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Pac-12 the good, the bad and the unknown week seven: Ducks soar while Cardinal shot down

The Ducks exit the weekend as the Pac-12's lone elite team.

George Frey


Marcus Mariota - Mariota made the Heisman statement of all Heisman statements in Oregon's first test of the season at Washington as he faced a hostile environment and good Husky defense and shredded them with his arms and legs. Mariota had nearly 500 total yards and four touchdowns, but that stat line doesn't speak for just how efficient and deadly he was as the Husky defense simply looked like they couldn't do anything to stop him.

Utah - The Utes proved that they do in fact belong in the Pac-12 by knocking off Top 5 Stanford a week after nearly taking care of UCLA in Salt Lake City. They matched the Cardinal's balance and efficiency and took advantage of Stanford fumbles. Also, their underrated defense and front seven made a major impression with their game-winning goal line stand.

Sean Mannion - Man, no state has hotter quarterbacks in the country right now than Oregon. His numbers were once again ridiculous and his relentless passing efficiency and connection with Brandin Cooks killed Washington State when the game was on the line. He's an under-the-radar Heisman candidate right now if the Beavers can keep winning.


Pac-12 refs (again) - Once again, Twitter was abuzz with questionable officiating during the Washington/Oregon and Stanford/Utah games, and yes, it was negative buzz. It's going to be a very long season for the boys in stripes for the Pac-12 with how poorly they have started the season.

Connor Halliday's interceptions - Halliday is as big of a gun slinger as I have seen in the Pac-12 in quite a while and against quality opponents, it's going to kill the Cougars. Halliday threw three consecutive picks late in the game against Oregon State and it ultimately swung the game. He may have to watch out for freshman backup Austin Apodaca if he can't clean it up.

The bottom of the conference - With the improvement of teams like Washington State and Utah along with the potential stabilization of USC, it looks like it is going to be very lonely at the bottom of the divisions where Cal and Colorado reside. Both teams got blown out again this week with Cal's secondary getting shredded and Colorado's offense struggling against another questionable defense.


National perception - It may have been a good weekend for Utah and Oregon, but maybe not the Pac-12 in the eyes of the nation. The Pac-12 desperately needs a second elite team to stay with Oregon and the Cardinal's loss probably knocks them out of that category for the moment with no one to really replace them. UCLA can step into that role if they can win at Stanford and compete at Oregon the following week, but that's a pretty big if. Also, despite their improvements, Washington still lost to Oregon by 20 plus with the Ducks missing De'Anthony Thomas and still look like they have a long ways to go to becoming an elite team. Right now, the conference is dangerously close to looking like Oregon... and then everybody else.

Stanford - Outside of a blowout of Washington State which seems less impressive after the Beavers did the same to them, and one half against Arizona State, Stanford has looked nothing like the elite team they are supposed to be. They should have lost their second game in a row and now face a challenge in UCLA, can they stand up against the Bruins, or are they finally beginning to experience the long-expected post-Harbaugh slide?

USC - The Trojans flew out the gate against Arizona looking energized and excited for the first time in a long time, especially on offense, but let up late and ended up only beating by Arizona by seven. Are the Trojans ready to fulfill the potential they flashed early in the game, or are they still the bunch that is flirting with the bottom half of the Pac-12 South after their defense struggled late for the second game in-a-row?

B.J. Denker - Just when you thought he could be written off as a one-trick pony who was going to severely limit the Wildcats, he exploded for 363 yards and four touchdowns without an interception against USC. The Wildcats could be a completely different team if Denker can move the ball through the air, but will he be able to maintain the production he had late against USC, or was it a fluke?