Clardy's Corner: Pac-12 Midterms

In Troy’s annual tradition, we reveal which teams are making the grade in the Pac-12, and which may need to stay after class.



Colorado (0-5 Pac-12; 2-6 overall)
Yays:
Nelson Spruce and Sefo Liufau arguably form the Pac-12’s most reliable pass-catch combo. In this conference, that’s saying something. They took cal and UCLA to the brink.
Nays:
There are flashes there, but this program still has a ways to go to be serious contenders.
Outlook:
Grim.
Grade:
D

Washington State (1-4; 2-6)
Yays:
You want excitement? You hate running backs? You dislike defense? This is the team for you. Connor Halliday’s record-setting performance against cal will be relived forever.
Nays:
Against the Bears, Halliday threw for 734 yards, and the Cougs scored 59 points in regulation… and still lost. Halliday is averaging almost 65 pass attempts per game. Their offense is too one-dimensional, and Halliday takes a beating every single week as a result.
Outlook:
As fun as the Cougs can be to watch, that style of play just is not conducive to consistent success in today’s college football. You need a multi-faceted offense that also protects your quarterback and limits turnovers, and you need a defense that can tackle people. Right now, Wazzu has neither.
Grade:
D+

Oregon State (1-3; 4-3)
Yays:
In a league full of high-profile QBs, Sean Mannion still may be the most readymade to succeed in the NFL. When healthy, Storm Woods has paced the Beavers’ running game.
Nays:
Mannion has no weapons anymore. And he has no offensive line, either. Stanford laid bare both of those critical weaknesses for all to see.
Outlook:
The Beavers may have the most agreeable remaining schedule in the Pac-12. They have chances to get well with home games against cal and Washington State, and the Civil War is also in Corvallis.
Grade:
C-

cal (2-4; 4-4)
Yays:
Jared Goff is miles ahead of where he was as a quarterback last year, and he has legitimate weapons around him (Daniel Lasco, Stephen Alexander, and Bryce Treggs). That Washington State win was an instant classic. The Colorado game wasn’t far behind.
Nays:
The defense isn’t as all-time bad as it was last year, but it’s still not very good (48.3 ppg allowed in Pac-12 play). Sonny Dykes has to still be having nightmares about that Hail Mary that cost them the Arizona game. If Goff doesn’t fumble away that quarterback sneak that Washington runs back 100 yards the other way, who knows where they’d be right now?
Outlook:
Earlier this year, I caught myself saying, “I can’t wait to watch cal play this week.” I actually planned my day around the Bears’ game so I could make sure to watch it. That’s gotta be progress, no?
Grade:
C

Washington (1-3; 5-3)
Yays:
For the first time in a long time, the Huskies have legitimate playmakers on defense. Danny Shelton is a fireplug up front, Hau’oli Kikaha can get after the quarterback, and Shaq Thompson makes game-changing plays every week.
Nays:
To call the Huskies a work in progress on offense would be putting it kindly. Even with Cyler Miles taking snaps, Washington has not been able to generate any offensive consistency at all, especially against teams they really need to beat.
Outlook:
New coach, same results: another year in which the Huskies fail to make The Leap. And I’m still trying to figure out why the hell Chris Petersen called that fake punt against Stanford.
Grade:
C

UCLA (3-2; 6-2 overall)
Yays:
They stained Arizona State’s season in a big way with a still-amazing 62-27 result. Their win over Texas doesn’t look as good now, but it was a gutsy effort nonetheless. “The Drive” on Pac-12 Networks is a pretty solid show.
Nays:
At no point this season has QB Brett Hundley lived up to the hype, but it’s a combination of his own shortcomings, his offensive line’s struggles, and the scheme not helping him out.
Outlook:
Some Cardinalmaniacs may disagree, but the Bruins are the most disappointing team in the Pac-12, and it’s not close. Games against Arizona, U$C, and Stanford will be telling.
Grade:
C+

Stanford (3-2; 5-3)
Yays:
As expected, the Treefense has been active and nasty, thanks to Henry Anderson, Blake Martinez, Jordan Richards, and others. Offensively, the Card have shown flashes of being an explosive team. You don’t kick to Ty Montgomery. You just don’t.
Nays:
In most games, the red zone has been a struggle. In some games, merely getting a first down has been a struggle. The offensive braintrust still seems to be figuring things out, and the calendar is about to turn to November. As great as the Treefense is, they don’t force anywhere near enough turnovers.
Outlook:
As of this moment, they still have a say in the Pac-12 North race. But if things don’t go as planned in Eugene this weekend, well, ummm…San Francisco Bowl, anyone?
Grade:
B-.

U$C (4-2; 5-3)
Yays:
RB Javorious “Buck” (rhymes with truck) Allen is a beast. QB Cody Kessler has shown good things. And maybe in some ways, their season was already made with that win over Stanford.
Nays:
Boston College shredded them to the tune of 452 rushing yards. Their defense hit the snooze button on Arizona State’s Hail Mary.
Outlook:
Tune-ups against Washington State and cal await before the Trojans face UCLA and Notre Dame.
Grade:
B

Arizona State (4-1; 6-1)
Yays:
QB Mike Bercovici didn’t just hold down the fort during Taylor Kelly’s absence, he made a decent case to keep the gig once Kelly was healthy enough to return. Other Pac-12 offenses may get more press, but when the Sun Devils get rolling, they’re every bit as dangerous.
Nays:
As the days go by, that 62-point stinkbomb they dropped to UCLA is getting more and more inexplicable. By the way, Todd Graham doesn’t have family in Gainesville, Florida, does he?
Outlook:
Favorable, although they have to go Tucson. A trip to Corvallis could also be dangerous, especially since it comes right after their showdown with Notre Dame.
Grade:
B+

Arizona (3-1; 6-1)
Yays:
For a week, we lived in a world in which the Arizona Wildcats were a top-ten team. In football. Their win over Oregon opened up a lot of eyes. And in a wacky season so far, Anu Solomon’s Hail Mary to Austin Hill to beat cal at the buzzer is in the conversation for the Pac-12’s Play of the Year.
Nays:
Could you imagine what this defense would look like if Tedy Bruschi, Rob Waldrop, and Brandon Sanders were still running around for them? Instead, the Wildcats have a unit that spent most of September trying to figure out how to tackle. Also, not shanking the game-winning field goal against U$C would have been nice.
Outlook:
They head to Salt Lake City and host the Sun Devils in their final two games. We may learn the whole story about the Wildcats then.
Grade:
B+

Utah (3-1; 6-1)
Yays:
Arizona has risen higher in the polls, but Utah is every bit as surprising. Kyle Whittingham has the Utes defense revved up again, and that unit burned rubber on the Bruins by sacking Brett Hundley ten times. Leading a comeback win over U$C was a major step forward for QB Travis Wilson. RB Devontae Booker has come up huge.
Nays:
How did they lose to Washington State? At home, no less?
Outlook:
These guys can play defense. And they’re almost unbeatable at home. That’s why I give them a very good shot to be in the Pac-12 mix until the end. Trips to Tempe and Palo Alto and a home date with Oregon loom over the next three weeks.
Grade:
B+

Oregon (4-1; 7-1)
Yays:
They may do it slightly differently, but the Ducks can still churn out yardage and put up points. QB Marcus Mariota is still one of the best in the conference. RB Royce Freeman has 13 touchdowns already.
Nays:
The Ducks were dominated in the trenches on both sides of the ball against Washington State and Arizona. In conference play, the defense has given up over 30 points per game.
Outlook:
These Ducks are good again, but this version seems to be more vulnerable. Oh, and after their tilt against Stanford, the Ducks head to Utah on November 8. Can you say “trap game,” boys and girls?
Grade:
A-

********** ********** **********

RANDOM PAC-12 THOUGHTS

The great wise man Mike Tyson once said that everybody has a plan until they get hit in the mouth. Stanford’s offense played like it had a plan. Then they got hit in the mouth with two interceptions. Fortunately, the Card were able to weather that mini-storm…

Quote of the Week, from David Shaw, following Stanford’s win over Oregon State: “The stats won’t say it, but I thought Remound Wright played extremely well.”

For the record, the stats said Wright carried the ball nine times for a grand total of eight yards against the Beavers…

Shameless plug alert: Wanna know what Stanford quarterbacks/receivers coach Tavita Pritchard thinks about the offense? He’s joining my radio show on San Francisco’s 95.7 The Game this Friday…

My favorite all-time Oregon State quarterback to watch? That’s easy: Jonathan Smith. I think he was about my size. He barely completed half of his passes. But he got the ball downfield and made big throws every week…

I felt sorry for OSU’s o-line. Every single position got whipped…

With all of Utah’s fumbles at the goal line against U$C early on, you just knew that game would come down to a goal-line play, didn’t you?

Not a Pac-12 thought, but… I’ve seen some pretty quarterback stat lines in my day, but 40-of-49 for 522 yards, six touchdowns, and no picks? Take a bow, Ben Roethlisberger

********** ********** **********

PAC-12 PICKS

Washington @ Colorado. Do I have to pick this game? I do? Okay. I like Washington by five.

U$C @ Washington State. If this game were being played at night, I’d be wary of an upset. Since it’s a 1:30 p.m. kickoff, and since the Cougars still can’t stop anyone, I like U$C by 20. Leonard Williams might kill Connor Halliday, by the way.

Arizona @ UCLA. It boils down to this: I just do not trust UCLA right now. I see a Scooby snack or two for the Wildcat defense. I like Arizona by nine.

cal @ Oregon State. If the Bears defense can’t contain a weapon-less Beaver squad, then pencil them in for 4-8 right now. I like Oregon State by six.

Utah @ Arizona State. This is going to be a dogfight. But, as much as I like what Utah has done, and as capable as I think they are of beating ASU, I suspect the Sun Devils will have just enough in Tempe. I like Arizona State by five.

Last week: 4-1 (straight-up), 3-2 (ATS).
This year: 15-9 (straight-up), 8-16 (ATS).
Last year: 35-10 (straight-up), 24-21 (ATS).

********** ********** **********


Troy Clardy hosts evenings 7p-11p and Oakland A’s pregame & postgame shows on San Francisco’s 95.7 The Game. The 2014 season marks his 22nd year of following the Cardinal as a columnist, broadcaster, and announcer. In its 13th season of Cardinal commentary, Clardy’s Corner appears Wednesdays during the college football regular season on TheBootleg.com. You can also check him out online at TroyClardy.com, or follow him on Twitter @TroyClardy.






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The Bootleg Top Stories

\r\n\r\nFollow @TheBootleg\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\n\r\nColorado (0-5 Pac-12; 2-6 overall)\r\n
Yays:
Nelson Spruce and Sefo Liufau arguably form the Pac-12’s most reliable pass-catch combo. In this conference, that’s saying something. They took cal and UCLA to the brink.\r\n
Nays:
There are flashes there, but this program still has a ways to go to be serious contenders.\r\n
Outlook:
Grim.\r\n
Grade:
D\r\n

\r\nWashington State (1-4; 2-6)\r\n
Yays:
You want excitement? You hate running backs? You dislike defense? This is the team for you. Connor Halliday’s record-setting performance against cal will be relived forever.\r\n
Nays:
Against the Bears, Halliday threw for 734 yards, and the Cougs scored 59 points in regulation… and still lost. Halliday is averaging almost 65 pass attempts per game. Their offense is too one-dimensional, and Halliday takes a beating every single week as a result.\r\n
Outlook:
As fun as the Cougs can be to watch, that style of play just is not conducive to consistent success in today’s college football. You need a multi-faceted offense that also protects your quarterback and limits turnovers, and you need a defense that can tackle people. Right now, Wazzu has neither.\r\n
Grade:
D+\r\n

\r\nOregon State (1-3; 4-3)\r\n
Yays:
In a league full of high-profile QBs, Sean Mannion still may be the most readymade to succeed in the NFL. When healthy, Storm Woods has paced the Beavers’ running game.\r\n
Nays:
Mannion has no weapons anymore. And he has no offensive line, either. Stanford laid bare both of those critical weaknesses for all to see.\r\n
Outlook:
The Beavers may have the most agreeable remaining schedule in the Pac-12. They have chances to get well with home games against cal and Washington State, and the Civil War is also in Corvallis.\r\n
Grade:
C-\r\n

\r\ncal (2-4; 4-4)\r\n
Yays:
Jared Goff is miles ahead of where he was as a quarterback last year, and he has legitimate weapons around him (Daniel Lasco, Stephen Alexander, and Bryce Treggs). That Washington State win was an instant classic. The Colorado game wasn’t far behind.\r\n
Nays:
The defense isn’t as all-time bad as it was last year, but it’s still not very good (48.3 ppg allowed in Pac-12 play). Sonny Dykes has to still be having nightmares about that Hail Mary that cost them the Arizona game. If Goff doesn’t fumble away that quarterback sneak that Washington runs back 100 yards the other way, who knows where they’d be right now?\r\n
Outlook:
Earlier this year, I caught myself saying, “I can’t wait to watch cal play this week.” I actually planned my day around the Bears’ game so I could make sure to watch it. That’s gotta be progress, no?\r\n
Grade:
C\r\n

\r\nWashington (1-3; 5-3)\r\n
Yays:
For the first time in a long time, the Huskies have legitimate playmakers on defense. Danny Shelton is a fireplug up front, Hau’oli Kikaha can get after the quarterback, and Shaq Thompson makes game-changing plays every week.\r\n
Nays:
To call the Huskies a work in progress on offense would be putting it kindly. Even with Cyler Miles taking snaps, Washington has not been able to generate any offensive consistency at all, especially against teams they really need to beat.\r\n
Outlook:
New coach, same results: another year in which the Huskies fail to make The Leap. And I’m still trying to figure out why the hell Chris Petersen called that fake punt against Stanford.\r\n
Grade:
C\r\n

\r\nUCLA (3-2; 6-2 overall)\r\n
Yays:
They stained Arizona State’s season in a big way with a still-amazing 62-27 result. Their win over Texas doesn’t look as good now, but it was a gutsy effort nonetheless. “The Drive” on Pac-12 Networks is a pretty solid show.\r\n
Nays:
At no point this season has QB Brett Hundley lived up to the hype, but it’s a combination of his own shortcomings, his offensive line’s struggles, and the scheme not helping him out.\r\n
Outlook:
Some Cardinalmaniacs may disagree, but the Bruins are the most disappointing team in the Pac-12, and it’s not close. Games against Arizona, U$C, and Stanford will be telling.\r\n
Grade:
C+\r\n

\r\nStanford (3-2; 5-3)\r\n
Yays:
As expected, the Treefense has been active and nasty, thanks to Henry Anderson, Blake Martinez, Jordan Richards, and others. Offensively, the Card have shown flashes of being an explosive team. You don’t kick to Ty Montgomery. You just don’t.\r\n
Nays:
In most games, the red zone has been a struggle. In some games, merely getting a first down has been a struggle. The offensive braintrust still seems to be figuring things out, and the calendar is about to turn to November. As great as the Treefense is, they don’t force anywhere near enough turnovers.\r\n
Outlook:
As of this moment, they still have a say in the Pac-12 North race. But if things don’t go as planned in Eugene this weekend, well, ummm…San Francisco Bowl, anyone?\r\n
Grade:
B-. \r\n

\r\nU$C (4-2; 5-3)\r\n
Yays:
RB Javorious “Buck” (rhymes with truck) Allen is a beast. QB Cody Kessler has shown good things. And maybe in some ways, their season was already made with that win over Stanford.\r\n
Nays:
Boston College shredded them to the tune of 452 rushing yards. Their defense hit the snooze button on Arizona State’s Hail Mary.\r\n
Outlook:
Tune-ups against Washington State and cal await before the Trojans face UCLA and Notre Dame.\r\n
Grade:
B\r\n

\r\nArizona State (4-1; 6-1)\r\n
Yays:
QB Mike Bercovici didn’t just hold down the fort during Taylor Kelly’s absence, he made a decent case to keep the gig once Kelly was healthy enough to return. Other Pac-12 offenses may get more press, but when the Sun Devils get rolling, they’re every bit as dangerous.\r\n
Nays:
As the days go by, that 62-point stinkbomb they dropped to UCLA is getting more and more inexplicable. By the way, Todd Graham doesn’t have family in Gainesville, Florida, does he?\r\n
Outlook:
Favorable, although they have to go Tucson. A trip to Corvallis could also be dangerous, especially since it comes right after their showdown with Notre Dame.\r\n
Grade:
B+\r\n

\r\nArizona (3-1; 6-1)\r\n
Yays:
For a week, we lived in a world in which the Arizona Wildcats were a top-ten team. In football. Their win over Oregon opened up a lot of eyes. And in a wacky season so far, Anu Solomon’s Hail Mary to Austin Hill to beat cal at the buzzer is in the conversation for the Pac-12’s Play of the Year.\r\n
Nays:
Could you imagine what this defense would look like if Tedy Bruschi, Rob Waldrop, and Brandon Sanders were still running around for them? Instead, the Wildcats have a unit that spent most of September trying to figure out how to tackle. Also, not shanking the game-winning field goal against U$C would have been nice.\r\n
Outlook:
They head to Salt Lake City and host the Sun Devils in their final two games. We may learn the whole story about the Wildcats then.\r\n
Grade:
B+\r\n

\r\nUtah (3-1; 6-1)\r\n
Yays:
Arizona has risen higher in the polls, but Utah is every bit as surprising. Kyle Whittingham has the Utes defense revved up again, and that unit burned rubber on the Bruins by sacking Brett Hundley ten times. Leading a comeback win over U$C was a major step forward for QB Travis Wilson. RB Devontae Booker has come up huge.\r\n
Nays:
How did they lose to Washington State? At home, no less?\r\n
Outlook:
These guys can play defense. And they’re almost unbeatable at home. That’s why I give them a very good shot to be in the Pac-12 mix until the end. Trips to Tempe and Palo Alto and a home date with Oregon loom over the next three weeks.\r\n
Grade:
B+\r\n

\r\nOregon (4-1; 7-1)\r\n
Yays:
They may do it slightly differently, but the Ducks can still churn out yardage and put up points. QB Marcus Mariota is still one of the best in the conference. RB Royce Freeman has 13 touchdowns already.\r\n
Nays:
The Ducks were dominated in the trenches on both sides of the ball against Washington State and Arizona. In conference play, the defense has given up over 30 points per game.\r\n
Outlook:
These Ducks are good again, but this version seems to be more vulnerable. Oh, and after their tilt against Stanford, the Ducks head to Utah on November 8. Can you say “trap game,” boys and girls?\r\n
Grade:
A-\r\n

\r\n********** ********** **********\r\n

\r\nRANDOM PAC-12 THOUGHTS\r\n

\r\nThe great wise man Mike Tyson once said that everybody has a plan until they get hit in the mouth. Stanford’s offense played like it had a plan. Then they got hit in the mouth with two interceptions. Fortunately, the Card were able to weather that mini-storm…\r\n

\r\nQuote of the Week, from David Shaw, following Stanford’s win over Oregon State: “The stats won’t say it, but I thought Remound Wright played extremely well.”\r\n

\r\nFor the record, the stats said Wright carried the ball nine times for a grand total of eight yards against the Beavers…\r\n

\r\nShameless plug alert: Wanna know what Stanford quarterbacks/receivers coach Tavita Pritchard thinks about the offense? He’s joining my radio show on San Francisco’s 95.7 The Game this Friday…\r\n

\r\nMy favorite all-time Oregon State quarterback to watch? That’s easy: Jonathan Smith. I think he was about my size. He barely completed half of his passes. But he got the ball downfield and made big throws every week…\r\n

\r\nI felt sorry for OSU’s o-line. Every single position got whipped…\r\n

\r\nWith all of Utah’s fumbles at the goal line against U$C early on, you just knew that game would come down to a goal-line play, didn’t you?\r\n

\r\nNot a Pac-12 thought, but… I’ve seen some pretty quarterback stat lines in my day, but 40-of-49 for 522 yards, six touchdowns, and no picks? Take a bow, Ben Roethlisberger…\r\n

\r\n********** ********** **********\r\n

\r\nPAC-12 PICKS\r\n

\r\nWashington @ Colorado. Do I have to pick this game? I do? Okay. I like Washington by five.\r\n

\r\nU$C @ Washington State. If this game were being played at night, I’d be wary of an upset. Since it’s a 1:30 p.m. kickoff, and since the Cougars still can’t stop anyone, I like U$C by 20. Leonard Williams might kill Connor Halliday, by the way.\r\n

\r\nArizona @ UCLA. It boils down to this: I just do not trust UCLA right now. I see a Scooby snack or two for the Wildcat defense. I like Arizona by nine.\r\n

\r\ncal @ Oregon State. If the Bears defense can’t contain a weapon-less Beaver squad, then pencil them in for 4-8 right now. I like Oregon State by six.\r\n

\r\nUtah @ Arizona State. This is going to be a dogfight. But, as much as I like what Utah has done, and as capable as I think they are of beating ASU, I suspect the Sun Devils will have just enough in Tempe. I like Arizona State by five.\r\n

\r\nLast week: 4-1 (straight-up), 3-2 (ATS).\r\n
This year: 15-9 (straight-up), 8-16 (ATS).\r\n
Last year: 35-10 (straight-up), 24-21 (ATS).\r\n

\r\n********** ********** **********\r\n

\r\n


\r\nTroy Clardy hosts evenings 7p-11p and Oakland A’s pregame & postgame shows on San Francisco’s 95.7 The Game. The 2014 season marks his 22nd year of following the Cardinal as a columnist, broadcaster, and announcer. In its 13th season of Cardinal commentary, Clardy’s Corner appears Wednesdays during the college football regular season on TheBootleg.com. You can also check him out online at TroyClardy.com, or follow him on Twitter @TroyClardy.\r\n


\r\n

\r\n




\r\n

Are you fully subscribed to The\r\nBootleg? If not, then you are missing out on\r\nall the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our\r\naward-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in\r\nStanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com\r\n(sign-up)!

\r\n\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" Follow @TheBootleg Nelson Spruce and Sefo Liufau arguably form the Pac-12’s most reliable pass-catch combo. In this conference, that’s saying something. They took cal and UCLA to the brink. There are flashes there, but this program still has a ways to go to be serious contenders. Grim. D

You want excitement? You hate running backs? You dislike defense? This is the team for you. Connor Halliday’s record-setting performance against cal will be relived forever. Against the Bears, Halliday threw for 734 yards, and the Cougs scored 59 points in regulation… and still lost. Halliday is averaging almost 65 pass attempts . Their offense is too one-dimensional, and Halliday takes a beating every single week as a result. As fun as the Cougs can be to watch, that style of play just is not conducive to consistent success in today’s college football. You need a multi-faceted offense that also protects your quarterback and limits turnovers, and you need a defense that can tackle people. Right now, Wazzu has neither. D+

In a league full of high-profile QBs, Sean Mannion still may be the most readymade to succeed in the NFL. When healthy, Storm Woods has paced the Beavers’ running game. Mannion has no weapons anymore. And he has no offensive line, either. Stanford laid bare both of those critical weaknesses for all to see. The Beavers may have the most agreeable remaining schedule in the Pac-12. They have chances to get well with home games against cal and Washington State, and the Civil War is also in Corvallis. C-

Jared Goff is miles ahead of where he was as a quarterback last year, and he has legitimate weapons around him (Daniel Lasco, Stephen Alexander, and Bryce Treggs). That Washington State win was an instant classic. The Colorado game wasn’t far behind. The defense isn’t as all-time bad as it was last year, but it’s still not very good (48.3 ppg allowed in Pac-12 play). Sonny Dykes has to still be having nightmares about that Hail Mary that cost them the Arizona game. If Goff doesn’t fumble away that quarterback sneak that Washington runs back 100 yards the other way, who knows where they’d be right now? Earlier this year, I caught myself saying, “I can’t wait to watch cal play this week.” I actually planned my day around the Bears’ game so I could make sure to watch it. That’s gotta be progress, no? C

For the first time in a long time, the Huskies have legitimate playmakers on defense. Danny Shelton is a fireplug up front, Hau’oli Kikaha can get after the quarterback, and Shaq Thompson makes game-changing plays every week. To call the Huskies a work in progress on offense would be putting it kindly. Even with Cyler Miles taking snaps, Washington has not been able to generate any offensive consistency at all, especially against teams they really need to beat. New coach, same results: another year in which the Huskies fail to make The Leap. And I’m still trying to figure out why the hell Chris Petersen called that fake punt against Stanford. C

They stained Arizona State’s season in a big way with a still-amazing 62-27 result. Their win over Texas doesn’t look as good now, but it was a gutsy effort nonetheless. “The Drive” on Pac-12 Networks is a pretty solid show. At no point this season has QB Brett Hundley lived up to the hype, but it’s a combination of his own shortcomings, his offensive line’s struggles, and the scheme not helping him out. Some Cardinalmaniacs may disagree, but the Bruins are the most disappointing team in the Pac-12, and it’s not close. Games against Arizona, U$C, and Stanford will be telling. C+

As expected, the Treefense has been active and nasty, thanks to Henry Anderson, Blake Martinez, Jordan Richards, and others. Offensively, the Card have shown flashes of being an explosive team. You don’t kick to Ty Montgomery. You just don’t. In most games, the red zone has been a struggle. In some games, merely getting a first down has been a struggle. The offensive braintrust still seems to be figuring things out, and the calendar is about to turn to November. As great as the Treefense is, they don’t force anywhere near enough turnovers. As of this moment, they still have a say in the Pac-12 North race. But if things don’t go as planned in Eugene this weekend, well, ummm…San Francisco Bowl, anyone? B-.

RB Javorious “Buck” (rhymes with truck) Allen is a beast. QB Cody Kessler has shown good things. And maybe in some ways, their season was already made with that win over Stanford. Boston College shredded them to the tune of 452 rushing yards. Their defense hit the snooze button on Arizona State’s Hail Mary. Tune-ups against Washington State and cal await before the Trojans face UCLA and Notre Dame. B

QB Mike Bercovici didn’t just hold down the fort during Taylor Kelly’s absence, he made a decent case to keep the gig once Kelly was healthy enough to return. Other Pac-12 offenses may get more press, but when the Sun Devils get rolling, they’re every bit as dangerous. As the days go by, that 62-point stinkbomb they dropped to UCLA is getting more and more inexplicable. By the way, Todd Graham doesn’t have family in Gainesville, Florida, does he? Favorable, although they have to go Tucson. A trip to Corvallis could also be dangerous, especially since it comes right after their showdown with Notre Dame. B+

For a week, we lived in a world in which the Arizona Wildcats were a top-ten team. In football. Their win over Oregon opened up a lot of eyes. And in a wacky season so far, Anu Solomon’s Hail Mary to Austin Hill to beat cal at the buzzer is in the conversation for the Pac-12’s Play of the Year. Could you imagine what this defense would look like if Tedy Bruschi, Rob Waldrop, and Brandon Sanders were still running around for them? Instead, the Wildcats have a unit that spent most of September trying to figure out how to tackle. Also, not shanking the game-winning field goal against U$C would have been nice. They head to Salt Lake City and host the Sun Devils in their final two games. We may learn the whole story about the Wildcats then. B+

Arizona has risen higher in the polls, but Utah is every bit as surprising. Kyle Whittingham has the Utes defense revved up again, and that unit burned rubber on the Bruins by sacking Brett Hundley ten times. Leading a comeback win over U$C was a major step forward for QB Travis Wilson. RB Devontae Booker has come up huge. How did they lose to Washington State? At home, no less? These guys can play defense. And they’re almost unbeatable at home. That’s why I give them a very good shot to be in the Pac-12 mix until the end. Trips to Tempe and Palo Alto and a home date with Oregon loom over the next three weeks. B+

They may do it slightly differently, but the Ducks can still churn out yardage and put up points. QB Marcus Mariota is still one of the best in the conference. RB Royce Freeman has 13 touchdowns already. The Ducks were dominated in the trenches on both sides of the ball against Washington State and Arizona. In conference play, the defense has given up over 30 points per game. These Ducks are good again, but this version seems to be more vulnerable. Oh, and after their tilt against Stanford, the Ducks head to Utah on November 8. Can you say “trap game,” boys and girls? A-

********** ********** **********

The great wise man Mike Tyson once said that everybody has a plan until they get hit in the mouth. Stanford’s offense played like it had a plan. Then they got hit in the mouth with two interceptions. Fortunately, the Card were able to weather that mini-storm…

from David Shaw, following Stanford’s win over Oregon State: “The stats won’t say it, but I thought Remound Wright played extremely well.”

For the record, the stats said Wright carried the ball nine times for a grand total of eight yards against the Beavers…

Wanna know what Stanford quarterbacks/receivers coach Tavita Pritchard thinks about the offense? He’s joining my radio show on San Francisco’s 95.7 The Game this Friday…

My favorite all-time Oregon State quarterback to watch? That’s easy: Jonathan Smith. I think he was about my size. He barely completed half of his passes. But he got the ball downfield and made big throws every week…

I felt sorry for OSU’s o-line. Every single position got whipped…

With all of Utah’s fumbles at the goal line against U$C early on, you just knew that game would come down to a goal-line play, didn’t you?

I’ve seen some pretty quarterback stat lines in my day, but 40-of-49 for 522 yards, six touchdowns, and no picks? Take a bow, Ben Roethlisberger

********** ********** **********

Do I have to pick this game? I do? Okay.

If this game were being played at night, I’d be wary of an upset. Since it’s a 1:30 p.m. kickoff, and since the Cougars still can’t stop anyone, Leonard Williams might kill Connor Halliday, by the way.

It boils down to this: I just do not trust UCLA right now. I see a Scooby snack or two for the Wildcat defense.

If the Bears defense can’t contain a weapon-less Beaver squad, then pencil them in for 4-8 right now.

This is going to be a dogfight. But, as much as I like what Utah has done, and as capable as I think they are of beating ASU, I suspect the Sun Devils will have just enough in Tempe.

4-1 (straight-up), 3-2 (ATS). 15-9 (straight-up), 8-16 (ATS). 35-10 (straight-up), 24-21 (ATS).

********** ********** **********

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