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Pac-12 The Good, The Bad & The Unknown Week Four: Exactly how good is the Pac-12?

2014 has been a rather confusing week in the Pac-12 thus far.

Christian Petersen

The Good

Pac-12 offenses - The two in-conference Pac-12 games combined for 163 points and 2,200 yards, with almost all of those yards coming through the air. The Pac-12 has looked about as unpredictable as a I can remember thus far overall, but one thing I will predict is that Pac-12 offenses are going to put up astronomical yardage and plenty of points this season.

Arizona/Cal finish (as long as you aren't a Cal fan) The crowd around the end zone when Austin Hill catches that Hail Mary is all you need to know. Not only was Arizona' furious rally from 15 back three times in the fourth quarter was insane enough, but it got even crazier with what is probably one of the Top 10 finished in Pac-12 history.

Connor Halliday & Marcus Mariota - It had been quite a while since there had been a good old fashioned quarterback duel in Pullman and it was nice to see again. Halliday and Mariot threw the ball all over the field and it felt like whichever quarterback got the ball last was going to win the game as they combined for nearly 800 yards and nine touchdowns without an interception between them.

Late night entertainment - Hopefully the start of the season isn't building up for an entertainment let down as last week's late night toggling between USC/Boston College and UCLA/Texas turned into Washington State/Oregon and Arizona/Cal this week. All four games went down to the wire and wore out the back button on my remote.

Oregon State & Utah - Lost in all of the well-deserved hoopla of Arizona/Cal and Oregon/Washington State were solid non-conference wins for Oregon State and Utah that pushed both teams to 3-0. These teams haven't been flashy, but look improved and ready to make sneaky runs on their divisions.

Oregon's ability to never turn the ball over - I don't know if I have ever seen a football team that is better at hanging onto the ball than Oregon. They haven't had a true turnover all season and in a game where one mistake probably would have given the upset to the Cougars, the Ducks never even came close to turning it over.

Pac-12 receivers - Receivers are the new running backs in the Pac-12 - Devon Allen, Keanon Lowe, River Cracraft, Austin Hill, Cayleb Jones, Nelson Spruce and Bryce Treggs all turned in epic performances.

The Bad

Pac-12 defenses - With all due credit to the offenses, Pac-12 defenses have not impressed thus far in 2014. Part of it is the evolution of college football, but that doesn't totally make up for some really bad defensive play, especially in the secondary. I don't think we are going to be seeing many pass break ups or interceptions this season.

Pac-12 refs - It only took a few in-conference games for Pac-12 refs to make their presence known. The missed pass interference call on Washington State's final drive against Oregon was maybe the worst I have ever seen, especially considering the circumstances, and worst of all, led to an exciting game being neutered earlier than it should have.

Oregon's offensive line - The Ducks have a more than fair excuse for having such a woeful offensive line, already losing three starting tackles just a few weeks into the season, but it still doesn't mean that their play wasn't putrid against Washington State. When you have one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the history of the conference getting sacked over and over again, something is terribly wrong. The Ducks need to get some of those tackles healthy and get their replacements up to speed before they hit the heart of their schedule, or it is going to cost them dearly.

Washington's first half - Holy shit, all things considered, I don't know if I have ever seen a decent Pac-12 team play as bad of a half as Washington did against Georgia State who is barely FBS and might be the worst team in FBS. That is all.

Cal's heartbreak - I feel for you Cal... just know that I feel for you.

The Unknown

How good is this conference? Probably the hardest to gauge first third or a Pac-12 season I can ever remember. I honestly have no idea how good or bad pretty much all of the 12 teams are or if the conference is top-heavy, mid-heavy, bottom-heavy or if there is a single Playoff-worthy team in the bunch. I look at the rest of the schedule and honestly feel like I would have to coin flip predict about ¾'s of the remaining games.

Week five had been setting up to be a showcase week for the Pac-12 with the national schedule outside of the Pac-12 being the weakest week of the season and UCLA playing Arizona State and Stanford Washington in some early-season showdowns. However, Arizona State and UCLA both might be without their star quarterbacks, Stanford already has a loss and Washington is unranked and a complete enigma. So much for that showcase week...

Is Oregon still a legit national title contender? Everyone got a little bit overzealous about the Ducks beating a team from the Big Ten (which is at about the level of the Mountain West this year) at home and declared them national champions in early-September. However, Michigan State did expose Oregon's weaknesses in pass protection and pass defense and Washington State ran with it to nearly knock off the Ducks in a huge upset. So... with all of this considered, are the Ducks still a legit national title contender? I don't know, but if they don't get a guy or two healthy at tackle I would probably say no.

Brett Hundley and Taylor Kelly? It looks like Kelly for sure isn't playing and Hundley is still up in the air, but with a good chance to be sitting. It will be a  true shame if both or one of the two don't play in a game that could decide the South.