The Washington State Cougars bounced back over the weekend, Dante Pettis set an NCAA record and the Pac-12 North could likely be decided at the Apple Cup. Here's our weekend wrap.
Theme of the week I: Line. Of. Scrimmage.
For all the creative playcalling and skill position talent in the conference, the division races have been framed by the trenches.
USC’s lines were in control against Arizona (for most of the game, at least); Washington’s defensive front has dominated all season; and Washington State’s front seven outplayed Stanford.
If you’re drafting lines (offense and defense as a package, and fully healthy), those are three that you’d want — the Huskies and Trojans, for sure, and probably the Cougars, too.
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Theme of the week II: Home cookin’, and road kill.
So many examples of teams playing well at home and struggling on the road.
I’m not sure it’s more pronounced than previous seasons, but it feels that way. The decisive nature of the results could be the reason:
In the past two weeks, only two of 12 games have been decided by a touchdown or less (Stanford-OSU and Stanford-WSU).
And the homes teams are 10-2.
Offensive player of the week: Washington State QB Luke Falk.
Several terrific performances by tailbacks — Cal’s Patrick Laird (214 yards rushing), ASU’s Demario Richard (141 yards in the fourth quarter) and USC’s Ronald Jones (194 yards) — but the pick here is Falk.
He was 34-of-48 in the final home game of his career and led a 94-yard, game-winning drive that included a third-and-14 conversion.
Defensive player of the week: Oregon State LB Manase Hungalu
The Hotline typically doesn’t single out players on units that allow 37 points and 475 yards. But 20 tackles is 20 tackles
Special teams player of the week: Washington PR Dante Pettis
His 64-yard return for a touchdown helped UW take command against Oregon. (PS: Was also his fourth of the season and the ninth of his career, breaking the NCAA record.)
Team of the week: Washington State.
Following a road wipeout in which their star QB was benched, down four pointds in the fourth quarter after a soul-crushing Pick Six and with their division title hopes in the balance, the Cougars dug deep, drove 94 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, then stuffed Stanford’s last gasp.
UCLA turnstile defense note of the week: UCLA.
The Bruins allowed a struggling offense to break loose — not exactly a news flash — as Utah rushed for 272 yards.
That total actually lowered UCLA’s season-long average for rushing yards allowed. But fear not: The Bruins are still over 300 ypg, and still on pace for the worst Power Five run D in 15 years.
Game of the week: USC 49, Arizona 35.
It was sloppy (three Arizona turnovers, 14 USC penalties), and the Pac-12 officials (on the field, in the booth and in the command center) did their absolute best to kill all rhythm and flow.
But the fourth quarter, with five touchdowns, Arizona’s rally and USC’s counterpunch, was riveting stuff.
Quarter of the week: Arizona State.
The Sun Devils scored 24 in the fourth quarter, rallying from a 10-point deficit to beat Colorado 41-30 and move within one game of bowl eligibility.
Quote of the week: Oregon coach Willie Taggart.
After his team mustered just 131 yards passing … sorry, 31 yards … Taggart said of Justin Herbert’s injury: “I mean, we all know what it is. If we can get the kid back, it’ll be great for our football team.”
What we know is 1) the Ducks, for a variety of reasons (some in their control, some beyond) haven’t done a first-rate job recruiting, developing and managing the quarterback position since the peak seasons of the Mariota era, and 2) no team in recent years has been derailed by an injury to a greater extent than the Ducks have this season.
Khalil Tate note of the week: Arizona QB Khalil Tate.
In his first star turn on ESPN, Tate was corralled by the USC defense … until he wasn’t. The sophomore finished with 161 yards rushing and is 12th in the nation even though he has been a full-time player for five games.
Khalil Tate exposure note of the week: Arizona AD Dave Heeke.
Speaking to the Daily Star, Heeke noted the benefits of the ESPN appearance: “… we’re on a flagship. We’re on ESPN. We’re on a national broadcast. There’s real good value to that.”
In their four previous games, the Wildcats were on the Pac-12 Networks, which is, technically, a national network.
USC exposed note of the week: USC.
So much talent so rarely corralled and maximized. That Arizona was in position to tie the Trojans after being manhandled for two-and-a-half quarters was very, very USC.
Instead of 28-6, it should have been 38-6, at least.
Walk-on of the week: Cal TB Patrick Laird.
Rushed for 214 yards against Oregon State and now has 796 for the season. Not bad for someone who started the year as the third stringer.
Walk-on of the century: Washington State QB Luke Falk.
Broke the conference record for career passing yards. Already owns the record for attempts and completions and will soon have the touchdowns mark, as well.
You can claim he’s a product of the system, but systems don’t make toughness and moxie.
Obligatory Washington defensive note of the week: Washington.
Huskies are allowing 3.71 yards per play, which is tops in the nation with only Alabama close (3.96).
Sure, the competition (or lack thereof) is part of UW’s success, but not all of it:
The Huskies are No. 1 in ypp allowed against FBS teams … No. 3 in ypp allowed in road/neutral site game … No. 3 in ypp allowed against FBS teams with winning records … and No. 2 in ypp allowed against Power Five opponents.
It’s not inconceivable, I suppose, that they’re decent.