What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 6

October, 9, 2011
10/09/11
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What did we learn from Week 6 of Pac-12 action?

[+] EnlargeOregon running back LaMichael James
AP Photo/Don RyanThe pressure will be on the rest of the Ducks offense with running back LaMichael James out with an elbow injury.
1. Oregon faces life without James (at least for a while): The Ducks piled up 563 yards in an impressive 43-15 win over California, and running back LaMichael James was the primary weapon, with 239 yards rushing on 30 carries. But he dislocated his elbow in the fourth quarter, and likely will be out at least a few weeks. That puts pressure on quarterback Darron Thomas and backup running back Kenjon Barner to step up. And Ducks fans are crossing their fingers that James will be ready to go on Nov. 12 at Stanford.

2. It's time to respect Arizona State: Starting in the preseason and continuing every week since, folks have been sending notes to the Pac-12 blog questioning the Sun Devils. These notes are mostly nonsensical blathering, but they arrive with an odd and obsessive frequency. Has this been orchestrated by a message board somewhere? Well, the Sun Devils are 5-1. Time to shut up? The answer is yes. Arizona State has had injury woes to match that of any team in the nation, yet it has found ways to win. The Sun Devils will be big underdogs at Oregon on Saturday, but this is a Top 25 team whatever happens. To say otherwise is to adopt a ridiculous position, which is fine, but not something the Pac-12 blog would advise for those seeking audience with the cool kids.

3. Oregon State isn't Washington State of 2008-09: The Beavers started 0-4 and some started wondering: 0-12? While a win over a struggling Arizona team only ensures the worst possible finish is 1-11, the Beavers don't seem like a true doormat, like the Cougars were. The Beavers hinted against the Wildcats -- on both sides of the ball -- that they can get off the carpet and win some games. While this won't be a warm-fuzzy for Oregon State fans who have high expectations for bowl games every year, the Beavers are not an automatic win for their future opponents.

4. Rick Neuheisel isn't done yet: While it's hard to say things are rosy at UCLA, the Bruins' rallying for a win against Washington State suggests there's still some hope for coach Rick Neuheisel. Kevin Prince came off the bench for an injured Richard Brehaut, and the Bruins showed spunk in the fourth quarter. At 3-3, UCLA is still in the mix for a bowl game, which might save Neuheisel's job.

5. Stoops is in trouble: Arizona coach Mike Stoops has earned some leeway based on what he has accomplished with the Wildcats. But that leeway starts to disappear when he loses 10 consecutive games to FBS foes, and the most recent one is 0-4. The Wildcats need to rediscover some mojo or Stoops might lose his job, a proposition that seemed far-fetched in the preseason.

6. Tough times for new guys continues: Neither of the Pac-12's new members, Colorado and Utah, has won a Pac-12 game. They are presently 0-5 in Pac-12 play. We're not learning anything new here, but it's difficult not to take note because we keep planning to celebrate one or the other winning a game.

Ted Miller | email

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