Over a 48-hour stretch and just 45 miles apart, Stanford and Cal suffered a pair of brutal home losses: The former was run off the field by a one-win team; the latter failed to hold a late against a perennial bottom feeder.

It was the worst combined weekend for the Cardinal and Bears in years and yet wholly indicative of the state of play on each side of the Bay, where the rivals are following parallel paths into the midseason morass. And for many of the same reasons.

Both Cal and Stanford began the season with major questions about the quality of their running backs and receivers. Both have sustained a stunning series of injuries to their quarterbacks and offensive lines, exposing the vulnerabilities elsewhere and leaving them unable to generate points consistently.

They’re in danger of missing the postseason if the twin trajectories don’t change, immediately.

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Two teams, 45 miles apart, down to third-string quarterbacks — on the same weekend, no less — and offensive fronts that have been cobbled together.

Toss the injuries up front into a cauldron with the injuries at quarterback and the lack of high-end playmakers at tailback and receiver, and the stew is predictable:


Neither team can score, both defenses are wearing down, and the postseason math is getting increasingly difficult on both sides of the Bay.

To the power ratings …

1. Oregon (6-1, 4-0)

Last week: 1

Result: Won at Washington 35-31

Next up: vs. Washington State

Unanimous selection.

2. Utah (6-1, 3-1)

Last week: 3

Result: Beat Arizona State 21-3

Next up: vs. Cal

Absolutely not lost in all the attention paid to the Utes’ defense was the leg injury to Tyler Huntley, who’s either 1 or 1A in the Pac-12 Player of the Year race (with Justin Herbert). Utah hasn’t yet disclosed the specifics of Huntley’s injury or his status this week.

3. Arizona State (5-2, 2-2)

Last week: 2

Result: Lost at Utah 21-3

Next up: at UCLA

This week is a trickier assignment that it might appear because 1) Utah exacts an elevated physical toll on its opponents and 2) the Bruins have extra time to heal/prepare following the Thursday win at Stanford.

4. Washington (5-3, 2-3)

Last week: 4

Result: Lost to Oregon 35-31

Next up: Open

Third-down conversions in the three losses: 6-of-16 against Cal, 2-of-12 against Stanford and 3-of-13 against Oregon, for a grand total of 11-of-41 … or 27 percent. Is that good?

Washington’s Pac-12 title chances have been dashed. So what do these Huskies have to play for?

5. USC (4-3, 3-1)

Last week: 5

Result: Beat Arizona 41-14

Next up: at Colorado (Friday)

Example No. 1,462 of the Trojans’ immense recruiting advantages over everyone else in the conference: Their fourth-string tailback can do this (0:58 mark of video).

6. Stanford (3-4, 2-3)

Last week: 6

Result: Lost to UCLA 34-16

Next up: vs. Arizona

At this point in the power ratings, we aim pasta at the wall: Stanford beat Oregon State which beat UCLA which beat Stanford … and Colorado beat ASU which beat WSU which beat Colorado … and UCLA beat WSU which beat Colorado which beat ASU which beat WSU. And so it goes.


7. Oregon State (3-4, 2-2)

Last week: 11

Result: Won at Cal 21-17

Next up: Open

You would have been forgiven for not being familiar with Hamilcar Rashed prior to the season, but you’d better know him now: The junior linebacker is second in the nation in tackles-for-loss (14.5) and third in sacks (nine).

8. Washington State (4-3, 1-3)

Last week: 10

Result: Beat Colorado 41-10

Next up: at Oregon

We’re left to ponder just how good Max Borghi could be as a 16- or 18-carry-per-game tailback who did some pass catching on the side … in an alternate universe, of course.

9. Cal (4-3, 1-3)

Last week: 7

Result: Lost to Oregon State 21-17

Next up: at Utah

Chase Garbers’ injury wouldn’t have packed quite the wallop if 1) the Bears possessed a high-end receiver (or two), and 2) the defense hadn’t lost a half-step. Although very good, it’s not what it was in 2018.

10. Arizona (4-3, 2-2)

Last week: 8

Result: Lost at USC 41-14

Next up: at Stanford

The rise and fall of Khalil Tate: A mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a coaching change.

11. UCLA (2-5, 2-2)

Last week: 12

Result: Won at Stanford 34-16

Next up: vs. Arizona State

For all the Bruins’ deficiencies — as bad as they’ve looked, as many as they’ve lost — we glance at what’s coming (vs. ASU, vs. Colorado, at Utah, at USC, vs Cal) and wonder: Why couldn’t they win four?

12. Colorado (3-4, 1-3)

Last week: 9

Result: Lost at Washington State 41-10

Next up: vs. USC (Friday)

September was a honeymoon. October is reality.