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Athlon recaps all of the action from the weekend in the Pac-12.
Oregon and USC used stellar defensive performances to get key home conference wins. Oregon State and Mike Riley shocked the country once again with an upset win over a ranked opponent — this time on the road — as the Beavers have added their name to the crowded North Division race. The Colorado Buffaloes got what could be its first and only win of the 2012 season in stunning fashion. But the most startling performance of the weekend has to go to Todd Graham and the Arizona State Sun Devils. The one-sided win over Utah was the most impressive showing by any one team this weekend, as the South Division race continues to get more interesting by the day.
Post-Week 4 Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. De'Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon - Thomas got a career-high 12 rushing attempts in the big win over Arizona, but it was a 38-yard punt return that kickstarted the Ducks offense in a then-close contest. He is first in the league in scoring, second in punt returns and seventh in rushing...for the best team in the league.
2. Marqise Lee, WR, USC - There are too many options in this league (and on this team) to list just three, but Lee is leading the league in all-purpose yards (197.0 ypg), receiving yards (391) and receptions (9.7 rec./game). He caught 11 passes for 94 yards and two more touchdowns in the win over Cal.
3. Brett Hundley, UCLA - Taylor Kelly, Marcus Mariota, Stepfan Taylor, Matt Barkley and Sean Mannion could all be listed here. But Hundley gets the nod after starting his career with three 300-yard efforts in his first four games. He is six passing yards behind Matt Scott for the league lead and has accounted for 11 total touchdowns. He is the reason UCLA has quickly returned to relevance.
Post-Week 4 Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Michael Clay, LB, Oregon - There were a lot of deserving performances this weekend, but the heart and soul leader of the Ducks unit was the best. He posted 13 total tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble, as Oregon pitched a shutout against a team averaging 46 points per game.
2. Morgan Breslin, DL, USC - The Trojans got back on the winning track due in large part to a fantastic effort from the junior lineman. Breslin totaled six tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks as USC completely manhandled the Cal offense. Breslin is No. 2 in the Pac-12 with 5.0 sacks.
3. Scott Crichton, DL, Oregon State - The most-improved unit in the league might be the Oregon State defense. Against the league's No. 1 offense and the nation's leading rusher, the sophomore defensive lineman was the star. He had six tackles, 3.0 tackles for a loss and 2.0 sacks in the road win over UCLA.
Post-Week 4 Coach of the Year Standings
1. Chip Kelly, Oregon - The Ducks' defense decided it wanted in on the scoring fest that has been Oregon's 2012 season. A 49-0 whitewashing of Arizona is as impressive as any other win in the league this season. Yes, even Stanford's over USC.
2. David Shaw, Stanford - No one has ever lost to "BYE WEEK," so Shaw is still very much the top contender to Kelly for COY. His team will face another tough primetime test this weekend against Washington on the road on Thursday night.
3. Mike Riley, Oregon State - Jim Mora and Rich Rodriguez both experienced hard first losses of the season, with UCLA's coming at the hands of Coach Riley. The Oregon State coach won his school record-tying 74th game has two wins over ranked opponents thus far in two games.
Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
1. Oregon (4-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 4 result: Beat Arizona 49-0
On a team known for its big-play, quick-strike offense, it was the underrated Ducks' defense that did the job in Eugene. Well, until the offense finally got rolling. Nick Aliotti's 3-4 scheme pitched Oregon's first conference shutout since 2003, as the Ducks won a key Pac-12 opener. They forced five turnovers, scoring two of their own touchdowns on interception returns in the fourth quarter. They continually stopped the vaunted Wildcats no-huddle attack in the redzone, holding Arizona's offense to nearly 300 yards fewer than its average. Marcus Mariota was solid under center, while tight end Colt Lyerla added a new power element to the ground game (7 att., 63 yards, TD). Alabama is the only team that has looked better through four weeks of action.
This week: at Washington State (2-2)
2. Stanford (3-0)
Previous rank: 2
Week 4 result: Bye Week
The Cardinal didn't play this week and will face a Washington team in primetime on Thursday night. Both teams should be well rested and well prepared for the short week.
This week: at Washington (2-1)
3. USC (3-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 4 result: Beat Cal 27-9
It wasn't a vintage Matt Barkley performance (192 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT), but the Trojans got back on track in impressive fashion this week against Cal. USC ran the ball 40 times for 296 yards and the game's first touchdown as all-everything center Khaled Holmes returned to the lineup. Both Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd topped the century mark, and the defense did the rest, holding Cal to just 77 yards rushing on 36 attempts and just three field goals. The Trojans registered seven sacks, two interceptions and just 250 total yards of offense allowed. It was an all-around effort from the Men of Troy and it got Lane Kiffin's squad back on the Pac-12 championship tracks. Even it Barkley had his second-straight multi-interception performance.
This week: Open Date
4. Oregon State (2-0)
Previous rank: 8
Week 4 result: Beat UCLA 27-20
Mike Riley has opened the season with arguably the best tandem of wins in the nation, a home victory over ranked Wisconsin and a road upset over ranked UCLA. Sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion threw two long touchdowns and finished with 379 yards, while the Beavers defense was once again the story. The much-improved unit held the powerful Bruins' rushing attack to 72 yards on 28 attempts, limiting the nation's leading rusher - Johnathan Franklin - to 45 yards on 12 carries. Unblemished Oregon State and its suddenly stingy defense has another tough road test this weekend against Rich Rodriguez.
This week: at Arizona (3-1)
5. UCLA (3-1)
Previous rank: 4
Week 4 result: Lost Oregon State 27-20
Brett Hundley threw for a career-high 372 yards and rallied the Bruins to within one score of Oregon State, but the lack of a consistent running game cost UCLA its perfect record. Johnathan Franklin had been averaging 180.3 yards per game through three weeks but was completely shutdown by the revamped OSU defense. Hundley, who could be the best UCLA quarterback in over a decade, now has three straight 300-yard efforts in four career games, but will have to get his ground support back if Jim Mora expects to compete in the South. The same goes for a defense that entered the weekend as the Pac-12's No. 2 pass efficiency defense. It allowed the Beavers' Sean Mannion to throw for a career-high in yards to go with an 172.7 passer rating. UCLA isn't all the way back just yet.
This week: at Colorado (1-3)
6. Arizona (3-1)
Previous rank: 5
Week 4 result: Lost to Oregon 49-0
Yes, the score was 13-0 Oregon with seven minutes to go in the third quarter. Yes, the Wildcat defense played solid against one of the nation's top offenses. But at the end of the day, a 49-0 loss is as demoralizing as it gets. Not many expected this type of blowout but if Arizona wants to be taken seriously nationally, it will have to do a better job in the redzone. Six times Matt Scott led his team into the scoring zone and each time his team came away without any points. Four turnovers, a blocked field goal and a turnover on downs sealed the Cats fate in Eugene. Much like UCLA, this team is vastly improved under the new coach. and much like the Bruins, it still has a long way to go.
This week: Oregon State (2-0)
7. Washington (2-1)
Previous rank: 6
Week 4 result: Bye Week
See Stanford above.
This week: Stanford (3-0)
8. Arizona State (3-1)
Previous rank: 10
Week 4 result: Beat Utah 37-7
Taylor Kelly had a career day throwing for a personal best 326 yards and three touchdowns to go with no turnovers, as Arizona State made the biggest statement of the weekend out West. Kelly and his versatile backfield jumped to a 21-0 first quarter lead and led 31-7 before the defense shutdown the Utes in the second half. While Kelly's efficiency and a stout defense won the game, Todd Graham's ability to get the football into many different hands is worth noting. Cameron Marshall touched the ball 10 times and scored twice. Both quarterbacks ran the ball seven times each. Speedster dynamo DJ Foster led the team with 70 rushing yards. Marion Grice caught a touchdown pass. And even returner/receiver Jamal Miles was given a handful of carries. The depth and versatility of Graham's running game is what could be the difference between a bowl game and conference contention.
This week: at Cal (1-3)
9. California (1-3)
Previous rank: 9
Week 4 result: Lost USC 27-9
Quarterback Zach Maynard was running for his life all day long and Cal failed to reach the endzone because of it. The Golden Bears surrendered seven sacks, turned the ball over twice, converted only 3-of-14 third downs and totaled 250 yards of offense. The Bears also couldn't get stops on defense, allowing USC to use its power rushing attack to wear down the Cal front seven. Cal is now 87th nationally in total defense at 430.3 yards allowed per game. With the surging Sun Devils and UCLA next on the schedule, a 1-5 start for Jeff Tedford is very much a possibility.
This week: Arizona State (3-1)
10. Utah (2-2)
Previous rank: 7
Week 4 result: Beat Lost to Arizona State 37-7
In a week with plenty of disappointing performances — Arizona's offense, UCLA's rushing attack, Washington State at home — the Utes' lackluster butt-kicking suffered at the hands of Arizona State has to be the most discouraging. A defense that was lights out against BYU watched Sun Devils' quarterback Taylor Kelly torch its secondary, while the offense was downright pathetic. Jon Hays threw for 117 yards while John White rushed 14 times for 18 yards. Utah's offense finished with only 10 first downs, went 4-of-14 on third downs and finished with a paltry 209 yards of total offense (117 passing, 92 rushing). This team was one win against Colorado away from playing for the Pac-12 title last year. Now, it appears destined for fifth in the South Division. The off week couldn't come at a better time.
This week: Open Date
11. Colorado (1-3)
Previous rank: 12
Week 4 result: Beat Washington State 35-34
Colorado won't finish the year winless after an improbable fourth quarter road rally in Pullman. The fans at Martin Stadium watched Jordan Webb lead the Buffaloes offense to three touchdowns in the final seven minutes of play to cap-off the unlikely victory for Jon Embree. Webb was the star of the day, completing 29-of-42 passes for 345 yards and four total touchdowns — the last of which was a game-winning four-yard dash into the endzone with nine seconds remaining on the clock. For a team that is 0-2 against the Mountain West and has lost to an FCS program, a road Pac-12 win cannot be overstated.
This week: at UCLA (3-1)
12. Washington State (2-2)
Previous rank: 11
Week 4 result: Lost to Colorado 35-34
There really is no excuse for the fourth-quarter performance Mike Leach's team put together this weekend. Connor Halliday threw for 401 yards and four touchdowns but that didn't mean anything when the game was on the line on Saturday. The Cougars defense couldn't get any stops late in the game and it led to one of the worst collapses of the year. Despite the success in the passing game and the 28-14 lead entering the final frame, Wazzu watched Jordan Webb and the Buffs go up and down the field to stun the crowd at Martin Stadium. Leach's team was outgained on the ground 186 to 50 and the lack of a consistent rushing attack will be a major issue for Washington State all season long.
This week: Oregon (4-0)
by Braden Gall
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