- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Taking stock of Week 9 in the Pac-12.
Team of the week: Three fantastic choices this week -- all with strong cases. UCLA’s win over Arizona State was huge, as was Washington’s win over Oregon State. But the kudos go to Arizona for taking haymakers from the best wide receiver in the country, getting back up and delivering some shots of its own and eventually upending USC. Sure, the Wildcats might have screwed over Oregon. And yes, their win was a surgical and devastating carpet bombing to the landscape of the South. So be it. Great game, great win.
Best game: Not surprising, the three candidates above for team of the week are also in the mix for game of the week. This time the pick goes to UCLA-ASU for their back-and-forth slugfest. Anytime a game is won on the final play, it’s going to get the nod.
Biggest play: A true freshman kicked a 33-yard pitchfork dead center into the heart of the Sun Devils and lifted the Bruins to a victory on the road. Clutch, Mr. Ka'imi Fairbairn. Very clutch indeed.
Offensive standout: In a losing effort, Marqise Lee set the new standard for Pac-12 wide receivers. Reflect on how many A-list receivers have come through this conference and you’ll start to appreciate his performance in the loss to Arizona. Lee broke the Pac-12 record with 345 yards receiving on 16 catches and scored two touchdowns.
Defensive standout: Some outstanding candidates this week, but the nod goes to Arizona linebacker Marquis Flowers, who had a pair of interceptions and forced a fumble in the Wildcats' home upset of USC. No game has sent more shockwaves through the conference than the Wildcats' come-from-behind win.
Special teams standout: Not once, but twice, Utah’s Reggie Dunn returned kickoffs for 100-yard touchdowns in the Utes' win over Cal. Tough to do once, really hard to do more than once in a season and practically unheard of to do it twice in the same game.
Special teams standout II: De'Anthony Thomas and his 73-yard punt return was just plain silly. You probably shouldn’t field a rolling/bouncing ball with your back to the opposing end zone. But hey, it’s DAT. Thomas rolled to his right (eventually decided he’d run upfield), got bottled, stopped, cut, darted and then blasted his way down the sidelines for a touchdown. DAT at his finest.
Smiley face: Once again, half of the conference is ranked. With UCLA’s and Arizona’s victories, they are back in the Top 25, setting the stage for a fantastic showdown Saturday in Pasadena.
Frowney face: Oregon State and USC collapsed on the road, and they looked bad doing it. And while it’s nice that the conference now has six ranked teams, it has only one in the top 10.
Thought of the week: Not sure if there is much of a call for an open quarterback competition at Oregon State this week after Sean Mannion's four-interception performance. If there is, there shouldn't be. If you checked out this week’s Game Day Final, I broke down the numbers of opposing quarterbacks at The Clink this year, and Mannion isn't the only one who has struggled there. So far, four quarterbacks are completing only 50 percent of throws for an average of 167.5 yards with three passing touchdowns to seven interceptions. Mannion has earned the benefit of the doubt for more than just one shaky performance.
Random thought of the week: Really good pie is better than really good cake.
Question of the week: Does Cal coach Jeff Tedford make it through the end of the season? Just when it seemed as though the Bears might get a little traction after beating UCLA and Washington State, their fall the past two weeks has been swift and painful. This is typed with a heavy heart because the Pac-12 blog is a fan of Tedford the man. But it’s tough to see Tedford the coach and his Oakleys walking the sideline in Berkeley next season.