Monday, November 14, 2011
Weekend rewind: Pac-12
By Ted Miller
Taking stock of the 11th week of games in the Pac-12.
Team of the week: Oregon took care of business at Stanford with a 53-30 win and has re-emerged as a national title contender. It defeated a top-five team on the road for the first time in school history and won its 19th consecutive conference game.
With a big win against Stanford, the Oregon Ducks are in the running for the national title.
Best game: The only Pac-12 game that was undecided in the fourth quarter was Washington State's 37-27 upset win over Arizona State. The Sun Devils twice drove inside the Cougars 10-yard line in the fourth quarter and ended up with no points on either possession, turning the ball over on downs once and missing a chip shot field goal the second time.
Biggest play: On a fourth and 7 from the Stanford 41-yard line, with Oregon up 15-9 in the second quarter, Ducks QB Darron Thomas dumped a pass to true freshman De'Anthony Thomas, who scooted through the flailing Cardinal secondary 41 yards for a touchdown. That was the moment when you saw how Oregon's speed advantage was going to tax -- big time -- the Cardinal defense.
Offensive standout (s): Washington State's redshirt freshman QB Connor Halliday came off the bench and threw for 494 yards and four TDs in the win over Arizona State. He completed 27 of 36 passes with no interceptions. His yardage total was the best in conference history for a freshman and just 37 yards shy of Alex Brink's school record of 531 yards set against Oregon State in 2005.
Colorado RB Rodney Stewart, playing with a sprained ankle, rushed 24 times for 181 yards and three touchdowns, caught two passes for 23 yards, and threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to QB Tyler Hansen in the Buffs 48-29 win over Arizona, the program's first Pac-12 victory.
Defensive standout (s): USC DE Nick Perry had 2.5 sacks in the 40-17 win over Washington, and Utah CB Conroy Black grabbed two interceptions in the 31-6 win over UCLA -- the second of which he returned 67 yards for a touchdown.
Special teams standout (s): Arizona State's Jamal Miles returned the opening kickoff at Washington State 95 yards for a touchdown, while USC's Marqise Lee returned a kickoff 88 yards for a TD against Washington.
Smiley face: Oregon's effort at Stanford was brilliant in just about every way: Outstanding plans on both sides of the ball executed about as well as plans can be executed.
Frowny face: Does anyone want to win the South Division? UCLA gift wrapped a huge opportunity for Arizona State to re-take control, but the Sun Devils flopped in the chill of Pullman. And now Sun Devils coach Dennis Erickson's job might be in jeopardy.
Thought of the week: The North should secede from the Pac-12 union. At least this year. South teams have been dreadful, other than USC, which isn't eligible to win the title due to NCAA sanctions. Arizona State and UCLA, the two frontrunners, are a combined 2-8 on the road this year. Yeesh.
Questions for the week: What might a USC upset at Oregon mean? For one, it wouldn't upset the Pac-12 apple cart, other than eliminating the Ducks from the national championship hunt. Oregon would still go to the Rose Bowl if it won out -- Civil War with Oregon State and Pac-12 championship game -- and Stanford would still be favored for an at-large berth in the Fiesta Bowl. But it would give Trojans coach Lane Kiffin a landmark win and Trojans fans plenty to cackle about. And it certainly would provide the program momentum as it heads forward with scholarship reductions.