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Sunday Afternoon Quarterback

… Game Twelve … No. 6 Utah 45, Colorado 15 … Game Story can be found here … Essay for the game: “Same Record; Different Outlook … ‘Our culture is starting to take hold’ “ can be found here

My Final Regular Season Pac-12 Power Rankings

1. Utah (11-1, 8-1) … Previous ranking … No. 1

This weekendNo. 6 Utah 45, Colorado 15 … The Utes spotted the Buffs a 7-0 lead before out-scoring CU 45-8 the rest of the way. It was only 17-7 at halftime, with the final three points coming after a nine-yard drive after a long punt return. The Utah defense, though, took over in the second half, shutting down the CU offense long enough for the Utes’ offense to get its act together. The Utes only had 372 yards of total offense – Tyler Huntley was held to 165 yards passing; Zach Moss held to 88 yards rushing – but short fields and a punt return offense were enough to send the Utes to their second consecutive Pac-12 title game.

Up next … v. Oregon, Pac-12 championship game … Friday, 6:00 p.m., MT, ABC

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

This weekendNo. 14 Oregon 24, Oregon State 10 … The final score belies just how close the Civil War was this season. Justin Herbert, in his final game in Autzen stadium, was held to a season-low 174 yards passing, and it was a 17-10 game with less than two minutes remaining. “We’ve got a great opportunity on Friday, we’re going to do our best to fix what we did wrong today,” Herbert said simply, avoiding a question about the team’s Rose Bowl hopes. If the Ducks are going to have any hope of defeating Utah in the Pac-12 championship game, they will have to play better than they did against the Beavers.

Up next … v. Utah, Pac-12 championship game … Friday, 6:00 p.m., MT, ABC

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

This weekendRegular season complete … The Trojans’ hopes for a Pac-12 South title and a chance at a Rose Bowl berth rested on the Buffs defeating the Utes. Umm … not so much. Now, USC will be out of the news until the bowl selections are made (likely the Alamo Bowl if Utah makes the College Football Playoffs; the Holiday Bowl if Oregon wins a trip to the Rose Bowl, and Utah goes to the Alamo Bowl). The Trojans could still make some national news if head coach Clay Helton were to be fired, but there are reports that new athletic director Mike Bohn is leaning towards retaining Helton.

Up next … Bowl game … TBD

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

This weekend Arizona State 24, Arizona 14 … It wasn’t particularly pretty, but the Sun Devils found their way to a second-consecutive 7-5 season under head coach Herm Edwards. Running back Eno Benjamin ran for 168 yards, finishing the season with 1,073 yards rushing, and was the lead back as the Sun Devils wore down the Wildcats with their solid rushing attack. Arizona State finished third in the Pac-12 South, and will be going bowling while division rivals Arizona, UCLA, and Colorado sit home for the holidays.

Up next … Bowl game … TBD

5. Washington (7-5, 4-5) … Previous ranking … No. 7

This weekendWashington 31, Washington State 13 … For the seventh straight year the Apple Cup will reside in Seattle after Washington once again stymied the Cougars, rolling to a 31-13. The seven straight wins are the longest in the series since the Huskies won eight between 1974-81. All seven wins have been by double-digits. The game in recent years had a Pac-12 North division title implications, but this year all that was at stake was pride. A 7-5 season was not what Husky fans were looking for when Washington opened the season as the No. 13 team in the nation, but a win over Washington State has to – at least a little bit – make up for the inexplicable loss to Colorado.

Up next … Bowl game … TBD

6. California (7-5, 4-5) … Previous ranking … No. 8

This weekendCalifornia 28, UCLA 18 … Cal was a team of streaks during the 2019. The Bears opened the season 4-0, including a (then) surprising 20-19 win over Washington. The Bears moved up to No. 15 in the national polls … and then lost four straight. Just when it appeared that the Bears were heading for the dust bin without quarterback Chase Garbers, the Bears won three of their final four games, with the only loss coming against USC. Christopher Brown ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns as the Bears followed up their first win in the Big Game with Stanford in nine seasons with a strong win over the Bruins in the Rose Bowl.

Up next … Bowl game … TBD

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

This weekendWashington 31, Washington State 13 … Washington State was held to a season-low 13 points as the Huskies defeated the Cougars for the seventh straight times. You’ve heard it from Washington players before, and we heard it again after this game: “They haven’t switched up their plays, so we keep running the same stuff,” Washington defensive back Elijah Molden said. Mike Leach got testy with the media after in the post-game press conference (nothing new here). You have to wonder if – despite all of the success Leach has had in Pullman – that a mutual parting of the ways may be in the offing.

Up next … Bowl game … TBD

8. Oregon State (5-7, 4-5) … Previous ranking … No. 9

This weekendNo. 14 Oregon 24, Oregon State 10 … Oregon State did almost everything right on the road against the heavily favored Ducks. They held Justin Herbert to 174 yards passing, and had the ball, down 17-10, in the final minutes. Tristin Gebbia, a transfer from Nebraska, earned the start in place of an injured Jake Luton, and almost led his team to an upset. Gebbia only appeared in four games this fall, so he will still have three years of eligibility remaining. The Beavers failed to get to six wins and a bowl bid for the first time since 2013, but the five wins exceeds the win totals for the previous two seasons.

Up next … Season complete

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

This weekendNo. 6 Utah 45, Colorado 15 … The Buffs didn’t deserve the final score they got, but they ran into a team playing on national television which was trying to run up style points. It was 14-7 game with less than two minutes to go in the first half, but two long punt returns, and a stout Utah defense in the second half, turned a close game into a rout. The Buffs were the only Pac-12 team to score two touchdowns against the Ute defense this season, but you won’t be reading about that in the national media. It’s another 5-7 finish, but Buff fans are considerably more optimistic this Thanksgiving weekend Sunday then they have been in years.

Up next … Season complete

10. UCLA (4-8, 4-5) … Previous ranking … No. 10

This weekendCalifornia 28, UCLA 18 …  The three-game winning streak the Bruins put together – wins over Stanford, No. 24 Arizona State, and Colorado – has been largely forgotten. A season-ending three-game losing streak, including a 52-35 thumping by cross-town rival USC and a 28-18 loss to Cal, has Bruin fans wondering whether Chip Kelly – now 7-17 in Westwood – is the answer. There is a published story that UCLA and Kelly might have a parting of the ways (read: no big buyout either way), with Kelly returning to the NFL as an offensive coordinator.

Up next … Season complete

11. Stanford (4-8, 3-6) … Previous ranking … No. 11

This weekendNo. 16 Notre Dame 45, Stanford 24 … Stanford opened the 2019 season as the No. 25 team in the nation, and rose to No. 23 after a season-opening 17-7 win over (what proved to be) a terrible Northwestern team. A subsequent three-game losing streak put an end to any national ranking discussion. A pair of wins, including an upset of Washington, seemingly righted the ship, but the Cardinal finished the season with five losses in the last six games, including a four-game losing streak to end the year. Stanford opened its finale against Notre Dame with a 17-7 lead … but then were out-scored 38-7 the rest of the way. Stanford finished the year with Cal beating the Cardinal for the first time in nine years, and Notre Dame winning in Palo Alto for the first time since 2007. “I plan on celebrating on a lot of other people’s fields next year,” coach David Shaw said. We’ll see …

Up next … Season complete

12. Arizona (4-8, 2-7) … Previous ranking … No. 12

This weekendArizona State 24, Arizona 14 … If Arizona and quarterback Kahlil Tate only could have played Colorado every weekend, the Wildcats would be playing for a national championship. Instead, the Wildcats, after beating CU in Boulder, 35-30, lost their last seven games of the season to finish 4-8. The seven losses were by an average of 20 points per game, and every loss was by double digits. Is Kevin Sumlin, 9-15 in his first two seasons in Tucson, in any danger? No, according to Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke, who made a point of announcing right after the Territorial Cup loss that Sumlin would return for the 2020 season.

Up next … Season complete

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6 Replies to “Sunday Afternoon Quarterback”

  1. Stuart, I failed to see Jonathan Van Diest on the field after about 5-6 games ( I think). Did he get injured ? or was I not paying enough attention to the TV ?

    1. According to the CU participation chart, Van Diest started the first five games of the year, and played in every other game. Akil Jones supplanted him in the starting lineup. Through the Washington game, Van Diest had been on the field for the defense for 174 plays, with 19 tackles.

  2. Well like I said at the beginning of the season, very few 1st year coaches have winning seasons. Some nice victories along the way but still a losing season. I’m thinking they will be bowl eligible next year if they have a QB.

  3. Bowl Games.

    So Stu
    How many bowl games are there?
    How many 6 + wins are there?
    Which 5 win team gets a bowl bid?

    ONE MORE GAME………………ONE MORE GAME…………………ONE MORE GAME

    1. Doesn’t matter. The Pac-12 has already voted not to have any 5-7 teams accept a bowl invitation.
      If there are any 5-7 teams which get in, it goes by APR, and, wait for it, Nebraska is high on that list (helps when your entire team majors in “Undergraduate Studies”).
      The Cornhuskers went bowling with a 5-7 record in 2015, and beat UCLA in the Foster Farms Bowl to finish 6-7.

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