South Division picture clearer: With UCLA's 38-20 whipping of USC and Arizona's 42-10 bludgeoning of Utah, the Trojans and Utes are out of the South Division race. So it comes down to UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State on the final weekend of the regular season to see who plays North Division champion Oregon for the Pac-12 title on Dec. 5. UCLA controls its fate: It wins the South if it beats Stanford on Friday. If UCLA loses to Stanford, then the winner of the Territorial Cup on Friday is the Pac-12 champion. Funny thing: Both games are 12:30 PT kicks, so they will be contested simultaneously, meaning the Sun Devils and Wildcats likely will be doing some scoreboard watching during their rivalry game.
This is the biggest Territorial Cup in a long time: Arizona and Arizona State, both 9-2 overall and 6-2 in the Pac-12, will meet in the Territorial Cup as ranked teams for the first time since 1986. The last time both teams had at least nine wins was 1975 (ASU 10-0, Arizona 9-1). The South Division is still undecided. Next Friday, with everyone stuffed with turkey, this will be great fun in Tucson. Big question, though: Will Arizona QB Anu Solomon, who left the Wildcats win over Utah with a lower-leg injury, be available?
Newly bowl eligible: Stanford's 38-17 win over Cal and Washington's 37-13 win over Oregon State made each team bowl eligible, giving the Pac-12 eight eligible teams. Cal and Oregon State still can become bowl eligible on the final weekend. Cal needs to beat BYU at home on Saturday, while the Beavers need to end their six-game losing streak in the Civl War against state Oregon.
Cal is much better, but Stanford still rules the Big Game: Cal and Stanford entered the Big Game with matching 5-5 records, but the Cardinal made a dominant statement, winning their fifth in a row in the series. That means no Stanford senior will experience life without The Axe. Entering the game, it was a matchup of a good offense (Cal) versus a good defense (Stanford) and a bad offense (Stanford) versus a bad defense (Cal). We learned Stanford's good defense is better than Cal's good offense and its bad offense is better than Cal's bad defense.
Washington State's freshman QB Luke Falk has lots of potential, but he hasn't yet arrived: Falk was impressive coming off the bench to replace an injured Connor Halliday against USC, had a brilliant starting debut at Oregon State and a strong start at Arizona State, when the Cougs jumped ahead 21-7 against the Sun Devils. But things went haywire thereafter, and Falk started looking like a freshman, committing five turnovers (four picks and a fumble) in a game the Cougars lost 52-31. He threw for 601 yards and three TDs and he has shown plenty of good things that point to a strong future running Mike Leach's offense. But the performance in Sun Devil Stadium showed he's still got a ways to go, which really shouldn't be surprising.
How the game was won: Scoring. Lots and lots of scoring. The Ducks put up 44 points and left quite a few other opportunities on the field. With the exception of the first play of the game (an onside kickoff that Colorado recovered), Oregon dominated and controlled the game in all aspects. Quarterback Marcus Mariota -- who was working behind another revamped offensive line -- was nearly flawless. From his first completion (a 7-yard completion to Devon Allen) to his last (a 14-yard TD to Charles Nelson), the game came easy to him.
The defense performed well too, holding Colorado to just 10 points (a season low) on 226 yards of offense. Colorado wide receiver Nelson Spruce, who came into the game averaging an FBS-high 9.9 catches per game, accounted for only two receptions. His 16 receiving yards was also nearly 100 yards less than his season average (109.1 yards per game).
Gameball goes to: Mariota, who most likely made his final appearance as a player in Autzen Stadium. He didn’t take part in the senior day festivities, but all signs indicate that this was the redshirt junior’s final home game. And if he returns, it would be a shock. But the reception he got from the fans as he left the field after his final play, which came early in the fourth quarter, and the ensuing “Mariota, Mariota, Mariota” chants, seemed to be a good way to say goodbye to this stadium and its fans.
Also, let’s give some quick shout outs to two true freshman standouts: Royce Freeman and Nelson. Freeman eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season -- the first true freshman in Oregon history to do so -- and ended the day with two touchdowns and 105 rushing yards on 17 carries. Nelson finished with two touchdowns as well. His three receptions is a career high. Not bad for a guy that we’ve literally watched play his way into the lineup over the past month.
Playoff implication: Oregon is securely in the top four. And with every single one of these blowout wins, it continues to make big statements to the committee. Alabama might have started slow against Western Carolina, but don’t expect the Crimson Tide to drop out of the top spot. However, it’s really not a point of worry for the Ducks because even if they aren’t the top dog, they’re securely in that top four group. As long as that’s the case, Oregon is still in the running for a national title.
Best play: There were plenty of big plays in this 34-point win. So, we’re going to go with the play that had the most style points. That was courtesy of redshirt freshman receiver Darren Carrington, who tipped the ball to himself and then caught it with his backside on the ground. It was a 29-yard reception that gave Oregon a first down. The drive ended with a field goal, but this was memorable.
What's next: Oregon prepares for the Civil War. Oregon State’s last game in Reser Stadium was an upset of then-No. 6 Arizona State so the Ducks will need to be sharp from beginning to end. The Pac-12 championship against [insert any South team here] follows no matter what, but Oregon must beat the Beavers in order to stay in the playoff race.
EUGENE, Ore. -- Marcus Mariota threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 73 yards and another score in perhaps his last game at Autzen Stadium and No. 2 Oregon beat Colorado 44-10 on Saturday.
Freshman Royce Freeman ran for 105 yards and two scores for the Ducks (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12, AP No. 3). Oregon has already clinched the North Division's berth in the conference championship game on Dec. 5.
It was the seventh straight loss for Colorado (2-9, 0-8).
Mariota, a Heisman Trophy front-runner who has thrown a touchdown pass in every game of his career at Oregon, has not yet said whether he will forgo his final year of eligibility next season and declare for the NFL draft, although most expect him to. Should he go to the NFL, he is projected by many as a top-five pick.
Impact Performance Nominees
Final Washington State 31 13 Arizona State 52 Final 15 Arizona 42 17 Utah 10 Final Stanford 38 California 17 Final Colorado 10 2 Oregon 44 Final 19 USC 20 9 UCLA 38 Final Oregon State 13 Washington 37