With week 4 bringing us the beginning of conference play, #Pac12AfterDark was in full effect! Oregon vs Stanford was the premier game in the conference this past weekend, and it lived up to all of the hype and then some. Even though there were only eight teams in action, there were some great performances and thrilling games making this past weekend an exciting weekend for a Pac-12 football fan!
With a thrilling and improbable win in Eugene on Saturday, Stanford has taken control of the Pac-12 North. They now have a 2-0 conference record with wins over Oregon and USC. However, they still play at Washington in what could be the deciding game for the Pac-12 North. Speaking of Washington, they took care of business against ASU, winning 27-20. While it was not the prettiest of performances, they got the job done and are firmly in the division race. Oregon, despite the strong performance against Stanford, drops to 0-1 in conference when they should be 1-0. This division was always picked to be a three team race and it remained that way this weekend with Washington State and Oregon State both losing. However, keep an eye out for the California Golden Bears, who are 3-0, have a win over ranked BYU, and are now ranked 24th in the AP poll. They play the Oregon Ducks this weekend in the Bay Area, which will tell us a lot about the strength of this team.
Once again, the Pac-12 South had an up-and-down week, and there isn’t a favorite to win this division. UCLA, Colorado, and Utah all did not play this past weekend, which makes predicting the South even tougher. However, USC bounced back after losing to Texas, winning a tightly contested game against Washington State in LA. Arizona, even though they were playing Oregon State, looked more efficient on offense and handled the Beavers with relative ease. Despite the loss, ASU played well on the road in a hostile environment. Along with that, N’Keal Harry also continued to prove why he is going to be a first round draft pick. The Pac-12 South has some big games coming up this weekend that will clarify who the contenders and pretenders are of the division.
Best Performance of the Week: Stanford Cardinal
For starters, Stanford had no business winning this game. I do not know why Mario Cristobal decided to run the ball when he could have bled the clock down to around ten seconds. It would have taken a miracle to beat them at that point. However, for as much as Oregon blew this game, Stanford also made plays to win the game. They just did not give up. JJ Arcega-Whiteside had a terrific game, along with a strong performance from KJ Costello. Their defense also seemed to find a turnover whenever they desperately needed one. It was a gutsy performance that rewarded them with a big conference road win, which is why they get my performance of the week.
Worst Performance of the Week: Oregon State Beavers
Look, I know Oregon State is not supposed to be a good football team this year, but they played terrible against Arizona. The Beavers gave up almost 600 yards, 442 of those on the ground. On offense, they could only muster 14 points against an Arizona defense that gave up 31 points to Southern Utah. Had Arizona capitalized on more of their opportunities, the score could have easily been 49-14 instead of 35-14. This was not a good week for the Beavers, earning them my worst performance of the week.
Upcoming Game of the Week: #7 Stanford at #8 Notre Dame
While there are plenty of intriguing match-ups in the Pac-12 this weekend, this is by far the most important. Stanford gets rewarded for their dramatic win at Oregon by having to go play at Notre Dame. Both teams are currently on the outside looking in for the College Football Playoff, and a win for either school would provide a huge boost to their resume. This game won’t have any conference implications, but this is an important game that both teams want to win. Plus it’s a rivalry game, and who doesn’t love a good rivalry game?