What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 11

November, 13, 2011
11/13/11
10:00
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What did we learn from Week 11 of Pac-12 action?

The Evil Genius of Chip Kelly still rules: Things set up well for Stanford. It was the unbeaten team in the national title chase. It was playing at home. It had Andrew Luck. But Oregon still has Chip Kelly. And he and defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti -- let's not forget the old guy -- know how to get their team ready to play. And to scheme up an opponent. Oregon seemed to have an answer for everything Stanford did. And a way to exploit all of the Cardinal's weaknesses. Bottom line: The Ducks appear headed for their third consecutive Pac-12 championship after a 53-30 victory.

[+] EnlargeOregon's Chip Kelly
Jason O. Watson/US PRESSWIREOregon's Chip Kelly did his homework in preparing his team for Stanford, and it showed on the field.
Andrew Luck might not be a sure thing for the Heisman: Luck didn't play badly against Oregon. He didn't get a lot of help, particularly from his pass catchers. He completed 27 of 41 for 271 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, one that bounced off his receiver's hands and turned into a pick-6. But not putting up a special performance -- a winning one -- in his marquee game this season might have lost him the Heisman Trophy. It's not unlike the guy he's often compared to: Tennessee's Peyton Manning, who couldn't beat Florida and never won the Heisman. So Luck has lost his past two games to Oregon (he did beat the Ducks as a redshirt freshman in 2009). Maybe we should give Ducks running back LaMichael James a second look after he again posted big numbers against Luck and the Cardinal?

A nice weekend for the new guys: Both Utah and Colorado, the teams that made the Pac-10 the Pac-12, won this weekend. The Utes and Buffaloes were both 0-4 in conference play on Oct. 22 and everyone was making fun of them. Now the Utes are 3-4 and bowl-eligible after beating UCLA. Colorado's season isn't going to take off, but it beat Arizona to ensure it won't be winless in conference play this season.

USC is surging, dangerous (hear us Ducks?): The favorite to win the Pac-12 South Division? USC. Of course, USC isn't eligible to win it because of NCAA sanctions. But the now 8-2 Trojans have won five of six, their lone defeat a triple-overtime classic to Stanford. The Trojans are headed to Oregon on Saturday. The Ducks will need to refocus quickly. USC is perfectly capable of striking a blow for chaos in the conference by upsetting the Ducks.

The South Division is a mess: UCLA, which is 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the conference, still controls its own destiny in the South Division, despite losing 31-6 at Utah. That's because Arizona State threw up on itself at Washington State. If the Bruins beat Colorado and USC, they win the South and will play the North champ for a shot at the Rose Bowl. Imagine: an 8-5 team in the Rose Bowl. If the Bruins and the Sun Devils both lose again -- the Sun Devils have home dates with Arizona and California remaining -- and Utah wins out, we could end up with a complicated three-way tie -- do your own tiebreaking math here.

Ted Miller | email

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