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Pac 12 News and Notes
by Matt Fargo - 11/01/2011
Week Nine Rewind
This is getting pretty old. After every game in the Pac 12 was decided by at least two touchdowns two weeks ago, five of the six games this past week were decided by double-digits.
Washington St. played pretty impressively against Oregon as it outgained the Ducks 462-454 but special teams were the difference for Oregon. The Ducks first touchdown came on a blocked punt return and then after the Cougars cut the lead to nine points late in the third quarter, Oregon returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.
Colorado got dismantled again, losing its sixth straight game and fourth straight by at least four touchdowns. The Buffaloes fell behind 24-0 and there was no chance of recovery as they turned the ball over five times which resulted in 177 empty yards. It was the third time in October that Colorado faced an opponent coming off a bye week.
UCLA got back into the win column to get back to .500 on the season. The Bruins spotted California a 7-0 lead before running off 17 straight points and then scoring the game's final two touchdowns to win with ease. The suspensions to the receivers was felt with just 92 passing yards but UCLA rushed for 294 yards on 52 carries (5.7 ypc).
The Utes got back to .500 and picked up their first ever Pac 12 victory as they jumped out to a 24-0 lead and never looked back. Utah only outgained the Beavers 287-263 but took advantage of their miscues. Oregon St. had four turnovers, a missed field goal and two turnovers on downs. The Beavers rushed for only 32 yards on 26 carries (1.2 ypc).
Arizona could not follow up its first Pac 12 win of the year with another as it fell at Washington. The Wildcats had the lead for most of the game and outgained the Huskies 388-310 but the fourth quarter miscues did them in. They had a three-point lead early in the period but turned the ball over on their final three possessions
Game of the Year Part 1
The best was saved for last as Stanford and USC played an instant classic.
The Cardinal outlasted USC in triple overtime 56-48 in a game that was back and fourth the entire way. Stanford scored with just under a minute remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime. In the third overtime, the Cardinal scored on their possession while getting the two-point conversion and USC fumbled into the endzone to end the game.
Because the game went into three overtimes, Stanford backers were able to hold out hope and get a possible cover with their -7.5 line because two-point attempts are mandatory at that point.
As luck would have it, no pun intended, Stanford covered its eighth consecutive game to open the season.
Could that run come to an end? Stanford has failed to cover the following game after USC in each of the last four years, three resulting in outright losses, and with Oregon on deck in two weeks, it finds itself in a tough sandwich spot.
The Cardinal are 20.5-point favorites at Oregon St.
We are not taking about Washington St. or California (although one should be brewing in Berkley following Zach Maynard's horrible performance against UCLA). Believe it or not, it is at Oregon.
Ducks quarterback Darron Thomas returned to the lineup against Washington St., going 8-13 for 153 yards and a touchdown but also two picks. He was pulled at halftime and redshirt freshman Bryan Bennett led the Ducks to three touchdown drives, going 4-7 for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
Oregon head coach Chip Kelly has not indicated who will start at Washington, stating that, "We base everything on how we practice."
Thomas will likely get the nod as rumors were swirling that he was pulled as to not aggravate his leg injury. Either way, Kelly said that there is no plan for a two-quarterback rotation.
Oregon is a two-touchdown chalk at Washington.
Game of the Week
It may not be the best game on paper but Arizona St. travels to UCLA for a key Pac 12 South matchup.
A win by Arizona St. pretty much locks up the division but if the Bruins can get the win, they control their own destiny going forward. UCLA has winnable games against Utah and Colorado following this week and then its season finale against rival USC, which cannot go to the Pac 12 Championship.
This very well could be the make or break game for the future of Rick Neuheisel but hasn't this been the case almost every week?
The Bruins are 10-point home underdogs.