Recapping the Week 11 action across the Pac-12 …
Theme of the week: State of the race
Washington and Oregon were unable to clinch spots in Las Vegas because of victories by Arizona and Oregon State. However, the Huskies (7-0 in conference) will lock down a berth with one more win (vs. OSU or Washington State) while the Ducks (6-1) need two wins (vs. ASU and OSU) or one victory and a little help. And we should note the potential for things to get messy if the Ducks and Wildcats finish tied for the No. 2 spot given that they didn’t play each other.
Game of the week: Cal 42, Washington State 39
There were several entertaining matchups, but we selected the Berkeley affair because of the fourth-quarter playmaking: The teams combined for four touchdowns in the final 15 minutes with the Cougars rallying from a 42-24 deficit but missing on two chances to pull even in the final minutes.
Coach of the week: Arizona State’s Kenny Dillingham
Fresh off a blowout loss at Utah and with an injury list longer than November shadows, Dillingham somehow coaxed and cajoled his 16.5-point underdogs to a 17-7 victory at UCLA. The Sun Devils have two conference wins and three victories overall – totals that are vastly better than they look considering the circumstances in Tempe.
Coach of the season: Arizona’s Jedd Fisch(?)
It appears to be a two-man race for COY in the conference between Fisch and Washington’s Kalen DeBoer. If the Huskies run the table, DeBoer should have significant support. But Fisch has done first-rate work in Tucson with a team that was picked eighth in the preseason media poll. As of today, the Wildcats (7-3, 5-2) are in the hunt for a spot in the championship game.
Team of the decade: Washington
The Huskies are the first Pac-12 team since Oregon in 2012 to start the season with a 10-0 record. Those Ducks lost their 11th game to Stanford and were unable to lock down a perfect record in league play. With two more wins, UW would be the only team of the Pac-12 era (2011-23) to finish undefeated in conference play.
Implosion of the week: UCLA
The loss to ASU was nothing short of an abomination for the Bruins, who once again have failed to impact the Pac-12 race. Sure, they were forced by injuries to use their No. 3 quarterback, Collin Schlee, but ASU’s health situation is much worse. If the Bruins lose to USC and Cal, it might be time to start wondering about Chip Kelly’s job security.
Adios of the season: Utah
The two-time defending champions made a gallant last stand in Seattle, but the 35-28 loss to Washington effectively marks the end of their pursuit of a threepeat. The Utes have been eliminated from the No. 1 seed – they are three games behind UW with two to play – and need massive help to snag the No. 2 seed.
Offensive player of the week: Oregon QB Bo Nix
Anyone can look good against USC’s defense; Nix looked great. He completed 23-of-31 passes for four touchdowns and 412 yards – and several on-target throws were dropped. If he’s not the Heisman favorite, Nix is step-for-step with Washington’s Michael Penix as they remain on a collision course in the Pac-12 title game.
Defensive player of the week: Cal LB Cade Uluave
We spotted a slew of stellar defensive performances across the conference, but Uluave stood out with three takeaways. That’s right. The true freshman had two fumble recoveries and an interception in the win over Washington State. And one of the recoveries became a 51-yard scoop-and-score touchdown. Oh, and Uluave also had nine tackles.
Drive of the week: Arizona
The Wildcats took five minutes to cover 67 yards and kick the game-winning field goal to beat Colorado 34-31 for their seven win of the season. The drive included two long runs by tailback Jonah Coleman as Arizona’s balance was the difference. The drive was so efficient that the Wildcats killed the final minute of play with kneel-downs by quarterback Noah Fifita in range of a short field goal.
Bowl math of the week I: Cal
The Bears (4-6) kept their postseason hopes very much alive with the victory over Washington State. (It was their first win since September, by the way.) The math is simple enough: Beat Stanford and UCLA – a double-dip that doesn’t appear nearly as daunting as it did a few weeks ago – and they’re in.
Bowl math of the week II: Washington State
The Cougars have dropped six in a row and must beat Colorado and Washington (gulp!) in order to preserve their streak of bowl bids in seasons that aren’t disrupted by a pandemic. The last time WSU didn’t reach the postseason, other than 2020, was way back in 2014.
Bowl math of the week III: Colorado
The story of September in college football is in free fall after blowing a second half lead and losing to Arizona on a last-second field goal. The Buffaloes (4-6) have dropped six of their last seven and, like Cal and WSU, must win out to claim a postseason berth. Their remaining games are on the road: In Pullman on Friday night, then in Salt Lake City. Good luck with that.
Stat of the week: Cal
The Bears scored three touchdowns on fumbles against Washington State: Two were scoop-and-scores by the defense (51 and 52 yards), and a recovery in the end zone by an offensive lineman.
Stat of the season I: Arizona
The Wildcats (7-3) have fewer losses than USC (7-4). Not bad for a program that hasn’t been bowling since 2017 and was 1-11 two seasons ago.
Stat of the season II: Washington
In their three biggest games of the year, against Oregon, USC and Utah, the Huskies have allowed a grand total of seven points in the fourth quarter. The lone score: a touchdown run by Oregon’s Jordan James.
Stat of the decade: Oregon State
The Beavers are 8-2 for the first time since 2012, when they finished the regular season 9-3 and lost to Texas in the Alamo Bowl. OSU has won nine consecutive home games, its longest streak since 2007-08.
Game of the week I: Colorado at Washington State
A Friday night affair in the Palouse is a bowl-elimination game for the loser, although, if we’re being candid, the winner doesn’t have much chance to become bowl-eligible, either. Nonetheless, both teams will be desperate given their twin collapses.
Game of next week II: Washington at Oregon State
Oregon State (8-2) got what it wanted: A high-stakes visit from the undefeated Huskies. ESPN’s ‘CollegeGameDay’ won’t make the trek to Corvallis and is headed to James Madison instead. No matter. The atmosphere in Reser Stadium for the 4:30 p.m. (ABC) kickoff will be off the hook.