Pac-12 the good, the bad and the unknown week nine: Pac-12 defenses frustrate quarterbacks

Jonathan Ferrey

It was a very good weekend for Pac-12 defenses, not so much for Pac-12 quarterbacks.

The Good

Pac-12 defenses (Oregon/USC/Stanford/Utah) - It was a very good weekend for the conference's best defenses as Oregon, USC and Stanford's put together dominating performances that pushed them to big, big wins. The Ducks forced Brett Hundley into his worst college game, the Trojans nearly shut out the Utah offense and forced four turnovers and Stanford's did the impossible - slowing down Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks while sacking Mannion countless times. Also, don't forget about Utah's defense, who in a losing effort, held USC to just 30 yards on the ground.

Oregon in the Fourth quarter - Once again, the Ducks looked vulnerable for a while only to take flight in the fourth quarter and end up beating an opponent by an impressive margin. The Ducks outscored UCLA 21-0 in the fourth quarter to put away what had been a very close game. It's becoming almost creepy how dominant the Ducks have become in the final quarter of games when pushed this season.

Bishop Sankey - A week after having maybe the worst game of his collegiate career, Sankey bounced back in a big, big way as he shredded Cal's atrocious defense for 241 yards and two touchdowns as he regularly busted big runs throughout the game. Sankey now already has more than 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns rushing this season, leading the Pac-12 in both categories.

The Bad

A lot of Pac-12 QBs - As you would expect in a good defensive weekend, it was a nightmarish weekend for a lot of Pac-12 quarterbacks. As mentioned earlier, Hundley had a horrific game up in Autzen when the Bruins needed him to keep them in the game, Travis Wilson and Adam Schulz combined for three interceptions and zero touchdowns against USC and Kevin Hogan completed just eight passes for 88 yards against the Beavers. Even Marcus Mariota and Sean Mannion (even though they played well) had their least prolific performances of the year.

Next week's Pac-12 slate - With Washington, Oregon, Stanford and Utah all getting next week off, it sets up a very quiet week for the conference, with only two games actually taking place on Saturday in what should be snoozers (Arizona at Cal & Colorado at UCLA). Be careful, as Pac-12 wives and girlfriends all around the Western region should jump at the opportunity to steal you away from the TV for a Fall Saturday.

The Unknown

Can anyone challenge Oregon for four quarters? - Much like their game against Washington, the Ducks look like they could be challenged by a Pac-12 foe until the fourth quarter when they pulled away with ease. With only four Pac-12 games remaining it's beginning to look like the only thing that might keep the Ducks out of the BCS Championship Game is a controversy in the rankings as the rest of the Pac-12 field simply looks like they can't hang with them for a full four quarters this year.

Is Stanford back? - After a couple of games where the Cardinal looked ultra vulnerable and lost to Utah and should have lost to Washington, the Cardinal just put together two convincing wins against teams that were supposed to be challenging them for the second spot in the Pac-12 - UCLA and Oregon State. The Cardinal still look painfully limited on offense, but that's nothing new, and their defense looks as frightening as it was supposed to going into the season.

But now, the real question will be answered in a week-and-a-half... can they compete with Oregon again?

The South race - Everyone knew that the race to win the Pac-12 South was going to be a jumble and that's exactly what it has become. Arizona State has the outright lead at the moment, but their schedule strengthens in November and UCLA can finally start to breathe a little bit after back-to-back games at Stanford and Oregon. You also can't forget about USC and Arizona who are locked with UCLA right now, just a game out of first place. It's going to be an interesting November in the South Division.

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