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Colorado's Mike MacIntyre was asked Tuesday about the Pac-12's bottom-feeding teams. For the first time since he arrived in Boulder, the Buffs are not among them.

"Everyone goes through tough times," he said sympathetically. "I didn't expect this for coach [Mark] Helfrich."

In two short seasons, Oregon (2-4, 0-3) has morphed from national runner-up to Pac-12 punching bag — getting lit up 70-21 this past weekend by No. 5 Washington, which hadn't beaten the Ducks in 12 years. It was an exorcism for the Huskies, but an unnerving exposure for Oregon, which trails the league in scoring defense (41.8 points per game) and has allowed 35 points or more in each of its four losses.

Helfrich has a reputation as "a good guy" of the coaching profession, and even Washington coach Chris Petersen said after trouncing Oregon: "I feel bad."

Helfrich, embattled in his third year since replacing Chip Kelly, said he's not into self-pity.

"Nobody is more frustrated than the people inside this building," he said. "At the same time we've got to go about solving it."

Where to start? Probably on defense, where there has been a loosening over the past few weeks and players have questioned teammates about whether they have the appropriate level of desire.

But all is not well on the other side of the ball either: Oregon was down 35-7 at the half. It took some time before freshman Justin Herbert (who has taken over for grad transfer Dakota Prukop) found a groove, finishing with 179 yards and two touchdowns.

Asked about his job security, Helfrich said he has entered Oregon's bye week worried only about one thing: how to beat Cal next week.

"We're concerned with right now, just as we would if we were 6-0," he said. "You're trying to keep everybody focused."

Injuries strike

If you are a star in the Pac-12, it's likely you're hurt now.

A popular preseason Heisman pick, Stanford's Christian McCaffrey is questionable for the next game against Notre Dame. Cal's Chad Hansen, the Pac-12's leading receiver in several categories, has a sprained ankle. UCLA lost quarterback Josh Rosen against ASU for an undetermined length of time, while ASU lost quarterback Brady White for the year.

So no, Utah's not alone.

The healthiest team so far has been Washington, which Petersen called "lucky" this week as the Huskies cruised to a 6-0 record. But at least five teams have done some switching of quarterbacks for injury-related reasons. At places like Colorado, it's been a revelation: Steven Montez has helped the Buffs start 2-1 in Pac-12 play. But others like Arizona State are hoping for some luck this week on the depth chart.

Most coaches were not particulary amenable to answering questions about their missing stars.

"If he's ready to play, he'll play," UCLA coach Jim Mora said of Rosen. "If he's not ready to play, he won't."

RichRod is a Wishnowsky fan

Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky enjoyed his second weekly Ray Guy Award honor after averaging 50 net yards on six punts against Arizona. Coach Kyle Whittingham gave him a nod in his Monday press conference, but on Tuesday, it was another coach who had kind words for him.

"Their punter was unbelievable," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. "He was putting us on the 1 yard line, the 1 yard line, the 4 yard line — not much you can do."

Wishnowsky leads the nation this season with 50.5 net yards per punt.

Twitter: @kylegoon —

Pac-12 Power Rankings

1 » Washington (6-0, 3-0)

Jake Browning Heisman chatter is picking up, or at least it should be.

2 » Utah (5-1, 2-1)

Slow starts haven't hindered the Utes much, but injuries starting to stack up.

3 » Arizona State (5-1, 2-1)

Quarterback is a huge question mark with Brady White out for the year.

4 » Washington State (3-2, 2-0)

Yes, they put up 42 points, but Stanford couldn't move the ball on Cougars D.

5 » USC (3-3, 2-2)

The "Fire Helton" noise seems to be dying down with Sam Darnold leading the way.

6 » Colorado (4-2, 2-1)

The defense looked salty despite a tough road loss, will be problematic for future opponents.

7 » UCLA (3-3, 1-2)

Funky game against ASU leaves Josh Rosen status up in the air for this week.

8 » Stanford (3-2, 2-2)

Forget about Heisman candidacy — Christian McCaffrey might not play against Notre Dame.

9 » California (3-3, 1-2)

OSU's 474 rushing yards indicate that Golden Bears' defense was a mirage vs. Utah.

10 » Oregon State (2-3, 1-1)

Darell Garretson showed surprising versatility directing Beavers' ground game.

11 » Arizona (2-4, 0-3)

Sticking with one quarterback might help give Wildcats offense some consistency.

12 » Oregon (2-4, 0-3)

No signs of life from Brady Hoke's defense halfway through the season.