NCF Nation: Tyler Hansen

Over on the Big 12 blog, David Ubben decided to go through all the teams in the conference and see how they've done against the Top 25 since 2008.

That sounded like a ton of fun, so here's a look at the Pac-12 results. For seasoning, I added a best/worst category against Top 25 teams, which is very subjective and, as always, open to debate.

Since 2008 the Pac-12 is 52-105 against Top 25 teams. Utah and Colorado records prior to 2011 are not factored in, but we'll still look at them in the team-by-team breakdown.

Oregon carries the flag for the conference with a robust .705 winning percentage while Washington State has a Blutarsky.

Here's how the entire conference shapes up:


Record vs. Top 25: 12-5 (.705)

Best win: The Stanford victories in consecutive years put the Cardinal back in their place (and last year, signified the clear leader in the North), but the 45-38 win over No. 10 Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl last season was a breakthrough for the program. It put an end to the "can they win the big one" questions and was critical for the legitimacy of the league. Oregon to the rest of the conference: You're welcome.

Toughest loss: The Boise State loss in 2009 was a stinger. But anytime you lose in the National Championship game to the No. 1 team -- and the way it went down in those obscure final two minutes -- it's tough. That loss brought about some of the questions the Ducks were able to answer with the Rose Bowl win.


Record vs. Top 25: 9-5 (.642)

Best win: The 35-3 win over Ohio State in 2008 stands out. But the victory at No. 4 Oregon last year bloodies the water for this year's much-anticipated showdown.

Worst loss: Also from last year, the triple-overtime loss to No. 6 Stanford shouldn't have ended the way it did. Maybe Stanford still would have won -- but that game was too epic to end on a fumble.


Record vs. Top 25: 7-6 (.538)

Best win: The '09 win over Oregon stands out because the Ducks were a Top 10 team on a seven-game winning streak. Toby Gerhart ran wild -- picking up 223 yards and three scores. It was really Stanford's declaration that they'd arrived in the conference under Jim Harbaugh.

Worst loss: Many will think it's the Fiesta Bowl last year because the wound is still fresh and the manner in which it went down. But losing the Big Game 34-28 to No. 25 Cal in 2009 -- especially after notching back-to-back wins over Oregon and No. 9 USC -- is simply deflating. If the Oregon game was a declaration of arrival, the Cal game was a reminder of how deep the conference can be.


Record vs. Top 25: 4-5 (.444)

Best win: The 2008 Sugar Bowl. Big, bad 'Bama gets bounced by a tiny little non-AQ, leaving most West of the Mississippi with a great-big smile.

Worst loss: An overtime loss hurts. An overtime loss to a rival hurts more. An overtime loss when the opposing quarterback gives you a verbal smack down following the loss is just brutal. The 2009 Holy War loss to No. 19 BYU will always sting.


Record vs. Top 25: 4-10 (.285)

Best win: Willie Tuitama was simply prolific in carving up No. 16 BYU in the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl, throwing for 325 yards, two touchdowns and running for another in a 31-21 win. It was Arizona's first bowl win in a decade.

Worst loss: The double-overtime loss to Oregon in 2009 was tough, but the 33-0 beat down by No. 22 Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl that same year was a real stinker.

Oregon State

Record vs. Top 25: 5-15 (.250)

Best win: Jacquizz Rodgers busted out 186 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in a 27-21 stunner of No. 1 USC in 2008. Doesn't get much sweeter than an unranked knocking off a No. 1. Though the 3-0 win over No. 20 Pitt in the 2008 Sun Bowl gets a tip of the cap simply for the novelty.

Worst loss: The Beavers were shutout 38-0 by No. 6 Stanford in '10. That came a week after a 36-7 win over No. 20 USC. Talk about highs and lows.


Record vs. Top 25: 5-15 (.250)

Best win: Because of the record the previous year and because it was Steve Sarkisian against Pete Carroll, the 16-13 stunner over No. 3 USC in 2009 is one worth re-living over and over if you're a Washington fan. Erik Folk was so clutch.

Worst loss: Anything from 2008 will do.


Record vs. Top 25: 4-12 (.250)

Best win: Maybe No. 7 Texas was looking ahead to the showdown with Oklahoma. Oh well, don't turn the ball over four times in the first 30 minutes. Great performance from Johnathan Franklin in the 34-12 win in 2010.

Worst loss: Toss up between the 35-0 loss to No. 25 Stanford at home in 2010 or the 59-0 loss to No. 18 BYU in 2008. Both were brutal -- but the BYU one probably stung more since the Bruins had clipped No. 18 Tennessee in overtime just 12 days earlier in the season opener.


Record vs. Top 25: 3-10 (.230)

Best win: What's bad for the Cardinal is generally good for the Bears. The 2009 Big Game win at No. 17 Stanford was extra tasty -- especially when a late Andrew Luck interception in the red zone sealed the deal. Shane Vereen was on fire with 193 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.

Worst loss: The No. 6 Cardinal reclaimed the Axe the following year with a 48-14 thrashing in Berkeley. Stepfan Taylor produced three touchdowns and Luck produced a Stanford fan's dream highlight with his forearm deflection of Sean Cattouse.

Arizona State

Record vs. Top 25: 3-11 (.214)

Best win: The USC and Missouri wins last year were pretty big, but there is nothing sweeter than beating a rival, in double-overtime, on the road, when they are ranked and you aren't. That was the case in 2010 with a 30-29 win over No. 23 Arizona. James Brooks will always be remembered for blocking an extra point near the end of regulation to force overtime. And then blocking a second extra point -- seriously -- to lock up the win. As bizarre as it was magnificent for the Sun Devils.

Worst loss: The loss to No. 7 Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl last year was completely uninspired and capped a horrific end to the season. The Sun Devils went into a tailspin and Todd Graham has to pull them out.


Record vs. Top 25: 2-12

Best win: In his first career start in 2009, Tyler Hansen threw for 175 yards, a touchdown and ran for another to spark an upset win over No. 17 Kansas. That was Colorado's last win against a Top 25 team. The Buffs are 0-7 since.

Worst loss: Back in the day before they joined the Pac-12, Colorado had a little rivalry with a midwest school named Nebraska. The No. 15 Cornhuskers sent Colorado into the Pac-12 with an ugly 45-17 loss in 2010.

Washington State

Record vs. Top 25: 0-12

Best win: You have to think the streak ends under Mike Leach -- and sooner rather than later.

Worst loss: Tragically, there are so many choices. But we'll go with the 69-0 loss to No. 6 USC in 2008 because at the time, WSU was riding the nation's second-longest streak without being shutout (280 games). That came to an end in a very embarrassing fashion. While Mark Sanchez threw for five touchdowns, the Cougars managed just 116 yards of total offense.
David BakhitiariJamie Sabau/Getty ImagesOffensive tackle David Bakhtiari has high expectations for the Buffaloes this season.
Receiver Paul Richardson is Colorado's best player. He's got Pac-12 speed, which the Buffaloes were sorely lacking in 2011. Coach Jon Embree's chief task in recruiting is to get more Paul Richardsons -- speedy guys for both sides of the ball.

But the rebuilding project in Boulder is going to require just as much David Bakhtiari as Paul Richardson. Bakhtiari, the Buffs' left offensive tackle, earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2011 as a sophomore, the only Colorado player to get an All-Conference nod.

He's a want-to guy. A guy who talks about chemistry and a sense of urgency. A guy willing to lead. A guy who seems slightly bothered -- politely so, of course -- when a reporter notes the Buffs' significant holes heading into 2012.

Why should folks believe Colorado can improve on a 3-10 finish despite losing its top passer, top rusher and top-two receivers (Richardson missed four games due to injury)?

"There is definitely a sense of urgency that I can see from last year's team to this year's team," Bakhtiari said. "People are moving around with a purpose. They are buying into our common goal, which is a bowl game. We've decided we are tired of going home in December and watching all these games."

Bakhtiari has been impressed with QB Connor Wood, the Texas transfer who has the inside track to replace Tyler Hansen. He raves about RB Tony Jones, who will step in for Rodney Stewart. Stewart only led the Buffs in rushing four consecutive years and now ranks second on the school's all-time rushing list. And a healthy Richardson is the obvious choice to replace the receptions that departed with Stewart (45) and Toney Clemons (43).

But if the Buffs are going to improve, they are going to need to score more than 19.8 points per game, a total that ranked last in the Pac-12 in 2011. That starts with Bakhtiari and the O-line, which is replacing guards Ethan Adkins and Ryan Miller.

Offensive line coach Steve Marshall, speaking to B.G. Brooks, called Bakhtiari "probably was our most productive player (in 2011) game in and game out." He'll be protecting Wood's blindside as well as leading the charge for a rushing offense that needs to do better than 3.5 yards per carry and 109 yards per game.

Like most Colorado players, Bakhtiari was recruited by Dan Hawkins, a far softer touch than the demanding, straight-talking Embree. (Said Bakhtiari, "Embree is a little more, 'I want production and I'm going to get it.'"). Unquestionably, there was an adjustment to the change in styles in 2011. There was a lot less nurturing and a lot more barking at practices. And Embree isn't afraid to publicly question his players commitment to winning.

But there were hints of accord late last season between coaching staff and locker room. After a 1-9 start, the Buffs won two of their final three games, including a shocking and impressive 17-14 win at Utah, which knocked the Utes out of the Pac-12 title game.

"Guys are now understanding what these coaches want and how they want it to be," Bakhtiari said. "Last year, we were kind of chickens with our heads cut off."

That's a start. It's probably going to take a few more Richardsons and Bakhtiaris to get the Buffs into Pac-12 South Division contention. But that's a start.

Who has brains coming back?

April, 3, 2012
Recognition is so important for an offense. Think Andrew Luck -- or Peyton Manning -- wildly gesticulating at the line of scrimmage.

Or, for that matter, Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas doing the same thing.

That was something that stuck with me after I chatted with Oregon sophomore center Hroniss Grasu a couple of weeks ago. We were talking about how he improved at making line calls during the 2011 season, but he went out of his way to note how good Thomas was at helping out, at identifying last-second changes a defense made that perhaps hinted at its ill intentions.

The point: Centers and quarterbacks are the brains of an offense. The center typically makes the calls at the line of scrimmage that make sure everyone is accounted for. And quarterbacks communicate to both the skill players and the line about check and audibles.

The QB and center work in tandem. They need to be in sync. And having smart, experienced signal-callers and centers is a big deal for an offense. It means an offense can go to the line with more options, and it can check into the right option more often than not. That breeds confidence, both among players and with their coaches.

So which Pac-12 teams are experienced at QB and center? Who has both back, one back or neither?

Thanks for asking.

Arizona: Center
: While Nick Foles was the Wildcats' quarterback last year, Matt Scott has started five games, so the offense is not in inexperienced hands. Senior center Kyle Quinn did a solid job in 2011, earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors. On the downside, the Wildcats are installing a new offense with coach Rich Rodriguez, so past experience isn't as helpful.

Arizona State: Neither
QB Brock Osweiler is gone as is center Garth Gerhart. Kody Koebensky likely takes over at center, while the quarterback competition continues to be wide-open. Of course, the Sun Devils are installing a new offense under new coach Todd Graham, so being green isn't as much of an issue.

California: Both
: QB Zach Maynard should be much more in control as a second-year starter. While center Dominic Galas is back, he's sitting out spring due to a shoulder injury, and it appears he will switch over to guard. Galas, some of you Bears fans might recall, did have some issues with shotgun snaps last year. Chris Adcock or Mark Brazinski could end up winning the job.

Colorado: Center
: Tyler Hansen is almost certainly going to be replaced at quarterback by Texas transfer Connor Wood, a sophomore with no game experience. It should help Wood, however, to have junior Gus Handler back making the line calls. Daniel Munyer, who's slated to start at guard, also has starting experience at center.

Oregon: Center
Skinny: Center
Grasu's first start as a redshirt freshman was against LSU's beastly defensive front. That was a baptism by fire, but he consistently improved throughout the season. QB Bryan Bennett has some experience, including one start, but he will be challenged this spring by redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota.

Oregon State: QB
: Sean Mannion is back at QB, but center Grant Johnson is gone. The frontrunner to win that job is sophomore Roman Sapolu. The Beavers have injury issues on the line this spring, and that likely will slow down the unit's -- and Sapolu's -- development.

Stanford: Center
: You might have heard that Andrew Luck is gone. Brett Nottingham and Josh Nunes look like the favorites to replace him, but neither has significant experience. Senior Sam Schwartzstein did a fine job stepping into Chase Beeler's shoes in 2011, but life was, naturally, easier with Luck at QB. More will fall on Schwartzstein in 2012.

: The Bruins have two quarterbacks with significant starting experience back: Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut. But redshirt freshman Brett Hundley might end up winning the job. All three are learning a new offense this spring under new coach Jim Mora and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. Sophomore Jacob Brendel -- or perhaps junior Greg Capella, who mostly started at guard last year -- are the frontrunners to replace Kai Maiava at center.

USC: Both
: You've maybe heard of Trojans QB Matt Barkley and his receivers, Robert Woods/Marqise Lee, being the best pass-catch trio in the nation. Well, Barkley and senior center Khaled Holmes are the perhaps the best QB-center combination in the nation. Holmes was second-team All-Pac-12 in 2011, and he's probably the best center in the conference.

Utah: Both
: Junior Jordan Wynn, a three-year starter, only needs to stay healthy for the Utes to get at least solid QB play. Center Tevita Stevens is solid, but he will be breaking in a pair of new OTs.

Washington: Both
: Junior QB Keith Price was a revelation last year as a first-year starter, far eclipsing the production of his celebrated predecessor, Jake Locker. Senior center Drew Schaefer is a 30-game starter. So this is a strong combo for the Huskies.

Washington State: Both
: Jeff Tuel feels like a decided frontrunner to retain his starting job at QB, while junior Matt Goetz returns at center. A junior-college transfer in 2011, he started the final nine games of 2011. A year of seasoning -- and in the weight room -- should help Goetz in 2012.

Early 2012 Pac-12 power rankings

January, 10, 2012
It's never too early to look ahead, and even if it is, it's not against the law or anything.

And so we have our way-too-early 2012 power rankings.

By the way, schedule does not factor into these. This is a projected pecking order based on where a team stands right now -- Jan. 10, 2012.

And, by the way No. 2, if you don't like where your team is in the way-too-early power rankings, then I'd suggest whining about it until you get to play better.

By the way No. 3, Nos. 1 & 2 were easy. The rest is pretty darn murky, not in small part due to four new coaches.

1. USC: The Trojans welcome back 19 starters from a top-five team, including quarterback Matt Barkley. They beat Oregon in Autzen Stadium on Nov. 19. USC might be the preseason No. 2. Or No. 3.

2. Oregon: The Ducks have a strong mix of talent coming back from a team that won the Rose Bowl, but it's not just about 16 returning starters. If you want a reason to favor the Ducks over the Trojans, it's depth. Oregon welcomes back most of its two-deep. By the way, old Ducks fans probably grin about the idea of their team having better depth than USC.

3. Utah: The Utes welcome back 18 starters, though replacing both offensive tackles will be a huge task this spring. The defense has a chance to be beastly. The key? Utah proved it can win eight games with poor-to-middling quarterback play. But does a healthy Jordan Wynn -- back to late 2009, early 2010 form -- mean 10 wins?

4. Stanford: Many will count out the Cardinal, post-Andrew Luck. The Pac-12 blog will not. The over-under with this team is eight wins. Two gigantic holes on the offensive line and at both safeties are major issues, as is quarterback.

5. Washington: The Huskies welcome back seven starters on both sides of the ball, including up-and-coming quarterback Keith Price. The question is how quickly the defense can improve under Justin Wilcox.

6. California: While Cal only welcomes back 11 starters, there's plenty of intriguing talent on the roster, particularly on defense. Will quarterback Zach Maynard take a step forward? And what about his receivers after Keenan Allen? The pressure is on Jeff Tedford to win inside a renovated Memorial Stadium in 2012. If things come together, he just might do that.

7. Arizona: The Wildcats have more potential than most realize, starting with five returning starters on the offensive line and three defensive starters returning from injury, as well as an experienced quarterback in Matt Scott, who looks like a nice fit for Rich Rodriguez's spread-option offense.

8. Washington State: With 18 starters back, I'll go ahead and type it: New coach Mike Leach will lead the Cougars to a bowl game. And, hopefully, someone tips their cap to former coach Paul Wulff for collecting some solid talent, including two quarterbacks, Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday, who appear capable of flinging the rock as Leach likes to, as well as a potential All-American receiver in Marquess Wilson.

9. Oregon State: The Beavers could be a surprise team if all the young players who were inconsistent in 2011 grow up in 2012, starting with true freshman quarterback Sean Mannion. With 17 starters back, experience won't be an issue. But those returning players went 3-9, so it's difficult to project a top-half finish. At least, not at this point.

10. UCLA: New coach Jim Mora doesn't start with an empty cupboard -- 16 starters are back. But the overall talent is dubious and, even more challenging, Mora needs to rebuild a culture. Further, taking the Bruins back to a pro-style offense, if that's the ultimate plan, might be a struggle in Year 1. First question: Is Kevin Prince the quarterback, or does Mora go with talented redshirt freshman Brett Hundley?

11. Arizona State: The Sun Devils tumbled in these rankings when quarterback Brock Osweiler, curiously, opted to enter the NFL draft. With just 10 starters back, a quarterback with no real game experience -- whoever wins the job -- and a challenging locker room, new coach Todd Graham might find the going rough in Year 1.

12. Colorado: The Buffs welcome back 13 starters from a team that went 3-10 and ranked last in both scoring offense and scoring defense. The rebuilding job on offense, in particular, will be significant with the loss of quarterback Tyler Hansen, running back Rodney Stewart and receiver Toney Clemons. The rebuilding job in Boulder won't happen overnight-- or over two seasons -- for second-year coach Jon Embree.

Returning starters in 2012

January, 6, 2012
Do you believe in the primacy of returning starters for determining preseason pecking order? Well, if so, you'll enjoy this effort from College Football Matrix, which has broken down returning starers by conference for all FBS teams.

While measuring returning starters is an inexact science -- the common way is at least five starts the previous season -- the list is revealing. And it suggests that the SEC and Big 12, the two best conferences in 2011, will again thrive in 2012.

Big 12 teams average 17 returning starters, tops in the nation. The SEC averages 16.7. The Pac-12 is last among AQ conferences with just 13.8.

The Big 12, big on offense, has the most coming back on offense: 7.9. And the SEC, big on defense, has 7.6 coming back on defense.

The good news is nine of 12 Pac-12 quarterbacks are coming back, including USC's Matt Barkley, though that number falls to eight if Arizona State's Brock Osweiler opts to enter the NFL draft a year early.

Be forewarned: There is some imprecision on this list. It says Colorado's quarterback is returning; Tyler Hansen is not. And it lists Washington State as having just seven returning starters; by my count, the Cougars welcome back 18. So that was a miscalculation. I went through every Pac-12 team, and you could quibble the numbers a handful of times, so the numbers aren't absolute.

Here's my tally (* means quarterback coming back). It averages out to 14.8 starters returning for the conference. Keep in mind it doesn't including returning starters who were hurt this season, such as Arizona State linebacker Brandon Magee, and does include players who still might announce for the NFL draft, such as Osweiler, Oregon running back LaMichael James and Washington running back Chris Polk.

Arizona (12)
Offense: 6
Defense: 6
specialists: 0

Arizona State (11*)
Offense: 5
Defense: 4
specialists: 2

California (11*)
Offense: 6
Defense: 5
specialists: 0

Colorado (13)
Offense: 4
Defense: 7
specialists: 2

Oregon (16*)
Offense: 7
Defense: 7
specialists: 2

Oregon State (17*)
Offense: 8
Defense: 8
specialists: 1

Stanford (12)
Offense: 5
Defense: 6
specialists: 1

UCLA (16*)
Offense: 8
Defense: 7
specialists: 1

USC (19*)
Offense: 9
Defense: 8
specialists: 2

Utah (18*)
Offense: 9
Defense: 7
specialists: 2

Washington (15*)
Offense: 8
Defense: 7
specialists: 0

Washington State (18*)
Offense: 8
Defense: 9
specialists: 1

Weekend rewind: Pac-12

November, 14, 2011
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.

[+] EnlargeOregon
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireWith 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.

Quick look at week 10 games

November, 1, 2011
Here's a quick look at Week 10 in the Pac-12.

All times are ET.


USC (6-2, 3-2) at Colorado (1-8, 0-5) 9 p.m. ESPN: USC leads the series 5-0, winning the most recent meeting in 2002 40-3. Trojans QB Matt Barkley needs just 108 yards of total offense to move into third on the school's all-time total offense list. Colorado QB Tyler Hansen moved into fifth place on the Buffaloes' all-time passing yards list with 4,851. The Buffs rank 11th or 12th in the conference in 16 of 33 team statistical categories listed on the Pac-12's official release, including ranking last in scoring offense, scoring defense, rushing offense, rushing defense, pass-efficiency defense, sacks against, red zone offense and red zone defense.


No. 4 Stanford (8-0, 6-0) at Oregon State (2-6, 2-3) 3:30 p.m. ABC: Stanford is riding a 16-game winning streak, longest in the nation. The Cardinal leads its series with Oregon State 49-25-3, including a 38-0 win last year. The Cardinal, however, lost its previous visit to Corvallis, 38-28 in 2009. The Cardinal trailed for the first time this season in its 56-48, triple-overtime win over USC last weekend. Last week, Oregon State receiver James Rodgers became the third Beaver to eclipse 200 career receptions. The Beavers are last in the conference in turnover margin (minus-5). Stanford is second (plus-7). The Cardinal have turned it over just six times, the Beavers 21.

Washington State (3-5, 1-4) at California (4-4, 1-4) 6:30 p.m. CSNCA: California leads the series 42-25-5. The Bears won last season in Pullman 20-13, a game that was notable because it was the Cal's first without QB Kevin Riley. Cougars QB Marshall Lobbestael, formerly Jeff Tuel's backup before Tuel got hurt, has eclipsed 300 yards in four games. Only Arizona's Nick Foles has more 300-yard games (six). The Cougars have scored 266 points this year (33.2 points per game). They scored 235 points in all of 2010 (19.6 ppg). Cal receiver Keenan Allen needs 11 yards to eclipse 1,000 receiving this season.

Utah (4-4, 1-4) at Arizona (2-6, 1-5) 7 p.m. FSAZ-KJZZ: Utah leads the series 19-15-2, last beating the Wildcats 27-24 in 2005. Before scoring 27 points in their first Pac-12 victory, the Utes had averaged just 13 points per game in their previous four conference games. The Utes lead the conference in total defense (325.6 yards per game). When Utes running back John White rushed for a career-high 205 yards in the win over Oregon State, it was Utah's first 200-yard rushing game in nine years. Wildcats QB Nick Foles leads the conference with 366.1 yards passing per game, which is on pace to eclipse the conference record of 342.9 yards passing per game set by Washington's Cody Pickett in 2002.

No. 19 Arizona State (6-2, 4-1) at UCLA (4-4, 3-2) 7:30 p.m. Versus: UCLA leads the series 16-10-1, but the Sun Devils won 55-34 in Tempe last year. Sun Devils running back Cameron Marshall is first in the conference with 12 rushing TDs. Bruins QB Kevin Prince rushed for 163 yards in the win over Cal. It was the first time since 1976 (Jeff Dankworth vs. Cal) that a Bruins QB eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark. ASU has forced 25 turnovers, five more than any other Pac-12 team. The Sun Devils are first in the conference in turnover margin (plus-12). UCLA is tied for sixth with just as many giveaways as takeaways.

No. 8 Oregon (7-1, 5-0) at Washington (6-2, 4-1) 10:30 p.m. FSN: Washington leads the series 58-40-5, but the Ducks have won seven in a row, each by at least 20 points. The Ducks have scored 40 or more points in each of their past seven games, averaging 50.4 points during the winning streak. Running back LaMichael James and QB Darron Thomas both started for Oregon against Washington State after missing action due to injuries. Thomas was yanked at halftime, however, so it's unclear if he or backup Bryan Bennett will start Saturday. Washington has scored 30 or more points in seven games this season, which hasn't happened since the 2000 Rose Bowl team scored more than 30 in nine games. Huskies running back Chris Polk's 3,577 career rushing yards ranks 14th in conference history and second all-time for the Huskies, only behind Napoleon Kaufman (4,106 yards). This will be the final game in Husky Stadium before it undergoes major renovations. The Apple Cup on Nov. 26 and the 2012 season will be played in the Seattle Seahawks home stadium, CenturyLink Field.

Final: Arizona State 48, Colorado 14

October, 29, 2011
Cameron Marshall ran for three touchdowns and Arizona State rolled over Colorado 48-14.

The Sun Devils erupted early and left little doubt. It helped that they forced five turnovers and gave away just one, a fumble that was returned for a TD.

ASU now has now has forced 25 turnovers this season, most by far in the Pac-12.

Colorado QB Tyler Hansen came off the bench and threw for 321 yards, but he had two interceptions.

Arizona State improves to 6-2 and 4-1 in the conference. It visits UCLA next weekend.

Colorado falls to 1-8 and 0-5. It hosts USC.

Halftime: Arizona State 31, Colorado 7

October, 29, 2011
Arizona State is all over Colorado.

Arizona State leads 31-7, outgaining the injury-ravaged Buffaloes 350 yards to 181.

Sun Devils quarterback Brock Osweiler completed 13 of 18 passes for 230 yards with two touchdowns. Running back Cameron Marshall has 10 yards on 99 carries with two scores.

Colorado's TD came on Josh Moten's return of an Osweiler fumble. Otherwise, the Buffs highlights have been few.

Nick Hirschman started at QB for the Buffs, but Tyler Hansen came off the bench. He had been considered as questionable with a concussion. Hansen threw an interception to Clint Floyd that foiled a scoring opportunity.

Final: Oregon 45, Colorado 2

October, 22, 2011
Oregon blew the shutout. Just blew it. Bad Cliff Harris! Bad!

Despite the absences due to injury of quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James, Oregon rolled over Colorado 45-2. They jumped ahead of the injury-ravaged Buffaloes 29-0 in the first quarter and then mostly coasted over an overmatched team.

But the Ducks failed -- FAILED! -- to record the shutout because Harris was tackled in the endzone on a third quarter punt return that allowed the Buffaloes to avoid their first shutout at home since losing 28-0 to Oklahoma in 1986.

Backup running back Kenjon Barner gained 115 yards on 10 carries, and backup quarterback Bryan Bennett added 69 yards rushing to go with 156 yards through the air with two touchdowns. Both were eating orange slices with James and Thomas on the sidelines before the third quarter was over.

The Ducks outgained the Buffs 527 yards to 231.

Adding to the Buffs' misery: quarterback Tyler Hansen sustained a concussion late in the first half and was replaced by freshman Nick Hirschman, who was 8 for 18 for 71 yards.

Oregon, now 6-1 and 4-0 in the Pac-12, returns home to face Washington State next weekend. Colorado, 1-7, 0-4, will be at Arizona State.

Halftime: Oregon 35, Colorado 0

October, 22, 2011
Quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James aren't going to play, but that isn't slowing down the Oregon juggernaut.

And, really, Colorado doesn't look like it has much left in its tank anyway.

The Ducks jumped ahead 29-0 after a quarter and lead 35-0 at halftime in Boulder.

The Ducks have 358 total yards. Colorado has 144. Oregon has rushed for 239 yards, averaging 11.4 per tote.

Much of that came on an 84-yard touchdown run from Kenjon Barner, who has 105 yards a two touchdowns. Backup quarterback Bryan Bennett completed 8 of 16 passes for 119 yards and two scores.

Linebacker Michael Clay returned a Tyler Hansen pass 32 yards for the Ducks' final touchdown before the break.

And there's more bad news for the already injury-riddled Buffaloes. Quarterback Tyler Hansen is injured and won't return in the second half.

That means Colorado is playing without its best receiver (Paul Richardson), best running back (Rodney Stewart) and best quarterback (Hansen).

Reasonable to assert that the Buffs' chances for a second-half comeback are remote.

Halftime: Stanford 27, Colorado 7

October, 8, 2011
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Observations from the first half.

Stat of the half: Colorado has minus-1 yard rushing and quarterback Tyler Hansen has been sacked three times.

Turning point: It could have been the opening kickoff, when Jeremy Stewart fumbled the short pop-up kick and gave the ball to Colorado at the Stanford 36. But the defense stiffened and Max Bergen blocked a 29-yard field goal attempt and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown.

Best player: With the exception of the one interception (a deflection off Chris Owusu’s hands) Andrew Luck has been sensational per usual. He’s buying time in the pocket and all but one or two of his passes have missed. He’s 14-of-18 for 219 yards and a touchdown.

What Stanford has to do in the second half: Tackle better. Devon Carrington sniffed out the 76-yard screen pass to Rodney Stewart, but he missed the tackle. That was all it took for the speedy running back to break away. Same thing on the 5-yard shovel-pass touchdown to Tony Jones, Stanford missed two tackles.

What Colorado needs to do: Stop committing penalties. They have five for 42 yards. With the exception of a couple of plays, the Buffs look completely disorganized and disheveled.

Stanford questions worth asking

October, 4, 2011
Will the gadgets continue? Variety is the spice of life. And so far, David Shaw and the Stanford offense have been a bucket of garlic marinated in Tabasco. In four games, we've seen a flea flicker, an end-around wide receiver pass to the quarterback and several Wildcat formations with running back Tyler Gaffney at the helm. The question among some in the press box is "why are they showing this against these teams?" To which I respond, "so future opponents have to prepare for it." They might never stray from the playbook basics for the rest of the season. But the more time USC, Washington and Oregon have to spend preparing for Gaffney the quarterback and Andrew Luck the wide receiver, the less time they are spending on how to defend the Stepfan Taylor off-tackle power.

Did the run defense take a morale hit? They dropped in the rankings. Granted, it was first in the nation to fourth in the nation. And as the saying goes, when you're on top, you have nowhere to go but down. I'm curious to see how the run-stoppers -- who still put on a pretty good show against a run-happy UCLA team -- respond to giving up 141 yards on the ground. But this week probably won't be too good of a gauge. Colorado comes in with one of the worst rushing attacks in the country (105th out of 120 FBS teams), averaging just 101.4 yards per game on the ground.

Are penalties going to be an issue? We didn't see much of them in the first three games, just 11 for 100 yards. But Saturday night the Cardinal were flagged eight times for 70 yards. And it wasn't just your run-of-the-mill, garden variety offside penalties. There were pass interference calls (offensive and defensive), unsportsmanlike calls and mental mistakes in the red zone. Discipline starts from the head and works its way down. You can bet Shaw took that as a personal reflection.

Will we ever see an interception? Almost had one against UCLA, but a questionable pass interference call negated what would have been the first pick of the season. While Colorado has trouble on the ground, the Buffs have been able to move the ball effectively in the air. They are 36th nationally in passing offense (265 yards per game) and they don't make a lot of mistakes. Quarterback Tyler Hansen has a solid touchdown-to-interception ratio of 11-2. But his accuracy hasn't been great at just 56.6 percent. What's going to happen first? Another Luck pick or one from his defense? We might be waiting a while on both. The list of FBS teams without an interception continues to shrink. It's down to three. Utah State, Akron and Stanford.

Repeat sellout? Good fans show up for the big games. Great fans show up for the not-so-great games. And Colorado hasn't exactly been a heavy hitter in its inaugural season in the Pac-12. There's no real rivalry (last meeting was 1993) and there are no real external storylines to this game -- save the nation's longest winning streak at 12 games -- so I'm wondering if the turnout will be as raucous as it was last week.
Colorado leads Washington State 13-10 at halftime, despite being outgained 220 yards to 122.

The most obvious difference? The Cougars have been flagged seven times for 90 yards. The Buffaloes have just two for 20 yards.

But the Cougars can't make key plays in Colorado territory.

Quarterback Marshall Lobbestael threw his interception on fourth down at the Buffs' 34-yard line. The Cougs also were stopped on a fourth and short in Colorado territory. And they couldn't convert a third-and-1 on the Buffs' 11-yard line late in the second quarter, which forced them to settle for a field goal.

Meanwhile, Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen threw his touchdown pass on a third and 2 from the Cougars' 9-yard line. Hansen only completed 8 of 14 passes for 90 yards in the half, but that was a key play.

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Final: Colorado 28, Colorado State 14

September, 17, 2011
Much of Colorado's 28-14 win over Colorado State wasn't pretty. Like 10 penalties for 114 yards.

But know what was beautiful, other than coach Jon Embree getting his first career victory? A 17-play, 85-yard touchdown drive that basically took the final 10 minutes off the clock.

That's something you can start to hang some confidence on for the 1-2 Buffaloes.

The Buffs also got the running game going, rushing for 147 yards. Rodney Stewart had 98 yards on 19 carries. Not a spectacular day for quarterback Tyler Hansen, but he threw two touchdown passes with no interceptions. Embree will take that.

Also, the defense held the Rams to 243 total yards, including just 67 yards rushing.

In a tough 13-game schedule, Colorado will take any win.

Things get a little tougher next weekend when the Buffs visit Ohio State.