Gold: 1 thing I learned from every Pac-12 team in Week 11
Bo Nix, just fly to New York City and grab the Heisman Trophy right now.
His 400-yard, 4-touchdown day installed his front-runner status while knocking Washington’s premier passer Michael Penix Jr.
Here’s one thing I learned from every Pac-12 team in Week 11 …
Arizona: Wildcats keep raising the bar
Jedd Fisch, watch out. You don’t want to set unrealistic expectations for yourself with all these ways to win.
The Wildcats won their 4th straight game in dramatic fashion against the Buffaloes, as Tyler Loop’s 24-yard field goal as time expired gave Arizona its first lead of the day.
The Cats have won by big and won by little, but this one was special again.
Arizona State: Sun Devils snag signature win in Year 1
Kenny Dillingham, take a bow. A win at the Rose Bowl is never easy, but the Sun Devils bid goodbye in style with a stifling defensive performance and a big dash of offensive creativity in a 17-7 win at UCLA.
Beating a slumping Washington State squad at home like ASU did 2 weeks ago was a nice step. Winning on the road with 5 offensive linemen injured? Now that’s inspired.
“I was trying to put our players in the best position to win. Point blank,” Dillingham said after the game. “Did we really want to play 70 snaps for these guys just to try to kill our quarterback? And the answer was no, we did not.”
Cal: Can the Bears save Justin Wilcox’s job
While the hottest seat in the Pac-12 may have just drifted southward to Westwood, Wilcox can’t feel too comfortable in Berkeley with the way things have unfolded.
He might just have played himself into job security thought. A mammoth defensive stand by the Bears helped them outlast Washington State, keeping Cal’s postseason hopes alive. With 2 big games left, including the Big Game, Cal has to close out the year with wins over Stanford and UCLA, a suddenly simple task.
Colorado: Buffaloes can’t stop Arizona ground game
On the laundry list of things Deion Sanders needs to change in Boulder, fixing that defensive line is a part of it.
Colorado allowed Jonah Coleman to break off big run after big run en route to a career day for the diminutive Cat back, as he finished with 179 yards on 11 rushes.
The Buffaloes’ own rushing game issues reared their roughly head as the Buffs managed only 2.6 yards per rush.
Oregon: Ducks bully Trojans up front
USC’s running game is far from the days of Reggie Bush and LenDale White, but even by its current standards, what the Oregon defense did against the Trojans on Saturday was notable.
The Ducks’ defense was utterly dominant up front against a USC offensive line that has seen better days.
Oregon held the Trojans to just 73 rushing yards, with no USC back going for more than MarShawn Lloyd’s 37 yards on 9 carries. Austin Jones added 26 yards on 7 carries and Zachariah Branch had 21 yards on his 1 run. Even the typically dangerous Caleb Williams had negative-11 yards on 8 attempts.
USC came into the game with the league’s 6th-ranked rushing game at more than 160 yards per game.
Oregon State: Damien Martinez is getting his mojo back
Arguably the best running back in the Pac-12, Martinez had fallen from his perch with a series of games under 100 yards, a benchmark with which he has become intimately familiar.
Martinez watched as his 9-game century mark streak snapped in Week 4 this year, but after finally getting back over 200 yards last week for the first time since September, Martinez outdid himself on Saturday.
He rushed for a season-high 146 yards on 15 attempts but more importantly scored 4 times.
Stanford: Cardinal’s 3rd-down woes continue
The Cardinal have come along slowly this season under Troy Taylor, but one category with plenty room for improvement is converting on 3rd down.
Stanford converted just 3-of-13 3rd-down opportunities in a 62-17 smashing at the hands of Oregon State.
Entering the matchup, the Cardinal had connected on just 38.41%, 2nd-worst in the league.
UCLA: Bruins’ offense hits a new low
Chip Kelly, where have you gone? The once-innovative coach is clearly not made for the college game anymore after the Bruins’ embarrassing 17-7 loss to a formerly 2-win Arizona State squad.
All year Kelly has insisted UCLA had 3 able quarterbacks, but maybe he never had one. Collin Schlee managed just 117 yards on 11-of-18 pass attempts. The Bruins now have just 17 points combined the past 2 weeks.
We’re a far cry from the Dennis Dixon days, huh?
USC: Suspect receiving corps has underachieved
Perhaps no individual player encapsulates USC’s confounding 2023 campaign more than former Arizona star Dorian Singer, one of the top receivers in the league last year and supposedly one of the conference’s top transfers.
No, Singer wasn’t on the same level as 2022’s major pickup, Pitt’s reigning Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison. But he was a coveted pickup.
For the year, he’s been a complete dud, catching just 22 passes for 232 yards and 3 scores heading into the Trojans’ matchup with Oregon on Saturday. For one brief, shining moment, Singer flashed his skills, catching a 44-yard pass from Caleb Williams. That was his only catch of the day.
Utah: Pass rush struggles against Heisman-favorite Penix
If Utah actually stood any chance against No. 5 Washington, it was going to be because the Utes flummoxed and frustrated Michael Penix Jr.
It’s not like Penix and the Huskies are infallible — just look at what Arizona State did to them by bringing the heat up the middle.
Instead, the Utes were ice cold. They sacked Penix just once as Jonah Elliss, the Pac-12’s premier lass rusher, had no sacks and just 2 tackles. For the game, the normally pressure-packing Utes had just 3 tackles for loss.
Washington: Rome Odunze deserves his day
Given the overwhelming talent displayed by Penix, it is understandable that he gets a ton of credit for the Huskies’ terrific offense. But can we pause for a moment to recognize the league’s best receiver, Rome Odunze?
The guy just continues to produce at an All-American pace. He had 111 yards on all of 3 catches in the 35-28 win over Utah, with 2 of those grabs going for touchdowns. He became the first Washington receiver since 2003 with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons
Washington State: Cougars’ collapse continues
At this point, it is more than fair to wonder if Wazzu will win 1 more Pac-12 game.
The Cougars have lost 6 straight, including Saturday’s loss at Cal, and now they close out the year with Colorado and Washington.
Maybe a switch in the backfield to freshman running back Leo Pulalasi will help. He had 39 career yards on 7 rushes before rushing 11 times for 66 yards against the Bears. Fellow freshman Djouvensky Schlenbaker got in on the act, too, with 9 carries for 42 yards.