One week after Oregon thought its title hopes were dashed, Coach O provided hope for more than just his USC Trojans. Ed Orgeron is quickly becoming the story of the conference after an upset win over Stanford at home in dramatic fashion. And it puts the Ducks back into the Pac-12 driver's seat.
Meanwhile, the South Division race got even more interesting with Arizona State and Washington holding serve while USC has officially tossed its name in the championship hat. With two weeks to play, this league is still completely wide open and its why it might be the best league in the nation.
There will be an obvious theme in this week's Pac-12 superlatives.
Offensive Player of the Week: Connor Halliday, QB, Washington State
Don't look now, but the Cougars are one win away from the postseason after winning their third Pac-12 game of the year — all on the road. Halliday completed 36 of his 53 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns. He methodically worked his team down the field late in the fourth quarter and connected with Isiah Myers with 2:15 left in the game for a 25-yard game-winning touchdown strike. Halliday led his offense to 27 first downs and has his team poised to not only make a bowl game but potentially a winning record if Wazzu can top Utah at home and Washington on the road to end the year. Only Oregon State's Sean Mannion has more passing yards in the league than Halliday's 3,417.
Defensive Player of the Week: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
USC's Dion Bailey made the defensive play of the weekend with his late red zone interception of Kevin Hogan, but the legend of Myles Jack is growing in Westwood after another two-way performance in a critical home win over Washington. The freshman linebacker collected five tackles and a pass broken up on defense to go with 13 rushing attempts, 59 yards rushing and four offensive touchdowns. He has 179 yards rushing and five scores in two games as a two-way player. This is the team's No. 2 tackler we are talking here. He has vaulted himself to the top of the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year conversation with his last two games and has a chance for another signature moment against Arizona State with the division title on the line next weekend.
Team of the Week: USC
The Trojans have done it again, moving to 5-0 in the Pac-12 since switching coaches after a gutsy 20-17 win over Stanford at home. It was as physical a game as fans will see in the league all season and the much-depleted Men of Troy traded blows with the top ranked team in the conference for 60 minutes and came out victorious. USC allowed just two sacks, Stanford's lowest total in four games, and passed for more yards than the Cardinal had allowed in six weeks. The Trojans defense got big stops in its own territory on defense in the second half and forced two critical second-half Kevin Hogan interceptions. The Trojans are now tied with UCLA for second play in the South and still have an outside chance at playing for a Pac-12 title.
Coordinator of the Week: Ed Orgeron, USC
No, he technically isn't a coordinator. But the elevated defensive assistant-turned-interim head coach deserves to be credited with the remarkable turn around at USC. The Trojans topped Stanford for their fifth straight league win since Orgeron was named head coach and his late-game fourth-down gamble led to USC's first win over Stanford in five tries. His offense has been averaging over 30 points per game and his defense is one of the Pac-12's best. Orgeron doesn't deserve mention as a candidate to get the USC job full-time but he has done an excellent job and his players would "run through a wall for that man," as Cody Kessler said after the game. Colonel Reb is no longer crying.
Freshman of the Week: Sefo Liufau, QB, Colorado
The freshman quarterback from Tacoma, Wash., got Colorado into the Pac-12 win column for the first time in 2013. Liufau had the best game of his young career, by completing 23-of-36 passes for 364 yards and three touchdowns in the blowout 41-24 win over Cal. He set a career high for yards and touchdowns while tying his career high for pass attempts. Only Cal quarterback Jared Goff has more yards of total offense in the league this year among freshman than Liufau — and the Buffs just beat Goff head to head.
Pac-12 Post-Week 12 Power Rankings:
W, Utah, 44-21
L, USC, 20-17
W, Oregon St, 30-17
W, Washington, 41-31
W, Stanford, 20-17
L, UCLA, 41-31
at Oregon St
L, Arizona St, 30-17
W, Arizona, 24-17
L, Washington St, 24-17
L, Oregon, 44-21
at Washington St
W, Cal, 41-24
L, Colorado, 41-24