What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 8

October, 21, 2012
10/21/12
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What did we learn in Week 8? Read on.

Oregon passes its road "test": Arizona State was supposed to provide Oregon and quarterback Marcus Mariota a tough road test -- good team, tough venue. Nope. The game was over at halftime, when it was 43-7. The Ducks pulled Mariota and many of their starters in the second half and coasted home, but they made their statement. While some have pulled out the "Arizona State lost to Missouri" card, the Ducks' dominance was notable. They will host to Colorado on Saturday. Then ... drum roll, please ... they'll visit USC.

[+] EnlargeStepfan Taylor
Kelley L Cox/US PRESSWIREStepfan Taylor rushed for 189 yards on 28 carries as Stanford beat Cal in the 115th Big Game.
Stanford can win on the road: The Cardinal don't have to be great on offense. Sure, a little more efficiency would be nice, but with the way the defense has performed in road games this year, the Cardinal shouldn't have to put up 35 points to win games. Saturday against Cal, they did exactly what they needed to do. They got touchdown passes from Josh Nunes and Kevin Hogan. They got a career-high 189 rushing yards and a touchdown from Stepfan Taylor. All three touchdowns came in the first half and with a 21-3 lead, so they could just grind with the running game and let the defense do what it does best.

Arizona State isn't ready for prime time just yet: Before the Oregon game, some Sun Devils fans were trying to script an epic season. Such thinking surely ended after the Oregon visit. New coach Todd Graham has done a nice job over the first half of the season, recreating the program's culture. But there's a lack of top-to-bottom talent and, most important, depth that the Ducks exposed. Not exposed in the sense that this isn't a bowl team. But exposed in the sense that this team isn't yet ready to compete for BCS bowl games.

Yes, Matt Barkley and Robert Woods are still pretty good: USC's passing attacked, maligned by some -- who, us? -- this week was dominant against Colorado. Sure, it was just Colorado, but quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Robert Woods clearly brought their A-game on their way to a record-setting night. Barkley completed 19 of 20 passes for 298 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. He needed three to match the Pac-12 career touchdown pass record set by Matt Leinart. He now has 102 for his career. Woods caught eight passes for 132 yards and four touchdowns. He broke Dwayne Jarrett’s school record for catches in a career. Woods now has 220 career receptions.

Cal, Tedford on the brink: At 3-5, Cal needs to go 3-1 over the final third of the season to become bowl-eligible. Those four games include Oregon and a visit to Oregon State. It won't be easy, to say the least. And a losing record could make coach Jeff Tedford's position untenable. The worst thing about being a coach on the hot seat is trying to keep things together in the locker room. At this point, the Bears players need to look in the mirror. Are they willing to dig deep and fight for their coach? Or will they wave a white flag and join the gossiping about potential future scenarios?

Arizona might be better than you think: Arizona whipped Washington 52-17. It has wins over 7-1 Toledo, which just beat nationally ranked Cincinnati, and 4-2 Oklahoma State, and its losses are to Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford, which are a combined 18-2. The Wildcats can run and throw, and the defense has, at least, proved opportunistic. USC visits on Saturday, and it shouldn't take this trip lightly. The Territorial Cup in Tucson on Nov. 23 should be fairly interesting, other than the fact that the Wildcats and Arizona State love each other so much. Figures that game will have bowl implications for both.

Beavers just win, baby: Utah, with a struggling offense and a true freshman quarterback, outgained Oregon State 307 yards to 226. But the Beavers won the turnover battle 4-0, and that's why Oregon State improved to 6-0 for the first time since the Renaissance (or something like that). That and their opportunism. The defense stepped up, and the offense produced three short rushing touchdowns from Storm Woods. It wasn't pretty, but 6-0 sure is.

Ted Miller | email

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