Athlon recaps all of the action from the weekend in the Pac-12.
The Pac-12 continues to show its depth as the second-best league in the country. But it might have cost them a national championship contender. And Stanford was the culprit that both illustrates the strength of the league while also potentially knocking USC out of the BCS title game. The run the Cardinal are on against the Trojans is remarkable and will only make the North Division race that much more interesting. Meanwhile, the South Division just got extremely intriguing. UCLA and Arizona are clicking on an unprecedented number of cylinders while Utah won a key non-conference game against a very solid BYU team. Oh, and USC is trailing all of them in the division standings currently.
Post-Week 3 Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Matt Scott, QB, Arizona - The opponent leaves much to be desired, but Scott has simply been unstoppable. He completed 30-of-36 passes for 288 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing nine times for 61 yards and another score on the ground. His 395.0 yards of total offense per game is fourth nationally and leads the Pac-12.
2. De'Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon - There is no more dangerous and explosive player in the nation. Thomas carried three times for 62 yards and a TD. He caught three passes for a team-leading 72 yards and a touchdown. And he returned four punts for 87 yards. That is seven total TDs in 24 offensive touches in three games (really, just three first halves).
3. Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin, UCLA - Hundley threw for his second-straight 300-yard effort and has eight passing touchdowns in three games. He leads the league's top offense as UCLA trails only Oklahoma State nationally in yards per game (622 ypg). Franklin's 168 yards from scrimmage (110 rushing) and no scores seems so paltry compared to his first two games, but still gives him the lead nationally in rushing (180.3 ypg).
Note: Don't worry, Matt Barkley will be back in the top three shortly, so I thought I would throw a bone to the rest of the loaded Pac-12
Post-Week 3 Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Star Lotulelei, DL, Utah - The Utes totally shutdown the BYU Cougars for three quarters. He posted seven tackles, one tackle for loss and blocked the game-tying 51-yard field goal attempt with no time left on the clock. He is arguably the best defensive player in the league and was on full display Saturday night in one of the best rivalries in college football.
2. Jake Fischer, LB, Arizona - The Pac-12's leading tackler (11.0 per game) posted another six stops and a tackle for loss as the leader of a defense that pitched its first shutout in four seasons and allowed 154 total yards of offense.
3. Jordan Richards, DB, Stanford - Really the Defensive Human of the Week is Stanford DC Derek Mason, but Richards had a huge game against the best passing attack in the nation. He posted two interceptions, four tackles, a tackle for loss and four passes defensed — which gives him a Pac-12-best nine on the year.
Post-Week 3 Coach of the Year Standings
1. Chip Kelly, Oregon - The Ducks have been so dominant that few of Kelly's starters have gotten any playing time in the second half. His offense is arguably the best in the nation and, now, he will be ranked ahead of a one-loss USC in the polls. His defense will get a test this weekend from Rich Rodriguez' Wildcats.
2. David Shaw, Stanford - Shaw's coaching staff deserves loads of credit for the game plan against Matt Barkley, both offensively and defensively. Shaw has never lost to Lane Kiffin and now is doing it without all-universe quarterback Andrew Luck. No doubt, Shaw is the national coach of the week this weekend.
3. Jim Mora Jr., UCLA - Few teams in the nation have shown more improvement than UCLA and after another 567 total yards, 98 plays and 37 points, the Bruins are 3-0 and poised to challenge in the South. Is this the same team that lost eight games last fall?
Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
1. Oregon (3-0)
Previous rank: 2
Week 3 result: Beat Tennessee Tech 63-14
Former Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers caught a touchdown pass for Tennessee Tech to make the score 7-0. Oregon then scored seven straight touchdowns and that was that for Chip Kelly. Most of the starters were out of the game by halftime as the high-flying offense continued its mastery of college football. Marcus Mariota threw four touchdown passes, De'Anthony Thomas touched the ball six times and scored twice and the defense allowed a total of 177 yards. This offense is such a machine that stud recruit Byron Marshall was the most used weapon, carrying 13 times for a game-high 125 yards and the Ducks' final touchdown. Tennessee Tech is obviously no challenge and the schedule only gets tougher for Oregon from here on out, however, Alabama might be the only team that has looked better than Kelly's bunch. This team has scored 162 points in three games with 125 coming in the first half — when the starters have been playing.
This week: Arizona (3-0)
2. Stanford (3-0)
Previous rank: 4
Week 3 result: Beat USC 21-14
The numbers are well reported. It is the fourth straight win for Stanford and the fifth in sixth years over USC. But this win, without Andrew Luck or Jim Harbaugh, has to be the most satisfying. Not only were the Trojans ranked No. 2 in the nation, but some of the David Shaw/Josh Nunes doubters have to pipe down for the time being. The defensive game plan from coordinator Derek Mason was brilliant as it shut down one of the nation's premiere offensive attacks. He attacked the Khaled Holmes-less offensive line up the gut and it knocked Matt Barkley completely out of rhythm. Then Nunes delivered on a handful of big passes and the power rushing attack took over the game. The underrated Stepfan Taylor carried the offense, rushing 27 times for 153 yards and a score on the ground to go with five receptions for 60 yards and another score through the air. Fans of other teams from around the Pac-12 can thank the Cardinal and Shaw for executing the precise blueprint for success over USC. Slow the game down and be physical. Stanford gets a well-desreved rest this weekend and it comes at a great time as the upcoming schedule doesn't get much easier: at Washington, Arizona, at Notre Dame and at Cal.
This week: Open Date
3. USC (2-1)
Previous rank: 1
Week 3 result: Lost to Stanford 21-14
Star center Khaled Holmes didn't play and the void left in the middle of the USC offensive line was likely the difference between an unbeaten season, and now, a vicious battle for the Pac-12 South title. Matt Barkley had little time to throw and the Trojans ground game had little space to run as Stanford consistently attacked the heart of the USC offense. The Heisman frontrunner is now a very Peyton Manning-esque 0-4 against Stanford for his career and won't get another shot unless the two squads rmeet again in the Pac-12 title game. He finished 20-of-41 for 253 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns for the first time since getting hurt against Oregon State two seasons ago. The dynamic wideout tandem of Robert Woods and Marqise Lee posted 37 receptions, 398 yards and eight touchdowns combined through two games. They caught no touchdowns and combined for 138 yards Saturday night. Lane Kiffin is now 0-2 against David Shaw and USC has lost four straight for the first time in the history of this rivalry. A conference crown and national title are still very much within reach and losing early isn't the worst thing that could happen to the Men of Troy. If they win out, there is still a good chance they land in the national title game. But make no mistake, the worst fears of Trojan supporters were realized: USC could have trouble stopping a power rushing attack in big games. Stanford out-rushed the Trojans 200 to 23 yards and Monte Kiffin's defense couldn't get any key stops in the fourth quarter.
This week: Cal (1-2)
4. UCLA (3-0)
Previous rank: 3
Week 3 result: Beat Houston 37-6
Houston defeated UCLA 38-34 last season in Houston and what a difference a year makes. Both teams have changed coaches and quarterbacks, and this time around, UCLA completely crushed the C-USA power. The No. 1 offense in the Pac-12 rolled-up 247 yards rushing and 320 yards passing and 37 points in the third straight win for the Bruins under Jim Mora. Eleven different players caught a Brett Hundley pass, including defensive line standout Datone Jones, who caught a touchdown pass to go with his four tackles and three tackles for loss. Led by Jones, the defense also played well, holding the once-stellar Cougar offense to zero points for the first 55 minutes of play. The statistical improvement from last year has been remarkable for UCLA. This team was 72nd in total offense last year nationally and sits at No. 2 nationally in 2012. This team was 88th in scoring at 23.1 points per game and are now scoring 40.7 per game this year. This team was 92nd in scoring defense at 31.4 points per game last fall and are now 40th at 20.0 per game this time around. This week: Oregon State (1-0)
5. Arizona (3-0)
Previous rank: 5
Week 3 result: Beat South Carolina State 59-0
There was little to learn about Arizona against SCSU this weekend, but sandwiched around national games against Oklahoma State in Week 2 and a trip north to Oregon next weekend, the Wildcats had to take of business in Week 3. And take care of business was exactly what RichRod's team did. The defense pitched a shutout and allowed only 154 yards of total offense, stopping SCSU on all but two of its 13 third-down attempts. On offense, Matt Scott continued his brilliance. His offense ran 102 plays for 689 yards and registered 43 first downs in the blowout win. Ka'Deem Carey also scored his sixth touchdown of the season. This team is good, but how good won't be known until it attempts to head north to Eugene this weekend. There should be plenty of points, but is Zona ready for the big time? A 3-1 start is still good, right?
This week: at Oregon (3-0)
6. Washington (2-1)
Previous rank: 6
Week 3 result: Beat Portland State 52-13
Consider the wounds officially licked. However, the Huskies better rest up during the bye week because their journey only gets worse. After a brutal thrashing at the hands of LSU, and with Stanford, Oregon and USC the next three games, Portland State was exactly what Washington needed. Keith Price was effective and spread the ball around to his big-play receivers on the outside. The running game was reestablished behind a great afternoon from Bishop Sankey. And the defense got third-down stops and the turned the ball over to its offense. It was a great confidence boost heading into arguably the toughest three-game stretch any team in the Pac-12 will play all season. Ideally, the trip to Baton Rouge was a learning experience because this league appears much deeper than believed.
This week: Open Date
7. Utah (2-1)
Previous rank: 10
Week 3 result: Beat BYU 24-20
The 12-year winning streak over Utah State that was snapped last week, and combined with the retirement of starting quarterback Jordan Wynn, fans in Salt Lake City were very nervous about The Holy War. Well, just because the Utes have issues on offense, doesn't mean the defense isn't still one of the league's best. Led by Star Lotulelei and a game-changing defensive touchdown, Utah won a quirky rivalry game to save its season. Late in the third quarter, BYU had a first down on the Utah 25 trailing 10-7. A bad snap and subsequent fumble was scooped up by Mo Lee and returned for a touchdown, capping a 17-point quarter. BYU came back with two fourth-quarter touchdowns but Lotulelei delivered the final blow, blocking a potential game-tying 51-yard field goal attempt as time expired. Quarterback play will be an issue for this team going foward — and the rushing game struggled against a quality defense — but this defense should keep the Utes in most games they play from here on out. Kyle Whittingham's bunch is still a major factor in the suddenly very interesting Pac-12 South race.
This week: at Arizona State (2-1)
8. Oregon State (1-0)
Previous rank: 7
Week 3 result: Bye Week
With two open dates in the first three weeks, intentionally or not, Oregon State now looks at 11 straight weeks of play. At least Mike Riley's bunch should be rested as they will play three of the next four on the road: at UCLA, at Arizona, Washington State and at BYU.
This week: at UCLA (3-0)
9. California (1-2)
Previous rank: 9
Week 3 result: Lost to Ohio State 35-28
Coaches will never claim a moral victory but Cal fans have to be very pleased with the way their team played this weekend in the Horseshoe. After falling behind 20-7 at halftime, Cal dominated the third quarter 190-10 in yardage and eventually took the lead early in the fourth quarter. Behind big plays from freshman tailback Brendan Bigelow, Cal battled back into the game and nearly pulled off the upset. The Bears out-gained the Buckeyes by 100 yards (512 to 412) but Ohio State's star quarterback Braxton Miller and angry pass rush was too much to overcome on the road. Miller was unstoppable in the final frame making clutch throws and gritty runs on two huge scoring drives. The key breakdown coming on a 72-yard touchdown pass in which Cal allowed Devin Smith to stroll wide open down the right sideline. Zack Maynard and brother Keenan Allen played valiantly but could not overcome six sacks (Cal had none on defense) and eventually fell to the Big Ten power. Jeff Tedford, who seems to be getting some unfair levels of heat in Berkeley, now faces USC, Arizona State and UCLA in his next three. So while he criticism might be somewhat unwarranted, a 1-5 start to the season would likely be unacceptable.
This week: at USC (2-0)
10. Arizona State (2-1)
Previous rank: 8
Week 3 result: Lost to Missouri 24-20
The Sun Devils put themselves in a big hole, trailing 24-7 entering the fourth quarter. But Todd Graham's guys showed some fight and clawed back to within four and nearly overcame four turnovers on offense to defeat a James Franklin-less Missouri team. Quarterback Taylor Kelly has played well this season and led ASU on two fourth-quarter scoring drives which ended in two Marion Grice touchdown runs. However, a botched extra point attempt on the final score likely cost the Sun Devils a chance to send the game into overtime. Arizona State got the ball back with 1:58 left in the game in field goal range at the Mizzou 21. Three plays later, Kelly tossed his second interception in the endzone to thwart the comeback effort. Had the extra point not been missed, an ASU field goal could have tied the game. A bowl pecking order contest with Utah is not on tap for the Sun Devils.
This week: Utah (2-1)
11. Washington State (2-1)
Previous rank: 11
Week 3 result: Beat UNLV 35-27
Back-up quarterback Connor Halliday is making a serious case to be the starting quarterback at Washington State. He made his second career start Friday night, throwing for four first-half touchdowns and 378 yards in a key road win for the Cougars. He already has two freshman passing records — 494 yards and four touchdowns coming off the bench to beat Arizona State last year — to his credit and starter Jeff Tuel has been unable to stay on the field for any extended period of time. These two factors alone could make Mike Leach's coming decision on who should start a bit more difficult. In the win over UNLV, the Air Raid offense looked its best thus far this season and receivers Marquess Wilson and Gabe Marks got on track, catching two long scoring strikes as Wilson finally looked like the preseason All-American experts believed him to be. Yet, there is still cause for concern. Wazzu allowed 460 yards of offense, needed a stop in its own territory as time expired to hold on for the win and lost the time of possession battle by more than 11 minutes (35:32 to 24:28). Not being able to run the football (83 yards on Friday) or convert on third down (5-of-14) or keep the flags off the field (12 penalties for 128 yards) against a team as bad as the 0-3 Rebels is a warning sign that this team might not be ready for postseason play just yet.
This week: Colorado (0-3)
12. Colorado (0-3)
Previous rank: 12
Week 3 result: Lost to Fresno State 69-14
At this point, there isn't much to say. The Buffs are off to arguably the worst start in school history with losses to two "mid-majors" and an FCS program. But at least the first two were extremely competitive. That was not the case against Fresno State. Derek Carr led his team to a 35-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The first quarter. The Bulldogs out-gained the Buffaloes 665 yards to 278 and forced four Colorado turnovers in the lop-sided victory. An 0-12 season is very much a possibility.
This week: at Washington State (2-1)
by Braden Gall
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