10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after Week 11 in the Pac-12
You’ve got the Los Angeles schools in disarray, Colorado and the Wazzu Cougars flailing in the wind and Arizona State winning in the Rose Bowl with the janitor in at quarterback.
It was a weird and wild Week 11 in the Pac-12, and one that just might cause a few heads to roll.
Now onto my 10 overreactions after Week 11 in the Pac-12 …
10. The Heisman Trophy belongs to Bo
LSU star Jayden Daniels made yet another statement on Saturday with more than 600 yards. But he also has 3 losses.
Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel totaled an astounding 8 touchdowns against West Virginia. But he’s missing the strength of schedule.
Caleb Williams. Well … never mind.
Michael Penix Jr. was great against a solid Utah defense on Saturday, throwing for 332 yards and totaling 3 touchdowns. But he’s fallen off his prodigious early season pace.
And then there’s Bo Nix, who just keeps getting better and better. Nix had a thoroughly impressive showing in No. 6 Oregon’s 36-27 win over USC, throwing for a season-high 412 yards and 4 touchdowns. His growth as a passer and a leader this year has been a sight to see. Forget the fact that he’s 10 times the runner that Penix is.
It’s not that I was especially down on Nix this year, but I did wonder how much of his success last year was tied into his reunion with Kenny Dillingham, the coordinator with whom he kicked off his collegiate career back at Auburn.
Well, it’s clear that Nix is the driving force here, though he’s found quite the kinship with Dan Lanning and new offensive coordinator Will Stein.
9. But Penix can wrestle it back the next 3 weeks
In the Heisman Watch list, Nix crept up above Penix for the first time this year.
But let’s not write the Husky hurler off quite just yet.
He still leads the nation in passing yardage by more than 30 yards over the closest contenders. He still ranks 4th national in passing touchdowns with 28, just 1 behind Nix (29). He’s still top 8 in passing efficiency.
It’s actually an interesting position for Penix to be in, having led up to the 3rd quarter and now trailing entering the 4th. A big showing against Oregon State next Saturday and in the Apple Cup in the regular season finale might put him back on top.
The Beavers will be a accurate barometer with Penix and then Nix the next 2 weeks.
8. The buck stops with Coach Prime
The experiment of moving Pat Shurmur up to the booth and moving Sean Lewis down to the field worked on Saturday, for a while, at least.
But then the Buffalos did what the Buffs do and let Arizona creep back in and ultimately win it, 34-31, on a last-second field goal.
Deion Sanders must do some soul-searching this week as the wheels come off the Buffalos’ bus.
7. You’ve got to love Kenny Dillingham
The firebrand first-year head coach has found a way to make due even with his roster crumbling and fewer holdovers from last year leading the charge.
Using Cameron Skattebo the way he did in a 17-7 win over UCLA at the Rose Bowl was a stroke of genius. The dude used a tight end and a running back at quarterback! Finding a way to make do despite numerous setbacks has been Dilly’s trademark this year. The Sun Devils don’t have a ton of highlights this season, but the ones they do have are pretty darn high.
6. Can Justin Wilcox save his job the next 2 weeks?
The beleaguered Bears head coach has been on the hottest of seats, even though the aching Cal athletic department probably doesn’t have the budget for that bold a move.
But after a surprising Week 11 win over Washington State — and winnable ensuing games against Stanford and UCLA — Cal’s regents might just be able to put their checkbooks away.
It wasn’t just that Cal continued the Cougars’ epic collapse — that makes 6 straight losses for Jake Dickert and Co. — it was the way the Bears bore down and held strong defensively in a 42-39 win. Those kind of gritty, emotional wins tend to linger for both the players and frustrated boosters.
5. And what about Chip Kelly?
UCLA fans are rightfully infuriated at the utter incompetence that has befallen their beloved Bruins.
Who kidnapped Chip Kelly, and what have you done with him? This certainly isn’t what UCLA fans bargained for when Kelly was hired in 2018 as one of the splashiest moves of the offseason.
After ascending to 4th in the national total offense rankings last year behind the brilliance of a veteran backfield that included Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet, UCLA has completely crashed offensively this year. Theyre averaging just 26.4 points per game this year — almost 2 touchdowns fewer than last year (39.2).
Isn’t this Kelly’s forte? His specialty? The thing on which he hangs his hat?
It is an abomination that the Bruins don’t have a competent, offensive line or better quarterback play this season, even if they have been banged up.
4. With all due respect to Kalen DeBoer, Dan Lanning is the Pac-12 Coach of the Year
It sure says something when a 9-point win over USC is nothing to write home about. The Ducks have been so thoroughly ruthless this year that 3-touchdown wins have become old hat. Nine points? What went wrong?
That level of dominance doesn’t happen very often. Yes, Oregon succumbed to Washington on the road, in hostile territory, in a 36-33 loss. But against common opponents, Lanning and Co. own a 118-53 edge in margin of victory.
Of course this takes nothing away from the job that DeBoer has done this season, but there is only one award to go around.
3. No, wait, Jedd Fisch is
Hold on, does it actually belong up in Eugene? Or should it head to the desert air of Tucson?
The cupboard Lanning received when he inherited the Oregon job from Mario Cristobal was damn near packed to the brim. I’m not so sure Arizona actually had a cupboard for Fisch when he arrived to helm the Wildcats. He may have actually just had a couple standing shelves.
What he has done with the likes of Jonah Coleman and a sensational 2022 recruiting class has simply stunned me.
Should Arizona actually finish the regular season with 9 wins, Fisch has my vote for conference coach of the year.
And it’s not just that the Wildcats are winning, it’s how they’re winning. Saturday’s comeback win over Colorado was not particularly crisp or clean, but it was resolute and the Cats won their 4th straight. They’re going bowling for the first time since 2017, and every subsequent win improves their destination.
2. Are we certain Lincoln Riley is so special?
This is certainly an overreaction, but I wonder how much USC really wants Lincoln Riley back next year?
The idea of an offense-minded head coach really hasn’t worked in Heritage Hall for going on decades. The Trojans’ last defensive-minded and toughness-oriented head coach was Pete Carroll.
It’s time to go back to those days.
Go snag a bully who’s going to take the punch to the Big Ten, instead of settling for flashy and finesse. That’s not going to get you anywhere against the corn-fed masses.
1. Yes, Oregon State can shock the world and upend the Pac-12 title race
Call me a Jonathan Smith homer who has never lived in Corvallis. Call me and unabashed Beavers backer. Heck just call me someone who has watched Oregon State play the past 2 years.
But, yeah, I believe the Beavers stand a biting chance of taking down the league’s twin towers of Washington and Oregon the next 2 weeks. Granted, I’m sure Oregon State would rather have concluded its season with the likes of Stanford and Arizona State, but then again, I don’t think Smith is going to back down from any challenge.
This truly is DJ Uiagalelei’s time to shine. Here is why Smith went out and reeled him in this offseason.