After one full week of conference play, Oregon controls their own destiny in the PAC-12 North. All the other teams in the division have a conference loss.
The Ducks sit alone in first place at 1-0.
There are still 8 more hurdles to clear, but that’s a great start. The danger is that the rest of the conference will cannibalize each other so much over the course of the league play that the perception will be that the PAC-12 is a conference of mediocre teams.
UCLA, USC, Stanford, Arizona State and Arizona are pretty good, but Oregon is the class of the conference, provided they get healthy on the offensive line and improve their consistency on defense.
Yesterday’s 20-13 win over Washington showed The Cardinal are still true to their identity as a hard-hitting defense and a plodding offense. They were 3-12 on third downs, 4-5 in the red zone, settling for field goals twice.
The Huskies are physical. Shaq Thompson’s rip and strip and fumble recovery for a touchdown kept them close until the offense found a little rhythm, but Chris Petersen’s head-scratching fake punt call on 4th and 9 midway through the fourth quarter aided the visitors. Thompson was stuffed and it gave Stanford the ball on the UW 47.
Cardinal coach David Shaw fumed after the game, “I think we are so much better than we are playing, and the point I got across to the team is it doesn’t matter how good we are, it matters how well we play. And right now, when you look at us right now we’re a semi-efficient, sloppy offense and that’s not one thing we’ve ever been known for and it’s one thing we better not be known from here on out this season.”
Stanford won despite 85 yards in penalties and three turnovers. They travel to Notre Dame next week. Washington has a tough defense, but hasn’t found its offensive rhythm with new quarterback Cyler Miles. The Huskies had just 179 yards of offense and averaged 3.4 yard per pass attempt, with Miles going 15-30 for a mere 98 yards.
In the conference nightcap Oregon State got steamrolled by USC 35-10. The Beavers fell victim to a Hail Mary for a touchdown on the last play of the first half, and couldn’t stop the Trojan running game. Sean Mannion was harrassed all night and miserably ineffective. 15-32 passing for 132 yards, throwing under pressure on nearly every snap. OSU’s only touchdown came on a kick return. The Trojans looked dominant a week after losing at Boston College, a game in which they gave up 435 yards rushing.
Washington State rebounded with a road win over Utah 28-27, and surprising Cal beat surprising Colorado 59-56 in double overtime to reach 3-1. Next weekend the Utes travel to Pasadena to face UCLA, and USC hosts Arizona State.
Nationally, Florida State survived another scare in Raleigh, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter after trailing 38-28 in the third. Jameis Winston threw a pair of picks but led the comeback. #6 Texas A&M topped Arkansas in overtime 35-28. Baylor beat Iowa State, while unranked Tennessee battled but succumbed to #12 Georgia 35-32. Idle Alabama passed the Seminoles to become the new number one in the Coaches poll.