The national title picture was altered by Utah’s 27-21 win over Stanford on Saturday. The Cardinal’s first loss of the season is early enough to rebound back into the BCS title contention, but Stanford still has to play Oregon and UCLA.
Utah’s win over Stanford was arguably its biggest since it joined the Pac-12 and should be enough for the Utes to get back to a bowl game.
USC had a solid showing in the first game of the post-Lane Kiffin era, defeating Arizona 38-31.
Arizona State, UCLA and Oregon State scored blowout victories, while Oregon picked up a huge 45-21 win at Washington.
Pac-12 Post-Week 7 Power Rankings
Oregon (6-0, 3-0): With Stanford losing to Utah, it’s clear the Pac-12 title runs through Eugene. The Ducks passed their biggest test of the season with a 45-24 victory over Washington on Saturday. Quarterback Marcus Mariota was simply flawless against the Huskies, throwing for 366 yards and three scores and rushing for 88 yards and one touchdown on 13 attempts. The Ducks’ defense delivered with some timely stops, recorded five sacks and seven tackles for a loss, and held Washington quarterback Keith Price to just 182 passing yards. Assuming Oregon beats Washington State this Saturday, the Ducks’ national title hopes could hinge on a two-game stretch of a home game against UCLA and a road date at Stanford. Next Week: Washington State
UCLA (5-0, 2-0): Thanks to Stanford’s loss at Utah, the Bruins climb to the No. 2 spot in the Pac-12 power rankings. The Bruins defeated California 37-10 on Saturday, improving to 5-0 for the first time since 2005. Although it was a comfortable 27-point win, UCLA shouldn’t be satisfied with its performance. The rushing attack had only 78 yards, and California exploited the offensive line for eight tackles for a loss and two sacks. The Bruins are favorite to win the Pac-12 South, but this team’s toughest tests of 2013 have yet to come. Next Week: at Stanford
Stanford (5-1, 3-1): The Cardinal’s national title hopes took a huge hit with a 27-21 loss in Salt Lake City. Stanford trailed Utah 27-14 early in the fourth quarter but rallied with a touchdown pass from quarterback Kevin Hogan to receiver Devon Cajuste. The Cardinal had a chance to take the lead with less than a minute to go, but Hogan’s pass fell incomplete on fourth and goal, giving the Utes a huge upset win. Utah outgained Stanford 415 to 389, and the Utes’ defensive line outplayed the Cardinal’s offensive line. If Stanford wants to get back into the national title picture, it will have a chance in the next three weeks with games against UCLA, Oregon State and Oregon. Next Week: UCLA
Washington (4-2, 1-2): The Huskies are 1-2 in Pac-12 play, but we have to give some credit in terms of overall schedule difficulty. Washington held its own against Stanford last week and traded punches with Oregon, trailing only 31-24 going into the fourth quarter. The Huskies have closed the gap in the Pac-12 North, but coach Steve Sarkisian still has more work to do. Washington’s road in conference play won’t get any easier this week, as a trip to Tempe awaits. Next Week: at Arizona State
Arizona State (4-2, 2-1): As expected, the Sun Devils didn’t have much trouble with Colorado. Arizona State led 47-6 at halftime against the Buffaloes and cruised to an easy 54-13 victory. The Sun Devils finished with 532 overall yards, which included a solid performance from running back Marion Grice (88 yards, two scores). Arizona State’s defense feasted on Colorado’s offensive, recording four sacks, seven tackles for a loss and forcing four turnovers. The Sun Devils are chasing UCLA for the top spot in the Pac-12 South, with the Nov. 23 date looking like a de facto division title game. Next Week: Washington
Oregon State (5-1, 3-0): The Beavers have been on fire since losing to Eastern Washington, recording five straight victories. Oregon State’s offense has led the way, as the Beavers average 506.8 yards per game, and quarterback Sean Mannion and receiver Brandin Cooks are one of the top pass-catch combinations in the nation. The defense has struggled at times this year but stepped up with six turnovers in the 52-24 win over Washington State. Assuming Oregon State beats California next Saturday, the Oct. 26 showdown against Stanford will have huge Pac-12 North title implications. Next Week: at California
Utah (4-2, 1-2): The Utes’ No. 7 ranking in the power rankings shows just how deep the Pac-12 is this season. Utah pulled off one of the biggest upsets of 2013 by defeating Stanford 27-21 on Saturday. Both sides of the ball delivered for the Utes, as quarterback Travis Wilson threw for 234 yards, and running back Bubba Poole chipped in 111 yards on the ground, while recording seven receptions for 75 yards. The defense had only two sacks but made plays at key times, including a fourth and goal in the final minute. Another sign of how good Utah has been this year: The Utes lost by seven to UCLA and just by three to Oregon State. Beating Stanford was no fluke. Next Week: at Arizona
USC (4-2, 1-2): The Trojans looked like a different team in Thursday night’s win over Arizona. With Ed Orgeron now in control, USC seemed to play loose and it clearly showed on the field. The offense recorded 546 yards (7.3 yards per play), including two 60-yard touchdown passes in the first quarter. Running back Silas Redd made his 2013 debut, rushing for 80 yards on 19 attempts. The defense gave up 508 yards to the Wildcats, but it’s easier for USC to win games when the offense scores 38 points and wins the time of possession battle by seven minutes. The Trojans have a tough schedule in the second half of the season, but if the same effort against Arizona is there in the next six games, USC will find a way into a bowl. Next Week: at Notre Dame
Arizona (3-2, 0-2): After a 3-0 start, the Wildcats have dropped their last two games. However, losses to Washington and USC are nothing to be ashamed about. In Thursday night’s defeat at USC, Arizona’s passing attack showed signs of life after struggling early in the year, as quarterback B.J. Denker threw for 363 yards and four touchdowns. The Wildcats will have a chance to gain some ground over the next few weeks, as they will likely be favored to beat Utah, Colorado and California. Next Week: Utah
Washington State (4-3, 2-2): Although the final scoreboard read 52-24, Saturday’s loss to Oregon State wasn’t quite as one-sided as the score would indicate. The Cougars were tied with the Beavers going into the fourth quarter, but turnovers on five consecutive drives allowed Oregon State’s offense to pull away in the final 15 minutes. Washington State has clearly made progress in coach Mike Leach’s second season and need two wins to get bowl eligible. However, the schedule isn’t kind, and the Cougars have to do a better job of holding onto the ball after losing 20 turnovers through the first seven games. Next Week: at Oregon
Colorado (2-3, 0-3): The Buffaloes dropped their third consecutive game, losing 54-13 to Arizona State. Colorado was simply overmatched against the Sun Devils, falling behind 47-6 by halftime and being outgained 532 to 268. Freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau made his debut on Saturday, completing 18 of 26 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown. There’s no denying this is a rebuilding year for the Buffaloes, so getting Liufau some experience in the final seven games is a good idea as Colorado builds to 2014. Next Week: Charleston Southern
California (1-5, 0-3): After four consecutive losses, the Golden Bears are reeling in coach Sonny Dykes’ first season. Several factors are to blame for the struggles, but the defense, which is dealing with a plethora of injuries, has been the primary culprit. California held UCLA to 37 points on Saturday, but the Golden Bears have lost by 20 points in three consecutive games. Quarterback Jared Goff only threw for 215 yards against UCLA, but the freshman passer didn’t have much help from a rushing attack that managed 2.8 yards per carry. The schedule isn’t getting any easier for California, as Oregon State, Washington, Arizona and USC are its next four games. Next Week: Oregon State
Pac-12 Week 7 Awards
by Braden Gall
Offensive Player of the Week: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
The Ducks quarterback was brilliant again, this time on the road against a ranked divisional foe and rival. Mariota led the Ducks to an easy 45-24 win over Washington by completing 24-of-31 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns through the air. He added 88 yards rushing on 13 carries and another touchdown on the ground. He is now 18-1 as a starter with 63 career total touchdowns and just six interceptions. Mariota hasn't thrown a pick in 233 attempts.
Defensive Player of the Week: Nate Orchard, LB, Utah
Fellow defensive linemates Trevor Reilly and Tenny Palepoi have made more plays and garnered more headlines through five games, but Saturday night's upset of Stanford was Orchard's coming out party. He registered his second and third sack of the season and forced two huge fumbles for a Utah defense that simply outplayed the Cardinal for most of the game. He finished with five total tackles on the night and was a big part of the final minute goal-line stand that won the game for the Utes.
Team of the Week: Utah
The Utes shocked the college football world by handling the Stanford Cardinal with relative ease. The 27-21 win over the No. 5 team in the nation wasn't a fluke as Utah outgained Stanford, won the turnover battle, were penalized just four times and won the time of possession game. Travis Wilson was solid (234 yards, two touchdowns, interception, 33 rush yards) at quarterback and the running game carried the offense (39 carries, 176 yards) while the defense capitalized on two critical fumbles. It was the first win for Utah in Rice-Eccles Stadium over a top-five team.
Co-Coordinator of the Week: Dennis Erickson and Kalani Sitake, Utah
The defense played well for Utah under the leadership of coordinator Kalani Sitake, holding Stanford to just 21 points and 389 yards of offense while forcing two critical turnovers and holding Stanford to a season-low 13 first downs. Offensively, the Utes might have been even more impressive. Erickson's squad, led by quarterback Travis Wilson, averaged 5.7 yards per play, the worst number allowed by Stanford all season. The Utes rushed for 181 yards against the vaunted Cardinal front seven, a number only topped by Army's triple option (284 in Week 3). Wilson completed 67.6-percent of his passes.
Freshman of the Week: Andy Phillips, K, Utah
The freshman placekicker has been literally perfect all season for the Utes and he came up big in the upset win over Stanford. While Stanford missed its one field goal chance, Phillips made drilled two second-half field goals, including a long 48-yarder, that eventually gave Utah its margin of victory. He made all three extra points and has yet to miss a kick of any kind all season. In fact, no kicker in the nation has made more field goals without missing than Phillips (11-for-11) and he is 27-for-27 on extra points.
• Despite the loss, Washington's Bishop Sankey continues to shine. He rushed for 167 yards and two scores against Oregon and is leading the nation in rushing at 149.8 yards per game. Sankey has scored a rushing TD in at least eight straight games and has scored multiple touchdowns in nine of his last 17 games.
• Arizona State's Taylor Kelly failed to throw for at least 300 yards (233) for the first time all season. But the ASU fans will take it, as the Sun Devils rolled Colorado 54-13.
• Brett Hundley continued his Heisman season for UCLA by throwing for a career-high 410 yards. It was his first 400-yard game of his career.
• After holding Cal to just 320 yards, the Bruins have now allowed between 320 and 387 yards of total offense in every game. The number was a season low for Sonny Dykes' Golden Bears.
• With 4:50 to go in the third quarter, Washington State was leading Oregon State 24-17. The Beavers scored five unanswered touchdowns over the final 16 minutes of play to post an easy road win over Wazzu.
• Oregon State's Sean Mannion threw for 493 yards and four touchdowns. Mannion (51) and WSU's Connor Halliday (49) combined for exactly 100 pass attempts in the Beavers' 52-24 win.
• De'Anthony Thomas was active for the game against Washington but didn't play. He should be back on the field by next week.
• Silas Redd returned to the field for USC against Arizona. He rushed for 80 yards on 19 carries but many of those yards came on critical carries late in the game.