Shakeup in the South
In the Pac-12's inaugural season, UCLA won the South championship with a 5-4 conference record. That's because USC (7-2) was ineligible for the title, due to NCAA sanctions.
But it is conceivable that the South winner again will have four losses -which means that even at 1-4, Utah and Colorado have not been eliminated.
Every team has at least two defeats, and USC (4-2) likely will lose to Oregon on Saturday. Then, if UCLA (3-2) loses to Arizona and Arizona State (3-2) falls to Oregon State, everybody will have three or more losses.
An Arizona win would put the Wildcats (2-3) in great position to represent the South in the Pac-12 championship game, after they went 2-7 in the conference last season and started 0-3 this season. That presumably would mean a return visit to Oregon, where they lost 49-0 in September.
Cougar 'D' getting better
Stanford had considerable success on the ground against Cal before struggling against WSU, so that history could play into Utah's game vs. WSU this week.
Stanford rushed for 252 yards on 46 carries against the Bears, but WSU held the Cardinal to 120 yards on 37 attempts. If the pattern holds, the Utes will have trouble reproducing the 188 yards they gained against Cal.
"It's just obvious: We didn't block well at the point of attack," said Stanford coach David Shaw. "Our double-team blocks got defeated, which is not [like] us. … We did not move those guys."
The Cougars clearly have improved since allowing 426 total yards to BYU in the season opener and 318 rushing yards to Cal in mid-October.
Right symptoms, wrong diagnosis
Arizona quarterback Matt Scott became nauseated on the sideline during the game against USC, leading to concerns about a possible concussion. As it turns out, that's a usual reaction for Scott when he's winded, whether in summer conditioning or during a game such as Saturday's, in which he rushed for 100 yards.
In that sense, Scott's words to coach Rich Rodriguez were reassuring: "Coach, you may not know this, but I'm kind of known as a puker."
Stars on both sides
Arizona's defense gave up 618 total yards and 36 points to USC, and Trojan receiver Marqise Lee was honored as the Pac-12 offensive player of the week after catching 16 passes for 345 yards.
Even so, Arizona linebacker Marquis Flowers was named the defensive player of the week. The dual awards from the same game seem incongruous, but Flowers' honor was justified. He intercepted two passes and forced a fumble, accounting for three of the five takeaways that enabled the Wildcats to stay in the game.
Beavers go back to Vaz
Oregon State quarterback Cody Vaz's first opportunity was due to Sean Mannion's injury. His latest promotion is a result of Mannion's ineffectiveness.
Having beaten BYU and Utah in his first two career starts, Vaz went back to the bench last weekend at Washington after Mannion recovered from knee surgery. Vaz was summoned midway through the fourth quarter after Mannion's fourth interception, including two on consecutive possessions.
Vaz led a touchdown drive that tied the game, only to have the Huskies move into position for a field goal in a 20-17 victory. The Beavers' last possession ended when they went backward after reaching the UW 38-yard line.
Mannion "just made three real bad decisions," said OSU coach Mike Riley.
So with a 6-1 record and No. 13 ranking, OSU is making a quarterback switch. That's not unprecedented. In 2009, Utah was 7-1 and ranked No. 17 when Jordan Wynn replaced Terrance Cain as the starter.
Statistics for Oregon State's quarterbacks vs. Washington:
Player Comp. Att. Yds. TD Int.
Sean Mannion 18 34 221 1 4
Cody Vaz 7 11 97 1 0