A slight sense of normalcy returned to the Pac-12 this past weekend, but fear not -- it's still plenty weird out West. Home teams actually posted a winning record (3-2) this past weekend, improving their season season mark to a still-dismal 6-17.

Stanford, the two-time defending champion, is staggering, so Oregon has established a grip on the Pac-12 North. Meanwhile, let's not pretend we have a bead on the minefield that is the Pac-12 South. Four teams are tied at the top in the loss column, and a fifth -- preseason favorite UCLA -- hovers right behind them with two losses. It's a mess of epic proportions.

With USC visiting Utah this weekend, we will see some moving and shaking in the South. Let the horse race continue around the second bend. Here is Week 9:

The delicious appetizer: Oregon vs. Cal (at Levi's Stadium)

A couple weeks ago, Cal enjoyed its time in sole possession of the Pac-12 North lead, but that stay was as short-lived as most expected it to be. Though Jared Goff has emerged as one of the league's elite passers (9.1 yards per attempt, 24 touchdowns, four interceptions), the Bears are hindered by a defense that struggles to tackle in critical situations. That was the story of their 36-34 loss to UCLA, even though a trio of Bruins' turnovers kept that game close. It's also bad news entering a matchup with an Oregon team that is beginning to fire on all cylinders. The Ducks blasted Washington 45-20 behind four touchdowns from true freshman Royce Freeman. He is a six-foot, 230-pound tank -- exactly the type of player who can turn the Bears into falling dominoes.

Goff will need to deliver an epic performance in his duel with Marcus Mariota. Combined numbers for these two: 43 touchdowns, four picks.

Game with the biggest College Football Playoff implications: USC at Utah

Salt Lake City hosts a de facto College Football Playoff elimination game. The Arizona State-Washington battle in Seattle might have shared this designation had the Huskies found a way to get it done at Autzen Stadium, but they were run out of the building. So USC (5-2 overall) and Utah (5-1 overall) square off in the Pac-12's marquee Week 9 game. This one is fun on many levels: The Utes are coming into their own as a rugged defense (allowing 4.7 yards per play), while the Trojans are brimming with offensive confidence following their 56-28 win against Colorado, during which Cody Kessler threw a touchdown pass on 27 percent of his attempts (his seven touchdowns broke Matt Barkley's school record).

This game also features the Pac-12's two most productive running backs: USC's Buck Allen (130 yards per game) and Utah's Devontae Booker (124 yards per game). Buckle up, Rice-Eccles Stadium will be shaking.

The proving grounds game/redemption opportunity: Oregon State at Stanford

Week 8 was bitterly disappointing for these teams. The Beavers lost 29-23 at home in double overtime to a Utah team that managed only 62 passing yards, and Stanford managed less offensive production against Arizona State than Weber State, New Mexico, and Colorado. Talk about a reversal of fortune: The Cardinal's 26-10 loss to the Sun Devils came on the very same field where they dominated offensively and won the Pac-12 championship last season. Judging by margin of victory, that was their worst setback since falling 53-30 to Oregon in 2011.

Unless Stanford figures it out offensively, points will likely be scarce in this game. The Cardinal's defense still leads the nation allowing only 3.8 yards per play, and it has proven to be a rough matchup for the Beavers' offense. Meanwhile, Oregon State's defense has been surprisingly efficient, surrendering 4.9 yards per play (third in the Pac-12), so it's unclear if 13.5 is the spread or the over/under in this one.

Opposing directions bowl: Arizona State at Washington

The Sun Devils delivered a fantastic all-around performance in their 26-10 pounding of Stanford, and the Huskies were on the receiving end of a 45-20 whipping in Eugene. So both clubs are trending in opposite directions here, but they are still a combined 10-3. Washington is desperate to right the ship at home, where its havoc-wreaking defense (nation-best five touchdowns) thrives. Meanwhile, Arizona State has another chance to solidify legitimacy after two straight energizing wins. A week after facing Stanford's anemic attack, the Sun Devils face a Washington offense that is ranked dead last in the Pac-12. That is medicine for a once-struggling ASU defense.

Where great offensive minds meet: Arizona at Washington State

Time to change gears: With Rich Rodriguez and Mike Leach squaring off, there should be no shortage of total offense on the Palouse. The Cougars are desperate; they need to win four of their last five just to make a bowl game. Connor Halliday is already on pace to shatter the FBS single season-passing yards record, and Anu Solomon brings less gaudy numbers but a better 5-1 record into this game. Both teams are coming off bye weeks, so both offensive game plans should be beyond polished Saturday afternoon.

The afterthought: UCLA at Colorado

The Bruins overcame severe sloppiness in their 36-34 win at Cal, and Colorado never had a chance in the 56-28 loss at the Coliseum. At 0-4 in conference play, the Buffs are desperate, and it's tough to spot a win on their remaining schedule. The Bruins must iron out their galling turnover issue (quarterback Brett Hundley has been responsible for eight giveaways -- opponents have scored touchdowns off seven of them) and frequent trouble with defensive breakdowns. Folsom Field might be a good place to start that process, because a home showdown with Arizona waits UCLA after this one.

USC notebook 

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
LOS ANGELES -- The World Series commences Tuesday in Kansas City, but the USC Trojans held a little batting practice of their own Saturday afternoon by “homering” all over the Coliseum against hapless Colorado in a very un-baseball-like score of 56-28.

The No. 20 Trojans (5-2, 4-1 Pac-12) should have their swings down, both offensively and defensive, as they come to the Pac-12 South Division plate for a gridiron confrontation with the No. 19 Utah Utes (5-1, 2-1 Pac 12) in Salt Lake City on Saturday night.

If you thought that surviving Arizona in Tucson was a turning point in the season for the Trojans, it just goes to show you that in the Pac-12 South Division every game seems to be a turning point.
Week 8 was great. As always, here are your choices for the Pac-12 Blog's Play of the Week. All were impressive, but which was head and shoulders above the rest?

1. Why use two hands when you only need one?

With Cal trailing by three, and the Bears with their second attempt at the endzone from the 7-yard line, Cal junior receiver Chris Harper caught a one-handed touchdown pass over UCLA defensive back Ishmael Adams (who's not new to the Play of the Week vote, but usually isn't the one being beat in the play). It was a nice throw from quarterback Luke Rubenzer, but Harper displayed great athleticism in going up for that ball, controlling it and bringing it down with his right hand.

2. Oregon's own [Dwayne] Stanford problem


Who had this week's Pac-12 Play of the Week?


Discuss (Total votes: 3,402)

Oregon sophomore receiver Dwayne Stanford elevated over both Kevin King and Sidney Jones to come down with his first touchdown against an FBS opponent in his career. It was a perfect ball from quarterback Marcus Mariota and Stanford's leap, catch and spin for the score -- which gave the Ducks a 35-6 lead -- certainly deserves a spot in this week's vote. Stanford's catch was even bigger for the Ducks as Mariota begins to look for new weapons in the receiving game with Bralon Addison still out and Keanon Lowe, his most experienced receiver who returned this season, having sat out the last two games. Stanford finished the day with five catches for 55 yards, including this little 16-yard beaut.

3. No. 7 for No. 6

USC quarterback Cody Kessler tied the Pac-12's and stole the USC school record for touchdown passes thrown in a game … seven. Yes, this coming from a quarterback who often gets put on the backburner because there are just so many guys to talk about in this conference. Though all seven touchdown passes were impressive, we're going with his record-breaking toss for many reasons:
  • He displayed plenty of calm in the pocket while Colorado had a pretty solid pass rush going on.
  • The throw itself was put in the perfect spot so only his receiver could get it.
  • Steven Mitchell's diving catch for it was just the cherry on top.
4. Book it for Booker

Running back Devontae Booker had a huge night on Thursday for the Utes. With not much happening in the air, he got it done on the ground for Utah, rushing 32 times for 229 yards and three touchdowns. But the vote this week is for his 19-yard rushing touchdown in the second overtime to seal the win for Utah. The play itself might not have featured as many ankle breakings as others this weekend, but to thrive under that kind of pressure and get a road win in the Pac-12 (which seems pretty common these days, I know) is good enough to get on the vote. Booker -- who flew under the radar coming into this season -- is now second in the conference in rushing yards per game (123.7) and third in all-purpose yards (146.2).

5. An Oregon Grand [Byron] Marshall

Technically, Byron Marshall is a wide receiver now for the Oregon Ducks. But don't tell that to the ankles he broke on Saturday as he rushed in a 23-yard touchdown. Though it was a receiving touchdown, it was his performance after the catch that gets him on this vote. His change of speed and direction got two Husky defenders to look silly before he bulldozed his way into the endzone through three more Washington players (and an Oregon player, too). On the day, Marshall accounted for five carries for 30 yards and five catches for 48 yards.

Trojans recruiting notebook

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
Class of 2015 USC commit Christian Rector was in action this past Friday night in a Mission League matchup between his Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola team and Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany. Though Rector provided the Cubs with some solid play up front from his defensive end spot, compiling five tackles and two sacks, the Cubs ultimately fell to the Warriors -- who were led by fellow Trojans commit Desean Holmes -- in a 24-23 heartbreaker.

The defeat dropped Loyola to 4-3 overall, and 0-3 in league play, but Rector is still keeping a positive outlook when it comes to the remainder of the season.

"We still have three more games left," Rector said. "It’s a tough league, but I still think that we’re one of the better teams. We still have a great chance to make the playoffs. We can go 3-0. We just need to take one game at a time."

[+] EnlargeChristian Rector
Johnny Curren/ESPN.comAt 6-foot-4, 231 pounds, 2015 recruit Christian Rector is expected to play rush end for the Trojans.
As far as his long-term future goes, Rector pledged to the Trojans back in early August, and following his game on Friday it was apparent that he still feels just as strongly about his commitment today as he did back when he made it.

"I’m locked in on SC," Rector said, "100 percent."

A strong athlete with 6-foot-4, 231-pound size, Rector is expected to line up at the rush end position for the Trojans.

"I’ll be rushing 50 percent of the time, dropping into coverage 50 percent of the time," Rector said.

Rector has been a regular at USC home games this fall, and he is encouraged by what he has seen, particularly from Chris Wilson's defensive line.

"I like what I see a lot," Rector said. "They’re very active and enthusiastic. They’re able to not only stop the run game, but also be very active in the pass rush."

Excited about his future, Rector plans to step up his recruitment of some other prospects on the Trojans' radar in the coming months, and he believes USC head coach Steve Sarkisian and staff are going to put together a class to remember.

"I’m going to try to talk to Rasheem Green at Serra, and start talking to other guys," Rector said. "I think we can be the No. 1 recruiting class. I think we can do big things at USC when we get there."

Rector plans on taking his official visit to USC in January.

News and notes
  • Clovis (Calif.) North defensive lineman and USC commit Jacob Daniel went to the sideline during the first half of his team’s matchup with Clovis (Calif.) East on Friday with a knee injury, and he did not return. The ESPN 300 standout was playing in just his second game of the season after going down midway through the 2013 schedule with an ACL injury. He is scheduled to see a doctor on Monday to find out the extent of the new injury.
  • The Trojans extended offers to two Class of 2016 stars from Gardena (Calif.) Serra this past Friday -- C.J. Pollard and Brandon Burton. Pollard, whose father Marvin played for the Trojans, is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound safety who has had an outstanding junior season for the Cavaliers. Burton was originally offered by the Trojans as a wideout under Lane Kiffin, but Sarkisian and Co. have re-offered him as a safety -- where he has been spending most of his time this fall.
  • ESPN Junior 300 linebacker Daelin Hayes (Detroit, Mich./Cass Tech) pledged to the Trojans back in July, but that hasn’t stopped a number of other programs from coming after him. LSU, Arizona State and Boston College have all extended offers in recent days, pushing his total to 17. He remains committed to USC.
Visitors this past weekend

A list of some of some of the prospects who were in attendance at the Coliseum this past Saturday to see USC take on Colorado.

Class of 2015
QB Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) -- USC commit
OL Clayton Johnston (Anaheim, Calif./Servite) -- USC commit
ATH Ykili Ross (Riverside, Calif./Poly)
QB Caleb Wilson (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
RB Malik Roberson (Gardena, Calif./Serra)

Class of 2016
S C.J. Pollard (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
LB Lokeni Toailoa (Rialto, Calif./Carter)
DB Leni Toailoa (Rialto, Calif./Carter)
ATH D.J. Morgan (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco)
DB Troy Dye (Norco, Calif./Norco)
WR Michael Pittman (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian)

A look at the stats some recruits recorded in their games this past weekend

Class of 2015
Aca'Cedric Ware (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill) -- USC commit: Rushed for 154 yards and one touchdown on seven carries in a 42-7 victory against Grand Prairie (Texas).

WR Desean Holmes (Mission Hills, Calif./Bishop Alemany) -- USC commit: Had three receptions for 34 yards in the victory over Loyola.

LB Cameron Smith (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay) -- USC commit: had 12 tackles and one interception that he returned 67 yards for a touchdown in a 38-0 victory against Grass Valley (Calif.) Nevada Union.

CB Taeon Mason (Pasadena, Calif./Muir) -- USC commit: Caught a 78-yard touchdown pass and had a 41-yard touchdown run in a 56-16 victory against Arcadia (Calif.).

ATH Isaiah Langley (Pleasanton, Calif/Foothill) -- USC commit: Caught two passes for 54 yards and one touchdown in a 21-14 victory against San Ramon (Calif.) California.

WR Cordell Broadus (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman): Caught four passes for 131 yards and three touchdowns in a 70-13 victory against North Las Vegas (Nev.) Legacy.

WR Christian Kirk (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro): Caught five passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-10 victory against Phoenix (Ariz.) Greenway.

WR DaMarkus Lodge (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill): Had four catches for 35 yards and two touchdowns in the victory against Grand Prairie.

LB Osa Masina (Salt Lake City, Utah/Brighton): Masina had a fantastic all-around game in a 78-76 victory against Sandy (Utah) Jordan. He rushed for 69 yards on five carries, and had two receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 13 tackles (7 solo), one sack and one forced fumble.

CB Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif./Poly): Marshall didn’t allow a reception from his cornerback spot, and he also caught six passes for 91 yards and four touchdowns on offense in a 49-7 victory against Lakewood (Calif.).

ATH Porter Gustin (Salem Hills, Utah/Salem Hills): Had 10 tackles, two tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks on defense, and two rushing touchdowns on offense in a 14-6 victory against Spanish Fork (Utah) Maple Mountain.

Class of 2016

QB K.J. Costello (Coto de Caza, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic): Completed 35 of 48 passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed for two touchdowns in the 42-41 victory against Orange (Calif.) Lutheran.

QB Shea Patterson (Shreveport, La./Calvary Baptist Academy): Completed 6 of 8 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns in a 68-6 victory against Campti (La.) Lakeview.

WR Dylan Crawford (La Canada, Calif./St. Francis): Had four receptions for 51 yards and two touchdowns in a 52-41 victory against Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral.

WR Theo Howard (Westlake Village, Calif./Westlake): Had seven catches for 71 yards in a 30-27 victory against Newbury Park (Calif.).

WR Tyler Vaughns (La Puente, Calif./Bishop Amat): Caught five passes for 102 yards and one touchdown in a 52-22 victory against West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade.

LB Lokeni Toailoa (Rialto, Calif./Carter): In a 42-0 victory against Rialto (Calif.) Eisenhower, Toailoa had six tackles, two tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. He also caught one pass for six yards, and rushed for 18 yards and one touchdown on offense.

ATH Mique Juarez (Torrance, Calif./North): Juarez put on a show in a 49-35 loss to West Torrance. On offense he caught four passes for 197 yards and one touchdown, and also rushed for a score. He added an interception on defense.

ATH Byron Murphy (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro): Had three catches for 73 yards and one touchdown in the victory against Greenway.

ATH Trevon Sidney (La Puente, Calif./Bishop Amat): Caught five passes for 56 yards in the victory against Chaminade.

Class of 2017

QB Tate Martell (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman): Completed 6 of 8 passes for 178 yards and four touchdowns, and also picked up 22 yards on the ground in the victory against Legacy.

WR Tyjon Lindsey (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman): Caught three passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns in the victory against Legacy.

ATH Nathan Tilford (Upland, Calif./Upland): Rushed for 40 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries, and caught one pass for 46 yards in a 28-16 victory against Chino Hills (Calif.).


WR De’Quan Hampton (Long Beach, Calif./L.B. City College) -- USC commit: Had six receptions for 70 yards and one touchdown in a 40-36 loss to Chaffey College.

Was this finally USC's breakout game? 

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
It must be the helmets.

Attired in their shiny, new, metallic cardinal helmets and flashy chrome facemasks, USC looked like a different football team on Saturday night. Cody Kessler was throwing record-breaking touchdown passes, Nelson Agholor was sprinting free everywhere, JuJu Smith and Bryce Dixon were emerging as exciting complementary components and footballs were sailing into the far reaches of the Coliseum.

So in the aftermath of that 56-28 romp over Colorado, the question must be asked:

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Pac-12 morning links

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
I like it. What's not to like? Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Good.

Leading off

The biggest news is that Stanford dropped out of the rankings after its 72-week run in the top-25. Sorry, Cardinal. But maybe a sweep of the state of Oregon over the next two weekends will get you back in. Kyle Bonagura went a bit deeper on the subject, which you can read here.

Here are the Pac-12 teams in the rankings. As always, the AP rank is first, followed by the coaches poll.
  • Oregon 6-7
  • Arizona State 14-14
  • Arizona 15-15
  • Utah 19-19
  • USC 20-21
  • UCLA 25-NR

Stanford was the only conference team to pick up any votes in the AP poll and in the USA Today coaches' poll. Washington and Stanford both received votes. Check out the complete rankings right here.

Curious how people who cover the conference teams voted? Glad you asked.
And per usual, Heather Dinich gives you a rundown of the playoff picture following last week's football action. She has interesting thoughts on Stanford. Sorry Cardinal, but Dinich says that a three-loss team -- even if it wins the Pac-12 title -- won't make the playoff. Read on here.

Some streaks extended, others stopped right in their tracks

The Oregon Ducks continued their streak over Washington, winning their 11th consecutive game in the series. This kind of dominance in the series reminded The Oregonian's Andrew Greif of the Ducks of yesteryear as it produced a strong run game, solid QB play and, again, a win over the Huskies.
But in their play, a 45-20 victory against the Huskies at Autzen Stadium, the present-day Ducks instead resembled something closer to the grind-'em-up machine of the last decade that brought this program to prominence.

So, the 1994 throwback uniforms made quite a bit of sense, Greif explains. And speaking of those Oregon uniforms, The Huffington Post decided to go through 50 Oregon uniforms that "changed the way we see college football."

And while the Ducks were having usual success in Eugene, the Bruins had unusual success in Berkeley. UCLA hadn't won there since 1998 and it squeaked out a win over the Bears, breaking that streak.

But despite a win, UCLA isn't exactly looking like the top team many expected it to be coming into this season. Everett Cook of The Los Angeles Times writes that -- among a few other things learned in the Bruins' win over the Bears -- that UCLA continues to play down to the level of its competition.

And can we speak of streaks without at least addressing the ongoing Pac-12 road team streak? Utah and UCLA won on the road but USC, Oregon and ASU got work done at home. Does this mean that the magic of the road is gone? Probably not. With some interesting matchups this weekend (Oregon at Cal, UCLA at Colorado, Arizona at Washington State, Arizona State at Washington ... just to name a few), it wouldn't be too surprising to see some road teams walk out of opposing stadiums with a win.

And some shout outs

Let's give props where props deserve to be given. There were quite a few guys who had career days over the weekend in the Pac-12. News/notes/team reports
There is something about the Colorado Buffaloes coming to the Coliseum that seems to bring out the best in USC quarterbacks.

Two years ago it was Matt Barkley tying a school-record with six touchdown passes against Colorado, including five in the first half, while also setting a new conference mark for most touchdown passes in a career. Cody Kessler had been on the sidelines that day as a redshirt freshman reserve and he must have been paying attention because when his opportunity came to face the Buffs defense on Saturday he took advantage with a record setting performance of his own.

Kessler and the Trojans were on fire from the start. The opening drive saw a touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor, and the same pair connected for a score on the second drive as well. Next it was JuJu Smith and then Bryce Dixon, both of the freshmen scoring touchdowns to put the Trojans ahead 28-0 at the end of the first quarter. Four drives, four touchdowns, and Kessler was 11-of-14 for 159 yards in the quarter. Kessler connected with Dixon in the second quarter as well to tie Barkley with five touchdowns in one half.

In the second half, Kessler got explosive with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Agholor, and then he closed his scoring day with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Steven Mitchell, the first of Mitchell’s career. Total numbers for the day on Kessler were 19-of-26 for 319 yards and seven touchdowns, which set a new USC single game record.


Florida coach Will Muschamp's job is safe for now, USC's soap opera season takes another bizarre twist and TCU coach Gary Patterson watches Big Ten scoreboards. It's all ahead in your College Football Minute.

Pac-12 bowl projections: Week 8

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
Just a few weeks ago, it was popular to write off the Pac-12's chances of having a team in the initial College Football Playoff. What was then an overreaction is now just silly.

It's clear Oregon, as the top-ranked one-loss team outside the SEC, controls its own destiny as far as the playoff is concerned. In no way does that guarantee anything, but based on how the Ducks have played since losing at Arizona and what has happened elsewhere in college football, Oregon should feel good about where it is.

The Ducks became the Pac-12's first bowl-eligible team after beating Washington 45-20 on Saturday, but after them the conference remains a jumbled mess. Six others have at least five wins, including five teams in the South Division.

There's no sound way to logically project how this will end up -- too much parity -- but here's our weekly attempt:

College Football Playoff: Oregon
Fiesta Bowl: Arizona
Valero Alamo Bowl: Utah
National University Holiday Bowl: Arizona State
San Francisco Bowl: USC
Hyundai Sun Bowl: UCLA
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: Stanford
Cactus Bowl: Washington
Heart of Dallas Bowl*: Cal
* at large

For the first time ever, four teams from the same conference are ranked in the top five of the AP Top 25 -- and all four are from the same division. ESPN college football reporter Adam Rittenberg provides his rankings reaction.

Best of the visits: Pac-12

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
Another weekend of Pac-12 games meant another weekend of Pac-12 visitors, as multiple conference programs hosted important official and unofficial visitors. Those recruits took to twitter to share their experiences, as Arizona State, Cal, USC and Oregon all put together significant performances -- including three home victories -- in front of recruits.

Cal hosts big weekend

The Golden Bears had a number of official visitors on hand -- including ESPN 300 wide receiver Carlos Strickland -- and almost pulled off the upset against UCLA. As always, the Cal passing game was on display, and this time it came in front of Strickland and three-star receiver Lavan Alston. Class of 2016 standout running back Sean McGrew, who holds a number of Pac-12 offers, was also on hand on an unofficial visit.

Oregon's ESPN 300 visitors

Perhaps no Pac-12 program hosted a more potent one-two punch than the Ducks, as Oregon brought in ESPN 300 teammates John Houston Jr. and Rasheem Green on official visits.

The two hold significant interest in UCLA, USC and other programs, but the Ducks picked a great weekend to bring in the talented defenders on official visits. Neither is expected to make a decision before signing day, but Oregon could be in the mix for both until the end.

Masina's second Pac-12 trip

ESPN 300 outside linebacker Osa Masina has three Pac-12 programs among his final schools, and the nation's No. 124 overall prospect was on an official visit to Arizona State this weekend. Masina went to UCLA earlier this month and will visit USC at the end of November.

Recruits see big USC win

While the Trojans didn't host any official visitors, being the only game in Los Angeles brought out some important local prospects.

ESPN 300 athlete Ykili Ross attended several USC games this season and was at the Coliseum again on Saturday.

The Trojans also received an unofficial visit from 2016 ESPN 300 safety C.J. Pollard, who picked up an offer from USC last week. Pollard is another in a long line of Gardena (Calif.) Serra standouts and his father, Marvin, is a former USC cornerback.

Stanford's AP poll streak ends

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
Welcome back, UCLA. Goodbye, Stanford.

Oregon headlines the list of six Pac-12 teams ranked in this week's AP poll, which does not include the Cardinal for the first time since the second week of the 2010 season. The Cardinal's school-record, 72-week run ended following a 26-10 loss to Arizona State on Saturday, which also propelled the Sun Devils to No. 14.

Oregon jumped Baylor, Michigan State and Notre Dame to No. 6 and is the nation's No. 3-ranked one-loss team behind No. 4 Alabama and No. 5 Auburn.

Arizona, which was idle this week, is a spot behind its in-state rival at No. 15.

The most anticipated game in the Pac-12 this week will be No. 20 USC's trip to No. 19 Utah, which is one of just two games in the country that will feature a pair of ranked teams.

After a 36-34 win against Cal, UCLA re-enters the poll at No. 25. The preseason No. 7 team was unranked last week after consecutive losses to Utah and Oregon.

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 8

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19

Pac-12 helmet stickers: Week 8

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
Another weekend is finished in the Pac-12. Here are some individual accolades.

Devontae Booker, RB, Utah: The Utes passed for only 62 yards in their dramatic 29-23 double-overtime victory at Oregon State, so they relied on Booker's running for the necessary offense to win. And boy, did he sure do some running. Booker amassed 229 yards on 32 carries (7.2 average) and he made sure he left nothing to chance in the second overtime, knifing his way 19 yards for the winning touchdown even though Utah needed only a field goal for the victory. Booker found paydirt two other times -- once to give the Utes a late fourth-quarter lead and once to open the first overtime. So aside from being statistically productive, he delivered in the clutch.

Gionni Paul, LB, Utah: It's time to start recognizing the quality of this Utah defense. The front seven has been sturdy this season. On Thursday, the Utes allowed only 4.7 yards per play against Oregon State. They also recorded five more sacks, pushing their conference-best total to 33. Most importantly, the defense was again fundamentally sound across the board, so let's put a sticker on Paul's helmet -- he led the unit with 14 tackles.

Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA: This was by no means Hundley's best game. He fumbled early on, and that set up a Cal touchdown. He then threw an ugly second-half interception that opened the door for another Bears score. But on a day marred by UCLA sloppiness on both sides of the ball, Hundley overcame his own mistakes and those of his teammates with his supreme athleticism. He did so with statistical flair: 330 passing yards, 94 rushing yards, and three total touchdowns. The Bruins ended up beating the Bears 36-34 on a late field goal, and that capped a Hundley-led 567-yard performance.

Cody Kessler, QB, USC: USC boasts an illustrious list of quarterbacks in its storied history. Well, Kessler can now say he has thrown more touchdown passes in a single game that any of the legendary names that came before him. Kessler tossed seven scores in the Trojans' 56-28 annihilation of Colorado, and he did it with remarkable efficiency (19-for-26, 319 yards). More than a quarter of Kessler's throws were touchdowns. By the way, Matt Barkley held the previous USC single-game touchdown record, throwing six on two separate occasions.

Buck Allen, RB, USC: It wasn't exactly tough running Saturday, but Allen deserves another sticker as he continues his fine season. The back's final line against Colorado: 15 carries, 128 yards, 8.5 per carry.

Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon: Oregon's remarkable win streak over Washington reached 11 games with Saturday's commanding 45-20 win, and the Ducks got it done by pummeling the Huskies' vaunted front seven. They did it behind Freeman, a true freshman power back who's built more like a senior. His bruising effort amassed 169 yards on 29 carries (5.8 average) against a Washington defense that had been sturdy against the run entering the game. Freeman powered his way to four touchdowns. The Ducks' offensive line seems to be back and firing on all cylinders.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: Yes, I know -- Mariota's helmet is already full of stickers since he gets one seemingly every single week. But we can't ignore another ridiculously efficient performance: 24-for-33, 336 yards, two touchdowns. Mariota has now thrown 19 touchdown passes, and he's the only quarterback in the nation to not have thrown an interception. Now, where's he going to stash all these helmet stickers?

Mike Bercovici, QB, Arizona State: It'll be interesting to see what Todd Graham does after Taylor Kelly is healthy again, because Bercovici sure delivered an excellent performance against Stanford's rugged defense in ASU's 26-10 win. He finished 23-for-33 for 245 yards and a touchdown, but numbers don't really illustrate the critical elements of his performance. Remember that the Cardinal entered this game as the nation's top defense, so the Sun Devils had their offensive work cut out for them. Bercovici succeeded where most quarterbacks fail against Stanford: He managed a nearly perfect game, positioning ASU for a convincing victory.

ASU defense: Granted, Stanford's offense is a mess right now, but ASU does deserve significant credit for its defensive performance in Tempe. The Sun Devils' defense had taken an enormous amount of flak following its Sept. 25 tackling meltdown against UCLA, in which the unit allowed 10 yards per play (that was a 62-27 final score). The Sun Devils smelled Cardinal blood today, and they preyed on Stanford's discombobulated offense with excellent aggressiveness, discipline and fundamentally sound tackling. The Cardinal didn't reach the end zone until 10 minutes remained. Graham's unit should have confidence again.
LOS ANGELES -- Notes, quotes and anecdotes from the Coliseum after the No. 22 USC Trojans (5-2 overall, 4-1 Pac-12) defeated the Colorado Buffaloes (2-5, 0-4) 56-28.

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian comments:

General assessment: “I challenged them to take the field with same intensity today as they would with (University of Arizona). Obviously, a couple guys set the tone for that. Su'a (Cravens) did with the interception and Cody (Kessler) set the tone with managing the offense. I talked about Buck (Allen) last week and challenging the guys to improve certain aspects of their game. You'd like to think as a coach you are going to get results. We saw that with Cody. We wanted more explosive plays on offense and we did that from the beginning.”

On quarterback Cody Kessler: "I think he is running our offense really well. We have a lot of plays in system where he has dual reads and pass-play options. He handles everything really well. He takes our coaching well. Coach (Clay) Helton and I are not buddy buddies with him during the week. We coach this guy harder than any other guy on our team. He accepts it and comes to work every day with the mindset to get better."

On his team’s identity: "I think that we are a team that believes in running the football, and I am not going to change that. When you believe this, you have to make the D pay for loading the box. You also have to have the ability to throw. When you have those two things going for you, life is good. Then it is a cat-and-mouse game with the defense. If you are going to play safeties deep, then you have to be able to run the football. I am just not going to waver off that. I love the fact that we (almost) had two backs just over 100 yards and we threw seven touchdowns. To me, that's an awesome identity to have.”

Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre comments:

On the Trojans: “USC played a good game, to say the least, and we gave them too many opportunities in the first half on some holding calls and roughing the punter and things like that that were things we worked on. And we need to do a better job coaching them and they need to do a better job listening on what they're supposed to do.”

On Kessler’s performance: “He was too good today. He did some really good things, but we helped him out. His offensive line protected him better than they had been. I was disappointed with us on that. They were able to do the play-action and get him out of the pocket and they hit them on us.”

On the Trojans' first drive of the second half: “We worked on that stack stuff a bunch that they do and our safety kind of took his eyes off for a second and he was wide open. That's what happens when you play good athletes with good speed."

More notes and anecdotes

Key(s) to victory: Kessler established a new USC single-game school record for touchdowns (7), as the No. 22 Trojans crushed the Buffaloes 56-28 in front of a homecoming turnout of 74,756 in the Coliseum.

Breaking the record: On breaking the single-game USC touchdown passing record, Kessler said, “It’s really a cool feeling, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t just about me. It's a team thing and we are already moving on to next week. But it's awesome. I think the most meaningful thing was to watch the guy before me set the record and see Matt (Barkley) do it. He taught me so much when he was here.”

Roommate compliment: Of Kessler’s record night, WR Nelson Agholor, who caught three of Kessler’s touchdown passes, said, “I am very proud of him and the type of guy he is and the type of competitor he is.”

Inside information: Upon learning that Kessler might be approaching the touchdown passing record, a couple of his teammates started to mention to Kessler the possibility of making history, and the quarterback quickly told his informing teammates, “Don’t mention it. I just want to keep playing.”

Too many errors: Regarding the loss, Colorado wide receiver Nelson Spruce said, “We made too many mistakes. Obviously they're a good team and they capitalized on them. We can't put ourselves in this position or what happened today will happen every time.”

The offensive explosion: The Trojans scored 56 points against Colorado on Saturday. The Men of Troy came into the CU game averaging 32.2 points per game.

Say what?: Although USC won in a breeze, Colorado had 27 first downs compared to the Trojans' 21.

Red-zone bonanza: The Trojans offense was 5-for-5 inside the Colorado red zone.

Defensive surplus: The Trojans defense allowed 28 points to Colorado on Saturday afternoon. The Men of Troy were allowing 22.3 points per game prior to the CU game.

Quarterback talk: Reflecting on the loss, Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau said, “It goes back to the little things. I put a lot on my shoulders. You can't have two picks and expect to win and to have turnovers and win. It's the little things, execution-wise. We shot ourselves in the foot too many times today.”

Under pressure: The Trojans defense recorded four quarterback sacks.

Offensive increase: The Trojans had 532 yards of total offense against Colorado on Saturday. The Men of Troy were averaging 451.2 yards per game prior to the CU game.

Giving praise: Regarding the performance of his offensive line, Sarkisian said, “They were very good again tonight. They’re improving and really playing well together.”

The substitute: Reserve Trojans kicker Alex Wood continued to substitute for regular starter Andre Heidari. Wood not only converted all eight of his PAT attempts but also was used on all nine kickoff attempts. Four of Wood’s kickoffs were touchbacks.

Defensive average: Against Colorado on Saturday, the Trojans defense allowed 403 total yards. Prior to playing CU, the Trojans were allowing 405.0 yards per game.

Rush hour: Against Colorado on Saturday, the Trojans rushed for 213 yards. Prior to the CU game, the Men of Troy were averaging 185.3 yards rushing per game.

The Buck doesn’t stop here: Trojans junior tailback Javorius “Buck” Allen, the Pac-12’s leading rusher, continued his torrid rushing pace with 128 yards, including a 49-yard dash around left end in the third quarter. It was Allen’s 10th career 100-yard rushing game.

Defending the rush: Against Colorado on Saturday, the Trojans defense allowed 172 net yards rushing. Prior to the CU game, the Men of Troy were allowing 150.5 rushing yards per game.

One man’s opinion: Asked about his defense’s performance, Trojans linebacker Su'a Cravens said, “I think we did a great job tonight in the first half and second half. We did a great job containing them in the fourth quarter. They got a late touchdown, but that's football. They are all great players and they are going to get their points. But we have great athletes, too, and I am really proud of our team overall.”

Above the passing average: On Saturday against Colorado, the Trojans passed for 319 yards. Prior to the CU game, the Trojans were averaging 265.8 passing yards per game.

The revelation: Afterward, Sarkisian revealed that wide receiver JuJu Smith played with a cast underneath his glove because of a thumb injury. On the night, Smith had four receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown. Smith’s first-quarter touchdown reception was the first of his career.

Air defense up: On Saturday against Colorado, the Trojans defense allowed 231 passing yards. Prior to the CU game, the Trojans pass defense was allowing 254.5 passing yards per game.

Interception analysis: On his first-quarter interception that seemed to set the pace for the Trojans defense, Cravens said, “I didn't think their quarterback was going to throw, but their quarterback looked and pumped. Luckily I caught it and I should have scored, but I got tripped up. I saw the Colorado guy chasing me from behind and I wasn't being too patient. Their running back did a great job. He got my legs before I could even cut back.”

The flag is still up: On Saturday against Colorado, the Trojans were penalized seven times for 85 yards. Prior to the CU game, the Trojans were averaging 78.3 yards in penalties per game.

Top tacklers: Trojans weakside linebacker Anthony Sarao led the defense with 12 tackles, followed by middle linebacker Hayes Pullard and corner Chris Hawkins with nine tackles each.

Injury report: CB Adoree' Jackson (hip flexor), SS Gerald Bowman (foot sprain), WR JuJu Smith (thumb), and non-participants WR George Farmer (hamstring) and FB Soma Vainuku (hamstring).

Swann song: Former Trojans All-America wide receiver and Hall of Famer Lynn Swann led the Trojans out of the Coliseum tunnel prior to kickoff.

Next game: The Trojans will travel to Salt Lake City for next Saturday’s Pac-12 South Division game against the Utah Utes (5-1, 2-1 Pac 12) in Rice-Eccles Stadium (8 p.m. MDT/7 p.m. PDT).