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Sports >  NCAA

Pac-12 rewind: Escapes in Oregon, dominance in Seattle and football (finally) in Salt Lake City

UPDATED: Mon., Nov. 23, 2020

Washington coach Jimmy Lake talks with field judge Todd Migchelbrink during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Seattle.  (Associated Press)
Washington coach Jimmy Lake talks with field judge Todd Migchelbrink during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Seattle. (Associated Press)
By Jon Wilner Bay Area News Group

A recap of the Week 3 action and inaction …

Theme of the Week: Separation

The divisions broke into two-team races with the results from Saturday: Oregon (3-0) and Washington (2-0) are the clear front-runners in the North, while USC (3-0) and Colorado (2-0) have control of the South. They have two things in common: No COVID-19 outbreaks and no starting quarterbacks lost to isolation or quarantine.

Theme of the Season: Fragility

For the third consecutive week, two of six games were canceled. One was known early (Arizona State-Colorado), but Washington State’s last-minute reversal shows the plug can be yanked at any moment: The Cougars were boarding their buses for the airport when word came down that they couldn’t play. They won’t experience a repeat situation for the Apple Cup, however. The game has already been declared a no contest because of WSU’s depleted roster.

Return of the Week: Utah

The Utes became the last major college team to take the field after two cancellations and then a week of negative tests put their outbreak to rest. The rust showed against USC – well, the rust and a new quarterback. The Utes committed five turnovers and lost by double-digits (33-17) in Rice-Eccles Stadium for the first time since early in the 2018 season (to Washington).

Stat of the Week: Oregon State

OSU’s four touchdown drives against Cal came in a series of blurs, requiring just one, one, six and three plays and lasting a mere 0:18, 0:09, 2:57 and 0:56.

Stat of the Season: USC

The Trojans have faced three consecutive opponents that were playing their first game of the season: Arizona State, Arizona and Utah. (That has to be a major college record.) And their date this week, against idle Colorado, will be the fourth in a row against a team that did not play the previous week.

State of the Week: Oregon

Two afternoon games, 50 miles apart, unfolding at the same time with loads of momentum swings and down-to-the-wire finishes. In Corvallis, Oregon State scored the go-ahead touchdown with four minutes left, then stopped Cal in the Red Zone. In Eugene, Oregon stuffed UCLA near midfield to preserve the win.

Offensive Player of the Week: Oregon State tailback Jermar Jefferson

Jefferson rushed for 196 yards on 18 carries against Cal, including runs of 75 yards to open the game and 65 yards to close it. Next up for the ultra-productive junior: An Oregon defense that just yielded 267 yards on the ground to UCLA.

Defensive Player of the Week: Utah linebacker Nephi Sewell

Recorded two tackles-for-loss and 10 total tackles in the loss to USC, which alone would have made for an impressive outing. But Sewell also intercepted a pass and produced a 23-yard scoop-and-score fumble recovery.

Special Teams Player of the Week: Oregon State’s Jesiah Irish

His blocked punt late in the fourth quarter gave OSU possession a Cal’s 14-yard line and set up the game-winning touchdown.

Team of the Week: Washington

The Huskies delivered the most impressive victory of the season (by any team), blasting to a 37-0 lead over Arizona and coasting to a 44-27 win. They gained 239 yards passing and 233 rushing and had four touchdown drives of at least 65 yards.

Hapless Performance of the Week: Arizona

The Wildcats didn’t cross the 100-yards-gained mark in Seattle until the fourth quarter. Prior to that point, their longest drive was 28 yards and three of their eight possessions had gone backward. In their last four games in the state of Washington, the Wildcats have been outscored 231-65.

Frustrating Game of the Week: Cal

The Bears outgained Oregon State by almost 100 yards, converted half of their third-down opportunities and possessed the ball for 38 minutes … but lost because their final two possessions ended in a blocked punt and an interception. And because their red zone offense is bad.

First-half Finishers of the Season: Oregon

The Ducks turned the momentum in the Week 2 victory over Washington State with a two-play, 60-yard touchdown drive at the end of the first half. On Saturday, they finished the second quarter with a 58-yard pick-six that gave them a three-point halftime lead.

Bad call of the Week: UCLA

Instead of taking a knee and being satisfied with a 21-17 halftime lead, the Bruins got greedy with rookie quarterback Chase Griffin – and paid dearly for it. His final play of the half became an interception returned 58 yards for a touchdown by Oregon’s Jordan Happle. Remove those points, and UCLA wins.

Lack of Bad Calls of the Week: Pac-12 officials

Nothing egregious in Week3. No Sunday afternoon clarification statements issued from HQ. No lingering controversies. No grumbling from the coaches. Just a forgettable weekend, which is exactly what the conference wants.

Game of This Week: Colorado at USC

Following the cancellation of its scheduled game with Arizona State, and lacking an available conference opponent, Colorado passed on the chance to step outside of league play, preferring the extra time to prepare for USC. Meanwhile, the Trojans will be loaded with confidence after a double-digit victory at Utah. Winner becomes the clear favorite in the South. Kickoff is 12:30 p.m. (PT) on ABC.

Theme of This Week: Rivalries

The conference tossed a delicious twist into the schedule with a triple-header of North division rivalry games the day after Thanksgiving. The lineup has been reduced to a doubleheader without the Apple Cup. If Washington replaces the Cougars with a nonconference opponent, the game would likely be played Saturday.

You can reach Jon Wilner via email at

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