Recapping the Pac-12 action in Week Five …
Theme of the week: Blowouts
The six games were decided by 8, 17, 18, 19, 23 and 26 points. And the only single-digit affair, UCLA’s win over Washington on Friday night, was lopsided until the Huskies scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. We cannot remember a weekend of conference play with so little drama.
Theme of the season: L.A. success
Team of the week: UCLA
After gorging on cupcakes through September, the Bruins took full advantage of their opportunity and stomped Washington with a superb all-around performance. They held a 40-16 lead entering the fourth quarter against the same head coach, Kalen DeBoer, who beat them last year in the Rose Bowl (40-37) with Fresno State.
Question of the week: USC and UCLA
Would you rather have UCLA’s trio of quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, tailback Zach Charbonnet and receiver Jake Bobo, or USC’s combination of Caleb Williams, Travis Dye and Jordan Addison? A quality case could be made either way. At least it’s a topic worth discussing.
Each game carried a certain level of interest for the Hotline, but none of the six reached the competitive bar we expect. And the three #Pac12AfterDark games were ideal for insomnia.
Coach of the week: Washington State’s Jake Dickert
The Cougars were in a vulnerable spot following their fourth-quarter collapse against Oregon. But with a front seven that once again caused maximum havoc, they flummoxed Cal until the offense found its groove and broke the game open. The result: Vital momentum for WSU entering the toughest stretch of its schedule, with USC and Oregon State on the road, then a home date with Utah.
Offensive player of the week: UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson
The sterling effort against Washington — he accounted for four touchdowns and averaged 9.5 yards-per-pass-attempt — was exactly the type of performance UCLA envisioned from its leader when Thompson-Robinson decided to return to school. And we have zero doubt that all the attention paid to the guy across town has contributed to DTR’s focus and motivation.
Defensive player of the week: Utah cornerback Clark Phillips III
One of the top defensive backs in the country hauled in three interceptions against Oregon State, including a 38-yard Pick Six. Why the Beavers were throwing in his general vicinity so often, we cannot fathom. But upcoming opponents will undoubtedly learn from OSU’s mistake and avoid Phillips whenever possible.
Confusing call of the week: Washington-UCLA
The Hotline remains baffled how the Pac-12 officiating crew handled a defensive holding penalty on Washington in the second quarter. The Bruins took the 17-yard completion and were given the additional 10 yards for the holding penalty. It seemingly should have been one or the other. And unlike judgment calls that leave fans baffled in every conference every week, this strikes us as a possible error in officiating mechanics — how the rules are applied.
Hot seat of the week: Colorado’s Karl Dorrell
When a 23-point loss to a .500 opponent qualifies as improvement, times are tough. For the first time this season, CU’s offense was almost competent, and freshman quarterback Owen McCown clearly has potential. But the defense is a turnstile, the losses are piling up and fan enthusiasm is headed into the gutter. Now that the bye week has arrived, we expect some changes in Boulder. Whether it’s Dorrell or members of his staff remains to be seen.
Stat of the week I: Washington State
The Cougars are averaging 8.8 tackles-for-loss per game, which is tops in the Pac-12 (by a wide margin) and No. 2 among all Power Five teams (behind Oklahoma State). We view linebacker Daiyan Henley as an early frontrunner for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Stat of the week II: Stanford
The Cardinal has lost 10 consecutive games to FBS opponents — its last victory over a team not named Colgate came on Oct. 2, 2021 (Oregon). Even worse, the past seven defeats have been by double digits. What has gone wrong? Everything. And there is zero indication that David Shaw can fix it without staff changes, a different approach to the transfer portal (by the university) — or both.
Stat of the week III: Oregon State
The Beavers have thrown 10 interceptions, the most among the 65 teams that make up the Power Five. Eight of the picks have come in the past two games, against USC and Utah. The only thing worse than OSU’s execution is its timing.
Stat of the week IV: Cal
One week after scoring 49 points against Arizona, the Bears mustered just nine against Washington State. It was one of the worst offensive performances of the Justin Wilcox era, and there have been some ghastly ones over the years.
Stat of the week V: Arizona State
The Sun Devils opened with a victory over NAU and have lost four in a row, all by at least nine points. Their 1-4 record constitutes the program’s worst start since 1976. It has been 22 months since 70-7. Incredible how fortunes have changed in the desert.
Game of next week: Utah at UCLA
The best matchup of Week Six is in the Rose Bowl, where the defending champs face the undefeated Bruins. This will be UCLA’s toughest test of the season by an order of magnitude, especially at the line of scrimmage. But the Bruins’ balanced and efficient attack will stretch Utah’s defense, which carries a few lingering questions of its own. We should note that Washington State-USC and Oregon-Arizona have plenty of intrigue, as well.
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