Clardy's Corner: Pac-12 Midterms

Troy breaks out his red pen in the annual Clardy's Corner tradition.



PAC-12 MIDTERMS

Oregon (0-4 Pac-12; 2-5 overall)
Yays:
Not many that jump to mind, quite honestly.
Nays:
Talk about the Cardinal's struggles all you want, but at least they've won some Pac-12 games. The Ducks haven't. Consistency at quarterback has been an issue, but the problems this team has on defense may ultimately prove beyond solution. As bad as the Duck defense looks on TV, apparently it looks even worse in person. And "70-21" will haunt this program for quite some time.
Outlook:
Grim.
Grade:
D-

Arizona (0-4; 2-5)
Yays:
QB Anu Solomon is a veteran, and fellow QB Brandon Dawkins is a playmaker. They're both finally available this Saturday after missing time due to injury. Oh by the way, they've come closer to beating the Huskies than anyone else, by far.
Nays:
They're healthier at quarterback, but still massively banged up everywhere else. The defense is too light to fight and too thin to win.
Outlook:
Basketball season tips off in a couple weeks, so there is that.
Grade:
D

Oregon State (1-3; 2-5)
Yays:
The Beavers ground the Bears into the dirt in impressive fashion. They didn't get poleaxed in Seattle as badly as many thought they would, though that might be a function of the Huskies losing interest and calling off the dogs Dawgs.
Nays:
They took the field in Seattle without their top two quarterbacks, their top two running backs, and finished that game with their fifth-string outside linebacker. And this wasn't exactly the Pac-12's most talented team even before all those injuries hit.
Outlook:
The Beavers are still one year away. For Gary Andersen's sake, that had better not be the case when I do this next year, too.
Grade:
D+

UCLA (1-4; 3-5)
Yays:
They fought back into that game against Texas A&M, and almost came away with the shocker. DE Takkarist McKinley has seven sacks, and leads the nation with two tackles-for-loss per game. QB Mike Fafaul has played valiantly in two starts.
Nays:
The fact that Fafaul is playing at all means that Josh Rosen is hurt, so the Bruins have already unlocked their worst-case scenario. Even when Rosen was healthy, his receivers showed a knack for dropping his passes at the worst possible moments. And despite their efforts to show how much tougher they've become, well, some just aren't buying it.
Outlook:
You can tell Jim Mora has reached his wit's end. If you made the case that UCLA is the Pac-12's biggest disappointment, I wouldn't argue.
Grade:
C-

Arizona State (2-3; 5-3)
Yays:
Led by an eight-score barrage against Texas Tech, RB Kalen Ballage has scored more touchdowns this season (11) than the Stanford offense (10). Their 5-1 start was a pleasant surprise.
Nays:
Injuries at key positions. (notice a key theme among all the teams we've covered so far? And we're not done yet...) The defense has struggled at key times, especially in big games. Todd Graham's postgame handshake with Mike Leach last week wasn't exactly an example of going high when they go low.
Outlook:
Sure, they're 5-3. But losing to the Trojans and the Buffaloes by a combined 45 points is probably a more accurate gauge of where the Sun Devils truly stand.
Grade:
C

California (2-2; 4-3)
Yays:
On offense, this is as explosive a team as you're going to find in the country. The quarterback and the receivers make plays. They defend Bear Territory very well. Those things haven't changed from the last couple of years.
Nays:
On defense, this is still a unit that struggles to hit, tackle, and show up on the road. Those things haven't changed from the last couple of years, either. That loss at Oregon State was an embarrassment.
Outlook:
On paper, Cal may have the toughest remaining schedule, with daunting trips to Los Angeles (on a short week) and Pullman looming. However, the Huskies, Cardinal, and Bruins all have to come to Berkeley, so the Bears may have those teams right where they want them.
Grade:
C

Stanford (2-3; 4-3)
Yays:
Even though Christian McCaffrey is on the roster, DE Solomon Thomas has been the best player on this team. A heretical thought, I realize. CB Quenton Meeks has been as advertised. The Card pulled off gutty wins at UCLA and Notre Dame. And, until further notice, they still wear the belt in the state of California.
Nays:
The offense. Enough said there. No matter which rotation is on the field, the inside linebackers can be had in pass coverage.
Outlook:
The Keller Chryst Era has begun, and he'll be facing "easier" opponents. But when you can't block, can't stop committing drive-stunting penalties, and can't score, no opponent is easy.
Grade:
C

USC (3-2; 4-3)
Yays:
After a disastrous start to the season, QB Sam Darnold became a stabilizing force for the Trojans. They rolled up 320 yards rushing against Arizona. That win over the Buffaloes is looking better and better every week.
Nays:
They had a disastrous start to the season, on and off the field. A healthy RB Justin Davis would've been nice. So would a win over the Utes.
Outlook:
Much of America left the Trojans for dead after that loss in Salt Lake City. It looks like that may have been a mistake. That said, they still have to go to Seattle on November 12. And who knows which UCLA squad will show up on November 19?
Grade:
B-

Colorado (4-1; 6-2)
Yays:
The Buffs were bowl-eligible before the World Series started. Raise your hand if you thought that was possible this year. Whether it's Sefo Liufau or Steven Montez at quarterback, Colorado has moved the ball well, and they have no shortage of weapons to use. LB Jimmie Gilbert was quiet against Stanford, but he has spent much of the season wrecking opposing backfields.
Nays:
Can anybody in Boulder kick the ball? Meanwhile, that USC game was there for the taking.
Outlook:
If Mike MacIntyre doesn't win the Pac-12 Coach of the Year award, there should be an investigation.
Grade:
B+

Utah (4-1; 7-1)
Yays:
They survived a last-minute go-ahead two-point conversion attempt by BYU. They came back to beat USC in one of the drives of the year. RB Joe Williams coming out of retirement to run for 332 yards on UCLA is easily the best individual story of the year so far in the Pac-12.
Nays:
Injuries across the board have seriously tested this team's depth. And they have to be kicking themselves over that goal-line loss at Cal.
Outlook:
The stretch run begins this Saturday against the Huskies, and finishes against Colorado. Those two games will tell much of the story.
Grade:
B+

Washington State (4-0; 5-2)
Yays:
Yes, you know that Luke Falk is pretty nice at quarterback. Yes, you know his receivers are very productive. You probably didn't know about their agile and hostile defense. You also probably didn't realize they can run the ball now, too.
Nays:
Because they had no answer for Eastern Washington (and their stud WR Cooper Kupp), the Cougs are going to have to answer for that loss for the rest of the season.
Outlook:
As we've discussed before, the Cougs' running game balances that offensive scheme, helps increase their time of possession, and helps decrease the chances of Falk getting knocked out for the season. Those are all good things. For the first time in a long time, the Apple Cup will be a good thing, too.
Grade:
B+

Washington (4-0; 7-0)
Yays:
To this point, everything. Offense. Defense. Special teams. Coaching. Home-field advantage. If you're finding fault with anything the Huskies have done to this point, then you're reaching. And you're probably not much fun at parties. The balance of power in the Pac-12 may have transferred the moment LB Joe Mathis flattened Stanford's Casey Tucker early in the Huskies' hot-buttered beatdown of the Cardinal.
Nays:
Not many. Although I am still curious to see what they can do against a top-flight team on the road. That answer likely comes this week.
Outlook:
The Huskies are real. And they're spectacular. That Apple Cup's gonna be a doozy, isn't it?
Grade:
A

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

RANDOM PAC-12 THOUGHTS

I'll be honest: I'm a little surprised David Shaw is making the move from Ryan Burns to Keller Chryst, mostly because Chryst has shown so little in his last few appearances. Does this offense need a spark? You bet it does. Can Chryst provide it? Well, we'll find out, won't we?

I'm not an offensive coordinator, but I would re-assess whether it's worth it to take Christian McCaffrey and/or Bryce Love off the field on third down. I understand why it's done (the offensive line's pass protection woes are so pronounced that Dalton Schultz and Chris Harrell have to help block), but I think any personnel grouping that takes your most dangerous player(s) off the field in the game's most critical down is counter-productive at best, self-sabotaging at worst...

Runner-up for Stat of the Week: Ryan Burns became the first Stanford quarterback to throw three interceptions in a single game since Tavita Pritchard did so in Big Game 2008. That was a 99-game streak, by the way...

Stat of the Week: counting plays that were called back due to penalty, Cal and Oregon snapped the ball 214 times last week. 214 snaps. That just can't be sustainable, can it?

The latest stop on the Pac-12 Breakfast Tour dropped by the Baja Cafe in Tucson last week! It's hidden from the street and tucked in a strip mall a couple doors down from a gun store (and if that doesn't sum up Arizona in a nutshell, I don't know what does). I'm not a breakfast burrito guy, but when in Tucson, it's what you do. Ordered one with ham, bacon, mushroom, hash browns, and cheddar cheese. Very filling. And although I suspect I would have liked it more if I was more into breakfast burritos, I'd still be more than willing to head back there and try something a little closer to my preference. Service was great (ask for Alexa). If you're headed to town this weekend for the game, I recommend you check it out!

Not a Pac-12 thought, but... what? NBA season already? Wasn't Game 7, like, three weeks ago?

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

PAC-12 PICKS

Cal @ USC (-16) (Thursday). How can I pick the Bears when they consistently refuse to play defense on the road? How can I pick the Bears when they're playing on a short week after a game that saw 214 snaps? How can I pick the Bears given those things, meanwhile the Trojans are coming off a bye week? I can't. I like USC by 20.

Washington (-10) @ Utah. Rice-Eccles Stadium is going to be pumped and ready to rock. The Utes will be ready to go, too. And this is, by far, the biggest test the Huskies have faced on the road to this point. If Utah was fully healthy, I'd pick them. But, as it is, I like Washington by 7. The good news is that the Utes may get a second chance at the Huskies later.

Arizona State @ Oregon (-8.5). The Sun Devils can score. The Ducks can't tackle. Pretty easy pick here. I like Arizona State by 15.

Washington State (-12.5) @ Oregon State. The Cougs' game in Tempe was closer than it probably should have been. I don't think history will repeat itself this week in Corvallis. I like Washington State by 19.

Last week: 3-1 (straight-up), 0-3 (ATS).

This year: 17-5 (straight-up), 9-10 (ATS).

Last year: 30-15 (straight-up), 23-19 (ATS).


The 2016 season marks Troy Clardy’s 24th year of following the Cardinal as a columnist, broadcaster, and announcer. Troy also calls baseball, softball, soccer, and lacrosse games for the Pac-12 Network, and was the sideline reporter for the Stanford football radio network's broadcast of the 2016 Rose Bowl. In its 15th 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, follow him on Twitter @TroyClardy, or Like him on Facebook.






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PAC-12 MIDTERMS

\r\n

Oregon (0-4 Pac-12; 2-5 overall)\r\n
Yays:
Not many that jump to mind, quite honestly.\r\n
Nays:
Talk about the Cardinal's struggles all you want, but at least they've won some Pac-12 games. The Ducks haven't. Consistency at quarterback has been an issue, but the problems this team has on defense may ultimately prove beyond solution. As bad as the Duck defense looks on TV, apparently it looks even worse in person. And \"70-21\" will haunt this program for quite some time.\r\n
Outlook:
Grim.\r\n
Grade:
D-\r\n

\r\nArizona (0-4; 2-5)\r\n
Yays:
QB Anu Solomon is a veteran, and fellow QB Brandon Dawkins is a playmaker. They're both finally available this Saturday after missing time due to injury. Oh by the way, they've come closer to beating the Huskies than anyone else, by far.\r\n
Nays:
They're healthier at quarterback, but still massively banged up everywhere else. The defense is too light to fight and too thin to win.\r\n
Outlook:
Basketball season tips off in a couple weeks, so there is that.\r\n
Grade:
D\r\n

\r\nOregon State (1-3; 2-5)\r\n
Yays:
The Beavers ground the Bears into the dirt in impressive fashion. They didn't get poleaxed in Seattle as badly as many thought they would, though that might be a function of the Huskies losing interest and calling off the dogs Dawgs.\r\n
Nays:
They took the field in Seattle without their top two quarterbacks, their top two running backs, and finished that game with their fifth-string outside linebacker. And this wasn't exactly the Pac-12's most talented team even before all those injuries hit.\r\n
Outlook:
The Beavers are still one year away. For Gary Andersen's sake, that had better not be the case when I do this next year, too. \r\n
Grade:
D+\r\n

\r\nUCLA (1-4; 3-5)\r\n
Yays:
They fought back into that game against Texas A&M, and almost came away with the shocker. DE Takkarist McKinley has seven sacks, and leads the nation with two tackles-for-loss per game. QB Mike Fafaul has played valiantly in two starts.\r\n
Nays:
The fact that Fafaul is playing at all means that Josh Rosen is hurt, so the Bruins have already unlocked their worst-case scenario. Even when Rosen was healthy, his receivers showed a knack for dropping his passes at the worst possible moments. And despite their efforts to show how much tougher they've become, well, some just aren't buying it.\r\n
Outlook:
You can tell Jim Mora has reached his wit's end. If you made the case that UCLA is the Pac-12's biggest disappointment, I wouldn't argue.\r\n
Grade:
C-\r\n

\r\nArizona State (2-3; 5-3)\r\n
Yays:
Led by an eight-score barrage against Texas Tech, RB Kalen Ballage has scored more touchdowns this season (11) than the Stanford offense (10). Their 5-1 start was a pleasant surprise.\r\n
Nays:
Injuries at key positions. (notice a key theme among all the teams we've covered so far? And we're not done yet...) The defense has struggled at key times, especially in big games. Todd Graham's postgame handshake with Mike Leach last week wasn't exactly an example of going high when they go low.\r\n
Outlook:
Sure, they're 5-3. But losing to the Trojans and the Buffaloes by a combined 45 points is probably a more accurate gauge of where the Sun Devils truly stand.\r\n
Grade:
C\r\n

\r\nCalifornia (2-2; 4-3)\r\n
Yays:
On offense, this is as explosive a team as you're going to find in the country. The quarterback and the receivers make plays. They defend Bear Territory very well. Those things haven't changed from the last couple of years.\r\n
Nays:
On defense, this is still a unit that struggles to hit, tackle, and show up on the road. Those things haven't changed from the last couple of years, either. That loss at Oregon State was an embarrassment.\r\n
Outlook:
On paper, Cal may have the toughest remaining schedule, with daunting trips to Los Angeles (on a short week) and Pullman looming. However, the Huskies, Cardinal, and Bruins all have to come to Berkeley, so the Bears may have those teams right where they want them.\r\n
Grade:
C\r\n

\r\nStanford (2-3; 4-3)\r\n
Yays:
Even though Christian McCaffrey is on the roster, DE Solomon Thomas has been the best player on this team. A heretical thought, I realize. CB Quenton Meeks has been as advertised. The Card pulled off gutty wins at UCLA and Notre Dame. And, until further notice, they still wear the belt in the state of California.\r\n
Nays:
The offense. Enough said there. No matter which rotation is on the field, the inside linebackers can be had in pass coverage.\r\n
Outlook:
The Keller Chryst Era has begun, and he'll be facing \"easier\" opponents. But when you can't block, can't stop committing drive-stunting penalties, and can't score, no opponent is easy.\r\n
Grade:
C\r\n

\r\nUSC (3-2; 4-3)\r\n
Yays:
After a disastrous start to the season, QB Sam Darnold became a stabilizing force for the Trojans. They rolled up 320 yards rushing against Arizona. That win over the Buffaloes is looking better and better every week.\r\n
Nays:
They had a disastrous start to the season, on and off the field. A healthy RB Justin Davis would've been nice. So would a win over the Utes.\r\n
Outlook:
Much of America left the Trojans for dead after that loss in Salt Lake City. It looks like that may have been a mistake. That said, they still have to go to Seattle on November 12. And who knows which UCLA squad will show up on November 19?\r\n
Grade:
B-\r\n

\r\nColorado (4-1; 6-2)\r\n
Yays:
The Buffs were bowl-eligible before the World Series started. Raise your hand if you thought that was possible this year. Whether it's Sefo Liufau or Steven Montez at quarterback, Colorado has moved the ball well, and they have no shortage of weapons to use. LB Jimmie Gilbert was quiet against Stanford, but he has spent much of the season wrecking opposing backfields.\r\n
Nays:
Can anybody in Boulder kick the ball? Meanwhile, that USC game was there for the taking.\r\n
Outlook:
If Mike MacIntyre doesn't win the Pac-12 Coach of the Year award, there should be an investigation.\r\n
Grade:
B+\r\n

\r\nUtah (4-1; 7-1)\r\n
Yays:
They survived a last-minute go-ahead two-point conversion attempt by BYU. They came back to beat USC in one of the drives of the year. RB Joe Williams coming out of retirement to run for 332 yards on UCLA is easily the best individual story of the year so far in the Pac-12.\r\n
Nays:
Injuries across the board have seriously tested this team's depth. And they have to be kicking themselves over that goal-line loss at Cal.\r\n
Outlook:
The stretch run begins this Saturday against the Huskies, and finishes against Colorado. Those two games will tell much of the story.\r\n
Grade:
B+\r\n

\r\nWashington State (4-0; 5-2)\r\n
Yays:
Yes, you know that Luke Falk is pretty nice at quarterback. Yes, you know his receivers are very productive. You probably didn't know about their agile and hostile defense. You also probably didn't realize they can run the ball now, too.\r\n
Nays:
Because they had no answer for Eastern Washington (and their stud WR Cooper Kupp), the Cougs are going to have to answer for that loss for the rest of the season.\r\n
Outlook:
As we've discussed before, the Cougs' running game balances that offensive scheme, helps increase their time of possession, and helps decrease the chances of Falk getting knocked out for the season. Those are all good things. For the first time in a long time, the Apple Cup will be a good thing, too.\r\n
Grade:
B+\r\n

\r\nWashington (4-0; 7-0)\r\n
Yays:
To this point, everything. Offense. Defense. Special teams. Coaching. Home-field advantage. If you're finding fault with anything the Huskies have done to this point, then you're reaching. And you're probably not much fun at parties. The balance of power in the Pac-12 may have transferred the moment LB Joe Mathis flattened Stanford's Casey Tucker early in the Huskies' hot-buttered beatdown of the Cardinal.\r\n
Nays:
Not many. Although I am still curious to see what they can do against a top-flight team on the road. That answer likely comes this week.\r\n
Outlook:
The Huskies are real. And they're spectacular. That Apple Cup's gonna be a doozy, isn't it?\r\n
Grade:
A\r\n

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

RANDOM PAC-12 THOUGHTS

\r\n\r\n

I'll be honest: I'm a little surprised David Shaw is making the move from Ryan Burns to Keller Chryst, mostly because Chryst has shown so little in his last few appearances. Does this offense need a spark? You bet it does. Can Chryst provide it? Well, we'll find out, won't we?

\r\n\r\n

I'm not an offensive coordinator, but I would re-assess whether it's worth it to take Christian McCaffrey and/or Bryce Love off the field on third down. I understand why it's done (the offensive line's pass protection woes are so pronounced that Dalton Schultz and Chris Harrell have to help block), but I think any personnel grouping that takes your most dangerous player(s) off the field in the game's most critical down is counter-productive at best, self-sabotaging at worst...

\r\n\r\n

Runner-up for Stat of the Week: Ryan Burns became the first Stanford quarterback to throw three interceptions in a single game since Tavita Pritchard did so in Big Game 2008. That was a 99-game streak, by the way...

\r\n\r\n

Stat of the Week: counting plays that were called back due to penalty, Cal and Oregon snapped the ball 214 times last week. 214 snaps. That just can't be sustainable, can it?

\r\n\r\n

The latest stop on the Pac-12 Breakfast Tour dropped by the Baja Cafe in Tucson last week! It's hidden from the street and tucked in a strip mall a couple doors down from a gun store (and if that doesn't sum up Arizona in a nutshell, I don't know what does). I'm not a breakfast burrito guy, but when in Tucson, it's what you do. Ordered one with ham, bacon, mushroom, hash browns, and cheddar cheese. Very filling. And although I suspect I would have liked it more if I was more into breakfast burritos, I'd still be more than willing to head back there and try something a little closer to my preference. Service was great (ask for Alexa). If you're headed to town this weekend for the game, I recommend you check it out!

\r\n\r\n

Not a Pac-12 thought, but... what? NBA season already? Wasn't Game 7, like, three weeks ago?

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

\r\nPAC-12 PICKS\r\n

\r\nCal @ USC (-16) (Thursday). How can I pick the Bears when they consistently refuse to play defense on the road? How can I pick the Bears when they're playing on a short week after a game that saw 214 snaps? How can I pick the Bears given those things, meanwhile the Trojans are coming off a bye week? I can't. I like USC by 20.\r\n

\r\nWashington (-10) @ Utah. Rice-Eccles Stadium is going to be pumped and ready to rock. The Utes will be ready to go, too. And this is, by far, the biggest test the Huskies have faced on the road to this point. If Utah was fully healthy, I'd pick them. But, as it is, I like Washington by 7. The good news is that the Utes may get a second chance at the Huskies later.\r\n

\r\nArizona State @ Oregon (-8.5). The Sun Devils can score. The Ducks can't tackle. Pretty easy pick here. I like Arizona State by 15.\r\n

\r\nWashington State (-12.5) @ Oregon State. The Cougs' game in Tempe was closer than it probably should have been. I don't think history will repeat itself this week in Corvallis. I like Washington State by 19.\r\n

\r\n\r\n

Last week: 3-1 (straight-up), 0-3 (ATS).

\r\n

This year: 17-5 (straight-up), 9-10 (ATS).

\r\n

Last year: 30-15 (straight-up), 23-19 (ATS).

\r\n\r\n

The 2016 season marks Troy Clardy’s 24th year of following the Cardinal as a columnist, broadcaster, and announcer. Troy also calls baseball, softball, soccer, and lacrosse games for the Pac-12 Network, and was the sideline reporter for the Stanford football radio network's broadcast of the 2016 Rose Bowl. In its 15th 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, follow him on Twitter @TroyClardy, or Like him on Facebook.

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Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com(sign-up)!

","mobileBody":" Follow @TroyClardy

PAC-12 MIDTERMS

Oregon (0-4 Pac-12; 2-5 overall)
Yays:
Not many that jump to mind, quite honestly.
Nays:
Talk about the Cardinal's struggles all you want, but at least they've won some Pac-12 games. The Ducks haven't. Consistency at quarterback has been an issue, but the problems this team has on defense may ultimately prove beyond solution. As bad as the Duck defense looks on TV, apparently it looks even worse in person. And \"70-21\" will haunt this program for quite some time.
Outlook:
Grim.
Grade:
D-

Arizona (0-4; 2-5)
Yays:
QB Anu Solomon is a veteran, and fellow QB Brandon Dawkins is a playmaker. They're both finally available this Saturday after missing time due to injury. Oh by the way, they've come closer to beating the Huskies than anyone else, by far.
Nays:
They're healthier at quarterback, but still massively banged up everywhere else. The defense is too light to fight and too thin to win.
Outlook:
Basketball season tips off in a couple weeks, so there is that.
Grade:
D

Oregon State (1-3; 2-5)
Yays:
The Beavers ground the Bears into the dirt in impressive fashion. They didn't get poleaxed in Seattle as badly as many thought they would, though that might be a function of the Huskies losing interest and calling off the dogs Dawgs.
Nays:
They took the field in Seattle without their top two quarterbacks, their top two running backs, and finished that game with their fifth-string outside linebacker. And this wasn't exactly the Pac-12's most talented team even before all those injuries hit.
Outlook:
The Beavers are still one year away. For Gary Andersen's sake, that had better not be the case when I do this next year, too.
Grade:
D+

UCLA (1-4; 3-5)
Yays:
They fought back into that game against Texas A&M, and almost came away with the shocker. DE Takkarist McKinley has seven sacks, and leads the nation with two tackles-for-loss per game. QB Mike Fafaul has played valiantly in two starts.
Nays:
The fact that Fafaul is playing at all means that Josh Rosen is hurt, so the Bruins have already unlocked their worst-case scenario. Even when Rosen was healthy, his receivers showed a knack for dropping his passes at the worst possible moments. And despite their efforts to show how much tougher they've become, well, some just aren't buying it.
Outlook:
You can tell Jim Mora has reached his wit's end. If you made the case that UCLA is the Pac-12's biggest disappointment, I wouldn't argue.
Grade:
C-

Arizona State (2-3; 5-3)
Yays:
Led by an eight-score barrage against Texas Tech, RB Kalen Ballage has scored more touchdowns this season (11) than the Stanford offense (10). Their 5-1 start was a pleasant surprise.
Nays:
Injuries at key positions. (notice a key theme among all the teams we've covered so far? And we're not done yet...) The defense has struggled at key times, especially in big games. Todd Graham's postgame handshake with Mike Leach last week wasn't exactly an example of going high when they go low.
Outlook:
Sure, they're 5-3. But losing to the Trojans and the Buffaloes by a combined 45 points is probably a more accurate gauge of where the Sun Devils truly stand.
Grade:
C

California (2-2; 4-3)
Yays:
On offense, this is as explosive a team as you're going to find in the country. The quarterback and the receivers make plays. They defend Bear Territory very well. Those things haven't changed from the last couple of years.
Nays:
On defense, this is still a unit that struggles to hit, tackle, and show up on the road. Those things haven't changed from the last couple of years, either. That loss at Oregon State was an embarrassment.
Outlook:
On paper, Cal may have the toughest remaining schedule, with daunting trips to Los Angeles (on a short week) and Pullman looming. However, the Huskies, Cardinal, and Bruins all have to come to Berkeley, so the Bears may have those teams right where they want them.
Grade:
C

Stanford (2-3; 4-3)
Yays:
Even though Christian McCaffrey is on the roster, DE Solomon Thomas has been the best player on this team. A heretical thought, I realize. CB Quenton Meeks has been as advertised. The Card pulled off gutty wins at UCLA and Notre Dame. And, until further notice, they still wear the belt in the state of California.
Nays:
The offense. Enough said there. No matter which rotation is on the field, the inside linebackers can be had in pass coverage.
Outlook:
The Keller Chryst Era has begun, and he'll be facing \"easier\" opponents. But when you can't block, can't stop committing drive-stunting penalties, and can't score, no opponent is easy.
Grade:
C

USC (3-2; 4-3)
Yays:
After a disastrous start to the season, QB Sam Darnold became a stabilizing force for the Trojans. They rolled up 320 yards rushing against Arizona. That win over the Buffaloes is looking better and better every week.
Nays:
They had a disastrous start to the season, on and off the field. A healthy RB Justin Davis would've been nice. So would a win over the Utes.
Outlook:
Much of America left the Trojans for dead after that loss in Salt Lake City. It looks like that may have been a mistake. That said, they still have to go to Seattle on November 12. And who knows which UCLA squad will show up on November 19?
Grade:
B-

Colorado (4-1; 6-2)
Yays:
The Buffs were bowl-eligible before the World Series started. Raise your hand if you thought that was possible this year. Whether it's Sefo Liufau or Steven Montez at quarterback, Colorado has moved the ball well, and they have no shortage of weapons to use. LB Jimmie Gilbert was quiet against Stanford, but he has spent much of the season wrecking opposing backfields.
Nays:
Can anybody in Boulder kick the ball? Meanwhile, that USC game was there for the taking.
Outlook:
If Mike MacIntyre doesn't win the Pac-12 Coach of the Year award, there should be an investigation.
Grade:
B+

Utah (4-1; 7-1)
Yays:
They survived a last-minute go-ahead two-point conversion attempt by BYU. They came back to beat USC in one of the drives of the year. RB Joe Williams coming out of retirement to run for 332 yards on UCLA is easily the best individual story of the year so far in the Pac-12.
Nays:
Injuries across the board have seriously tested this team's depth. And they have to be kicking themselves over that goal-line loss at Cal.
Outlook:
The stretch run begins this Saturday against the Huskies, and finishes against Colorado. Those two games will tell much of the story.
Grade:
B+

Washington State (4-0; 5-2)
Yays:
Yes, you know that Luke Falk is pretty nice at quarterback. Yes, you know his receivers are very productive. You probably didn't know about their agile and hostile defense. You also probably didn't realize they can run the ball now, too.
Nays:
Because they had no answer for Eastern Washington (and their stud WR Cooper Kupp), the Cougs are going to have to answer for that loss for the rest of the season.
Outlook:
As we've discussed before, the Cougs' running game balances that offensive scheme, helps increase their time of possession, and helps decrease the chances of Falk getting knocked out for the season. Those are all good things. For the first time in a long time, the Apple Cup will be a good thing, too.
Grade:
B+

Washington (4-0; 7-0)
Yays:
To this point, everything. Offense. Defense. Special teams. Coaching. Home-field advantage. If you're finding fault with anything the Huskies have done to this point, then you're reaching. And you're probably not much fun at parties. The balance of power in the Pac-12 may have transferred the moment LB Joe Mathis flattened Stanford's Casey Tucker early in the Huskies' hot-buttered beatdown of the Cardinal.
Nays:
Not many. Although I am still curious to see what they can do against a top-flight team on the road. That answer likely comes this week.
Outlook:
The Huskies are real. And they're spectacular. That Apple Cup's gonna be a doozy, isn't it?
Grade:
A

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

RANDOM PAC-12 THOUGHTS

I'll be honest: I'm a little surprised David Shaw is making the move from Ryan Burns to Keller Chryst, mostly because Chryst has shown so little in his last few appearances. Does this offense need a spark? You bet it does. Can Chryst provide it? Well, we'll find out, won't we?

I'm not an offensive coordinator, but I would re-assess whether it's worth it to take Christian McCaffrey and/or Bryce Love off the field on third down. I understand why it's done (the offensive line's pass protection woes are so pronounced that Dalton Schultz and Chris Harrell have to help block), but I think any personnel grouping that takes your most dangerous player(s) off the field in the game's most critical down is counter-productive at best, self-sabotaging at worst...

Runner-up for Stat of the Week: Ryan Burns became the first Stanford quarterback to throw three interceptions in a single game since Tavita Pritchard did so in Big Game 2008. That was a 99-game streak, by the way...

Stat of the Week: counting plays that were called back due to penalty, Cal and Oregon snapped the ball 214 times last week. 214 snaps. That just can't be sustainable, can it?

The latest stop on the Pac-12 Breakfast Tour dropped by the Baja Cafe in Tucson last week! It's hidden from the street and tucked in a strip mall a couple doors down from a gun store (and if that doesn't sum up Arizona in a nutshell, I don't know what does). I'm not a breakfast burrito guy, but when in Tucson, it's what you do. Ordered one with ham, bacon, mushroom, hash browns, and cheddar cheese. Very filling. And although I suspect I would have liked it more if I was more into breakfast burritos, I'd still be more than willing to head back there and try something a little closer to my preference. Service was great (ask for Alexa). If you're headed to town this weekend for the game, I recommend you check it out!

Not a Pac-12 thought, but... what? NBA season already? Wasn't Game 7, like, three weeks ago?

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

PAC-12 PICKS

Cal @ USC (-16) (Thursday). How can I pick the Bears when they consistently refuse to play defense on the road? How can I pick the Bears when they're playing on a short week after a game that saw 214 snaps? How can I pick the Bears given those things, meanwhile the Trojans are coming off a bye week? I can't. I like USC by 20.

Washington (-10) @ Utah. Rice-Eccles Stadium is going to be pumped and ready to rock. The Utes will be ready to go, too. And this is, by far, the biggest test the Huskies have faced on the road to this point. If Utah was fully healthy, I'd pick them. But, as it is, I like Washington by 7. The good news is that the Utes may get a second chance at the Huskies later.

Arizona State @ Oregon (-8.5). The Sun Devils can score. The Ducks can't tackle. Pretty easy pick here. I like Arizona State by 15.

Washington State (-12.5) @ Oregon State. The Cougs' game in Tempe was closer than it probably should have been. I don't think history will repeat itself this week in Corvallis. I like Washington State by 19.

Last week: 3-1 (straight-up), 0-3 (ATS).

This year: 17-5 (straight-up), 9-10 (ATS).

Last year: 30-15 (straight-up), 23-19 (ATS).


The 2016 season marks Troy Clardy’s 24th year of following the Cardinal as a columnist, broadcaster, and announcer. Troy also calls baseball, softball, soccer, and lacrosse games for the Pac-12 Network, and was the sideline reporter for the Stanford football radio network's broadcast of the 2016 Rose Bowl. In its 15th 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, follow him on Twitter @TroyClardy, or Like him on Facebook.






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