 team in the conference, and will have a shot at the Rose Bowl if they can get past Oregon State and the Pac-12 South champion.

Up next … Oregon State, Saturday, 2:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

3. USC (8-4, 7-2) … Previous ranking … No. 4

This weekendUSC 52, UCLA 35 … USC freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis threw for a record 515 yards and four touchdowns as the Trojans thumped their cross-town rivals, making up for a 34-27 surprise loss to the Bruins in Chip Kelly’s debut season. The Trojans’ regular season is now complete. If Utah loses to Colorado, USC will become the unlikely opponent for the Ducks in the Pac-12 title game. Either way, the fate of Clay Helton is now in the hands of new athletic director Mike Bohn. Is an 8-4 record, with five wins in the last six games going to be good enough?

Up next … Regular season complete … Bowl game TBD …

4. Arizona State (6-5, 3-5) … Previous ranking … No. 9

This weekend Arizona State 31, No. 6 Oregon 28 … Losers of four straight games, including a 35-34 loss to Oregon State the previous week, the Sun Devils were not prime candidates to upset the Ducks. But … freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels outplayed senior Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, passing for 408 yards and three touchdowns, while the ASU defense intercepted Herbert twice. The Sun Devils are now bowl-eligible, and have home game against hapless Arizona before finding out their bowl opponent. Regardless, the win over Oregon is going to improve the ASU stock with recruits, and Herm Edwards’ stock with the nation’s prognosticators.

Up next … Arizona, Saturday, 8:00 p.m., MT, ESPN

5. Washington State (6-5, 3-5) … Previous ranking … No. 6

This weekendWashington State 54, Oregon State 53 ... Oregon State scored three touchdowns in just over three minutes of game clock to turn a 42-32 deficit into a 53-42 lead. Down 11 with 4:17 to play, the Washington State offense kicked things into high gear, scoring twice, including two-yard scoring run by Max Borghi with two seconds to play to give the Cougars the bowl-eligibility clinching win. Both teams posted over 600 yards of total offense, and the Cougars overcame five turnovers for the win. The Apple Cup against Washington, which seemed like a sure loss a few weeks ago, is now a battle between two 6-5 teams … and the Cougars have a real shot at their first win in the series after six straight defeats.

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

6. Colorado (5-6, 3-5) … Previous ranking … No. 7

This weekendColorado 20, Washington State 14 … The Buffs held the lead for 52:23 of their 20-14 win over Washington, but the Buff Nation wasn’t comfortable until Alex Fontenot went for three yards on third-and-one with a minute remaining, allowing the Buffs to run out the clock. The CU defense, much maligned all season (and not without reason) held Washington to 238 yards of total offense, and held its second straight opponent to 14 points or less … after giving up 30 points or more to 14 straight opponents. If the Buffs are to become bowl-eligible, they will have to take out a Utah team which is not only seeking a College Football Playoff berth, but one which is having an historically successful season.

Up next … at Utah, Saturday, 5:30 p.m., MT, ABC

7. Washington (6-5, 3-5) … Previous ranking … No. 3

This weekendColorado 20, Washington 14 … Washington opened the season as the No. 13 team in the nation, but it’s been pretty much downhill ever since. The Huskies have lost five Pac-12 games, including their first loss in Pac-12 play to Colorado. Now Washington is 6-5, and facing a Washington State team which is also 6-5 … and playing much better football. There is plenty of talent on the Washington roster, but they have lost three out of their last four games. Close losses to Oregon and Utah are understandable, but the Huskies were not up for their final road game of the season against a Colorado team which was primed for a great Senior sendoff. Perhaps having their own Senior Day on Friday will help the Huskies rebound.

Up next … Washington State, Friday, 2:00 p.m., Fox

8. California (6-5, 3-5) … Previous ranking … No. 10

This weekendCal 24, Stanford 20 … Cal has been a roller coaster this season. The Bears opened with four straight victories … followed by four straight defeats. A nice 33-20 win over Washington State was followed by a humbling 41-17 loss to USC. The see saw continued with a comeback 24-20 win over Stanford, the first win in The Big Game for Cal since 2009. The Bears scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, including a 16-yard scramble for a touchdown by quarterback Chase Garbers with 1:19 to play. If form holds, Cal will follow up their big win … with a loss to 4-7 UCLA.

Up next … at UCLA, Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MT, FS1

9. Oregon State (5-6, 4-4) … Previous ranking … No. 5

This weekendWashington State 54, Oregon State 53 … Oregon State had it all in front of it. The Beavers were up 11 with just over four minutes to play, with a sixth win and a bowl bid for the first time since 2013. Now, despite posting 53 points and 601 yards of total offense, the 5-6 Beavers now must defeat an angry Oregon team in order to go bowling. It’s been a good season for the Beavers, with Pac-12 road wins over Cal, UCLA and Arizona. A road win over Washington State would have sealed the Coach-of-the-Year honors for coach Jonathan Smith. Now, it’s going to take a minor miracle (see: Buffaloes, Colorado) for Smith to get a plaque, and for Oregon State to continue playing into December.

Up next … at Oregon, Saturday, 2:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

10. UCLA (4-7, 4-4) … Previous ranking … No. 8

This weekendUSC 52, UCLA 35 …  Two games ago, the Bruins were riding high. UCLA had overcome a 1-5 start, winning three in row – an impressive 34-16 road win over Stanford, a 42-32 win over a ranked Arizona State, and a dominating win over Colorado. Now, after giving up 49 points to Utah and 52 to USC, the Bruins have seven losses, and will be home for the holidays for a second year under Chip Kelly. UCLA is 7-16 under Kelly, with a chance at win No. 8 – and No. 5 for the season – against Cal in the finale.

Up next … Cal, Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MT, FS1

11. Stanford (4-7, 3-6) … Previous ranking … No. 11

This weekendCal 24, Stanford 20 … After losing to Colorado last weekend, a bowl bid for the Cardinal was unlikely. It was going to take a win over Cal in The Big Game, then a win over Notre Dame in the finale. Instead, Stanford absorbed loss No. 7, and surrendered The Axe to the Bears for the first time in a decade. A loss to the Irish seems likely, leaving Stanford with a 4-8 record – uncharted territory for a team which is used to eight or nine wins a season (including nine wins in 2018). David Shaw usually spends his off-season fending off stories that he is going to the NFL. Such stories are much less likely this off-season.

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

12. Arizona (4-7, 2-6) … Previous ranking … No. 12

This weekendNo. 7 Utah 35, Arizona 7 … At least the Wildcats are consistent. Arizona followed up a 34-6 loss to Oregon with a 35-7 loss to Utah. If form holds, a 36-8 loss to Arizona State in the Territorial Cup comes next. A road game, against a team which just knocked off No. 6 Oregon, doesn’t sound inviting. After Arizona defeated Colorado, 35-30, on October 5th … and hasn’t won since. The losing streak is at six games, and has a very good chance of being extended. That would leave Arizona – and second-year coach Kevin Sumlin – a nine-month off-season to contemplate a season-ending seven game losing streak (which, as Buff fans know, is not an enviable scenario).

Up next … at Arizona State, 8::00 p.m., MT, ESPN

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