SALT LAKE CITY — Halfway through the season, just two Pac-12 teams are bowl eligible, and the conference standings aren’t what we predicted in preseason.
No. 5 Washington, California and Oregon were all on byes this week. Meanwhile, No. 21 Utah secured bowl eligibility, following suit of the Huskies, who became eligible last week. Colorado needs one more win to be in the talks of a bowl game.
On top of the North division are Washington and Washington State, which remain the only teams undefeated in conference play. Colorado and Utah are tied for the South.
Here’s a look at how Week 7 treated the Pac-12.
Arizona State (5-2, 2-2) at Colorado (5-2, 3-1)
Score: Colorado 40, Arizona State 16
Game recap: In a competition of two of the South’s best teams, Colorado steamrolled over Arizona State. On their first possession of the game, the Buffs marched 81 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead. The Sun Devils tied it up at the end of the first quarter. The teams continued to battle, tying again at 10 in the middle of the second quarter. Quarterback Sefo Liufau put together a pair of scoring drives to put Colorado up 23-10 at halftime. The Buffs opened the second half with a 75-yard touchdown run. While Colorado continued the game with two more touchdowns, Arizona State only put together six points from two field goals.
Key stat: Colorado rushed for 315 yards against an Arizona State team that previously allowed just 89.3 yards a game.
Conference implication: With Liufau back from injury, Colorado didn’t hesitate against a division rival. Putting up more than 300 rushing yards against one of the nation’s best rushing defenses is impressive. However, special teams needs work. The Buffs had two muffed punts, plus a missed extra point and shanked field goal attempt. One more win and Colorado becomes bowl eligible, something Boulder has anticipated for several years.
Ouch. Arizona State’s two losses have come against South teams. The once hot Sun Devils must fix their run defense before meeting Washington State next week. Plus, they need quarterback Manny Wilkins’ health to improve.
Next opponent: Colorado travels to Stanford; Arizona State hosts Washington State.
Stanford (4-2, 2-2) at Notre Dame (2-5)
Score: Stanford 17, Notre Dame 10
Game recap: After a scoreless first half, Stanford scored 17 unanswered points to win the game. The Cardinal had just one offensive touchdown. Cornerback Quenton Meeks had a 50-yard pick six to put Stanford on the board in the third quarter, followed by a team 5-yard safety at the end of the third quarter. In the beginning of the fourth quarter, receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside recovered an end zone fumble by teammate Bryce Love, who started in place of injured running back Christian McCaffrey. After that, the Cardinal defense stopped Notre Dame twice, including a sack to seal the win.
Key stat: Stanford’s running game returned with Love finishing with 129 yards on 23 carries.
Conference implication: While the Cardinal run game started to get into its groove, the offense struggled to score. However, the defense showed up when it needed to. Overall, Stanford is slowly starting to pick up the pieces to win games.
Next opponent: Stanford hosts Colorado.
UCLA (3-4, 1-3) at Washington State (4-2, 3-0)
Score: Washington State 27, UCLA 21
Game recap: Trailing 10-0 at halftime, UCLA felt confident as it scored a touchdown to cut Washington State’s lead at the beginning of the second half. The Cougars’ running backs answered with a pair of touchdowns to boost the score to 24-7. UCLA quarterback Mike Fafaul, making his first collegiate start, threw two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to cut the Cougars’ lead 27-21. The Bruins got the ball back at the end of the game, but Washington State intercepted Fafaul to clinch the win.
Key stat: Cougars junior quarterback Luke Falk failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in his collegiate career.
Conference implication: Even when Washington State’s passing game is denied, the Cougars make sure they find a way to win. Their offense is versatile as it runs — or passes — over Pac-12 defenses. If this red-hot team continues to play this way, we have ourselves an exciting Apple Cup game Nov. 25.
UCLA’s defense impressively denied Washington State any passing scores, but the offense continues to struggle. With quarterback Josh Rosen out with a shoulder injury, the Bruins hoped to get the run game going. Instead, they rushed for 43 yards on 25 carries. Turnovers also proved costly, and Fafaul couldn’t lead the team to victory.
Next opponent: Washington State travels to Arizona State; UCLA hosts Utah.
USC (4-3, 3-2) at Arizona (2-5, 0-4)
Score: USC 48, Arizona 14
Game recap: Once tied 7-7 in the first quarter, USC quarterback Sam Darnold led his team to a dominating win over division rival Arizona. He threw for five touchdowns, including three to JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Wildcats couldn’t keep up and didn’t score their second score until late in the fourth quarter.
Key stat: Darnold completed 20-of-32 passes for 235 yards and five touchdowns.
Conference implication: The Trojans are peaking at the right time. They finally got their first road win since head coach Clay Helton had the interim title removed. With three-straight wins, USC enters its bye week confident and behind Utah and Colorado in the South standings.
Arizona desperately needs this upcoming bye week.
Next opponent: USC enters its bye week; Arizona enters its bye week.
Utah (6-1, 3-1) at Oregon State (2-4, 1-2)
Score: Utah 19, Oregon State 14
Game recap: Utah shut out Oregon State in the first half and running back Joe Williams made a strong comeback after a 27-day retirement. Up 12-0 at halftime, thanks to a Williams 5-yard touchdown, safety and 25-yard Andy Phillips field goal, the Utes thought they would dominate former defensive coordinator Gary Andersen’s team. Instead, Utah played horribly in the third quarter, netting just 4 yards. The Beavers cut the Utes' lead 12-7, but quarterback Troy Williams answered with an 8-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Key stat: Utah’s throw game struggled as Williams completed just 4-of-13 passes for 42 yards.
Conference implication: The score makes it seem like Utah struggled to beat Oregon State. And yes, it did. However, it was on the road, the weather was ugly and a never-ending amount of injuries continue to pile up for the Utes. This was a tough game, but give them credit. The Utes are bowl eligible and tied with Colorado for the South lead.
After last week’s win over Cal, Oregon State came into this game hyped up and ready for another victory. They played sloppy in the first half with just 55 offensive yards, but exploded in the third quarter. Two of Oregon State’s quarterbacks are hurt, but this team will give its all to Washington next week in Seattle.
Next opponent: Utah travels to UCLA; Oregon State travels to Washington.