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Our observations with news and notes from around the Pac 12 this past week

Here are some observations, news and notes from around the Pac 12 conference after week four of the college football season...

-- Is Oregon's dominance of the Pac 12 over? Sure seems that way. Most of us thought things would start to go down hill once the Ducks had to start a redshirt freshman (Marcus Mariota) and it didn't happen. Many thought that once Chip Kelly left for the NFL, that the Ducks would take a tumble. That didn't happen either. At least not right away. However, now that both Kelly and Mariota, likely the best athlete to ever don the green and yellow (or cobalt or white or black or graphite or pink or...), are gone, things sure do appear to be headed back down from the mountaintop.

-- A big reason for the fall isn't just the loss of Kelly and Mariota, it's also the impression the Duck defense is doing of a sieve. In their four games, the Ducks have allowed 163 points (40.75 points per game) and they are allowing 475 yards per game, ranking them 110th in the country and they rank 114th against the pass.

-- Is Mark Helfrich on the hot seat? If not, he definitely will be by season's end if things don't get better. He may be forced to get rid of longtime Duck assistant Don Pellum who took over for Nick Aliotti as the defensive coordinator last season.

-- For those that can't get enough thoughts on the Ducks' demise, here's an article by the Oregonian's John Canzano.

-- Vernon Adams or Jeff Lockie? Choose your poison. Neither one of them looks like they can lead the Ducks' offense to a conference championship.

-- It's really hard to tell what we should think of Stanford. For two straight weeks, they've looked impressive, but I still can't get their opening week loss to Northwestern out of my head. The good news for the Cards is they seem to have rediscovered their identity -- a power team who wears you down physically -- and that is why they were able to beat OSU so soundly last Friday.

-- The schedule shapes up nicely for the Cardinal for the remainder of the season. They get Arizona at home this weekend, then they have a bye week followed by home games vs. UCLA and Washington. Then on Halloween they travel to Pullman and the following week they head to Boulder before returning home for a three game stretch where they will take on Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame. It isn't inconceivable that Stanford could win the rest of the games.

-- Some want to put Utah at the top of the Pac 12 power-rankings. While their absolute and utter destruction of Oregon was impressive, mind-boggling really, they still need to prove themselves over the rest of the season before I will become a believer. They get ASU and UCLA at home, which definitely helps, but they will travel to USC, Washington and Arizona and while they likely will be favored in the latter two games, those are teams they typically have struggled against.

-- USC's Cody Kessler made a statement last weekend going 19 of 33 for 375 yards and five touchdowns. Did that put him back into the mix for the Heisman? He never really left the conversation, but a game like he had against a decent defense definitely will help his chances.

-- Who is the best running back in the conference? Is it Arizona's Nick Wilson? Is it Utah's "Mr. Everything" Devontae Booker? Is it Oregon's Royce Freeman? How about UCLA's Paul Perkins? The Pac 12 is loaded with talented runners, but my choice would be Booker who is about as important to the Utes as anyone is to their own team's offense in the country.

-- Perkins is a heck of a tailback, but his numbers might be diminished with the emergence of Soso Jamabo who was one of the top prep tailbacks in the country and who rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown vs. Arizona.

-- Can UCLA continue to hold up with all of their injuries? They sure didn't show any signs of wear in their 56-30 blowout win over Arizona on the road.

-- I know that Anu Solomon was injured during UA's game with UCLA, but he was stinking the joint up before the injury (4 of 10 for 55 yards and a TD), but his replacement -- LSU transfer Jerrard Randall -- wasn't any better (4 of 16 for 45 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Where Randall really made a difference was on the ground -- 16 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown -- and he might be needed, depending on Solomon's diagnosis/availability next weekend.

-- You have to feel sorry for Arizona LB Scooby Wright. He worked his way back all offseason from a knee injury only to suffer a foot injury against UCLA that will keep him out for a "few weeks" according to head coach Rich Rodriguez.

-- Did we really see the top-ranked NFL prospect in Jared Goff last week? Obviously, Goff is a talented passer and he's got a bright future, but I just didn't see a guy I would say is definitively the number one overall draft choice. Too many mistakes, bad reads and slow decisions that led to sacks just leads me to believe that he'll likely be a first rounder, but overall number one? I just didn't see it.

-- Did Washington expose the Cal offense? Cal is supposed to have one of the best offenses in the country, but they were stymied by the Huskies several times during the game. Sure they put up 30 points, but they couldn't score from the Husky one, they had several short fields and, overall, they didn't look like the explosive offense that they were advertised to be.


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