Pac-12 rewind for Week 10: Nix shines, Utah rolls and WSU bounces back

Recapping the Week 10 action in Pac-12 football …

Theme of the week: blowouts

While the Friday night affair in Seattle was taut, as expected, the five Saturday games were lopsided in some fashion or another. Consider these halftime scores: USC led Cal 20-7, Oregon led Colorado 28-7, UCLA led ASU 28-10, Utah led Arizona 28-10 and WSU led Stanford 42-7. Only one game ended with a single-digit victory margin (USC), but the Trojans were never seriously threatened.

Theme of the season I: dominance

Oregon, UCLA, USC and Utah are  22-3 combined in league play and 19-0 against the other eight teams. All four have home games this week, with three expected to be heavy favorites. This could be the first season since 2016 in which four teams finish 7-2 or better in conference play.

Theme of the season II: L.A. story

We have repeatedly addressed the rise of the Los Angeles schools, their contributions to the Pac-12’s on-field success and their high-powered offenses. But their less-than-illustrious opponents this weekend, Cal and ASU, combined for 71 points and 937 yards. The Trojans and Bruins had big leads, then seemed to lose focus defensively. But this wasn’t the first time they have floundered (see: UCLA at Oregon and USC at Utah). Our questions for the Nov. 19 showdown in the Rose Bowl: Which team gets to 60 first, and how much will it lose by?

Theme of the season III: The playoff picture

As we explained in detail Saturday night, the Week 10 results in other leagues could not have worked out better for the Pac-12. Tennessee’s loss to Georgia helps Oregon while Clemson’s loss to Notre Dame helps all three Pac-12 contenders. In our view, USC would have the best case for a CFP invite as a one-loss Pac-12 champion.

Team of the week: Washington State

The Cougars ended a three-game losing streak by pummeling Stanford for their sixth consecutive victory in the series. They forced four turnovers and scored more points (52) than they had in the previous three games combined (41 against USC, Utah and Oregon State). WSU is now one win away from bowl eligibility and hosts Arizona State on Saturday. Freezing temperatures are expected in Pullman all week.

Game of the week: Washington 24, Oregon State 21

The conditions were difficult (high winds) and a power outage forced a delay in the second half. But the teams nonetheless produced another riveting game in their duel for supremacy of the Pac-12’s second tier. Scores from the past three matchups, with the winner: 27-21 (UW), 27-24 (OSU) and 24-21 (UW). It has quietly become one of the most competitive series in the conference.

Drive of the week: Washington

The game was tied when UW gained possession at its 3-yard line with 4:28 remaining. Three third-down conversions and some nifty play-calling later, the Huskies were in range for an easy field goal to win the game with eight seconds remaining. Total yardage consumed on the drive: 92 yards.

Questionable coaching of the season: Everyone

We have seen far too many instances of coaches attempting to convert on fourth down instead of punting (to play for field position) or taking high-percentage field goals. Oregon State was merely the latest (on Friday night), and the first-half decisions ended up costing the Beavers crucial points in the 24-21 loss. Analytics are a tool, not a way of life.

Offensive player of the week: Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.

The nation’s leading passer (in yardage) didn’t quite break the 300-yard barrier, but he was ultra-impressive in brutal throwing conditions (wind) and against a top-notch secondary (OSU). In all, Penix completed 30-of-52 passes and was brilliant on the game-winning drive.

Defensive unit of the week: Utah’s secondary

The Utes’ back line essentially shut down one of the best collections of wide receivers in the conference, limiting Arizona’s Jacob Cowing, Dorian Singer and Tetairoa McMillan to 10 catches for 116 yards — less than half their season average.

All-around player of the week: Oregon QB Bo Nix

Nix completed 20-of-24 passes for two touchdowns. He also rushed for two touchdowns and caught an 18-yard scoring pass from tailback Bucky Irving. Nix is the first major college player to score in all three facets (throwing, rushing, receiving) this season, according to The Oregonian.

Replacement player of the week: UCLA TB Kazmeir Allen

Allen took over for star tailback Zach Charbonnet and rushed for 137 yards on 11 carries to help the Bruins outlast ASU. His evening included a 75-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. (Charbonnet was in uniform but did not play for undisclosed reasons.)

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Stat of the day: Stanford

On Nov. 5, 2021, the Cardinal lost 52-7 at home to Utah. On Nov. 5, 2022, Stanford lost 52-14 at home to Washington State. So that would be progress, I suppose.

Stat of the season I: Interim coaches

Arizona State’s Shaun Aguano and Colorado’s Mike Sanford have a combined record of 3-7 since taking over for Herm Edwards and Karl Dorrell, respectively. Neither has done enough to earn the permanent job, at least not yet. But the personnel needed to power a dramatic turnover is absent from both rosters.

Stat of the season II: Oregon

The Ducks are averaging 48.1 points per game against teams not named Georgia.

Stat of the season III: Arizona

The Wildcats have allowed the following point totals in their five conference losses: 49, 49, 49, 45 and 45. At least they are consistent.

Stat of the decade: Cal

The Bears haven’t won a game outside the Bay Area since the final week of the 2019 season.

Game of next week: Washington at Oregon

One of the best rivalries in the conference renews in Eugene, where the Ducks continue their pursuit of a perfect conference season. There will be plenty of eyeballs on Nix as he chases the Heisman Trophy: Kickoff has been set for 4 p.m. (PT) on the Fox broadcast network.

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