Monday, October 7, 2013
Pac-12 weekend rewind: Week 6
By Ted Miller
Taking stock of Week 6 in the Pac-12.
Team of the week: The name of the game is winning, so Stanford gets the tip of that cap here, even if the Cardinal should feel fortunate to escape with a 31-28 win over Washington. The Huskies dominated nearly every statistic, most notably a 489 to 279 advantage in total yards and a 30-14 advantage in first downs. But coaches always talk about "all three phases," and that includes special teams, where Stanford held a decided and decisive advantage.
Stanford receiver Ty Montgomery had a huge game versus Washington, returning a kickoff for a touchdown and adding another TD pass.
Best game: While UCLA's nail-biting win at Utah was pretty darn entertaining, college football fans who stayed up got a real treat with the Stanford-Washington game. It featured big plays on both sides of the ball, as well as fantastic individual performances. Even the controversial ending -- was there enough video evidence to overrule Keith Price's fourth-down "completion" to Kevin Smith? -- added intrigue as the Twitter debate lasted well into the wee hours of the morning.
Biggest play: Stanford receiver Ty Montgomery took the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown against the Huskies. With the Cardinal offense struggling much of the night, those points would prove precious.
Offensive standout: Not everything can be about Stanford-Washington, and Washington State QB Connor Halliday turned in a gutty performance in the Cougars' 42-22 win at California. Despite suffering an upper-body injury -- shoulder? ribs? both? -- that knocked him out of the Stanford game the week before, Halliday passed for 521 yards against the Bears, which was just 10 yards short of the program record set by Alex Brink in 2005. He completed a school-record 41 passes on 67 attempts with three TDs and an interception. Further, the Cougs broke an eight-game losing streak in Berkeley -- they hadn't won at Cal since 2002.
Offensive standout II: Hard to ignore seven touchdowns. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota had five touchdown passes and two rushing TDs in a 57-16 win at Colorado. He completed 16 of 27 throws for 355 yards with no interceptions. He also rushed seven times for 43 yards.
Defensive standout: UCLA S Anthony Jefferson snagged two of the Bruins' six interceptions in their 34-27 win over Utah. He also tied for second on the Bruins with seven total tackles.
Defensive standout II: Stanford OLB Trent Murphy had two sacks and his fourth-quarter deflection of a Price pass led to an interception by A.J. Tarpley inside the Cardinal's 10-yard line. Murphy, who is making a strong case for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, had six total tackles and 2.5 tackles for a loss.
Special-teams standout: No doubt about this one. Montgomery accounted for nearly 300 total yards for Stanford in the win over the Huskies, including 204 total yards on kick returns. In addition to his 99-yard touchdown, he also had a 68-yard return that set up an easy Stanford TD. Oh, by the way, he also caught a 39-yard TD pass. Simple as this: Montgomery is the reason Stanford won.
Smiley face: It's pretty cool that the Pac-12 produced a pair of outstanding games UCLA-Utah on Thursday and UW-Stanford winding up another great weekend of football. It's also meaningful, as Kevin noted, that the top teams held serve. Oregon and Stanford have fully justified top-five rankings, while UCLA continues to shine. Further, there was nothing inglorious about how Washington went down.
Frowny face: Arizona State blew its opportunity for a special start to the season with a 37-34 loss to Notre Dame. The Sun Devils had three turnovers, couldn't run the ball and made a previously struggling Notre Dame offense look potent. So, for a second time this season, Arizona State fell out of the national rankings. Further, ASU still seems to be a completely different team on the road than inside the friendly confines of Sun Devil Stadium, which bodes ill for the potentially critical visit to UCLA on Nov. 23. While many Sun Devils fans would have taken a 3-2 start in the preseason, the schedule turned out to not be as tough as it looked in August. So the present record could be termed a disappointment.
Thought of the week: Last season, we had two major Pac-12 upsets before October arrived: Stanford over No. 2 USC on Sept. 15 and Washington over No. 8 Stanford on Sept. 27. So far this season, we've had no major upsets. But you'd have to guess at least one will shock us at some point. The teams most on upset alert are the highly ranked unbeatens: Oregon, Stanford and UCLA. The Ducks have a tough trip to rival Washington on Saturday. That's a team the Ducks have beaten nine consecutive times by at least 17 points, but this matchup feels far more likely to be competitive. Stanford is at Utah. That also feels like a potentially tricky game, particularly after the emotions of the win over the Huskies on Saturday. And the Bruins shouldn't be overconfident against California, a team that is dangerous because it can throw the ball well.
Questions for the week: Who is USC going to be under interim coach Ed Orgeron? Are the Trojans going to unite around a new, fiery leader and play inspired football? If they do, they could cause some problems for teams with high aspirations. Stanford and UCLA each still play the Trojans. Or do they continue to be a distracted, seemingly indifferent group of individuals? We should get a good idea on Thursday when Arizona visits the Coliseum.