Thanks to Texas A&M's upset of Alabama on Saturday, the Ducks have a clear path to the BCS national title game as they reached the No. 1 spot in the polls.

Share story

It’s all out there for Oregon now — virtually a clear path to the Bowl Championship Series national title game if the Ducks keep winning. That’s the fallout of Alabama’s upset loss to Texas A&M Saturday, propelling the Ducks into the No. 1 spot in the polls.

Here’s how capable Oregon is: Its entire first-string defensive line was down with injuries Saturday night at California, Heisman hopeful Kenjon Barner was held to 65 yards on 20 carries, and Barner and quarterback Marcus Mariota missed some snaps with injuries.

And the Ducks won, 59-17.

What We Learned

This week, save 90% on digital access.

Stanford may have cost the Pac-12 a bundle.

Of course, that’s not the Cardinal’s concern; even as it dimmed Oregon State’s chance of a Rose Bowl trip, the Cardinal (8-2) can get there itself, either by winning out or (improbably) as a three-loss team (as can Oregon State). But either the Cardinal or Beavers must be in the top 14 of the BCS to make it at-large, and in the new rankings, they’re Nos. 13 and 16, respectively.

If neither gets the Rose Bowl bid, and the Pac-12 doesn’t have a representative there, it’s a blow to schools’ coffers (in the past, about half a million dollars).

Justin Wilcox is worth every penny to Washington. He didn’t come cheaply to be the UW defensive coordinator — $750,000 annually, increasing by $50,000 the next two years — but the makeover has been dramatic.

After holding Utah to a mere 188 yards, the Huskies are fifth this week in Pac-12 total defense at 372.9. A year ago, they were 11th at 453.3.

ASU has hit the wall.

The Sun Devils are proving that the season has phases, and that assumptions of a month ago are often disposable. ASU was 5-1 before hitting a four-game losing streak, and its offense has been a mess as games progress, compiling only 108 yards in the last three quarters of the 38-17 loss at USC, after getting 148 in the second half at Oregon State last week.

“(Coach Todd) Graham is in a tricky position,” wrote Paola Boivin of The Arizona Republic. “He doesn’t want to point the finger at Kelly (QB Taylor Kelly has seven interceptions the past three games). He doesn’t want to call out (Mike) Norvell, the offensive coordinator. But his words hint of frustration with both.”

Your Pac-12 leader in interceptions thrown is

Yes, Matt Barkley. The one-time Heisman candidate tossed three more against Arizona State on Saturday, and Graham told reporters afterward, “Our whole goal was to confuse and pressure the quarterback, and I thought we did that.”

Marqise Lee’s numbers are getting to be ridiculous. Saturday, the USC receiver came into the locker room before the game and alarmed coach Lane Kiffin with an allergic reaction that bloated his face. He was given medication and had another productive day, leading LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke to promote him for the Heisman.

Lee has 98 catches for 1,447 yards.

The receptions are 36 more than anybody else in the league.

One of these days, maybe Jeff Tuel will get a break.

Fortunately, the collarbone injury that caused him to leave Washington State’s loss to UCLA Saturday night isn’t a fracture. In the extreme pain of WSU’s attempted road back to respectability the past few years, nobody has invested more than Tuel, a senior. If there really are football gods, he gets back on the field sometime in the final two games.

UCLA owes USC one, er, several.

The Bruins, who have only a 2006 victory over USC this millennium, get another chance this week against the Trojans, and rarely have the Bruins seemed better positioned.

This Week

Divisional titles are on the line, with the USC-UCLA winner taking the South and Stanford’s visit to Oregon pivotal in deciding the North.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.