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Pac-12 Wrap: The best and worst from an unusual weekend, including USC’s escape, UW’s debut and a Sunday game

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 17, 2020

Washington punter Race Porter, right, scrambles away from Oregon State linebacker Andrzej Hughes-Murray (49) after the snap went over his head and he had to recover the ball and attempt a punt on the run during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, in Seattle. The punt was blocked and recovered by Oregon State's Jaydon Grant, who ran for a touchdown.  (Ted Warren/Associated Press)
Washington punter Race Porter, right, scrambles away from Oregon State linebacker Andrzej Hughes-Murray (49) after the snap went over his head and he had to recover the ball and attempt a punt on the run during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, in Seattle. The punt was blocked and recovered by Oregon State's Jaydon Grant, who ran for a touchdown. (Ted Warren/Associated Press)
By Jon Wilner Bay Area News Group Bay Area News Group

We’ll start our weekend review with a quick update on Week Three:

– The Arizona State-Colorado game has been canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak at ASU.

– Results from weekend testing were encouraging enough for Utah to proceed with preparations for the USC game, according to conference sources.

– If the Utes are unable to play, the conference likely will match USC against Colorado. The teams are scheduled to meet Nov. 28 in the Coliseum and would simply move the game up one week.

Now, to the Week Two wrap …

Team of the Week: Colorado

The Buffaloes were picked to finish fifth in the South in the preseason media poll (and last in some publications). But they’re 2-0, tied for first place and one victory from bowl eligibility. Karl Dorrell is the early frontrunner for Coach of the Year, and tailback Jarek Broussard (154 yards per game) has been the conference’s breakout star thus far.

Offensive player of the week: Oregon quarterback Tyler Shough

Threw for 312 yards, ran for another 81 and accounted for four touchdowns as the Ducks took control in the second half. Oh, and Shough averaged a stellar 10.4 yards-per-attempt – all of it coming in his first road start.

Defensive player of the week: Washington linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio

The sophomore from Alaska (by way of Las Vegas) did a lot of everything for the Huskies, recording 10 tackles, breaking up four passes and recovering a fumble in the victory over Oregon State. Two of the pass break-ups were on OSU’s final drive in a one-score game.

Theme of the Week I: Flexibility

As Merton Hanks, the Pac-12’s chief of football operations, told the Hotline last week: All schedule options are on the table each week. That was evident Friday, when the conference paired Cal and UCLA for a Sunday morning duel in the Rose Bowl. It was the conference’s first regular-season game on a Sunday (excluding Labor Day weekend) since Aug. 27, 2000, when USC faced Penn State in the Meadowlands.

Theme of the Week II: Close calls

Four of the five games were in doubt with two minutes remaining and three were decided by six points or less.

(And if you’re wondering about the impact of not having fans in the stands: The home teams are 5-4 thus far.)

Coordinator of the Week: Oregon’s Joe Moorhead

The Ducks’ first-year playcaller has added tempo and creativity to an offense that, for all its talent, was far too easy to defend last year. Moorhead’s use of Shough as a runner gives the offense an added dimension, and his willingness to spread the field plays well to the Ducks’ speed.

Escape of the week: USC

The Trojans did it again, scoring two touchdowns in the final four minutes to rally past Arizona. The game winner came with 25 seconds left – a far closer finish than last week, when they scored with 1:20 remaining to beat Arizona State.

Debut of the Week: Washington’s Jimmy Lake

Washington’s new boss waited 50 weeks for his first game at the helm, then became only the fourth coach to win his debut on Montlake since World War II. Eight lost their openers, including the Dawgfather, Don James.

Replacement of the Week: Washington State tailback Deon McIntosh

The Cougars have been without star tailback Max Borghi for two games because of an injured back. McIntosh, a transfer from Notre Dame (by way of East Mississippi Junior College), has been more than adequate in the backfield, averaging 119.5 yards per game and 7.0 yards per carry.

Officiating controversy of the Week: Oregon State’s bad spot

Trailing by three points early in the fourth quarter, the Beavers appeared to easily gain the yard necessary for a first down inside Washington’s five. The officials saw Jermar Jefferson’s fourth-down run differently, spotting the ball short of the line. The conference office issued a statement on Sunday explaining that the replay booth lacked the irrefutable video evidence needed to overturn the call – and it was a costly call for the Beavers.

Surprise of the Week: Arizona’s defense

The Wildcats were a turnstile last season (112th nationally in yards-per-play allowed) but looked competent in their opener against USC under new coordinator Paul Rhoads, with a limited number of blown coverages, penalties and missed tackles. We’re skeptical that Arizona has the personnel necessary to produce an upper-echelon defense, but their preparation and fundamentals should be sound from week to week.

Predictable outcome of the Week: UCLA’s dominance

Allow us to invoke the two-things-can-be-equally-true rule. The Bruins were impressive in their 34-10 victory over Cal, with a nice run-pass mix on offense, solid pressure from the defensive line and a paucity of mistakes all around. Also, the Bears looked exactly as you’d expect for a team that 1) hadn’t played and 2) didn’t have its defensive line available for practice for two weeks because of quarantine issues.

Lunacy of the Week: Washington’s botched punt

There’s no way for us to describe it accurately. You just need to watch.

Stat of the Week I: USC’s TD distribution

The Trojans have scored as many touchdowns in the final four minutes of their two games (four) as they have in the first 56 minutes of their two games. Those four late scores have come on drives of 80, 55, 75 and 75 yards. Only one required more than 100 seconds.

Stat of the week II: The four Jakes.

A phenomenal stat from ESPN’s David Hale: Dylan Morris became the first quarterback not named Jacob/Jake to start for the Huskies since Oct. 24, 2015. (That was a loss to Stanford, when K.J. Carta-Samuels started for the injured Jake Browning.) And that’s not all, per Hale: “Since the start of 2015, 97.6% of all Washington QB passes have been made by guys named Jake (Browning 1,483, Eason 405, Haener 13, Sirmon 3).”

Stat of the Week III: Pac-12 announcements

The conference office set an unofficial record for official statements over the weekend, with six news releases: Three game cancellations (Utah-UCLA, ASU-Cal and ASU-Colorado), one game creation (Cal-UCLA), one apology (to Stanford, for a testing error) and one on officiating (OSU’s fourth-down spot).

Reminder of the Week: COVID-19 spread.

There is no indication that transmission is occurring on the field – in any sport. Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer, said the following to Sports Illustrated:

“We have seen zero evidence of transmission player-to-player on the field, either during games or practices, which I think is an important and powerful statement. And it also confirms what other sports leagues have found around the world. We regularly communicate with World Rugby, Australian rules football, European soccer leagues. To date, no one has documented a case of player-to-player transmission in a field sporting environment.”

Jon Wilner can be reached via email at pac12hotline@bayareanewsgroup.com. Find his Pac-12 newsletter here.

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