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Sunday, October 23, 2011
What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 8

By Ted Miller

What did we learn from Week 8 of Pac-12 action?

Stanford is a national title contender: Stanford was ranked eighth in the first BCS standings released last week. That suggested it would need some help to push into the national title picture. On Saturday, it made a statement with a 65-21 win over Washington. And, as important, Wisconsin and Oklahoma both  lost. While there are still some concerns ahead -- root against Clemson and Oklahoma State, Stanford fans --  if the Cardinal win out, they will be in good position to play for the national title.

Zach Maynard
Zach Maynard was steady in the Bears' win over Utah on Saturday.
Seats are hot: Things couldn't be much worse at UCLA for Rick Neuheisel after a blowout loss at Arizona. It's become difficult to imagine the Bruins -- and Neuheisel -- turning things around. Washington State and coach Paul Wulff have now lost three in a row after a 3-1 start. Both programs need bowl games to keep their coaches safe. Neither appears headed that way, which suggests Mike Stoops won't be the only coach fired in the conference this year.

Maynard steps up: California has had a good defense most of the time this season, and it completely shut down Utah on Saturday. What that means for the offense is simple: play smart. Quarterback Zach Maynard completed 19 of 29 passes for 255 yards and a TD and no interceptions and rushed for 36 yards and a score in the win over Utah. California, which had lost three in a row, improves to 4-3 and 1-3 in conference play. It visits beleaguered UCLA next Saturday.

Arizona and Oregon State aren't dead: Arizona and Oregon State entered the week as the conference's most downtrodden team. Each was 1-5. Arizona's lone win was over an FCS team, and Oregon State's was over ... Arizona. But both posted impressive wins, which hints that it might be a mistake to view either as an easy out. Arizona is at Washington on Oct. 29, and the Beavers visit sagging Utah.

Utah and Colorado may be: The Utes and the Buffaloes, the Pac-12's new members, won't remember their inaugural seasons fondly. Both are 0-4 in conference play. Both have suffered key injuries. Both don't appear up to the competitiveness of the conference. The Buffs, at 1-7, already are out of bowl contention. The Utes, at 3-4, have an easier schedule ahead, but they have to pick it up -- particularly on offense -- if they still harbor bowl hopes.