Athlon recaps all of this weekend's action in the Pac-12.
This weekend in college football was the biggest and most volatile to date. However, out West, Week 6 functioned more as an elimination weekend. Utah and UCLA have been all but removed from South Division contention. Washington proved it was still miles from competing with the North Division champs. And while Rich Rodriguez appears to have a solid team in Tucson, Arizona has started its conference slate 0-3, albeit in somewhat unlucky fashion.
Post-Week 6 Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Matt Barkley, QB, USC - It was only a matter of time before Barkley returned to the top slot. He completed 23-of-30 passes for 303 yards and three scores with no interceptions in a huge come-from-behind road conference win over Utah. He leads the league with 15 TDs and is still the best player in the league.
2. Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State - The Beavers quarterback showed flaws this weekend, throwing three picks, but in a league loaded with huge statistical performers, Mannion is still unbeaten and is No. 2 in total offense at 324.3 yards per game.
3. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - His running backs continue to cancel each other out, Taylor Kelly was on bye, Matt Scott and Ka'Deem Carey can't win a big game, the UCLA Bruins backfield choked this weekend and Mariota played his best in the biggest spot. He is tied with Barkley with 15 TD passes after four against UW and he is No. 2 in passing efficiency behind only Kelly. He has settled in as the leader of the best team in the league.
Post-Week 6 Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State - The defense had to carry the Beavers to victory this weekend and Poyer was one of two stars. He intercepted three passes and now leads the league in INTs. He also had four tackles, one for loss and his seventh pass defended. He added a 24-yard punt return as well.
2. Scott Crichton, DL, Oregon State - Normally two defenders from the same team would cancel each other out (see Oregon's RBs), but on the league's top defense, Crichton has been equally as important as Poyer. He posted four tackles, four tackles for loss and three sacks while holding Wazzu to 20 yards rushing. He now leads the league in TFL and sacks.
3. Nickell Robey, CB, USC - Oregon's Michael Clay falls off the list after not playing this weekend while Robey was brilliant on Thursday night. He had seven tackles, a forced fumble and the ended the game with a 38-yard INT returned for a touchdown.
Post-Week 6 Coach of the Year Standings
1. Chip Kelly, Oregon - The Ducks are clearly the best team in the league to date. The offense hasn't missed a beat after losing two stars from last season and the defense is much improved — despite not having leader Michael Clay on the field against Washington.
2. Mike Riley, Oregon State - Oregon State's defense is starting to deserve some national attention as one of the best in the country. It allowed 227 total yards and six points to a MIke Leach team to stay undefeated.
3. Todd Graham, Arizona State - Graham's team didn't play but made significant gains in the South standings due to key losses by UCLA, Utah and Arizona. The road trip to Heritage Hall on Nov. 10 is starting to look like a huge national game.
Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
1. Oregon (6-0, 3-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 6 result: Beat Washington 52-21
Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas combined for 197 yards rushing, but Mariota was the star of the show. He kept plays alive with his legs, threw four scoring strikes and got the entire offense involved in the Ducks' attack (five different players scored six offensive touchdowns). The defense scored a touchdown for the third straight weekend as well. This team is clearly the best in the league, as the top offense in the Pac-12 scored at least 50 points for the fourth time in six games. Oregon averages over 300 yards rushing per game, has the league's No. 2 most efficient quarterback and, now, gets a chance to rest up for a marquee Thursday night trip into the desert to face an improved Arizona State team in 11 days.
This week: Open Date
2. USC (4-1, 2-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 6 result: Beat Utah 38-28
Lane Kiffin's offensive line was shaky to start and it gifted Utah a 14-0 lead with bad turnovers deep in their own territory. But Matt Barkley wasn't fazed and led his team back with, at one point, a 28-0 run to keep USC headed in the right direction. He posted his 13th career 300-yard effort and three big scoring strikes, including a game-changing 83-yard scoring toss to Marqise Lee. Curtis McNeal, who suffered an early concussion, and Silas Redd, who paced the team with 77 yards and a touchdown, both missed time due to minor injuries but both are expected to be fine for the trip to Seattle next weekend. There is no such thing as a bad road conference win on national television, but Kiffin will likely address the 14 penalties and two early turnovers accrued by the Trojans on Thursday night.
This week: at Washington (3-2)
3. Oregon State (4-0, 3-0)
Previous rank: 3
Week 6 result: Beat Washington State 19-6
The offense carried this team to a road win over Arizona two weeks ago. This week, Mike Riley used a dominate defense to stay unblemished. The Beavers allowed 20 yards rushing to the Cougars and continues to pace the league in rushing defense at 67.3 yards allowed per game. The improvement in stopping the ground game in Corvallis is one of the most remarkable one-year turnaround stories in the nation. Last fall, Riley's bunch ranked dead last in the Pac-12 and 101st overall at just under 200 yards rushing allowed per game. They are fourth nationally at stopping the run after four games. And while Sean Mannion reminded fans that he is still a sophomore this weekend, he is still leading his team to 458 yards per game.
This week: at BYU (4-2)
4. Stanford (4-1, 2-1)
Previous rank: 6
Week 6 result: Beat Arizona 54-48 (OT)
Josh Nunes was highly criticized after three straight poor passing performances for the Cardinal. Well, the normally dreaded vote of confidence turned out to be just what Nunes needed (facing the Wildcats defense helped some too). The senior signal caller set career highs in nearly every category — 365 passing yards, 33 rushing yards, 5 total TD — and was efficient throwing the football (21-of-34 passing). He led Stanford to 20 straight points to end the game and secure the overtime win. Stepfan Taylor also got back on track with 32 touches, 147 yards rushing and two touchdowns. This was a quality gut-check, bounce-back victory for David Shaw's squad.
This week: at Notre Dame (5-0)
5. Arizona State (4-1, 2-0)
Previous rank: 8
Week 6 result: Off
There is a good chance that Todd Graham starts 5-1 in his first year in Tempe. More importantly, a win over Colorado next Thursday night would give him a 3-0 start in league play. And the national television opportunity gives him a chance to showcase his program in a big way against the lowly Bufffs.
This week: at Colorado (1-4)
6. Washington (3-2, 1-1)
Previous rank: 4
Week 6 result: Lost to Oregon 52-21
The Huskies defense made a huge statement in a Week 5 win against Stanford and then came crashing back down to earth in Eugene. It allowed Oregon to rush out to a 21-0 lead and an eventual 35-7 halftime lead. It allowed 299 yards rushing and six offensive touchdowns to the Ducks. Washington's rushing game showed signs of life (208 yards rushing, 3 TD), but Keith Price could never get anything going through the air — and actually scored more for Oregon (INT return TD) than he did for Washington. Oregon has now won nine straight games against the Huskies. Things don't get any easier as Steve Sarkisian's month from hell culminates with a visit from a resurgent USC team.
This week: USC (4-1)
7. UCLA (4-2, 1-2)
Previous rank: 5
Week 6 result: Lost to Cal 43-17
This was one of the most disappointing scores in the league to date this fall. This is the type of game true contenders have to win to stay relevant in the Pac-12 title race and Jim Mora's bunch was completely out-played. Brett Hundley and the offense turned the ball over six times, including four interceptions from the developing passer, and allowed four sacks. Meanwhile, the defense got torched through the air (295 yards, 4 TD) as well as on the ground (186 yards, 2 TD). This performance against a reeling Cal team likely reminds UCLA fans entirely too much of previous regimes. UCLA and Utah square-off this weekend in a game that could determine bowl eligibility.
This week: Utah (2-3)
8. Arizona (3-3, 0-3)
Previous rank: 7
Week 6 result: Lost to Stanford 54-48
It was a great game with 10 lead changes, superstar performances and over 1,200 yards of offense. But for Matt Scott (506 yards, 3 TD) and Ka'Deem Carey (133 yards, 3 TD), the result was the same: Another crushing conference loss. With just over nine minutes to go, the Wildcats pushed its lead to 48-34 only to watch its defense allow yet another fourth-quarter comeback. Rich Rodriguez' offense is virtually unstoppable and was very impressive against a normally sound Stanford defense, but this team won't be able to compete in the South until it upgrades the talent on the defensive side of the ball.
This week: Open Date
9. California (2-4, 1-2)
Previous rank: 10
Week 6 result: Beat UCLA 43-17
Jeff Tedford's tenure in Berkeley isn't over just yet. With their backs against the wall, the Golden Bears put together what was easily their best performance of a very disappointing 2012 campaign. They set a season-high for rushing attempts (42), passing yards (295), turnovers forced (6), points allowed (17) and scored more points than they had against FBS competition all year. Quarterback Zach Maynard played his best game of the year. The win merely stopped the bleeding for Tedford, who needs to continue to win to stay employed at Cal.
This week: at Washington State (2-4)
10. Utah (2-3, 0-2)
Previous rank: 9
Week 6 result: Lost to USC 38-28
The Utes got a few lucky turnovers early, capitalized on them to build a 21-10 second quarter lead, but simply couldn't hold onto victory against a far superior football team. USC held the Utes running game in check and got off the field on third-downs — Utah was just 3-of-12 converting them — to rally for a clutch road win. Jon Hays was forced to throw short passes and couldn't get much going on offense after the nine minute-mark of the second period. With back-to-back road trips to UCLA and Oregon State now facing Kyle Whittingham's bunch, bowl eligibility is looking more and more unlikely by the week. At least, the uninformed national media got a clear look at just how good Star Lotulelei can be.
This week: at UCLA (4-2)
11. Colorado (1-4, 1-1)
Previous rank: 11
Jon Embree's squad needed the bye week to regroup after a brutal first month of the season. Next on top is a much-improved Arizona State Sun Devils team coming to Boulder with a balanced attack and off of a week of rest as well. Every game is a must-win for the embattled Buffs coach.
This week: Arizona State (4-1)
12. Washington State (2-4, 0-3)
Previous rank: 12
Week 6 result: Lost to Oregon State 19-6
Mike Leach has coached 132 games in his career and has failed to score 10 points only six times. Saturday's dreadful offensive performance featured five turnovers and only 227 yards of total offense as the Cougars failed to reach the end zone for the second time in five games this fall. Leach never has featured a stellar ground attack but 20 yards on 14 attempts isn't even trying. Wazzu now ranks 98th in scoring offense, 96th in total offense, 100th in total defense and 91st in scoring defense. It's been a rough return to the field for the quirky head coach.
This week: Cal (2-4)
by Braden Gall
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