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Monday, November 21, 2011
Weekend rewind: Pac-12

By Ted Miller

Taking stock of the 12th week of games in the Pac-12.

Team of the week: USC ended Oregon's 21-game home winning streak as well as the Ducks' 19-game conference winning streak with a 38-35 victory, giving coach Lane Kiffin and QB Matt Barkley a signature victory.

Matt Barkley
Matt Barkley threw four touchdown passes in USC's win over Oregon.
Best game: Unlike most weeks this season, four Pac-12 games came down to the waning moments, but the Trojans' win in Autzen Stadium was thrilling and meaningful, featuring a pair of ranked teams. The Trojans jumped ahead 38-14 but the Ducks stormed back with 21 unanswered points. The game would have gone to overtime if Ducks kicker Alejandro Maldonado hadn't missed from 37 yards on the game's final play.

Biggest play: Hey, Cougs, did Marquess Wilson score?

Washington State was inches short from beating Utah in regulation, and more than a few folks in Pullman -- including coach Paul Wulff -- believe the 6-yard pass Wilson caught in the waning moments from QB Connor Halliday was actually a 7-yard TD pass. As it was, Mo Lee's tackle stopped Wilson from getting the go-ahead TD and, after two incompletions, the Cougars settled for a tying field goal that sent the game into overtime. Utah prevailed 30-27.

This from Howie Stalwick explains the situation:
The Cougars were out of time-outs, so Wulff could not call for a review. The upstairs review official had the option to review the play. A touchdown would have given WSU the win, but Wulff wound up going for a field goal.

NCAA rules permit the reversal of on-field rulings only if evidence is abundantly clear that an error was made. Television replays were inconclusive regarding whether Wilson broke the plane of the goal line. Snow on the field complicated matters.

Wulff said a photo he observed, combined with video he watched, convinced him that Wilson scored.
Offensive standout: Barkley completed 26 of 34 passes for 323 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in the Trojans' 38-35 win at Oregon.

Defensive standout: Oregon State defensive end -- and Washington native -- Scott Crichton had two sacks, three total tackles for a loss and forced a key fourth-quarter fumble in the Beavers' 38-21 win over Washington.

Special-teams standout: Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas had a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against USC. He also caught a 29-yard TD pass.

Smiley face: Little has gone right for Arizona this year. Heck, it fired its head coach, Mike Stoops, before the season was over. But things are a little brighter in Tucson after a 31-27 upset win at Arizona State. QB Nick Foles and WR Juron Criner -- the Wildcats' two biggest stars -- turned in strong performances and the defense did just enough to win. In a tough situation, interim head coach Tim Kish has done a good job keeping things together and giving his seniors a great memory.

Frowny face: Arizona State. The Sun Devils have lost four of five, and their three-game losing streak came against teams that have less talent and less reason to play hard. Not much to say, but I'm guessing Sun Devils fans can think of plenty.

Thought of the week: Utah plays Colorado on Friday. The Utes should beat the woeful Buffaloes and finish the regular season with a five-game winning streak and an 8-4 record. Then the Utes will watch Arizona State play host to California that night and UCLA visit USC on Saturday. If the Sun Devils and Bruins both lose, the Utes will win the South Division in their first year in the conference. And they'd deserve it more than UCLA or Arizona State, which have meandered through a year that might get both head coaches fired.

Questions for the week: Are there any upsets left? Will Stanford beat Notre Dame and earn an at-large BCS bowl berth? Or will Oregon fall to Oregon State at home and allow the Cardinal to slip into the Rose Bowl -- win or lose versus the Fighting Irish? Will UCLA whip suddenly hot USC and save Rick Neuheisel's job? What about the Apple Cup: If Washington State beats rival Washington, will that be enough to save Wulff's job? Or might Colorado rise up and end its 24-game losing streak outside its home state at Utah? Lots of intrigue for the final weekend of the regular season.