Pac-12 rewind: USC and Oregon survive, Utah and Washington roll, Ott shines, ASU skids and Stanford get walloped again

Recapping the Week Four action across the Pac-12 …

Theme of the week I: Northwest thrillers

The most anticipated matchups of Week Four exceeded expectations, with Oregon scoring 22 points in the final four minutes to repel Washington State and USC converting with just over a minute remaining to beat Oregon State. The biggest winners — other than the Ducks and Trojans — were ESPN and Fox, which passed on USC-OSU in order to preserve access to USC later in the season.

Theme of the week II: blowouts

Theme of the season: Top heavy

Break the conference into three geographic regions, and it’s clear the power lies in the Pacific Northwest, where all four teams claim 4-0 or 3-1 records. Next up would be the California zone, where only Stanford looks to be among the meek. Then comes the Mountain region, which has one elite team (Utah), one awful team (Colorado) and two that appear mediocre, at best.

Game of the week: USC 17, Oregon State 14

You could make a great case for Oregon’s escape at WSU. But we opted for the Trojans’ victory because it matched two undefeated teams and because the go-ahead touchdown came with 73 seconds remaining, whereas Oregon’s go-ahead score came much earlier in the game — with 81 seconds left.

Offensive player of the week: Oregon’s Bo Nix

We saw bad Bo in the first half with a telegraphed pass that turned into a Pick Six, but the senior quarterback morphed into good Bo with a stellar fourth quarter in which he carved up the Cougars. Nix finished the game with 428 yards and three touchdowns and completed 75 percent of his attempts against one of the top defenses in the conference.

Defensive player of the week: WSU’s Francisco Mauigoa

The sophomore linebacker anticipated a Nix pass to the right flat and produced a 95-yard Pick Six, which included some fancy footwork down the left sideline. The play created a 14-point turnaround — it both prevented and produced a touchdown — and gave the Cougars a 17-6 lead in the second quarter. We should mention stellar defensive performances from Oregon State’s secondary and Washington’s front seven.

Rookie of the week: Cal’s Jaydn Ott

The freshman tailback rushed for 274 yards and three touchdowns against Arizona, including runs of 72 and 73 yards. In the modern era of Cal football, only Jahvid Best (311) has run for more. For those unaware, Ott was a four-star prospect and the highest-rated offensive recruit to sign with the Bears in five years. He’s worthy of their incredible tailback lineage of the 2000s.

Coach of the week: Oregon State defensive coordinator Trent Bray

This space is typically reserved for head coaches, but Bray’s gameplan against USC was an absolute masterpiece. The Beavers made Caleb Williams uncomfortable and shut down Jordan Addison for 58 minutes. Not only did the Beavers hold USC, which had been averaging 50 points per game, to a paltry 17, they did it despite four interceptions by OSU quarterback Chance Nolan.

Collapse of the week: Arizona’s defense

The Wildcats were wobbly in the first half in Berkeley and liquefied in the second, allowing 28 points and three touchdown drives of at least 70 yards. First-year coordinator Johnny Nansen must recalibrate before his unit faces the meat of the schedule, with successive games against Oregon, Washington, USC, Utah and UCLA.

Clutch drive of the week: USC

Quarterback Caleb Williams was out of rhythm and off target all night, except when it mattered most. Trailing by four points with 4:35 remaining, Williams directed an 11-play, 84-yard touchdown drive that gave the Trojans their winning margin. It was exactly the type of clutch performance that leads to playoff runs and Heisman votes.

Blown call of the week: Pac-12 officials

The most egregious mistake of the season thus far occurred in Pullman, where officials lost track of the downs following an intentional grounding call on Washington State’s Cam Ward. After much deliberation, video study and a punt by the Cougars, they gave WSU the ball back to make up for the lost down. As FOX officiating analyst Mike Pereira said on the broadcast, it was “the ultimate miss.”

Blown call of the season: ACC officials

According to a report by Pac-12 Networks play-by-play announcer Roxy Bernstein, the ACC suspended the side judge responsible for the offside call against Cal that led to a Notre Dame touchdown in the Irish victory (by seven points). The report also indicates the ACC apologized to Cal and admitted the call was incorrect.

Gloomy outlook of the month: Arizona State

One week after dismissing — err, parting ways with coach Herm Edwards, the Sun Devils were run off the field by Utah (34-13) in their worst home loss since the middle of the 2017 season (USC). But there is no relief in sight: Next comes a trip to USC, followed by a home date with Washington. Barring an upset, ASU will reach its bye week with a 1-5 record.

Hot seat of the season: Colorado’s Karl Dorrell

With the Edwards era over at Arizona State, Dorrell’s seat becomes the hottest in the conference. The Buffaloes are winless, have been outscored by an average of 31.5 points per game and are betting that a freshman quarterback, Owen McCown, can provide a morsel of hope. They visit Arizona next week, then have a bye. If an in-season coaching change is coming, expect it during the break.

Stat of the week I: UCLA

The Bruins hammered Colorado 45-17 for their seventh consecutive victory — the program’s longest winning streak since the 2005 season when it won eight in a row under head coach … Karl Dorrell.

Stat of the week II: Stanford

The Cardinal dropped its eighth consecutive conference game dating to the middle of last season. In that stretch, Stanford has been outscored by 155 points. Not since the mid-2000s, under coach Walt Harris, has the program failed to compete with such regularity.

Stat of the week III: USC

The Trojans lead the country in turnovers created with 14 takeaways in four games. (No other Power Five team has more than nine.) Perhaps more remarkable, the Trojans have not committed a turnover.

Stat of the week IV: Washington

The Huskies have accumulated 1,475 passing yards through four games, tops in the country. At their current rate of 368.8 per game, they will exceed the 12-game total from last year in three more games.

Stat of the week V: Utah

In the three games since their last-second loss at Florida, the Utes have outscored their opponents 142-27. They haven’t lost to a Pac-12 opponent since Oct. 23, 2021 (at Oregon State).

Game of next week (Friday): Washington at UCLA

Finally, a quality test for UCLA, which is 4-0 against what has been arguably the softest schedule in the country thus far. (South Alabama is the best team the Bruins have faced.) This is Washington’s first road game, so we’ll see if the Huskies can execute with the same level of efficiency on enemy turf.

Game of next week (Saturday): Oregon State at Utah

An intriguing matchup on multiple levels, starting with the Beavers’ state of mind after the crushing loss to USC. They won handily in Corvallis last season and rushed for 260 yards in the process. Will the Utes offer more resistance? A loss would extinguish Utah’s faint hopes of reaching the playoff. OSU cannot afford a second defeat if it hopes to contend for the conference title.

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